Richard Commey Set to Make his 1st title Defense on Stacked Card
By: Shane Willoughby
With the number of dates the television networks have, it’s no surprise promoters fight cards clash. But this weekend is one for the boxing die hards – the real hardcore fight fans.
After the Fury vs Schwarz debacle boxing fans are desperate for some solid matchups. Top Rank returns with a real and extremely strong fight card this Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in California.
Headlining the show will be Richard Commey making his 1st defence of his IBF title against the seasoned veteran Raymundo Beltran.
Whilst Beltran has seen better days, now aged 38, he was WBO Lightweight champion last year before losing to Pedraza. This is probably Commey’s biggest step up since he won the title but everyone is still expecting him to win.
Whilst Beltran will be seen as an underdog he has never been a fighter not to give 100% and so long as he has life in his body he will be going for it from the first bell. This fight could be fireworks. Commey has the power to knock anyone out.
However, It would be interesting to see what style Commey tries to bring. We saw him take a safety-first approach in the Shafikov. Plus, with a possible Undisputed fight with Lomachencko around the corner, it’s difficult to know how Commey will come out.
The only issue is Beltran definitely isn’t afraid of getting into a tear up and he will come forward all night. It’s just whether Commey will try and box early or go for the kill. If he does go for it then it’s going to be a hell of a fight while it lasts.
Heavyweight prospect Junior Fa is back in action against the veteran Dominick Guinn. The New Zealander is looking to improve on his 17-0 record and possibly move on to bigger fights at the back end of this year. He shouldn’t have many problems with Guinn, who is definitely past it.
Maybe if it was the Guinn who fought Monte Barret 15 years ago, then he could pose a threat. But with that said, in Guinn’s 12 losses he has never been stopped. The veteran definitely knows how to defend himself so, Fa will probably be in for a long nights work.
Some fights you can just look at before the bell rings and know; this is going to be entertaining. This is going to be a war. One of Mexico’s highly touted prospects is in action against Miguel Gonzalez. Saul Rodriguez is in a decent step up fight here, whilst Gonzalez has had 4 losses, he has never been knocked out or even come close.
In addition to that, Gonzalez is young and hungry – coming off 2 good knockout performances himself. Now whilst neither fighter is a household name, everyone knows what happens when you match two Mexicans against each other. War!
Trust me, this fight will not disappoint, both fighters can punch but are not very defensively aware. So it should be an intense scrap. Both young with a good engine; this fight could be like a scene out of Rocky.
The fight of the night will probably be Carlos Adames vs Patrick Day. Now whilst it will not offer you the same level of entertainment as the others, its a real ‘pick-em’ fight. It’s the old school matchup of brawler vs boxer, speed vs power.
There are some fighters who from the first bell have evil intentions, Adames is the epitome of that. He wants to hurt his opponents and he will try and bring pain from the start. But Day is a tricky customer and won’t stay stationary.
At times Adames will probably look silly chasing Day around, and the Dominican fighter tends to admire his work and get very inactive, which could create an opportunity for Day to land. With that said it’s difficult to see him avoid Adames’ power punches for 10 rounds and if he does land, his day is done.
Either way, it should be extremely interesting to watch and if Adames gets through the fight without any problems, then he is a real player in the super welterweight division and should be looking for a big step up.
It’s good to see Bob Arum return with a good competitive card after Tyson Fury’s exhibition match. This card will probably go unnoticed but for the real hard-core fans who end up watching it, they will be in for a real treat.
Joe Joyce vs. Richard Lartey Preview
By: Ste Rowen
If March 2018 was the month of the heavyweight’s current elite, then June is surely it’s month for prospects…and Tyson Fury.
Last weekend saw the return of the lineal heavyweight champion from an almost 3-year hiatus; as well as 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, Filip Hrgovic moving to 5-0 (4KOs) with a 4th round stoppage over the previously unbeaten Mexican, Filiberto Tovar.
Photo Credit: Joy Joyce Twitter Account
Next week we’ll see 2016 gold medallist, Tony Yoka 4-0 (3KOs), take on former opponent of Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte, Dave ‘The White Rhino’ Allen in Paris; as well as Daniel Dubois taking on his biggest test in Tom Little at the O2 arena in London for the English heavyweight belt.
But this weekend, at heavyweight at least, belongs to current Commonwealth champion and 4-0 (4KOs), Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce who takes on 12-1 (9KOs), Richard Lartey of Ghana at London’s York Hall.
It’s been a sharp rise for the 2016 Rio silver medallist. Joyce started his pro career in a risky bout with Ian Lewison, who just 12 months previous to their fight, fought Dillian Whyte for the British belt, in which Lewison was eventually grinded down into a 10th round stoppage, of a fairly one-sided fight.
Even so, the risk was high for the ‘Juggernaut’, but the reward was eventually worth it. Overcoming a few awkward, early rounds until eventually finding his stride in his pro-debut and dominating his fellow Brit, forcing Lewison’s corner to throw in the towel in the 8th round.
From there, the talk from Joyce’s corner was big, including his promoter, David Haye eyeing bouts with the best of Britain, as well as attempting to goad Dereck Chisora into a fight with his protégé. More recently, Joyce called out Jerrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller on Twitter.
Joe was back out for his second and third pro bouts in February and March this year, spending just less than 4 minutes of combined time in the ring to knockout Rudolf Jozic, and America’s Donnie Palmer. Then it was onto his biggest fight yet, up against the Commonwealth champion at the time Lenroy Thomas, on the undercard of BellewHaye2.
The Jamaican turned up looking in great shape, he always seems to, but once the first bell tolled, his conditioning leant nothing to stopping the ‘Juggernaut’ hurtling towards him. Dropping his foe three times in total before the referee waved off the bout towards the end of the 2nd round, Joe Joyce was now the Commonwealth champion in just 4 fights. Quicker than Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Lennox Lewis and Trevor Berbick. Not a bad record to have, especially if Joyce manages to claim the British as well – currently held by Hughie Fury – within the next year.
It’s not just talent that’s seeing Joe put onto the fast track. At 32, even for a heavyweight, time isn’t exactly on his side if he wants his peak to coincide with facing the very best of his division.
His opponent on Friday will be fighting someone with a winning record for just the 4th time in his pro career.
Lartey knocked out 1-0, Nuzu Azuma in his 4th fight; was stopped by 11-0, Ergun Mersin in the 5th round of his one and only fight so far outside of Ghana; and in September last year he earned a 12-round decision over 13-7-1, Ibrahim Marshall in what would be his 6th fight of 2017.
It’s difficult to ascertain whether the Ghanaian is a worthy opponent for Joyce, his record, despite only 1 defeat, suggests not, and there’s next to no footage online of Lartey, but if nothing else, at least he’s active.
But on Friday night, if all goes to plan for Joyce, his opponent will play just a small supporting act in his performance. It gives the ‘Juggernaut’ an opportunity to defend the rainbow belt for the first time, and it keeps him active, and in the general boxing public’s minds for the future.
Boxing Insider Interview with Richard Riakporhe
By: Oliver McManus
Richard Riakporhe is yet another cruiserweight sensation looking to make his mark on the domestic scene and gate-crash the hype of Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain – even if that fight did end up being a very, VERY damp squib – five fights in as a professional, the 28 year old makes his first appearance on a televised show at the end of March this year and will be looking to make a statement having stopped his last four opponents inside the scheduled distance.
I spoke to him at the weekend to discuss his career thus far and his expectations for 2018 –here’s what he had to say;
You’ve moved to a 5 and 0 record, how many fights are you looking to get under your belt this year?
I’m looking to have at least 5 fights this year. Essentially to increase my ring experience as much as possible so the more the better.
And in a crowded domestic scene with the likes of Isaac Chamberlain, Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam Smith all being touted as “ones to watch” do you fancy yourself as adding your name to the mix?
I do fancy my name being thrown in the mix as it brings more light to the cruiserweight division. The cruiserweight division has been lacking attention in the recent past but since me, Chamberlain, Okolie and Smith turned professional things are starting to change and there will always be entertaining fights when young hungry fighters are ready to risk it all to make their mark in history.
I think I saw recently you saying you were meant to face Okolie last year, how does your mind-set change when accepting a fight at such late notice?
Essentially most individuals stumble across opportunities but few are able to take them due to the individual not being prepared and in this case I mean mentally or physically prepared. So I’ve learned that in this life it is imperative to stay prepared at all times and is what I now strive to do so when the next life changing opportunity arrives I will be able to take it.
We’ve seen you sparring the likes of Chris Eubank Jr and Mateusz Masternak so what do you learn from these experiences?
Sparring the likes of Mateusz Masternak and Chris Eubank has taught me that there are different levels of skill in this boxing industry and you can be punished by making the slightest of mistakes so it is essential that one takes this sport very seriously through dedication and work ethic to able to mix it with the best in the world.
On the undercard of Whyte-Browne at the back end of March if all goes well will you be looking to be on more of these big arena undercards?
My aim is to box on these big bills frequently so I plan to put on a great performance and it’s also inspiring for me to do better in order to gain more opportunity like this to perform in front of thousands of people. Seeing progress, even just a little gives me so much motivation.
Ted Bami’s in your corner, what’s it like to train with him?
I would like to describe Ted Bami as a humorous character and can be a bit of a comedian at times. He cares a lot about his fighters and has also achieved a lot as a fighter himself so brings experience to the table which is priceless in this game.
Let’s talk briefly about Chamberlain-Okolie; Chamberlain is your gym-mate and you were ringside for that fight, was it all set for Okolie to look impressive?
To an extent but not really because when a man is able to fight another man he has the ability to stop his opponent from looking impressive. By exercising his own volition he can still win over a favoured opponent and history has shown on this many times.
Couple of quick questions – you’re a graduate from Kingston University, what was the course?
Marketing Communications and Advertising Bsc
Who’s the hardest puncher you’ve faced – amateur, sparring or professional?
The hardest punch I’ve received was most definitely by Anthony Joshua in sparring.
Finally then mate what plans have you got for 2018? Any particular fights for the year – maybe a Southern Area clash against Wadi Camacho?
I want to win some titles this year for sure and I would not mind mixing it with whoever. I aim to create a legacy for myself in the sport of boxing.
Given that Riakporhe has no nickname as of yet, I’ve decided to dub him “Ruthless” Richard Riakporhe based on the ruthless nature in which he dispatches those who dare step into the ring of him – all bar Jason Jones, in Riakporhe’s first fight, have been finished before the final bell and that sort of finishing instinct should see the cruiserweight talent go a long way.
Richard Schaefer “Excited To Be Back In The Boxing Promotion Business”
By: Sean Crose
“I think it’s one of my favorite new places now to do a press conference,” promoter Richard Schaefer said as he stood before a California harbor talking to Jeandra LeBeauf. “It’s beautiful.” Schaefer has much to be pleased with at the moment. Not only is the man promoting this weekend’s StubHub Center event, a card which features Leo Santa Cruz and old foe Abner Mares, he’s also helming the World Boxing Super Series (“it really is the greatest boxing tournament of all time,” Schaefer said of the multi-division tournament). “There’s so much boxing now,” he claimed. “It’s a great time to be a fight fan.”
Saturday’s California card will be aired live on Fox in prime time, something that would have seemed unheard of less than a few short years ago. “This is big time boxing,” Schaefer claimed, “when you’re going to be televised on the big Fox.” Santa Cruz, 33-1-1, is hot off of his comeback win against Ireland’s Carl Frampton in January. He’ll be facing the 27-5 Chris Avalos for the WBA World Super Featherweight title. Former Santa Cruz opponent Mares, 30-2-1, will also be throwing down with the 35-1-1 Andres Gutierrez for the WBA World featherweight title. Provided Santa Cruz and Mares win, they can look forward to facing each other again.
Some have made it clear that it would only make sense to have Santa Cruz and Mares rematch each other, since both are on a solid streak and their 2015 battle against each other was competitive.
Schaefer spoke to LeBeauf of the realities of the business and stated that “often budgets are a bit tapped out.” He also stated that fighters “need to be treated fairly and properly.” As the head of Ringstar Sports, Schaefer asserted that “fighters make the most money when they fight with me.”
Schaefer has had a bit of a rocky road for himself in recent years. After a very public falling out with Golden Boy Promotions’ head Oscar De La Hoya, the European banker was away from the business for a while before the creation of Ringstar. “I’ve learned that boxing is as exciting as it’s ever been,” he said, adding that “there’s so much boxing now” on both pay and basic cable. “I’m very excited,” Schaefer claimed, “to be back in the boxing promotion business.”
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
By: Matthew N. Becher
Over the past weekend, the newly created World Boxing Super Series held its very first draft, for its very first tournament. The premise of the new tournament is an open competition for any professional boxer that is ranked in the top 15 of the major sanctioning bodies systems.
In theory the best fighters would face off against one another, until the last man was standing, thus making him the #1 boxer in that weight class. Simple. That is the easy part, the hard part is getting the best fighters to all participate in such a tournament, with everyone having different promoters and so forth. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out for the initial Cruiserweight Tournament.
The seeding of the tournament went as follows. The top 4 fighters were ranked 1-4 by the WBSS, with the four belt holders getting the top rankings.
1: Oleksander Usyk (WBO)
2: Murat Gassiev (IBF)
3: Mairis Briedis (WBC)
4: Yunier Dorticos (WBA)
Then from 1-4, the fighter was allowed to pick or draft his opponent from a group of 4 boxers, for their first round fight. (An exception was made for Gassiev, who had a mandatory against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. That fight was picked for him)
The first round of the tournament looks like this.
Oleksander Usyk (12-0 10KO) v. Marco Huck (40-4-1 27KO)
Murat Gassiev (24-0 17KO) v. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1 37KO)
Mairis Briedis (22-0 18KO) v. Mike Perez (22-2-1 14KO)
Yunier Dorticos (21-0 20KO) v. Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1 21KO)
Literally the best of the best in the Cruiserweight division will be competing against each other, until one is standing with all the belts, the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy and possibly a $1 million dollar bonus for advancing though semifinals and the championship round.
The tournament is slated to begin in early September and rap up by Mary of next year. The location of the fights have yet to be determined and will be placed in locations that match up well for each fight.
“To unify a division and spotlight a division that has clearly been underappreciated, even though the fights in the ring are always among the most exciting in the sport, irrespective of the division, that those four champions, if you look at the record – they are all undefeated. Most of their wins, the vast majority have come by knockout. So these are all big punchers, undefeated. I’m really excited,” said Richard Schaefer, the Chairman of the Americas for Comosa, who helped put this field together alongside fellow promoter Kalle Sauerland (the Chief Boxing Officer for Comosa).
This is a very exciting tournament for boxing and especially for the roll out of the new World Boxing Super Series. With formats like this, expect many division to start falling in line and possibly getting to see the best match up against the best in the near future.
Carlos Balderas: King, Me
Carlos Balderas: King, Me
By: Francisco Martinez
2016 U.S. Olympian Carlos Balderas is set to debut April 9th in Los Angeles, California a few hours away from his hometown of Santa Maria who he has become a poster boy for. On this April 9th which lands on a Sunday not by accident but by design a masterplan crafted by boxing guru, promoter Richard Schaefer as he plans to showcase his young, new talent as he kickstarts his RingStar Sports entity that will feature 3 Olympians in Carlos Balderas, bronze medalist Misael Rodriguez, Lindolfo Delgado along Freddie Roach pupil, Lithuanian, Eimantas Stanionis with the card being headlined by fan favorite, The Riverside Rocky, Josesito Lopez.
BoxingInsider.com had the opportunity to catch up with Carlos Balderas at the famed Wild Card boxing club in Hollywood. Being from Santa Maria which is close to Los Angeles in Southern California Balderas supporters should make the trip which makes his debut that much more significant knowing he will have an all eyes on me type of platform to showcase his skills in front of his friends and family “I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it. The reason I wanted to fight out here is because I wanna grow a bigger fan base here and I don’t feel like New York is really my market, you know. I wouldn’t mind fighting out there later on in the future but as of right now I want to grow a big, big fan base out here in L.A.”
Carlos explains as in a prior interview he said he chose to pass up on a fight date for his pro debut on the Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia card in New York at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His uncle and long time trainer David who trains Carlos alongside his father Xenon added this to the conversation “step by step, you know, he’s gonna start with L.A. first cause like he said, Santa Maria is his hometown and now he’s trying to make L.A. his hometown then little by little Chicago, Texas…” all states with a rich boxing history and big Mexican fan base from which Carlos would greatly benefit from.
Father Xenon says L.A. was the starting point for Carlos at a young age of 7yrs old “I’m very proud of him. I’m very happy for what he is doing and I am pretty sure he’s gonna be a world champion, I promise you he’s gonna be a world champion” the Balderas family migrated from Mexico to the United States in what Carlos grandfather calls a “poor” early start in Santa Maria. As family the Balderas are as strong as a family can be and carry a support system that has manage to help guide Carlos to this point of his young and ambitious career as sacrifices after sacrifices is what kept them pushing through when times got really hard and difficult for them.
Carlos Balderas grandfather recalls when he pawned his watch at one point in time to help fuel the amateur part of his career and flash forward a few years later and Carlos did not forget and kept in mind as a young man exactly what his grandfather and family were doing to help keep his dreams as a young fighter alive. Carlos did not forget his grandfather’s unselfish act of loyalty and in return gifted the elder Balderas with his very own exclusive 2016 Olympic watch “well my family has always sacrificed for me, you know, my grandpa had once sold his watch so that I can go to a boxing tournament and I had always told myself that I was gonna pay him back and the day my Olympic watch arrived I just gave it to my grandpa to show him that I appreciated what he had done for me”
Something that didn’t surprise Carlos father, Xenon “those sacrifices, we went through a lot and when I see those things I know he’s grateful, I know he’s grateful and he’s thankful to the family” uncle David was also humbled by this act of maturity beyond his 20 years of age Carlos “you know what, Carlos being the grandson he feels like he needs to work for us, he feels like he has to work for his grandpa even though we tell him many times, all the time, you know what, relax this is your show you don’t have to work for us. You don’t have to carry us on your shoulders, you don’t have to do that but he’s like, no, no, no but one day I would like to pay my dad, my uncle, my grandpa for all the sacrifices. My grandpa sold his watch for me to go to the Olympics and all these types of things you know he remembers them”
Through these sacrifices Carlos Balderas has matured quickly and it has also humbled him. This April 9th at the Novo in downtown Los Angeles his journey as a professional boxer begins. His father Xenon promises Carlos will be a world champion and his uncle David expects for Carlos to shine on this Sunday and display his skills in front of a hometown crowd. Big expectations and ambitions from the Balderas family and what they have overcome to this point as they guided Carlos Balderas to this elusive April 9th debut has already been a victory as a team. Don’t miss it live April 9th at the Novo in Downtown Los Angeles for a actioned packed card that’s sure to entertain.
Follow all coverage leading up to the fight via #RingStarSports
Jacobs vs. Mora II and Easter vs. Commey at Santander Arena in Reading, PA, Friday!
Jacobs vs. Mora II and Easter vs. Commey at Santander Arena in Reading, PA, Friday!
By: Ken Hissner
Two World Title fights headline Friday night at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA! King’s Promotions bring’s big time boxing to Reading on SPIKE TV with co-features starting at 9pm. Jacobs-Mora II and Easter and Commey for vacant title should be nothing but fireworks!
Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs, 31-1 (28), of Brooklyn, NY, defends his WBA World middleweight title against former WBC super welterweight champion and No. 15 contender Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora, 28-4-2 (9), of L.A. in a rematch from August of 2015. In December Jacobs scored a sensational knockout over former WBO champion Peter Quillin in the first round. Mora has not fought since August. Several weeks ago on a conference phone call Jacobs said “If he’s saying I didn’t knock him down that caused him to twist his ankle I felt the contact it in my hand,” said Jacobs. “He grazed the back of my head but my ankle was already twisted,” said Mora. Both boxers are managed by Al Haymon. The call ended with “Go F yourself. I’ll see you in two weeks old boy,” said Mora. “Well let’s do it on September the 9th. You already know Sergio I’m coming for you brother,” said Jacobs. There is obvious bad blood between the two since their first fight which should make for a very interesting contest.
In the other co-feature 2012 Olympic alternate Robert Easter, Jr., 17-0 (14), of Toledo, OH, and Richard Commey, 24-0 (22), of Accra, GH, fight it out for the vacant IBF Super lightweight title.
“Yeah I am very excited coming to Reading and fight for the IBF title. I hope Richard Commey is bringing his A game because I will be bringing mine,” said Easter. “I’ve worked very hard to get this opportunity as I’m sure Robert Easter, Jr. has too so it should be a great fight,” said Commey. Commey is No. 3 and Easter No. 4 with both the No. 1 and No. 2 vacant.
There are a dozen bouts on the undercard at this point but several will fall out or the Boxing Director Greg Sirb will see to it you don’t have much more than 7 bouts. In 8 round bouts former IBF welterweight and interim WBC champion Kermit “El Asesino” Cintron, 37-5-2 (28) of Reading continues his comeback. Local favorite super featherweight Frankie De Alba is in an 8. Another local favorite super Heavyweight Travis “My Time” Kauffman, 30-1 (22), of Reading is in a 10.
In a pair of 8 round bouts from Philadelphia crowd pleaser super middleweight Christopher “Ice Cold” Brooker, 10-1 (5) steps up to meet Elvin Ayala, 28-7-1 (12), of New Haven, CT. Light heavyweight Earl Newman, 9-0 (7), of Brooklyn will meet Leo Hall, 8-1 (7), of Detroit. Also scheduled yet without an opponent is Argentina’s Jorge Sebastian Heiland, 27-4-2 (14), who is the No. 1 WBC middleweight contender.
Super welterweight Erik Spring 7-1-1 (1), super welterweight Miguel Martinez, 2-2 (0), and super lightweight Kashon Hutchinson, 1-0 (1) all of Reading are in 6 round bouts. Also, from Philadelphia, the popular super featherweight Thomas “T.J.” Velasquez, 5-0 (4) out of the Danny “Swift” Garcia camp is in a 4 round bout. He is still without an opponent.
Two Seconds and Ten Dollars: A Revisit of Chavez vs. Taylor
Two Seconds and Ten Dollars: A Revisit of Chavez vs. Taylor
By: Ron Scarfone
1990 was a memorable year for boxing. In January of that year, Mike Tyson was considered to be pound for pound the best boxer in the world. That all changed on February 11, 1990 when James “Buster” Douglas defeated Tyson. Douglas had four losses on his professional record. Needless to say, Douglas was not expected to win. I remember watching Tyson and Douglas being introduced in the ring. Douglas was bouncing up and down looking focused and determined. Douglas had even more motivation because his mother died about three weeks before the fight. Tyson was walking back and forth from one side of the ring to the other looking somewhat lackadaisical. After seeing both of them, I said “He’s gonna lose.” I was referring to Tyson. I just wanted to say it so that it was not just a thought. I would not have made this prediction the day before the fight. During the fight, Tyson did not have the same head movement and quickness that he displayed in his previous fights. Tyson was still young, so this happened probably because his training was not as good. Tyson was fit and not fat, but he was not in the best physical condition for a world championship. Douglas was more motivated than he had ever been and his training and conditioning reflected that. In the tenth round, Douglas landed a right uppercut to the head that stunned Tyson. Douglas quickly followed that up with more punches to the head which floored Tyson. Tyson got up on wobbly legs and the referee stopped it. Before this fight, Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico was considered to be pound for pound the second best boxer in the world. After Tyson lost to Douglas, Chavez took over the top spot.
When a unification title fight takes place between two world champions, there is increased interest from the fans. In March 1990, a highly anticipated matchup was scheduled which generated much more attention than usual. Chavez was the WBC super lightweight champion at the time, but he previously was a world champion in the super featherweight and lightweight divisions. According to BoxRec.com, Chavez’s record was 68-0 with 58 knockouts. His opponent was Meldrick “TNT” Taylor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Taylor was the IBF junior welterweight champion. Taylor’s record was 24-0-1 with 14 knockouts. The super lightweight and junior welterweight divisions are the same 140 pound weight class. It is rare that two undefeated world champions in the same division who are both top ten boxers pound for pound and in their physical primes would be facing each other. A fight of this caliber today would definitely be on pay-per-view and similar in magnitude to a potential middleweight matchup between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
I recall when Chavez vs. Taylor was about a week away from happening. At the time, I had been a fan of boxing for about five years. I was a valet that parked the cars of customers at a prestigious hotel. The valets had a small shelter separate from the hotel where the valets stayed while waiting to park or retrieve cars for customers. This shelter was known as “The Shack.” Some of the valets thought it was amusing to fart inside the shack. Usually, these farts smelled so bad that one of the valets would light and smoke a whole cigarette in order to mask the odor of the intestinal gas. The carcinogenic fumes from the cigarette were preferable to breathe in than the foul stench from the flatulence. A few days before the fight, I was discussing the matchup inside the shack with one of my coworkers. I predicted that Taylor was going to defeat Chavez. My reasoning was that a pound for pound top ten boxer such as Taylor could win by decision against Chavez. My coworker disagreed and said that Chavez would win. He then asked me if I wanted to make a bet on the fight as to who would win. I said that I don’t bet and that I just believed that Taylor would win. My coworker persuaded me to bet a little bit of money, so I said that I would bet one dollar. He said that is not enough, so then I said that I would bet five dollars. He still rejected that, so I said that I would bet ten dollars. He thought about it for a few seconds and then accepted that amount of money to wager.
Chavez vs. Taylor was broadcast on the HBO cable television network. The fight was going to be in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 17, 1990 and Richard Steele was chosen as the referee by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The fight was called “Thunder and Lightning” which referred to the thundering punching power of Chavez and the lightning fast hands of Taylor. The first round of the fight went as expected. Chavez is not usually a fast starter and Taylor was able to win the round with his rapid punches. Taylor still outlanded Chavez in round two, but Chavez did well towards the end of the round. In round three, Taylor was fighting a lot on the inside which was an opportunity for Chavez to do damage. Taylor should have thrown quick combinations and then moved away. Taylor and Chavez were at close range and even leaning on each other. This was working in the early rounds when Taylor was fresher and not hurt. From rounds one to three, Taylor threw twice as many punches as Chavez. Chavez landed a couple of hard shots to the head in round four, but the round probably was won by Taylor. Chavez and Taylor were leaning on each other trading body blows and doing a lot of inside fighting in round five. Taylor was landing more which enabled him to win the rounds and build a lead on points. In round six, they were fighting not at close range as often. Taylor probably won the round because of his activity.
Although it was not as apparent in the first half of the fight, Chavez’s punches were taking a toll on Taylor and this would be noticeable in the second half of the fight. Taylor and Chavez were fighting at close range in round seven and both were landing to the head and body, but Taylor threw and landed more. In round eight, Chavez was uncharacteristically moving away from Taylor a couple of times after Taylor’s fast flurries. Taylor was faster and threw more frequently than Chavez in round nine. Harold Lederman of HBO believed that Taylor won rounds one through nine, but I did not know how the judges were scoring it. I believed though that Taylor was winning, but I also knew that it’s not over until it’s over. There were still three rounds left and great champions find a way to win. In round ten, Taylor was landing several punches to Chavez’s head, but Chavez kept coming forward and weathering the storm. Chavez’s granite chin made this possible. Chavez and his cornermen believed he was behind on points, so Chavez was looking for the knockout. Chavez was taking more of the punches just to dish out some of his own, but they both were very active. Chavez may have won the round and he probably hurt Taylor more. In round eleven, this fight was starting to look like a Rocky Balboa fight with punches being thrown and landed often. Rocky was depicted in the movies as being from Philadelphia which is the same city that Taylor was from. However, Taylor did not have the punching power like Rocky to go toe-to-toe with Chavez for 12 rounds.
Although the judges’ scores were not known at the time, I believed that Taylor had a comfortable lead. I would have recommended him to get away from Chavez as much as possible in the twelfth round. Trading punches with Chavez was like playing with fire. If you keep playing with fire, you are eventually going to get burned. Taylor was showing signs of fatigue and damage with swelling around both of his eyes. Trainers Lou Duva and George Benton gave Taylor the wrong advice before the twelfth and final round. They both told Taylor that he needed to win the last round. Taylor was actually winning by a large margin on two of the scorecards: one judge scored it 108-101 while the other judge scored it 107-102. One biased judge had Chavez winning by a score of 105-104, but his score did not matter. If the fight went the distance, Taylor could win by a split decision. I did not care if Taylor lost the last round by a score of 10-9. I just did not want Taylor to get knocked down or out. In the last round, there was one minute left and I was looking at the time tick away. Every second brought me closer to winning the bet and having my prediction come true. They traded blows throughout the last round. I shouted “Get out of there!” I wanted Taylor to run away. There were 30 seconds left. Taylor was still on his feet. Chavez was running out of time. With just 24 seconds remaining, a straight right from Chavez staggered Taylor, but then Taylor came forward. Taylor was trying to win the round as his cornermen instructed him to do. A right hook to the head by Chavez moved Taylor in a corner of the ring. Taylor was now cornered by Chavez. Taylor’s hands were both low. With 17 seconds left, Chavez landed a laser-like straight right to the head. Taylor was down. I shouted “No! Get up!” I was worried he would not get up, but Taylor got up immediately and I was relieved. It’s almost over, I thought. Even if Taylor loses the round by a score of 10-8, he will most likely win by decision. Referee Richard Steele asked Taylor twice “Are you okay?” Taylor said after the fight that he responded. Steele said that Taylor did not respond. Taylor turned his head looking off to the side and that is when Steele waved his arms signaling that he was stopping the fight. The official time of stoppage was 2:58. Only two seconds remained. I shouted profanity. Within 15 seconds, I went from worry to relief and then to anger. What an appropriate last name for the referee! Steele stole victory away from Taylor! This is not fair! I lost the bet and was wrong in my prediction because of Steele! I found out later that Taylor’s trainer Lou Duva had jumped onto the ring apron which caused Taylor to turn his head and look that way. This was at a critical time when Steele was asking Taylor if he was okay. Taylor’s cornermen failed him. They gave him the wrong advice in telling Taylor that he needed to win the twelfth round and then Duva stepped on the ring apron which distracted Taylor as Steele was determining if he could continue fighting. There were only two seconds left. Chavez probably would not have got to Taylor in time to land a punch if the fight resumed.
At work, I saw my coworker who I made the bet with in the shack. I immediately spouted all the reasons why the bet should be cancelled because of the controversy. He allowed me to get it all out of my system and then there was silence for a couple of seconds. He then said just two words to me. It wasn’t the profane phrase that has the first word that starts with an F and the second word that starts with a Y, but it might as well have been. He simply said “Who won?” It was in that moment that I realized that the controversy would never change the result of that fight. Even though Taylor was winning at the time the fight was controversially stopped, Chavez was declared the winner. Taylor played with fire and he got burned, but Steele stopped the fight which I still did not agree with. I looked down and stared at the floor, resigned to my loss of the bet, and answered my coworker. “Chavez,” I reluctantly replied.
I wanted to show my displeasure with how the fight ended. I decided to go on a lunch break, but I did not intend to eat lunch. I went to sit in my car and took out all the one dollar bills that I received from tips. I knew I had to pay my coworker ten dollars, but there was nothing stated in the bet regarding the condition of the currency. Some of the one dollar bills that I had were in such bad shape and discolored that they looked like the money of another country instead of the United States. They were not greenbacks anymore. They were brownbacks. I guess the customers of the hotel wanted to get rid of their nasty one dollar bills. I closely examined each one dollar bill and excluded from consideration the ones in good condition. I put two bills next to each other to see which one had more of a brownish hue. Only the bills in the worst condition would qualify for my “terrible ten.” It took me about a half an hour to make my selections. When I looked them over one last time, I knew that I had made the right choices. Each bill looked like a duplicate of the other, although these were real and not counterfeit. All of them were brown, dirty, and in very poor condition.
I returned to the shack and saw the valet who won the bet. Eager to get rid of the financial filth and fulfill my obligation of the bet, I put the ten dollars in his hand. “Here,” I said. He began to count it to verify that it was ten dollars. I watched him as he was counting, wondering if he would notice what I had done. He then fanned them out like playing cards and looked at them for a few seconds. Suddenly, he said “What did you do?! Pick out the worst ones?!” With a slight smirk, I said “Yup.” After my reply, his facial expression changed to shock and disgust. We just stared at each other while the look on our faces seemed frozen: me with a smirk and him looking shocked and disgusted. There was silence and it felt kind of awkward, so I said something that I felt would lessen his concerns. As if I had to state that this money was still legal tender and could be spent the same way as money that was crisp and clean, I said “It’s still money.” His face remained unchanged and still looked the same. He stared at me for a few more seconds and then shook his head in disgust and walked out of the shack.
Even if Steele did not stop the fight and Taylor had won, most of Taylor’s prime was beaten out of him by Chavez. In 1991, Taylor won the WBA welterweight title against Aaron Davis and he successfully defended that title only twice. Taylor next challenged WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris. Taylor lost by TKO. Taylor then tried to regain the WBA welterweight title, but lost by TKO to Crisanto Espana. Conversely, Chavez defended his WBC super lightweight title several more times in the 1990s. In 1993, Chavez challenged WBC welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker, but it was scored as a draw and Whitaker retained his title. In 1994, Chavez lost to Frankie Randall by split decision. Chavez won against Randall in the rematch because of a technical decision in which the fight was stopped because Chavez was cut from an accidental clash of heads. Chavez was leading on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of stoppage. Chavez and Taylor had a rematch in 1994 with Chavez’s WBC super lightweight title at stake. Taylor no longer had the hand speed and lightning fast reflexes that he displayed a few years earlier. Chavez may have been a bit past his prime, but he was still a formidable opponent. In the eighth round, a left hook to the head by Chavez floored Taylor. Taylor was able to get up and the fight was allowed to continue, but Chavez immediately landed more punches and Taylor was not throwing back. Referee Mills Lane stopped the fight and Chavez won by TKO.
I watched the HBO show Legendary Nights: The Tale of Chavez – Taylor in 2003. The first Chavez vs. Taylor fight was known as the best fight of the 1990s and it occurred in the first year of that decade. Taylor had been sent to the hospital after that fight. He had a facial fracture and was urinating blood. It was horrifying for me to watch Taylor talking on the episode of Legendary Nights. He obviously had brain damage because his speech was slurred. Before he fought Chavez, Taylor was articulate and in his prime. Losing ten dollars and being wrong in my prediction that Taylor would win seemed insignificant compared to Taylor’s problems. Taylor could have won against the best boxer pound for pound in the world and given Chavez the first loss of his pro career if the fight was not stopped with just two seconds left. So close, yet so far.