Willie Pep Was the Biggest of the Little Men in Boxing
By: Ken Hissner
When boxing people talk about P4P the very best names like “Sugar” Ray Robinson, Harry “The Pittsburgh Windmill” Greb and “Hammerin” Henry Armstrong normally come up. But, so often the name Willie “Will o’ the Wisp” Pep comes up and should come up.
Pep had a record of 229-11-1 (per box rec) with 65 knockouts. I’ve seen 230 wins listed elsewhere. Turning professional in July of 1940 he was 11-0 by the years end. In 1941 alone he was 22-0. Can you believe it 22 fights in 12 months? He topped that in 1942 going 23-0 winning the New England Featherweight title in July and the NYSAC World title in November.
In winning the NYSAC title Pep defeated Chalky Wright, 136-32-17, over 15 rounds. In 1943 he was 11-1 defeating Allie Stolz, 49-6-2, but after going 62-0 he was defeated in a non-title bout by Sammy Angott, 69-17-5 in March of 1943 over 10 rounds for his first career loss. In November Angott won the NBA World Lightweight title.
Pep defended his NYSAC title in June of 1943 defeating Sal Bartolo, 46-15-6, over 15 rounds in their second encounter. In their third match Pep knocked out Bartolo, 72-17-6, in his fourth defense and winnIng Bartolo’s NBA World title with a knockout in 12. September of 1944 Pep in a rematch with Wright, 155-34-18, he again won a 15 round decision. Pep was 16-0 in 1944. In a third match with Wright Pep knocked him out in 3 rounds in November of 1946.
Pep’s third NYSAC defense was in February of 1945 defeating Phil Terranova, 36-11-9, over 15 rounds. In December of that year he was held to a draw by Jimmy McAllister, 39-16, over 10 rounds. Pep was honored for the “Ring Fighter of the Year” in 1945. They had a rematch on March 1, 1946 with Pep knocking out McAllister in 2 rounds. Just 25 days later Pep defeated former NBA champion Jackie Wilson, 99-31-8, in a rematch of April 1943 over 10 rounds. In January of 1947 Pep was seriously injured in January of 1947 in a plane crash that took the lives of the co-pilot and 2 passengers. In January of 1948 Pep defeated McAllister over 10 rounds in their third meeting.
In 1948 Pep went 15-0 bringing his record to 134-1-1 before losing for only the second time in his career. It was in October being knocked out by Sandy Saddler in 4 rounds losing his NYSAC title. In a rematch in February of 1949 Pep re-gained his title defeating Sadler over 15 rounds. It was Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year!”
NBA Middleweight champion Rocky “The Rock” Graziano once told his friend, Pep, I would have knocked you out! Pep replied “you couldn’t hit me with a fist full of stones!” Pep was quite the defensive boxer.
In September of 1949 in his seventh defense Pep stopped Eddie Compo, 57-1-3, in 7 rounds. In March of 1950 he defeated France’s European champion Ray Famechon, 59-5, over 15 rounds in his ninth defense. In September he lost to Saddler, 115-7-2, in their third encounter being stopped in 8 rounds. He tried regaining the title against Saddler in September of 1951 in their fourth encounter but was stopped in the ninth round.
In June of 1952 Pep lost to Tommy Collins, 53-9, in the 6th round. It was Pep’s only loss that year going 11-1. In 1953 he went 10-0. In February of 1954 Pep was stopped in the second round by Lulu Perez, 28-2, in a suspicious ending. Some felt Pep went down without being hit hard enough to be stopped. He was only 4-1 in 1954.
In 1955 Pep went 12-1 losing to Gil Cadilli, 21-3-3, by split decision. In his very next match they were re-matched with Pep winning. In November of that year Pep defeated Pappy Gault, 63-17-2, who would become an Olympic coach upon retiring from active boxing.
Pep had a 21 winning streak broken in January of 1958 losing to Tommy Tibbs, 45-43-3, by split decision. At this point Pep knew the hand writing was on the wall he wasn’t the boxer he once was going 11-2 in 1958 losing in September to Nigeria’s Hogan “Kid” Bassey, 5-11-2, the British Empire champion being stopped in the 9th round after being dropped for the third time. He would lose his next match to Sonny Leon, 56-9-8, over 10 rounds in Caracas, VZ, in January of 1959 and retire.
A little over 6 years later Pep made a comeback in March of 1965 posting a win. In his next match in April this writer was in attendance when he defeated Philly’s Jackie Lennon, 8-10-3, at the Philadelphia Arena. He would go 9-0 on this comeback before losing in March of 1966 in his final match to Calvin Woodland, 8-4, of D.C. at the age of 43. He became a prominent referee and Deputy Boxing Commissioner in his home state of Connecticut.
Pep was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of fame in 1963. He was also inducted into the IBHOF in 1990. He held world titles from November 20, 1942 to October 19, 1948. Then from February 11, 1949 to September 8, 1950. He was named the “Greatest Featherweight of all time by Ring Magazine in 1994 and 2002. Pep would pass away at the age of 84 on November 23, 2006 in Rocky Hill, CT.
Pep was married 6 times and said “all my wives were great housekeepers. After every divorce they kept the house.”
More Boxing History
HBO PPV Undercard Results: De La Hoya and Diaz Win Easily, Monroe Decisions Rosado
HBO PPV Undercard Results: De La Hoya and Diaz Win Easily,
By: William Holmes
Golden Boy Promotions and HBO put on a four fight pay per view card tonight live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Diego De La Hoya (15-0) , the nephew of Oscar De La Hoya, opened up the card in the division against Luis Orlando Del Valle (22-2) in the super bantamweight division. This bout was for the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight Championship.
De La Hoya was seven years younger than Del Valle and was taking a big step up in competition. De La Hoya was looking for his straight right counter early in the first round but was able to find range with his jab. Del Valle was knocked stumbling backwards into the corner in the middle of the round from a three punch combination, and the few punches he landed didn’t phase De La Hoya.
The second and third rounds were similar in that Del Valle would start off strong and De La Hoya would finish the roung strong. Del Valle showed he was willing to exchange with De La Hoya and held his own during their exchanges, but by the end of the third round it was De La Hoya who was winning the exchanges more frequently.
De La Hoya was tagged early in the fourth round with a sharp right cross, but he fired back with digging body shots. De La Hoya remained the aggressor for the remainder of the fourth and looked like he hurt Del Valle several times. De La Hoya also had control during the fifth round and was able to pop shot Del Valle at a safe range.
Del Valle was hit hard with a straight right counter in the first minute of the sixth round, and he remained tentative for the remainder. By the seventh round Del Valle’s right eye was showing signs of swelling. De La Hoya punished Del Valle to the body and to the head and was physically imposing his will.
Neither boxer stepped on the gas pedal in the eighth and ninth rounds, but De La Hoya was in clear control and landed the higher number of punches.
Del Valle needed a knockout in the final round to win the bout, but that knockout never came.
Diego De La Hoya remained undefeated with decision victory with scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 99-91.
Joseph Diaz Jr. (21-0) and Andrew Cancio (17-3-2) was the next bout of the night in the featherweight division.
Joseph Diaz was a member of the 2012 United States Olympic team and was four years younger than Cancio.
Diaz, a southpaw, stuck to the body in the opening two rounds and was looked very comfortable in the ring. He was able to avoid the punches of Cancio with solid upper body movement and kept his head an elusive target.
Cancio was able to get within striking range in the third round, but took a pounding from Diaz when he got in tight and got his nose busted in the process. Cancio was unable to handle the hand speed of Diaz.
Cancio was able to briefly trap Diaz in the corner in the opening minute of the fourth round and landed some solid body shots, but Diaz took control in the final two minutes and had the head of Cancio snapping backwards from several crisp punches.
Diaz really turned up the pressure in the fifth round and pounded Cancio throughout with combinations at will. Cancio looked outclassed and bewildered, and was simply out of his league.
Diaz’s dominance inside the ring wasn’t impressing the crowd as a wave broke out at the stadium in the sixth round, but at this point it was even clear to the regular fans in attendance that Cancio stood no shot.
Cancio corner was thinking about stopping the fight before the start of the seventh round but they sent him back into the ring. But this round was no different from the previous rounds and he was a punching bag for the talented Diaz.
Diaz’s offensive output dipped in the eighth round, but he still landed at a higher clip and the harder punches. Cancio’s corner repeatedly asked him if he wanted them to stop the fight, but Cancio refused and went back out for the ninth round. Hwoever, in the middle of the round Cancio’s corner wisely decided to stop the fight.
Joseph Diaz impressed with a TKO victory at 2:27 of the ninth round.
Gabriel Rosado (23-9) and Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2) met in the final bout of the televised undercard in the middleweight division.
Rosado looked like the taller fighter, but he was standing straight up while Monroe was boxing with his knees slightly bent. Monroe was able to stay out of Rosado’s range for most of the first round and boxed Rosado effectively by landing the higher number of punches, but none of them could be considered power shots.
Neither Monroe nor Rosado took many risks in the second or third round, but Monroe was landing more punches than Rosado and fought very defensively. The fans started to boo and whistle the lack of action in the third round.
The wave started again in the fourth round, and Monroe continued to safely outbox Rosado. Rosado complained to the referee in the fifth round from an apparent backhand landed by Monroe, but offered little offense after the complaint.
Monroe was sharp in the sixth round and landed several straight left crosses and quick counter jabs. Monroe was able to continue to stay out of the range of Rosado in the seventh round as Rosado was mainly landing at air when he threw punches, but he was pressing the pace and that could have factored in his favor in the eyes of the judges.
Rosado was able to land a few flurries at the end of the eighth round and may have stolen it. It was his most effective offensive output at this stage of the bout.
A cut opened up near the back of the head of Rosado in the ninth round and the referee briefly stopped it to get it attended to, but afterwards both boxers finally threw power shots and both landed heavy shots. Rosado may have scored a knockdown at the end of the round, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Rosado was pressing forward more in the tenth round, but he was not able to land any punches of note while Monroe side stepped him and pop shotted him from the outside.
Rosado needed at least a knockdown in the final two rounds in order to win the bout,but a headbutt in the eleventh round badly swelled and cut the left eye of Rosado and made it much more difficult. Rosado ended the fight better than he started, but it was too little too late.
The judges scored the bout 116-112, 118-110, 117-111 for Willie Monroe Jr.
HBO PPV World Championship Boxing Preview: Canelo vs. Smith, Monroe vs. Rosado
HBO PPV World Championship Boxing Preview: Canelo vs. Smith, Monroe vs. Rosado
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas will be the host site for HBO’s next pay per view offering.
Golden Boy Promotions will pit their superstar, Canelo Alvarez, against British boxer and WBO Junior middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith. Most fight fans were hoping that Canelo would face Gennady Golovkin instead of Liam Smith, and view this fight as mismatch for Canelo.
Two former opponents for Gennady Golovkin, Gabriel Rosado and Willie Monroe Jr., will be fighting in the co-main event of the night. Highly rated prospects Joseph Diaz and Diego De La Hoya will fight on the televised portion of the undercard in matchups that they should win.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
The following is a preview of the main event and co-main event of the night.
Gabriel Rosado (23-9) vs. Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2); Middleweights
The co-main event of the night will be between two boxers that were stopped by Gennady Golovkin, but remain top contenders in the middleweight division.
Monroe is twenty nine years old and Rosado is thirty, so both boxers are in the middle of their prime years. Rosado will be about an inch and half taller than Monroe, but he will be giving up about two and a half inches in reach.
Rosado has the clear edge in power. Rosado has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Monroe has only stopped six. Monroe has the edge in amateur experience as he won the New York Golden Gloves and reached the finals in the Golden Gloves in 2007. Monroe is also the son of Willie Monroe and the great nephew of Willie the Worm Monroe. Rosado does not have any notable accolades as an amateur to mention.
Monroe has been slightly more active than Rosado in recent years. Monroe fought once in 2016, twice in 2015, and three times in 2014. Rosado has fought once in 2016, once in 2015, and two times in 2014.
Rosado’s record can be deceiving. He does have nine losses on his record and has only gone 2-3 in his past five fights, but his losses have come against some of the biggest names in boxing. He has defeated the likes of Joshua Clottey, Antonio Guiterrez, Charles Whittaker, Sechew Powell, Jesus Soto Karass, Ayi Bruce, and saul Roman. His losses have come to Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, Jermell Charlo, David Lemieux, Alfredo Angulo, Fernando Guerrero, and Derek Ennis.
Rosado is a warrior, but he has been stopped four times in his career. He was able to capture the middleweight crown in Big Knockout Boxing (BKB) outside of his normal career of boxing.
Monroe has defeated the likes John Thompson, Brian Vera, Brandon Adams, Vitaliy Kopylenko, Donatas Bondorovas, and won the Boxcino tournament in 2014. His losses were to Darnell Boone and Gennady Golovkin.
Rosado is a live dog in every fight he enters into, and this Saturday is no different. He would be a bigger underdog if Willie Monroe was known for his power, but he’s not and Rosado can box. This should be a very competitive fight, but this writer sees Monroe winning a decision victory.
Liam Smith (23-0-1) vs. Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1); WBO Junior Middleweight Title
Canelo Alvarez holds the WBC World Middleweight Title but will bumping down to the junior middleweight division to face Liam Smith for his WBO Junior Middleweight Title. An argument could be made that even though Canelo holds a legitimate middleweight title, he has never faced an actual true middleweight, and has only faced blown up junior middleweights and welterweights.
Liam Smith has already gone on the record to state that there will be no fight if Canelo cannot make the 154 pound weight limit. However, there is little reason to believe that Canelo won’t make weight.
Saturday will be Canelo’s 50th fight as a professional, and that’s an impressive feat for someone who is only twenty six years old. Smith is two years older than Canelo, and will have a slight height advantage.
Even though Canelo has nearly double the number of fights of Smith and is two years younger, Smith has been more active than Canelo in the past two years. Smith fought four times in 2015 and twice in 2014, while Canelo has averaged two fights a year since 2012. It should also be noted that Smith has never fought outside of the United Kingdom.
Neither boxer has an overly impressive amateur background. Smith was a two time winner of the ABA Championships as an amateur and Canelo won the Junior Mexican National Boxing Championships as a young teenager, but neither competed in the Olympics or won any medals at an amateur world championship.
Canelo’s only loss in his career was to Floyd Mayweather Jr. His list of defeated opponents is impressive, and he has defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley, and Alfonso Gomez.
Smith has never been in the ring with someone of Canelo’s talent. Smith has defeated the likes of Pregrad Radosevic, Jimmy Kelly, John Thompson, and Zoltan Zera.
The one major positive that jumps out at you when looking at Smith’s resume is that he has stopped his past eight opponents. Canelo has stop three of his past five opponents. However, Smith only has thirteen knockouts on his record while Canelo has thirty three.
Again, this will be the first time that Smith has fought outside of the United Kingdom and this fight will be held in Texas which has a large population of Mexican boxing fans. The fans will be hostile towards Smith, which is something he is not used to, and Canelo is the type of high quality opponent that Smith has never seen before.
The stars are aligned for an easy Canelo victory.
Demetrius Andrade Will Rise
Demetrius Andrade Will Rise
By: Brandon Bernica
The first time I glanced at Demetrius Andrade doing work in a boxing ring, I was floored. Right before he was scheduled to fight Vanes Martirosyan for the WBO junior middleweight crown, I decided to scout out this former Olympian. Immediately, his form grabs your attention. Somehow his pristine punches freeze his opponents just out of range. If said opponents try to overextend into his space, he slides to the sides, knowing full well how badly they’re going to whiff before they even punch. His real genius, however, is in his return, in how he seems to choose the right punch at the right time to optimize every exchange for his benefit.
If you think I’m mistaken, I wouldn’t blame you. Andrade is a promoter’s dream – a true talent with proven skills and unbridled confidence. His resume isn’t sparse, either, consisting of wins against well-known contenders like Martirosyan and Willie Nelson. But before you take your money to Bank Andrade and deposit every cent of stock you own, listen. Because Andrade’s story feels incomplete, and it has nothing to do with his performance inside the ropes.
The truth is, Andrade struggles to find an enclave in boxing’s revolving carousel of niches. Not to his own fault, he fights with gusto and barks for any top-dog to go against him. As you start peeling the layers back from Andrade’s career, you notice that the only figures lacking confidence in his abilities are the team around him. Promotionally, Andrade’s never been pushed as an attraction, and it shows in the gun-shy nature of Banner Promotion’s matchmaking for him. Fans have had nothing to get excited about – no big fights, no buzz, no engendering to the public. When he signed a deal to appear exclusively on the Showtime networks, many believed that would be the beginning of an Andrade run at stardom. Instead, Showtime has been reluctant to showcase him, despite little rationale behind that decision. Training-wise, he’s outlasted multiple changes at the helm. While anyone would call it foolish to believe that men like his father and the great Virgil Hunter couldn’t see the prospects in his future, clearly the issue of consistency behind his career lingers.
If anything, Andrade should have the fans in his back pocket, right? Wrong. Fans just haven’t developed any large swell of support for Andrade despite his credentials. One theory behind this disappointing turn out (or turn-away) might be the color of Andrade’s skin. Boxing fans quickly identify black fighters as slick boxer-punchers, lazy bylines moving uninspired, predetermined narratives. And the thing is, Andrade is slick and is a boxer-puncher. But he’s so much more than that. He loves to mix it up. He uses the ring as his playground, bobbing and weaving and punching from every angle the sun shines on. Yet much of this is missed when you box him into stereotypes, limiting perspective to what you expect to see over what you actually see.
If Demetrius Andrade’s story seems unfair, consider this: the man’s thrived under the radar. He grew up in the sliver of the nation in Rhode Island, away from the burning lights of fame. In 2008, his Olympic experience was overshadowed by the likes of Raushee Warren, Gary Russell Jr., and Deontay Wilder. Even against Martirosyan, it was Vanes, not Andrade, who was expected to blossom at the professional level. His ship has tossed and turned amongst the waves already. Fortunately, he’s a pro at righting the ship, thriving in the undertow of boxing. One day, everything will fall in place, or, just maybe, it won’t. To spin an old adage – don’t blame the player, blame the game.