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The Sage Of The Sweet Science

BY Raymond Markarian ON December 22, 2008
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A true master of his craft, Angelo Dundee views his expertise from a unique angle. Like any expert, the 87-year-old Dundee has built a resume on experience. The Socrates of boxing holds over sixty years of knowledge under his belt.

He has seen it all. Therefore we feel privileged to soak up his wisdom. Dundee is a vending machine of boxing information. We give him a token and he gives us a story.

In this session the wise one depicts the Golden Boy experience, lectures us about boxing tough guys, and tells all about an unknown friendship.

Raymond Markarian: How are you Angelo?

Angelo Dundee: Ray, everything is beautiful, what can I tell you? Just fire away, like I’ve told you before, anytime you want, I am ready.

RM: Ok great, well you know that it is always my pleasure to speak with you. Let me start by asking you about De la Hoya. It has been two weeks since the big fight. What can you tell me about the experience of working with the Golden Boy?

AD: I had such a great time at that De la Hoya thing. I had a ball. He is such a nice guy. And, the Golden Boy people, top to bottom, they are class.

RM: Really?

AD: Yeah, I really, really, had a great time I swear to God. They were training up there at Big Bear Mountain. We drove to the mountain at night. Thank God we went at night because if I had to go up there during the day I would have probably hesitated, because it is a big, big, mountain.

RM: Well, what was the training atmosphere like? How did De la Hoya look going into the fight, from your point of view?

AD: Well, I got up there, and the first thing I noticed was that this kid was so happy training there. You see, he had not trained there in a few years. My God, did the guy train.

RM: So what happened?

AD: Well, what happened was: shoulda, woulda, coulda, you can’t look back. The kid was in great shape. So he wasn’t the winner that night. That is the way I put it. There are no excuses, nothing. The better fighter that night won, Manny Pacquiao.

RM: But do you think that De la Hoya over-trained?

AD: Ah, no, no, he trained the way he wanted to train. See, De la Hoya is a happy guy in the gym. I was impressed. Let me tell you, I was impressed about the way this kid handles people. The kid was handling everything at the gym, speaking kindly with people, and then working out again. He is a remarkable kid. I could see why he has been so popular. I had never been on the scene before with De la Hoya. In fact, I had never been on the scene with Pacquiao or De la Hoya. I was impressed.

RM: So overall, the experience was good, but it was not exactly the result you were hoping for.

AD: Oh God no, I thought Oscar had the style to win, I said that before. I just felt like he was big enough, and tough enough. Oscar fought tough guys throughout his career. I watched this kid fight many, many times in L.A. when I would go there with my fighters. Everyone would go watch him because he would be fighting the toughest guys. Going into to the fight, I knew that Pacquiao was a tough guy. But I felt, if De la Hoya was fighting tough guys his entire career, then he would know how to handle this tough guy. But Pacquiao is more than that. He is slick, smart, and quick, with hands and feet.

RM: Of course.

AD: I just felt like De la Hoya was going to win. I tried, you know, with the little input I could give, I felt good about it. But it did not turn out that way. The best laid plans of mice and men, that’s life.

RM: Yeah, can you breakdown the fight for me?

AD: I felt bad…. I felt bad that he couldn’t pull the trigger. He was ready to do everything. His right hand counter in the gym was magnificent. He would have hit that guy with it. But he didn’t fire it, you know. Why didn’t he fire it? Who the hell knows? I mean, his jab started out good, then, it disappeared. In the end, you got to give credit where credit is due. Pacquiao is a great fighter.

RM: I have to ask you one more question about this De la Hoya thing; did you see anything happen in the corner that you could have done any better?

AD: Look, Nacho is a good trainer. He and De la Hoya hit it off fine. Oscar’s brother Joel is a boxing guy. Even Joe, the cut man, he is a good boxing guy as well. You see, you can’t look for kinks or faults, what happened, happened. Yeah, you never second guess, I do not go that route.

RM: Do you think De la Hoya should retire for good?

AD: That is hard to say. I think when it comes around to those kinds of things, it has to come from the source. Let me tell you, he is a real intelligent kid, he is a family man, I met his wife, and I met his kids. He is just a good guy. I was pleased with the acquaintance. The people at Golden Boy were so nice to me. I would do that trip anytime. Hey, you know, things are going great with my book. It is about to go paperback.

RM: You are talking about the book you wrote with Bert Sugar right?

AD: Yeah, “My View From The Corner”

RM: Man, I love that book.

AD: You like it alright, Ray?

RM: I would not lie to you Angie, that book is something special. There are so many great stories to read about.

AD: Thank you, I enjoyed doing it. I have seen a lot of boxing. The book basically takes place from 1948 till now, so there is a lot of history there.

RM: What do you think when you hear people say that boxing is dead?

AD: It bothers me when people talk about how boxing is in bad shape. There are guys coming along. And there are a lot of great trainers out there. We just have to get the right fighters with the best trainers and we will put America back where it belongs, on top.

RM: How do you feel about David Haye challenging the Vitali Klitschko?

AD: Interesting. I just think Klitschko is too big. I will tell you one thing, Klitschko is going to have to worry himself for three or four rounds because this kid Haye throws pineapples, and he is fast. Haye is a gun-ho guy so we are going to have an exciting first three or four rounds, anything can happen.

RM: I think it is the type of fight that can bring the attention back to the heavyweight division.

AD: Oh yeah, the little guy versus the big guy.

RM: Yeah.

AD: You know Vitali is slow enough to get hit. And this kid Haye throws pineapples. He is exciting as hell. I think he is going to juice up the heavyweight division. Haye is the Bob Satterfield type, a bombardier.

RM: He has a swagger as well, I think that could help him.

AD: Yeah, well, the guy is fearless. Haye is a ‘you or me guy.’ He trained in South Beach, with the South Florida Boxing Gym, and Trevor Seeder told me about him. Seeder told me he is exciting as hell. And he is a nice kid.

RM: You see, I think it is the heavyweight division that makes the common sports fan want to follow boxing. When the big guys are popular, people will naturally be interested.

AD: We got some gems out there. It takes time. All we need is fights Ray, I am telling you. All we need is a local kid from each area. How about this heavyweight with the Goossens, Chris Arreola, he is a big strong guy. You see, there is light out there, we just have to put them all together. It just takes time.

RM: You have a point there. What do you think about Mosley vs. Margarito? Do you think Mosley can beat Margarito?

AD: Mosley has to be in the best shape of his life to beat Margarito. He has to offset Margarito’s strength. But you see Mosley is another guy that grew up fighting tough guys. Mosley fought all the best Mexican fighters in L.A. So, you know that he has been tested. I met Mosley at the De la Hoya fight. They are all warm people there at Golden Boy.

RM: How do you feel about the Manny Pacquiao and Henry Armstrong comparison that people are throwing out there?

AD: I would not compare Pacquiao to anybody. Henry Armstrong would not like that. Henry Armstrong is Henry Armstrong. Pacquiao is a special kid and you should give Freddie Roach all accolades necessary, after the job he has done. You have to look at the bright side of everything.

RM: So is it safe to say that Freddie Roach is one of the greatest trainers in history?

AD: Well, after what he is doing, I think you can safely call Freddie one of the top trainers, certainly. Hell, Freddie was trained by the greatest trainer of them all, Eddie Futch.

RM: That’s right.

AD: I used to speak to Eddie Futch like once a week. It is not a lie, we liked each other, Eddie and I, no one really knew that. Anything that happened on his coast I would check with him and anything that would happen in my area, he would check with me.  We always had a great rapport together. He was my friend for a long, long, time.

RM:  I did not know that you and Futch were that close. That must have been pretty crazy with the entire Ali/Frazier thing going on.

AD: You know what’s funny? All of those guys in Frazier’s corner were from Philly, the whole corner. (Dundee laughs) We trainers all communicate with each other. Whenever any kid came from a different area, I used to call the trainer from that area. One time, Razor Ruddock came down here and he said “Oh, I want you to get me out of my contract.” Then I said ‘Wait a minute, who were you working with?’ Then Razor said, “George Chavalo.” Then I said, “How could you get better than George?” So, I called George to let him know, and he was not too happy with Razor. I told George, “Don’t worry, I ain’t going nowhere with the kid.”  But I asked Ruddock, “How much would you give me for my contract?” (Dundee laughs) I did not mess with him because I respect the other trainers.

RM: So, it is like a trainer’s fraternity. Basically, you do not step on anybody’s toes, something like that?

AD: Yes, there is a special camaraderie in the profession, people don’t know how close we are.

RM: Did you ever meet a trainer that you did not get along with?

AD: No, I get along with everybody. I do not hate anybody. I try to outsmart them, try to get the win and everything, but that’s about it. I have a great respect for trainers.

RM: Sounds great, thank you for your time Angelo, I truly appreciate it.

AD: Ray, anytime you want to buzz me, feel free. Thank you.

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