Written by Jake Donovan
Saturday, 04 December 2004 18:00
Using his overwhelming size advantage and a right uppercut that could not miss, undefeated middleweight Jermain Taylor (22-0, 16KO) cruised past three time middleweight titlist William Joppy en route to a unanimous decision. The bout was the main event of an HBO Boxing After Dark, aired live (except for the West Coast) from the Barton Coliseum in Taylor’s hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Taylor gave the crowd of more than 6,300 plenty to cheer about throughout the evening, as he cleaned out the kitchen over the course of the twelve round bout. To Joppy’s credit, he took everything that Jermain had and managed to come back for more as the fight went on. But that was about all the former champ could do, as blocking punches and hurting Jermain just did not seem in the cards. Not tonight, and perhaps not ever again.
“Tonight just wasn’t my night,” said Joppy (34-4-1, 25KO) at the post-fight press conference. “I’m 34 years old, and I’ve only been fighting about once a year since the Eastman fight. When you get up there in age, and you can’t fight as often as you like… it just wasn’t my night.”
Such was obvious from the opening bell. Joppy looked to establish the pace and the range by working his jab early, but a straight right from Taylor quickly - and permanently - turned the tide. From there, Taylor was able to walk Joppy down and land as he pleased throughout the round, and pretty much the entire fight. The beat down was punctuated by a right uppercut toward round's end that caused Joppy’s head to snap back. The crowd jumped to his feet, and Taylor was all over Joppy, as he attacked until the end of the round.
Taylor picked up exactly where he left off, rocking Joppy with a right hand early in the second frame. Chants of “J-T” filled the Barton Coliseum, and also ran through Taylor’s blood, as he confessed afterward.
“Man, people act like they can tune the crowd out and what not,” Taylor let on at the post-fight press conference, “but I hear EVERYTHING. I hear my people calling my name, giving me the “Woo Pig Sooey” (“Call of the Hogs”) chant… man, it’s what makes me love fighting here at my home so much.”
Taylor came out for the third looking to establish a body attack. Early and often, Jermain went downstairs, and was able to parlay it into combinations upstairs, most of which ended with a right uppercut. Jermain also exuded excellent defense in the round as well, as he was able to time Joppy nearly every time William started to throw. All a frustrated Joppy could do was eat punches for his efforts.
The judges failed to give Joppy a single round, but most in press row were kind enough to score the fourth his way, as William picked up his activity level for the first time in the fight. He seemed to have the round in the bag until a right uppercut rocked him late in the round, which prompted Taylor to flurry late and go in for the kill. The last second flurry was apparently enough to steal the round.
Jermain started the fifth round as if he wanted to end the fight, and it almost happened big time. A left hook midway through the round sent Joppy crashing to the canvas for what would be the fight’s only knockdown. Joppy beat referee Bill Clancy’s count, but could not escape the ensuing fusillade of punches from the hometown hero. Once again, Joppy managed to end the round on his feet, but once again also took a major beating for his efforts.
Determined to prove that he wasn’t as hurt as the knockdown suggested, Joppy jumped off of his stool about fifteen seconds before the start of round six. It was about the only time in the fight that he beat Jermain at anything, as he didn’t do much in the next three minutes. Nor did Jermain, who pretty much took the round off, but still managed to be busy enough to take the round.
Taylor would pick it up again in the seventh, and once again seemed on the verge of ending matters early. The crowd once again rained down with chants of “J-T”, but Taylor was unable to deliver the one final shot to put away the durable Joppy. More of the same transpired in the eighth, as the fight was now developing into a somewhat monotonous wipeout.
Things got interesting in the ninth, but for all of the wrong reasons. Joppy spent much of the first half of the round posing and dancing, but rarely punching. Taylor was able to close the gap about midway through. The gap became close enough to where Joppy could grab a hold of him, as he attempted to lift Jermain up and throw him out of the ring. As referee Bill Clancy separated the two, Taylor broke free and took about four shots at a defenseless Joppy. After about a minute of confusion and both fighters in neutral corners, Clancy brought the two to center ring. He could have justifiably taken a point or more from each fighter, but instead let them both off with a warning.
Taylor wasn’t about to let Joppy off as easy. He proceeded to fight more aggressively in the second half of the ninth and throughout the tenth than he had at any other point in the fight. Again, it was the uppercut that dominated both frames. Taylor hadn’t been known in the past to be so effective with the punch, but mastered it after studying previous Joppy fights.
“I watched his fight with Howard Eastman quite a bit,” Taylor informed the media after the fight. “I noticed that Howard was able to land the upperct quite a bit. The tape don’t lie - if he’s open for it there, he’ll be open for it in this fight. He was, and I took advantage.”
The crowd picked up the “Woo Pig Sooey” chant in the championship rounds, but it was Joppy who fought as if they were cheering for him. For the first time since the fourth round, Joppy outworked - or at least attempted to outwork - his opponent eight years his junior. As with the fourth, he managed to win the round in press row, but not on the official cards. He did, however, lose sympathy points as he twice grabbed his crotch as if to say.. Well, whatever he wanted to say. The first time was during the round, aimed toward the Taylor. He did it again at rounds end, jumping on his stool and “signaling” to the crowd.
Perhaps it was his way of signaling the end, as he did absolutely nothing in the twelfth and final round. Taylor stalked, but seemed content with letting the fight go the distance, which it did.
The decision was a formality, as Taylor easily won a unanimous decision and everyone knew it. What was somewhat of a surprise was that all three judges had Taylor pitching a shutout, 120-107. TheSweetScience.com scored the bout 118-109 for Taylor, who wants to get back into the ring as soon as possible. Who against is anybody’s guess, including DiBella.
“We might be looking for him to get back in March or April. We want to let everyone know that his time is now, and he’s ready for the best. No opponent has been mentioned yet, but I can say that we’re not looking to move backward.”
Perhaps not, but there’s not a lot in the other direction. Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins is facing either Howard Eastman or Kingsley Ikeke in February 2005. Eastman apparently has promotional issues that may not be sorted out by the time the fight goes to purse bids, and Ikeke would be the next available contender. How he could fight Hopkins is another matter, as Kingsley has four fights remaining with the very banner that Hopkins was just named President of just two weeks ago (Golden Boy Promotions).
But that’s all for the courts to figure out. Whatever is next for Taylor, he’s more than willing to take it on. If he hadn’t proved it in the past, he certainly did so tonight, not only surviving what was supposed to be the toughest test of his career, but steamrolling right through his opponent. With Bad Intentions from bell to bell.
The bout and the entire card was promoted by Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment, in association with Don King Productions.
Undercard results: Undefeated junior welterweight Paul Malignaggi improved to 19-0 (5KO) with a seventh round technical decision over Italy’s Sandro Casamonica (34-5, 21KO). The bout was a rough, somewhat dirty affair, as Casamonica seemed more interested in roughing up “The Magic Man” than he did in wanting to defeat him. Old injuries came back to haunt Malignaggi, as he managed to re-injure both hands. After the bout Lou DiBella congratulated him, and then immediately declared him “on the shelf” until his hands are 100%… Local heavyweight Terry Smith (22-1-1, 15KO) survived a second round knockdown and a ton of right hands to eke out a six round unanimous decision over tough-as-nails Demetrice King (6-5,4KO). Scores were 58-55 (2x) and 57-56... 2004 Olympian Andre Berto made his pro debut a memorable one, scoring a brutal third round knockout over gutty but overmatched William Robinson (2-2, 2KO). Robinson was decked four times before the bout was mercifully halted at the 2:15 mark. Afterward, Berto was more relieved to get the fight over with than he was impressed with the win. “It’s a big relief. I was a bit worried about how things would turn out, as I wanted to give the fans a real treat. Now it’s over with, and I can concentrate on knocking cats out in 2005”… Undefeated lightweight Koba Gogoladze survived a first round knockdown and a much tougher than expected challenge from Roque Cassiani to earn a ten round split decision. Scores were 94-93 Cassiani, and 94-93 and 97-90 Gogoladze. Cassiani lost a point in the fifth round and Gogoladze a point in the tenth round on what seemed to be a clean knockdown. Referee Tim Adams failed to note what were the grounds for the deductions, nor did he care to explain afterward. DiBella was not thrilled with the turn of events, or the ref in general. “This referee is fucking horrible” was how he summarized his performance, shortly before personally breaking up a fight in the stands immediately after scores were read for this bout… Danny Santiago opened up the show with a first round knockout of James Brock. A left-right did the trick, as Brock went down, took a knee, and never threatened to beat the ten count administered by referee Bill Clancy. Time of the stoppage was 1:28 into the opening frame.
Written by Frank Lotierzo
Friday, 03 December 2004 18:00
Joppy hasn't fought since losing a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision to undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City last December. Against Hopkins, Joppy was competitive for maybe the first two or three rounds. Starting from about the fourth round on, he was in full retreat and survival mode as it was all Hopkins. Due to the beating that Hopkins inflicted on Joppy, most fans thought they'd never see him fight again.
The Taylor-Joppy bout is a continuation of what is actually a tradition more so than a trend in the sport of boxing. The tradition just about always follows the same script, and usually ends the same. In one corner you have the fighter who is on the way up, sometimes a former Olympic medalist, who has the money and the establishment behind him. In the other corner is the eroded ex-champ who still has a name, but fighting with diminished skills.
And for the last couple weeks both Taylor and Joppy have been saying what is routinely said by the fighter in their roll. Taylor has said that this is his time and nothing can stop him. Joppy blames his poor showing against Hopkins on the many personal problems he had leading up to the fight, and quickly points out that he finished on his feet versus Hopkins, unlike De La Hoya and Trinidad who were stopped.
In this fight all the attention will be on Taylor. Joppy will only be a factor after the fight if he wins. Taylor will have everything in his favor during the fight. He'll be the benefactor of every close round in the scoring. If either fighter happens to get cut during the fight, you better believe Taylor will have to be cut a lot worse than would Joppy in order for the fight to be stopped, especially if it's close or Joppy is winning.
Make no mistake about it, Taylor will be the beneficiary of every close call. But he also has all the pressure on him as well. Joppy only has to win the fight, decision or knockout doesn't matter. Taylor, at least in the eyes of the fans and media, is expected to win and look good doing it. Everything Taylor does in the fight will be under a microscope. He will be judged on his potential. Most viewers will be looking to see if he has the potential to one day be the next Hagler or Hopkns?
In reality, Taylor is in a no win situation, but he can only lose if he doesn't win the fight. Regardless of how he looks, he can't beat the ghost of Hagler or Hopkins, whom some will be measuring him against. If he knocks Joppy out in a round or two, it will be said that Joppy was shot and was softened up for him by Hopkins last year. On the other hand, if struggles to win a close decision, many will ask—how good can he be if he couldn't stop a washed up 34 year old former champ with eroded skills?
Taylor's management team are completely in tune with how boxing and the media work. And you better believe they'll play it the same way if he stops Joppy, quickly pointing out that Hopkins couldn't. The goal for Taylor against Joppy is to win, while gaining some needed experience against a name opponent or former champion in front of a national audience.
This fight serves many purposes for both fighters. For Taylor, it's a way to gauge his progression on the way to what many believe will be a world title. In Joppy's case, his career is on the line. Taylor needs a big name to pad his record and show that he can be a fighter who can compete and possibly win a world title down the road. Joppy can resurrect his career with a win over the younger and undefeated Taylor.
Taylor and Joppy know the score going into this fight. And they should because it is a boxing tradition which brings them together tonight. And would anyone reading this really be surprised if in 2013, Taylor is fighting an Olympian from the 2012 Games?
Written by Charles Jay
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
"We've reached the bizarre point where we approve billions of dollars of bills without anyone seeing them. And then we're shocked - shocked! - that a provision would sneak in which is onerous."
-- Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), as quoted in the New York Times, November 24, 2004
P.T. Barnum is known to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute." Apparently a certain senator from Arizona feels the same way.
Many of you know that I was a third-party candidate this year for President of the United States. It was obviously a small campaign - lacking in funding, lacking in staff, lacking in volunteers, but not lacking in enthusiasm. It was a lot of fun; I was on only one state ballot (Utah) as the official candidate of the Personal Choice Party (along with running mate Marilyn Chambers), but aggressively campaigned for write-in votes from many other states.
I figured that some of my past experience brushing up against politics while compiling the "Operation Cleanup" books offered a decent orientation for getting involved in the political arena. I thought that boxing, with its internal scandals and inept, sometimes corrupt regulatory structure, offered a pretty fair perspective to take with me.
In reality, it's been the other way around - the exposure to politics has left me looking at boxing in a whole different way.
Imagine the following hypothetical situation: let's say we have before us a major heavyweight championship bout, perhaps one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in history. The world is watching. It's a close fight all the way to the end, and at the final bell there is much anticipation as to how the judges' scorecards are going to come out. There's quite a delay, with controversy about how the scores have been added up. Maybe one of the judges tells the commission that he mistakenly attributed one round to a fighter when it should have been scored for the other. Maybe a penalty point wasn't reflected properly on a judge's card. Everything is a mess, and it doesn't look like anything is going to be settled with any kind of clarity. But there is one commission official, perhaps the chairman, who has the authority to certify the decision and put it permanently into the record book, and wants the matter to be settled NOW, regardless of what the news media, the fans, or the sanctioning bodies think, or what other extraneous circumstances might present themselves.
Despite the lack of truly conclusive evidence, and in fact amid plenty of legitimate questions about the way the process was implemented, the commission chairman declares Fighter A as the winner.
But wait a minute. There's an outcry coming from the handlers of Fighter B.
They point out - and correctly so - that the commission chairman just happens to be part of the management apparatus of Fighter A, and that this, in and of itself, not only constitutes a clear conflict of interest, but cause for the chairman to recuse himself from taking any part in the rendering of the decision.
Such protests fall on deaf ears. The decision has already been made. And appeals to the governor, under whom the commission chairman operates, won't likely be successful either, because the governor is also a part of Fighter A's management.
If this decision stood, would it not be one of the most horrific scandals in the history of boxing, especially as it was on the sport's biggest stage? I think it would.
But could one not argue that the situation I have just described bears a striking resemblance to what happened in the 2000 presidential election, where Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State and co-chair of George W. Bush's Florida campaign, was the state official authorized to certify the results in the one state that made the difference, and rather than take herself out of the equation, seemed unusually anxious to push that result through? With evidence that thousands of minority voters were purposely disenfranchised through Harris' efforts, and with key officials throughout Florida closely aligned with the Bush family (Jeb Bush is the governor), Al Gore may have been a few points down before the game even started.
Think the Don Kings and Bob Arums are involved in conflicts of interest? The nefarious Harris-Bush connection had those guys beat by a country mile.
Yet aside from the purely partisan cries of Democrats, this violation of ethics didn't draw the kind of outrage it deserved.
Because that's what we have come to expect from politics.
Now imagine that there is a commissioner, or executive director of a commission, who oversees inPiduals and entities doing business within his jurisdiction, receiving financial support, in one way or another, from those very people he is charged with regulating. He receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from those entities, who have interests to protect, in furtherance of his career.
In boxing, there is actually a federal law prohibiting such a thing (see the "Conflict of Interest" provision in the Professional Boxing Safety Act).
But clearly, by way of political contributions - once again, from industries a legislator may actually take part in regulating - which invariably lead to favorable votes for donors and issues, this kind of business is practiced by our state and federal representatives every day of every week, for every year as far back as anyone can remember. And it's gone largely unchecked.
Because it's politics, dummy.
The point is, boxing, even with its "sordid" past and “shady” present, is so much more legitimate than politics as we know it in this country that it's silly to even contemplate a comparison.
If what customarily took place in politics also took place in boxing on a routine basis, there would be enough material for me to write a hundred "Operation Cleanup" books.
The sensibility of politicians should be no secret to anyone - when it is a product of their own activities, those things that may be considered egregious conflicts of interest or 'de facto' bribery are perfectly legal, acceptable, practical, and in fact necessary aspects of the profession.
All of you "geniuses" who want to place the future of boxing into the hands of people like this ought to seriously think about that for a moment.
And now, ready, willing and able to continue this ugly tradition is a United States Senator who was implicated in one of the most infamous "politician-for-sale" scandals in recent memory - the Keating Five.
His name, of course, is John McCain.
For years, McCain has attempted to wrest control of professional boxing from the industry itself. He has led the charge on passage of two federal bills - the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which was enacted into law in 2000. Both aspired to set forth certain industry and safety standards, which have often not been followed by many state boxing commissions and unenforced by any federal agency.
Despite no enforcement, no funds, and, truth be known, no real interest on the federal level, McCain's way of addressing his own conception of boxing reform was to bring forward even MORE legislation. On February 4, 2003, he introduced the Professional Boxing Amendments Act, which was to amend the Professional Boxing Safety Act and centralize power with a singular national boxing "czar", who would presumably exercise rule over the sport in a manner not unlike that of the NFL's Paul Tagliabue or the NBA's David Stern.
These were his remarks in association with the bill’s introduction:
”Mr. President, today, I am joined by my colleague, Senator Dorgan, in introducing the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2003. This legislation is designed to strengthen existing Federal boxing laws by making uniform certain health and safety standards, establish a centralized medical registry to be used by local commissions to protect boxers, reduce arbitrary practices of sanctioning organizations, and provide uniformity in ranking criteria and contractual guidelines. This legislation also would establish a Federal regulatory entity to oversee professional boxing and set uniform standards for certain aspects of the sport.
Since 1996, Congress has acted to improve the sport of boxing by passing two laws, the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996, and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000. These laws were intended to establish uniform standards to improve the health and safety of boxers, and to better protect them from the sometimes coercive, exploitative, and unethical business practices of promoters, managers, and sanctioning organizations.
While the Professional Boxing Safety Act, as amended by the Muhammad Ali Act, has had some positive effects on the sport, I am concerned by the repeated failure of some State and tribal boxing commissions to comply with the law, and the lack of enforcement of the law by both Federal and State law enforcement officials. Corruption remains endemic in professional boxing, and the sport continues to be beset with a variety of problems, some beyond the scope of the current system of local regulation.
Therefore, the bill we are introducing today would further strengthen Federal boxing laws, and also create a Federal regulatory entity, the ``United States Boxing Administration'', USBA, to oversee the sport. The USBA would be headed by an Administrator, appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
The primary functions of the USBA would be to protect the health, safety, and general interests of boxers. More specifically, the USBA would, among other things: administer Federal boxing laws and coordinate with other federal regulatory agencies to ensure that these laws are enforced; oversee all professional boxing matches in the United States; and work with the boxing industry and local commissions to improve the status and standards of the sport. The USBA would license boxers, promoters, managers, and sanctioning organizations, and revoke or suspend such licenses if the USBA believes that such action is in the public interest. No longer would a boxer be able to forum-shop for a state with a weak commission if he or she is undeserving of a license.
Under this legislative proposal, the fines collected and licensing fees imposed by the USBA would be used to fund a percentage of its activities. The USBA also would maintain a centralized database of medical and statistical information pertaining to boxers in the United States that would be used confidentially by local commissions in making licensing decisions.”
Instead of serving a fact-finding purpose, McCain used his Senate committee's hearings as photo opportunities, trotting out boxing luminaries like Muhammad Ali, Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins, none of whom contributed anything particularly insightful, and lapdogs like Greg Sirb, the Pennsylvania commission's executive director, who was willing to go in whichever direction McCain wanted to point him.
McCain's bill was ignorant of the business, and consequently it was fraught with problems in its very makeup. For one thing, it added another level of bureaucracy to the process of approving fights, as the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) had to put its stamp of approval on all ten-round bouts. This means that the sensitivity toward what is acceptable and what isn't on a local card would become one level further removed from state regulators, who would seem to have more of a keen awareness of their local competitors. With the red tape and accompanying time delays involved when states have to gain approval from a separate entity, the bureaucracy created by McCain's bill promised to destroy many boxing shows, with the effect of greatly reducing overall efficiency.
Bringing the ABC into a position of increased authority was also problematic. One thing that must be understood, but which has been completely ignored by McCain, is the fact that the perceived need for federal recognition is, more than anything else, a product of the inability of the ABC to perform any kind of useful function. Year after year, the ABC meets at its annual convention, and year after year, its members have failed to come together on the most essential improvements for the sport.
Instead, they make fools of themselves trying to play the role of authority. A perfect illustration of that came with the convention this past year in Charleston, S.C., when, at a general meeting which was addressing the issue of scoring fights, a commissioner named Wally Jernigan, from that boxing hotbed of Nebraska, talked himself till he was blue in the face, and rapidly toward oblivion, explaining that the first knockdown in a round should count for two points, with subsequent knockdowns counting for one.
A number of real, live judges jumped from their chairs and pointed out – correctly, I might add - to Jernigan that there IS no such thing as a knockdown that counts for two points.
Nevertheless, Jernigan plowed through with his speech, continuing to talk about "two-point knockdowns" and continuing to be interrupted by professionals who were quick to correct him. As Jernigan stumbled forward, redefining for some the term ad naseum, things got so absurd and embarrassing that several people literally left the room in disgust.
At that juncture, one of the wiser ABC officials started to search the host hotel and flagged down veteran Nevada judge Duane Ford, who entered the room, took over the discussion from Jernigan, and mercifully restored some sanity to the meeting.
What made this seem even more ridiculous is that I had just come from the annual seminar of the International Professional Ring Officials (IPRO), and though the difference in professionalism was like night and day, IPRO does not have the authority to certify ring officials, while the ABC, and only the ABC, does.
You figure THAT logic out.
What the ABC has NOT done is debate and settle on a uniform set of medical tests that all states, either by agreement or model legislation, would require. That might be the most constructive thing they could ever do, but there has never been any real effort in that direction. And McCain's bill does nothing to address this issue, purportedly because they're waiting on recommendations from the Association of Boxing Commissions.
That may be bizarre, but it's precisely what happens when the person who drafts and sponsors a bill for boxing doesn't know boxing, and indeed doesn't WANT to know.
The irony, and at the same time the tragedy, is that if all you had in a federal bill was a set of uniform on-site safety provisions and uniform medical tests, you'd be accomplishing a lot more than ANY of the pieces of federal legislation has ever done.
This is a bill no fiscal conservative could ever embrace. It calls for a budget of $7 million for the first year and a total of at least $34 million for a five-year period, originally intended to encompass the years 2004-2008 but now apparently moving that schedule back one year.
The proposal calls for a full staff of 30 people, according to the report that was submitted by McCain's Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 14, 2003. The budget for salaries and benefits for staff members is $3 million - an average of $100,000 per employee per year. In other words, the AVERAGE worker's compensation package is higher than roughly 85% of the executive directors of boxing commissions in this country. When you're talking about an entire structure that is, in effect, redundant, you're constructing a model for government waste, especially as concerns an industry that does not cry out for its regulation to be publicly subsidized.
The Professional Boxing Amendments Act may also facilitate the creation of what amounts to a slush fund under the guise of establishing "boxing registries." According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), there would be $2 million allocated over a four-year period for the creation of a registry of all fighters, in which results and records would be kept for official purposes. That figure would seem exceedingly high, especially as those services are being provided for a lot less money now.
The International Brotherhood of Prizefighters (of which I am now president) has in the past offered to, at its own expense, make all boxers' records and results available to state and tribal boxing commissions, free of charge, as long as the results were sent in to the IBOP office by each commission.
However, the ABC has continually granted monopoly status in the "boxing registry" category to a New Jersey-based company called Fight Fax, which has used this privileged position to extract excessive fees from within the industry for boxing records, charging as much as $9 for one inPidual record. As such, it operates very much the same way an unregulated utility would. Through the years, ABC officials, particularly Greg Sirb, have actively blocked other entities from making competitive bids for the registry contract. During at least a two-year period encompassing 1995 and 1996, Phill Marder, then the owner of Fight Fax, was actually listed by the ABC as "Public Relations Chairman," which meant that he was performing services for the organization at the same time he was supposed to be involved in competitive bidding for the registry contract in a process conducted through the ABC.
Sirb has stated, on the record, that he is "online" with the Fight Fax database, meaning that unlike other boxing commissions, his does not necessarily have to pay Fight Fax for boxing records. Fight Fax has found itself party to a lawsuit from the family of Stephon Johnson, the junior middleweight from New York who died from injuries suffered in a November 20, 1999 bout against Paul Vaden, and who had been taken off the national suspension list by Fight Fax (after having been put there by the Ontario Commission) under what might be considered questionable circumstances. Fight Fax is the "custodian" of the suspension list, under the supervision of the ABC. The president of the ABC at the time of Johnson's death was Greg Sirb. Sirb has refused to be deposed by attorneys pursuant to the Johnson lawsuit.
Some of this is important because of the rumor that in the event McCain's bill passes, the ABC, at the urging of Sirb, would actually use the $2 million subsidy to purchase Fight Fax, and retain its owner, Anibal Miramontes, to run the database for one of the inflated salary-benefit packages allowed for by the bill's inflated budget.
The bill would also allocate $8 million over a five-year period for the development of a medical registry. This would require the construction of a database of current fighters with medical information at the ready; more detailed than what has been available previously on the suspension list, facilitating better communication between commissions when it came to determining the medical eligibility of fighters.
Of course, the appropriation for the database is incredibly excessive - it's a job that can be done for a mere fraction of that money. Nonetheless, it's a potential financial windfall that has prompted a tug-of-war among the record-keeping services and within the ABC itself.
Sirb, it is rumored, would like for both the fighter registry and the medical database to be turned over to Fight Fax. The website Boxrec.com would like to put something together in conjunction with the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP). But there are other interests, within the ABC itself, who feel it is important that control of the database be kept within the organization, perhaps because some of the monstrous allocation of dollars could be siphoned off to fund some of the ABC's general operations.
Toward this end, those interests are eager to know about information that might disqualify organizations under the current boxing registry criteria. And so they were not at all unhappy about hearing some unsettling things about a couple of them at the ABC Convention.
Indeed, Fight Fax and Miramontes have come under fire in the past for having connections to sanctioning bodies and fighters that might cause a possible conflict of interest. While serving with Fight Fax, Miramontes has been involved as an official with the World Boxing Association and is alleged to have been active as a booking agent for professional fighters.
On one occasion in particular, this created controversy for Miramontes in connection with a championship fight. On March 30, 2001, Mexico City's Hugo Dianzo challenged Paulie Ayala for the WBA bantamweight title in Fort Worth. Miramontes was one of the three judges assigned to the bout by the WBA; all of the judges scored the bout for Ayala, who was sent to the canvas by Dianzo in the third round. Many ringside observers reportedly had Dianzo ahead at the end, including the ESPN announcers.
According to statements made to internet writer Steve Kim by Dianzo's representative, Rafael Mendoza, Miramontes had a bias against his man stemming from some past history between the two.
"It's not fair for a fighter to go there with a guy who has no ethics," he told Kim. "I have a problem with Mr. Miramontes in the past with another fighter, trying to collect money from my fighter . . . Telling me he was the man who got the fight, but he never called me. When he called me, he told me that he can make the fight. I told him, 'Don't do it, I am the only one who makes the fight for the fighter.’ He insisted and did it, and now you want money? Finally I pay him."
That sounds consistent with the behavior of a wayward booking agent.
Miramontes denied the incident ever took place, or that he has in fact been an agent.
On July 21, at the ABC Convention in Charleston, the revised criteria was presented for all prospective registries to meet. One of them was:
"A boxing registry shall not be affiliated with, directly or indirectly, a sanctioning organization, promoter, manager, or any entity having a financial interest in a boxer"
Miramontes, when asked by the ABC Executive Board, claimed not to have any ties in this regard.
However, as of that day, according to the official website of an organization called the North American Boxing Association (NABA) - a sanctioning body associated with the WBA - Miramontes was listed on the NABA Ratings Committee as a "general advisor". The NABA shares a physical address, phone number, and fax number with something called the Pan-Am Boxing Agency, which is involved in booking fighters and in other aspects of boxing promotions, and reportedly has promotional agreements with some fighters.
On July 21 I contacted George Martinez, who runs the NABA, and questioned him about Miramontes' connection to both organizations. "He used to be with us (as an advisor)," Martinez says. "But that was a long time ago." Martinez, who is also on the WBA's Executive Committee, claimed that the NABA website had simply not been changed, and that, as regards the boxing agency, his son runs that company, not him.
But I was subsequently told much differently. One manager, who contacted me on condition of anonymity, asserted that there was no separation at all between any of these entities, and that everyone, including Miramontes, was intimately involved.
In referring to Martinez, the manager said, "Here's a guy who controls a ratings organization in North America, and uses his position as chairman to screw boxers who won't sign promotional contracts with his promotions company that he and Anibal from Fight Fax control in Toronto, the Pan-Am Boxing Agency." The manager produced documents pursuant to his claim that he has received promotional contracts directly from Martinez with instructions to sign.
Fight Fax is also reportedly in the development of a strategic partnership with the boxing website SecondsOut.com, which would host the database of records online in a for-profit venture. The owner/operator of SecondsOut.com is Robert Waterman, a licensed manager/promoter in Great Britain whose clients include heavyweight prospect Roman Greenberg. Greenberg has also fought five times in America, presumably bringing Waterman under U.S. jurisdiction as well.
Oh, by the way - as for Boxrec.com, that website is operated by John Shephard, who has been a licensed promoter in England.
Naturally, the Professional Boxing Amendments Act is going to encounter some resistance from states with boxing commissions on the basis of a 10th Amendment argument; that is, that the federal government doesn't have the right to assume that kind of role called for in the bill, and the mandate for additional paperwork to satisfy a federal agency isn't justified.
"I don't even think I'm going to follow that law," the head of one state boxing commission told me. "I am a state employee. I am here to administer state law, not federal law. I don't feel as if it is my obligation, under the way state law defines my duties, to perform all these extra duties for a federal agency. And I know I'm not alone."
No he isn’t. There is precedent for taking this position. In 1994, Richard Mack, the sheriff of Graham County in John McCain's home state of Arizona, challenged certain provisions in the Brady Bill (designed to restrict the sale of handguns) on the basis that the local law enforcement agency he oversaw was not constitutionally required to spend time, money and effort to enforce a federal mandate. The 10th Amendment reserves to the states those powers not specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution, he claimed, and thus the government could not require states or local agencies to administer federal regulatory programs. Mack's argument traced further back, to the Supreme Court's decision in New York v. United States, which dealt with waste disposal.
On June 27, 1995, Mack, along with co-plaintiff Jay Printz, a sheriff from Montana, won his case.
In referring to the requirement for local or state agencies to do federal work, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty."
Admittedly, one of the conflicts I’ve faced is that I realize the quality of regulation at the state level has been found wanting in all but six or seven states, due to many factors, including lack of expertise, inexperience, indifference, disorganization, etc. Yet the nationalization of regulatory control, even if it were completely consistent with the Constitution, would present its own dilemma because it would likely do nothing more than take some of the inept bureaucrats from the state level and promote them to the national level, thus actually exacerbating the problem. And with thirty people earmarked for positions within this prospective national structure, there is little chance to avoid overall mediocrity; after all, there isn't exactly a "deep bench" out there.
The country's two most experienced executive directors - Larry Hazzard of New Jersey and Marc Ratner of Nevada - are not particularly interested in serving on such a national commission. In fact, their states oppose the McCain bill. And New Jersey has gone one step further, actually seceding from the ABC, which leaves us with people like Greg Sirb actively seeking national positions.
That Sirb would even be considered represents a failure to perform due diligence, and a failing in the process of government in general. Prior to Missouri's Tim Lueckenhoff, Sirb had served as president of the ABC, and his tenure in that position coincided with the passage of both the Professional Boxing Safety Act and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. This was an opportune time for the ABC, even as a trade organization, to galvanize support from all boxing commissions, in an effort to adopt certain uniform standards across the board. But Sirb failed to provide leadership in this area. During his reign the ABC became the boxing equivalent of the "do nothing" Congress of 1948, and his legacy lives on, as ABC functions have continued to be ego-driven affairs, in which officials from states without significant boxing activity have been propelled into power by Sirb and his minions, with no regard to their level of competence or experience, and the advice put forth by the more knowledgeable members has been largely ignored.
As a result, Hazzard's New Jersey State Athletic Control Board pulled out of the ABC in 2001, and Ratner stepped away from the ABC's Executive Board this past year.
As Sirb's term ran out in 2001 and he engineered his own retention on the ABC board, Jack Kerns was elected to the position of First Vice-President. It seemed to matter none to Sirb, or the rest of the ABC, that Kerns had just recently ignored the safety provisions established by the Professional Boxing Safety Act, allowing former heavyweight champion Greg Page to step into a Kentucky ring without paramedics, oxygen, stretcher, or a licensed physician present, consciously and after consultation with the rest of his commission. Page suffered a head injury in that March 9, 2001 bout, and, absent any assistance in the ring, nearly died that night, suffering irreparable brain damage.
The ABC cleared a smooth path for Kerns' election; and he only lost his office with the organization when he was fired from his commission job by the Kentucky governor. Subsequent depositions revealed that Kerns had no awareness of what was contained in the federal legislation.
So as previously stated, it can be argued - very convincingly - that the perceived necessity for McCain to come in with a third piece of federal legislation came about precisely because the ABC has been an abject failure.
It seemed more than just a little absurd that if McCain's bill were to pass, the ABC would be given even MORE authority.
And Sirb, who has arbitrarily removed fighters off national suspension lists in violation of the Professional Boxing Safety Act, permitted underage fighters to enter Pennsylvania rings in ignorance of state law, and mismanaged a "fighter assistance fund" (as documented in my "SirbGate" series) to the extent that it brought about an inquiry by the Keystone State's attorney general's office – is able to be in a position to still politic his way into a national leadership post that carries with it a substantial raise.
Surely something is very, very wrong here.
McCain's bill had a very hard time working up any kind of momentum in the Senate. The residue of 9/11 meant that boxing was not going to occupy a premium slot on the agenda, and many of McCain's Senate colleagues had a hard time connecting to his legislation, particularly because McCain had been trying to get it to the Senate floor without showing it to anyone first. Toward the end of the 2003 session, when McCain was unsuccessful bringing the bill - S. 275 - to the floor, some Senators, who had been forearmed with "Kill the Bill" stories out of "Operation Cleanup 2," reportedly called the Congressional Budget Office, asking just what the bill was, and why it was costing so much, because the information had not really been made available to them.
Undoubtedly though, the major obstacle for McCain was another United States Senator. Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada had his own bill for boxing reform - the National Boxing Commission Act, and there were differences between McCain's and Reid's bills that made it very difficult for them to compromise.
Reid's proposal called for a three-person committee, rather than McCain's single boxing "czar.” And while McCain, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from media companies, did not want any regulation of the role of television networks in boxing, Reid most definitely did.
Reid also wanted someone from Nevada be a key player in the national regulatory structure, where McCain, it was widely believed, was partial to Sirb, the boxing administrator he might be able to most easily manipulate.
McCain wasn't taking a backward step, and neither was Reid. And so 2003 all of a sudden turned into 2004.
McCain, who felt as though he had a birthright to the issue, showed his frustration early in the year. In February he appeared on Don Imus' nationwide radio show and wasted no time exploiting the FBI's raid on Bob Arum's Top Rank offices for his own gain, at the same time rubbing Reid's nose in the fact that one of his constituents appeared to be embroiled in a boxing scandal that might result in multiple indictments.
He railed against Reid for "blocking" his boxing reform bill. "It's being held up by Senator Harry Reid," McCain said. "Don King and Bob Arum don't want boxing reform, but we're going to win because there are going to be more scandals." (Was he going to create them personally?)
Reid responded, "I don't see how you can do a boxing bill unless you include Showtime and HBO because they are the ones that control all the fights now."
Oddly enough, as McCain was grandstanding on the air, he and Reid were actually involved in talks aimed at coming to an accommodation on a boxing bill everybody could live with.
Eventually, an agreement was reached. And on March 31 of this year, the bill, with amendments, was passed by voice vote in the Senate. Though not a true amalgam of McCain and Reid's bills, S. 275 took on those aspects of Reid's legislation that the Nevada senator considered most important. For example, McCain acquiesced to employing a three-person bi-partisan commission, including at least one former state boxing administrator and someone from the medical profession.
The ABC was also stripped of some of its significance, meaning that commissions did not have to go through the laborious task of petitioning the trade organization to get "duplicate" approval for matches.
As a way of appeasing Reid and still letting McCain save face with those lining his campaign coffers, the two agreed that there would be a study of television networks and their role in boxing, focusing on the proposition of whether to consider them "promoters.” Such a study would have to be concluded within a year of enactment of the bill.
The big irony here, of course, is that networks have long been a force in boxing, and McCain has been active in boxing-related legislation for quite some time. The Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996, for instance, deals with the definition of a "promoter," as do the other bills. Yet STILL no one has settled on a way to identify and deal with the major players. You’d think someone would have done research on this BEFORE writing a bill and trying to introduce it, but McCain's trademark has been to deal with this in an "ass-backward' manner, meaning that because none of his process was less about gathering facts than putting on a show, no effort was undertaken to uncover information that might be considered critical to proper legislation.
Of course, much of this can be attributed to the "dirty work" of someone named Ken Nahigian.
The minority counsel for the subcommittee dealing with McCain's boxing legislation, Nahigian seemed, from the start, dedicated to insulating the Arizona senator from opposing points of view. It is not an uncommon practice in the legislative process to draw up a bill, and to, after introducing it, look for witnesses at hearings who will offer testimony purely in support of it. But Nahigian took things to the extreme, screening witnesses so extensively that even some who supported McCain's bill were turned away because they "didn't say all the right things in the pre-interview, at least not to Nahigian's satisfaction," in the words of one of them.
Other potential witnesses claim to have turned Nahigian down. One of them told me, "They tried to feed me what basically amounted to a script. I wasn't going to say anything that I didn't believe in." Still other witnesses were allowed to use opening statements that were, word for word, almost identical to those that were used previously in Senate subcommittee hearings.
It was a political circus, a waste of taxpayer dollars, and wound up, in fact, being the inspiration for my own "Operation Cleanup" series.
Nahigian ran interference for McCain when it came to taking full political advantage of other events to solicit support for the bill. As it was revealed that there was an FBI investigation surrounding Las Vegas-based Top Rank, McCain seized upon it as an opportunity. Nahigian started to look for someone he could offer to the FBI as a "consultant" of sorts, for purposes of interpreting the wiretapped phone conversations in the Top Rank offices. How McCain's people would have access to specific information related to the case is anyone's guess.
When McCain's bill arrived in the U.S. House of Representatives, it was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and later to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, chaired by Florida congressman Cliff Stearns. From the start, McCain's bill ran into trouble, because the states' rights issue just wouldn't go away. Stearns expressed some opposition to the extent of the bill’s authority, as did others with the subcommittee, and as time progressed, insofar as the legislation was even discussed, an alternative to it was being explored.
On September 9, the subcommittee held a hearing on the subject of boxing reform, with the validity of McCain's bill very much in mind. Of course, once again politicians did not waste the opportunity to exploit Muhammad Ali, who came to support the concept of federal rule over the sport. This time, however, to the subcommittee's credit, it gave a voice to at least one faction of the sport - sanctioning bodies - that were to be a subject of regulation but were being completely shut out of the dialogue by McCain's man, Nahigian.
The official press release from that day reads like this:
MUHAMMAD ALI PROMOTES BOXING REFORM BEFORE SUBCOMMITTEE
WASHINGTON – At a hearing held today by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, boxing legend Muhammad Ali testified to the need for continued reform and federal oversight of the boxing industry.
“The work of improving boxing is not yet done,” Ali testified in a statement read by his wife, Lonnie. “While (prior reforms) have been effective, and more transparency exists today in boxing than at any other time in its history, there are still disturbing indications that federal, state and tribal enforcement of boxing laws has been spotty, and in some respects, non-existent.”
“Reform measures are unlikely to succeed unless a U.S. Boxing Administration is created with authority to oversee a sport that still attracts a disproportionate number of unsavory elements that prey upon the hopes and dreams of young athletes.”
The subcommittee’s hearing provided members the opportunity to examine the state of the professional boxing industry, and assess the need for additional federal regulation. Congress enacted two boxing-related acts in the last eight years: The Professional Boxing Safety Act, passed in 1996, addresses medical and safety issues faced by boxers, while The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, passed in 2000, dealt with contractual issues and required broad financial disclosures to boxers by promoters and rating organizations. Much concern has been raised about the varying degrees of enforcement of these new laws by the state and tribal commissions, which has led to increased interest in the formation of a federal boxing oversight commission.
“Errors may occur (despite the new federal laws), but there has to be some accountability if the credibility of the sport is to be restored,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The question really is whether the states are up to the job and we need to simply enforce current law, or whether any federal law will ever remedy some of the problems that seem to be inherent in boxing.”
Subcommittee Chairman U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. added, “While protecting the most vulnerable among us, either in sport or any other context, is a truly laudable goal, the question remains – will additional federal oversight to police the sport improve the lives of ordinary boxers?”
Other witnesses at today’s hearing included Patrick English, former member of the National Association of Attorneys General Task Force on Boxing; Gregory Sirb, executive director of the Pa. State Athletic Commission; Robert Mack, general counsel and chairman, Legal Committee, World Boxing Association; Bruce Spizler, chairman, Legal Committee, Association of Boxing Commissioners; and James J. Thomas II, attorney for Evander Holyfield and other boxers.
“Some say it is a miracle that a black boy named for a slave master and born in the segregated south can grow up and become one of the most recognized – and prettiest – men on the face of the earth,” Ali concluded. “In truth, it is a miraculous story that springs from the deepest wells of America. And in this case, boxing was the vehicle for my success.
“This is not uncommon. Armed with the discipline they learned from boxing, many go on to achieve success or even greatness in other professions and raise children who do. The courage instilled from boxing allows them to endure great hardship and become great leaders.”
“In sum, there is nothing wrong with boxing that we cannot fix. I urge this subcommittee to seize the opportunity to complete the important work you have begun.”
Indeed, the way the subcommittee chose to complete that work was to, in a sense, start the process all over again.
On October 7, Stearns introduced the "U.S. Boxing Commission Act" - HR 5272 - with these remarks:
"Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation to help protect professional boxers throughout our country. I am introducing the ``United States Boxing Commission Act'' to create a Federal entity responsible for coordinating, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the sport of boxing. Currently, the states and tribal organizations regulate professional boxing. Although they have taken great effort to require minimum standards for the sport, uniform enforcement has been a problem.
Congress has enacted legislation to address the sport of boxing twice in the past decade. In 1996, we enacted the Professional Boxing Safety Act. In 2000, we again addressed boxing reform and passed the Muhammad Ali Act. The idea of a Federal Boxing Commission was raised in previous Congresses and it was deemed unnecessary at that time. However, after carefully reviewing the effectiveness of the laws we passed, I am convinced it is now time for a Federal Commission for professional boxing. Despite our previous efforts, enforcement of the law remains an issue and the sport continues to face problems that cannot be addressed by the states. In fact, at a hearing I held in my subcommittee, a current state boxing commissioner testified that the states need the Federal government to be directly involved.
I do not think lightly of creating a new Federal commission. I would typically be reluctant to introduce such a bill because I believe strongly in states' rights, and most of them do an excellent job in regulating boxing. However, the history and nature of the sport provide overwhelming evidence that it only takes one state to lower its standards--usually in the name of money--and undermine the integrity of the sport. More importantly, the safety of a boxer is supposed to be paramount and protected by the state authority. When a state lowers its standards or fails to follow the law, it jeopardizes every boxer's safety.
This legislation is intended to implement changes that are within the Energy and Commerce Committee's jurisdiction and is therefore narrower than what is required to fully address the issues boxers face. It creates the United States Boxing Commission which will have the power and authority to set minimum standards for the states to follow. It will not replace the state regulation, but will work with the states to develop appropriate minimum standards and to ensure their rules and standards are enforced.
As I indicated, I support additional reforms that are necessary to fully address the problems of the sport and protect boxers. While it is my preference to do more, because those reforms are not within the Committee's jurisdiction, I am committed to work with my House colleagues and the Senate to address those concerns and ensure they become Federal law as well."
Stearns’ concern for the 10th Amendment and states’ rights, as you see, went only so far. In the end, it was just another "nanny" speech about the necessity for the federal government to come in and take over boxing.
For those who allow for the possibility that federal legislation can be helpful, HR 5272 probably represented an improvement in many ways over that which had been offered by McCain. It gutted the language of McCain's S. 275 and kept the ABC at arm's length. It was also simpler - accommodating some members of the House who thought the McCain bill contained more "regulation" than there was time to sufficiently review.
For the most part, though, HR 5272 was a symbolic gesture. It is highly unlikely that a bill introduced on October 7 of an election year is going to gain passage before the end of a session. And it seemed clear that the purpose of Stearns' bill (which was co-sponsored by Peter King of New York) was to provide a good "jumping-off point" for the matter to be taken up again when the new Congress came into session in January.
But none of that was good enough for John McCain.
With time running out before Congress was to leave for the holidays, word around Capital Hill found McCain "absolutely desperate" to get his Boxing Amendments Act passed, and with good reason. At the end of the year, the term of McCain's chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee would expire; without that leverage, it would be questionable as to whether he'd have the strength to get his bill through committee again, as would be required. And his efforts to attain what he thought might be an easy political victory might go up in flames.
So John McCain, the man who, through artful public relations, has managed to build such a reputation as an "upfront guy" (remember the "Straight Talk Express"?); who, for years, made it a habit of putting on spectacles at his Senate hearings involving Ali, Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins, and more of the sport's biggest names, trumpeting his own "goodwill" at every turn, reduced himself to sneaking around like a thief in the night to get his legislation passed.
McCain, the "war hero,” took the cowardly road, setting out on a mission to get the Professional Boxing Amendments Act attached to any unrelated bills that came along, in a pathetic attempt to use elected representatives, some of whom have already been voted out of office, to pass something they never really intended to. And something without a constitutional basis at that.
The man who speaks out against "pet projects" first tried to get it attached as an amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill. He failed. Then he tried to get it attached to a telecommunications bill. Again he failed.
Then McCain turned to a bill designated as "S. 3021,” the "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2004:"
This piece of legislation was part of the ongoing battle between media companies and what might be termed the "non-consumer"; i.e., people who pirate intellectual property and either sell it commercially or use it to exchange files with each other over the internet. The general thrust of the bill is to make it a criminal offense to videotape or otherwise reproduce films in movie theaters, for whatever purpose.
On Saturday, November 20, without any advance notice whatsoever, McCain made his quick pitch. From the Congressional Record:
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 3021, which was introduced earlier today by Senators HATCH and LEAHY.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
A bill (S. 3021) to provide for the protection of intellectual property rights and for other purposes.
There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the McCain amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be read a third time and passed, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements regarding this matter be printed in the RECORD.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment (No. 4074) was agreed to.
(The amendment is printed in today's RECORD under ``Text of Amendments.'')
The bill (S. 3021), as amended, was read the third time and passed, as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2004''.
And there it was – just like that.
The bill, in its entirety, passed the Senate, by unanimous consent, which means there were no objections raised by anyone present.
That action sent S. 3021 - the intellectual property bill, now with McCain's boxing bill attached - to the House of Representatives.
There really hasn't been any collaboration between McCain and Cliff Stearns on boxing legislation they could both live with. And in fact, neither Stearns' office, nor those of other members of the subcommittee, knew that McCain was making his sneaky end run.
The way the legislative process works - what the public is generally not aware of but what may need to be changed - is that of someone comes with an amendment to a bill, things move so quickly, especially toward the end of a session, that there is very little chance to galvanize any protest to that amendment. More often than not, no one, with the exception of those people who are physically present, is likely to know it was done until AFTER the fact. And since there are no "line item" vetoes, the problem is compounded.
The industries affected by S. 3021 itself (the intellectual property bill) were a little confused as to how and why McCain and his amendment crawled out from under a rock.
"I don't know whether this is a poison pill for the bill," Alan Davidson, associate director for the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology, told the Associated Press. "These were a carefully crafted set of copyright provisions, but it's an open question whether the House will accept them with the boxing legislation attached."
What's attached, over and above everything else, was a lot of pure political hardball.
Some of it was likely being played by House members, not happy about the fact that McCain had voted against energy legislation that was spearheaded in part by Texas Congressman Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over the boxing legislation.
And according to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, a spokesperson for Utah Congressman Chris Cannon said the prospect of a federal boxing commission "may be too much for House Republicans to swallow.”
It's now escalated to a tug-of-war which includes telecom bills as well. McCain has put out the threat, to Barton and others, that he will hold up all telecom legislation that come over from the House to the Senate until his boxing bill passes. One news story described him as "drawing a line in the sand".
All this over a political initiative that is completely unrelated.
Or is it?
The interesting thing about the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act is that conglomerates like Time Warner, Viacom, Disney and Fox, which have major investments in the motion picture and record industries, are the interests who would benefit from it, and they are also the entities that would be disadvantaged by McCain's amendment. After all, it calls for the disclosure of rights fees broadcasters pay to promoters, contracts between networks and fighters, and rather nebulously, "a list identifying sources of income received from a broadcast of the match,” not to mention a study which would determine whether networks will be regulated as "promoters" in the future.
Remember, Time Warner, which produces motion pictures through Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema, also exhibits boxing through HBO and HBO Pay-Per-View, and owns a stake in the pay-per-view carrier In Demand, which holds a virtual monopoly in that field; Viacom owns Paramount Pictures and of course, the Showtime premium cable network, not to mention CBS, UPN, BET, and Spike TV; the Walt Disney Company has Walt Disney Pictures and ESPN, one of the bigger carriers of boxing (the company owns ABC too); and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures, and also a slew of television networks, including its own Fox Broadcasting Network and Fox Sports Net.
What I'm saying here is that considering the current form S. 3021 is in, any entity interested in protecting its intellectual property would have to sacrifice itself on another front.
Assuming that these companies' interests in the motion picture industry are far more consequential than their interest in boxing, they might be willing to accept a trade-off, is that's what had to be done. I wouldn't at all discount that McCain and his staff are cunning enough to be thinking this way.
And it could have been an occasion for a little deal-making too. As I brought up in the 99th Round of "Operation Cleanup 2,” McCain's campaigns have been heavily financed by companies with business before his Senate Commerce Committee. Here is an excerpt from that story:
"Campaign finance records available through the website OpenSecrets.org indicate that, for example, during 1999, the third-highest contributor to what, at the time, was McCain's insurgent run at the Republican presidential nomination was Viacom ($47,750), which controls a number of TV outlets, including Showtime, which has a major investment in boxing.
The top eight corporate contributors to McCain's "Straight Talk America" political action committee from 1997-2002 included three companies that would be affected, one way or another, by the way McCain's bill was shaped - Viacom, AT&T (which controlled cable outlets and sold pay-per-view boxing events), and AOL Time Warner (which owns HBO, boxing's most powerful single entity).
And as for McCain's last U.S. Senate campaign, waged in 1998, the list of his top fifty corporate donors is replete with entities who have a substantial stake in boxing, and which have a "special interest" in avoiding the regulatory blanket - Viacom (3rd - $55,250), AT&T (4th - $51,563), NBC/General Electric (20th - $19,500), Fox/News Corp. (22nd - $19,050), Time Warner (T43rd - $12,000), and Univision (T43rd - $12,000), not to mention Anheuser-Busch (5th -$51,563), a company in which McCain has considerable financial interests, both inPidually (he has reported at least a half-million dollars in debentures) and through his family (which controls the largest distributorship in Arizona), and which over the past two decades has been boxing most prominent sponsor, with nearly all of that advertising delivered through television.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which McCain chairs and under whose domain the boxing bill falls, is heavily courted by companies with interests in the sport. For the six-year cycle between 1995-2000, the top committee-related contributors to committee members include: AT&T ($369,960), Time-Warner ($249,585), Viacom ($167,654), the Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN ($147,758), and the National Cable Television Association ($129,101)."
As for McCain's 2004 bid for Senate re-election, Viacom (Showtime) stepped up its contributions from $55,250 to $65, 804, while the money boost from Time Warner (HBO) jumped over 350%, to $43,325.
Keep in mind that Harry Reid had to twist McCain’s arm in order to bring any kind of regulation at all to networks. So maybe McCain brokers an arrangement where he steps out of the way of this protective legislation and the telecom bills, in exchange for getting his boxing bill passed, while still doing a "wink, wink" to the networks as best he can on the boxing end.
Ordinarily, it would be too late in the session for anything to be transacted, but there was a wild card in the mix - the much-ballyhooed bill to establish a national intelligence director, a product of the 9/11 Commission's report and the cause of much heated debate among both Democrats and Republicans. No agreement had been reached by November 20, but the bill was considered critical enough that time could be set aside in a lame-duck session starting December 6 in order to continue discussion of it and perhaps bring the matter to a vote.
However, that was going to be dependent on Senate conferences held in the interim, designed to reach a compromise - something that certainly couldn't be guaranteed, and indeed, wasn't expected by most observers.
So, for a short time, the future of boxing regulation was up in the air, hinging on whether someone could figure out a way for a whole bunch of government security agencies to coordinate their efforts.
Then, out of nowhere, something happened that made it all academic.
The recent appropriations bill - the one into which McCain originally tried to stick his bill - contained a major flaw: a provision that would have allowed Appropriations Committee chairmen unfettered access to the federal income tax returns of Americans. It was hasty, sloppy and, quite ironically, the result of Republicans rushing a bill through Congress without giving members the opportunity to read it. Democrats have demanded that other aspects of the spending bill be examined, and that the vote be held December 6.
So everyone's coming back anyway, and while they're in session, they'll consider other business as well.
Of course, these developments gave McCain the occasion to deliver his inflammatory quote to New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
"We've reached the bizarre point where we approve billions of dollars of bills without anyone seeing them. And then we're shocked - shocked! - that a provision would sneak in which is onerous."
I’m curious. How much of a flat-out hypocrite does one have to be to make a statement like that while in the process of doing exactly the same thing?
Barton, the House Commerce Committee chairman, is determined to prevent McCain's bill from ever reaching the floor. As it stands now, there are a few things that can be done if S. 3021 becomes a matter for consideration on December 6.
The bill, with McCain's amendment, can be voted on "as is," though, if we've guessed right about Barton's resolve, that's unlikely. The House can take McCain's bill out of S. 3021, by unanimous consent, at which point the Senate would have to agree, or the bill, in its entirety, will be shelved. Or S. 3021 can simply die a quick death without coming up for a vote.
If McCain's bid goes down the tubes, it's most likely that when the new Congress comes in, HR 5272, the boxing bill introduced by Cliff Stearns' subcommittee, will become a subject of discussion. Though some of its language looks like a cut-and-paste from other boxing bills, it does offer some distinct differences from McCain's bill:
* It does not give the "U.S. Boxing Commission" or the ABC ultimate authority in approving matches.
* It looks like it's going to cost less in the way of salaries and expenses.
* There is no provision for the medical registry and the millions of dollars associated with it.
* There is less or no additional disclosure by promoters, broadcasters, and sanctioning bodies.
* There is no provision for a study on whether networks would be considered "promoters.”
* The law sunsets (expires, and must be re-approved) after six years, which is a healthy thing.
Such a bill would probably have a major problem getting passed through the Senate, inasmuch as Reid, who was so adamant about regulations for networks, is now the Senate Minority Leader.
If McCain is able to get his bill passed as an amendment to S. 3021, it may be just the beginning of a number of problems.
In addition to the objections mentioned earlier in this story, there exist other difficulties that may be simply the result of mistakes that can be traced back to the work of McCain and Nahigian, which by now is widely recognized as being somewhat shoddy.
A close look at Section 4 - "APPROVAL OR SANCTION REQUIREMENT" - is possibly enough to disqualify the bill in its current form:
"(a) IN GENERAL- No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional boxing match within the United States unless the match--
`(1) is approved by the Commission; and
`(2) is held in a State, or on tribal land of a tribal organization, that regulates professional boxing matches in accordance with standards and criteria established by the Commission."
Essentially what this means is that boxing, by federal standards anyway, might very well be illegal in states without boxing commissions or specific laws governing the regulation of boxing.
To understand what I am saying, one must acknowledge the problems that are associated with state officials traveling to another state to regulate boxing matches. A commission in Iowa, for example, could not feasibly license, approve, or suspend fighters in Minnesota based on Iowa law; it cannot issue Iowa licenses to Minnesota boxers; and there is no such thing as an ABC license, because the ABC is a trade organization, not a licensing agency. Nor would any boxing commissioner's authority as a state official enforcing his own state's laws transcend state boundaries.
A state official could not be covered by insurance provided as part of his job when venturing into another state, and promoters cannot be compelled to be responsible, in terms of liability, for the negligence of a regulator, so therefore they can not be forced to buy insurance for that regulator. For these reasons, the ABC itself is taking a position where it is discouraging state boxing commissions from going into other states.
Also, when a promoter in a non-commission state is looking for a commission to oversee his show, it invariably creates a conflict of interest. I covered this in a previous chapter of "Body Shots," when looking into Greg Sirb's involvement with regulating fights in Delaware after a compact between himself and the state had expired:
"For example, Top Rank did a show at a place called the Big Kahuna Club in Wilmington on January 2nd, and, since it did not want Sirb involved, got the Virginia commission to do the fight instead. It was clear Sirb had to align himself with some promoters in Delaware or lose his "market share' there entirely.
When you think about it, there is something perverse in that notion. The idea of a commission having to solicit promoters in order to gain opportunities is a concept that can bring forward all kinds of conflict of interest questions, not to mention a violation of the spirit of the Professional Boxer Safety Act, which is that the commission is not supposed to be the de facto employee of the promoter.
But when there is no compact between a non-commission state and a state that has a commission (and Delaware was the only one that comes immediately to mind), all of that is true. The promoter literally gets to choose the entity that is going to regulate him. Therefore, there could be several different commissions in the running for a paying "gig", and whoever comes with the best offer, the best price, or perhaps the most lenient standards gets the job."
So in effect, not only might McCain's Professional Boxing Amendments Act be a violation of the Tenth Amendment preservation of states' rights, it may also be restricting the rights of specific states - those which happen to be without taxpayer-subsidized boxing commissions.
Now let's look at Section 717 (Amending Section 17 of S. 275 in its original form) - "CONFLICTS OF INTEREST":
"(b) BOXERS- A boxer may not own or control, directly or indirectly, an entity that promotes the boxer's bouts if that entity is responsible for--
`(1) executing a bout agreement or promotional agreement with the boxer's opponent; or
`(2) providing any payment or other compensation to--
`(A) the boxer's opponent for participation in a bout with the boxer;
`(B) the boxing commission that will regulate the bout; or
`(C) ring officials who officiate at the bout.’”
This is in sharp contrast to that contained in the Ali Act, which allows for fighters to be their own promoter or manager.
If McCain's bill were to pass, one can reasonably interpret that if Oscar de la Hoya promoted his own bouts through Golden Boy Promotions, or if Roy Jones did the same through his own company, Square Ring, it would actually be illegal. After all, they would be contracting with and paying the opponent, compensating the boxing commission, etc. Nothing against promoters, but for fighters to be in control of their own destiny constitutes empowerment. McCain must be opposed to empowerment. Or maybe someone managed to convince him that if one fighter, as promoter, paid his opponent a purse, a fixed fight is the inevitable result. One can only speculate as to what goes through the mind of a U.S. Senator. Any way you slice it, none of this is consistent with “protecting the general interests of boxers,” as was McCain’s rhetoric at the outset.
As I have said time and again, I have never liked the idea that boxing legislation could call for so much accountability from all parties involved, including boxers, managers, promoters, sanctioning bodies, and networks, and wouldn't do the same for the people who are actually supposed to be enforcing standards - the boxing commissions themselves, who in my opinion are a major part of boxing's ills. It annoys me that a Jack Kerns, who ignored federal safety regulations when he was overseeing fights in Kentucky, and while there was a federal law in place, would not only go unchecked by the U.S. Attorney, but would later be celebrated by the very organization (the ABC) that is supposed to be consulted in SETTING those standards.
Perhaps there is some constitutional immunity from lawsuits for states and state officials. But if that's the case - if nothing can be done when commissioners fail to carry out the federal law and don't have a solid basis for it; if malfeasance is only going to be remedied through civil suits by damaged parties, how could anyone justify federal legislation that is toothless at best?
And of course in terms of any legislation that would require the federal government to spend money, I can't side with the idea of gratuitously creating more government. Taxing and spending doesn't always offer solutions. And why should control of an industry be handed over to a group of politicians who are so disinterested that the vast majority of them haven't even read the bill? Somewhere this has got to stop.
I can't put it any better than I did in the 93rd Round of "Operation Cleanup 2":
"Once again, as I have in previous chapters of "Operation Cleanup 2", I emphasize that there is no mechanism in place to require, or even suggest, that this new federal agency, which would be headed up by a presidential appointee, be self-supporting, i.e., that it will ultimately generate enough revenue, through reasonable means, to pay for itself, or surrender its existence altogether. That's what is being done in some states, with a certain degree of success. And as far as I'm concerned, that is a critical component of passing any legislation that deals with a constituency that is more or less "self-contained", as boxing is.
What I'm saying is this: while I might care about boxing, my mother doesn't care about it. Many of my friends don't care about it. My sister-in-law could care less about it. In fact, no one who doesn't work in boxing or watch it on at least semi-regular basis has the slightest concern about regulating the sport. It is not an issue of wide public interest. What compelling argument can be presented to support the proposition that the general populace should have to pay for it?"
It is in this regard that Wally Jernigan, the Nebraska commissioner who we cited as being so foolish on the matter of the judging of fights earlier in this story, actually served up some words of wisdom that should be heeded.
"At a time when the budgets of every state and the federal government are upside down, I can't justify new taxpayer spending with no return for the dollars allocated,” says Jernigan. "You might want to get the Commerce Budget Office Estimate Report for a complete review of cost. There is an estimate that there will be 3 executives, and 27 additional employees with an anticipated budget for salaries and benefits of $3 million per year. So looking at the big picture, where is the justification for such financial un-soundness?"
Yeah guys, where IS the justification?
This industry needs to work, at every available opportunity, on private solutions that make sense. And our elected officials, on all levels, need to consider stepping aside and allowing that to happen, in the instances where a vacuum needs to be filled with the greatest efficiency.
It is important to note that if McCain's bill does indeed pass, the International Brotherhood of Prizefighters plans, through our Boxing Oversight Task Force, to challenge its constitutionality, as well as the constitutionality of the Professional Boxing Safety Act and the Ali Act. And if Greg Sirb is appointed to a position with a United States Boxing Commission, we fully intend to challenge that nomination, which is subject to Senate confirmation, using all the material I have presented against him in the past, as well as evidence that has yet to be published.
Finally, in the way of some personal commentary, let me say a few words about John McCain.
The Arizona senator deserves credit for doing one of the greatest branding jobs of any politician in recent memory. He has become a beloved figure among many Americans, and the majority of the press, through a tremendous public relations machine that has crafted his image as an iconoclast.
But having observed him closely over the past few years, and especially tracing his steps as he's pursued boxing legislation, I have found him to be quite the opposite.
The "maverick" is actually just another old-line politician who will use every trick at his disposal to get what he wants, even if it is contrary to the public interest.
The "war hero" has often come up short when moral courage and conviction was required in the United States Senate.
The "independent" transformed himself into a shameless shill for President George W. Bush, rolling over for a man he is ideologically opposed to, and who sought to destroy him personally and politically during the 2000 Republican primary campaign.
The "campaign finance reformer" is no different from the man who was under the thumb of convicted felon Charles Keating - still beholden to the special interests that pay his bills and continuing to do their bidding for them whenever and wherever he can.
The "straight talker" has proven to be almost pathological when it comes to saying one thing and doing another, often in the same day.
The "media darling" is actually a manipulator, who hates and tries to intimidate or discredit any member of the press who dares disagree with him.
Well, I ain't no bandleader - know what I mean?
John McCain is a phony. He is treacherous, hypocritical and disingenuous. He is a dangerous person for those who covet good government. He neither seeks the truth nor speaks the truth.
Most people in the boxing industry have already discovered this.
The general public deserves to, at long last, learn about the other side of McCain as well - the side no PR firm could ever fix.
And boy, is there a lot to be learned.
There will be some poetic justice when the man who seems to exist for the purpose of getting headlines sees those headlines start to turn against him. I wouldn't mind hastening that process.
I certainly hope that McCain's vainglorious attempt to insinuate himself into my sport - YOUR sport - comes to a very unceremonious end on December 6.
I will do my level best to make that happen.
IN MEMORY OF DON BOLLES (1929-1976)
Written by Rick Folstad
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
On paper, this fight is closer than the Olsen Twins.
Sure, it’s easy to point to Jose Luis Castillo and put your money on him. After all, he’s supposed to be bigger than Joel Casamayor, and bigger guys usually win when everything else is the same. But what’s a couple pounds when you’re talking about ring smarts and heart and quick hands?
So Casamayor comes in at 135 instead of 130 and fights a bigger guy. Big deal. That’s nothing more than an extra couple helpings of mom’s famous mashed potatoes and gravy.
Besides, it doesn’t appear to be worrying Casamayor. He probably walks around at 145 when he doesn’t have anything coming up.
"I know my body better than anybody," he said in Spanish on a conference call Tuesday. "And going up only five pounds will not make a difference."
Castillo sure isn’t using it as a tiebreaker.
"I don’t think (weight) will be a factor," he also said in Spanish on the same conference call, aided by some lengthy translations. "I fought other fights heavier because I was not really training. I was just fighting to do something. This is a good weight for me."
At least that’s what the translator told us they said.
Casamayor, a former WBA super featherweight champion, was asked if he moved to 135 pounds because he was struggling to make 130 pounds.
"No, at 130 pounds, no one wanted to fight me," he said, setting the record straight. "I came to this country to fight the best guys. I am a tough fighter and a warrior. I will not turn down anybody and that is the reason we are here."
He said he plans to settle in at lightweight, set up shop and stick around for a while.
"I have worked hard for this fight," he said. "I am in tremendous shape and you all must remember that speed kills."
Wonder if he really said that.
Saturday night’s main event on Showtime from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas could be a "fight of the year" candidate if everything plays out like it should. Both these guys are tougher to take out than an ink stain and neither one plans to go home without a big smile.
Castillo (50 6 1, 45 K0s), the WBC lightweight champion, says the key to winning this fight is to keep the pressure on and throw a lot of punches, which is what his fight plan has been for most of his life.
Casamayor (31 2, 19 K0s) boasts it will end with "a Casamayor victory, whether I have to go 12 rounds to win or through a knockout punch. Whatever happens, I will be the victor."
Barring a bad cut or a sneaky hook that somehow slips in quietly and ends everything early, this should be one of those special fights you want to record so you can watch it 30 or 40 times as you slide into old age.
Though Morales Barrera III may have taken the lead in the best fight of the year category, there’s always room for another great fight. And Saturday night everything seems to be in place for a five minute standing ovation after the final bell.
Written by Chris Gielty
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
Mexico's Jose Luis Castillo takes on Joel Casamayor in one of the most interesting match-ups of the year, but it's very hard to pick a winner. Casamayor defected to the States in 1996, after a long apprenticeship as a top Cuban amateur, and all his fights could be catching up to him.
He lost to Diego Corrales last time out, after giving him a frightful beating previously. Casamayor looked comfortable at lightweight when he tamed Nate Campbell, but Castillo gave Floyd Mayweather two hard battles, one of which he might've won. Castillo is two inches taller at 5-8 than Casamayor, and the naturally bigger man, but the transplanted Cuban is a fast southpaw and that works to his advantage. Yet, Casamayor is obviously slowing down. Castillo proved he could fight leftys when he won and drew with Stevie Johnston, for the WBC lightweight title, but that was 4 1/2 years ago. In truth, both Castillo and Casamayor seem over the hill, but if Castillo isn't too weight-drained, he should win. He proved against Mayweather that he keeps fighting, while Casamayor grows very defensive when you hit back. I pick Castillo because of his aggression, but I wouldn't bet the rent money on it.
The Cuban will be too slick for Castillo. Casamayor W12 Castillo.
Major props to both, for being willing to fight the best. That being said, I think that Joel is biting off a bit more than he can chew in this one. Many believe that he's crafty (dirty?) enough to frustrate JLC and perhaps pull off an upset. I don't believe such to be the case, though. In fact, while I can see this one developing into a foulfest rather quickly, I believe it will come from both sides, as JLC seems able to dish out as well as he can take, legal or otherwise. Once order is restored, I believe that Castillo is too big for Casa, too good of a fighter, and considerably closer to his prime. Castillo by unanimous decision.
This looks like a great fight on paper. The difference in size, weight and experience should be the deciding factor. Castillo by a close decision.
Castillo by close decision. Casamayor moving up in weight will have little to do with it. The taller man with the bigger punch wins.
Hats off to Joel Casamayor for taking another tough fight—he deserves more credit than he gets for taking on all comers. However, Castillo will prove too strong for him in the end. Shades of the first Casamayor-Corrales bout as Casamayor boxes well early perhaps, but Castillo will wear him down. Castillo by Decision
Jose Luis Castillo vs. Joel Casamayor should be an all out war. I think Casamayor will pull it out down the stretch and take a unanimous decision.
Both fighters could hit the canvas in this bout, and while Casamayor is tremendously resilient, Castillo has shown he knows how to finish. Castillo KO-10.
In the Castillo Casamayor fight I'll go with the odds and take the more experienced Jose Luis Castillo. He fought long and hard to get that title and I don't see him giving it up anytime soon.
In a very tough, hard fought battle I see Jose Castillo getting the split decision nod over Casamayor. This should be a war and the best fight of all the big December bouts!
Casamayor might chronologically be the older fighter, but he may have more left in the tank than Castillo. Casamayor by decision.
Lot's of credit to Casamayor for taking on yet another tough fight, perhaps too tough. Castillo is the bigger stronger fighter and can crack with both hands. Look for Casamayor to box well early before Castillo's power shots slow him down as the fight wears on. Whether it is a late stoppage or the judges awarding more points for Castillo's "effective aggression" it will be Castillo over the game Casamayor.
Castillo is a swarmer who usually forces the fight. Casamayor is a somewhat slick boxing southpaw, but lacks the power to deter Castillo. Swarmers are the least bothered by southpaws, especially one that doesn't have a big finishing punch in his arsenal. The fact that Casamayor's punches will be coming at him from a different angle won't bother Castillo. Since Castillo will be pressing the fight to get inside, Casamayor's infighting will be a bigger factor. Mayweather couldn't get rid of Castillo in two fights, so Casamayor can forget about it. Castillo wins by decision.
The only lightweight in recent years that has been better than Castillo is Mayweather. Barely. Casamayor will see pressure similar to what Corrales put on him late in their fight. The difference is that Castillo's pressure will be more furious, and start earlier. Castillo KO 10.
The name of Jose Luis Castillo does not roll easily from the tongue. He commands the WBC lightweights, others command the attention of the boxing writers. His role is that of a sun outshone by surrounding moons. Some think he may be as good as any in his sport. He will get a chance to capture the attention he thinks he deserves against the always tough Joel Casamayor, the Cuban reincarnation of Fritzie Zivic. Castillo by decision.
Jose Luis Castillo vs. Joel Casamayor: In a bout that features two of the best action fighters in the lighter weight divisions, look for a mild upset as Castillo uses his prodigious output of aggressiveness and will to outlast Casamayor. In what should turn out to be a serious candidate for Fight of the Year honors, I expect Castillo - who has lost only twice in the last six years, and both times to the same man (Mayweather, Jr.) - to solve the southpaw style of Casamayor by left hooking his way to a close twelve round nod.
Written by Chris Gielty
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
Olympian Jermain Taylor, heir apparent to Bernard Hopkins, faces a severe test in former titleholder William Joppy. Outside of Hopkins and Trinidad, a good argument came be made on Joppy's behalf, that he has been the third best middleweight in the world over the last five or six years. A few years back Trinidad exposed Joppy's chin as Tito won in five rounds. Recently Joppy was outclassed and out-brawled by Hopkins. Nevertheless Joppy remains a formidable contender and a true test for the unbeaten Taylor at this stage of his budding career. Give Taylor and his management credit for being willing to let their prospect take on a live body. Granted Joppy is getting a little long in the tooth, but he keeps himself in pretty good shape and he has a wealth of boxing knowledge behind him. How will it go? Well, with everything lining up toward a Hopkins Trinidad rematch, Taylor can put together a couple of solid wins and make himself the guy to fight for the Bernard Felix winner. A win over Joppy and another top flight middleweight could give Taylor some valuable experience while he waits for the smoke from Tito's second try to clear. Although I respect Joppy, I have to go with Taylor. I just hope Jermain and his camp did not underestimate Joppy. That could be a very costly mistake!
Unbeaten Jermaine Taylor should whip, and possibly stop William Joppy around the eighth round. Joppy is a pretty good boxer/puncher, but despite holding the WBA middleweight title he was never the best 160-pounder in the world. Joppy defended his belt against a slew of lesser lights, but when he stepped into the ring against Felix Trinidad he got absolutely destroyed. The same thing could happen against Taylor -- though Taylor is much more crude that the gifted Puerto Rican. Joppy might outbox Jermain for awhile, and could get lucky and find his high chin, but Joppy is three inches shorter and eight years older than the 26-yearold favorite. Taylor has won all twenty-one of his fights, but he's finally stepping up after halting Raul Marquez and Alex Bunema in his last two contests.
Hopkins couldn't stop Joppy, so this corner says Taylor won't either. But he won't have any trouble and will win a unanimous decision. Taylor W 12 Joppy.
Despite all of the talk about Taylor finally fighting a true middleweight, I think that this will be his most impressive fight to date. Joppy insists that for the first time in a long time, his mind is free and clear and he's been able to conduct a smooth training camp as a result. I'm sure there's some truth to that, but not so sure it makes a difference. I'm a big sucker for underdogs and upsets, but don't see one here. Nor will I necessarily be rooting for one. Taylor KO7.
We know Joppy is tough. The fight with Hopkins proved that. Joppy will challenge Taylor and help him raise his game to another level. Taylor over Joppy by a late stoppage.
At 34, Joppy has lost two of his last four (granted, the losses were to Hopkins and Trinidad) and was lucky to get the win over Howard Eastman. Taylor, at 26, just stopped Raul Marquez. One fighter is on the rise, the other is on his way out. Taylor by knockout in the later rounds.
There is nothing in Taylor’s performances thus far to suggest that he cannot be considered a possible heir to the middleweight throne nor anything in the merciless beating Bernard Hopkins dished out to Joppy to suggest anything other than a Taylor victory here. Taylor by Decision.
William Joppy will have his early moments against Jermain Taylor, but the Olympian will prove to fast, too strong, too young and too much of a complete fighter for Joppy to handle. It'll be target practice for Taylor as he moves his record to 22 0 with a late round TKO's of Joppy.
Joppy is 34 and hasn't fought since Bernard Hopkins obliterated him a year ago. Fighters just don't come back from a beating like that and defeat a talented rising star such as Taylor. Youth will be served. Taylor TKO-10
Jermain Taylor is on his way to the top of the middleweight division and as I pointed out in my article William Joppy is just a stepping stone along the way. I think Taylor will stop Joppy somewhere in the middle rounds of the fight.
I don't see Jermain Taylor having too much of a problem with William Joppy
and figure that the up and coming Taylor will pound out a unanimous decision
victory if it lasts till the end.
If Taylor doesn't beat Joppy by knockout, then he and his team will have some serious PR spinning to quell the fires of doubt. All that should matter now is Taylor's final preparations before challenging Hopkins. This corner says Taylor in a route! Taylor KO6 Joppy.
It looks like a big step up for Taylor, but it's unclear what Joppy will have left after what Hopkins did to him. Taylor by decision.
Belief here is that Joppy is partially damaged goods from the beatings Hopkins and Trinidad put on his, although he may test Taylor early with his respectable power and true middleweight size something Taylor hasn't faced yet. In the end, Taylor is simply the better boxer here and can crack alright on his own. If he boxes throughout the fight he will pick Joppy apart until it is stopped. If he goes to war it could be over early.
This fight is one of boxing's most familiar scripts, an older retired former champ coming out of retirement to fight a former Olympian who is being groomed by the establishment to be the heir apparent to the current champion. And Taylor does have some ability, and knows the importance of using the jab. Joppy will not lay down for Taylor and is definitely hoping to rain on Taylor's impending parade, but I just don't think he has enough left at this stage of his career. This is perfect for Taylor, because he can't lose. If he stops Joppy, his management will scream "Hopkins Couldn't," and if he is taken the distance we'll hear "Hopkins couldn't stop him either." I can't believe the decision makers for Taylor make this fight without being almost certain that he can beat the eroded Joppy. I'm betting that Taylor's team is right.
Taylor, by extremely easy decision. More important, here we are, more than four years later, and the 2000 Olympic class is barely a rumor at the top of the professional ranks. I think Taylor whips Bernard Hopkins right now. So somebody wake me up when that fight finally gets made, because Taylor's leisurely pace toward a championship fight has grown tedious.
The rap against Jermaine Taylor is that he has dined on blown up opponents, light middleweights brought up from their natural habitat. Actually, three of the men that the undefeated Taylor has fought in his last five fights have been a natural middleweight or a super middleweight. That would be meaningful if they had been more skilled, as is William Joppy, the former WBA middleweight champion who may be the true heir to Bernard Hopkins at 160 pounds. Joppy by decision.
Jermain Taylor vs. William Joppy: In a prime example of two fighters on differing trajectories the upwards bound Taylor's youth, energy and rapid hand speed will overpower a sliding Joppy over the distance. Even though he showed a yard of guts and staying power against Hopkins recently, Joppy will need more than just the ability to absorb punches to beat a Taylor who is entering his fistic prime.
Written by Matthew Aguilar
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
Joppy failed, of course, but the toughness he displayed was memorable. It even impressed Hopkins.
In short, Taylor is taking a risk. Some young hotshots have passed the test when going up against a savvy, experienced, capable veteran. Others have not.
Here's a look at the latter - some of the more shocking developments in recent crossroads showdowns.
Marlon Starling KO 11 Mark Breland (1987): Breland was the most decorated amateur in United States history and, though he held the WBA welterweight title going into his first defense against top contender Starling, he was completely unproven as a pro. He won the vacant title by knocking out the ordinary Harold Volbrecht, a South African whose previous-most noteworthy outing was a title fight loss to Pipino Cuevas seven years earlier. Predictably, Breland knocked him out. But, in Starling, he was facing a talented counterpuncher who was a solid, complete professional. Starling had trouble with Breland early on because of the New Yorker's freakishly long reach. But Hartford, Connecticut's "Magic Man" finally caught up with the weak-chinned Breland, stopping him in the 11th round. The pair fought to a draw eight months later. Starling went on to a career-defining win over Lloyd Honeyghan, as he was one of the most underappreciated fighters of the 1980s. Breland managed some noteworthy wins, but never came close to reaching his enormous potential.
Bobby Czyz KO 5 Andrew Maynard (1990): It was Czyz who started out as the young matinee idol, as an undefeated middleweight brought along in Main Events' stable of "Tomorrow's Champions". But, by the time he met Maynard, he was thought to have seen better days. He lost his IBF light heavyweight title to "Prince" Charles Williams in 1987, lost a rematch, dropped a decision to Virgil Hill in '89 and was upset by Dennis Andries later that year. Maynard, meanwhile, had won a medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and was expected to use the former champ as a steppingstone. But Czyz used his experience and smarts to easily defeat a fighter who wasn't nearly as good as people thought. Czyz went on to win the WBA cruiserweight title in an overachieving career. Maynard disappeared after getting knocked out by Thomas Hearns in 1993.
Booker T. Word KO 2 Anthony Hembrick (1991): Hembrick was yet another Olympic hotshot, but one with an interesting story. A favorite to win the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Hembrick missed the bus - literally - on his way to his first round fight and thus missed out on his Olympic dream. His lack of common sense was evident before his showdown with Word, a bruising puncher who was strong but limited. Hembrick, undefeated at the time, was expected to box circles around Word. The favorite's supreme confidence was evident on his choreographed walk to the ring, as he engaged in a ludicrous dance routine with members of his boorish entourage. Word made him pay, knocking him into tomorrow with a blistering assault that ruined Hembrick forever. Neither fighter did anything of note after that, but Word will always be remembered for knocking out someone who probably deserved to be knocked out.
Willy Salazar KO 7 Danny Romero (1995): Romero was an undefeated teenager from Albuquerque who became the first American in 85 years to win a flyweight title, as he beat Francisco Tejedor in April 1995. As future fights were being discussed, most notably a showdown with Albuquerque rival Johnny Tapia, Romero took a tuneup fight against unheralded veteran Salazar. The unknown fighter shocked Romero by shutting his eye with his jab and punishing him as the fight wore on. The fight was mercifully stopped in the 7th, and it appeared Romero was ruined. But he eventually came back, and he and Tapia finally met two years later. Tapia won a decision. Salazar remained a useful trialhorse.
Jesse James Leija NC 5 Hector Camacho Jr. (2001): Camacho Jr. was pretty much like his nutty father, Hector Sr., especially in the ring, where his penchant for safety-first boxing was often maddening. Camacho backpedaled, he slapped, he tied opponents up. But he won, usually by dreadfully-dull decision against less-than-sterling opposition. Nevertheless, he was undefeated going into the fight with Leija, who was considered used goods after a long, illustrious career. But, on Leija's birthday, he roughed the younger man up through five rounds before the fight was called in the fifth round. It appeared that Camacho Jr. simply didn't want to continue, but the fight was somehow ruled a no contest. Camacho has, predictably, turned into nothing special. Leija has staged his umpteenth comeback and will meet Arturo Gatti in January. He will once again be a big underdog.
Written by Editor
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
Chicagoland fan favorite, junior welterweight David Diaz, 25-0 (13KO's) has thrown down the gauntlet to his fellow world ranked lightweights and junior welterweights as he prepares for a hometown clash with heavy handed Colombian veteran, Jaime Rangel, 29-6-1 (25KO's) as 8 Count Productions and Miller Lite presents the "THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING"
"This year (including wins over Emmanuel Augustus and Ener Julio ) has been good for me but 2005 is my year. All these belt holders and their posturing is getting ridiculous. Tszyu is the monster at 140 but anyone else at 140 or 135 I want to fight. Those two guys at 135, Juan Diaz and Julio Diaz, they've got my last name but I can beat both of them. Same thing with Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Casamayor at lightweight. Give me a chance and I'll prove that I'm more than ready" said the confident world ranked junior welterweight after a workout at JABB Boxing Gym.
"At junior welter, I just got done working in Kostya's camp in Australia for over a month. He's obviously the best at 140, I learned a lot working with him and he was very complimentary to me about my skills. Other than him, I'm ready for anyone at 140, I'll go to England to fight Ricky Hatton next month, I'd fight Gatti, Cotto, Mayweather, just tell me where and when to be there."
Speaking about a proposed matchup written about on www.boxingtalk.net about Diego Corrales fighting Kostya Tszyu, Diaz said "look at what he did to Mitchell and Judah. He would walk right through Corrales, he's just so strong and tough
at 140, that's why you don't see the other belt-holders at 140 lining up to fight him."
In regards to his immediate plans, Diaz continued, "Rangel's a real tough guy, he just came off a very close decision loss to Edner Cherry in Cherry's hometown so I'm sure he's coming to Chicago next week to try and knock off my unbeaten record and get his career back on track. After that there's been talk about a major television fight but I'm not even concerned with that, its all about next Friday night and Rangel at the Aragon for me. I've lived in Chicago my whole life
and my dream is to be a Chicago champion."
Asked about fighting in Chicago, Diaz finished, "this is my home and the huge crowds at the 8 Count events have always been great to me. I'm in terrific shape and they should expect a great fight from me and Jaime Rangel."
The newly remodeled Aragon Ballroom is located at 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. near the corner of Lawrence and Broadway in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and is easily accessible, just 4 blocks west of Lake Shore Drive and just 4 miles east of the Kennedy expressway. There are three large parking lots located within a 1/2 block of the Aragon Ballroom. Additionally, the Howard Street Blue Line stops just across the street. Doors will open at 7pm with the first bell at 8pm.
The full listing for "THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING" next Friday night, December 10th at the Aragon Ballroom;
David Diaz vs. Jaime Rangel, junior welters 10 rounds
Al Gonzales vs. Roberto Ortega, junior welters, 10 rounds
Luciano Perez vs. Jerome Elder, welters, 8 rounds
Mike Nevitt vs. Vinson Durham, cruisers, 6 rounds
Tommy Bach-Pyle vs. Jaime Alvarado lightweights, 4 rounds
Ivan Rodriguez vs. Omar Reyes, junior feathers, 4 rounds
Jorge Gonzalez (pro debut) vs. Corey Budd, junior middleweights, 4 rounds
To view the fightposter for this huge night of professional boxing, click on this link;
Tickets available now by calling 312-226-5800.
Written by Scott Yaniga
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
It will mark Omar’s third shot at championship gold and the tough Palestinian-American is hoping that the third time is a charm. “I am thankful for the opportunity for a shot at the world title. At the same time, I am anxious to go fight a good champion, and I am looking forward to fighting Jeff. I am in the best shape of my life. I am sure he is, too, and it is going to be a terrific fight,” said Sheika at the recent press conference held to publicize the Showtime broadcast card.
In what should be an interesting mix of weights and styles the Top R ank-promoted card will also feature World Boxing Council lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo defending against Joel Casamayor, and heavyweight hopeful Samuel Peter taking on perennial heavyweight “name” Jeremy Williams for a meaningless IBF-sanctioned continental title.
Sheika lost his first attempt at a championship when World Boxing Organization titleholder Joe Calzaghe halted him in a pier-sixer back in August 2000. Sheika was in trouble but still trading with Calzaghe when the referee halted matters in the fifth round due to the facial damage Omar had suffered in the previous rounds. Sheika reeled off three wins after the loss and then found himself in 2001’s Fight of the Year when he and Thomas Tate went at each other that October. After knocking Tate down twice in the second round, Omar’s sensitive mug again betrayed him as a massive swelling over one of his eyes forced the ring doctor to end the fight, awarding Tate a hard fought TKO win in round four. Omar impressed enough with his guts and will in that loss to actually garner his second shot at a title the following September.
Eric Lucas, then the World Boxing Council’s 168-pound kingpin, gave Omar a boxing lesson over the twelve round distance in that 2002 fight with Sheika’s idleness over the prior eleven months seemingly taking its toll on both his conditioning and reflexes.
Following that disheartening performance Omar hooked up with New Englander Scotty Pemberton in what turned out to be one of 2003’s best action fights. In fact, if it weren’t for the little matter of the third and final installment of the immortal Gatti-Ward trilogy that same year the Sheika-Pemberton tilt would have been a cinch for FOTY honors.
The return bout, held in January of this year was a disaster for Omar, who somehow managed to turn certain victory into a stunning defeat for himself. After decking Pemberton with a huge right hand in round two, Omar failed to follow up his advantage and let Scotty clutch the rest of the round. Again, in round six, Sheika stunned his man sufficiently that the referee administered a standing eight count (which ran counter to the stated rules of the bout). By the end of the round, however, Sheika looked winded and was dropping his hands, allowing Pemberton to fight his way not only back into the fight, but also into an eventual stoppage win in the tenth round when Omar was decked for the first time in his career and was virtually out on his feet upon arising.
To his credit Omar trained hard after that loss and has beaten Etienne Walker, Manu Ntoh and James “The Harlem Hammer” Butler who, with his recent arrest for the murder of the brother of Fox Sport’s Max Kellerman, has bigger problems these days. Omar took a split decision from Butler in that fight held in August, but once again let his man off the hook when he had him in trouble, which will be a dangerous habit to repeat against a dangerous puncher such as Lacy.
It can be argued that Omar does have a certain name value in an otherwise drab super middleweight division and that he possesses a huge fighting heart, but I don’t know of any contemporary fighter who has garnered three shots at a title belt with so little merit. How many fighters have you heard of that get three title opportunities for not only losing fights (see Thomas Tate above), but for beating second-raters and other non-ranked journeymen?
I go back with Sheika to that February day in 1997 when Omar and his amateur trainers Nettles Nasser and Al Velasquez walked into the offices of Big Fights, Inc. in New York City to seek the managerial knowledge of Bill Cayton and Steve Lott. I had a passing knowledge of Sheika’s capabilities during his Simon Pure days in New Jersey, as Omar was one of the state’s most celebrated amateur boxers, possessing a fast set of hands, some wonderful combinations and, most importantly, a mean streak a mile wide. He was certainly more of a pure boxer in those days than the rather reckless, face-first slugger he has morphed into in his pro career.
Cayton, the master of promotion, set out to make his young charge a household name in televised boxing. He worked out a deal with Brad Jacobs, then the major domo of boxing on USA’s Tuesday Night Fights, to showcase Omar’s career with an opening bout segment created solely for Sheika called “Just 4 Starters.” It would be the first time that USA would open its boxing show with a four round prelim bout, but the lure of the deal for Jacobs and his network would be the unfettered access to the huge and unique Big Fights library of boxing films and videos which, it was rumored, that ABC Sports paid Cayton $1.0 million per year NOT to show on home television throughout the1970’s and 80’s. It was rumored that a rival network had tried to make a deal with Cayton to lease the library to show against the live boxing shows that ABC Sports ran in those decades, resulting in ABC paying a kind of “protection” fee to keep the valuable and rarely seen footage off the airwaves.
It was a great deal for both the USA network—who broadcast some rarely-seen boxing footage to their delighted audience—and Sheika as the “Just 4 Starters” segment featured Omar in seven televised fight cards over the next five months, making him one of the best known preliminary fighters in the history of televised boxing coverage. It helped that Omar also had a talent for knocking his early foes out quicker than you can read this sentence. In fact, Sheika set a Tuesday Night Fights record by knocking out Sean Sample in 0:49 of the first round at Madison Square Garden’s Theatre on July 29th, 1997.
Omar quickly went to 14-0 and had signed a promotional agreement with British promoter Frank Warren to appear in several bouts in Great Britain. Things went well the early part of 1998 as Omar took on two Brit fighters, taking them both out in four rounds, but quickly soured in July of that year when Omar lost a stinker of a hometown decision to journeyman Tony Booth, a 28-44-7 pug who just had to be related to the sole arbiter of the decision, the referee.
Sheika went back to work and won his next six matches, the last of which was a tough majority decision over future light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson, who was recently seen knocking Roy Jones, Jr. out cold on HBO. That fight served as the springboard for his exciting but ill-fated title shot against Joe Calzaghe that August. In the meantime Sheika had dumped both Kevin Rooney, who managed to instill at least a modicum of defense into his ring style early in his career, as well as the Cayton/Lott tandem that had poured thousands of dollars into his development as a contender.
In this fight against Lacy I look for Omar to go out headhunting from the first bell, which may be his only hope, as “Left Hook” is not known to be a quick starter. Omar had better hope he lands first and hardest because Lacy has real dynamite in his mitts and will undoubtedly cause Sheika’s fragile facial derma to suffer some damage as the rounds roll on. A fifth round TKO for Lacy is the call in this one.
In the other bouts look for Jose Luis Castillo to upset the oddsmakers and score a decision win over Joel Casamayor. Castillo gave Floyd Mayweather, Jr. all he could handle in their two title fights and has met the much stiffer competition. The heavyweight bout should be all over before most fans get into their seats with their nachos and beer, with young lion Samuel Peter—the latest Duva boxing hopeful—getting off quickly with a knockout blow against a weak-whiskered Jeremy Williams, who was one of the few men actually knocked out by Brian “The Danish Pastry” Nielsen.
Written by Jake Donovan
Thursday, 02 December 2004 18:00
The latter can be said for still promising heavyweight contender Dominick Guinn, and even more so for undefeated featherweight Ricardo “Rocky” Juarez. Following a loss (Guinn) and a string of less-than-satisfying distance wins (Juarez), the two leave their respective hometowns and share the bill on an ESPN-televised card from Atlantic City, New Jersey (Friday December 3, 9:30PM ET/6:30PM PT). Both are looking forward to the change of scenery.
“I needed to get away from Houston and try something a bit new,” Juarez (21-0, 14KO) told reporters during a conference call last week while preparing for his fight with former featherweight titlist Guty Espadas. “I trained in San Antonio for about a month… I went away for this fight to get away from the distractions back home and to get my mind totally on training and preparing correctly.”
If his past few fights are any indication, then it sounds like a sound plan indeed. His last fight – a 12-round decision over 1996 Olympian Zahir Raheem – saw Rocky lose more rounds than he won for the first time in his career, yet still managed to walk away with the W when all was said and done. Referee Robert Gonzalez wound up deducting three points from Raheem for excessive holding. The deductions – coupled with a knockdown that Rocky scored in the fourth round – proved to be the difference between a win and a split decision draw.
Many in the boxing community insisted that both the scoring and Gonzalez’ rulings were the product of home cooking, which Juarez has grown tired of hearing.
“I’ve already looked past that fight. It was a controversial fight, and people are saying that the referee was on my side, but it’s getting old already. He never caught me with any punches and never hurt me. I won the fight, and deserved to win it. It’s time to move on.”
Guinn (25-1,18KO) is also looking to move on. Unlike Juarez, there is no controversial win or an undefeated record that can come from his last significant bout. No, he has long accepted the fact that Monte Barrett was well deserving of the ten round decision this past March in Little Rock, about an hour or so from his hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“Monte fought a great fight, and I didn’t,” was the initial reaction after the fight from Guinn, always the class act regardless of result. “I didn’t let my hands go enough in the fight, and that was ultimately the difference. It had nothing to do with anything physical, or with my trainers. I didn’t do my job.”
Not much has changed in his view of the fight nine months later. The only extra wrinkle came from his co-trainer Ronnie Shield, who offered his take on the fight that night.
“I thought there was a lot of pressure on him fighting in Little Rock. He was trying to please everyone and all of a sudden, when you are trying to please everyone instead of trying to win the fight, you get away from the plan.”
The take is a reasonable one, as Guinn had never looked that lethargic before or since, though “since” only comprises of a first round knockout over battle-tested Phil Jackson. Friday night, he challenges Serguei Lyakhovich (21-1, 14KO) in what is considered to be his first test since the lone loss of his career. Even though the test is about 900 miles away from home, he still likes the surroundings all the same.
“I feel like AC is my second home,” comments Guinn on fighting in Atlantic City for the third time in eighteen months. “After the (Michael) Grant fight, I told Kathy Duva that I like it there and I want to fight for my first championship there.”
For Juarez, it will be his first fight in Atlantic City, and in fact his first fight outside of Houston since the summer of 2003. That fight was against David Murillo, a twenty-six second one-punch KO that many experts had slated as the year’s best knockout. Fittingly enough, it was the last knockout he has scored, as his last three have not only gone the distance, but also failed to impress. Rocky is hoping that the change of scenery changes all of that, though people shouldn’t automatically expect a knockout every time he fights.
“I changed my style a lot. I’ve been boxing a lot more now. You get used to knocking guys out with one punch, but now we are practicing on letting my punches go and not just go for the one punch.”
Facing a former champion in Espadas (38-6, 24KO), Juarez expects another tough fight while waiting for his mandatory title shot in 2005.
“I’ve been ready for a title shot, but I like to fight and I’ve liked the tough fights that I have been in. They have prepared me well. They’ve been tough and now I’m one fight away from fighting for a world title. Espadas has known for two months (about this fight), and I’m sure he’s ready. He’s a veteran and it will be another tough fight.”
While Guinn is in an equally tough fight on paper, he doesn’t plan to allow matters to get too tough once the bell sounds.
“I’m going to go in there and prove that I am the top heavyweight prospect, like I was before the Barrett fight. I want to come out and take control of the fight, let my hands go more. If I fight the way I train, nobody in the division can beat me.”
Considering the state of today’s heavyweight division, he may very well be right.
“Right now, the division is rough. I need to go out there and prove that I am the best. No heavyweight can let his hands go the way I can. After I beat (Lyakhovich), 2005 is going to be another big year for me.”
Should Juarez defeat Espadas, 2005 looks to be a big year for him as well. Rocky is presently the mandatory challenger for both the WBC title (held by In Jin Chi), and the IBF title (held by Juan Manuel Marquez, who also owns the WBA belt). In fact, he could have just as easily pushed for a world title shot now, but preferred to get more experience under his belt first. Both on fight night, and during training camp.
“I was able to spar with (former two-division champ) Acelino Freitas for this fight, which has helped me tremendously. He’s a very good fighter – a much bigger fighter than I am. Sparring with him gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to see where I am in boxing today. The experience only helps my career. Now I know that I’m ready.”
Both he and Guinn are ready to do it where they perform best – on the road.