The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.
The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holderMark Woolnough. Woolnough's career turned controversial - as widely reported in the Canadian press - at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It's an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.
Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There's plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld's opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?
The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round, will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.
Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.
Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”
When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”
Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”
Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.
Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.
The full bout lineup for the evening is:
Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights
Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights
Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights
David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights
Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights
Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights
Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights
As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.
It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.
It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.
With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.
Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.
So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.
The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.
Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.
It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.
The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.
Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.
February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.
First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo - Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.
As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.
February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th. This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.
Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.
It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.
Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.
March both comes in and goes out as a lion.
On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.
All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.
It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.
March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.
This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.
This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.
At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.
It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.
On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.
Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.
Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05. Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.
Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.
This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.
March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.
Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.
Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.
Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.
Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.
The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.
Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.
Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.
If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.
In UK boxing news Danny Williams is in a confident mood ahead of his February 25 showdown with Matt Skelton: All he's got going for him is his size and strength and he will try to do to me what he does in every fight by leaning, brawling and elbowing. I won't let him do that because he will be chewing on my jabs. More than anything, it is Danny Williams' sometimes fragile psyche that could be the determining factor in this bout. When the two were scheduled to meet earlier in the year Williams pulled out at the last minute - citing flu - and when Danny Williams defeated Audley Harrison earlier this month there were more than a few reports that Williams was there for the taking on the night due to his suspect conditioning, weighing in for the supposed grudge match at his heaviest weight ever.
In more UK news, the Edinburgh Evening News reports that Scotland's Alex Arthur - European, British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion - has had many reasons to celebrate 2005 and looks forward to big things in 2006. The only thing that may exceed Alex Arthur's boxing ability is his ability to generate flawless press like this. The Evening News reports that his new wife, Debbie, who also seems to get an inordinate amount of press mentions, is honing her craft as well: I won't be in Las Vegas for decorative purposes or simply to look after our two sons although that is very important - but I know better than any outsider how to look after Alex's dietary needs, how to ensure his training bag is properly equipped and just so. Now that's dedication. Danny Williams could probably learn a thing or two from her.
Dan Rafael closes out the year by selecting Joel Julio as the top prospect of the year and Ricky Hatton as his fighter of the year. Well-deserved by Hatton for his victories over Kostya Tszyu and Carlos Maussa. Jermain Taylor, Winky Wright and personal favorite Jorge Arce, among others, get honorable mentions.
The stars of Silverhawk Boxing’s stable, two-time world champion Stevie “Lil’ But Bad” Johnston (37-3-1, 17 KOs) and WBC No. 11 rated light heavyweight Prince “The Boxing Prince” Badi (24-2-1, 13 KOs), will be in action in two of five 12-round championship matches in “Collision Course, A Night of Champions” – all five title fights will be shown on the pay-per-view card – promoted by Silverhawk Boxing, in association with Guilty Boxing and Star Boxing, and sponsored by Buick and Xyience. The entire show will be available on a pay-per-view basis at a suggested retail price of only $24.95 in the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Indonesia and Greece.
“We’re excited to be involved in our first major championship pay-per-view show,” Silverhawk Boxing chief executive officer Tim Doyle said. “We believe there is a need to get back to the roots of traditional boxing. Reasonably priced, highly competitive pay-per-view events like this represent the future of boxing. Our goal is to bring legitimacy back to the term ‘champion.’ The way to do that is by putting the best fighters in the world against each other. Boxing is entertainment. On a pay-per-view show like this so many more fans will get the opportunity to appreciate the special skills of Stevie and Prince, who are the undisputed leaders of Silverhawk’s growing stable of world-class boxers. Victories on this grand stage will only better position them for major world title fights.”
Johnston will defend his NABC light welterweight title, which he won December 3 with a unanimous 10-round decision against Vladimir Khodokovski, as well as fight for the vacant IBO belt.
Stevie is on a mission to go back to the future: he captured the WBC lightweight championship twice between 1997 and 2000, including seven successful defenses, and he’s beaten the likes of Jean Baptiste Mendy, Saul Duran, Cesar Bazan and Angel Manfredy, to name some of the more notables. In 2000, Johnston lost the WBC belt to Jose Luis Castillo and three months later they fought to a draw (Johnston was declared the winner by majority decision, but there was a scoring error resulting in the draw). The smooth southpaw, originally from Denver, has won two in a row, seven of his last eight. He’d like nothing better than a 2006 showdown against any of the high-profile light welterweights in the world such as Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, or Miquel Cotto.
Prince Badi defends one of his four title titles, the WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight crown he captured this past October via a ninth-round TKO of five-time world kickboxing champion Olando “The Warrior” Rivera, who at the time was rated No. 9 by the WBC. Earlier this month Badi won a unanimous 12-round decision against Thomas Reid for the vacant WBC CABOFE (Carribbean Boxing Federation) belt. The 33-year-old Camden, New Jersey native also holds the IBC Intercontinental and Pennsylvania titles. Next year he wants to challenge WBC light heavyweight champion Tomasz Adamek.
“The Boxing Prince” has won five in a row, nine of his last 10, and he plans on staying busy. “I want to do something in boxing that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Badi explained. “I want to defend my title more often, at least three or four times a year, for the next three or four years. I want to give people something to look forward to.”
Johnston and Prince Badi (Jan. 27 opponents soon to be announced) are now both trained by Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt, whose stable of warriors also include Antonio Tarver and Arturo Gatti, and fight out of St. Petersburg (FL).
A total of three-world title and five regional championships will be on the line in “Collision Course, A Night of Champions.” Also appearing on the five-fight PPV card is former three-time world champion Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill (49-5, 23 KOs) – with whom Silverhawk Boxing has a marketing agreement – squaring off against unbeaten Russian challenger Valery Brudov (20-0, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBA cruiserweight belt in the 12-round main event; IBF minimumweight title-holder Muhammad “The Rock Breaker” Rachman (50-7-7-4, 22 KOs) defends his belt against No. 1 contender Omar “Lobito” Soto (14-2-1, 10 KOs), while “Mighty” Mike Aranoutis (14-0-2, 6 KOs) battles for the NABO/USBA lightweight crowns versus TBA.
Tickets, priced at $200, $150, $100, $75, $50 and $35, may be purchased at the Tropicana box office (800.526.2935, 609.340.4020) or by calling Ticketmaster (800.736.1420).
Let’s take a look at the list and how it panned out.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. gets the credit he deserves.
Bingo. Mayweather is now widely regarded as the best boxer in the world. In 2005 he destroyed Henry Brusseles, Arturo Gatti and Sharmba Mitchell. He is tentatively scheduled to fight Zab Judah in April. A win against Judah, which is not a foregone conclusion, and Mayweather takes a big step forward towards being considered an all-time great.
2. Floyd Mayweather Sr. goes away.
He may still be training fighters but we didn’t hear his mouth much in 2005. Perhaps that’s because his star pupil, Oscar De La Hoya, didn’t fight this year. I’m sure the fireworks will erupt between Mayweather and Ricardo Mayorga in advance of their scheduled bout on May 6th. Wait a minute, it’s Oscar that is fighting Mayorga. Perhaps Mayweather should keep that in mind.
3. A heavyweight emerges.
No, Nicolay Valuev doesn’t count. Sultan Ibragimov was certainly exciting in his beat down of Lance Whitaker but it’s still a bit too early to call him the next great heavyweight. One more win over a notable contender, however, and the spotlight will increasingly shine on the Russian Olympic silver medalist.
4. Mike Tyson either wins the heavyweight title or goes away.
We certainly didn’t get the former but I think we may have gotten the latter. I generously counted this one in my tally because I think Mike is sincere when he’s done because his heart isn’t in it anymore. Of course, that’s never stopped a boxer from un-retiring. I would love to see Mike as a commentator. He’s excellent when he’s not being Mike Tyson and is instead talking seriously about boxing. Few pugilists know more about the history of the sport. Mike also knows a thing or two about the technical aspects of the game.
5. Bernard Hopkins goes out with a bang.
Swing and a miss. The fact that he’s fighting Roy Jones in 2006 is just sad. Why anyone would pay to see this bout is mind-boggling. It does nothing for either man’s legacy. Here’s a prediction: Ticket sales and advance pay-per-view sales are so poor that Jones comes down with an “injury” during training and the fight is canceled.
6. I'm proven right about Felix Trinidad.
Knocked the ball out of the park on this one. I have said for years that Trinidad is the most overrated boxer in recent memory. Winky Wright proved me correct. Of course, some of that had to do with Wright being the most underrated boxer in recent memory. He is very good. But if Trinidad were truly the all time great that so many have been saying for years, he’d have found a way to knock out Winky instead of being shut out.
7. Morales – Barrera IV.
We didn’t get that but we got Corrales – Castillo I & II. No complaints there.
8. Lennox Lewis stays retired.
So far so good. But I have a hunch he’ll be back to face an un-retired Vitali Klitschko within 18 months.
9. Poor officiating gets fixed.
Not even close. The Dale Brown – O’Neil Bell decision was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Referee Ismael Quinonez’ premature stoppage of the Miguel Cotto – DeMarcus Corley bout also heads to the front of the line for entrance to the Hall of Shame. There were plenty of others and I expect it will be the same thing this year.
10. A boxers union finally catches on.
Not only did the union not gain much traction, but now networks and promoters are restricting what kinds of ads boxers can wear on their shorts, t-shirts and backs. I understand not allowing a Budweiser ad if Miller is an important sponsor of the event, or GoldenPalace.com if the fight is being held in a casino. But short of any direct conflicts of interest, shouldn’t a fighter be allowed to make a little extra dough? Until there’s a retirement fund or pension for these guys, I say let them cash in.
And now a quick Top 5 wish list for 2005
1. Mayweather – Judah actually happens.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a fight. Both boxers are excellent technicians with the advantage going to Mayweather. However, Judah is freakishly strong. I’m not sure who I’m picking yet but I know where I’ll be April 8th.
2. A heavyweight emerges.
I don’t need to see the big boys banging in order to enjoy boxing. But for the marginal fan, it is important. A popular heavyweight would bring those fans back into the fold. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the cruiserweights. There are a number of boxers in that division that are capable of doing some exciting things. The marginal fan might have no idea just what the hell a cruiserweight is – but get those people to watch Jean-Marc Mormeck, O’Neil Bell, Wayne Braithwaite and others, and I think they’ll like what they see.
3. Boxing receives better media coverage.
I don’t even bother to look in my hometown paper for coverage of boxing, whether it’s for local shows or superfights. They rarely so much as run an AP story. Gone are the days when most city newspapers had dedicated boxing writers. Fine. I accept that. But can’t you do a preview and write up of the club show in town? It’s usually only once a month at most. Boxers are interesting and make for terrific human interest stories.
I’d also like to see internet coverage improve. For speed, there are a few sights that are terrific. But accuracy is not always the top priority. One of the reasons I’m so proud to be affiliated with TheSweetScience.com is the quality of the writers. I never miss a Bob Mladinich column. Phil Woolever, the Cassidys, Tim Graham and all of the others make TSS the best boxing site on the web, in my biased opinion.
4. More successful club shows.
There’s certainly nothing like the electricity that surrounds a megafight. On the other hand, the intimacy of a club show is unparalleled by other professional sport. Fans can usually mingle with that evening’s participants as well as some of the game’s stars at a typical show. While ringside is usually costly, general admission tickets tend to be a good value compared with other sports. We also need local promoters to do well financially in order to provide a venue for tomorrow’s champions to hone their skills.
5. To see if Rafael Marquez is that good.
I think he is, but I want him to prove it. He’s been champ for nearly three years and it’s been too easy for him. I’d like to see Rafael take on Jhonny Gonzalez, Wladimir Sidorenko and then move up to junior feather to face Israel Vazquez.
6. More boxers act like Diego Corrales.
To my knowledge, Chico has never dogged it in camp or in the ring. He is the consummate professional. After the battle is over, he is respectful of his opponent and does not make excuses. He was extremely classy after getting knocked out by Jose Luis Castillo. Corrales would not admit to being at a disadvantage because of Castillo’s extra weight – saying that he didn’t want to take away from Castillo’s win. He knew that we all knew the answer – and he comes off looking like the good guy. Bravo.
Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.
The picture was frightening and devastating and supported the notion that boxing is a violent sport and everyone is susceptible to getting hit, but fighters like Codrington, who most people thought was as close to a sure thing as there is in boxing, are not supposed to get starched in 18 seconds of the first round.
Codrington was supposed to walk through Green and then raid the super middleweight division in a spastic fit of New York exuberance, the sentiment went. More than a month after he was knocked cold by Green, who was 17-0 (11 KO’s) entering the fight compared to Codrington, who was 9-0, all by knockout, Codrington had an explanation for what happened.
“I wasn’t warmed up, and I was a little sick anyway, so I don’t know if that delayed my reaction time when I got hit,” Codrington said in a phone interview. “But all it was – I got caught with a punch. If it happened in the second or third round, I guarantee it wouldn’t have had the same effect.”
Codrington believes he was in the ring with a scared fighter that night in Oklahoma, and he disputed the notion that he was caught off guard by the enormity of fighting on national television for the first time in his career. The bout was televised on Showtime.
“He was looking in the opposite direction when he hit me,” Codrington said. “But scared fighters are the most dangerous fighters – you ever hear of that before? Scared people lift up cars to get their mothers out from under them. Scared people are powerful. That was a scared man that caught me. My trainer told me he’s scared, and that he would do one of two things: either he’s going to run the entire fight or he’s going to run at me and not know what to do. When he came at me, I was expecting it, but at the same time I was kind of shocked because I got anxious. I threw a punch and was about to come back with a left hook, and he landed his first.”
At the fighter’s meeting, Steve Farhood, a boxing analyst who was working the fight with Nick Charles for Showtime, was struck by the grogginess of Codrington’s voice, the result of a sinus infection and by Green’s demeanor, which was confident to the point of being in a fantasy state.
“Green walked into the fighter’s meetings and said that we were going to be surprised with how he fought,” Farhood said. “‘I’m going to be in his face,’ he said. Then Allan leaves the room and everyone looked at each other like, ‘yah, right’ because we only knew him from how he fought before which was very cautious. What he did in this fight was shocking.”
The news of Codrington’s defeat was met with mostly silence along the gyms and offices that cater to boxing in New York. Perhaps the hushed reaction was a giant sigh of relief.
“I think that most people were just relieved to find out that he was ok,” Farhood said.
“When he went down, there was every reason to believe that he may be seriously hurt or could possibly even die, so people were just thankful that he was ok. When I saw him at the airport the next day in Tulsa, he was there by himself, and he said that he shouldn’t have taken the fight, not because he was overmatched but because he was sick and wasn’t feeling well. I thought that was pretty revealing.”
In just nine pro fights, Codrington had risen to the top of most everyone’s lists of fighters to keep and eye on. He was a darling of the news media and his ‘chin-checkers’ nickname that he shared with fellow pro Curtis Stephens, who were both known to wager on who could vanquish their opponents the fastest before fights, made him an instant celebrity within the boxing community.
His impressive stoppage over durable Levan Easley in August confirmed to his handlers that he was ready to move up and challenge some of the other young fighters in the division.
Allan Green seemed an easy mark.
Curtis Stevens had faced him in the amateurs, losing a narrow decision even though he had dropped Green in the match. He reported back to Codrington’s manager, Chris Gotti, that Green would be no problem for his fighter. Codrington was such a good amateur that Johnnie Woluewich, the former President of USA Boxing Metro, who died on December 12 from complications of a heart attack, once remarked that if he could invest in one fighter it would be Codrington.
His promoter, Lou DiBella, agreed to fight Green in Miami, Oklahoma, roughly 70 miles away from Green's hometown of Tulsa, a risky concession that DiBella didn’t think would influence the fight. Even Andre Rozier, Codrington’s austere co-trainer, forecasted doom for Green at an amateur show he put on a week before the fight in Brooklyn when he announced to the crowd with Codrington in attendance that “Allan Green will be destroyed.”
It had all the makings of a major upset.
Green’s camp, meanwhile, was somewhat surprised and a little upset that they were being picked to serve as a launching pad for Codrington’s career. Their initial reaction to being selected as an opponent was a reluctance to meet Codrington in the ring.
“Allan didn’t want to take the fight,” said Scott Burnett, Green’s trainer. “He didn’t want to fight him. He said ‘I’m going to hurt this kid. I don’t want to ruin his career.’ They didn’t realize how strong Allan was. He’s been fighting all these big guys in his career. We knew that if we could jump on him quickly and get him on the ropes, that he would cover up and we’d be able to land a big punch. Before the bell rang to begin the first round, I told Allan to go get him.”
What happened next was straight from the “theatre of the unexpected” line that Larry Merchant often delivers to describe the capriciousness of boxing. Green, normally a cautious fighter, darted from his corner like a kid running to unwrap his Christmas presents and tracked Codrington down against the ropes, hurting him badly with a left hook that buckled Codrington’s legs. With his hands almost a blur, Green landed a series of punches that ended with a right hand to Codrington’s head.
In the confusion of the melee that followed the fight, the injuries to Codrington were greatly exaggerated to Charles and Farhood who were calling the fight on the air. It was reported that Codrington had suffered a broken vertebrae when in reality he had suffered a concussion. Later that night, Farhood and DiBella emailed the correct medical information to boxing websites to amend the perception that Codrington was seriously hurt.
Now Codrington has to convince himself that he is ready to resume his career.
“I just got to get over this and get back to the gym, get back to the training,” Codrington said. “It happens to the best of them – Zab Judah, Ray Robinson, Lennox Lewis, Ruiz, the list goes on for days [of fighters who have been stopped]. I’ve watched that fight like fifty million times. You never think that you would be in that position, never thought that in a million years. I’ve been on the canvas just once in my career, and it was early on in the amateurs, and it was more because I was off-balance, but I wasn’t shook up or anything.”
The loss came at a bad time for Codrington. His manager was embroiled in a money laundering trial with his brother, and Codrington’s grandfather was sick. Shortly after the fight, Codrington found himself racing back and forth between visiting his grandfather in Bridgeport, Connecticut and being present at the trial in downtown Manhattan. The same day Irv and Chris Gotti were acquitted by a federal jury of money laundering charges on December 1, his grandfather Wilfred Uriah Codrington Sr. died of a heart disease at the age of 78.
“I supported them like they’ve supported me in my career,” he said. “It would have been the worse feeling in the world for me if they had been found guilty or innocent, and I wasn’t there to support or celebrate with them.”
The problems involving his manager and grandfather were distressing, but at least they distracted him from thinking about the fight. Codrington said he is already back in the gym training and anticipates making his return in March or April. He said he visited with three different doctors after the fight and all of them gave him a clean bill of health.
“I believe in myself and a bump in the road isn’t supposed to slow you down too much,” he said. “It’s just supposed to make you put things into perspective and get right back into the grind again.”
Shortly after the loss, a rumor began to circulate that he was retiring from boxing to return to school.
“I’m definitely thinking about going back to school, but I’m definitely not going to give up boxing,” he said. “That’s my bread and butter. That’s how I’m going to make my name. School – I’ve been thinking about that before this happened. That has nothing to do with what happened. I have a couple of ideas, nothing carved in stone, but I was in college before and I thought about nursing or being a gym teacher. I thought about being a juvenile probation officer – a wide variety of things.”
As for any lessons he learned from the fight, Codrington promises to tighten up defensively and work on his boxing skills. Burnett, Green’s trainer, who developed a fondness for Codrington and his trainers before the fight, had some advice of his own for Codrington: “He’s a nice kid, but his management and promoters and everyone around him don't need to sell to the public that he’s the baddest dude on the planet. Jaidon’s a good fighter by himself. He doesn’t need to intimidate anyone. Let his skills do that for him. People once said that Mike Tyson was the baddest man on the planet and a lot of good that did him.”
Besides training boxers, Scully – who traveled the world fighting such championship caliber opponents as Henry Maske, Graciano Rocchigiani and Michael Nunn, as well as working as a sparring partner for many of boxing’s elite – Scully has an abundance of colorful tales to tell.
All of those stories, and more, are forthcoming in a soon to be published book called “The Iceman Diaries.”
“The book will branch out to all I’ve seen and all the people I’ve met,” said Scully, who is generally referred to as Ice. “I talk about Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and the influence they had on me. I have a chapter called Spar Wars, where I describe what it’s like to be in the camps James Toney, Roy Jones Jr. and Vinny Paz.”
Probably the man to have the most influence on the now 38-year-old Scully is Ali. Scully read his autobiography “The Greatest” when he was about eight-years-old. Ali wrote that he knew as a youngster that he wanted to be a world champion. To help achieve that lofty ambition, he never smoke or drank.
“To this day, I’ve never touched a drop of alcohol or took a puff of anything,” said Ice. “The reason is because I wanted the same things that Ali did at the same age. I wanted to be big and famous. From the day I started boxing neighborhood kids, I wanted to be a champion.”
Scully never held a world title, but he has an awful lot to be proud of. While compiling a 57-13 amateur record, he won several national tournaments. Fighting professionally from 1988-2001, he amassed a record of 38-11 (21 KO) against some formidable opposition.
The highlight of his pro career was actually a 12-round decision loss to Nunn for the WBO’s NABO super middleweight title in December 1995.
“A lot of people thought I won that fight,” said Ice. “More people know me from that fight than any other. I fought better against him than any other champion. I hold on to the fact that I did so well against him. Michael was a great technical fighter.”
Scully recently received a letter from Nunn, who is serving more than 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking. He gets emotional when talking about his onetime ring nemesis.
“Some smart guys can do some pretty dumb things,” said Ice. “How many guys in that business knew they were dealing with Michael Nunn? Think of all the people that must have said, ‘I just bought or sold drugs from Michael Nunn.’ How long could that be a secret?”
Although Nunn had a somewhat arrogant reputation, Scully says he was a very decent fellow. “We talked a lot of trash in the clinches, but afterward he was very respectful toward me,” said Ice. “We were at a buffet after our fight, and he came to my table. His mother kept telling him that his food was getting cold, but he stayed and talked. We became good friends. I’m sad that things turned out the way they did.”
Scully also has great respect for Maske, whom he unsuccessfully challenged for the IBF light heavyweight title in Leipzig, Germany, in May 1996. Even though Scully’s mother Carol was dying of cancer at the time, he concedes that he probably would not have been able to beat Maske, even under better emotional circumstances.
“I was training in Florida and called home to see how my mother was doing, and the police answered the phone,” said Scully, who lost a 12-round decision. “My mind was elsewhere, but I don’t think it would have mattered against Maske. He was a 6’4” southpaw who approached boxing like fencing. In Germany they really appreciate that style of fighting.
“He was like the Michael Jordan of boxing over there,” he continued. “He would just jab, jab, left hand, right hook. I would talk trash just to get him to mix it up, but he wouldn’t go for it. He couldn’t care less about being macho. He knew how to win and he was lucky that his style was so appreciated in Germany. It wouldn’t have been appreciated over here.”
Scully also traveled to Deutschland to fight Rocchigiani, a tough crude brawler who was everything that Maske was not. Ice lost a 10-round decision to him in Berlin in March 1997.
“He was almost as big as Henry in Germany – but for all different reasons,” said Ice. “When I got off the plane a reporter asked how I was going to handle his rough tactics. Because I’m so analytical when it comes to boxing, I think I beat myself in that fight.”
When the bell rang for the first round, Scully said that Rocchigiani rushed him. “I sidestepped him and spun him in a circle,” he explained. “It was a great move. But in my mind, I thought he let me do it. I fooled myself into thinking he was better than he was.
“Looking back, I realize that I lost to a lot of guys that weren’t as good as I built them up to be in my mind,” he continued. “If they didn’t throw a left hook after a right hand, I would analyze why rather than take advantage of their mistake. Someone told me I was too smart to be a fighter because I thought too much.”
Unlike so many other fighters who were easy to motivate with cliché-laden speeches, Scully said that wasn’t the case with him.
“When I was fighting Maske my trainer was telling me to be as brave as my mother, to fight for her because she wanted me to win,” he explained. “The truth was my mother didn’t even want me fighting. She wanted me to be near her. I never fell for any of that.”
While he didn’t fall for any of those ploys, he was not beneath using them if the need arose. He remembers referencing a notorious crime-ridden block in Hartford, Connecticut, while trying to motivate a journeyman named Terry Seay against the then-undefeated future contender Syd Vanderpool.
“I said ‘Terry, we’re on the Avenue right now and this guy is trying to rob you of everything you have. What are you going to do about it?’ Terry got up and stopped Vanderpool in the next round.”
Working in camp with Jones was also a memorable experience. “Roy’s reputation has taken a hit because he got so bigheaded,” he said. “When people start talking about themselves in the first person, their perception might be different from their reality. That really turns people off, which is a shame because Roy’s a really good guy.”
One of the most misunderstood fighters Ice has worked with is Toney. “I went to his camp to test myself, but never thought he would be so friendly,” he said. “But the five weeks I spent with him was like summer camp. We had lots of fun.”
A lot of Scully’s book explores fighters like Tyson and Toney, both of whom he says are genuinely good human beings who are grossly misunderstood by the general public. That said, one might wonder if Scully, a highly intelligent product of the suburbs who had ample opportunity to go to college, is sometimes misunderstood for his choice of vocations.
“I read my first book at five or six years old,” said Ice. “It was Howard Cosell’s book Tell It Like It Is. There was a lot about Ali in there. Ali was a dreamer, and what young kid is not a dreamer. The only thing different about me is, unlike a lot of other kids with dreams, mine never changed. I followed it through and took it as far as I could.”
While in high school, Scully kept company with a Guyanese girl named Rita Khargie. They had an innocent relationship that consisted of him mostly telling her that he was going to fight professionally and become a world champion. He also predicted that she would someday be the mother of his child.
Nearly two decades elapsed where they didn’t see each other, but three years ago they were shocked to find out that they actually lived within a mile of each other. They got reacquainted and are now the parents of a beautiful one-year-old daughter named Sarita Carol. The middle name is in honor of Scully’s late mother.
“My life hasn’t really changed a bit,” said Ice. “I still do all my errands and go to the gym. I just take my daughter with me.”
Life is looking good for the eternally optimistic and always positive Iceman. He still enjoys boxing as much as he did when he was fighting neighborhood boys on his backyard deck for the WBC (Windsor Boxing Council) title.
He is in love with his childhood sweetheart and their baby daughter, as well as the scores of fighters of all levels that he considers it a privilege to train.
“I might be a little hyper, but I’m not high-strung,” said the Iceman. “For better or worse, I just roll with the punches. I always have, and I always will.”
Kalambay never turned down a challenge, even if that meant going to Monte Carlo, Paris, Atlantic City, London, Toulon (France), Las Vegas and Leicester (England). He wasn’t scared of partisan judges, like most of today’s boxers. He competed in another era, when the WBA, WBC and IBF were the only respected sanctioning bodies and nobody cared about the newly born WBO. (In Italy, they called it World Branchini Organization, because legendary manager Umberto Branchini always seemed to get world title shots for his fighters.) Today, Kalambay works as a trainer for Paolo Vidoz. He has the utmost confidence in the European heavyweight champion and says that the sky is the limit.
Mr. Kalambay, do you think that Paolo Vidoz can go after a world title?
Yes, I do. Just look at the champions of the major organizations. None of them is superior to Paolo. WBA king John Ruiz had a perfect style for Paolo.
Why did Vidoz not look so good against Valuev?
Simply because Valuev broke Paolo’s jaw during the fitfh round. In the second stanza, Vidoz almost knocked down the Russian. You know, the giant is not so difficult to hit. Larry Donald proved it, winning every round. The best proof of the real outcome of that match are the boos for Valuev and the ovation given Donald by the German audience. Nobody cared about the judges’ decision to give Valuev the victory.
Let’s talk about your career. Who was your toughest opponent?
Iran Barkley. I knew it from the beginning because I watched the videos of his most famous matches. I noticed that he used his right jab to prepare for a big left punch. He was also comfortable in long exchanges: the more he got hit, the more he hit back. That’s why I trained harder than ever before. In the ring, I found out he could deliver punishment with both hands so I never accepted the brawl; four or five consecutive punches, at best. My strategy paid off and I won the vacant WBA middleweight title, after 15 tough rounds. It happened on October 23, 1987. We were in Livorno, Central Italy.
Who turned out to be tougher than expected?
Robbie Simms. They said he was an easy opponent, but he turned out to be very difficult. I never underrated anybody, besides Robbie had been USBA middleweight champion and had beaten by split decision Roberto Duran. As usual, I studied his style and it paid off. I won by unanimous decision: 118-110, 117-113 and 119-113. It was June 12, 1988. The match was held in Ravenna, Northern Italy.
What about Mike McCallum?
The first fight was very important for my career because Mike McCallum was undefeated (32-0) and had a big reputation. He had been WBA light middleweight champion for about three years and was aiming at my WBA middleweight belt. It was my first defense and many people thought that I would lose. We fought on March 5, 1988 in Pesaro. It was a hard battle, but I came out on top: 116-115, 118-114 and 115-114. I met him again on April 1, 1991 in Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco). The judges saw it close again: one had it 115-114 for me, according to the other officials McCallum won by 116-115 and 116-114. At that time, he was the WBA middleweight champion. He had beaten Herol Graham by split decision for the title. Graham was a great boxer and turned out to be very important for my career.
Explain that to The Sweet Science readers.
When I met Graham for the first time, his record was 38-0 and had won the British and European titles in two divisions: light middleweight and middleweight. Herol was born in Sheffield, but packed arenas everywhere in England. Nobody gave me a chance against him, especially because I accepted to fight him on his own turf. We fought on May 26, 1987 in London. I won on points, bringing the European middleweight crown to Italy. After that, the sceptics started to consider me a real champion. I faced Herol Graham a second time, on March 12, 1992. He came to Pesaro, but the result didn’t change: I won again.
You needed seven years to get your world title shot. Weren’t you discouraged during the years of waiting?
No, because I knew that the world title was the final stop of a long road and I had to prove myself winning the Italian and European championships. I did it and I was very proud both times. In the 1980s there were many good boxers in Italy, so wearing the national belt was a big achievement. Today, even the world title belt is no big deal considering there are so many sanctioning organizations that nobody can name them all.
Tell us about your loss to Michael Nunn.
There’s not much to tell. He KOed me with a left hook to the jaw during the first round. You know, I prepared very hard for that fight. I spent a month in Las Vegas and trained properly. It’s sad that one punch ruined it all, but that’s boxing.
You were never a big puncher.
No, my strengths were my technique and my conditioning. I stared slowly and gave the best in the second half of every match. That’s why some people underrated me. Even my friends laughed when I talked about becoming world champion. That has always been my goal, ever since I decided to become a prizefighter.
Did you have any idols?
I admired Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali and Howard Davis, who won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in the lightweight division. He wasn’t equally successful as a pro, building a record of 36 wins (14 KOs), 6 losses and 1 draw. He lost to WBC lightweight champions Jim Watt and Edwin Rosario and to IBF light welterweight king James McGirt.
You faced many top fighters. Did you find any differences between Europeans and Americans?
Americans were better conditioned, but that wasn’t a problem for me because I was used to train very hard and fight often. When I became WBA middleweight champion, I didn’t slow down a bit. I successfully defended the title three times, in 1988 against Mike McCallum (in March), Robbie Sims (three months later) and Doug DeWitt (in November). Americans also tend to be brawlers, but that could be overcome with the right strategy. Europeans, on the other hand, were more skilled technically.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to go on with my career as a trainer. I worked with Vincenzo Cantatore and Michele Piccirillo, and now I’m focusing on Paolo Vidoz. Despite what some critics say, Paolo goes to the gym every day and trains very hard. He will defeat easily Cengiz Koc on January 28, and retain the European heavyweight crown.
Bob Arum believes Floyd Mayweather is one of the best he has ever worked with: He's really right up there with the great fighters. He's up there with Sugar Ray Leonard, with Marvin Hagler, with Alexis Arguello. He's one of the best. He has incredibly fast reflexes and is probably the smartest of all the fighters since Muhammad Ali. Getting back to the mooted Taylor-Wright showdown, in the same column writer Robert Morales quotes promoter Lou DiBella on the possibility of Jermain Taylor facing Winky Wright next: We are not paying step-aside money to Winky and we don't want to get stripped. So, we are trying to work out a deal with Winky. My gut tells me Winky is not going to accept what's there. Therefore, he is going to be the one to forfeit his chance at the title. Winky needs the fight a lot more than we do. Personally, I wouldn't be shocked if Winky's gut is telling him maybe he should take the short end of the stick in order to get Taylor in the ring. Just in case, DiBella said he has three alternate opponents for Taylor's next fight should Wright decide not to sign - Sam Soliman, Howard Eastman and Felix Sturm.
All across the wire today is news that Jeff Fenech will face a Gold Coast court on Friday after being accused of shoplifting. Strange parallels between Fenech and another Jeff - Reardon - who was arrested for armed robbery earlier this week.
British heavyweight Danny Williams is reportedly set to face the rough-and-ready Matt Skelton in yet another UK heavyyweight showdown on Saturday, February 25. Danny Williams' much anticipated showdown with Audley Harrison which closed out the year in the UK turned out to be a bust, though it should be said it was Harrison who received the lion's share of the blame for what turned out to be a snorefest until the late rounds. Skelton is reportedly crude, but very tough and could provide some mild intrigue in the moribund heavyweight division during 2006 if he can get past Williams. This is assuming, of course, the fight actually happens. Williams pulled out at the last minute when the pair where scheduled to meet in July.
Finally, in the realm of the bizarre, Mike Tyson's alleged half-brother says he is looking at making a ring comeback. Ron Kantowski of the Las Vegas Sun details the unusual tale of fighter Cliff Couser. Bizarre as it is, it's in part characters like this that have always drawn me to follow the sweet science.