Six years, a lengthy stay in the pound for pound rankings and more than a dozen wins later, Floyd (32-0, 21KO) finds himself returning to Miami, no further along in terms of popularity and mainstream appeal as he takes on tough yet unheralded Henry Bruseles (live on HBO, January 22, 10PM ET/7PM PT). In associating fighters with movies, Floyd’s talent and in-the-ring accomplishments could be referred to as “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Yet, somehow, his marketability and out-of-the ring activities are more reminiscent of “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Misfortunate Events.”
As of late, part of the reason for the leveling off of his career is his dubious business decisions. Having long raised the bar for level of competition, Floyd’s arrival in the super lightweight division has been little more than an ordinary run thus far. It was assumed that Floyd’s plans to abandon the lightweight division, coupled with his past penchant for seeking out the absolute best, would help liven up things in the division, arguably the deepest in the sport. Instead, he ultimately settled for former WBO 140 lb champ DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, in hopes that it would lead to a mandatory title shot against WBC champ and latest matinee idol Arturo Gatti.
On the surface, it’s a sound plan. With Kostya Tszyu on the sidelines at the time and already obligated to face then IBF interim champion Sharmba Mitchell, who better to face than the most popular name in the division in Gatti. However, in looking back at Floyd’s career, what makes the scenario disturbing is the fact that he managed to arrive at the point where he’s dependent upon another fighter in order to make himself a household name.
Part of the misfortune stemmed from comments Floyd made a few years ago, in regard to a looming HBO contract. When presented with the contract offer, Floyd was not satisfied with the numbers, and stated that it was “slave wages compared to what Naseem Hamed was making.” Simply put, he demanded that he be paid closer to the heavyweight-like numbers Naseem was making. Unfortunately for Floyd, many in the press elected to only use part of the quote, dropping the “compared to…” part. The end result was Mayweather coming across as yet another spoiled potential superstar.
Also looming at the time was his well-publicized feud with his father, who at the time was his head trainer. Everyone from the media all the way up to Top Rank and HBO seemed to have a field day with Floyd’s out-of-the-ring troubles. While they were busy painting him as a monster of sorts, Top Rank was busy grooming its next lower weight star in the making, Diego “Chico” Corrales. Having smoked Roberto “Grandpa” Garcia in winning the IBF junior lightweight title the year prior on a Mike Tyson under card, Chico was an instant hit. His penchant for slugging and his eye-popping two-fisted power was easy to fall in love with. So much so, that when news broke of his being involved in a violent domestic dispute, the media seemingly gave him the benefit of the doubt. Floyd was afforded no such luxury, and was forced to play the role of villain going into their January 2001 super fight.
As the old saying goes, “Winning cures many things.” With fifty-seven wins and zero losses between Floyd and Chico – three years ago tonight, as this article is written – there shouldn’t be much to cure. Yet somehow, neither fighter had garnered much in the form of sympathy heading in. Not even appeasing HBO’s demands of appearing on their lowly-regarded and now defunct “KO Nation” series was enough for Floyd to gain support. So he took matters into his own hands, as he and manager James Prince guaranteed not only a win, but would declare such as a victory for battered housewives across America.
The comments didn’t gain him any more fans, but his near-perfect performance over the next ten rounds would force the hate to come to a screeching halt, if only for an evening. Ten dominant rounds later, a reversal of fortunes took place. In one corner, it was a teary-eyed Floyd Jr. and his father embracing, not only for the victory in the ring, but to let the world – and more importantly each other – know that the time had come for reconciliation. In the other, the now-defeated Chico was irate in launching a profanity-laced tirade at his trainer and father, Ray Woods, for having been forced to quit what would be his last fight for the next two years. While Floyd was once again revered as a hero and the recipient of the same HBO contract he had rejected a year earlier, Chico was now seen – and convicted in a court of law – as a wife-beater.
The rediscovered fame did not last for long, though. In a May defense against future belt holder Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, Floyd managed to injure both of his hands and was forced to deliver a less than thrilling performance en route to victory. The bout was also the only time that he had ever visited the canvas, despite not having been hit prior to the knockdown. In fact, he had landed a punch, and then took a knee in trying to recover from the pain felt in his now broken hand. To date, it was the only time he has ever been officially called for a knockdown. However, it wasn’t the last time that he would deliver a performance that left a lot to be desired.
In April 2002, after having become the first and only fighter to stop the tough Jesus Chavez for his eighth title defense, Floyd abandoned the title, and set his sights on WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo. It was his fourth straight fight against a current or future world champion. But much as he had done so early into his championship run, Floyd had spoiled fans to the point where the ridiculously impressive level of competition was no longer reward enough to the general public. Not after reports had leaked out about “Pretty Boy” being involved in not one, but two domestic disputes, both involving women who were mothers to his children. The news, coupled with his renewed quarrel with Top Rank, had once again made Floyd public enemy number one.
Such was reflected in the fans reaction at the end of his fight with Castillo, the first of two times they would square off in 2002. Despite once again injuring his hands, Floyd pulled out a unanimous decision that was scored wider on the official scorecards than according to the paying public. In fact, many in attendance, as well as the HBO broadcast team, seemingly no longer in love with Floyd any longer either, insisted that Castillo was screwed out of the decision and his title.
Castillo was given a rematch in Vegas, and Bob Arum was given more grief by Floyd. Why am I fighting on the West Coast, where nobody gives a damn about African-American fighters, Floyd had questioned. Arum’s response was that he was impossible to market, though Floyd felt that he’d be a much better sell on the East coast, where he could also better promote his rap label, Philthy Rich Records. Instead, Arum not only kept the rematch in Vegas, but demoted the fight from main event to co-feature, allowing the long-awaited (though ultimately disappointing) Wladimir Klitschko-Jameel McCline heavyweight bout to play headliner that evening. Floyd responded by doing just enough to win, averaging less than 35 punches a round yet still decisively beating Castillo to confirm his claim as lightweight champion. Arum’s response? “Three more fights (left on his promotional contract), and I’m counting every one of them.”
By the time 2003 had rolled around, Floyd was basically a man without a country. More out-of-the-ring occurrences had transpired. He and his father had permanently split, his promoter seemed all but disinterested in further elevating his mainstream status, and reports of a bouncer allegedly being attacked by Floyd and his crew had surfaced. And after having announced Victoriano Sosa as his next challenger, those who had grown accustomed to Floyd calling out and facing the best groaned at the thought of a potential mismatch. Forget for a moment that the “easiest” fight in the past three years for Floyd just happened to be the then-toughest fight for another divisional champ, IBF lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora, who oddly enough was preparing for a unification bout with WBA champ Leo Dorin at the time.
After breezing through Sosa en route to a unanimous decision, Mayweather had set his sights on bigger game, hoping to conjure up the mainstream appeal he felt was befitting of his God-given talent. Mayweather had flirted with the idea of heading toward the super lightweight division, which at the time was the deepest division in boxing. Before doing so, he opted for one last defense, this to be a hometown (Grand Rapids, MI) against all-action knockout artist Phillip “Time Bomb” N’Dou. The knock on N’Dou was that he was a junior lightweight moving up in weight, and that he was somewhat chinny. His power seemed to come up with him, but unfortunately so did his chin issues, as Mayweather walked through him, scoring three knockdowns en route to his first stoppage win in almost two years. Finally, it seemed, Mayweather was on his way toward superstardom.
2004 was supposed to be the year in which Floyd would leave no doubt as to who was the best in the sport. But after having called out everyone from Kostya Tszyu at 140, all the way up to Oscar de la Hoya at 154, Floyd settled on a WBC junior welterweight elimination bout with Spadafora. However, Spadafora passed, not liking what was offered, in addition to enduring multiple run-ins with the law himself. Lazcano once again passed on the fight, instead opting for tough-as-nails Jose Luis Castillo for far less money and a shot at Floyd’s now vacant WBC lightweight crown. Lazcano lost, and Floyd wound up with Corley, and a long awaited return to the Northeast.
His theory on marketability on the Right Coast proved true, as a packed house had filed into the Atlantic City Convention Center for what turned out to be an action packed, if ultimately one-sided, contest. Floyd dropped the former WBO champion twice in taking a lopsided unanimous decision, thus earning a mandatory crack at WBC champ Arturo Gatti. All he had to do was wait out Gatti’s fight with Dorin, and he’d be next in line. Or so he thought.
Instead of the WBC doing their job and enforcing a mandatory bout between Gatti and Mayweather, Team Gatti announced that he would be facing Jesse James Leija, who had scored an upset in knocking off once-promising prospect Francisco “Panchito” Bojado. Gatti had even declared that he’d be willing to give up his WBC title if forced into such a position. Instead, the WBC forced Mayweather into a different position and sans Vaseline, in sanctioning a second straight optional defense, despite their own rules to the contrary.
The news had suddenly thrown Mayweather’s career for a loop. His contract with both HBO and Top Rank had run out, which meant that he had nobody to promote his next contest, nor the $3 million + payday he had grown accustomed to making while under the network contract. He passed on a title shot against WBA champion “Vicious” Vivian Harris, despite a verbal promise from Main Events that should he win, they’d give him a 50/50 split for a 2005 unification match against Gatti. Floyd would rather maintain his position as WBC mandatory than have to worry about a potential unification bout falling through the cracks, it seemed.
The reasoning seemed logical enough, but his next move would be anything but. The WBC, perhaps in an effort to atone for the “oversight” in allowing Gatti to sidestep his mandatory, offered Floyd a chance to fight for the interim title. As silly as interim titles are viewed, the payoff would be the mandatory receiving a 45% purse split against the champion, as opposed to the standard 25% (or 20% if the challenger lands the fight in his hometown). Simply put, Floyd would be ensured the largest payday of his career, all while earning near purse parity with one of the sport’s most popular non-heavyweights.
However, Floyd was bothered by the fact that he had to first split a good portion of the $1.5 million that HBO was offering for the fight with the next highest rated WBC contender, Gianluca Branco. HBO, nobody’s fan when it comes to the alphabets, didn’t mind the matchup, because Branco had fought Gatti the year prior and the network loves to showcase “comparison” matches. Floyd did mind, and the fight along with his chances at a near even split with Gatti later in 2005, was instantly squashed.
This is where Bruseles finally fits in. While a tough fighter and having come out victorious against Wilfredo Negron in what is considered one of the top fights of 2004, Bruseles is tailor-made for Mayweather. Fun to watch, but extremely hittable, and not really spectacular in any given area. More importantly, for the sake of the fight being made, he comes cheaper than what Branco was asking, or felt to which he was entitled.
While Floyd stands to pocket a little more for this fight, the thing he must realize is that the adage “winning cures many things” no longer applies. Not when you are involved in a series of fights where the outcome is all but a foregone conclusion. Instead, a new term applies, in regard to both his star status and future paydays; cheap is expensive. He’s saving now – in addition to the larger split he keeps for this fight, he also stands pat and bides his time while waiting for Gatti. But what he doesn’t realize is that next Saturday is Gatti’s last fight under HBO contract. Also, Gatti is to the point where he refuses to even discuss Mayweather, despite the fact that he has been Arturo’s mandatory for eight months.
If and when negotiations commence, there is no guarantee that enough money is offered to appease both parties. Floyd has already put himself in the position of most likely having to accept 25% of the total purse offered for such a fight. There is also no guarantee that Gatti keeps the title – he may very well lose to Leija, who has been slept on and written off for years now, yet refused to go away. Assuming that Arturo is victorious, who’s to say that he doesn’t vacate the title? Or even take it one step further, and retire? His management had once hinted after the third fight with Micky Ward that they’d be looking at three more fights and then possibly call it a career. What a coincidence that they signed a three-fight contract with HBO at the time.
If anything were to occur where Floyd and Gatti do not fight each other this year, the likely scenario is that Floyd winds up fighting for a vacant WBC title. That would leave him with a fight against the winner of Branco – Junior Witter. On paper, Floyd beats both, though Witter is no walk in the park. In reality, nobody would really care. Which would leave Floyd still no better off than he was six years ago.
Juan Diaz - Billy Irwin The obvious choice seems to be Diaz by decision. Juan is not a noted puncher, and Irwin has never been stopped in his lengthy career. But, my gut tells me that this one doesn't follow the script. Juan will step it up considerably, and through workrate and attrition, will become the first to stop Irwin. Diaz TKO10
Calvin Brock - Clifford Ettiene Brock by decision. I really have no desire to analyze this fight any further than that.
Saturday, January 22 - HBO
Samuel Peter - Yanqui Diaz Obviously, HBO is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with this one. Peter is coming off what was argubly the Knockout of the Year in 2004, having knocked Jeremy Williams out cold on the December 4 Showtime card in Vegas. Diaz is coming off one of the year's biggest upsets, having stopped previously unbeaten Juan Carlos Gomez inside of one on a Telefutura telecast. My guess, is that HBO will have suffered a huge letdown when all is said and done in this one. I can see it starting out as a pier six brawl, and then trickling down to a clumsy, sloppy... well, a typical 21st Century heavyweight fight. The fight will end with Peter boxing to win, and Diaz boxing to survive. Peter by unanimous decision.
Floyd Mayweather - Henry Bruseles (MAIN EVENT) The fight that apparently nobody wants to see. Not sure why; with the exception of the Castillo rematch, it's been a while since Floyd has been involved in a stinker, and Bruseles has been involved in his share of gems, including his all-action war with Wilfredo Negron last February on Telefutura. Most will insist that with the fight being a mismatch (on paper) and Floyd being too good to face "someone like Bruseles", I say kick back and enjoy a fun fight while Floyd waits for Gatti to finally give him a title shot. With that on the line, look for Floyd to leave 'em entertained, and Bruseles offering a spirited performace, but never coming close to seeing the final bell. Floyd TKO7.
IBF junior middleweight champion Kassim Ouma, of Uganda, puts his title on the line against Kofi Jantuah, of Ghana, Jan. 29 in Atlantic City. It is the first all African world title fight since 1957, when Kid Bassey (Nigeria) knocked out Cherrif Hamia (Algeria) to win the vacant featherweight title.
Ouma rarely takes a backward step in the ring and Jantuah has knocked out his last seven opponents. Ever since his blistering first round knockout of unbeaten prospect Marco Antonio Rubio in September, Jantuah has positioned himself as the division’s top contender. A month later, Ouma captured the IBF belt with a decision over veteran Verno Phillips and the matchup seemed inevitable. With Gatti talking about using his boxing skills – a la Gatti-Micky Ward II – this contest could upstage the main event.
On Wednesday, Ouma and Jantuah spoke with the national boxing media during a conference call.
“I’ve been training hard,” said Jantuah, 28-1 with 18 knockouts. “My conditioning is very good. I’m ready to go. My game plan is to take the fight to him and make him fight,” said Jantuah.
The challenger believes that crowding a southpaw neutralizes the effectiveness of his style. “If you give them a chance to stand outside, they pitter-patter you with their southpaw style,” he said
No one ever accused the aggressive Ouma of being a typical southpaw.
“Whatever he brings to me, I’ll answer him back and you’ll find out from there,” said Ouma.
Ouma, 20-1-1, 13 knockouts, said he doesn’t regard Jantuah as a big puncher and argued that a puncher has to land his punches to score a knockout. “He’s not going to catch me with his punches,” Ouma said.
The story of Ouma has been well documented. At the age of 7 he was kidnapped from elementary school by the National Resistance Army and forced to fight in Uganda’s bloody Civil War. He survived for 10 years as a soldier and finally made his way to America in 1998. It’s a time in his life that Ouma prefers not to think about, and since his career took off he doesn’t dwell on the past.
“It’s not that difficult because I am in the land of the free,” he said. “I am doing what I am supposed to do. I just live life.”
Although he was forced into action with the NRA, his service with the rebel group has led the Ugandan government to consider him an outlaw.
“The fans love me,” said Ouma of his homeland’s citizens. “But the government and military say they will arrest me the moment I go there. It’s kind of tricky. I don’t know if I’ll get back there. If I get citizenship, I’ll go back as an American citizen.”
Jantuah said that although Ghana was not at Civil War, he did not have an easy childhood. He said he ran the streets and eventually learned how to box from Hall-of-Famer Azumah Nelson. Jantuah wants to uphold the tradition of Ghanaian champions like Nelson and Ike Quartey.
Ouma wants to start his own tradition here in the States and his first move is to upstage Gatti on Janury 29.
“By the time I leave Atlantic City, the town will be mine,” Ouma said. “Tell your mayor to save me the key to the city.”
In recent years Sonny Liston and Mike Tyson have often been compared to each other. They both were tremendous two-handed punchers, and both demonstrated a sturdy chin. They also had their share of run-ins with the law, and both served time in prison. It seemed the safest place for them was in the ring, with its legalized mayhem. However, there were also several differences in how they were brought along and how they were perceived by the public.
The fanfare was night and day different for Liston and Tyson when they turned pro. Liston didn't have the PR machine behind him that Tyson had. In fact, Liston was the anti-Tyson of his era. Liston had to fight all the top fighters of his era one by one before finally getting a shot at heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson, and the title shot was still three years overdue. Whereas Tyson had an image manufactured by millionaires and marketing companies. Tyson could pick and choose opponents he could look impressive beating. Thus, the Tyson marketing machine had him in position to fight for the title a little over a year and a half after he turned pro.
Sonny Liston fought at a time when fighters could fight every month and still not garner much exposure. Tyson had the benefit of having HBO and Don King promote and show all of his fights shortly before he won the title, and then during his title tenure. Liston's career was handled by the mob. When Liston was coming up - and even after he reached the top - the media and the fans were hoping he'd lose. On the other hand, Tyson was the crowd’s darling just about his entire career. Tyson was always hyped to be bigger than life, whereas Liston was just feared because of what he did to the top heavyweights of his era.
Charles "Sonny" Liston took up boxing in prison. When Liston was paroled in 1952 after an armed robbery conviction, he started fighting competitively as an amateur. In 1953 he won the National Golden Gloves. Sonny turned pro in late 1953 and won his first 7 fights before losing a decision to Marty Marshall in his 8th fight, a fight in which he suffered a broken jaw. Liston would go on to fight Marshall two more times, stopping him and decisioning him. After doing a couple more prison stints over the next few years, Liston was the top-ranked and most feared heavyweight in the world by 1958.
For the next four years Liston was avoided by heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson. During that time Liston was going through all the top heavyweights - opponents who Patterson's management team had kept their fighter away from. After Liston chased Patterson for over three years, they finally met in September of 1962. After two minutes of the first round Liston did to Patterson what many thought was inevitable - he destroyed him and took his title. Ten months later Liston defended the title against Patterson and needed only two more seconds to repeat his title winning effort.
Seven months later Sonny would lose the title to Cassius Clay as a 7-1 favorite when he didn’t emerge from his corner for the seventh round. In the rematch 15 months later, Clay - who had changed his name to Muhammad Ali - defeated Liston, stopping him in the first round of a bizarre fight. A fight in which Liston never was given a count, yet was declared a knockout loser?
After losing to Ali, Liston would fight for five more years, going 15-1 (14). His lone loss would be a KO defeat to contender Leotis Martin in his next to last fight. Seven months after defeating Chuck Wepner in his final fight, Liston was found dead in his Las Vegas home due to a drug overdose. The two defeats by Muhammad Ali tarnished Liston's legacy forever as an all-time great heavyweight champ. However, his skill and fighting ability will never be in question.
Mike Tyson’s path into boxing was similar to Liston and many other fighters who went on to become champions. He was a troubled youth who found his way into trouble by hanging out and fighting in the streets. Like Liston and Foreman before him, Tyson was a man-child who had no trouble bettering grown men in street fights as a young teenager. Tyson was eventually brought to legendary trainer Cus D' Amato to be evaluated as a fighter. D' Amato was best known for managing and training former heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson. Under the tutelage of D' Amato, Patterson became the youngest champ in heavyweight history at 21. Although D' Amato died a year before it happened, 30 years later Tyson captured the title at age 20, eclipsing Patterson's record.
After losing in the finals of the 1984 Olympic trials to Henry Tillman twice, Tyson turned pro in March of 1985. Tyson blew through the heavyweight division, demonstrating a combination of speed and punching power never seen before. On November 22nd, 1986, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ in history when he stopped WBC Champion Trevor Berbick in two rounds. Nine months after beating Berbick, Tyson became the unified champ when he won a 12 round decision over IBF Champion Tony Tucker. After making six defenses of the unified title, Tyson was upset by 42-1 underdog Buster Douglas in Tokyo Japan. When Douglas knocked out Tyson in the 10th round in February of 1990, he forever shattered the aura of invincibility that surrounded Tyson.
After the loss to Douglas, Tyson had his ups and downs in and out of the ring. Out of the ring he was convicted of rape and spent three years in prison from 1992-95. When Tyson was released from prison he returned to the ring and captured the WBA and WBC titles a little over a year later. In his first defense of the WBA/WBC titles, he was stopped by long time rival Evander Holyfield in 11 rounds. In the rematch seven months later, Tyson would lose to Holyfield via disqualification when he bit both of Holyfield’s ears. Tyson said after the fight that he bit Holyfield's ears in retaliation for Holyfield head-butting him during the fight. After losing to Holyfield, Tyson would challenge for the heavyweight title once more. In June of 2002 Tyson was stopped by heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis in eight rounds. Since losing to Lewis, Tyson has been a non-factor in the heavyweight title picture.
The Style Match up A Liston-Tyson confrontation is fascinating from a style vantage point. Both Liston and Tyson sought the knockout exclusively to win their fights. They both had to be moving forward to be most effective, although it was less of an issue for Liston. Liston moved forward behind a ram-rod, left jab. Tyson moved in with his hands held up to his chin with side-to-side head movement. Liston fought at a more measured pace, looking to set everything up off of his powerful jab. Tyson fought in spurts. Sometimes he would rush in behind a two handed assault, and other times he would work his way in underneath his opponent’s jab.
Both Liston and Tyson had knockout power in both hands. Their power was pretty close, but the difference was Tyson had the faster hands and was a little more accurate with his punch placement. However, Liston had the better inside-outside game. Tyson had to be on his opponent’s chest to be effective. On the other hand, Liston could neutralize movers and boxers with his jab and reach. Liston was also effective inside throwing short hooks and uppercuts. Although they were both considered sluggers, both Sonny and Mike were better boxers than generally given credit for by most writers and fans.
It's safe to say that neither fighter faced a fighter like the other. The closest fighter Liston fought to Tyson was Floyd Patterson. Although Patterson wasn't as big or powerful as Tyson, he did have the speed and fought out of the peek-a-boo style like Tyson, and was least effective when forced back, like Tyson. On the other hand, the only fighter Tyson fought who was somewhat close to Liston was Lennox Lewis. Both Lewis and Liston could fight at a distance or inside. Lewis was bigger than Liston, but wasn't as tough mentally and didn't have a jab in quite the same league as Liston's. As far as styles go, Liston was vulnerable to fast-footed boxers with lateral movement, and was at his best if his opponents came to him, which not too many tried. Tyson was most effective versus fighters that moved away or ran from him, but was at a disadvantage when facing a fighter who could force him back.
Who Would've Won A Liston-Tyson confrontation comes down to two things: who would've backed up, and who would've been the least intimidated by the other. I know this may not be popular, but I just can't envision Liston being intimidated by Tyson. Liston had no fear of Clay/Ali, and on top of that he kept going after a hard puncher like Cleveland Williams, who was in his prime at the time, even after having been nailed by bombs from Williams. Liston also chased down Marty Marshall despite having a broken jaw for the majority of the fight. This is in contrast to Tyson, who would go into long defensive shells and stop throwing punches when faced with an opponent who attacked him with big shots. I believe in a battle of wills, Sonny convinces Mike that he's not going to win easier than Mike convinces Sonny that it's not his night.
The fact that I think Liston wins the psychological warfare translates into the physical fight and how it plays out. I think Tyson may try to jump on Liston like he did Holyfield and Lewis at the onset. The first round or two would be incredible. Tyson would probably come on very quickly, almost recklessly, and his movement and fast hands might provide him with a measure of success. But then he'd face his first problem, Liston wouldn't fall. And, of course, Liston always fired back.
All it would take would be a few of those telephone pole jabs to take all the starch out of Tyson mentally. I also doubt he'd have the nerve to pull any ear-biting, arm-breaking crap with Liston. Once Tyson gets second thoughts about coming in with impunity and starts to think his way through the fight, he's in trouble. The moment Liston senses that Tyson has some reservations, he'd pick up the pace and apply even more mental and physical pressure.
The way I see it, Liston stops Tyson. He had the jab reach and power, along with the style, to neutralize Tyson and his greater hand speed. On top of that, Sonny takes away Tyson's biggest weapon, the intimidation factor. It says here that Tyson is the one who harbors self-doubt, and it is Tyson who would be unsure of himself during the stare down as he faced Liston in the center of the ring before the bell for round one.
In separate lawsuits filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Sulaiman alleges that he suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the fracas. Jose Sulaiman is seeking damages from the Millennium Hotel and promoter Main Events.
The most contentious issue concerning gloves is the need for both fighters in a boxing match to wear the same brand of glove in Nevada. Most recently, this was an issue when Erik Morales faced Marco Antonio Barrera. Presently, the champion has the right to choose the brand of boxing gloves to be worn by both boxers in a title fight. On the night of Morales-Barrera, it almost became a deal-breaking issue as Barrera refused to wear the Winning gloves, unmodified. A compromise was eventually reached and the bout went ahead as scheduled.
As reported by Kevin Iole in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Executive Director Marc Ratner - as a result of past controversies - would like the Commission to reconsider the rule requiring fighters to wear the same brand of boxing gloves.
In another interesting development, the Commission has requested Dr. Margaret Goodman investigate the affect of fighters wearing different colored boxing gloves in a bout - a practice which seems to becoming more and more common of late. The question is whether the color of the gloves may give a fighter an advantage, as a result of how certain colors may affect the judges' and the other fighter's ability to see punches.
The object of Red Rover that we all played as young ones on the schoolyard was to join hands and prevent the kid on the other side from running through your guard. To build your team the strategy was to call out the weakest person on the other side who was least likely to run through your guard. When matchmaking for a fighter making a comeback the plan is much the same. For Team Tua the weak link in the heavyweight division is Talmadge Griffis, and as a result he has been called over to challenge Tua in his comeback.
It’s official, or at least it is as official as things get in boxing, that David Tua and his decapitating left hook are back. The Terminator, The Throwin’ Samoan, The Tuaman - wait, what exactly is a Tuaman anyway . . . other than the second worse nickname for a boxer behind ‘Goofi’ - anyways, all indications are that he will be back in the ring to dispose of Griffis in Auckland this March.
At 32 years of age and sporting a professional record of 42-3-1 with 37 knockouts - mostly of the stunning, snot-rocking variety that puts seats in the seats - the colorful David Tua is set to put a dent in the heavyweight scene once more. We can hope at least.
The last time we saw the native of Western Samoa he danced to a slow drum with Hasim Rahman for twelve uneventful rounds. Most observers felt Rahman got the better of the limited exchanges, but Tua escaped with a draw in what was a rematch of Tua’s controversial stoppage of Rahman back in 1998.
The road back has to start somewhere and so the first step will be in David Tua’s backyard yard of his adopted home of New Zealand. After a layoff caused by managerial disputes and a lack of desire, the 5’ 9” heavyweight will come back against made-to-order Talmadge Griffis. One has to walk before he runs and Tua will use the spring bout to get his ring legs back and shake out the rust that semi-retirement and shuffleboard can cause.
While we will hope that he tips the scales under 240 pounds, that may be asking a bit much of a fighter who has been off so long. Nine of his past ten fights have been at over 240 and that just doesn’t seem to suit a small heavyweight very well. Yes, he has tree trunk legs, but his high weights seem to indicate he is built to fight a few rounds and run out of gas as fights wear on. His recent fights suggest that his punch output suffers dramatically the deeper fights go.
Running out of gas shouldn’t be a problem for Tua when he takes on Talmadge. Griffis has been put on ice by both Joe Mesi and Cedric Boswell, and those qualifications have him receiving airfare for a trip to Auckland. In his past five bouts Griffis has lost four times with his lone win over the now 5-11 Harold Rodriguez. While Talmadge Griffis isn’t a household name outside of the Griffis household, he does bring a record on paper that at least looks respectable.
At 22-5-3, ‘Two Guns’ Griffis appears to be a decent litmus test as to how much work Tua will need, especially if he extends the Samoan past six or seven heats. His only win over an opponent that might ring a bell was against decent Dale Crowe, but it took him two fights to do it, as the two fought to a draw when they met for the first time. Other than that, Griffis has stepped up and been knocked back down.
But this show at Waitakere’s Trusts Stadium in New Zealand is all about David Tua, and the stage looks set for a grand entrance back on to the heavyweight scene.
The state of boxing’s flagship division is in such a state of flux that many of the top-ten fighters can hold legitimate dreams of being world champion. Those dreams still burn for Tua and the game of being a top-ten ranked fighter continues in March.
After initially announcing the WBA, IBF, WBO and WBC titles would be at stake when Hopkins and Eastman meet, Eastman's promoter, Mick Hennessy, has made it known that only the WBC middleweight title will be up for grabs.
"We would like to apologise for this misunderstanding," said Hennessy. "It was never our intention to mislead anybody."
"Our understanding at the time of our announcement was that all the championships would be contested."
"We have since learnt, however, that Bernard Hopkins is only prepared to stake the WBC title he has been mandated to defend."
Eastman, known as the Battersea Bomber, will present an interesting challenge for Hopkins.
Though the Englishman is mostly an unknown quantity - despite a controversial points loss to William Joppy in 2001in a WBA title fight - on the other side of the Atlantic, he is regarded by many as a leading middleweight contender and a worthy challenger for Hopkins.
Give up? Well it is none other than the great Johnny Kilbane.
Kilbane was born in Cleveland on April 18, 1889 and was a life long resident of the Lake Erie port. He began his professional career in 1907 and by 1910 he was one of the area’s top boxing attractions. He suffered his first defeat in October of 1910, losing a ten round decision to world featherweight titleholder Abe Attell in a non-title fight. In 1911 he lost a 20 round decision to Indian Joe Rivers. In September of the same year he avenged the loss to Rivers via a 16th round knockout.
Johnny was then offered a match with world lightweight champion Ad Wolgast. Being a natural featherweight Johnny decided instead to challenge his old foe Abe Attell for the 126-pound title. Attell agreed and in February of 1912 Kilbane outpointed Attell to win the featherweight championship. In Johnny’s first defense in 1912 he drew with former bantamweight champion Jimmy Walsh. In his second defense in 1913 he drew with Johnny Dundee. Johnny did not defend again until 1916 when he stopped George “KO” Chaney in three rounds.
Kilbane engaged in several NO DECISION bouts during his reign against the likes of Benny Leonard, Rocky Kansas, Kid Williams, Ritchie Mitchell, and Walsh. On May 1, 1917, he fought a ten round NO DECISION bout with lightweight champion Freddie Welsh. After Welsh lost his title to Leonard, Johnny challenged Leonard for the crown. In one of Leonard’s best career performances he halted the smaller challenge in round three.
Kilbane did not box again for close to two years and when he did he engaged in a series of non-title bouts. Finally in April of 1920, he stopped Alvie Miller in the seventh round of a title defense. In September of 1921, he halted British champion Danny Frush in seven rounds in what would be his last successful defense. On June 2, 1923, Johnny fought for the last time losing his crown in six rounds to Eugene Criqui.
No longer a champion Johnny retired at the age of 34. Kilbane passed away in his hometown on May 31, 1967.
Juan Diaz on why he splits his time between boxing and college: I could break my leg or my arm any day, then where will all of the millions be? Now I will always have my degree to fall back on.
Juan Diaz on his opponent, Billy Irwin: Irwin is not going to be fighting like he's 36. He's going to be fighting like he's 23 and this is going to be his last chance at a world title. So I have to be ready for that 23-year-old Irwin. I will come out strong, and if that doesn't work I will try to outbox him with my jab.
Clifford Etienne on whether this fight is do-or-die: I’m training with my trainer. I don’t believe in do-or-die. I don’t think this has anything to do with me dying, regardless of how the situation is. Saying do-or-die, I wouldn’t want to put that type of pressure on myself. I heard Calvin Brock talking about this and talking about that.
We are not going to even need a referee. This is old school. We are just going to get in the ring and fight. And when the smoke clears, I will be the last man standing.
Calvin Brock on Juan Diaz: I give Juan a lot of credit. I went to school when I was an amateur. I couldn’t imagine going to college while fighting as a professional - and especially as a world champion and all of the pressures that come along with that.
Brock on preparing for Etienne: I sparred with McCline for a week. I boxed southpaw for him. I used to fight southpaw back when. I didn’t have much of a hard time with him. He and Jimmy Glenn said I was the best work that Jameel had.
I was told, by my trainer that he (Etienne) is there to be hit. And if he is there to be hit then I should win the fight, because I don’t get hit.