Hombre TV’s Special Committee for Boxing was established to develop a unique schedule of boxing-related programming for Hombre TV. In addition to Ramos, the Committee is comprised of well-known professionals including Colonel Bob Sheridan, International Boxing Commentator; Jimmy Lennon, Jr., International Ring Announcer; Benny Ricardo ring commentator, bi-lingual ring commentator as my roles for Fox and ESPN Deportes and International are both in English and Spanish as well as my work on the NFL games for CBS Sports. Bill Farley, Vice President, Playboy Enterprises; Ferocious Fernando Vargas, former two times Junior Middleweight Champion and Entrepreneur; and Dan Eye, Amateur Boxing Producer and Promoter. Director Ramos has also secured the endorsement of the World Boxing Council, (WBC) and is working closely with Jose and Mauricio Sulaiman , who have also joined the Hombre TV Special Committee for Boxing. Already on the Hombre TV boxing schedule is the Thursday night “Fight of the Week”, scheduled to be live from Las Vegas, NV.
These weekly fight cards will also feature ring-side interviews and behind the scene feature stories. Hombre TV will also be broadcasting the World Wide Boxing Dignity Awards and other noted boxing award shows.
Dennis N. Richard, Hombre TV Chairman & CEO stated: "We are very pleased that Alex Ramos has joined our team and put together such a great group of boxing industry professionals. Alex's 30 years in boxing and his strong global connections will ensure that Hombre TV becomes the home of the best televised boxing in the world.”
Alex Ramos stated, “I am thrilled to be the Director of the Boxing Committee and to be in the position to guide the network toward championship fights both pro and amateur. With a network that reaches the all important Hispanic male, there is much that Hombre TV can do to promote and change for the better, the sport of boxing. I am committed to opening up Hombre TV boxing to all boxing professionals, and to provide all kinds of opportunities to both amateurs, established boxers and to providing retired boxers with a place that they can once again be seen and heard.”
Jose Sulaiman, President of the World Boxing Council, (WBC) in Mexico City stated: “We strongly feel that boxing is of great interest to Latino men, and that its biggest potential in the United States, and we hereby express our commitment to work in any endeavor that is needed to make Hombre TV a great success."
Unbeaten heavyweight Roman Greenberg (17-0, 12 KO's) captures the Broadway spotlight on Friday night, January 28, when he headlines 2005's second installment of DiBella Entertainment's Broadway Boxing Presented by Mohegan Sun at the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center.
Greenberg, a native of Tel Aviv, Israel, will go toe-to-toe with Marcus McGee (12-5, 6 KO's), who hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in an eight-round heavyweight showdown in the evening's main event.
In the co-featured attraction knockout artist Jaidon Codrington (6-0, 6 KO's), fighting out of Queens, will square off against Glen Rayburn (13-3-1, 8 KO's), of Delaware, Ohio, in an eight-round super middleweight contest.
On the undercard, U.S. Olympian and Winter Haven, Florida native Andre Berto (1-0, 1 KO), fresh off a knockout victory in his pro debut, will appear in a four-round junior middleweight bout with Edgar Galvan (1-2-1, 1 KO), of Durango, Mexico.
In addition, a youthful pair of talented fighters will be representing the borough of Brooklyn on the card. Rising star Curtis Stevens (4-0, 4 KO's) will see action in a six-round light heavyweight bout, while cruiserweight Sam Elashry (4-3, 1 KO), who originally hails from Cairo, Egypt, looks to gain momentum in a four-round contest.
Queens product Washington Hago will be making his pro debut in a four-round junior lightweight tilt against Michael Mendez (0-1-1), of Orlando, Florida. Staten Island's unbeaten super bantamweight Gary Stark, Jr. (10-0, 5 KO's) takes on Luis Rivera (8-8, 2 KO's), of New Haven, Connecticut, in a six-round affair.
The Broadway Boxing cards originate from venues in the five boroughs, the greater New York Metropolitan Tri-State area, and Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mohegan Sun is the series site sponsor. Turner Construction, HBO Sports, and Gallagher's Steak House are also sponsors.
The card will be broadcast live on HDNet, and on a later date on Madison Square Garden Network, Fox Sports Net New England, Empire Sports Net and Comcast Sportnet Chicago.
Yet Johnson, a light heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer, is somehow overlooked when people talk about Moore, Bob Foster and Michael Spinks as that division’s elite.
"It was just unfortunate that he came along the same time as Archie Moore did, who is the best light heavyweight ever," said the Philadelphia-based Hall-of-Fame promoter Russell Peltz. "I think it hurts him that he only beat Moore once in those five fights. I saw Harold fight in person three times. He’s certainly one of the 10 greatest light heavyweights of all time."
Johnson was one of the best technical boxers of his day. While he did not pack the same power as Moore, he was an outstanding boxer. Philadelphia may be known for its warriors, but Johnson may be the best pure boxer to emerge from the City of Brotherly Love. Johnson was an artist in a sport that usually appreciates savagery over style.
"I learned a lot from him," said former light heavyweight contender Johnny Persol, who decisioned Johnson at the Garden in 1966. "My youth and my speed made me a winner. Harold Johnson knew all the tricks. He was a very good boxer. I started to really believe in myself after that. That’s when I came of age."
Johnson still resides in Philadelphia. While at 76 years old he doesn’t recall all the details of his fabulous career, he remains a delightful man who welcomes conversation.
"My father, Phil Johnson, was a boxer. My brother boxed too, but not pro," he said, recalling the days on how he got started in boxing. "I played baseball and I played tackle football up in Manayunk, in Germantown, that’s where I grew up. Where I lived, they called it the Scratch House. It wasn’t a very big place.
"I started boxing at the North Lake Boys Club. I think I was about eight years old. The guy who ran the gym used to be a boxer and he remembered my father. The first time I boxed, he looked at me and said, ‘Where did you learn how to fight like that?’ I didn’t know what he meant, I thought I did something wrong. I thought I was fighting dirty or something. Then he said, ‘You looked good.’
Johnson turned pro in 1946 and won his first 24 bouts before dropping a 10-round decision to Moore in 1949.
"I had to do something to help the house," said Johnson. "My mother had this little stick-pin job, my brother had a job. My father was away somewhere and he wasn’t helping us. I figured boxing was the quickest way to make some money. I turned pro at 16. I had to raise my age up so they would let me fight."
After his first defeat, over the course of the next four years, Johnson bested Jimmy Bivins, Bob Satterfield, Nino Valdes and Ezzard Charles. He also, in a three-month stretch from September of 1951 to January of 1952, fought Moore three times, winning the middle bout.
Finally, on August 11, 1954, he would challenge Moore for the light heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden. He dropped Moore in the 10th and was ahead on the scorecards when Moore scored a miraculous TKO in the 14th round.
Johnson wouldn’t challenge for the title again until 1961, when he beat Jesse Bowdry for the NBA crown. He unified the 175-pound division a year later by decisioning Doug Jones in Philadelphia. He made one successful title defense – against Germany’s Gustav Scholz – before losing the title in 1962 to Willie Pastrano.
"Aside from the night he beat Doug Jones for the title, I think his two greatest victories are against Gustav Scholz and Eddie Cotton," said Peltz. "He beat Scholz in a soccer stadium in Berlin before 40,000 people. The referee and two judges were from Europe. That just doesn’t happen. Schultz was no walk in the park. In one of his NBA title defenses, he beat Eddie Cotton, in Seattle. Again, he got the decision in the other guy’s hometown. I don’t know that Schultz or Cotton will make the Hall of Fame, but they were outstanding light heavyweights.
"You just don’t get decisions like that today. Guys wouldn’t take those fights today. Harold was never really protected. If he had the right connections, he wouldn’t of even had 11 career losses."
Johnson, whose record stands at 76-11, with 32 knockouts and 1 no contest, retired in 1968 while in the midst of a five-bout winning streak. He made a comeback in 1971, but was stopped on cuts by Herschel Jacobs.
"The biggest thrill I got wasn’t when I won the championship," said Johnson. "It was always a great pleasure to see that smile on my mother’s face when I handed over all those hundred dollar bills after a big fight."
Diaz (26-0, 12 KO’s) captured the WBA crown in Houston, TX on July 17, 2004, when he defeated defending champion Lakva Sim to win a unanimous decision victory (W 12). The victory made Diaz the youngest world champion in the sport (20 years old). In his last bout on Nov 4, 2004, the 21-year-old Houston, TX native successfully defended his title for the first time, pounding former world champion Julien Lorcy to earn a unanimous decision victory (W 12).
The 10 round co-feature bout pits undefeated heavyweight Calvin Brock (23-0, 19 KO’s) against Clifford “The Black Rhino” Etienne (29-2-2, 20 KO’s).
Several local Houston boxers will also appear on the card, including the following:
Jose Diaz (5-0, 2 KO’s) - featherweight younger brother of Juan Diaz Benjamin Flores (7-0, 2 KO’s) – junior lightweight Akondayne Fountain (3-0, 1 KO) – middleweight Chris Tamayo (Pro Debut) – featherweight Lucy Contreras (1-0) – junior featherweight Jesus Rodarte (Pro Debut) – lightweight
Undefeated highly-touted San Antonio, TX bantamweight Raul Martinez (5-0, 4 KO’s) will compete in his first scheduled six round bout, while former Mexican champion Julio Cesar Garcia (9-0, 6 KO’s) competes in an eight round jr. lightweight bout.
Main Events is presenting the evening of boxing, in association with Miller Lite. The first bout is scheduled for 6:00 pm CT.
Ticket prices are $100, $50, and $25 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, Reliant Park Box Office, www.ticketmaster.com, or call 713.629.3700
King’s attorney, high-profile trial lawyer Willie Gary, who routinely takes on corporate giants to fight injustice on behalf of his clients said “this case is one of the worst examples of reckless broadcast journalism and blatant disregard for the truth.” Gary and his legal team are joined by nationally acclaimed, first amendment expert and trial lawyer, Bruce Rogow of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“Disney, ESPN, and other defendants had a duty to the public to make sure they checked their facts before airing such a defamatory piece against Don King. Sports Century not only falsely portrays Mr. King as a con artist, and a thug, but it published statements that are flat out untrue and could have been easily verified. In America, the press must be held accountable for the truth and accuracy of its publications and broadcasts. When the media publish or broadcast statements that show such reckless disregard for the truth, they must give an account for their actions,” Gary added.
The lawsuit also contends that Disney, ESPN, and other defendants broadcast statements that intentionally and recklessly portray Don King in a false light and create an inference and innuendo that King was dishonest and engaged in illegal activities including physically endangering others in order to succeed in his profession.
“I have a lot of respect for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in America. It’s a constitutional right. But the press does not have the right to slant and twist the truth to create a negative picture just because it sells. That’s not right,” said King.
Not wishing to rock that particular boat, and cognizant of the fact that no one ever wrote a column extolling the judgment of the electors for the IBHOF, I’d like to use a little of TheSweetScience.com’s bandwidth to critique their choices and otherwise break some balls.
Among the living fighters and non-participants being honored are junior middie boss Terry Norris, junior welter champ of the early ‘60s Duilio Loi, featherweight kingpin Barry Mc Guigan, featherweight and super feather champion Bobby Chacon, legendary California matchmaker/promoter Don Fraser and the ubiquitous boxing writer and editor Bert Randolph Sugar.
Some of the most dearly departed in the fistic fraternity have been posthumously selected this year, with featherweight champ of the 1920s Eugene Criqui, old-time bantamweight rulers Joe Lynch and Charles “Bud” Taylor, and middleweight champ Marcel Thil being chosen in the Old-Timer Category. The Non-Participant Category sees boxing manager/boxing film guru Bill Cayton and legendary Filipino promoter Lope Surreal honored, while the Observer Category includes writer Jersey Jones and Boxing News editor Harry Mullan. The Pioneer Category sees Jack Randall, a real crowd-pleasing scrapper from the Roaring ‘20s…well, the Roaring 1820’s, somehow allowed onto the Wall of Fame by electors with w-a-a-y too much time on their hands for research.
Recent selections by the voting bloc, made up of boxing historians, writers and other self-appointed experts have pointed out some serious lapses in standards for inclusion into the IBHOF. Ingemar Johansson, Carlos Palomino, Daniel Zaragoza, Pipino Cuevas and Curtis Cokes have all made it in as of late and, while all were fine fighters in their day, one wonders why they are sharing the same wall space with the likes of ring immortals Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Barney Ross or Tony Canzoneri. Should they be accorded the lofty honor of entrance into the repository of ring greatness while others, such as Jeff Smith, Kid Norfolk and (featherweight champion) Davey Moore - just to name three - are continually kicked to the curb?
At first blush it would seem that the selectors weren’t too picky with the living inductees this year. We start with the streaky Terry Norris, who largely made his reputation meeting and beating shot fighters (Ray Leonard, John Mugabi and Donald Curry among them), while avoiding big time bouts with contemporaries such as McLellan, Quartey and a youngish Trinidad, and end with Duilio Loi, who - outstanding 115-3-8 (26 KO’s) record aside - amassed the majority of those wins over scores of Euro-Stiffs during his long, insular career. In between we have Barry McGuigan, whose brief reign as WBA featherweight champ in the mid-1980s became more conspicuous for the truce-inducing effect it had on the Catholic and Protestant fight fans in his native Ireland than for its contribution to boxing history. We save Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon for last, as he represents our only agreement with the voters in this category. Chacon was an all-action, heavy-fisted, face first crowd exciter who made up for his lack of polish with a surfeit of testosterone. His titanic battles with fellow West Coast idols Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Chucho Castillo, Ruben Olivares and “Bazooka” Limon energized the California fight scene and made it possible for “Fabulous Forum” promoter Don Fraser to carpool with him to Canastota this coming June, if he so desires. Besides, how many other pugs have had their names immortalized in song by Warren Zevon (within the lyrics to “Boom Boom Mancini”)?
Look up the word “boxing” in the dictionary and you are quite likely to see a photo of a chapeau-wearing, stogie-puffing Bert Sugar next to it. Sugar has been as much a figure in popular sports and entertainment culture as he has been a creative force in the boxing world. A prolific and supremely entertaining writer who has postulated on any number of sports other than boxing, Sugar is nonetheless the “face” of current day pugilism as a result of his many appearances on television and radio, as well as for his ability to deliver a witty sound bite whenever the occasion calls for it. For instance, who can forget his bon mot regarding Chuck Wepner’s propensity for dispensing claret?
“Chuck starts bleeding somewhere between ‘Oh say’ and ‘can you see’,” Sugar wrote of the Bayonne Bleeder. Priceless.
Don Fraser was the distaff coast’s latter day Teddy Brenner and Harry Markson rolled up into one. Of course, having guys like the aforementioned Lopez, Chacon, Castillo, et al. at his disposal made for some decent bouts in Cali. Knowing when and with whom to match them is what allows him his rightful place in Canastota.
Among the posthumous honorees, Eugene Criqui stands out as much for his personal courage as for his ring acumen. A decorated French war hero of WWI, Criqui had half of his jaw shot off and then replaced with a jerry-rigged, wire and metal contraption sewn under his skin and muscle. He miraculously resumed his successful ring career upon the end of hostilities, eventually knocking out longtime featherweight ruler Johnny Kilbane to gain the 126-pound diadem. He held it less than two months before losing it to Johnny Dundee - no slouch, by the way - but met a bunch of good European fighters of the first quarter of the 20th century, usually walking away with a “W”.
By the time former bantamweight champ Joe Lynch called it quits - following a pair of insipid draws against Pal Moore in 1926, the “Blond Terror from Terra Haute” - Charles “Bud” Taylor, was just starting his upwards trajectory in the bantam ranks, handing a pre-championship Jimmy McLarnin a ten round loss in Vernon, California. He would go on to lift the vacant N.B.A. (yes, there were alphabet titles even back then) bantam title from Tony Canzoneri the next year. It can be argued that the Canzoneri win represented the apogee of Taylor’s career, as he went 11-13 from 1928 until his retirement in 1931. As for the New York City-born Lynch, he and every other lighter weight fighter enjoyed perhaps the most halcyon of eras in the early to mid-part of the century. Neighborhood and ethnic rivalries abounded in New York, Philadelphia, Harford, Boston and all points north, south and west. Lynch, a spindly though freakishly strong 118-pounder, took the title from Pete Herman in 1920. He held for less than a year before Herman reacquired the bauble. Lynch took it off of Herman’s eventual conqueror, Johnny Buff, in 1922 and defended it only one time - against Midget Smith later that year - before losing it for the last time against Abe Goldstein in 1924. Both Lynch and Taylor were big time boys back in the ‘20s, but HOFers? No way.
Some eleven years after his business partner, Jimmy Jacobs, was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame, and a year and a half after his own passing, Bill Cayton finally gets the call to Canastota. Aside from the fact that he single-handedly bankrolled and facilitated the preservation of the filmed history of boxing, co-managed fighters such as Wilfred Benitez, Edwin Rosario, Tommy Morrison and Omar Sheika, and re-wrote the book on creating and marketing a fighter with his stewardship of Mike Tyson, Bill Cayton deserved enshrinement in somebody’s Hall of Fame for his bare-knuckles-tough, though scrupulously honest business acumen. His Big Fights, Inc. boxing film and video library was a veritable monopoly, and represented over 90% of all of the available moving images of the sport extant in the world. He created lucrative marketing opportunities and negotiated television and video rights contracts for Tyson that were heretofore unknown within the sport. Finally, a major oversight corrected by the electors.
I grew up reading old RING magazines, so naturally I was familiar with Jersey Jones’ work. Mostly, he flakked for a number of New York/New Jersey metropolitan area pugs, and had a proprietary interest in some of them. For this fact alone I do not think he merits inclusion into the HOF.
Harry Mullan was one of boxing’s treasures. The longtime editor of the estimable Boxing News, Mullan was the punch fraternity’s Man For All Seasons, authoring a score of entertaining boxing tomes as well as performing as a ringside commentator for numerous television, closed circuit and radio broadcasts of British and international fights. Mullan passed away in 1999, and was yet another victim of the HOF’s finger-twiddling on voting in deserving candidates.
Regardless of my feelings on this year’s selections - or non-selections as the case may be - wild horses could not keep me from being in Canastota this coming June. I’ll be the one wearing a t-shirt bearing the likeness of my own, personal dark horse candidate for future Hall of Fame inclusion, the incomparable Don Elbaum.
A recent trend with the best fighters fighting the best continues with this bout. It started last year and concluded with Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson deciding Light Heavyweight supremacy. This year the Welterweight division will go to the winner of the rematch between Cory Spinks and Zab Judah, with Antonio Margarito in line. Ricky Hatton will try to take the 140-pound crown from Kostya Tszyu, and Cruisers Jean Marc Mormeck and Wayne Braithwaite will decide sub-200 supremacy as the fashion gains momentum.
Great expectations come when great fighters meet and the Castillo-Corrales fits that bill as both men look to cement their reputation as the best in their class. What better way to settle the debate?
It is tough to find two men below the heavyweight limit that possess as much power as these two fighters and to have them in the ring at the same time is a recipe for a fantastic fight. ‘Chico’ Corrales has won 32 of 39 fights by knockout while Castillo has terminated things early an amazing 45 times in 51 victories.
As if the plot could thicken any further, Castillo has four TKO losses in his career and Corrales has been stopped in both of his defeats. Two heavy-handed bangers facing an opponent who has also been stopped has fight fans anxious for this bout.
Oh yeah, and each can box more than a little too.
With all due respect to Acelino Freitas, Julio Diaz, Juan Diaz and Joel Casamayor - an argument suggesting than anyone other than Corrales or Castillo is the best lightweight in the world could only come from someone who hasn’t seen them fight.
The result of this bout may come down to who can take the other’s power shots best. Both fighters have used a box-and-stalk style of working the body to slow down opponents in order to find range on their power shots and exhaust their opponents’ will to survive. Both have typically had to come after the other fighter and wear them down. Both have shown stunning finishing power once they do. Both have been on the receiving end and have been stopped. But only one man can win.
For the first time in his career, the 27-year old Corrales will be facing an opponent equal in height and of equal or greater physical stature. At 5’11” he has always been the freak in the 130-135 pound divisions as he defied logics of human biology by being so tall yet so light. The basics of this bout are a bit different as Corrales has spent his career punching down at opponents rather than straight at them. In recent wins over Acelino Freitas and Joel Casamayor, ‘Chico’ displayed boxing skills long thought missing as new trainer Joe Goosen has dusted off his jab and brought it back into the mix.
The 31-year old Castillo stands 5’ 9” and will squeeze himself down to the Lightweight division he reclaimed with a victory over Juan Lazcano and defended with a win over Casamayor. Many feel that Castillo beat Floyd Mayweather Jr., the fighter most feel is the pound-for-pound best in the world, when the two met for the second time in 2002. Count Diego Corrales as one of those who is convinced Castillo won that fight too.
The deceiving number on the resume of Jose Luis Castillo is the losses and how they came about. After turning professional at the tender age of 17, he suffered his first loss by TKO to seasoned former featherweight champion Cesar Soto while just 20 years of age. The following year he also lost by TKO, this time to Javier Jaregui who recently held the IBF Lightweight belt. A cut stopped his bout with Julio Alvarez and then came the decision losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. All of his TKO losses have come due to Castillo being cut, and he has never been knocked down in 58 fights.
2004 was quite a year for both men as Jose Luis Castillo won the vacant WBC Lightweight title over Juan Lazcano and then successfully defended that belt against Joel Casamayor. Diego Corrales claimed the WBO Super Featherweight title over Casamayor and then stepped up to Lightweight to win the WBO version of that championship. Both the WBC trinket held by Castillo and the WBO belt brought by Corrales will be up for grabs when the two clash in March.
The Castillo-Corrales winner will have proven himself to be the best by fighting the best and with all that firepower in the ring at once, the ending could be explosive.
In what was his career defining fight, Joe Frazier was better prepared mentally, physically and strategically for Ali, more so than any other fighter I have ever seen for an opponent. Only because of the Herculean effort of Frazier was Ali the loser in the most anticipated fight in history. Only Ali could recover from losing such an event and go on to be bigger than he would have been than if he won. However, what continues to mystify me is how Frazier is often overlooked and underappreciated, not to mention underrated. That’s unbelievable in today's sporting world where everything is usually overrated based on one great fight or game. Yet Frazier, who won the fight that mattered most, is overlooked. Talk about being born at the wrong time. I thought that only applied to Jerry Quarry.
Maybe the Frazier who defeated Quarry twice should be linked to him for another reason: being victim to the calendar and having a lifetime to think about it. Many boxing aficionados have remarked that it was Quarry's misfortune to be in his prime at the same time that Ali and Frazier were at or close to theirs. I think it can just as easily be said that Frazier had the misfortune of being champion when Ali was larger than life and George Foreman was at his physical peak. If you compare Frazier and Ali strictly as fighters, there isn't much separating them. All three fights between them were close and went down to the wire with some seeing both of them as being the winner in their first two bouts. In terms of fighting styles, Ali's strengths were Frazier's weakness and vice-versa, which is why their fights were so grueling and took so much out of each man.
When comparing Frazier and Foreman as fighters, Frazier was actually the better fighter. However, he didn't match up with Foreman from a style vantage point. George Foreman and Joe Louis were the two most difficult opponents in heavyweight history to fight while employing a pressure style. Unfortunately, Frazier, just like Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson, could only fight effectively moving forward forcing the fight. Foreman was the one fighter that when Joe coming out "Smokin’", it proved hazardous to Frazier’s health. Frazier's loss to Foreman no doubt damaged his image as a great fighter. I would love to have seen how Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson, who in their careers combined never fought a fighter anywhere near the puncher that Foreman was, would have done against the one that made Frazier an ex-champ. I have a hard time envisioning the results being any different.
Over the years I've had to continually remind some that Joe Frazier was the ultimate catch and kill fighter. What I mean by that is nobody applied more pressure and cut off the ring better than he did. It was Joe Frazier, not Dempsey, Marciano and Tyson, who developed the blueprint on how to make a mover/boxer fight flatfooted and on the inside because the ring space they needed to move and box evaporated. And Frazier did this successfully versus the best escape artist who has ever lived, Muhammad Ali. And I believe he would've been successful cutting off the ring on any version of Ali.
Remember, during the sixties Ali never faced a fighter who could get past his jab and take it to him inside. Had Marvin Hagler been able to cut off the ring against Sugar Ray Leonard half as effectively as Frazier did against Ali, Leonard would have retired forever after their bout.
Against Ali, Frazier forced him to either fight, hold, or use his legs to try and stay away. When Ali tried moving against Frazier, he paid a price with his stamina and eventually had to fight Joe inside, which played to Frazier's strength. On the inside, Frazier's hands were very fast, something that has always been overlooked. Something else that seems to have been forgotten was his foot speed. Sure, his legs didn't appear to move fast, but he got on top of his opponents right away. And with all the hard punches he was throwing, he was damn near impossible to move off. If you managed to slip away - and only Ali had enough movement to succeed with that tactic - he was right back on you again within seconds. Frazier had very deceptive hand and foot speed.
Muhammad Ali's jab was his security blanket and defense. No fighter made him miss with so many jabs as Frazier did over the course of 41 rounds. Sure he landed and scored with plenty of them, but when compared to how many he was forced to throw to land what he did, I'll bet the connect percentage would surprise many fans and fight observers. Frazier's bobbing and weaving was also much more effective in taking away a good jab than Marciano fighting out of a low crouch or Tyson's overrated and basic hands up, side-to-side, peek-a-boo movement. And it also required much more skill to execute without getting your head knocked off in the process.
If you doubt that, try holding your hands up and moving side-to-side, and then try bobbing and weaving using your waist and legs to get under and inside of punches. I've done both and it's no contest as to which is harder and more effective. Roberto Duran in his prime is the only other fighter I've seen do it as fluidly and effectively as Frazier did. Maybe that should tell you something about why we don't see many swarmers today adopting that tactic. It's too hard and requires endless stamina and conditioning.
Not only did Frazier make Ali miss with the fastest jab in heavyweight history, he made him pay - scoring with massive left hooks to his head and body when he missed. Ali says to this day Frazier was hard as hell to find and hit. The problem is that all anyone ever remembers is Frazier's puffed and bruised face after their fights. As if Ali came out of their fights unmarked.
During his career, Joe Frazier fought every fighter out there. As early as his 11th pro fight he took on Oscar Bonavena, who had close to 30 fights under his belt. Frazier was dropped twice in the second round against Bonavena. When he got up from the second knockdown there was a minute left in the round and he was never close to going down or being stopped the rest of the round or fight. So in reality only George Foreman stopped him, with no other fighter coming close, until Ali shut his eyes in Manila.
Frazier's two wins over Bonavena and early stoppages over Chuvalo, Quarry twice, Ellis twice, and Foster once, rank close to the level of opposition that many other greats faced. However, his convincing win over an undefeated Muhammad Ali two months after his 29th birthday clearly puts him on par or slightly ahead of any other heavyweight great except Ali. And Joe fought him three times, which is equal to the best three fights of any other past great. After clearly defeating Ali in their first meeting, the second fight was close, probably 7-5 in rounds. It wasn't a cakewalk for Ali like some think, and 7-5 is more realistic than 8-4. And their third fight, "The Thrilla in Manila," was three fights in one. Ali had control in rounds one through five, Frazier had control in rounds six through eleven, and Ali took over in rounds twelve through fourteen.
Over the years I've had to continually remind some that Joe Frazier was a better two-handed fighter than given credit for. Although he didn't have a very good conventional straight right hand to the head, his right hand to the body was dynamite. Frazier also carried his punch from round one to fifteen, something only Louis and Marciano shared. And only Marciano got better and stronger like Frazier did as the fight progressed.
Over the years I've had to point out that only two fighters ever defeated Joe Frazier. Muhammad Ali usually ranks number one or at worst number two behind Joe Louis among history’s greatest heavyweights, and in three fights against Ali, Frazier gave him a life and death struggle and won the biggest of the three bouts.
The other fighter to beat Frazier is George Foreman and he did it twice, stopping him both times. Foreman is probably the strongest and hardest punching heavyweight champ of all time. If he punched with the proper technique, it would have been illegal to allow him to fight mortal fighters. After a ten year retirement he came back and beat the man who beat the man to win the title. And Foreman wasn't anywhere close to the physical fighter in the 1990s that he was in the 1970s. And in a head-to-head match up, the ‘70s Foreman would stop the ‘90s version.
I have often thought about how other past greats would have fared had they fought the same Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that Frazier did in five fights. I haven't a morsel of doubt that their career image and perception just might have been a little more tarnished than is the case.
Some remember Frazier's career because he lost to Foreman in two rounds. Yet a 41-year old Foreman had a prime Evander Holyfield holding on at the end of their title fight in 1991. During the years of his return to the ring, 1989 to 1991, Foreman constantly used the media to challenge Mike Tyson. Some fans try to ignore this or say Tyson didn't want to hurt Foreman and that's why he never fought him. How far does one have to go to convince them to believe that? The fact is Mike Tyson wanted no part of fighting the same 41-year old Foreman who Holyfield fought. I know this because I heard Bobby Goodman say it in front of me to George Benton and Lou Duva after a press conference in Atlantic City for the Evander Holyfield-Seamus McDonagh fight in June of 1990. Tyson himself said it in Ring Magazine in 1991.
Larry Holmes lost his heavyweight title to light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks, all be it at the end of his career, and it didn't hurt his standing as a great fighter. Mike Tyson's legacy is based on knocking out that same light heavyweight champ seven years after he won the light heavyweight title. Yet Frazier's two round mutilation of light heavyweight champion Bob Foster - who is at least on a par with Spinks - two years after he won the title, is considered no big deal.
Joe Frazier never lost to a Michael Moorer or was never knocked out by the likes of Buster Douglas or Hasim Rahman. Over the last hundred years, only Jeffries, Tunney, Marciano and Frazier never lost to a fighter they should have beaten. Not once. Frazier was also never counted out, something that cannot be said about Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis.
For years the main highlights of Frazier’s career that have aired on boxing specials and documentaries are Foreman lifting him up with a monstrous right uppercut and Ali hammering him with combinations during the fourteenth round in Manila. That's not the only Joe Frazier I remember.
If this writing is too soft on Joe Frazier for anyone’s liking, I’ll accept that. However, anyone who believes this to be the case should recognize that many writers, historians and fans have slighted the career and accomplishments of Joe Frazier. And in an era that every supposed great is over-hyped and overrated, Joe Frazier is consistently underrated.
I was told something by someone who was involved with The Cloverlay Corporation that managed Joe Frazier. I will paraphrase it since I cannot quote the exact words. When Frazier was about to begin his first training session after signing the contract on December 30, 1970 to agree to fight Muhammad Ali on March 8th 1971, Yank Durham, Joe’s manager, trainer and some say father figure, said: “Joe, if you beat this guy, the road the rest of your life will be paved forever no matter what you do. But if he beats you, you'll never get the respect you deserve as heavyweight champion. History will look at you as a caretaker champion who just held the title for him until he got straightened out with the government. And remember, Joe, Clay doesn't want to just beat you. He wants to humiliate you and embarrass you. Beat this guy Joe and they can never take it away from you.”
I haven't heard anyone try to take Frazier's monumental victory away from him, but too many have forgotten about it. Only one fighter won the biggest fight in boxing history. And his name was Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Fort Worth native Curry will probably forever fall into the category of underachiever. Mostly because he never won when it counted most. He was dominated by an underdog in Lloyd Honeyghan and outhustled by a non-talent in Rene Jacquot. Late in his career, his weak chin became a constant liability. And his prime was remarkably short.
By 1989 - four years after he was being hailed as boxing's best technician - he was done as a meaningful fighter.
But it was Curry who produced some of the more aesthetically-pleasing images of the 1980s. In his prime 20 years ago, his delivery was right out of the pugilistic textbook. If you wanted to see power, you watched John Mugabi. If you wanted to see elegance, you watched Donald Curry.
He dominated the best welterweights of his day, including Marlon Starling, Nino LaRocca and Colin Jones.
But his artistry was never more evident than on Dec. 6, 1985, when Curry put fellow welterweight champion Milton McCrory on his back with one of those boxing rarities: The perfect punch.
Curry's left hook traveled only inches, but impacted with the force of a cannon. The blow was perfectly placed, somehow landing around McCrory's high right guard - and the "Iceman" went from upright to horizontal in the blink of an eye.
He got up on those spindly Kronk legs, but Curry hammered him back down with a right hand. McCrory's faraway look convinced referee Mills Lane to end it in the second round.
McCrory represented Curry's sternest test at 147 pounds, and the emphatic victory sent the Cobra's stock skyrocketing. Some were convinced he was no less than the second-best fighter on the planet.
And, suddenly, Curry vs. middleweight champ Marvin Hagler became the hottest fight in boxing.
Just as suddenly, Curry's star faded.
He was back in the ring three months after the McCrory victory, but already showed signs of demise. Even still, no one could have imagined him losing to the unknown Honeyghan in September 1986.
But the challenger from England showed no fear of the undisputed welterweight champ, attacking early, cutting him and staggering him in the second round. Curry's bad conditioning didn't allow him to rebound from the early beating, and he went out meekly in round six.
Most assumed 1986's "Upset of the Year" was an aberration.
Curry's window of opportunity for greatness slammed shut, and he was knocked out with one punch by Mike McCallum 10 months later in July, 1987. He would gamely win a second world title in July, 1988, defeating Italy's Gianfranco Rosi via 10th-round knockout. But in his next fight he fought with no passion in losing a lackluster decision to Jacquot in February 1989.
He'd get two more title shots, but neither was deserved. He had no business fighting at middleweight when Michael Nunn knocked him out in October 1990, and his June 1991 try for Terry Norris's junior middleweight title should've never happened.
So don't be surprised if Donald Curry never is elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. His big victories were minimal and his prime was short.
But the memories he left weren't bad for a guy who didn't make the cut.