Though Spinks is the undisputed welterweight champ, he is so desperate for a name opponent that he is taking on Judah, whom he handily defeated in April. His previous fight was a boring decision over the ancient Miguel Angel Gonzalez in September, and the underwhelming year effectively knocked the "Next Generation" out of all pound-for-pound talk.
It also eliminated him as an attractive opponent for the sport's big names - specifically Floyd Mayweather and Kostya Tszyu. So here he is, fighting Judah again in a rematch that no one wants to see. And praying that his performance is good enough that some promoter deems him worthy of a shot at the big boys.
Don't bet on it happening.
Cory Spinks isn't a very exciting fighter. He is a safety-first southpaw whose fine boxing skills dictate that toe-to-toe exchanges will always be reduced to a minimum. His fight with Judah last year was decent, though the only drama was produced when a "Super" counter left put him on the deck in the final round.
He failed to produce an emphatic victory despite the fact that he was bigger, taller and stronger than his opponent. And the knockdown seemed to indicate a vulnerability - especially in the 147-pound king's chin.
Then came the Gonzalez fight.
There have been some bad fights over the years. Evander Holyfield-Vaughn Bean in 1998 and Fred Norwood-Juan Manuel Marquez in '99 come to mind. But Spinks-Gonzalez was a stinker from the moment "The Next Generation" agreed to fight the faded former 135-pound champion. Not only was Gonzalez years past his prime, but he was significantly smaller than Spinks.
And, still, Spinks struggled - winning a lackluster decision for the second time in five months. He should be thankful that he dropped just a few notches in the pound-for-pound rankings.
His stock as a marketable fighter, however, dropped significantly more.
Judah, meanwhile, is perhaps this generation's Mark Breland or Donald Curry.
Back in 1999, Judah was thought to be a Pernell Whitaker with a punch. And while those comparisons were unfair - Whitaker is one of the greatest fighters in history - Judah was nevertheless expected to be enjoying a brilliant career by now.
But all of his promise may have been destroyed with one punch in 2001.
That's when Tszyu sent an overconfident Judah sprawling onto his back, courtesy of a big right hand. Judah got up, but his overanxiousness cost him. He rose immediately, and when his legs did an involuntary Charleston, referee Jay Nady stopped the fight in round two.
Judah responded by throwing a tantrum - choking Nady and tossing a stool across the ring. It didn't do anything to change the result. It did, however, make him look like a baby.
Since then, Judah has been hot-and-cold, but that maturity factor is still a concern. He looked decent enough against the bigger Spinks. But his struggle against Rafael Pineda - who was so used up that he made Gonzalez look like a prospect - was horrid.
Judah, obviously unprepared, almost lost an opportunity with his carelessness.
So now Spinks - the guy who can't look good against smaller, older fighters - will fight Judah - the classic underachiever.
Kermit Cintron and Antonio Margarito, two of the world’s finest welterweights will headline the Feb 18 edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights Main Events Special” from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, it was announced today by Main Events CEO Kathy Duva. Welterweight bomber Kermit Cintron will defend his WBO-Interim welterweight crown against veteran Steve Martinez in the 12 round main event, while WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito defends his title against Carlos Baldomir in the 12 round co-feature contest. Should both Cintron and Margarito emerge victorious, the two will square off in a highly-anticipated welterweight showdown in April.
Cintron (24-0, 22 KO’s) has knocked out 13 of his last 14 opponents. The 25-year-old Reading, PA resident by way of Carolina, Puerto Rico captured the NABF welterweight title and the WBO-Interim welterweight title in his last bout on July 17, 2004, when he dismantled Jamaican bomber Teddy Reid in eight rounds (TKO 8). Cintron is ranked #6 by Ring magazine and is recognized as one of the sport's most lethal punchers.
Martinez (46-5-1, 28 KO’s) has won nine of his last 10 bouts. The 33-year-old San Antonio, TX native captured the NABF-interim welterweight title in his last bout on November 1, 2004, by stopping Grover Wiley (TKO 4). Martinez has fought several recognizable 147-154 pounders in his 17-year pro career, such as former world welterweight champion Vernon Forrest and former NABF jr. middleweight champion Tony Marshall.
Margarito (30-4, 21 KO’s) won the vacant WBO welterweight title on March 16, 2003, when he battered Antonio Diaz for 10 rounds, forcing Diaz’s corner to throw in the towel at the 2:17 mark of the round (TKO 10). The 26-year-old Tijuana, Mexican successfully defended his title three times before challenging champion Daniel Santos on September 11, 2004, for the WBO jr. middleweight crown. Margarito lost a technical decision after suffering a head-butt induced cut that forced the bout’s stoppage in round nine (L 9). Margarito is ranked #1 by Ring magazine.
Baldomir (40-9-6, 12, KO’s) has won six of his last seven bouts. The sole blemish on the 33-year-old Santa Fe, Argentina native’s record during this time span was a 12 round draw on March 22, 2002, against Jose Luis Cruz in a WBC welterweight title eliminator (D 12). In his last bout on March 27, 2004, Baldomir floored Alpaslan Aguzum once on his way to earning an eighth round stoppage and capturing the WBC International welterweight championship (TKO 8).
The evening of boxing is being presented by Main Events, in association with Bally’s Park Place. The Margarito-Baldomir bout is being presented by Main Events and Top Rank, in association with Bally’s Park Place.
Tickets, priced at $75, $50, and $25, can be purchased at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Box Office, Bally's Show Desk, by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-736-1420, or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets will go on sale beginning Jan 10.
Despite the fact that those in attendance had already contributed mightily to the dinner, raised hands of compassion followed, and $40,000 was raised on the spot. Now, two months later, Brown will receive the car.
WHO: Boxing trainer and ESPN/2 Friday Night Fights commentator Teddy Atlas; and Staten Island native Jimmy Brown
WHAT: Photo opportunity and media availability to discuss Dr.Theodore Atlas Foundation
WHEN: Wednesday, January 5, 2005
TIME: 3:00-4:00 pm
WHERE: 112 Belfield Avenue Staten Island, NY, 10312
CONTACTS: Atlas Foundation - Paul Quattrocchi, 718-447-4898 Cirillo World - John Cirillo, 212-972-5337, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation
The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, formerly known as the Doctor Theodore A. Atlas Memorial committee, was founded in April, 1997, as a memorial to Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Sr.
Dr. Atlas, a native of the Bronx, was moved to Staten Island, New York, as a young child.He received his medical degree from New York University in 1927, and practiced medicine for fifty-five years, founding two hospitals, Sunnyside Hospital and Doctor's Hospital. Throughout his career, Dr. Atlas served as a medical director for six different nursing homes, made house calls for those who couldn't afford medical care, and also performed free tonsillectomies at his home for patients who could not afford the surgery. When Dr. Atlas left us, his legacy remained through his deeds and through his family. His wife, Mary, his sons, Donald, Theodore Jr., Thomas and Terry, his daughter, Meri, his adopted son, Barry, his brothers, Reynold and Eugene, and several grandchildren and great-grand-children all perpetuate his memory in their work and deeds.
The Foundation is an all-volunteer, community-service organization that provides moral and financial support to individuals and organizations in need, with a primary focus, however, on children.
Since the Foundation began, it has attempted to ease the burden of those who are less fortunate. Because of the generosity of the supporters of the Foundation, it has been successful in attaining this goal. A short list, albeit not inclusive, of some needs the Foundation has been able to address, includes:
Paying the funeral expenses for a teenage girl who lost her life in a tragic accident.
Donations to trusts created for the education of slain police officers
A donation to help pay the costs of refurbishing an athletic field for children.
A number of donations to organizations that assist special needs children.
A number of donations to needy families to help lessen the cost of medical care.
Numerous donations to youth scholarships and athletic organizations.
Simple items such as the annual Holiday Gift-Giving parties (including food and Santa!) for students in schools located in low income areas.
The Foundation also provided a 'make-a-wish' for a girl with cystic fibrosis, whose dream was to swim with dolphins.
It is through the generosity of people such as yourself that the Foundation has been able to reach out to so many in need. With that support and with continued support, the Theodore A. Atlas Foundation will be able to help more of those who are lacking some of the simplest things in life.
In addition to being a Brooklynite, Adams is one of the fighter’s best friends.
“But it gets hard sometimes,” he says. “I’m pro boxing all the way, but it gets hard sometimes.”
Brian Adams was an athletic kid growing up in the projects. He ran track. He played hoops. He was a big fan of Magic Johnson. “But everything I got involved in ended up in a fight,” Adams says. “I was a sore loser. And I was always little, skinny. So naturally if I say something - everybody else is bigger than me - they’ll say something back. So everything I did ended up in fights. That was the only thing I was ever good at.”
His intro to the amateurs was something meant to be.
“At the projects in Brooklyn I grew up in,” Adams remembers, “a guy won the ‘85 Golden Gloves, 106-pounds, Terry Branch, and he asked me to come with him to the gym one day. I went down and seen two guys sparring. One guy was ranked number three in the country at the time. He was Spanish and I said: ‘I can beat that guy.’ Got in there the next day with him and he nearly killed me. So I started to train just to get to him. But I took a liking to it. My first tournament my trainer put me in an open class - so I never fought novice - and made it to the finals. Started at sixteen. Had my first fight at seventeen.”
Adams was gifted. To call him a natural might be an overstatement, but he found what he was looking for in the amateurs.
“I fought New York Golden Gloves. Two National Golden Glove finals. The amateurs were just fun to me. It’s not like it is today in terms of the pros. In the amateurs there’s more incentives for you to win. You get to travel. You get to meet people. You get legitimate exposure. And you get to really say you’re the best. You’re number one because you have to fight everybody to get to number one. Whereas the pros you can cut corners, dodge people,” Adams says. “There’s more sinners in the pros than the amateurs.”
There are lots of sinners in boxing. There are even some saints. But this is a sport where the wise watch out for their own interests.
“Certain things you don’t need an education to know,” says Adams. “You should know, without an education, without books, that you have to look after your own finances. Most fighters feel that the money will keep coming, coming, coming. I had a conversation with Zab Judah a year ago about the same situation. You take for granted that you’re always going to be on top.”
Adams turned pro on March 28, 1997 with a TKO over Angel Ojeda in Yonkers and began winning his fights, but like most fighters he was plagued with hand problems. In his fifth fight he re-injured a hand which gave him trouble in the amateurs. That set the tone for the rest of his career.
In his ninth fight Adams fought Daniel Attah in Philadelphia. They were both 7-0 at the time. The first punch he threw in the first round . . . Adams broke his hand.
“I kept having hand problems, too many hand problems,” he says. “After my second surgery, to be perfectly honest, I shoulda stopped. But at that point it’s like: make me or break me, all or nothing. I kept doing it. I kept breaking my hand.”
He kept breaking his hand, but he kept fighting. Adams lost to Daniel Alicea in April 2002. Two fights and a little more than a year later, he fought Juan Valenzuela in Fort Worth, Texas
“I was sorta upset because I knew my hand was broke going into the fight, but I took it anyway, when I shouldn’t have. And when I fought Valenzuela, I’m like: Wow! The strongest dude by far I ever been in the ring with. And I never been hurt, never been rattled, never been dropped. He hurt me in the second round and I said to myself: it’s time to go. Every punch he hurt me. That dude was just so strong. My last fight was June 17, last year, against Valenzuela.”
Brian Adams is calm.
“Since that day, I never worked out one day, never had the desire to work out, and haven’t been to a gym. Boxing doesn’t cross my mind. The only time I think about boxing is when I’m holding a conversation and someone mentions it to me. Other than that I don’t miss it one bit,” Adams says. “I’m at peace. I’m at peace with the way things went with my career. I was able to develop some relationships, make some friends, and now I’m able to translate what I know and what I have seen to other people through my writing and commentating.”
Adams uses his commentating to further the fights. He uses his writing to advocate for the fighters.
“I really do want other boxers to understand that a tough guy image may last a minute and you may make some good money doing it, but what about tomorrow? If we lose tomorrow, who’s gonna wanna be affiliated with you? No one. Because it’s all about image. Kobe Bryant, one of the best basketball players, the minute he got charged, Coca Cola, Sprite, McDonald’s - they’re gonna drop him. It’s all about image. And boxers need to understand that. Today you may make a ton of money acting wild. Mike Tyson, if he can’t fight tomorrow, what’s he going to do? Mike is cool. He’s not the way people think. The way people see. He’s not really like that. That’s all an act. He’s a loner. He really doesn’t like people. But he’s cool.”
Mike is cool. He is one soulful brother. But he is not family fare.
“HBO is looking right now - especially right now - for the next star. They’re looking for that clean-cut boxer. Look at Joe Mesi,” says Adams. “HBO was looking for that. Joe Mesi. HBO was hot on him. He’s articulate. He speaks well. Nice looking. They’re not looking for the Mayorga types. Maybe fight by fight, but not a contract or something they can invest in. They’re not looking for that. I just want all boxers to see that.”
Brian Adams has been there and done that and is in a position to know.
“That’s the message I want to get out,” he says. “It’s time for boxers to stop letting outsiders dictate what goes on - the promoters, managers, entourages - because the bottom line is this: at the end of the day the manager’s going to say ‘Okay, you’re done’ and go on to something new. Look at every pro sport. Every time an athlete retires they get into the same field, commentary or coaching or something. Look at boxing. How many former boxers and commentating champions are there? How many trainers? Why? Because they spend too much time showing that they can’t lead. They’ve proven that they can’t lead. They’ve proven that other people have to lead them. And in the afterlife, no one’s going to take ‘em serious.”
Brian Adams retired with a record of 17-4-1 (8 KOs). He is the rare ex-fighter who looks to the future and not to the past.
In the midst of so much mayhem, boxing doesn’t look that bad.
One of the times boxing looked bad was on June 16, 1983. That was the night up-and-coming welterweight Billy Collins Jr. fought journeyman Luis Resto in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Collins was seconded by his father and trainer Billy Collins Sr. Resto had Panama Lewis in his corner.
To the surprise of almost everyone, Resto beat Collins to within an inch of his life. The formerly good-looking prospect was a ruined man. After the fight, a suspicious Billy Collins Sr. asked that Resto’s gloves be impounded as evidence. The NYPD determined that the gloves had been tampered with. Most of the horsehair padding had been removed before the fight.
Lewis and Resto were tried, convicted and sentenced for assault, conspiracy, and possession of a deadly weapon. Resto served two years. Lewis did one. Panama Lewis was banned for life from the sport of boxing in the United States. Billy Collins died a year after the fight, drunk and despondent behind the wheel of a speeding car.
The boxing trainer Panama Lewis was born Carlos Humberto Lewis in the Panama Canal Zone and has been fighting forever.
“I was an amateur fighter in Panama and then I turned pro,” Lewis tells me. “I started off boxing in 1960, 118 pounds, bantamweight. I had twenty amateur fights, only lost once. Then I went to professional and I only lost once there too. I went into the U.S. Army in 1969 and got out in ‘71. I’m a disabled veteran. I met Eddie Gregory, known as Eddie Mustafa, and I hooked up with his trainer, Chickie Ferrara, and he taught me a lot. I met Mr. Ray Arcel in 1971.”
Ray Arcel was to pugilists what Siegfried and Roy were to big cats.
“I went on with Mr. Ray Arcel and I went on with Mr. Freddie Brown, because they both used to work together and they was training Roberto Duran. I have to give all blessing to God,” Lewis declares. “And the next man I have to give blessing to is Roberto Duran, because if it wasn’t for Roberto Duran, there wouldn’t be no Panama Lewis. He gave me the opportunity to work in the corner as the fourth man, to translate, and with that I learned. Plus I’m gifted to see things and move on. I’m a fast thinker. I’m a good motivator. The only man who could top me with that was a man named, God bless him, Bundini Brown.”
Drew “Bundini” Brown was the mirror in Ali’s corner who cast his good spell on Ali and his bad spell on Ali’s opponents.
“I knew Roberto Duran in Panama. I was in the family,” continues Lewis. “I was part of Duran’s family.”
I mention that Roberto Duran, in my opinion, was one of the greatest lightweights in history.
“Not one of them,” Lewis says. “He’s the only great lightweight champion whoever put his foot on the planet.”
I ask if he thinks Duran was better than Benny Leonard.
Panama Lewis smiles. “You know greatness when you see it,” he says. “Like when I had Aaron Pryor. He was the best 140-pounder ever done it. So I’m blessed to work with good fighters. I work with Mike McCallum. I work with Livingstone Bramble. I work with Camacho Sr. I had a chance also to train Michael Nunn. I gave him four defenses. I made Vito Antuofermo world champion. I did that. I can go on and on today with you naming great fighters, but all that’s saying is that you have to have a blessing from God. I am blessed with boxing. Even though they took away what I’m supposed to have - you understand? - I’ll get it back because they can’t stop that.”
There’s an old adage which says a trainer is only as good as his fighter. I ask Panama Lewis if that is true.
“I’ll put it this way,” he replies. “The trainer gotta be a teacher, to teach the fighter to show his greatness. But if you work with that fighter and the fighter look bad, you can look bad at the trainer. So is a double-whammy here. The trainer makes the fighter and the fighter makes the trainer, in a sense.”
Although Panama was born in Panama, he was a classic New York gym rat.
“I started off in the 149th and Third Avenue, Bobby Gleason’s Gym. That’s where I really started off,” Lewis says. “Then I went by a little gym over here, got to Stillman’s, traveled around to get boxing. I’m from the old school. But what I do, I mix the old school with the new school. You cannot bring the old school without mixing it with the new school. I don’t believe in a fighter leaving everything up to lifting weight. I don’t wanna hear what his strengthening coach gotta say. Back in the old days you go and rake grass, you chop trees down, you work hard in the gym and you spar. That weightlifting thing don’t work for every fighter. It works for some fighter, but not a skillful fighter.”
I ask Lewis to elaborate.
“You may have muscles,” the trainer says, “but muscles don’t win fights. The brain wins fights. That’s why a lot of fighter’s careers end up quick, because they’re not thinking fighters. Then you be talking with your tongue heavy. Know what I’m saying? This thing kills. But boxing is an art. Once you learn the art, you can go places. And you have to live clean. In a sense, that’s why George Foreman could a came back and did what he did. A lot of these fighters trying to do that, and they’re gonna get hurt, because they didn’t live the life George Foreman lived. I don’t think Holyfield is finished. I think he could fight still, but he can’t beat no great fighter or no young guy. He’s gotta look for somebody old like himself. I can’t speak for him, but if I was him, in his shoes, with the money he made, I wouldn’t be in the game today.”
Everyone agrees - everyone, that is, except Evander - that Holyfield should call it a day. I ask Lewis why he thinks the Real Deal - or any other fighter, for that matter, who fights past his prime - resists hanging ‘em up.
“What they miss is when they cross the street and people say: Here comes the champion. When you retire you don’t hear that. They miss that spotlight. They miss that crowd. They live for that. That is a big high for them.”
That may be a big high for them, but it can be a big low for the rest of us.
“He shouldn’t have fought no Larry Donald. I wouldn’t fight Larry Donald,” Panama Lewis says, “because he’s a stinker. He runs. He grabs. And if you beat Larry Donald you’re going nowhere. All you do is look stupid, like he did in the fight. So he fought the wrong fighter.”
Is there a top-ten fighter Holyfield can beat? What about WBO champ Lamon Brewster?
Panama Lewis makes a face: “Brewster is a champion because Wladimir Klitschko got no heart.”
Team Klitschko had several explanations for Wlad’s poor performance that night, blaming it on everything from Vaseline on the legs to poison in the water bottle.
“No, no, listen to me,” Lewis says excitedly. “Excuses. You’ve gotta bring heart to the game. He’s in condition, but he can’t take it, and he quit, gave up. There ain’t no excuses. So he should get out before he gets hurt. But he ain’t going to do it, because of the money they’re giving him. The brother, Vitali, at least comes to fight.”
Vitali Klitschko’s last fight was his demolition of Danny Williams.
“Danny Williams became famous because Mr. Mike Tyson’s leg got messed up. Trust me, if it weren’t for the leg, you wouldn’t be hearing no Danny Williams fighting no Klitschko. But things happen in the game when you’re thirty-eight. You leave the dressing room good, you try in that ring, and all the sudden your body go ‘whoop’ because of your age. I don’t wanna dog his victory,” Lewis says. “He beat Tyson because Tyson wasn’t Tyson that night. If the leg was good - you seen the fight - you know Williams wasn’t going no three, four rounds with Tyson.”
Panama Lewis has done it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Under the circumstances, I wonder if he has mixed feelings about the sweet science.
“I’ve been in it for the last thirty-eight years and it’s all I know to do,” he says. “This is a blessing God gave me. That’s why nobody can take away what God gave me: the knowledge of the game. And I’m blessed in motivation. I could take a bad fighter and make him a good fighter, because I’m a teacher. There are few teachers left in the game, very few teachers left in the game, and I’m fortunate to be one of them.”
Panama Lewis, despite the odds, is standing at the final bell.
“You know what keep me grounded?” he asks. “That keep me going? A man named Jesus Christ. God keep me going. The bible keep me strong. Everybody in this world, except God, commits sins - understand? - Even the President of the United States. So who am I to talk? When they talk about me, I feel good because I’m still important. ‘Oh, Panama Lewis, he’s the one . . . ’ That make me famous still. When I don’t hear about Panama Lewis, then I worry. God gave me the gift to motivate. God gave me the gift to be a teacher in boxing. Not a trainer, a teacher. So that’s why good fighters come to me - because they want to learn how to fight. Being a trainer is more than putting on a towel and tell a man to give me three rounds, give me four rounds, give me five rounds. No. You got to teach your fighters. That’s what I’m gifted with. They can’t take that away from me.”
What's better is that 2005 could be even more thrilling. The 5 best matchups of the new year.
Glencoffe Johnson-Bernard Hopkins 2: These two already fought, with Hopkins dismantling the gutsy Johnson in 1997. But, obviously, "The Road Warrior" is a different fighter now. His double upsets of Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver proved that he is more than a limited pressure fighter with heart. He has some skills, too. Skills that have improved since his loss to "Ex". Meanwhile, Hopkins - almost 40 years old - somehow seems to be getting better with age. But he's got to slow down sometime, and Johnson may have the right combination of size and experience to pull a third shocking upset. The rematch could possibly be fought at a catchweight of 168 pounds. Odds: Hopkins 3-1.
Felix Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya 2: Many boxing fans are clamoring for Trinidad-Hopkins 2, but that was a clearcut knockout victory for Hopkins. However, the first Trinidad-De La Hoya fight - a decision victory for "Tito" in September 1999 - was one of the more controversial verdicts in recent memory. And, besides that, both careers could use some help. Trinidad just returned from a two-year retirement, while De La Hoya has been fighting guys too big for him. This is a perfect time to settle an old score. Winner keeps fighting. Loser retires. Odds: Trinidad 2-1.
Kostya Tszyu-Floyd Mayweather: Any doubts as to whether Tszyu was still a fighter at the top of his game were quashed in November when the "Thunder from Down Under" destroyed Sharmba Mitchell. And there's not a better opponent than Mayweather, the former junior lightweight and lightweight king who is now a 140-pounder. It would match Tszyu's awesome power against Mayweather's blazing speed - the ultimate boxer vs. puncher matchup. The fight makes sense for everybody: Tszyu's career is coming to an end, and Mayweather needs an exciting opponent. Tszyu may be a little too exciting. Odds: Pick 'em.
Jose Luis Castillo-Diego Corrales: The irresistable force vs. the immovable object. Corrales, the long bomber from California, is on a career-high after defeating Joel Casamayor and Acelino Freitas in consecutive fights. Castillo re-established himself as the world's best lightweight with defeats of Juan Lazcano and Casamayor. Their battle would be a sure slugfest, with Casamayor testing his power against Castillo's granite chin. Castillo can punch a little, too. Bombs away! Odds: Castillo 2-1.
Manny Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera 2: The first fight certainly wasn't a classic. Pacquiao thrashed Barrera in one of 2003's biggest upsets. At the time, it appeared Barrera was finished as a world-class performer. Obviously, that assessment was wrong, as Barrera rebounded with a brilliant 2004, beating Paulie Ayala and rival Morales for the second time. Pacquiao had that classic draw with Marquez. But neither Pacquiao or Marquez seems thrilled about a rematch - not yet anyway. And Barrera has claimed all along that he wasn't himself against "Pac-Man". It would certainly be intriguing. Odds: Pacquiao 2-1.
Echols (31-5-1 27 KOs) is best known for giving middleweight kingpin, Bernard Hopkins a rough ride in a losing effort and - more recently - for losing a unanimous decision to Australia's Anthony Mundine in a WBA Super Middleweight title fight.
The card on February 11, at Manchester's MEN Arena, will also feature British amateur boxing sensation, Amir Khan. It is the first in a series of pro-am boxing events scheduled for 2005.
Spinks (34-2, 11 KOs), of St. Louis, won the initial battle of world-class southpaws and successfully defended the undisputed welterweight title by registering a 12-round unanimous decision on April 10, 2004, in Las Vegas. In one of 2004's most dramatic fights, which included numerous momentum changes, the son of Leon and nephew of Michael Spinks scored a knockdown with a short left hand in the 11th, survived a late knockdown in the 12th and won by the scores 116-111 and 114-112 twice. Spinks captured the undisputed crown in a shocking 12-round majority decision over then-WBA/WBC champion Ricardo Mayorga on Dec. 13, 2003.
"I give Judah credit," said Spinks, who came out aggressively and controlled the action during the initial rounds. "He is a great fighter. I was just a little better the first time. I boxed beautifully. Some people did not think I could get mean in there but I did. As for me going down, I got a little relaxed. In the last round, I should have played it cool and just boxed and stayed away, but I got a little careless and he threw a good shot."
"I learned a lot from that fight and will not make the same mistake in the rematch. I had a big lead and almost let it get away. I am the best 147-pound boxer in the world and look forward to proving it again against Judah. Zab likes to talk and will always win a war of words, but the ring is my forum and where I speak loudest. After I beat him again, maybe I will get the credit I deserve.''
In his last start, Spinks successfully defended his belts with a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over former WBC champion and No. 1 contender Miguel Angel Gonzalez Sept. 4, 2004, on SHOWTIME from Las Vegas. Utilizing his speed, movement and boxing ability to dictate the pace throughout, Spinks earned the easy victory by the scores 118-109 on all three judges' scorecards.
Spinks, who upset Mayorga by the scores 117-110, 114-112 and 114-114, won the IBF welterweight title in his second attempt against Michele Piccirillo by garnering a 12-round unanimous decision on March 22, 2003, in Campione D'Italia, Italy. Most felt Spinks got robbed in their first bout, which ended in a disputed draw.
Judah (32-2, 1 NC, 23 KOs), of Brooklyn, N.Y., began to out-quick Spinks and closed the gap in the middle rounds of their initial bout. He landed a punishing right hand and dropped the welterweight champion with less than 30 seconds remaining in the 12th round. Spinks was hurt and took a mandatory eight-count. Judah, who made his 147-pound debut, hurt Spinks again, but the champion managed to survive the rest of the round.
"I did not fight my fight and know I could have done more, especially in the early rounds," said Judah, who entered the ring as a slight favorite. "But I still thought I did enough. Spinks did not surprise me at all. I went down, but it was a 'B.S.' knockdown."
"When I dropped Spinks with a beautiful shot, I let him off the hook. I had him hurt and there was still time to finish him, but instead of going forward I stayed back and stopped. But I have no complaints. I give credit to Spinks for giving me another chance. Most fighters would not. He is a good fighter, but I will show him who the real champ is."
Judah has won two straight since the setback to Spinks. In his last outing, he retained his WBO Intercontinental welterweight crown with a first-round TKO over Wayne Martell on Oct. 2, 2004, in New York. The two-time world champion matted Martell five times before the one-sided affair was halted at 2:08. On May 15, 2004, just 35 days after losing to Spinks, Judah won the WBO Intercontinental belt by scoring a 12-round split decision over Rafael Pineda. He floored Pineda in the seventh en route to winning by the scores 115-112, 114-113 and 112-115.
Judah, who won the WBO junior welterweight crown with a 12-round split decision over DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley on July 12, 2003, captured the vacant IBF crown with a fourth-round knockout over Jan Bergman on Feb. 12, 2000. After five successful defenses, he suffered his first defeat and lost his IBF title when Kostya Tszyu captured the undisputed 140-pound crown with a second-round TKO on Nov. 3, 2001, on SHOWTIME.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING's Steve Albert and Al Bernstein will call the action from ringside with Jim Gray serving as roving reporter. The executive producer of the SHOWTIME telecast will be Jay Larkin, with David Dinkins Jr. producing and Bob Dunphy directing.
In 2005, SHOWTIME will continue its fan-friendly scheduling strategy of providing viewers and boxing fans with the best boxing has to offer on the first Saturday of every month. For information on upcoming SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and "ShoBox: The New Generation" telecasts, including complete fighter bios and records, related stories and more, please go the SHOWTIME website at http://www.sho.com/boxing.
Earlier today in Tokyo, Japan, Navarro squared off against Katsushige Kawashima for the WBC 115-pound title at Ariake Coliseum. Kawashima, the champion, was awarded a split decision over the previously unbeaten Navarro, and DiBella says it stinks. Navarro completely dominated the fight, and Kawashima was beaten and bloody. So thorough was Navarro's domination that the Canadian judge scored the bout 120-109 for Jose, representing a near sweep with 11 rounds scored for Navarro, and one scored even. Somehow, the incompetent and or/co-opted judges from Thailand and Mexico scored the bout 115-113 and 115-114 for Kawashima.
"I haven't even written 2005 on a piece of paper yet, and the filth of this business has already sullied this year," said DiBella, the president of DBE. "Jose Navarro has worked tirelessly for his opportunity. We told him that he was on hostile ground and would need to win convincingly. He did everything but knock the champion out, and was robbed.
"This travesty will go unnoticed by many who should notice and will not hurt DiBella Entertainment significantly from a business perspective," added DiBella. "Still, the judging in boxing and inherent organizational biases continue to diminish and help destroy a potentially great sport. Most importantly, the damage done, both emotionally and financially, to a kid like Jose is immeasurable."
Said DBE vice president David Itskowitch, who was ringside in Japan for the championship bout: "I was stunned. Jose gave him a boxing lesson. Jose cut him up. His punches were more accurate and landed with higher frequency. He controlled the fight. Kawashima was desperate after being cut. For one judge to have it a shutout for the visiting fighter, and two others have it close for the hometown fighter is terrible."
Navarro (21-1, 9 KO's) put his unbeaten pro record on the line against titleholder Kawashima (28-3, 18 KO's), who fought on his home turf and has never fought outside of Tokyo and Yokohama. Navarro traveled 5,452 miles for his title opportunity. DBE is protesting the decision and calling for an immediate rematch. "The WBC should take a good look at itself and fix the situation. Jose and Mauricio Sulaiman say that they stand for justice. Now is their time to prove it," said DiBella.
Lewis has been battling boredom since hanging up his boxing gloves and putting on his promoter’s hat in June of 2003. Vitali Klitschko now reigns atop the division, reminding everyone and anyone that will listen how he was ahead on points against Lewis in the Briton’s final fight and how ‘the end was near’ for LL. Regardless of how close or far from the truth that is, the record books still show a TKO 6 victory for Lewis and that result won’t change regardless of how much Vitali talks about it.
I just checked again and Lewis still won. No change.
The ego of a fighter is often as big as they come because a mountain of confidence is practically a basic requirement in order to step between the ropes and take part in the fistic fury. Believing you can win is only the first step to actually getting the job done, and Vitali talking as if he won the fight is part of the psychological chess game being played to light the competitive fire in Lewis. Based on recent comments from Lennox it may just be working.
Lewis obviously believes he can beat Vitali Klitschko, and based on the fact that he already did, his belief is well-founded. So, if Lewis felt he had a pugilistic responsibility to knock Vitali from the perch he called his own, it would be to a surprise to no one if he slipped the mitts back on and did just that. Of course, retirement can corrode the skills of the best former champions and despite that reality a tune-up bout likely wouldn’t be in Lewis’ plans.
David Tua was once considered one of the best prospects to make his way through the heavyweight ranks in recent years. Standing less than 5’ 10”, excluding his high-rise hairdo, Tua was power packed and made a habit of separating opponents from their senses at the drop of a hat. Or in this case, with a lethal left hook.
John Ruiz, Hasim Rahman, Oleg Maskaev, Michael Moorer, Danell Nicholson and Fres Oquendo all tasted the power that ‘Tuaman’ possesses, and none liked the taste much. His professional record sits at 42-3-1, with 37 victories inside the distance, and the three losses were all to the top fighters in the division.
Ike Ibeabuchi won a twelve round decision over Tua for his first loss. Many believe that Ibeabuchi would be the best heavyweight in the world today if not for one minor detail - he can’t get out of jail. The second loss came at the hands of Lennox Lewis who was simply too good, too tall and all wrong for Tua. Neither the difference in height nor pure skill could be made up by Tua’s hook, as he never came close. Chris Byrd was the last to defeat Tua, as Byrd did what Byrd does - he boxed beautifully for twelve rounds to take their IBF title eliminator.
With only three losses and each of those defeats to top fighters, Tua, on paper at least, could jump back into the mix if he does in fact come back. Managerial disputes and a general malaise have kept David Tua on the shelf since an uneventful draw in his rematch with Hasim Rahman in March, 2003. Rahman has fought six times since that bout and is on the verge of another major title opportunity. Tua has not and therefore is not.
Tua’s 19-second victory over current WBA champion John Ruiz is something many fans would love to see again. It is also a memory that must keep the Samoan’s fire burning, considering where Ruiz stands in the division with a belt around his waist.
Stepping down to the Light Middleweight division, Fernando Vargas has been missing in action for a year. 2004 passed without a Vargas fight, which means we all missed a few good scraps. Whether you like Vargas or not, the fact is that he makes for exciting bouts, win or lose.
When ‘El Feroz’ fights there is a darn good chance that someone is getting his butt dropped to the floor - and if it is Vargas who goes down, you can bet your bottom dollar he is getting back up. Vargas knocked out 22 of 26 opponents and was knocked out twice, in his only career losses. Winky Wright and Ike Quartey are the only two fighters who have lost to Vargas and still managed to hear the final bell. His battle with Felix Trinidad was classic Vargas as the Oxnard, California native got up from knockdowns five times and managed to return the favor to put Tito down as well. He lost that bout, as he did against Oscar De La Hoya, but he earned a lot of respect even in losing.
Every New Year there are unfamiliar faces that jump to the forefront and peak our interest, keeping us passionate about the sport of boxing. While 2005 will be no different in that respect, it may also be some familiar fighters that light the fire anew.