After all, Ravelo, who was raised in Newark, New Jersey, but because of dual citizenship was able to represent his native Dominican Republic in Sydney, had lost a close decision to an Australian in his home country.
Having compiled a 96-15 amateur record, which included a win over Jeff Lacy, who also beat Ravelo twice, the tall and lanky but deceivingly strong Ravelo had no shortage of world-class amateur experience.
After signing with manager Gary Gittlesohn, he turned pro in January 2001 at Madison Square Garden. Within one year he was undefeated in eight fights.
In October 2002, in his 12th fight, he got primetime exposure when he squared off on Showtime’s ShoBoxseries against once-beaten George Walton in Tampa. A few years earlier Walton had received widespread media exposure as the subject of the acclaimed 1999 documentary film “On the Ropes,” which was directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen.
“Jerson was one of the better prospects from the [Olympic] class of 2000,” said ShoBox commentator Steve Farhood. “He had good size and a lot of spunk. If he could have stayed healthy, he’d be right in the mix of a wide open division.”
Like so many others, Farhood inadvertently spoke of Ravelo in the past tense. Because the 27-year-old Ravelo incurred several serious injuries—including two that necessitated separate hand surgeries and a bulging disc in his back, the word was that he was damaged goods.
Those feelings were exacerbated when Ravelo suffered his lone professional defeat—a ninth round TKO loss to David Lopez in Tucson in April 2004. When he fought Lopez, who was coming off a surprising knockout victory over former WBO middleweight champion Lonnie Bradley, Ravelo had been inactive due to injuries for 15 months.
“I have this reputation that I’m plagued by injuries,” said Ravelo, who rebounded from the loss to Lopez with a 10-round decision victory over Mohommad Said six months later to bring his current record to 14-1 (9 KOs).
“People always ask me if I’m still fighting. I’m fighting better now than I have been in a long time. The only reason nobody’s seen me is because I haven’t been offered good fights. When I fought Lopez, I just wasn’t with it mentally. I had back-to-back hand surgeries and my mind was everywhere but on boxing.”
Ravelo is no longer managed by Gittlesohn, nor is he aligned with any promotional entity. There have been some offers, but none that he thought were worth entertaining.
Instead of fighting, over the past half-year he has spent one month each as a sparring partner in the camps of Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins while they were training for Roy Jones and Jermain Taylor respectively. The experience he garnered with those elite fighters, he believes, was the equivalent of having seven or eight fights.
“My last surgery was two years ago and I’ve been healthy ever since,” proclaimed Ravelo. “I was healthy enough to give two of the best fighters in the world a lot of good work. Bernard was so happy with my work he paid me double what we had agreed on.”
“People always ask me if I’m still fighting. I’m fighting better now than I have been in a long time. The only reason nobody’s seen me is because I haven’t been offered good fights.
“Things were bad for a while, and I got kind of depressed,” he said. “I even told [Main Events matchmaker] Carl Moretti that I would fight for free [on the November 30 show in North Bergen, New Jersey]. I just needed to get back in the game. It’s been very frustrating. Not fighting is bad enough, but then having to convince everyone that I’m not injury prone makes it worse.”
Ravelo was recently offered a bout with tough Philadelphia fighter Yusaf Mack, who is undefeated in 22 bouts, which includes two draws and twelve knockouts. Had the circumstance been a little different, he would have welcomed such a formidable challenge.
But he was offered the fight on short notice, which only made him believe more that the boxing establishment has written him off, even though he is still in his twenties and physically, mentally and emotionally stronger and healthier than he’s ever been.
“With all of my inactivity, I wasn’t ready for that fight,” said the refreshingly honest Ravelo. “I made that mistake already when I fought Lopez after being inactive for a long time. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years.
“Some of it was a hard, but in the long run I’m a better person and I’ll be a better fighter. The most important thing for people to know is that I’m healthy and I’m ready to fight. I’d love to fight eight times in the next year, just like I did when I turned pro.”
Farhood, for one, would be glad to see Ravelo back in action. “One good fight and he’s right back in the picture,” he said. “Unfortunately, boxing has a what have you done for me lately? mentality and Jerson became invisible.
“That’s too bad, because he was universally considered a very good prospect. Knowing what I know now, there is no reason to believe he can’t regain that status.”
Because my manager Umberto Branchini decided not to make that move. I left those decisions to him. I considered him the greatest Italian manager of all times. In fact, he is one of the few Italians inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. After winning the Olympic silver medal in Los Angeles, he said I had to aim straight to the top. That’s part of the reason why he decided to put me only against foreign opponents, he wanted me to gain professional experience fast and be known outside of our country. I’m probably the only Italian boxer who never fought another Italian. Umberto also wanted me to make a lot of money and he was successful in that. I never had to work from Monday to Friday; boxing was my only job. I can legitimately say that I had a great career, financially.
Let’s talk about your opponents. Who was the toughest?
James Broad. He had a record of 20 wins and 3 losses, had won the NABF title and was very respected. Besides, our fight was an eliminator for the IBF title and that added pressure on me. I knew he was tough, but not that tough. I can say the opposite about Greg Page. He had a big reputation because was a former WBA champion, but I won easily: 95-93 on all scorecards. He boxed dirty (and was deducted points), but his punches never hurt me.
What about Tyrell Biggs?
He beat me in the Olympic final, and other times before that. As we say in Italy, he was the black sheep of my amateur career. When I fought him professionally, I was determined to win big and I did it in five rounds: the bout was stopped because of a cut over Biggs’ right eye. You know, in the Olympic quarterfinal Tyrell defeated Lennox Lewis, who a few years later gave him a serious beating (third round TKO) as a pro. I think Biggs had a great technique, but was too much of a nice guy to be successful in American professional rings. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly.
When you KOed Johnny DuPlooy for the WBO title, many journalists didn’t consider you a legitimate world champion because that organization was new at the time. Did you feel disrespected?
No, because I didn’t care about what my detractors wrote. I knew that Johnny DuPlooy was a respected boxer (his record was 22-2-1) and that my KO win helped me be recognized as a power-puncher. Besides, I had been European champion and wanted a world title. The WBO offered me the opportunity to be its first champion and I accepted. Today, everybody considers the WBO a major organization and that makes my title a legitimate one. In my opinion, the boxers count more than any title. If two bums fight for the WBC crown, the winner cannot consider himself a world champion. If two top-rated heavyweights fight for the belt of a minor sanctioning body, that title becomes meaningful.
Why did you never face Mike Tyson?
Because my manager didn’t reach an agreement with Mike Tyson’s manager. Umberto told me that Don King offered us $500,000. It was a ridiculous amount of money for a big fight, especially compared to the purses Tyson was receiving back then (over $20,000,000). Besides, if I won I would become a Don King’s fighter and that wasn’t good for me.
You dominated Ray Mercer, before being knocked out. What really happened?
It just happened that he got me with a lucky punch to the nose that made the blood flow into my throat. I couldn’t breath and the 10-count was over before I could figure out what to do. I never experienced anything like that in my career. Thinking about it now, I could have kept going until the end of the round, and during the break my trainer would have told me how to recover. I dominated for eight rounds (the scores were 79-73, 79-74 and 78-74). I’m sure I would have dominated the rest of the fight. You know, these things happen in boxing.
What about your loss to Oliver McCall?
I wasn’t motivated anymore, so I didn’t train properly. If I had been just at 60%, I would have won easily. In fact, after that loss, I retired.
What are you doing now?
I’m one of the coaches of the Italian amateur team. To become a legitimate coach, I had to pay my dues like anybody else. In Italy, it doesn’t matter if you have been a champion, you must learn the proper way to coach attending the seminars organized by the national boxing commission (FPI). The first step is attending a seminar in the region where you live: it’s two full days for four consecutive week-ends; at the end you must pass a test to become a prospect. The second step is working two years with a certified coach. The third step is going to the commission’s main training center in Santa Maria degli Angeli (central Italy) and live there for one week to attend another seminar where you receive high-level instruction. If you pass the final test, you become a legitimate coach. I’m proud to have made it as a coach and I’m really enjoying this new experience.
Born: October 4, 1958 in Bagnacavallo, a town in the Emilia Romagna region of Central Italy
Height: 190 cm
Manager: Umberto Branchini
Trainer: Elio Ghelfi
Record: 30 wins (22 KOs) and 2 losses
Titles: WBC international champion (1987), European champion (1987-1988), WBO world champion (1989-1991)
A graduate of St. Johns’s University School of Law, DeLisa, who was born, raised and still lives in the New York metropolitan area, entered private practice but could not shake his affinity for the sweet science. The latest result of his pugilistic passion is a sensational DVD called “The Super Fight: Marciano vs. Ali,” which is due to be released on December 26.
Written, produced and directed by DeLisa, this 136-minute film, which is being distributed by the Littleton, Colorado-based Mackinac Media Inc., explores in great detail a long forgotten piece of boxing history.
Under a shroud of secrecy at an obscure Miami Beach gym in 1969, Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano – each of whom is arguably the greatest heavyweight champion in history – squared off in a fight that was choreographed according to the findings of a now ancient NCR 315 computer.
Both fighters agreed not to throw heavy punches to the head, but no such rules applied to the body. Under the utmost secrecy, Ferdie Pacheco served as the ring doctor and promoter Chris Dundee, Angelo’s brother, was the referee.
Ali, then 27, had been banished from boxing a few years earlier for draft evasion. Marciano, then 46, had retired from the ring 13 years before as the undefeated heavyweight champion. His perfect record of 49-0 (43 KOs) still stands to this day.
The Super Fight was the brainstorm of Miami boxing promoter Murry Woroner, who had a radio series of fantasy bouts between scores of other champions. The outcomes of those fights were also determined by the use of the computer.
Initially, Ali sued Woroner for defamation of character after he “lost” to Jim Jeffries in the radio tournament, while Marciano “knocked out” Jack Dempsey to win the “All-Time” heavyweight title.
The lawsuit was settled when Woroner paid Ali $10,000 to “compete” against Marciano, with the computer deciding the outcome of the bout. Using some of the top programmers of the day, Woroner rated champions on 129 different variables, including punching power, speed and stamina.
For Ali-Marciano, Hank Kaplan, who served as the technical director on the project, programmed the computer using only bouts that took place during the best five years of each champion’s career.
At the time Ali symbolized the changing of the guard during a period of great social upheaval. Marciano, meanwhile, represented the Establishment that Ali was rebelling against.
The results of the Super Fight also signified the dawning of the new age of the computer – which was still in its embryonic stages but was quickly developing a reputation for being able to outthink humans, even though humans had to program them.
And so it was that Ali and Marciano – the latter of whom had shed 60 pounds while training and even purchased a new toupee for the simulated bout – filmed 70 one-minute fighting segments which were later spliced into three-minute rounds.
Amid much fanfare, on January 20, 1970, the film was shown one time only at about 1500 theaters around the world.
Immediately afterward, all of the 35 millimeter prints were destroyed except for the one that was sent to the Library of Congress for copyright purposes. (Ironically, Marciano had been killed in an airplane crash in August 1969, less than four months before the release of the film).
The Super Fight played just one more time – on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” – in late 1970. Afterwards, the film became an eccentric and esoteric footnote to the careers of two great champions.
Until now! Using commentary from such renowned boxing experts as Kaplan, Bert Sugar, Mike Silver, Sal Rappa, Tracy Callis, and Enrique Encinosa, as well as boxing executive Bobby Goodman and former lightweight contender Frankie Otero, DeLisa has created a unique film that explores an extraordinary event that transcends boxing.
Not only does the film provide a wonderful perspective and in-depth study of two of boxing’s most revered champions, it also explores the coming of age of computers which transformed the way in which the world operated.
“This fight occurred at the dawn of the computer age, when computers looked like enormous dinosaurs and the technology was just emerging,” said Andre Blay, CEO of Mackinac Media. “If we fed the same stats into today’s advanced computers, would we have the same outcome?”
From Mike Silver’s perspective, the most compelling part of the film was the poignancy of seeing the late Marciano – who was worshipped by the youth of his generation – one last time.
“The Super Fight was basically little more than an exhibition,” he explained. “But it was like a time machine, because even though both fighters pulled their punches, you got some sense of might have occurred if they had actually fought in their primes.”
The film is as much of a sporting story as it is a social study that belongs on the shelf of every documentary film collector and in the course programs for college level media communications classes.
Over the years, DeLisa has made many fine contributions to the sport of boxing. With this film, however, he outdid himself. For a man of his stature, that is pretty hard to do. The film is not to be missed.
In addition to the original film and the new documentary, “The Super Fight” DVD two-disc set includes a never before seen alternate ending, extra scenes from the documentary, the original 15 one-hour episodes of Woroner’s radio computer tournament, a slideshow gallery of posters and stills, and an eight-page collectible booklet with the fight’s history and photos.
The cost of the DVD is $19.95 and can be purchased through Amazon.com or by contacting: www.superfightdvd.com
Sky Sports has the 2005 Boxing Year In Review today. When the right fights get made, this sport is hard to beat for anticipation and excitement: Morales v. Barrera, Corrales v. Castillo, Wright v. Trinidad, Hatton v. Tszyu, Hopkins v. Taylor, Cotto v. Torres and even W. Klitschko v. Peter (a stretch - perhaps - but at least 2 heavyweights actually willing to fight each other).
Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista (18-0, 14 KOs) turned pro at sweet 16 and in the three years since he’s racked up eighteen straight wins, 14 by knockout. He is the WBO #1 ranked bantamweight and is already a huge star in his native Philippines. Many view him as the possible heir to the throne now staunchly held by Manny Pacquiao,
Tonight at the Sycuan Resort & Casino in El Cajon, CA, Bautista the teenager takes on grizzled veteran and KO artist Geraldo Espinoza (28-9, 26 KOs). The matchup is specifically tailored to check his yet to be tested whiskers and should he pass, he should move in line for a shot at the world title.
This is third time in Bautista’s relatively short career that he’s traveled to the U.S.
* * *
The flyweight division is one of the most talent-laden divisions in boxing; Wonjongkam, Parra, Darchinian, Narvaez and Arce (interim) currently reign as champions. Alvarez, Pachecho, Viloria (Jr. Fly Champ) and various other are close behind and any number of fantastic matchups are there for the promoters making.
Takefumi Sakata (25-3-1, 11 KOs) has had two shots at the flyweight title, both against Lorenzo Parra, and both times losing majority decisions. In his first fight since his rematch loss to Parra, he squared off against journeyman Hiroyasu Hasebe (6-6-5, 1 KO). Sakata proved to be a cut above his outmatched opponent, stopping him via TKO in the sixth.
* * *
Earlier today in Petchyaboon, Thailand, WBC Flyweight king Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (59-2, 32 KOs) faced the not-so-stiff challenge of Filipino Isidro Balabat (5-4, 2 KOs) in a ten-round tune-up.
Balabat came out in round one throwing strong, three and four punch combinations which had little effect. Pongsaklek deftly sidestepped and countered, content to bide his time and wait for Balabat to make mistake.
In round three Pongsaklek picked up the pace, using angles and increasing his punch output. He stepped in strong with long, left shots to the pit of Balabat’s stomach. Excellent round for Pongsak. For the next two rounds, the champion set down on his punches, moving less and repeatedly unleashing the straight left and right hook to the body. In a show of bravado, Balabat waved in the champion but had little left to give. When he caught Pongsaklek with a left hook at the end of round five, the Thai didn’t flinch.
Round six was over almost before it began. As Pongsaklek stepped in to let go of a punch, the top of his head smacked Balabat over the right eye, immediately releasing a torrent of blood. His pain-wracked face told the story. The ring doctor quickly appraises the injury and calls a halt to the bout. Wonjongkam wins a technical decision as all three judges had him ahead on the scorecards.
* * *
Last Friday night, Wonjongkam’s arch-rival and WBC interim flyweight titleholder Jorge Arce (41-3-1, 31 KOs) once again did his part in setting up a possible showdown with Wonjongkam when he scored a tenth round TKO over for WBO super flyweight champion Adonis Rivas (21-7-2, 10 KOs).
According to the WBC, Arce is scheduled to defend his interim title January 28th against unranked Nicaraguan, Everth Briceno (22-4, 18 KOs) on the WBC’s “Night of Champions.” This is disputed however by recent victim Adonis Rivas, who claims to have a signed contract for a rematch with Arce. Possible 2006 opponents on the table for Arce; Brian Viloria, Rosendo Alvarez and of course, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Somewhere down the line, the current champion (Wonjongkam) needs to face the current interim champion (Arce) to keep the boxing gods happy!
* * *
WBA interim bantamweight champion Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym impressively defended his title against Leo Gamez of Venezuela Thursday afternoon. In Gamez he got just what he needed; an over-the-hill, yet still-dangerous fighter whom he couldn’t steamroll.
In the first thirty seconds of round one it became abundantly clear the hand and foot speed of Poonsawat was far superior to that of the plodding Gamez. Nonetheless, the powerfully built Venezuelan waded in, winging left hook bombs and attempting to draw the Thai into a war. Surprisingly, Poonsawat obliged, and the two stood face-to-face for the better part of the first three rounds. While on the inside, Poonsawat was busy, unloading left hooks to the body, followed by rights to the head. He mixed it up with short, crisp, left and right uppercuts. Gamez tried in vain to counter his faster opponent but Poonsawat’s subtle adjustments were more than he bargained for and had him swinging at air.
Poonsawat began clearly dominating the fight in round four, boxing smartly and showing the full repertoire of his offensive and defensive tool bag. Quick, stiff jabs allowed him to move in and out of range at will while his side to side movement took him away from the wild, looping shots of Gamez.
When Gamez came out for the fifth round, he did so with a small cut over his right eye. Seemingly out of desperation Gamez throws it into overdrive and nails Poonsawat with a big right to the head. Then another. Poonsawat fires off a big left hook and stops Gamez dead in his tracks. For the rest of the round, both fighters moved cautiously and without initiating any further action. As the bell sounds, Poonsawat catches Gamez with a solid jab, knocking him off balance and stealing the round.
* * *
Although Gamez was never completely out of the fight, by the eighth round Poonsawat had effectively defanged the lion. Gamez was visibly tiring and his punches had lost their pop. At the end of round nine, Poonsawat lands a quadruple jab, right uppercut, left hook combination that wobbles Gamez. He storms back and at the bell clips Poonsawat with a left hook to the head.
In round eleven Poonsawat digs in with a left hook to the body and Gamez backs away, obviously hurt. The Thai unloads on Gamez but he’s game and refuses to be stopped. Clearly battered and beaten, the gritty Venezuelan continues to give his all until the bell sounds to end the fight.
Judges scores: 119-110, 119-110,120-119
* * *
Congratulations to Steve “The Mongoose” Quinonez, a class-act who was recently signed to an exclusive promotional contract by Canadian Promoter Denis Benoit of Ringway Promotions. Back in 1996 I got to know Quinonez and his family while training at the Desert Hot Springs Boxing Club. Like many fighters, he’s had his share of career ups and downs; he’s come up on the short end of four split decisions (three in a row) and got KO’d in the first round by one of Mickey Ward’s patented left hooks to the body. Despite these setbacks he’s fought on and tallied wins against such notable fighters as Lovemore N’dou, Juan Valenzuela and Antonio Ramirez. In his last fight, Quinonez handed undefeated prospect James Armah his first lost.
Jermain Taylormade a homecoming appearance in Arkansas. "Whoever comes to Little Rock, I'm knocking him out," Taylor said. If Lou DiBella's recent comments are any indication, Taylor is going to get his wish. Winky Wright wants Taylor, and wants him right away, but DiBella is stalling. "I've spoken with HBO already, and I agree with them that it's not a pay-per-view fight right now. It needs to be built up," says DiBella in USA Today. Ross Greenburg of HBO told ESPN's Dan Rafael, "'I'm tired of reading articles saying boxing is dying. It's not, but it's time for us to put our money where our mouth is and do what we do best as storytellers. We want to show the that this sport is ready for a rebound. We know the market is there. We're not saying we're the saviors of the sport, but we love a great fight and we know sports fans do, too. I see the sun starting to peek behind the clouds." Nice spin by Greenburg. "Dying" is a subjective term, but the fact is that this sport does have serious credibility issues with the average sports fan, and without the average sports fan boxing loses many potential boxing fans. The road to recovery is paved with making the best fights. And that does not mean making a fight when it is deemed by the suits to be a "pay per view" fight. It means make the best fights right now. Isn't that what Winky just said?
Be a cruiserweight champion and live in France, well, that’s a double whammy. It’s like being the fifth Beatle, or the first guy voted out on Survivor. No one really knows who you are.
So if you don’t recognize the name Jean-Marc Mormeck, don’t feel bad. The popular consensus is he’s a cyclist in the Tour de France.
He’s not. He’s the WBC and WBA cruiserweight champion, and he’s getting ready to fight IBF cruiserweight champ O’Neil Bell on Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden (SHOWTIME) for the undisputed cruiserweight championship.
Don’t know anything about O’Neil Bell? See.
But these guys should be more popular. Between them, they’ve fought 53 consecutive fights without a loss. Mormeck is 31-2 with 21 knockouts, his two losses coming back-to-back a long time ago in his fourth and fifth fights.
Bell, a Jamaican now living in Atlanta, is 25-1-1 with 23 KOs, his only loss coming in his second pro fight.
Both Bell and Mormeck were on a recent national conference call promoting their fight. It was a fairly civil call, but that’s only because there was a cooling off period between questions. Apparently, Mormeck doesn’t speak English, and it’s tough to call a guy a bum when you have to do it through a translator.
Still, both guys sounded like they’re supposed to sound. Confident, prepared and anxious.
Bell, it turns out, has an odd way of training. He kind of senses how he feels in the morning and takes it from there.
“I’m a boxer who goes day by day,” he said. “I listen to my body. Today, maybe I need running. Or I don’t need it because my knees hurt or my lower back hurts. OK, let me spar six or seven rounds today. Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off. Let me sit in the sauna or the whirlpool for the day. Let me just meditate, do some skull practice. I visualize myself winning. I visualize the referee raising my hand.”
Mormeck, who is training outside of Cleveland, said he doesn’t have a strategy for fighting Bell. And he doesn’t think he needs one.
“O’Neil Bell is talking a lot,” he said. “If he fights like he talks, it’s going to be boring for everybody. He keeps repeating and repeating and repeating. He says he needs to get known, to get respect from everybody. But he shouldn’t be trying to get known here because he’s not going to get known fighting me. If he wants to get known, he has to go somewhere else. Work for human resources. O’Neil Bell should just train and not talk so much.”
Like most cruiserweights, both fighters are looking forward to that special day when they grow up and become heavyweights.
“I definitely want to be a heavyweight,” said Bell, who fingered James Toney as the heavyweight he’d most like to fight. “But my focus right now is on the (cruiserweight) unification so I can make a name for myself. Then I’ll step up to the heavyweight division. I want to move up and conquer that division as well. Bring the limelight back to the heavyweight division.”
Mormeck said his dream has always been to move into the heavyweight division. He’s already picked the champion he wants to dethrone.
“I have great respect for (WBO champ) Lamon Brewster,” he said. “If I had to choose one, it would be Brewster because he’s very strong and that’s the one I want to fight.”
Bell, who recently changed his nickname from “Give ‘em Hell,” Bell to “Supernova,” because hell isn’t a very nice place, said this is the fight he’s been waiting for all of his career. The winner will become only the second undisputed cruiserweight champ of all time. Evander Holyfield was the first.
“I love it. I’m walking around with a smile on my face,” Bell said. “It’s a joyous thing. To fight in Madison Square Garden. To fight on a Don King card. To fight on Showtime. That’s a big thing for me.”
BAGHDAD – Arabic translators monitoring the ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein report that in testimony this week the former Iraqi dictator claimed to have been tortured by his American captors. Hussein asserted that he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment in violation of the Geneva accords when he was forced to watch all twelve rounds of a World Boxing Association heavyweight championship fight between Nicolay Valuev and John Ruiz.
Saddam charged that President George W. Bush had entered into a conspiracy with boxing promoter Don King to beam the telecast of the Berlin fight into his jail cell.
“Bush would never do this to his own people,” the erstwhile despot told the court. “The fight was banned by United States television networks. Not a single American had to watch this fight.”
Hussein claimed that prison authorities, with the connivance of Bush and King, had not only secretly ordered up the German pay-per-view telecast of the bout between the plodding, 7-foot Russian giant and the US-born former champion, but had stolen the remote control from his cell to prevent him from switching it off.
In voicing his outrage, Saddam pointed out that not even Al-Jazeera, a network which routinely televises live beheadings, had been willing to subject its viewers to the King-promoted fight.
In a related development, The World’s Greatest Promoter announced plans to stage a boxing exhibition, possibly including a world championship fight, in Iraq next year.
“Major General Turner and President George W. Bush are absolutely right about helping the troops,” King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I intend to answer the President’s call and do all I can to support our troops. Our men and women in uniform around the world are defending our freedom and liberties. They need to know that we appreciate their service and sacrifices to honor their bravery and dedication.”
Although King traveled to Germany in his role as Ruiz’s longtime promoter, by the time the Dec. 17 fight at Berlin’s Max Schmeling Halle took place he had Valuev under contract as well. Ruiz’s attorneys, noting the controversial nature of the widely-booed Berlin decision, intend to petition the WBA to order an immediate rematch. While no venue in the western world is likely to offer a site fee for that bout, King, in a masterful stroke, has reportedly informed the White House of his willingness to stage Valuev-Ruiz II before the troops in Iraq.
“I intend to stage exhibition matches in Iraq displaying the skills of many great champions from the boxing world,” said the flag-waving promoter. “I want to entertain the troops, raise their morale and let our soldiers know that the American people are 100% behind them. It will be an unforgettable, historic event. I’ll even stage a true championship match if I am allowed.”
“Don,” Blitzer reportedly sighed off-camera, “haven’t they suffered enough already?”
“I’m done,” Stone said. “I’m tired of boxing and last week’s bad decision was the last straw (Ruiz lost his WBA title in a controversial 12-round majority decision to Nicolay Valuev in Berlin). I’m going to relax with my family and spend a lot of time with my two little grandchildren. I’ll always support Johnny. Even in retirement I’ll be covering his back. I’m sorry if my actions sometimes upset people, but I always had John’s best interests at heart. It was a great ride.”
“I’m sorry to see him go,” Ruiz commented. “We’ve been together for 20 years and it was an up-and-down, rollercoaster ride. It’s going to be tough moving on without him.”