The elder McGirt, who held world junior welterweight and welterweight titles during a career that lasted from 1982-97 and produced a 73-6-1 (48 KOS) record, hopes that is the case.
“I don’t want him to be like me,” said the senior McGirt. “I want him to be more successful and a better fighter than me.”
McGirt Sr. has been training his son at his Vero Beach, Florida, boxing facility since he turned pro in January 2004 on the undercard of the Arturo Gatti-Gianluca Branco bout in Atlantic City.
Prior to embarking on his pro career, the long and lean 6’1” McGirt Jr., who had nearly 50 amateur fights, attended St. Petersburg Community College in Florida, where he was a basketball star.
But the youngster feels that he was preordained to be a boxer and is very happy with the career choice he has made, even though his father didn’t share his enthusiasm early on.
“I was born into the sport,” said McGirt Jr., who recently signed with promoter Lou DiBella and just ran his record to 13-0 (7 KOS) with an eight-round decision over Dennis Sharpe, now 17-4-3 (6 KOS), on DiBella’s final Broadway Boxing show of the year in Manhattan on December 14.
Just a few weeks earlier, Sharpe had also extended hot undefeated Irish prospect Andy Lee the distance on the underneath Wladimir Klitschko-Calvin Brock at Madison Square Garden.
“It was all-around me growing up,” continued McGirt Jr., who has already laced up the gloves in Michigan, Florida, New York, New Hampshire, Nevada and Arizona. “I had no choice.”
If you listen to McGirt Sr., his son had plenty of other options. You need not look past the fact that he attended college, which his father did not do. Moreover, when McGirt Jr. would accompany his father to the gym as a young boy, his dad did nothing to encourage him or stoke his competitive fires.
“I never wanted him to box,” concedes McGirt Sr. “He made this decision on his own. I tried to keep him away from it, but if he wants it I want to help him.”
Because McGirt Sr. is now considered one of the best trainers in the business, his son is in very good hands. The fact that he is also promotionally aligned with DiBella certainly can’t hurt either.
In his first show under DiBella’s stewardship, McGirt Jr. defeated Stephan Pryor, the once beaten son of another ring legend, Aaron Pryor, on Showtime.
“He is a great athlete,” said DiBella. “I would have been interested in him on the basis of his own talent, but having the name McGirt attached to him can’t hurt. His father built a great career in the New York City area, and I hope to build a great career for his son here as well.
“Having the name McGirt will help him get recognition, but he’s going to have to be able to fight. If he can’t fight, the name will hurt him. But I think that he is talented enough to not fight in his father’s shadow, develop his own identity, and become a contender.”
“Everyone expects a lot of me,” said McGirt Jr., who is next scheduled to fight on the undercard of DiBella’s Boxing After Dark show on HBO in February. That show will emanate from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, and will feature Paulie Malignaggi vs. Edner Cherry and Sechew Powell vs. Ishe Smith.
“That just makes me work harder,” continued McGirt Jr. “I can’t be Buddy McGirt. I don’t want to be Buddy McGirt. I just want to be myself. He’s Buddy and I’m James. I have to build myself up and create my own legacy.”
One thing that both father and son have in common is their steadfast dedication to their sport. On a daily basis McGirt Sr. used to travel quite a distance from his Brentwood, Long Island, home to New Jersey to train with Al Certo.
While his son, who lives and fights out of Florida, is not encumbered by great geographical distances, he has already proven himself to be as eager to learn as he is tireless in the gym.
And as proud as he is to carry his father’s name, he knows that whispers abound that he is just another silver-spooned offspring of a famous champion who will succumb to defeat just as soon as he upgrades his caliber of opposition.
DiBella certainly doesn’t think that is the case with McGirt or Ronald Hearns, the son of the great Thomas Hearns, whom he also recently signed to a promotional agreement.
Nor does McGirt Sr. feel that way. He was always a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, so he never let his own negative thoughts or the negativity of others hamper the tremendous belief he had in his own abilities.
“You can’t let other people’s bullsh-- affect you,” said McGirt Sr. “There are always a lot of people who want to tear you down. But you can’t let negative thoughts or negative people affect you. You can only do your best in the ring. No one can expect any more than that.”
Mad Max gushed with Vesuvian enthusiasm after Miranda (27-1, 24 KOs) showed his power in downing Bernard Hopkins’ cousin, now 20-2, a Philly born fighter who’d feasted on some soft Massachusetts competition on his way up.
Kellerman, the chief analyst on HBO’s Boxing After Dark (perhaps sole analyst if the network comes to its senses and declares the Lennox Lewis experiment a failure…do we really need a Baker-Hamilton study to tell us that LL, while undeniably a stellar pugilist/specialist, is no natural when it comes to dissecting and sharing insights on the sport?), compared Miranda, age 25, to Earnie Shavers regarding his punching power.
Whoa, now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Max…
Kellerman said that we’ll look back and tell our kiddies that Miranda was the Bennie Briscoe (66-24-5, 53 KOs) or Julian Jackson (55-6, 49 KOs) of his day, a hitter who could inflict more punishment than Taco Bell scallions with a single swap.
Jackson owned the light heavyweight title, and had a nice reign as a middleweight champion, though he couldn’t solve Gerald McClellan (and that’s no great knock on the Virgin Islander).
Briscoe was in with a Who’s Who of the most magical era for that division, when tough Hall of Famers were churned out like Brazil churns out supermodels. And while he wasn’t able to prevail in many of the most high profile outings, when the stakes were largest, the quality of his opposition was positively scary.
And in mentioning Miranda in the same breath as Shavers (74-14-1 68 KOs), whose atomic launches shook Ali’s kinfolk back in Africa when he rained them down on The Greatest in 1977, who made Holmes think his head exploded when they fought in their 1979 rematch… The dude arguably made more retinas ricochet than anyone else in the history of his division.
So, what do we make of Max’s excitable outpouring?
We wouldn’t accuse him of being an ultra-company man, angling for a fatter year-end bonus from the Suits… That would be far too cynical a proposal for me, if not for message board loiterers who wondered why a win over Howard Eastman, a loss to Arthur Abraham and a win over Willie Gibbs qualify Miranda for a fast-track, HOV ride into the Hall…
Hey, we’re all hungry for the next generation of megatalents to announce themselves to us fight fans, and Miranda’s backstory, fending for himself in Colombia as a boy, has already sent screenwriters to their computers to bang out a script…
But let’s not lose ourself, and give in to an irrational exuberance.
What say we see if Miranda can finish the job against IBF titleholder Arthur Abraham before we slate Miranda to take on Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright on the same night?
Or, how about matching Miranda and the Derry Dynamo, the 27-year-old Irish transplant John Duddy, for the right to fight for Taylor’s WBO strap?
I like Miranda’s promise, but let’s remember that before he sent Gibbs to the twilight zone, we all agreed that he isn’t a polished product just yet. I mean, I’m on the Mirandamobile. I’m on the bandwagon, both feet, because he’s got some thump in those knuckles, and who doesn’t root for orphans? And not to mention Miranda has some charisma, which he exhibits with his creative trash talk (he handed Gibbs screws and such before their bout, to communicate that he’d need them to put together his scrambled brains after he got through with him).
But…while both my feet are planted, I’m not in the front seat with Max, riding shotgun.
Edison Miranda is a damned compelling prospect, with breakout potential as we head in to the New Year. But we need to see a little bit more of him before we get his plaque ready for Canastota.
In the main event, Edison “Pantera” Miranda (27-1, 24 KOs), the 25-year-old middleweight knockout artist from Miami by way of Barranquilla, Colombia, still smarting from his controversial jaw-breaking Sept. 23 decision loss to Arthur Abraham in Wetzlar, Germany, took the fight to Philadelphia’s Willie “The Gladiator” Gibbs (20-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder and KO’d Bernard Hopkins’ cousin by marriage in the first.
Wearing multicolor trunks and fighting out of the red corner, Miranda, who Jim Lampley described before the bout as a “middleweight who punches like a cruiserweight,” turned Lamps into a soothsayer as he turned Gibbs’ career around before the Philadelphian even had a chance to get out of the starting gate.
Gibbs, wearing black trimmed with purple and fighting out of the blue corner, spent the first two minutes of round one avoiding the long reach of Miranda. But he threw one lazy jab too many in the Colombian’s direction—and Miranda countered with a solid right to the temple which hurt Gibbs, and followed up with a series of blows which put Gibbs to the canvas, where referee Tommy Kimmons counted him out at 2:59.
At the fight’s conclusion, Miranda said, “I knew when I connected he wouldn’t be able to stand it.” When asked who he wanted to fight next, the victorious Miranda said, “Jermain Taylor is who I want.” There’s little doubt, however, that Taylor wants any part of Gibbs based on Saturday’s performance. “It will be a quick night of work,” added Miranda, “just like tonight.”
The co-main featured a 10-round featherweight dustup between formerly undefeated Jason “The America Boy” Litzau (20-1, 18 KOs), 23, the hard luck kid from St. Paul, Minnesota, versus Jose Hernandez (23-3, 14 KOs), 31, hailing from Round Lake, Illinois, by way of Cuidad Juarez, Mexico.
Litzau, wearing red, white and blue and fighting out of the blue corner, was the favorite in the bout, despite the fact that Hernandez, in brown trimmed with silver, was 15-1 in his last 16 fights.
With the crowd’s dueling chants of “Mex-i-co, Mex-i-co, Mex-i-co” and “USA, USA, USA” rocking the Miccosukee, a clean right hand by Hernandez caught Litzau cold and dropped him just 32 seconds into the first round, but Litzau got to his feet and took control of the next two rounds with his superior skills, athleticism and ring generalship, and put a solid beating on his shorter, slower opponent.
During the rest period between rounds 4 and 5, Sam Colonna, Hernandez’s trainer, implored his fighter, “You gotta mix it up. You gotta start punching. You gotta get off first,” but Hernandez was determined to do it his way.
Litzau continued to pound Hernandez with uppercuts, hooks and rights to the head and body—“long power shots,” Lennox Lewis called them—but the Illinois native was getting his licks in as well. Between rounds 5 and 6, Litzau’s cornerman, Bob Van Syckle, told him, “Don’t play with this guy. He’s too dangerous. This is the big time. This is HBO,” but Litzau, who knows a thing or two about danger, either couldn’t or wouldn’t listen.
Hernandez continued to come on in the sixth. Although Litzau drew first blood from his opponent’s nose, and as Lampley put it, “Increasingly Litzau imposes his strength and will on Hernandez,” it was Hernandez’s best round of the fight, even though Litzau took it 10-9.
Round 7 was Litzau’s, with Hernandez continuing to come on strong, and in the eighth Hernandez punched his way back into the fight, pounded Litzau into the ropes—Lennox said Hernandez was “going for broke”—and dropped Litzau down and out with a big right hand at 2:52.
At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Litzau ahead with identical scores of 68-64.
In what Lampley described as an “intelligent comeback” which, according to Max Kellerman, “Litzau let happen,” The American Boy drops out of the top-ten, only to have Hernandez take his place as a bona fide contender in the featherweight division.
After the bout, a jubilant Hernandez said, “I told everyone I was coming to this fight to win. He started to fight me and he got caught. He believes in his power, I believe in my power, and my power is better today.”
It was, by any standard, a bang-up celebration of HBO’s Boxing After Dark’s tenth year on the air.
A standing-room-only crowd at the Irvine Marriott Ballroom saw Anchondo (26-1, 19 KOs) use his world-class skills to outscore his Panamanian opponent and rarely get hit with punches. But a head butt in the seventh caused a cut on the corner of his right eye.
“What are you going to do, the guy was an awkward fighter,” Anchondo said. “He comes in with his head then throws a left hook.”
Anchondo’s defensive skills enabled him to hit and not get hit with punches against Cordova. But the much taller Panamanian rarely gambled against the fighter known as “Mighty Mike.” Body shots and stiff right hands forced Cordova to keep a distance.
He was cruising along winning every round, when both fighters’ heads clashed and blood spurted out from Anchondo. A worried look crossed his face.
“My corner warned me about him,” Anchondo said. “It’s his style.”
A scheduled fight between Anchondo and Darling Jimenez in late January is now in jeopardy. Cuts requiring stitches incur automatic suspensions by the California Athletic Commission.
Though concerned about possibly losing the scheduled fight at the Mohegan Sun, the La Puente prizefighter is more concerned with his boxing form that enabled him to capture the junior lightweight title on July 15, 2004 against Juan Pablo Chacon.
“I’m mine own worst critic,” he said. “I got the W, but what are you going to do. I wasn’t satisfied with my performance.” Other bouts
San Antonio’s Tammy Franks (2-1-1) had a huge height and reach advantage against Maywood’s Lissette Medel (2-1) but needed a round to figure it out. Medel, a former amateur standout, used her quickness to land some effective punches in the first round.
But Franks, whose cornerman is Tony Ayala Sr., abandoned the futile headshots and dug punches to the body. That proved the difference in winning a split-decision 39-37 twice and 37-39 for the Texan.
In a heavyweight match San Diego’s Lawson Baker (2-0-1) and Lancaster’s Cornel Davis (3-6-1) traded heavy punches along the ropes with neither able to take control. The judges scored it a majority draw.
A junior welterweight bout between Antonio Tapia (2-0) and Miguel Garcia (0-1) ended with a victory for Bell Garden’s Tapia. It was Garcia’s pro debut but the Pasadena fighter wasn’t able to convince the judges he was victorious. The judges scored it 40-36 twice and 39-37.
Light heavyweights Billy Bailey (4-1) and Thomas Haines (3-3) fought a face-paced four rounds, but Bailey pulled out a majority decision. The judges scored it 39-37 twice and 38-38.
Speaking of middleweights, super or regular, Colombia’s big punching Edison Miranda displays his talent against relatively unknown Willie Gibbs of Philadelphia. When it comes to middleweights, the unknown can be a very dangerous territory.
Miranda meets Gibbs on Saturday at the Miccosuke Resort and Gambling in Miami, Florida. The conflict will be televised on HBO's Boxing After Dark.
If Miranda proves anything, it’s his willingness to meet all fellow 160-pounders with the democratic willingness of an executioner. Yes, that Executioner, the un-retired Bernard Hopkins. Though I’m sure his ability cannot be readily equated to the former middleweight king. It takes time to ferment that kind of product.
The Colombian’s last meeting against WBO king Arthur Abraham, though not televised, did much to enhance his reputation as a talker and a walker in and out of the ropes, much like the future Hall of Fame candidate Hopkins. Now he faces another Philadelphia product, a place known for manufacturing middleweights as readily as cheese steak sandwiches.
Gibbs arrives with nothing more than the reputation of a town where middleweights flourish. Can anyone forget when Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga first ventured into the middleweight level on a world-class setting against Eric “Murder” Mitchell and discovered his fists couldn’t break the middleweight’s chin? It ended in a 10-round decision for Mayorga but it was plain to see that middleweights are the most dangerous of opponents in the world of prizefighting.
Need more proof?
Throughout boxing history middleweights have displayed the ability to crash a heavyweight’s physical advantages with shocking results. Middleweight pugilists such as Stanley Ketchel, Joe Gans, Sam Langford, Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles and now Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney have proven that middleweights can and will beat much bigger heavyweights.
Few were surprised that Toney withstood the punches of the much bigger Samuel Peter back in September in a disputed split-decision. But many were surprised that Jones was able to capture the heavyweight title against John Ruiz several years ago.
Going back 100 years, Langford, a diminutive boxer who began as a welterweight, was able to convincingly beat men much larger than himself and even lasted 15 rounds against the great Jack Johnson. Langford regularly weighed about 156 pounds when he faced heavyweights. In one rare film clip Langford can be seen knocking out Fireman Jim Flynn in the eighth round of a fight that took place in the open stadium of Jeffries Arena in Vernon, California in 1910. He was visibly smaller than the heavyweight but caught the bigger man with a lightning combination almost undetectable in the grainy film.
Middleweights are the true backbone of prizefighting.
“They can hit like heavyweights and are as fast as featherweights,” is what HBO analyst Larry Merchant once said so succinctly.
On Saturday, Miranda faces Gibbs. Once more, middleweights take the forefront.
Three voted to Hall of Fame
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Ricardo “Finito” Lopez were voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
“This is bigger than any world title,” stated Whitaker in a press release.
Whitaker (40-4-1, 17 KOs) captured the lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight world titles. He was known as a super quick defensive specialist.
Lopez (50-0-1, 38 KOs), of Mexico City, retired from the ring undefeated. He captured the WBC and WBA and WBO strawweight title and the IBF junior flyweight title. The only blemish on his career was a draw against Rosendo Alvarez. He beat him in the rematch. Lopez was known as a classic boxer with punching power.
Duran (103-16, 70 KOs) was recently inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in California and is now voted into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Christmas Toy Drive
The Terry Claybon Foundation is sponsoring the 10th annual Holiday Party and Toy Drive fundraiser for impoverished children of South Central Los Angeles. Claybon owns the LB4LB Boxing Gym and trains Damian “Bolo” Wills among others in the Los Angeles area.
Those people wishing to attend the fundraiser and party must bring a toy worth $20 or money. The event takes place on Dec. 15 at the Henry Fonda Theater located at 6126 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. It begins at 9 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m. For more information call (323) 525-0120.
For the first time in television history the scorecards were read during the middleweight world championship between Jermain Taylor and Kassim Ouma. The new WBC rules allow that scorecards of the three judges will be read in the fourth and eighth rounds.
“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said Marty Denkin, a judge with the California Athletic Commission. “If a fighter knows he’s ahead then he can coast the rest of the way. We’ll have a lot of dull fights.”
The new ruling was made in light of the recent spate of bad judgments, in particular the fight between James Toney and Samuel Peter in Los Angeles by out-of-town judges that gave the win to Peter. Because most of the boxing journalists saw Toney the winner, the WBC ordered a rematch. Toney and Peter are set to meet again on Jan. 6 in Hollywood, Florida.
Joan Guzman fights on Monday
Don’t miss one of boxing’s least known but more talented prizefighters when Joan Guzman (26-0) defends his WBO junior lightweight title against Antonio Davis (22-2) on Monday.
The fight takes place on Guzman’s homeland the Dominican Republic on Monday and can be viewed on Maxboxing.com for a purchase price of $9.95 or $12.95 if you wait until Monday. It begins at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
Guzman is a rare talent. Until you actually see the flashy Dominican live, it’s hard to describe all of his boxing tools because he has them all. He’s a combination of a young Shane Mosley and Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson. It’s too bad he’s already 30 years old.
How good is Guzman? If anyone can match Manny Pacquiao face-to-face it’s the lightning-fisted Guzman. Now that would be a match worth seeing.
Famed boxing writer Tim Dahlberg’s book “Fight Town: Las Vegas—The Boxing Capitol of the World,” is available for purchase. It contains 228 pages of historic boxing matches that took place in Las Vegas from the 1950s to the present. The book can be bought on the Internet at www.fighttownvegas.com
DiBella, after all, has a promotional tie-in with the new “Rocky’ movie, which has sponsored several of his recent boxing shows. At least he had an excuse for looking ridiculous.
The New York State Athletic Commission, on the other hand, ought to know better.
For reasons chairman Ron Scott Stevens has not been able to satisfactorily explain, the NYSAC agreed to sanction the co-featured bout between Staten Island’s Gary Stark and former Philippine junior bantamweight champion Vernie Torres as for the “New York State junior featherweight title.”
Now, this isn’t brain surgery. The requirements for fighting for the New York State junior featherweight title would seem to be fairly elementary in nature. A man needs only be two things: a junior featherweight, and from New York.
Torres qualified on the former count (although he’d never fought above bantamweight before) but clearly not on the second. He was born and raised (and spent much of his career fighting) in the Philippines, is domiciled in Florida, and currently trains in Los Angeles. Exactly one of his 34 previous fights even took place in the Empire State – a first-round round KO of Eduardo Manzano on the Roy Jones-David Telesco card at Radio City Music Hall half a dozen years ago.
On the other hand, the NYSAC can take some comfort in the knowledge that they’re not alone in this goofy practice. Torres once also fought for a WBC ‘Latin American’ title, even though the closest he’d ever been in his life to Latin America was Miami.
Hey, Sports illustrated once named a horse its “Sportsman of the Year,” an honor which would no doubt have met with the NYSAC’s approval.
If Laila Ali, say, lost to a man, would he become the WBC Women’s Champion?
In New York, perhaps.
(Nor does an example cited as a precedent by Ron Scott Stevens – the 1968 fight between Joe Frazier and Buster Mathis Sr. for the New York version of the World Heavyweight title – hold up to scrutiny. Although the NYSAC did sanction that fight in which neither boxer was from New York, it was in theory for a ‘world’ title, one which in New York’s eyes lay vacant because in fact the NYSAC itself had led the charge to strip Muhammad Ali of recognition the moment he refused to take that forward step at a Houston induction center.
By the same tortured logic through which Torres was allowed to compete for a New York title, Curtis Stevens can lay claim to the light-heavyweight championship of Wisconsin’s Menominee Tribe this morning after knocking out Jonathan (The Native Sensation) Corn in the main event of DiBella’s final Broadway Boxing card of 2006.
Stevens, a last-minute sub when scheduled headliner Sechew Powell fell out, took the bout on short notice, and with the victory wound up winning his third fight in a 30-day span.
Corn brought a 46-15-2 record to New York, but apart from a few trips to across the Atlantic to lose to Europeans, most of his fighting has been done in Midwestern tribal casinos, and he clearly wasn’t in Stevens’ league.
Stevens took it to him right from the opening bell, and confessed to being overanxious. Although he had Corn hurt several times in the first, the opponent made it through the round, but in the second, said Stevens, “I was able to settle down.”
A pair of left hooks put Corn down, and when he arose Stevens moved in to thud two more hard left hooks off his head. As Corn sagged against the ropes, Stevens teed off, landing at least four solid right hands before referee Eddie Claudio intervened to rescue the noble savage at 2:34 of the second.
“Three wins in 30 days,” said DiBella. “That’s a real old-school performance.”
Stevens had begun the one-month skein by avenging his only career loss by outpointing Marcos Primera (“Of course that loss bothers me,” said Stevens. “It’s always going to be on my record) and two weeks earlier had won the New York State light-heavyweight title with a win over Dhafir Smith (who is, incidentally, from Pennsylvania) on his way to the Manhattan Center.
“I didn’t mind taking the fight on such short notice,” said Stevens, now 16-1. “I’m always in shape and always training, so I was ready to go.”
Thursday night’s card also marked the Broadway Boxing debut of middleweight James McGirt Jr., who it turns out is not exactly a chip off the old block. McGirt fils took up boxing after a collegiate basketball career, and to this day is built more like a basketball player than a boxer. (Father/trainer Buddy, on the other hand, is built like, well, a basketball.)
McGirt’s opponent, New Jerseyite Dennis Sharpe, was fighting his second consecutive southpaw, having gone the distance in losing to Ireland’s Andy Lee on the Wladimir Klitschko-Calvin Brock card at Madison Square Garden last month, and proved more difficult than McGirt had anticipated.
Although McGirt won handily on the scorecards (80-72 on those of Frank Lombardi and Carlos Ortiz, 79-73 on Tony Paolillo’s; the Sweet Science had it somewhat closer at 77-75), it was clear that if DiBella hopes to turn young McGirt into a crowd-pleasing ticket-seller he’s going to have his work cut out for him.
McGirt acknowledged as much.
“I wasn’t expecting Sharpe to come in as tough as he did,” said McGirt after the pedestrian performance. “It was my fault. I was a little lackadaisical because I was expecting an easy fight.”
Although he was never hurt, Sharpe was able to hit McGirt a lot more than he should have, and when McGirt did land he didn’t seem to pack much of a wallop. Neither man was ever remotely in trouble.
McGirt raised his record to 15-0 with the win, and has already been penciled in for a berth on the undercard of DiBella’s February Boxing After Dark card at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which will be headlined by Paulie Malignaggi-Edner Cherry and Powell vs. Ishe Smith.
Sharpe, in absorbing his third straight loss, dropped to 17-4-1.
The possibility that Vernie Torres might make things awkward for the NYSAC never reared its ugly head. Controlling the bout from start to finish, Stark won every round on the scorecards of Lombardi, Ortiz, and Paolillo. All three judges had it 100-89, as did the Sweet Science; referee Ricky Gonzalez docked Torres a point for hitting behind the head in the ninth.)
Although Stark thoroughly battered Torres, using mostly his right hand to score with a debilitating series of body shots and uppercuts, punctuated by the occasional crisp right to the jaw, he was never able to put him down, which could prove worrisome somewhere down the road. Torres is, to be sure, resilient and difficult to damage, but Stark repeatedly hit him with everything he had and never put a dent in him, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the Staten Island Kid can’t break an egg.
“He can’t,” conceded DiBella. “But Gary Stark became a contender tonight.”
The more Stark smacked Torres, a onetime Roy Jones protégé, the more he’d grin, even though he took some pretty severe punishment all night long.
Torres was nicked above the left eye in the first, and sported a big knotty welt around the eye by the sixth. He was bleeding from the nose by the seventh, but he just kept grinning – and losing.
It was the second loss in a row for Torres (27-8), who lost to Jose Navarro at the Mohegan Sun back in May, while Stark marched on at 16-0.
“I’d love to put him in with (IBF champion) Steve Molitor,” said DiBella.
Problem is, Stark isn’t ranked, and a win over what’s left of Vernie Torres probably isn’t going to change that.
“The quickest way to get him ranked (by the IBF),” said DiBella, would be a fight against Mike Oliver,the Hartford boxer who is the USBA champ at the weight.
“We’d fight Oliver – but in New York, not in New England,” the promoter quickly added.
Stark apparently had more pressing concerns. Moments after conquering Torres, he was asked before leaving the ring “What’s next?”
“I’m having sex,” replied Stark.
Once-beaten Brooklyn cruiserweight Shaun George made short work of Cleveland opponent Roosevelt Johnson (5-9-1), knocking him out 2:41 into the first round. George first decked Johnson with a painful left hook to the midsection, and when he arose landed a solid left hook to the jaw, a punch so devastating that referee Eddie Claudio had waved the fight off before Johnson even landed on the floor. George, whose only loss came via a first-round TKO to Matt Godfrey Foxwoods back in May, improved to 13-1-2 with the win.
Bronx junior lightweight Maureen Shea won a third-round TKO over Mexican Rocio Vasquez, with referee Sparkle Lee stopping the action at 57 seconds of the round. Shea, who rejoined ranks of the undefeated after her May loss to Kim Colbert was changed to No Contest, improved, officially, to 8-0. It was the fifth consecutive loss for Vasquez (6-5), who weighed 106 when she posted her last win two years ago. (She weighed 126½ for Shea.)
In another early bout, Newark welterweight Tolan Tascoe climbed off the floor from a second-round knockdown to win a close but unanimous (38-37 on all three cards) decision over Eusebio Flores of Corona, Queens in a fight that represented the pro debut for both contestants.
Attended by a vocal rooting section, Brooklyn junior featherweight Robert Semidel recorded his second win in as many pro fights, outpointing debutante Harvey Phillips of Cleveland over four rounds, with all three judges scoring it 40-36 for the winner.
Atlantic City middleweight Patrick Majewski (2-0) knocked out Ken Dunham of Charlotte, NC in the curtain-raiser. Dunham (1-2) had battled split Jamelle Hamilton to a split decision in the same ring a month earlier.
BROADWAY BOXING MANHATTAN CENTER NEW YORK CITY DECEMBER 14, 2006
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Curtis Stevens, 172, Brownsville, NY TKO’d Jonathan Corn, 172, Keshena, Wisc. (2)
One could understand if the super featherweight Litzau, who fights on Saturday night on HBO’s Boxing After Dark against Jose Hernandez in Miami, took the more familiar, easier path, and continued to excel as a shoplifter.
After all, he had plenty of experience, he tells TSS, as his father taught him and his older brother Allen tips on how to slip out of stores with prime merch without getting snagged by store security.
The Litzaus, who have tagged themselves the American Boys, were well on their way to becoming the Incarcerated Boys as they piled ups score after score on cross-country larceny jaunts with their dad, the boxer tells TSS.
Instead, the Litzaus spurned that lifestyle, and took up boxing. Instead of stealing candy, and going in to bars and selling it to patrons who believed proceeds were going to charity, they’ve built up their fistic skills. Now 20-0, Jason is the younger of the American Boys tag-team, and is being scouted by HBO for a possible spotlight role in 2007 and beyond. Certainly, his Dickensian backstory, with his own father taking a starring role as the odious Fagin, is a selling point in his bio. That’s the outsider’s take on the 23-year-old from St. Paul, who hasn’t yet stepped up in competition with name opponents. But to Litzau, the sting of being left to fend for himself stings still.
He lived with his mother and stepfather until he was 10, and that decade was no picnic, to put it mildly. His guardians, he tells TSS, were substance abusers, and his stepfather, who he’s on good terms with today, sometimes took out his frustrations on the brothers physically. The Litzau’s then moved in with their dad, who was not, Jason says, a positive role model. He encouraged them to make money through legal and illegal means.
Sometimes they’d go to the airport, and help travelers with their luggage for tip money.
Or they’d hop the counter at shooting game in the Mall of America, Hunter’s Paradise, and grab tokens, which they’d then sell to patrons outside.
“I didn’t go to school at all my sixth grade year,” Jason says.
The boys and dad piled into his Cavalier and drove to different parts of the nation, looting department stores on the way, the young boxer says. Then, they’d go to truck stops and unload the hot goods.
“Big and small, whatever was expensive,” says Litzau, who last fought on Oct. 20 (TKO2 win over Sam Ventura in Illinois).
At 14, Jason left the thieving life, he says, and got deeper into boxing. His dad took him to a gym when he was 11, and he followed in the footsteps of his mom’s brother, Frankie Newton (12-11-5, 3 KOs), a Minnesotan who fought as a pro from 1989-1997.
Stability, though, wasn’t introduced into Jason’s life just yet. He and Allen (now 11-2 as a super featherweight) bounced from their grandma’s house, to their uncles’, and at age 19, Jason and his brother were residing in the gym he worked out of.
Through all that tumult, Jason stuck by the sport. He could have, it goes without saying, succumbed to the blueprint that was laid out for him, and flirted with him so shamelessly. Thievery, dope, aimlessness, functioning with no other purpose than to work towards keeping the substance stash at acceptable inventory levels, there was no shortage of role models to give picture-perfect directions on that arc.
Instead, he’s traveled down the right path, and spurned that fork in the road that has snagged too many people close to him. He has two children of his own to attend to now, daughters Hailey (3) and Morgan (1), so that makes his urgency to rise in the ranks of 130-pounders that much stronger. He also takes a patriarchal interest in his brothers Travis (17) and TJ (15), and sister Rebecca (13), so the pressure to perform, and move into big-payday territory, is tangible.
“I do this so they can have an easier life,” he says. “So they don’t have to go through the struggles.”
Litzau can’t even conceive of losing to Hernandez, a Mexican-born Illinois resident who has built a 21-3 mark against mediocre opposition.
“I can’t think of a loss,” Litzau says. “I can’t even think like that. A guy can be 0-100, but that night he ain’t going down. The guy might show up and he’s trained harder than ever before. I’ve got to be careful.”
Litzau, therefore, won’t predict a KO, or even a win, but he will be so bold as to offer that he’ll give viewers an enjoyable show come Saturday.
“I want to make sure that the people who come and buy a $1,000 ringside seat get what they pay for every time,” he says. “I’m not just going to win on points, if I see an opening I’ve got to take an opponent out. I’m bringing back life to boxing.”
Litzau sees a vacuum in the sport, as the PPV movers and shakers get grayer.
“It’s everybody’s last hurrah,” he says. “De La Hoya, Floyd, everybody’s recycling right now.”
The boxer tells TSS that even though he doesn’t talk to his dad, he doesn’t hold a grudge that will hamper his upward mobility in the rankings.
His life, which we see as “backstory” that serves to feed our desire to see him in action, see if he can rise above the copious hurdles that fate has piled before him, could still go the other way. Even if you’ve chosen correctly at the last fork, you can be sure there will be another fork up ahead. Litzau has chosen right so far, for several years now. He won’t touch substances that could impair his decisionmaking. But certain emotions can be a deadly contagion as well, if left untended. Bitterness at role models who failed him, he says, doesn’t factor in to this American Boy’s march to prominence. So far, so good.
But the forks in the road will be there for the taking, long after we stop caring about Jason Litzau’s “backstory,” years after HBO’s cameras are trained on another American boy who’s hurdled everything fate has tossed in front of him. That’s when the choice of which route to choose gets harder to make.
But for now, in the spirit of the holidays, let’s just revel in the good cheer that comes with knowing that Jason Litzau will be toiling at a fully legal enterprise Saturday night, a task far more noble than snitching tokens from a carnival game stand, or boosting merch from a department store, or the next logical step up the ladder of larcency that would have inevitably followed.
“I needed a vacation,” said Anchondo. “I’ve been boxing since I was five years old.”
Anchondo faces Panama’s Armando Cordoba (23-29-2) today at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in a 12-round bout. The fight card staged by Roy Englebrecht Promotions is sold out and won’t be televised.
“This is our 12th consecutive sellout,” Englebrecht said.
The last time Anchondo stepped in the ring was December 2005 when he stopped veteran Antonio Ramirez in the ninth round in the Bronx, New York. The personable prizefighter had lost his WBO title eight months earlier to Argentina’s Jorge Barrios and wanted to get back in the ring to erase the taste of losing.
“I give all credit to Jorge Barrios. He was the better man that night,” Anchondo says of losing his title on April 2005.
Now he seeks a little bit of home cooking to get back on track.
“You know me, I’m a ham,” says Anchondo (26-1, 19 KOs). “I’m used to performing in front of crowds.”
Despite a preference for fighting in front of his fans, the native Californian who attended Bishop Amat High in La Puente has not fought in his home state in three years. That’s a long time for a fighter accustomed to the comforts of home.
“Florida was great,” said Anchondo, who moved to the Sunshine State once he changed promoters. “It was a lot different.”
But, once a Californian, always a Californian. Anchondo ran up his phone bills calling family and friends.
As a youngster, Anchondo was a sterling prospect who attracted large crowds to his amateur bouts at a young age. It’s where his nickname Mighty Mike first came to fruition and it stuck.
“People look at me and say ‘what does he know, he’s too young.’ But in reality I have so many years in boxing,” said Anchondo, who was always a target for ambitious opponents.
Fans who saw Anchondo as a youth remember a heavily muscled juvenile with fast hands and an aggressive fighting style.
“In those days Mighty Mike didn’t pitty-pat like the other amateur fighters,” said Mario Perez, a boxing follower from Whittier. “He went for the knockouts and succeeded many times. That’s why I would go to his fights.”
Though Anchondo did not make the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, he managed to catch the eye of Oscar De La Hoya and his father Joel. He signed up with De La Hoya, who soon formed Golden Boy Promotions and took the La Puente native with them.
In his early days as a professional, he quickly surmised that he wasn’t the only fighter with power. Many of the professionals he faced in his first year were even stronger than he. Colombia’s Ever Beleno traded heavy blows for 10 rounds.
“My style changed from the amateur days,” said Anchondo. “If I run into a boxer I have to stop him. If I run into a puncher then I box.”
For three grueling years Anchondo fought on numerous Southern California fight cards against all kinds of styles. It was his ability to adapt and change that separated him from his other gym cohorts in the city of Vernon. In that same gym were Daniel Ponce De Leon, Edwin Valero and others.
Three times Anchondo met worthy opponents under the hallowed lights of the Grand Olympic Auditorium.
“It was something unbelievable,” Anchondo said of fighting in the boxing arena. “I’m glad I did it before they turned it into a Buddhist church.”
At the Olympic Auditorium he faced stiffer competition including Jose Soto Karass, Silverio Ortiz and former world champion Goyo Vargas. He beat them all.
The night he faced Vargas, few gave Anchondo a chance. But he boxed and moved for 10 rounds in a near-perfect performance that left many impressed.
“After what Vargas did to (Gary) Balleto, he tore him apart on national television,” said Anchondo. “I did what I had to do and got out of there. I played it smart.”
That victory proved he was championship caliber. Seven months later he captured the title against Chacon then signed with new promoters. Nine months later he lost the WBO title to Barrios. Now Anchondo has returned to train and fight on his home soil. His former stable mates are now both world champions.
“It motivates me that they’re world champions now,” said Anchondo who is now fighting at the lightweight level. “I haven’t left yet. My goal is to be a world champion. If you have a belt, then I’m coming after you.” Colton Boxing Club amateur show
The Meadowbrook Boxing gym was crowded with fans to see the USA Boxing show for amateurs on Sunday. Boxers from throughout Southern California were at the gym located in San Bernardino.
The three best fights of the day featured Fontana’s Raymond Muratailla, 9, against Hesperia’s Ryan Garcia, 8. The pair of 63-pounders showed a lot of boxing form at such a young age. It was difficult to pick a winner but the judges chose Muratailla. In another close battle Cathedral City’s Elias Moreno won his debut against Colton’s Oscar Torres. A third exciting match involved San Bernardino’s Lorenzo Vazquez against Jurupa’s Anthony Aguilar. Both landed impressive punches and refused to quit.
Present at the amateur show was Nena Perez, 16, who captured a silver medal at the Junior Olympics this past summer. She attends Arroyo Valley High.
Fights on television
Fri. 8 p.m., Telefutura, Jesus Soto Karass (15-3-2) vs. Luciano Perez (14-4-1).
Sat. 9:45 p.m., HBO, Edison Miranda (26-1) vs. Willie Gibbs (20-1).
The fight started somewhat tactically as both men threw out their respective jabs. Sanchez attempted a takedown but was denied by Riggs. Eventually, Sanchez saw an opening and landed a perfect right hand that dropped his opponent. He then followed up with a perfect right knee to the face of Riggs that finished him off. Referee John McCarthy was right on top of the action as he called a halt to the fight at 1:45 of the first round. “I told people I wanted to be the first person to knock out Joe Riggs and I did,” said Sanchez afterwards. Sanchez stated that he will look for a fight against Matt Hughes or Josh Koscheck next.
Sanchez keeps his record perfect at 19-0. Riggs is now 28-9. The card was televised nationally as part of Spike TV’s UFC Fight Night.
Parisyan shuts out Fickett Welterweight Karo Parisyan dominated Drew Fickett by scores of 30-27 all across the board. Fickett found success in the first with some nice kicks. Most of the first round took place on their feet as Parisyan scored with some nice rights that reddened Fickett’s face.
In the second, Parisyan slammed Fickett to the mat. Fickett then landed an elbow from his back which created an ugly cut under Parisyan’s right eye. Parisyan answered with his own elbows that created a vertical cut on Fickett’s forehead. The blood flowed after each cut.
In the third round, Parisyan landed more shots to the face of Fickett. Fickett tried to take his opponent down but Parisyan wasn’t having any of it. The Armenian-American defended well and earned the decision. Parisyan is now 24-3. Fickett drops one and is now 30-5.
Koscheck decisions Joslin Josh Koscheck of Fresno, California won an easy three-round unanimous decision over Jeff Joslin of Ontario, Canada. Koscheck controlled the action and took down his opponent twice in the first round and again in the second and third. Joslin tried to mount an offense several times but was his efforts were squashed by Koscheck as he was repeatedly taken down. Scores were 30-27 by all judges. Koscheck improves to 9-1. Joslin is now 5 and 3.
Marcus Davis handles Shonie Carter “The Irish Hand Grenade” Marcus Davis had a relatively easy time with “The Ultimate Fighter” participant Shonie Carter. Davis, a former boxer, had Carter in trouble from the first round and even came close to securing a rear naked choke which Carter escaped. He landed some hard straights that hurt Carter. In the second round, the fighters spent most of their time on their feet, much to Carter’s detriment, since Davis landed some hard shots that staggered Carter and had him severely hurt for most of the round. Carter looked sluggish at this point while Davis was fresh and landing accurate shots. The round ended with Carter in survival mode. In the third, a tired Carter attempted to mount an offense that had little effect since most of his punches and kicks were being telegraphed at this point. Not much happened in the round since Davis didn’t take any chances and coasted to a win. Davis improves his MMA record to 15 wins and 4 losses. Carter drops to 81-17-7.
Other bouts: Alan Belcher used a perfectly timed right high kick to knock out Jorge Santiago, a Brazilian fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida. Referee Steve Mazagatti halted the action at 2:45 of the third round. Belcher, who is now 8-3, softened up Santiago with a few low leg kicks before landing the fight ending shot to the face. Santiago’s record drops to 11-8.
Light Heavyweight David Heath of Tulsa, Oklahoma took a majority decision from Victor Valimaki of Edmonton, Alberta. The scores were 29-28 twice for Heath and 29-29 for Valimaki. Heath stays undefeated and is now 9-0. Valimaki drops to 8-3.
Welterweight Luigi Fioravanti of Orlando, Florida knocked out former champion David Menne of Forest Lake, Minnesota at 4:44 of the first round. Fioravanti improves his record to 11-1. Menne dips to 44-10-1.
Welterweight Brock Larsen beat Keita Nakamura out of Japan by unanimous decision scores of 29-28 by all three judges. Nakamura loses his first one and is now 13-1-2. Larsen improves to19-1.
Middleweight Logan Clark beat Steve Byrnes by unanimous decision. Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28. Clark improves to 8-0. Byrnes drops his first one and is now 6-1.
Miranda—coming off a disputed defeat against German-based Arthur Abraham in Wetzlar, Germany—deserves his time to shine.
Gibbs, in his off-TV barnburner against Lenord Pierre this past March, rallied to knock out the Kevin Rooney protégé in the final round.
Litzau has won five in a row since his life-and-death, up from the canvas battle of attrition against John Nolasco.
Hernandez has, um, let’s see… okay, so three out of four live bodies is not bad.
Despite Hernandez’s suspect credentials, this card is BAD at its (near) best. It’s the type of show that harkens back to the days when Lou DiBella was HBO’s ace matchmaker. You remember those days, don’t you? Barrera. Morales. Ibeabuchi. Gatti. It was darn good.
On Saturday, young guns like Miranda and Litzau have the opportunity to elevate themselves from contenders to primetime legends.
With BAD’s recent fiascos, the question has to be asked: Is this show an aberration or trend? If past years are any indication, the former is the more likely scenario.
We’ve seen glimmers of hope from BAD before, when a great fight would inspire people to flood message boards with “BAD is back” posts.
In 2003, BAD gave us Gatti-Ward I. Then, the very next card After Dark was a yawner of a headliner, Fernando Vargas-Fitz Vanderpool. The only thing that saved that debacle was an emerging Manny Pacquiao on the undercard.
In 2004, a solid tripleheader featuring Rocky Juarez, Juan Diaz and Kermit Cintron in separate bouts was a promising blip on the radar screen.
And in 2005, BAD hit the skids, and the suits at HBO promised to make it up to the fans.
The Litzau-Miranda-Gibbs card is an early Christmas present in a year stacked with lumps of coal.
Sure, every BAD fight can’t be Barrera-McKinney or Gatti-Rodriguez I and II, but fans have the right to demand consistency.
Consistency, my friends, has not been a virtue of the matchmakers at HBO. Most of the time, like our dear friend Nicole Ritchie, it is like they are hopped up on weed and Vicodin driving on the wrong side of the freeway.
Maybe, just maybe, the BAD series will jump the divider into sanity.
With a Paul Malignaggi-Edner Cherry/Sechew Powell-Ishe Smith card on the burner for the February show, a level of consistency appears to be returning to this storied franchise.
But as we have seen in years past, the only guarantees in the boxing world are Don King, bad judging and inept sanctioning bodies, which—ironically—might be related to one another.
That being said, here is to BAD at its (near) best.
Here is to hoping Litzau, Hernandez, Gibbs and Miranda justify us staying home on Saturday evening. Because if this card turns out to be just another lump of coal instead of an old-fashioned Boxing After Dark extravaganza, we might as well let this series roast on an open fire.