The godfather of modern boxing writing is A.J. Liebling whose book “The Sweet Science” has probably influenced every writer of boxing since 1960. “The Sweet Science,” from which this website takes its name, is a collection of Liebling’s boxing pieces from The New Yorker. Languidly written and bristling with both detail and insight, “The Sweet Science” reanimates the personalities of some of the biggest names in boxing history as Liebling covers, among others, fights involving Archie Moore, Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis. For a brief biography of Liebling, check out my first piece for this website, “Joe Liebling’s Sweet Science.” LINKKK For a longer appraisal of Liebling, check out David Remnick’s “Reporting It All,” originally published in The New Yorker.
Another writer, equally as great as Liebling, is Scotland’s Hugh McIlvanney of the UK papers The Times and, formerly, The Guardian. “McIlvanney on Boxing,” his collected columns on the noble art, stretch over three decades from the second Ali-Cooper bout in 1966 to Mike Tyson’s disqualification to Evander Holyfield in 1997. McIlvanney is a brilliant writer, concise in description and razor-accurate in observation. His prose is informative and thought-provoking without ever jarring the reader from the narrative. To read McIlvanney is to be lured into a comfort zone before being disarmed with logical, concise and constructive arguments. Over forty years, McIlvanney has won the British Press Award for “Sports Journalist of the Year” eight times, the British Sports Councils “Sports Journalist of the Year” three times, the British Press Association’s “Journalist of the Yea”’ and the Boxing Writers’ Association of America’s “Nat Fleischer Memorial Award.” Those four facts recommend McIlvanney more than anything else to a boxing reader.
Just released in a newly-expanded edition that doubles the length of the original, “On Boxing” by Joyce Carol Oates discusses and dissects both the appeal of boxing and its inherent symbolism. “On Boxing” is intelligently written and well-argued but lacks the readability of McIlvanney or Hauser, which makes it unsuitable for light reading but persisting with it brings rewards. Oates is a fine writer and “On Boxing” is more than a fine book. The new edition contains new chapters on Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson.
The first book I read on boxing was Geoffrey Beattie’s “On the Ropes,” a series of pieces in book form about boxing in the British city of Sheffield, specifically around the Wincobank gym run by Brendan Ingle. I believed when I first read “On the Ropes” that it was one of the best books ever written about boxing; I still do. “On the Ropes” is less concerned with the business of boxing than with the lives of the boxers who careers and lives are centered around the undercard. These fighters lose more than they win and get paid fulfilling a niche in boxing not found in any other sport – that of the professional loser. “On the Ropes’” importance in the canon of boxing literature is doubly ensured as Beattie devotes an entire chapter to the burgeoning career of Naseem Hamed back before the Prince’s ego was only beginning to threaten taking-over. In a similar vein, Beattie’s “The Shadows of Boxing” revisits the same area and subjects after the decline of Hamed; and “England After Dark,” which pre-dates both books, focuses on the night-time activities of the people of Sheffield and is, in itself, another wonderful book about England’s dark heart.
As would be expected for a sport with so many flamboyant personalities and real-life tales of success against the odds, biographies and autobiographies abound and although there is a lot of dross, there are some gems. At the forefront is Roger Kahn’s “A Flame of Pure Fire” which is the definitive biography not only of Jack Dempsey, but the Roaring Twenties when the Manassa Mauler reigned supreme as the heavyweight champion. The only drawback to Kahn’s book is that Kahn paints Dempsey as more of an angel than he probably was. Kahn argues convincingly that Tunney won their 1927 with the aid of the Philadelphia crimelords but at the same time disputes that Dempsey had a loaded glove for his 1919 bout against Jess Willard when evidence clearly suggests otherwise.
A subject as big and with so many differing perceptions as Muhammad Ali seems impossible be summed up in just one book but David Remnick manages it well in “King of the World.” The title, which suggests a book solely about Muhammad Ali, is misleading; “King of the World” is a thoroughly researched, exquisitely crafted and beautifully written work about the Patterson-Liston-Clay/Ali fights of the 1960s, the political background of the period and the significance in terms of ethnic identity that the three fighters represented. I doubt there are better books on Liston or Patterson, and “King of the World” competes easily with my next choice as the best book ever written on Ali. The only drawback to “King of the World” is the poor TV-movie of the same name which, although based on the book, jettisons much of the political and social commentary.
I’m currently about 10% through “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.” Up to now, it’s pretty good and Thomas Hauser’s oral history approach both suits his subject and reads well. Hauser won the “William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award” for this book, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and this authorized biography of Ali comes with a recommendation from Hugh McIlvanney. Nothing else is needed for a review or recommendation.
Far more revisionist and skeptical of the Ali legend was the late Mark Kram whose “Ghosts of Manila” retells the three battles between Ali and Frazier. Kram writes wonderfully and his prose is vividly descriptive of the passions aroused by the Ali-Frazier trilogy but his continual denigration of Ali turns rapidly from focused dissection to character assassination and it’s this absence of neutrality in the author that ultimately renders “Ghosts of Manila” an interesting curio rather than a definitive work in its own right.
A far more balanced reassessment of a single contest is Kevin Mitchell’s “War, Baby” which recounts the 1995 fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan. Mitchell recounts the fight in great detail, using it as the springboard for an exploration of violence and the human desire to observe it. The book is also an update on McClellan’s present condition and a reminder of the dangers inherent every time a fighter steps into the ring.
Davis Miller (who, in the interests of disclosure I’m currently writing an article on) is the author of three books about his childhood worshipping of Muhammad Ali and, later, Bruce Lee. Miller went on to have a close relationship with the Ali family that later soured. Of the three books, “The Tao of Muhammad Ali” and “The Tao of Bruce Lee” are the best; the third, “The Zen of Muhammad Ali” is a collection of magazine pieces and short fiction, most of which made up the previous two books. There are a few new articles in “The Zen of Muhammad Ali,” and the fiction is also a new addition. Although the Ali/Miller relationship is expanded by a new essay in “The Zen of Muhammad Ali,” we do not learn much else; the first two books are commendable in their own right and well worth reading.
Ralph Wiley recounts a similar narrative of a life reflected in boxing with his book “Serenity,” a litany of experiences involving boxing from his many years as a sports writer. The best chapter is the chapter titled “Mike Tyson” which is written as a letter to his son. The most refreshing and engaging part of “Serenity” is Wiley’s view of Mike Tyson where the author argues convincingly that early public misgivings about Iron Mike’s conduct had more to do with racism than Tyson’s perceived misdemeanors against his early management.
Other honorable mentions for merit in boxing writing go to “Rope Burns” by F.X. Toole, “Dark Trade” by Donald McRae, “Fighting Chance” by Derick Allsop and “Unforgivable Blackness” by Ken Burns.
There are many more books that deserve to be read and discussed and I fully intend to cover them at a later date. Right now, I’ve got 90% of one to finish.
If they are able to plow through their mandatory defenses -- or have Bob Arum buy them off with step-aside fees -- Cotto and Margarito will attempt to unify the welterweight division June 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Earlier on in the opener, it seemed that Arum and Margarito picked the wrong guy to end 10 months of inactivity against. Clottey started fast and looked as if he had the power and speed to outslug WBO champion Margarito in the trenches. That all changed after the fourth round. Clottey damaged his left hand, but some ringside observers weren’t convinced. It may have been simply too much Margarito that inspired the change in his approach. Maybe he broke his hand, or maybe Margarito, who never backed off Clottey’s chest, broke him down mentally.
Either way, the fighter from Ghana basically stopped fighting. Margarito did not. He walked forward, winging punches every step of the way. Yes, his job was made easier because Clottey wasn’t firing in return, but Margarito nonetheless churned on and on and deserved the unanimous decision.
It’s hard to judge a man when it’s not your broken hand inside the glove, but other fighters have fought more effectively with damaged mitts. Given the stakes -- a world title fight on national television and an early points lead -- it appeared from this corner that Clottey allowed a good opportunity slip away.
In contrast, Cotto seized his opportunity and devoured it. He opened the fight launching wicked rights and lefts to the body. Quintana was overwhelmed from the start. After absorbing one particularly violent right hand, he moved about the ring on legs like those of a Kentucky-bred yearling.
To his credit, Quintana fought back and even stopped Cotto in his tracks at the close of the round. But there are some forces that are not to be denied. Destiny and Cotto’s left hook are two. It may very well be Cotto’s destiny to rule the welterweight division. And it was certainly his left hook to the liver that earned him the WBA title on this night. That punch was responsible for the first of two knockdowns in the fifth round and essentially ended the fight. Quintana never came back out for the sixth round.
“It's not my job to choose my opponents or who I will fight next,” said Cotto after the fight. “You saw Antonio Margarito. Margarito is a strong fighter, a great fighter, but I'm going to beat him if we fight. Whoever my promotional team chooses to put in front of me I will beat."
It was hard to argue with that assessment on Saturday night.
Tough call. Juan LaPorte, the great former featherweight champ from Puerto Rico, was on hand to watch two of his compatriots in the main event. “If Quintana can get past the sixth round, he may have a chance to outbox Cotto down the stretch,” said LaPorte before the fight. Cotto never allowed LaPorte’s theory to be tested.
Friendship. Author Ron Ross’ phone rings during one of the undercard bouts. It’s unbeaten junior welterweight Dmitriy Salita on the other end. After observing Shabbos, Salita leaves New York City at sundown in an attempt to get to Atlantic City in time to see his good friend and fellow Jewish boxer Yuri Foreman fight. Moments later, Jesus Rojas scores a first-round TKO over Ubaldo Olivencia in a scheduled six-rounder. The odds of Salita making it look slim.
Flags of our Fighters. Meet Tomas Mendoza, Top Rank’s official flag bearer. Whenever a Top Rank fighter enters the ring with a flag, you’ll see Mendoza leading the procession, enthusiastically waving the flag. On Saturday night, he carried the Mexican flag into the ring for Margarito and then the colors of Puerto Rico for Cotto.
Fistic envy. George Foreman once said that boxing is that sport to which all others aspire. That would explain why last month at the Garden baseball players -- David Wright, Paul LoDuca -- and former football star Jerome Bettis were in attendance. On Saturday, Mets all-star centerfielder Carlos Beltran, a native of Puerto Rico, was in attendance to watch Cotto. The two athletes forged a friendship last year when Cotto caught a game at Shea Stadium while in town to fight Paulie Malignaggi.
Text me. Thank goodness for text messaging, I was able to get updates on the HBO card while in A.C.
A nod of the head. It used to be that a fighter would shake his head “No” after he was nailed with a good shot. That was usually an indication that the punch got his attention. Each time Margarito was caught flush, he nodded at Clottey and kept moving forward. What he was saying was, yes, you caught me with a good shot, but I’m still coming forward.
No cheering in the press box. That is generally the rule. But when you’ve traveled all the way from Ghana, I guess you get a pass. The small contingent of journalists from Clottey’s home country rooted openly for their man. Although there wasn’t much to cheer about after the fourth round.
They’re Ghana get it. Tough night for Ghana. Clottey loses in Atlantic City and Ike Quartey is beaten in Tampa.
Friendship, Part 2. Thanks to the crafty driving of Eli Toushteyn and his navigation system, Salita makes it to Boardwalk Hall during the first round of Foreman’s fight. The traveling party, which also included Toushteyn’s wife, Vera, almost missed the bout. Eli was so consumed with a story that Salita was telling him on the way down, he missed the exit for the Atlantic City Expressway. The navigation system, though, quickly got him back on course. They left NYC at 5:35 p.m. and arrived in A.C. at 7:53.
Still unbeaten. Ending six months of inactivity, Foreman pitched a shutout against Donnie McCray to cop a unanimous 10-round verdict. Foreman scored a knockdown in the third round and put forth a Willie Pep-type boxing exhibition.
Postfight postscript: Drinking coffee with Salita, Ross and their respective parties at Trump Plaza after the fight, Salita said that “Cotto looks completely rejuvenated at 147.” He pointed out that the extra seven pounds not only enhanced Cotto’s power, but also his chin. “Because he’s no longer dehydrated.” I asked Salita, who still makes 140, if he was considering the comforts of the welterweight division. He smiled and said, “Maybe.” I then ordered a double-brownie sundae with my coffee, Salita, did not.
Postfight postscript, part 2: Miguel Cotto’s welterweight experiment is thus far a success. He seemed strong and confident carrying the extra seven pounds. "Every punch I threw was hard," said Cotto. "I felt very strong at this weight. I can do anything I want to do."
Evangelista Cotto, Miguel’s trainer was more succinct. “Miguel can destroy every fighter in this weight division."
But before we anoint him the heir to the throne, remember that Margarito was coming off a 10-month layoff and that injured right wrist may have hampered his performance.
The 31-year-old Minto couldn’t have cared less that the fight was in the 38-year-old Schulz’s home country of Germany, where Schulz, having been more than competitive against the likes of George Foreman, Francois Botha, and Michael Moorer, had an iconic following.
“I went there with nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Minto. “There was no pressure on me at all. All of the pressure was on him.”
Schulz’s braintrust seriously underestimated the skills and desire of Minto, who scored a sensational sixth round stoppage over Schulz. Cynics might believe that the win over Schulz is meaningless because the now retired Schulz, whose final record is 26-5-1 (11 KOS), had not fought since 1999 when he was stopped in eight rounds by Wladimir Klitschko, but Minto sees things differently.
“I wasn’t brought to Germany to beat Axel Schulz,” said Minto. “Schulz was a great fighter and he was tough and he always had a good chin. He had only been down once in his career and that was against Klitschko. It took Klitschko eight rounds to stop him, and I stopped him in six.”
The only loss on Minto’s 27-1 (16 KOS) record is a split decision to the still cagey former champion Tony Tubbs in December 2004. While he hasn’t beaten any world-class opponents, he has looked impressive in twice stopping Vinny Maddalone. Their first fight, which ended in the tenth round in July 2004, was a candidate for Fight of the Year.
Minto says the Tubbs fight was a great learning experience for him. But the win over Schulz, he believes, will enhance his career immeasurably. At just 5’11 and about 220 pounds, he is smallish by today’s heavyweight standards, but Minto believes he measures up just fine against the behemoths that populate the division.
“I’m a throwback heavyweight, I think I fare well against anybody,” said Minto, the married father of two children. “I have so much movement, I have power in both hands, and I have a great defense. I can move, I’m always in shape, and I’m very busy. I don’t match up size-wise, but skill-wise and heart-size I think I match up with anybody.”
One person who agrees wholeheartedly with that assessment is Calvin Brock, who recently failed in his bid to wrest Klitschko’s IBF title. Brock and Minto are both trained by Tommy Yankello and have sparred quite a bit over the years.
“He’s a real fighter,” said Brock. “He’s not easily intimidated and what he lacks in size he makes up for in heart.”
Minto would love to return to Germany to fight Klitschko, who is probably a bigger draw there than he is anywhere else. Or he would like to tangle with the comebacking former light heavyweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski, another popular German who had expressed an interest in fighting Schulz if he had won.
Asked what he would do differently from what Brock did against the 6’7” Klitschko before getting pole-axed in the seventh round, Minto made it sound simple.
“I’d move my head a lot more and get to the inside,” he explained. “Fighting him on the inside, I’d chop the tree down. Just get in there, be busier. Don’t stay on the outside because if he catches you, you see what happens.”
Before Minto tangles with anyone else inside the ring, he has to contend with promoter Dino Duva outside of it. They are engaged in a vicious legal battle that is already been fought in the media.
Duva claims that he has an ironclad contract to promote Minto. However, Minto says that his manager, Pat Nelson, has been arranging all of his fights and Duva breached his contract, therefore making it null and void and giving him free agent status.
“He never paid me the right amount of minimums, except for one fight,” explained Minto. “My manager has gotten me all my fights, so basically I’ve been fighting on other people’s cards while Dino was taking money off of me. So it doesn’t round out to me. He slithers.”
Moreover, he says, Duva did not fulfill his commitment on the number of fights he got for him. Nor did he receive a certified contract from Duva that he says was due him by October 18.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m a free agent and I’m shopping around,” said Minto. “Dino Duva can sue President Bush for all I care. I’m ready to go to court because I know I will win my case.”
Minto has no regrets about his public airing of this dispute because he says Duva lobbed the first punches on the Internet.
“That is why I trashed him in the media and let everyone know what the real story was,” said Minto. “He has never done right by me yet.”
Not surprisingly, Duva sees things much differently. “I hope Brian wakes up, does the right thing and avoids having to pay legal fees for something he’s going to lose,” said Duva, who recently sold half of his business to Don King.
“I’m not going to glorify the various outrageous charges Brian has been making toward me, but it makes me sick that the great sport of boxing is in a very litigious mode right now. But when people pay no attention to contracts and basically dare you to sue them, what else can you do? I feel very secure in my integrity and the way I conduct business with fighters.”
Sounds like business as usual in boxing. Hopefully, legal issues won’t keep Minto out of the mix for long. He has the potential to be the sleeper of the division, because chances are the much bigger heavyweights will take him for granted.
On a good night, it is conceivable that Minto could sneak away with a title belt around his waist. He has already publicly called out Klitschko, who was seated in the front row at the Garry-Weber Stadium in Halle for the Schulz fight.
“He didn’t like that,” said Minto. “He went woooooo, like a little kid who was scared would do.”
If it is determined that Minto is in fact a free agent, Minto would be a very viable challenger for Klitschko’s title. As popular as the Ukrainian giant is in the Deutschland, Minto also won over a legion of fans by defeating Schulz.
“With all the people that were mobbing me after the fight asking for autographs and pictures, I had to have security guards taking me around,” said Minto. “I believe that now I will be a big draw over there too.”
The seven-foot/300-plus-pound Valuev, who was victorious if less than earth shattering in his last defense in October against Monte â€œTwo Gunzâ€? Barrett, shouldnâ€™t have too much trouble with McCline, who has failed both times he challenged for the title, against Wladimir Klitschko in 2002 and Chris Byrd in 2004.
McCline may surprise everyone and pull a Shannon Briggs, ala his bout with Sergei Liakhovich earlier this month, and score an upset against the Big Russian, but it looks like the plan is for Valuev, who won the WBA title over John Ruiz late last year and is undefeated in 45 fights, to be given a steady stream of relatively easy marks for his next few fights so that before we know it, Valuev will have surpassed Rocky Marciano's 49-0, his longstanding record at the time of his retirement in 1956.
Half an hour later, if he is as smart as we think he is, the WBO champion might have been rethinking that challenge, for Cotto’s debut as a 147-pounder was an impressive one indeed, as he floored Carlos Quintana twice in the fifth round with a paralyzing body attack that sent his heretofore undefeated Puerto Rican countryman back to his stool dazed and unable to continue.
The fifth-round TKO earned Cotto the World Boxing Association title recently vacated by Ricky Hatton, and left Cotto (28-0) calling out the rest of the world’s welterweights -- including, but not limited to, Tony Margarito.
Although Cotto was the aggressor throughout, Quintana was able to use his superior reach to fight back, and after four rounds all three ringside judges (Glenn Feldman, George Hill and Malvina Lathan, who was subbing for the ailing Julie Lederman) had it even at 38-all (The Sweet Science had Cotto up 39-37), but the roof came crashing down on Quintana in the fifth.
In addition to the 7-pound leap in weight, one of the questions going into the bout concerned Cotto’s ability to handle the Quintana’s southpaw style. Quintana’s stance never seemed to bother Cotto at all, but when the latter switched to southpaw early in the fifth it appeared to give the surprised Quintana problems.
During the pre-fight introductions, the allegiance of the crowd, announced at 7,412, appeared to be divided nearly 2-1 in Cotto’s favor, and he seemed to have won over new converts as the bout progressed.
By the fifth chants of Cotto’s name rocked Boardwalk Hall, and any residual vestige of support for Quintana, who had by then twice been warned by referee Steve Smoger for low blows, had become decidedly muted.
Late in the second minute of the fifth, Cotto ripped into Quintana with a hard left to the body. Cotto would say later that he had targeted Quintana’s liver, but if so, either his aim was bad or his anatomical knowledge leaves something to be desired, because the shivering punch actually caught the opponent high on his right side.
The effect, on the other hand, was devastating, Quintana crumpled straight to the canvas in evident pain, and when he arose could barely defend himself. Cotto backed him into a corner and landed two more right hands before firing another left to the body.
Quintana took Smoger’s count on his knees, and was barely able to hoist himself to his feet in time to beat it before he was rescued by the bell ending the round.
Dr. Dominic Coletta, the ringside physician assigned to the Quintana corner, studied his patient carefully between rounds, and appeared to be unimpressed. Then, just before the bell would have sounded to open the sixth, New Jersey commission chairman Larry Hazzard came racing, like a man possessed, across the ring to Quintana’s corner, and the fight was over.
Officially, the bout was stopped by Smoger on Coletta’s advice. (Almost immediately, the referee leaned over and gently kissed Quintana where he sat on his stool.)
“The corner wanted to let him continue,” said Dr. Coletta, “but I could tell the fighter did not. I saw hurt in his eyes.” (And rage, apparently, in Hazzard’s.)
“Miguel is very fast, and he hit me pretty good,” Quintana, now 23-1, said afterward through an interpreter. “I couldn’t handle his speed, and that surprised me.”
“Every punch I threw was hard,” said Cotto. “I felt very strong at this weight. I can do anything I want to do.”
“Miguel,” said Evangelista Cotto, the new champion’s trainer and uncle, “can destroy every fighter in this weight division.”
If Margarito was supposed to make a case for himself as the iron of the welterweight division, he came up short, but he did capture a unanimous decision in a fight that was certainly closer than Gene Grant’s preposterous118-109, and may well have been closer than the 116-112 margins tabulated by the other two judges, Paul Venti and John Stewart.
Although Margarito, by his own admission, “couldn’t get my rhythm early,” this fact escaped the judges, and all three gave the first round to the Mexican champion. (Most scribes scoring at ringside gave it to Clottey.) The Ghanaian won the next two stanzas on all three cards, and the fourth on Venti’s and Stewart’s, as well as ours.
During the fourth, however, Clottey severely injured his left hand, in all likelihood fracturing the knuckle of his index finger. Although he continued to use the hand, the confident aggression he had displayed over the first four rounds all but disappeared.
There had also been a clash of heads at the end of the fourth, and Clottey, the instigator, returned to his corner having apparently gotten the worst of that, too.
Margarito, in any case, was a changed boxer as the fifth began, initiating a body attack that would carry on for most of the rest of the night. As Clottey’s fortunes ebbed, his corner began flashing animated signals confirming the damaged hand, and during one lull in action Clottey himself leaned over the ring ropes and pantomimed a gesture to the television crew below, indicating that he had hurt his paw.
Since this is normally the sort of information a wounded boxer would rather his opponent not know about, Clottey, perhaps subconsciously, may already have been in the process of preparing his excuse.
Margarito, if he was aware of the injury to his opponent, didn’t have long to enjoy it. In the sixth he damaged his own right wrist.
Then Clottey, or so he claimed, “broke,” or at least injured, his right hand in the seventh.
Margarito continued his inexorable march, with two notable exceptions: Clottey spent most of the tenth running, but he did interrupt his retreat long enough to land a few punches. Margarito barely bothered throw any, but all three judges rewarded his exasperation by giving him the round anyway.
And Margarito hardly looked like a champion defending his title in the final stanza, a round he essentially gave away to Clottey and lost on two judges’ cards.
Clottey said that the damage to his hands, especially the left, hampered his performance.
“I couldn’t jab, and I use my left to set up my body shots and combinations,” said Clottey.
Well. Who doesn’t?
How severe Clottey’s injuries actually were, and how much they affected him, remains unlearned, but they probably didn’t affect the overall result: Even giving the challenger the first four, the 10th, and the 12th, our scorecard came up level at 114-114, so even in our favorable view Margarito would have retained his title anyway.
It was at the very least a courageous performance by Clottey, now 30-2, and a workmanlike if unspectacular win for Margarito, 34-4.
“I’ve been off for ten months,” said Margarito half-apologetically. “The layoff certainly didn’t help,”
Donny McCrary managed to draw first blood, but not much else in his undercard bout against Yuri Foreman. Cut above the right eye midway through the first, the Belarus-born, Brooklyn-based middleweight shook off the wound to win a comfortable decision.
Just before the bell in the second Foreman rocked McCrary with a right hand that drove him backward several steps and onto his haunches, but the Missourian righted himself just short of going down. Then in the third, Foreman dropped McCrary with a left hook, which proved to be the fight’s only knockdown. Foreman remained in control throughout to win by lopsided scores of 100-89 (Pierre Benoist), 99-90 (Lynn Carter), and 98-91 (Eugenia Williams).
Foreman remains undefeated at 22-0, while McCrary is now 20-5-2.
In another prelim, New Jersey light-heavyweight Chuck (The Professor) Mussachio, 8-0, rolled over Tony Pope, scoring a third-round TKO over his overmatched Virginia opponent, now 15-13-1. After thoroughly tenderizing his opponent in the first round, The Professor scored a dubious knockdown in the second before dropping Pope with a right hand 53 seconds into the third. Referee David Fields intervened the moment Pope hit the canvas.
Two minutes into the second round, Ubaldo Olivencia missed with an overhand right and then turned, in obvious pain, away from opponent Jesus Rojas. Olivencia hadn’t even finished saying “Oh, F***!” when referee Earl Morton, recognizing that the Brooklyn fighter had dislocated his right shoulder, waved off the fight. The victory kept Rojas unbeaten at 5-0, while Olivencia’s record dropped to 5-10-2.
In a verdict that was not only unpopular with the crowd, but appeared to surprise both boxers, Newark welterweight Alex Perez (7-0) was awarded a unanimous decision in his four-rounder against Guyana-born Troylon Wilson (6-5-1). Benoist scored it 40-36, while Carter and Williams each had it 39-37.
In another early bout, New Jersey super-middleweight Wayne Johnson pitched a shutout, posting a 60-54 clean sweep on the cards of all three judges in handing Oklahoman Delray Raines his first defeat. Johnson is now 14-1, Raines 8-1.
TOP RANK BOXING BOARDWALK HALL ATLANTIC CITY, NJ DECEMBER 2, 2006
WELTERWEIGHTS: Miguel Cotto, 146, Caguas, Puerto Rico TKO’d Carlos Quintana, 147, Moca, Puerto Rico (5) (Wins vacant WBA title)
Okhello, who is ranked #10 by the WBC, will challenge Maskaev on Dec. 10 in Moscow’s Olympiysky Sports Arena, in a show promoted by Yuri Fedorov Sports Lab in association with Vladimir Hrunov.
The Maskaev press tour last month created a big buzz in Moscow media circles. Masakev, surrounded by the lights, cameras and action of an adoring hometown press, told those crowding in to get a closer look at the champ, “It’s a great honor for me and my camp to defend this prestigious WBC heavyweight belt in the very heart of my Motherhood, and I’m very proud to be the first Russian to make his title defense at home. There’s nothing compared to that. Moscow is my hometown. Here I have spent my youth, and here I have lots of relatives. There are talks that Peter Okhello is no way a serious fighter. I can ensure you that he is a dangerous opponent and a great puncher. I will not take him lightly."
Masakev’s promoter, Dennis Rappaport, said about Big O’s Ugandan opponent, “Okhello is a tremendous puncher. I have seen his fight with Sinan Samil Sam and he had been close to knocking Sam out in the last round. I was told that we were making a big mistake choosing to fight with him and that he would knock Oleg out. But we are sure, that Oleg will do the same to him!”
Oleg Maskaev’s manager Fred Kesch telephoned TSS from his suite at the Peter the First Hotel in the New Moscow last week to give us an update on Oleg’s trip and fight in Russia. When I asked Kesch how it was in Russia’s capitol these days, he said, “Oh, it fabulous, really fabulous. It’s an unbelievable city that’s exploding in all areas, anywhere from designer clothes to theater and arts and media. It’s beautiful to see the architecture when you see the buildings of the old USSR next to these glass and steel structures of today that are showing up all over. It’s just magnificent.”
From my vantage point in third world New York City, I imagine early stage capitalism Moscow-style must be like planet Cowboys and Indians, like the Sharks and the Jets in Armani drunk on vodka and wielding Kalashnikovs, but Fred Kesch assured me it was not.
“Everything was fine, everyone was cooperative, everyone was very gracious,” Kesch said. “Oleg was treated like a movie star here.” Although Maskaev was born in Kazakhstan, “he lived in Russia, was in the Russian army, was on the Russian boxing team,” so Maskaev in Russia has been a homecoming of sorts.
I told Kesch I heard of Okhello, but hadn’t seen tapes of his fights. “He’s big and has power and boxing ability. He’s not a pushover by any means,” said Kesch. “He’s a rugged fighter, he moves, he throws hooks, uppercuts, and he’s powerful. He dropped some significant guys in his fights.”
If Maskaev gets by Okhello as planned in Moscow on the 10th, I wonder who’s next on Big O’s dance card. Everyone’s heard talk of Hopkins bulking up to challenge for Maskaev’s WBC heavyweight strap, but Kesch wanted to douse those rumors with a spit bucket full of cold water.
“I was reading something and I think they quoted Bernard, but I can’t be accurate about it, that he said if he can’t fight Maskaev, he’d consider fighting Calzaghe. There’s a big spread of weight there,” said Kesch about the disparity in weight between Maskaev and Hopkins, “and I think Bernard is starting to come to his senses and realizing that getting hit by a champion heavyweight is a lot different than he’s used to. But you know how it is in the sport. People can say what they want to say and then find every reason in the world not to make it happen. But Bernard’s a fantastic fighter. He’s a credit to the sport. He’s a wonderful motivator and he likes to get things going and he’s been a champion so many years, people look up to him, as we do, but not as a heavyweight.”
So, if Okhello goes down fighting and Hopkins is out of the running because of failure to make weight, who might Maskaev rumble with in the near to immediate future?
“The next biggest fight will be with Wladimir Klitschko,” Kesch said. “They have been calling us at various times. That’s the unification fight where the public would recognize the winner as the true heavyweight champion.”
Let’s first see what Maskaev does with Okhello in Moscow before we starting talking about Klitschko.
We made fine time, and after trying to show up each in a contest of Who Has The More Retarded Sense Of Direction, we managed to find the Borgata. The Boxing Writer’s Association was holding its yearly mass-meeting, so that we might come up with nominations, and vote for Fighter, Fight, Manager, Good Guy, Manager and Perseverant Boxing Guy of the Year. We made it to the Borgata, an admirably un-smelly, undepressing monument to optimism, with five minutes to spare.
BWAA prez Tim Graham set up a conference room for our meeting of the minds, and outfitted it with some fine vittles. My companion and I (I don’t name him because he writes for a competing outlet, and I’m a competitor who doesn’t want to give the opposition one extra click, dammit!) tried to eat light, because we were planning on gorging ourselves at the White House, a famous artery destroying sub shop in AC. We basically failed, because the feedbag was not too shabby, so we nibbled as we all drummed up nominations for our yearly awards, which will be voted upon by paper ballots via the USPS (a smart change from previous years, when we voted onsite, which didn’t allow members outside the tri-state area to give their take). There were no fistfights, or accusations of financial impropriety, unfortunately, so the meeting moved along with seamless precision. Improvements to the BWAA website, a debate about when to hold the awards dinner, a BWAA code of ethics and complaints about power-mad (in the minds of some members) publicists and security personnel were matters that were debated on the floor. So, there was a little bit of rancor in the air, just enough to christen this meeting a legitimate BWAA gathering. But the level of discourse never deteriorated into a Cheney-esque tone...but of course, we can hope things are spicier next year.
After the meeting, my companion and I went to the sandwich shop. I scanned sidestreets for fallen streetwalkers, but thankfully, none were to be seen. No streetwalkers, period, were actually seen, come to think of it…Although, when a comely lass smiled come-hitheringly at me later, my companion did speculate that she was perhaps a pro. What, I’m so homely only pros, and wife, will give me the lusty eye treatment!!??!
After we split a six pound sub, which cost us $14 plus (I ponied up for it, since Companion picked me up, and generously used his EZ Pass extensively), and was scarfed outside in the 46 degree chill, because all the tables were taken, we went to Boardwalk Hall.
We received our creds with no problem (I’ve never had a problem with credentialing, thankfully, and have always found all publicists I deal with to be fair and equitable ladies and gentlemen who strike me as being underpaid, underappreciated workaholics who deserve raises!) and moved into the arena.
There were some undercard bouts, nothing to write home, or to TSS, about, and then Clottey came to the ring to fight Margarito.
To me, Clottey was the best fighter I saw on this night. I know, Cotto and Margarito fans, blasphemy, but let me explain before you spew vicious comments at me.
For about three rounds, Clottey was focused, accurate, busy and defensively sound. He was, really, the total package. And the African drummers providing a subtle layer of percussion, which sounded like far-off thunder claps, lent a pro-Clottey vibe, and a mesmerizing, exotic aura to the building…Then Clottey hurt his left hand and the robotic (and I mean that in a good way, as in, he shows a stamina unencumbered by non-mechanical lungs) Margarito began to press on him in relentless fashion.
Someone told me that it was Clottey’s wife, sitting near his corner, who demanded her husband override the pain in his hand, and finish the fight. I thought he would step up a campaign of fouls, lowblows and headbutts, as he waded into deeper waters with lead water wings, but to his credit, Clottey mostly played fair. I had Margarito, who to me started out looking quite rusty, ahead by four points at the end. But I will say this--for a spell Clottey was Da Man, and he landed the majority of the cleanest, most telling, most crowd-pleasingly obvious blows. He just didn’t spread them out throughout the rounds and the fight judiciously enough. And I will also say this--I have to think Floyd Jr.’s movement (head and feet) and stamina would prove to be way too much for the Tijuana Tornado…
After holding my bladder for longer than Lohan’s AA stint, I ran to the lav.
Then it was time for Quintana/Cotto. Going in, I thought Q had a chance to make life difficult for Cotto. Maybe my emotions factored in, too--maybe I thought Q was a late-bloomer who could usurp the conventional wisdom, upset Cotto, make some underdog bettors some serious Xmas scratch. No dice. He looked a tad spooked by the stakes and, quickly, Cotto’s extra seven pounds-worth of punching power. I also thought Cotto had a really hard time getting his distance, and didn’t solve Q’s lefty stance as rapidly as one might hope. But some of my colleagues really raved about his effort, so I’ll defer I guess to the exit poll’s validity…also, I have an inkling that when I watch this fight on the tube, I’ll see that many more of Cotto’s blows landed more cleanly than it appeared at ringside. So Cotto fans, please wait until I fire up the DVR and check out Cotto’s effort from the sofa zone, where I won’t be distracted, before you give me the business.
All in all, an enjoyable outing. My pocket didn’t get picked as I walked out of the arena. That sub didn’t send me to the bathroom in urgent style, until I got home. We didn’t get a ticket to or from AC. I didn’t get snared by any tables or one-armed bandits, so I didn’t exit AC any poorer than I had to. And best of all, I was able to convince my companion that those odors in the car were industrially produced, and not manufactured by me.
The former welterweight champion Quartey, 37, wearing red, green and yellow trunks, ate right jabs all night long, and looked light years away from the fighter who stood so tall in the welterweight division in the mid-1990s. On this night, Ike threw 642 punches over the 12 round bout, landing 174 of them for a 35% connect total. Winky, 35, in light blue trunks, fought as only Winky fights, with a tight defense, perfect concentration and that baffling southpaw stance, and fired off 1001 punches, of which 269 landed for a 38% connect total.
The victorious Wright was credited with two knockdowns in the bout, both of which were questionable, much like the referee in the fight, Frank Santore Jr., the official responsible for the specious calls. The three judges sitting ringside scored the bout 117-110, 117-110 and 117-109, all for Winky Wright.
After the fight, when asked about his increased offensive output against Quartey, Wright said, â€œI was trying to close the show. Ikeâ€™s a tough fighter. Heâ€™s tough as nails. Heâ€™s got a great chin. Hey, heâ€™s durable. But I wanted to do much standing and delivering to show the crowd that I can punch.â€? Winky then said that Quartey is a â€œGreat friend, great guy. I didnâ€™t want to hurt him bad.â€?
Wright did say that heâ€™d next like to the fight the winner of De La Hoya/Mayweather, who he said he hopes, but doesnâ€™t necessarily assume, will be De La Hoya. "I want the winner of my co-promoter and Floyd Mayweather. Oscar is the only great champion I've not fought."
In televised undercard action, former IBF super middleweight champion Jeff â€œLeft Hookâ€? Lacy (22-1, 17 KOs), in his first fight back since his brutal, one-sided defeat at the hands of Joe Calzaghe in March, barely squeaked out a 10 round majority decision over Ukrainian Vitali Tsypko (19-2, 10 KOs). In a fight where Lacy was expected to come out like gangbusters and make a big statement, he controlled the action early, but Tsypko came on enough in the second half and did enough to have maybe have won the bout. But the judges scored it 95-95 and 96-94 twice for Lacy.
Larry Merchant, summing up Lacyâ€™s below par performance Saturday night, said, â€œLacy was rated a little higher in the echelon than he belonged, but once he went up against a marquee fighter,â€? that is Joe Calzaghe, â€œwe saw where he stands.â€? Read more at the BLOG
After destroying Antonio Tarver in June, and after watching Oleg Masakev dismantle Hasim Rahman to win the WBC heavyweight crown, Hopkins flip-flopped on a promise he gave to his late mother that he would quit boxing this year, and is looking for a suitable opponent for his return to active duty.
TSS recently spoke with Maskaevâ€™s manager, Fred Kesch, from his suite at the Peter the First Hotel in Moscow, and asked about Oleg fighting Hopkins if and when he gets past Peter Okhello on Dec. 10.
â€œI think Bernard is starting to come to his senses and realizing that getting hit by a champion heavyweight is a lot different than heâ€™s used to,â€? said Kesch. â€œBut you know how it is in the sport. People can say what they want to say and then find every reason in the world not to make it happen. But Bernardâ€™s a fantastic fighter. Heâ€™s a credit to the sport. Heâ€™s a wonderful motivator and he likes to get things going and heâ€™s been a champion so many years, people look up to him, as we do, but not as a heavyweight.â€?
If that doesnâ€™t put the kibosh on the Maskaev-Hopkins rumor, itâ€™s hard to know what will, so maybe itâ€™s time to drop the talk of a heavyweight challenge and put Hopkinsâ€™ Plan B into effect, namely a fight with Joe Calzaghe.
But first Calzaghe has to get by Peter Manfredo Jr. of Contender fame on March 3 at the Millennium Stadium. Should Joe emerge victorious, he will have matched B-Hopâ€™s record 20 defenses of the crown.
Hopkins, according to icWales, said, â€œIf I canâ€™t make my history, I can stop him making his history.â€?
â€œIf Hopkins doesn't want me to break his record,â€? replied Calzaghe, â€œhe should have fought me years ago when he had the chance.
â€œThere are lots of exciting fights out there for me, but the only one that means anything right now is Peter Manfredo, because there are no other fights without beating him.
â€œBut I will say this: I intend to break Bernard's record, with or without him.â€?
â€œAnyone can beat a champion,â€? Hopkins said, but â€œVery few can beat a legend.â€? Read more at the BLOG
Before a sold out crowd at the Chumash Casino, Bradley (17-0, 10 KOs) was nearly knocked down in the second round but rallied with an effective inside attack. The eight-round junior welterweight bout was televised by Showtime.
“I learned a lot in this fight,” said Bradley who was fighting under the Gary Shaw Productions and Thompson Promotions banner for the first time. “He stunned me in the second round.”
Rangel, a veteran of more than 40 fights, used his strength and southpaw style to confuse Bradley.
“He was awkward, man. He threw punches from weird angles,” Bradley said. “I just had to slow it down and be patient.”
A left uppercut by the larger Rangel in the second round sent Bradley reeling toward the ropes. But the Palm Springs fighter gritted his teeth and returned to the fray with more determination. Rangel was more effective in the third round as well with some bone-jarring left hands that found the mark repeatedly. It all changed after that.
Bradley use pressure and took the fight inside to force Rangel out of his rhythm. Several right hands in the seventh round seemed to take the Colombian fighter’s strength away. A three-punch combination and some intense inside fighting by Bradley, who used his quicker hands to his advantage, made it the best round for the TV newbie.
In the eighth and final round, the two collided heads with Rangel emerging with a cut over his right eye. The ringside doctor advised referee Raul Caiz to stop the fight.
The judges scored it 79-73 for Bradley.
“I knew he was going to be tight,” said Shaw. “I expected it because it was his first time on television.”
In another featured bout on Showtime, Puerto Rico’s Mario Santiago made easy pickings of East L.A.’s Sal Garcia who couldn’t seem to muster the same intensity as in previous fights.
Santiago boxed and moved for three rounds against the taller but listless Garcia. It was soon apparent that Garcia didn’t have the same energy level as he had against two other Puerto Rican prospects in winning efforts. Not this time. Santiago seemed at a different level while Garcia seemed stuck in the mud. After taking a battering in rounds five and six, corner man Ray Alcorta threw in the towel to save Garcia from a further beating at 1:51 of the seventh round.
Americo Santos (25-1-1, 21 KOs) of Texas and Jorge Padilla (7-3-2) of Mexico City ended their junior welterweight bout in a technical draw. Padilla was cut above the left eye when he collided heads with Santos in the third round. After examining the cut, referee Jon Schorle stopped the fight at 2:19 of the third round.
A welterweight contest between Santa Maria, California’s Antonio Ojeda (14-5-3) and Puerto Rico’s Irving Garcia (14-2-1) also ended in a technical draw because of an accidental clash of heads. The bout was scheduled for 10 rounds but referee Jerry Cantu stopped the fight on advice from the ringside physician at 1:55 of the third round.
In a junior middleweight bout, James Kirkland (16-0, 15 KOs) of Texas won by technical knockout over Miami’s David Toribio (13-7, 7 KOs). Kirkland dropped Toribio twice in the third round and one final time in the fourth with a left hand to the body. Referee Jerry Cantu concluded the fight at 1:35 of the fourth round.