Trusting her instincts about knowing what was best for her, she opted to enlist in the United States Marine Corps instead.
She attained the rank of sergeant during her eight years of service, four of which were on active duty. Among many other military accomplishments, she was one of the first 15 women to go through the grueling School of Infantry.
Of those who embarked on that ultra-challenging curriculum, only 9 completed it. Not surprisingly, Chamblin was one of them.
She made Marine Corps history when she became the first ever female to teach the course to men. The same intensity that Chamblin brought to her military career, she now brings to her boxing career.
On Saturday, November 24th, at the Paragon Casino and Resort in Marksville, Louisiana, the 30-year-old Chamblin, 10-1 (5 KOS), will challenge the much more experienced Ada Velez, 15-3-2 (6 KOS) for the IBA junior featherweight title.
Saturday night couldn't come soon enough for the Fighting Marine.
“Ada is a southpaw who is very determined,” said Chamblin. “I have the utmost respect for her and do not take her lightly. She had the decision stolen from her when she lost her (WIBA bantamweight) title to Anita Christensen. Ada has held titles for as long as I can remember. Physically I might be able to chop her down, but her mind will still be there. With a real fighter like her, that’s hard to put down.”
Like Chamblin, who has a 7 year old son named Gabriel, Velez also has a young son. That, says Chamblin, makes her even more formidable.
“This fight is my toughest to date, and it’s not just because of Ada’s boxing skills,” said Chamblin, whose husband Josh is also a former Marine. “What makes her most dangerous is that she wants to leave her son a championship legacy.”
Fifteen years ago, one would have been hard-pressed to believe that Chamblin’s own destiny would have been to serve her country so proudly in the military, as well as her community so loyally through an array of altruistic endeavors.
Besides volunteering for lung cancer awareness campaigns, she is very active in the Toys for Tots Christmas program.
And from a strictly fistic perspective, Chamblin brings dignity and honor to the often maligned and ridiculed sport of female boxing.
“Where I come from, people work hard and play hard,” said Chamblin. “There was an oil boom here, so a lot of 16 and 17 year olds were making a $100,000 a year offshore. They’d be on land for two weeks and spend all their money. A lot of them woke up at 34 and realized they had nothing.”
Chamblin said that she was lucky enough to have learned many of life’s hard lessons early enough in life to not have a police record. The biggest lesson she has learned was to follow her heart, even when it defied convention.
You need not talk to Chamblin for more than one minute to realize there is nothing conventional about her.
As sweet, feminine and stunningly beautiful as she is outside of the ring, she is relentless in her eagerness to push the limits of endurance in everything she does. She started boxing for much the same reason she joined the Marine Corps.
“I’m very hardheaded, stubborn and proud,” she said. “I joined the Marine Corps because that was the only branch of the service that didn’t want me. I felt it would be the most challenging.”
Onetime pro heavyweight prospect Beau Williford, who runs the Ragin’ Cajun Boxing Club in Lafayette, is Chamblin’s trainer and manager. He first met Chamblin when she had no boxing experience whatsoever, but had brought her overweight younger brother Max to his gym to rid him of some girth.
Max lived in Arkansas, but would stay with Chamblin and other family members during the summer.
Williford wasn’t initially interested in taking on such a reclamation project, but was very taken by Chamblin’s sense of duty to Max. Although she was his older sister, she acted more like a strict and sensible mother toward him.
Williford, who believes more than anything else in personal accountability, couldn’t help but be touched by her apparent decency and the inherent toughness that bubbled under her surface.
“When she brought Max to me, he was 13 years old, maybe 5’3” or 5’4” tall, and 180 pounds,” said Williford. “He was corn-fed, hog-fat, and ready to cook. He was as fat as two pigs.”
Through a harsh training regimen, Williford managed to get 50 pounds off of Max in 90 days.
“After every round that he hit the speed bag or the heavy bag, I’d have him run a mile,” said Williford. “He told me he liked the training, but hated the running. That’s when Kasha started to run with him.”
What Williford didn’t initially realize was what a keen eye Chamblin was keeping on those training at the gym. Before long, she was determined to become a boxer herself.
Not long afterwards she found herself sparring with Deirdre Gogarty, whose legendary March 1996 battle with Christy Martin on the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno II pay-per-view extravaganza finally gave female boxing some mainstream respectability.
“That was like Bruce Lee saying to a student, ‘let me show you something,’” said Chamblin. “She pulled her punches, but they still hurt. She showed me enough for me to build upon, and took me under her wing.”
Ironically, Chamblin was still in the Marine Corps when Gogarty fought Martin. A bunch of her friends who were watching the fight implored her to join them when it quickly evolved into a classic battle that had the live crowd on its feet.
Chamblin, who had no inclinations toward boxing at the time, scoffed at them. “Call me when Tyson fights,” she said. “I don’t want to see two girls slapping.”
But that was then, and this is now. Chamblin regularly views Gogarty’s fights over and over, and says she always learns something new. Technically speaking, Chamblin doesn’t think there are any female fighters as flawless as Gogarty was.
“She put everything into it, just like I try to do,” said Chamblin. “Some days in the gym, you’ll punch hard but be slow. Maybe your footwork or timing will be off. But the day when everything comes together, when everything is tweaked, that is the day you get everything you put into boxing back out of it. There is no better feeling in the world.”
Because Gogarty is now a member of the Louisiana State Boxing Commission she said she doesn’t have the luxury to work with fighters the way she used to. But, she explained, while there are no shortage of fighters who have talent, few are willing to put forth the time and hard work to cultivate the talent.
“Kasha was willing to do that,” said Gogarty. “She’s worked hard for her success and deserves whatever success she achieves.”
In December 2006, Chamblin traveled to Berlin, Germany, to fight WIBF featherweight champion Ina Menzer, who was 15-0 at the time. Because Chamblin felt so listless that night, she couldn’t put anything together and was stopped in the eighth round.
“We knew going in that we would have to knock her out or win decisively,” said Chamblin. “I don’t know what happened to me. I was too timid and technical. I was really tired and was even yawning on my way into the ring. Maybe it was the moment of the situation, but I was so disappointed in myself.”
When asked if it could have been jet lag that exhausted her, Chamblin did not accept that as an explanation for her lethargy. She did say, however, that she would love the opportunity to fight Menzer “in a gym, behind closed doors.”
She believes that much of Menzer’s success comes from the fact that she has the opportunity to be a full-time fighter.
“Ina was surprised that I was married, was a mother, and had a full-time job besides training and doing volunteer work,” said Chamblin, who is employed as a legal assistant at the Glenn Armentor Law Firm in Lafayette.
“She goes away to train for months at a time, is sponsored by companies like Adidas, and makes big bucks every time she fights. She doesn’t do anything else, and couldn’t fathom how I did all that I do. In the United States, we (female boxers) are lucky to make a few bucks, so we do it for the heart of it more than the money.”
Williford realized he had a winner in Chamblin the first day she sparred with Gogarty. No matter what Gogarty threw at her, Chamblin wouldn’t give up.
“In her very first amateur fight, Kasha won the Gulf States championship,” said Williford. “In her second pro fight, I put her in with Dana Kendrick, who was 6-1. People told me I was nuts. Kasha knocked her out in 71 seconds.”
Williford, who packs equal amounts of muscle and positive energy into his burly frame, is not the least bit surprised by Chamblin’s success.
“She’s absolutely gorgeous, she’s got a great personality, and she fights like hell so the public really took a shine to her,” he explained. “Once you meet her or see her in the ring, it’s hard not to.”
Although Chamblin is very much her own woman, she attributes so much of her success to Williford and Gogarty, both of whom she considers the ultimate in role models.
“I read Laila Ali’s book and even she said she wanted to start boxing after seeing Deirdre and Christy Martin fight,” said Chamblin. “And Beau is everything I ever wanted as a father.”
(Ali’s book is entitled “Reach: Finding Strength, Spirit and Personal Power”).
Chamblin hopes that a win over Velez might help elevate the sport in some way. But as much as she’d like to see her own personal odyssey end with title belts around her streamlined waist, what she’d like even more to see is female boxing become an Olympic sport.
“That is the big puzzle piece that is missing,” she said. “That’s what is needed to bring female boxing where it deserves to be.”
I once attended an annual Marine Corps birthday celebration. The guest of honor was P.X. Kelly, a former commandant in the Corps. He described the magnificent statue in Washington, D.C. that depicts a group of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
One of those men, a Native-American named Ira Hayes, is desperately extending his hands in a futile attempt to grip the flag pole. Although he was unable to reach it, the significance of his efforts was not lost by Kelly or anyone else who ever served in the Corps.
That, said Kelly, “showed that we must reach beyond our grasp, because it is easy to reach within her grasp.”
Chamblin has been reaching beyond her grasp long before she even understood the concept. She did it when she stayed on the straight and narrow as an impressionable teenager, during the dog days of Marine Corps training, and as a working mother, spouse and professional boxer.
“Successful boxers, just like Marines, don’t settle for being just OK,” she explained. “I’ve done so much with so little for so long that now, I believe, I can do anything with nothing.”
Moreover, she adds, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO – what a ride.”
Actually the modern Raider fan evolved from the Los Angeles area, not the Oakland area. It wasn’t until the Raiders moved to urban streets of L.A. that the NFL outlaw team garnered this nationwide network of thug supporters. Wherever you go a person has a Raider cap, t-shirt or emblem pasted on the back of his car or truck. It represents a code of the street.
Vargas represents the street too.
Ever since the Oxnard boxer emerged on the professional scene with his tough talk, cocky walk and snarling smile, Vargas has become the anti-Oscar De La Hoya to those boxing fans who dislike the clean-cut image the Golden Boy possesses.
Vargas fans don’t like clean.
From the beginning Vargas influenced the common guy and gal on the street with his partially shaved head with just the front portion of his head bearing bleached hair. It ignited a throng of imitators in and out of the boxing world.
It’s no wonder Vargas has a clothing line. He’s got a style of his own.
The fighter known as “El Feroz” also has a way with words that few others can imitate. Whenever he’s asked to participate on a radio show the phone lines light up with people wanting to talk to him. Even the radio announcers give him room. His street charisma is infectious.
But now it’s down to business.
The Aztec warrior will walk into the ring with a large crowd shouting his name and cheering him on. It will be his world of followers who will come from all parts of the Southwest and beyond. They love his macho talk and will literally fight with opposing fans who dis their hero.
It’s a dangerous world for Vargas because those who talk the talk are forced to abide by its unwritten rules that include all-out war against the near-crazy Nicaraguan strongman Mayorga.
Vargas could easily out-box Mayorga but he’s backed himself into a corner by proclaiming he will stand in the middle of the ring and trade nuclear warheads with “El Matador.”
Despite what experts and fans say about Mayorga, the Central American refugee from a psychiatric asylum can still knock down an elephant with that right hand of his. He can drop a rhinoceros with that left hand too.
People like to say that he was brutalized by Felix Trinidad when they fought and pummeled by De La Hoya in that fight. But they also forget he floored Trinidad in their encounter and caught De La Hoya too. It’s just that the East L.A. fighter has one of the better chins in the business.
Mayorga is a puncher’s puncher.
From the beginning Vargas has vowed to retire from boxing after this fight. He just wanted to go out with a win, not the loss by knockout he suffered against Pomona’s Shane Mosley.
“I promise. This will be my last fight,” said Vargas (26-4, 22 KOs) who turns 30 a week after the fight. A first scheduled fight was postponed on Sept. 8 when Vargas was ordered by a doctor to cancel the fight due to anemia.
Unknown to many, Mayorga is a clever and calculating fighter who has the ability to self-promote a fight and prod an opponent into his kind of battle.
“That clown is going to run,” says Mayorga, hoping to lure Vargas into a toe-to-toe slugfest that favors the Nicaraguan. “This all about the hormones. I have many men hormones and he has too many girl hormones in his body.”
Mayorga can sense Vargas’s vulnerability to taunts and challenges. It brings out an evil-like smile to his face.
“No matter how many pounds you weigh I’m going to knock you out fatty,” says Mayorga regarding the pre-fight agreement to fight at 166 pounds. “It’s shameful that I have to keep changing my weight from 162 to 166. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to knock him out.”
Whenever the two get in the same room, you can see the color on their face turn a blood red. They’re natural enemies like a cobra and a mongoose.
“Vargas is a homosexual,” Mayorga says. “I suggest Vargas buy a big truck of eggs.”
The Nicaraguan also says delivered the most telling verbal blow when he suggested that Vargas is not a typical Mexican fighter.
“Mexicans are warriors,” said Mayorga. “Vargas has woman hormones.”
The big question remains if Vargas can tune out the disparages slung his way, especially when he has an arena filled with rowdy Vargas fans urging him to knock out Mayorga.
“I thank God for my fans,” said Vargas. “It’s not about money, it’s about pride.”
The fight card will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.
At first it was just a rumor, but now Top Rank announced that Manny Pacquiao will indeed appear at the Morongo Casino early fight card in support of his brother. Get there early, the place is rather small and sits about 500 people. The doors open around 4:30 p.m. First bout begins around 5 p.m.
Bobby had a rough time against Humberto Soto in his last fight. It may have been a trial run to see if Soto was capable of fighting big brother. But with Soto losing to Joan Guzman, it doesn’t look like Soto gets Manny.
Speaking of Manny, there are talks of him moving all the way up to 147 pounds to meet Oscar De La Hoya in September 2008. But Top Rank wants Miguel Cotto to face De La Hoya.
According to various sources Top Rank is looking to move Manny up another weight division to fight WBC titleholder David Diaz who squeaked by Erik Morales a several months ago in Chicago.
Manny Pacquiao is the straw that stirs the prizefighting drink.
Aside from David Diaz, he could meet WBO, WBA, IBF lightweight titleholder Juan Diaz who is recognized by most astute observers as the true world champion in that weight division. Especially after Joel Casamayor lucked out in his fight against Jose Armando Santa Cruz a few weeks ago in New York.
That’s a fight that could sell a few tickets, but Juan Diaz is promoted by Don King and that means it’s not an easy fight to put together. King will be looking for concessions and other things. But it would be a great fight and even the super talented Pacquiao is not guaranteed to emerge victorious. That showdown drips with an eventual rematch clause.
Meanwhile little brother Bobby faces Trejo at Morongo. Though he doesn’t possess the speed or punch of his elder sibling, he’s very, very capable of beating several top contenders. He’s evolved into a gate-keeper in the junior lightweight division.
Former participant of the Contender reality television show Miguel Espino (17-2-1, 6 KOs) has run into bad luck once again.
Every time Espino fights it falls on the same day of a mega fight held in Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
Espino can’t seem to get a break.
But the San Fernando Valley fighter is slowly but surely making an impact by fighting as much as possible. You can’t get recognized unless you fight.
Espino’s scheduled opponent was forced to cancel and now he faces Robert Valenzuela (39-33-2, 36 KOs) at Gimnasio Tigre Garcia in Ensenada, Mexico on Friday Nov. 23. The same day Fernando Vargas fights Ricardo Mayorga and Manny Pacquiao’s brother fights near Palm Springs.
Espino has that kind of luck.
But maybe its about to change with the coming new year. Espino only has two losses and those came to Peter Manfredo Jr. and Daniel Edouard by decision. He also has one draw against super tough Carl Cockerham.
Espino’s tough too.
It’s only a matter of time that the North Hollywood fighter gets an opportunity against a top middleweight contender.
Karmazin vs. Garcia
Russia’s Roman Karmazin (35-2-1, 22 KOs) has a tough 10-round battle against Mexico’s Alex “Terra” Garcia (25-2, 24 KOs) in a junior middleweight bout at Staples Center on Friday Nov. 23. It’s a contest between two former junior middleweight champions.
Karmazin won his title against Kassim Ouma a couple of years ago, then lost it to Cory Spinks in a close decision. The Russian fighter is trained by Freddie Roach.
Tijuana’s Garcia won his title against Panama’s Santiago Samaniego in 2003 but lost it to Travis Simms in 2005 when he turned dropped his guard during a break and was knocked out. He regained the title with a win over Roshii Wells in 2005, but then lost it to Jose Rivera in 2006. It’s his first return to the ring in more than 18 months.
Middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost: Pavlik recently cut his arm with glass in an accident at home that required numerous stitches. But he’s ok now, say his promoter Top Rank and has resumed training.
Pavlik is scheduled to fight Jermain Taylor in a rematch that will take place in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand on Feb. 16, 2008. According to his promoter Top Rank the fighter’s scheduled match is not in danger, but he cannot train at the moment.
The big questions is whether the rematch takes place at middleweight or at the catch weight suggested in the contract? Doesn’t seem fair that Pavlik is forced to fight at 168 instead of 160 pounds.
But it could be a good thing. If he loses by decision or knockout he doesn’t lose the world title.
Pavlik has the tools to stay on top for a long ling time.
Carina Moreno female fighter of the year
Little spitfire Carina Moreno was voted Fighter of the Year by the WBC.
Moreno (15-1) has a seven-fight win streak and is scheduled to fight Terri Moss on Dec. 6, at Tachi palace in Lemoore, California.
The Watsonville fighter captured the WBC minimum weight title Nanako Kikuchi in a 10-round blaze of fists earlier in the year. Her only loss came against mini flyweight champion Wendy Rodriguez last January by decision.
That’s a fight that needs to happen again. Wendy Rodriguez recently loss a close decision to Germany’s Regina Halmich. It was very close.
Moreno has an all action-style and has sparred several times with Kaliesha West and Heather Percival.
He has a Rocky Graziano-like flair for words and a mentality born on the gritty side of Las Vegas.
One more thing: he looks like a professional boxer.
No his nose isn't flattened, yet, nor does he bear too many scars from slashing punches, but he has that gleam in his eye whenever he talks about his profession like a large 300-pound man sniffing the steaks on a smoking barbecue.
Attention-hungry Feliciano (15-5-3, 9 KOs) challenges IBF welterweight titleholder Kermit "El Asesino" Cintron (28-1, 26 KOs) at the Staples Center on Friday Nov. 23. The fight will be shown on Showtime pay-per-view and is co-promoted by Main Events and Starboxing.
"He's got what I want, he's got my belt," says Feliciano. "I don't back down and I don't turn away any fights. I'm just that kind of man, crazy I guess."
It's just days away from the pending welterweight collision but Feliciano walks around the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles like a brand new sponge soaking in the attention of his first world title fight. No corner of the massive mall is going undiscovered by the Las Vegas prizefighter.
Since turning pro in 2001, Feliciano has emerged as a crowd favorite because he refuses to engage in a boring fight.
"You get knocked out in a boring fight," Feliciano, 25, says. "If you're not paying attention you can be knocked out with one punch."
The soft-spoken Cintron doesn't come to bore people either. Seated in a room too cool considering the foggy day, the amiable fighter is almost hidden in the half-empty room two floors down from a bustling downtown street.
Now trained by Emanuel Steward, the lean knockout artist Cintron is crusading to erase the memories of his only loss suffered more than two years ago to Antonio Margarito. It's not an easy voyage.
"That was the worst fight I've done," Cintron, 28, says wearing a simple white t-shirt emblazoned with the words Kronk Gym. "I looked really bad."
Since losing to Margarito in 2005, Cintron has reloaded with the assistance of veteran champion-maker Steward and has knocked out all four opponents in blistering fashion.
"His right hand is as hard as Wladimir Klitschko," Steward says. "He seems to put his whole body behind it."
Cintron, a serious and sincere individual, refuses to tear down former or current opponents. In many ways he's aware that a prizefighter is single punch from anonymity. Though he captured the IBF title against Riverside's Mark Suarez, he realizes few boxing fans know he has the title.
"Nobody seems to know I'm a champion," said Cintron, who grabbed the title 13 months ago.
Outside of Las Vegas only a handful of fans know Feliciano, though he's made a habit of beating fighters with spotless records.
"I got the heart, I'm impressive," chirps Feliciano. "Fans like me cause they want to see a real Rocky, but I don't want to get hit that much. I'm all or nothing."
Feliciano fights like a human wrecking ball, a flesh and blood battering machine that never stops until the final bell rings.
"The person who throws the most power punches wins. That's why I come like that," says Feliciano breezily.
Cintron, though he possesses staggering power, has come to realize that beating fighters in the elite level means a different more Zen-like approach. He respects all opponents who dare to step inside the ropes.
"Jesse Feliciano is a dangerous fighter," Cintron says almost in a whisper. "He has nothing to lose. He fights that way too."
Steward says that Cintron, a fighter he took on reluctantly at first, has evolved into one of his prized pupils. He expects the muscular power puncher to eventually blitz through Feliciano, then mow down Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather. Of course he wants Margarito even sooner.
"That's a fight I really want," Cintron says with his eyes blazing.
Steward smiles at the hunger his fighter feels.
"He's not real fast but his punches seem to find the mark," said Steward who has trained several champions in the past and present including Tommy Hearns, Jermain Taylor and Klitschko. "I can feel his punches through the mitts. They turn me around."
Still walking around the downtown hotel Feliciano smiles as he continues to soak in the championship atmosphere. Seeing Cintron makes him smile even more.
"Kermit Cintron is going to be in my face and he's not going to give up that easily. I've just to take his heart away, make him give up or knock him out," Feliciano says with no hesitation. "Regardless of who I'm fighting, I'm not worried about nothing but the guy in front of me. Right now I'm as cool as an iceberg."
Like Graziano, he just wants one chance to land his punch.
Hyland saw in Moore, who is six years his senior, all of the qualities that he hoped to foster in himself. What impressed him most was Moore’s gritty determination, Herculean work ethic, refusal to quit, and ability to rise to the occasion when it mattered most.
To some degree, the now 23-year-old Hyland, who is a professional super bantamweight with a 9-0 (4 KOs) record, is still following his amateur mentor.
The Dublin native relocated to New York, where he and Moore are managed by Brian Burke, an ex-cop who fought as an amateur on the late heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson’s highly lauded amateur team.
If matchmaker Bruce Silverglade is able to secure an opponent for Hyland, he will appear in a preliminary bout on the Thanksgiving Eve fight card at the Plattduetsche Park restaurant in Franklin Square, Long Island, New York, on Wednesday, November 21.
Headlining that show will be Moore, who will face his toughest opponent to date in Thomas Davis of Knoxville, Tennessee. Davis’s deceptive record of 11-5-2 (7 KOs) includes knockouts of two previously undefeated fighters: future title challenger Kendall Holt, who was 15-0, and Augustin Velez, who was 7-0.
“I traveled the world with James; he was like the daddy of the team,” said Hyland in his thick but articulate Irish brogue. “I was the baby of the team, so he was like a mentor to me. When he won a bronze medal at the World Games, he was a hero to us all. We looked up to him, so I most definitely wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
When Hyland arrived in New York he immediately began training at the fabled Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Never once did he feel out of place there, nor was he intimidated by the level of talent that he worked alongside.
“I was used to training and sparring with many top European fighters and champions, like Nicky Cook,” said Hyland. “I was always sparring with top quality opponents.”
Cook, who is currently 27-1 (15 KOs), long held the Commonwealth British Empire featherweight title.
Moreover, explained Hyland, he has been fighting for so long at so many levels, there is little he hasn’t seen.
The former standout soccer player began boxing at the tender age of seven, when he accompanied his father and two older brothers, Eddie and Patrick, to a Dublin gym.
Eddie, who is now 26, is currently 7-1 (3 KOs) as a professional lightweight. His nickname is “The Pride of Tallaght.”
As a professional featherweight, the 24-year-old Patrick is 8-0 (3 KOs).
“My dad wanted me to stay at soccer, but I got to the gym and I never left,” said Hyland. “It had everything I wanted. I loved the competition, and I loved the atmosphere.”
Although it is immediately apparent that Hyland is extremely sensible and intelligent, never once did he consider attending college. For as long as he can remember, all he dreamed of was becoming a professional fighter.
Since turning pro in November 2004, he has learned to take nothing for granted. Although he is undefeated, there has been no shortage of disappointments.
Since arriving in the United States, for example, he has incurred a serious shoulder injury, from which he just recovered, and he has seen more than one fight fall apart for a variety of reasons.
“I learned a long time ago, even as an amateur, that until both fighters step on the scales and make weight, you can’t be sure that the fight will take place,” he explained. “So many things can happen.”
Silverglade and Burke concur that finding suitable fights for an East Coast super bantamweight is no easy feat.
“Paul is a solid young fighter, a tough kid, but not a real banger,” said Silverglade. “I’d call him a ring general because he really knows his way around the ring, and he is very comfortable in there. I’d come up with a list of possible opponents, but many of them won’t take the fight or the commission won’t approve them.”
With such a dearth of lighter weight East Coast fighters, Burke realizes how logistically challenging it can be to build such a talented kid up.
“Many opponents are resistant to fighting a 9-0 guy who is very tough, even if he’s coming off a shoulder injury,” said Burke. “To get someone to go six rounds against the kid, you have to fly them in, which is very expensive. There are challenges ahead, but Paul has the goods. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
“Paul is a very pleasant guy to be around, and he is very game in the ring,” added Silverglade. “From a marketing standpoint, that is a great combination.”
Other fighters scheduled to appear at the Plattduetsche are local favorites Eilon Kedem, Joe Rosa, Kamel Alolabi, Karl Desravines, Vanessa Greco, Kimberly Torres, Daniel Sostre, Roman Oliveri and Joseph Judah.
The show, which begins at 7:00 P.M., is nearly sold out but some tickets are still available by calling Gleason’s Gym at 718-797-2872.
The Plattduetsche is located at 1132 Hempstead Turnpike, which is one mile east of Belmont Racetrack. The phone number is 516-354-3131.
Come early and enjoy some of the finest German food you’ll ever have on this side of the Atlantic. The Plattduetsche is one of the oldest restaurants on Long Island and the ethnic fare is nothing short of sensational.
Bob Arum, Don King, Oscar De La Hoya, Lou Dibella, each and every one of you should get a ticket to the next UFC show, and note for the record how a live fighting event could and should be crafted.
Let me spare you the time Googling, and tell you guys that UFC is running a tear-end show, December 29, at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas. Gary Shaw, you are exempt because you've already seen the light, and diversified yourself into a sport that can no longer be dismissed as a "fad" by defensive boxing devotees.
I don't write this column to dish out a lashing to boxing for the sport of it.
I'm not jumping ship, and abandoning the sweet science, or TheSweetScience dotcom.
I'm writing to wake up some of the power brokers who are running shows that could be improved greatly, and help lure some of those fans that could get poached by the current vibe that I felt in Newark on Saturday at the Prudential Center.
I'm writing so our readers can perhaps attend some shows next year that feel like they've been crafted with an eye towards showmanship, and a desire to please all the senses. I'm writing to help encourage the promoters and event planners to leap boldly into the new millenium, because too many of your shows are, frankly, staid and have far too many gaps in which the fan is left to chat with a seat neighbor, or scan the crowd for hotties or fightfights, or buy a brew.
First off, the lighting at the UFC show was so slick, and added drama to the event, throughout the event. Contrast this to most boxing events, where ring entrances are spectacles, mainly for the main eventers, and after that, the production values drop off.
Second, the music used, while not to my taste, buoyed the card. The volume was high, but I left without tinnitus, I believe. The genre used is new age hard rock, you could call it, not my bag. But the tempo and the percussion add to the atmosphere, and got you fired up, even if the show lacked a showstopper attraction.
Third, the event producers use video clips throughout the event, and that whets appetites for bouts that are set to unfold shortly. Say I come with my significant other, who can't differentiate between Rashad Evans and Ahmad Rashad. The video clip, giving a little bio sketch, and explaining the stakes of his fight with Michael Bisping, draws her into the scrap. So smart, so simple, so DUH. Make better use of the Jumbotron, boxing guys!
The montage of slams, KO cracks and sterling submissions, set to "Baba O'Reilly" was so impressive in Joisey, and got me so jacked, I would've watched it again, and once more after that.
Daltrey screaming "I don't need to fight/To prove I'm right," with Keith Moon's manic whaling and cymbal smashing set to coincide exactly with highlight reel smacks...impressive.
This column shouldn't, I'm sad to say, need to be written.
Video bits, effective use of music to reinforce or create a mood, lighting to do the same--none of this is so innovative that it leaves you awed at the ingenuity.
But it takes effort, and time, and a desire to force every fan in attendance to leave the building thinking they got their money's worth. Even if the main event was best suited for a Spike PPV.
I dare say 95% of the people in Newark would say that they'd attend another UFC show after soaking up the atmosphere on Saturday.
And that's sayng something, because the main event didn't blow you away, the main support bout was a blowout, and the second main support bout was a pretty severe disappointment.
So Arum, King, Goldie, Louie etc...hit the next UFC big show. Wear a fake mustache and beard if you don't want to be seen sizing up your new rival on the block.
But do it, and borrow liberally. Boxing fans deserve an updated and compelling atmosphere for the prices they pay for tickets.
The 29-year-old Moore, a native of County Arklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, will not be feasting on a Thanksgiving turkey against the battle-tested, 35-year-old Davis, whose 11-5-2 (7 KOs) is somewhat deceptive.
Besides scoring a sensational first round knockout over then undefeated future title challenger Kendall Holt in June 2004, Davis also stopped Augustin Velez in six rounds in September 2006. Velez was 7-0 (4 KOs) going into that bout.
Davis has more than held his own against a slew of other undefeated or once-beaten fighters, including Joel Julio, Richard Gutierrez, Oscar Diaz and Nurhan Suleymanoglo.
Although Moore served as the longtime captain of the Irish national amateur team and even won a bronze medal in world championship competition, he is still in the developmental stage as a pro.
For that reason, Bruce Silverglade, the proprietor of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and the matchmaker for the Plattduetsche show, wanted to provide Moore with a stiff but not totally dangerous test.
He had secured the services of well-traveled veteran Marcos Primera, a Venezuelan who has fought many times in New York. Besides scoring a sensational upset over previously unbeaten Curtis Stevens in July 2006, Primera has looked solid against the likes of Joshua Clottey and Willie Gibbs.
For the record, Stevens avenged his shocking loss to Primera by eighth round TKO, by winning a lopsided decision in a rematch.
Primera also scored a fourth round TKO victory over Carlos DeLeon Jr., who was 12-0-1 when they squared off in Las Vegas in May 2005.
But the recently married Moore, who is eager to bring his career to the next level, was distressed by Primera’s outwardly nominal record of 20-17-2 (13 KOs).
While true boxing fans understand that such a record is not necessarily indicative of a fighter’s talent (or lack thereof), the immensely intelligent and media savvy Moore was smart enough to realize that his hardcore fan base would not understand such nuances.
Like his fellow countryman and good friend, undefeated middleweight sensation John Duddy, Moore regularly sells out the arenas in which he fights. You can be assured that as many as 90 percent of those in attendance on Thanksgiving Eve will not be boxing fans per se, but they will be maniacal James Moore fans.
Being Irish they will enjoy a good scrap, but will eventually grow weary of their fistic hero steamrolling one hapless opponent after another. Moore was not the least bit afraid of Primera, but urged Silverglade to find a more “suitable” opponent.
“James told me he didn’t want to embarrass or insult his fans by fighting a guy with 17 losses,” said Silverglade. “He told me that he had a good following and that there was no way they were going to be happy seeing him against a guy with 17 losses.
“I told him that the guy also had 20 fights and 13 knockouts, which means he had as many knockouts as James had fights,” continued Silverglade. “But James insisted that he wanted a guy with a good record, so his fans could feel good about a win.”
That was when Silverglade learned just how much Moore is respected in the boxing community. He approached Troy Browning, a New Jersey fighter with a 20-0-1 (8 KOs) record, and was flatly turned down.
After a laborious search that put Silverglade to the test, and made him realize why he got out of the excruciatingly frustrating business of matchmaking several years ago, he came up with Davis.
“Davis is a tough guy who comes to fight,” said Silverglade. “Even though the arena will be filled with Irish fans, he won’t be intimidated. I commend James for taking such a stance and showing so much respect and admiration to his fans.”
Moore is now being promoted by a newly formed outfit called Celtic Gloves. This card will be the organization’s first promotion, and will hopefully begin the journey to bring Moore’s career into the same stratosphere as Duddy’s, who fought on the same national amateur team that Moore captained for many years.
Celtic Gloves is sponsored by the Long Island City-based Navillus Construction company, a firm owned by a trio of Sullivans: brothers Donal and Kevin and sister Helen. The origin of the name Navillus is simple: it is “Sullivan” spelled backwards.
Moore is already well known in the New York boxing community, having fought nearly all of his bouts in the metropolitan area. While the bone-crunching Duddy has more of a slam-bang style, Moore punches equally hard but is a better all-around boxer with a vicious body attack.
Moore is too good of a friend to Duddy to offer or dispel any comparisons, but he is very happy to be part of the great fistic renaissance of Irish fighters in America. Besides him and Duddy, undefeated middleweight Andy Lee, who is trained and managed by Emanuel Steward, is making a lot of noise.
And ready to burst on the scene is super bantamweight Paul Hyland, 9-0 (4 KOS), a native of Dublin who is fighting out of New York under the managerial tutelage Brian Burke, an ex-cop and protégé of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, who also manages Moore.
While Hyland represents the future, Moore represents the here and now. All eyes are on the likeable slugger, who has been training in the Pocono Mountains with Yory Boy Campas, a former world champion and 100 fight veteran who gave Duddy his sternest test to date.
Should all go well against Davis, there are rumors swirling that Moore will soon be matched against undefeated Pawel “Raging Bull” Wolak, 18-0 (13 KOs), a native of Poland who lives and fights out of New York where he too has a huge and devoted ethnic following.
“Anything is possible,” said Moore, who has made no secret of his wish to be moved along at a faster pace. “I just want to fight the best fighters out there. I want to be tested because I train hard and have a lot of faith in my abilities.”
Given Moore’s relative lack of professional experience, some people might think he is putting the cart before the horse regarding his eagerness to compete at higher levels.
The detractors would be better served to think again. Besides being extremely modest, humble and erudite, Moore is a veteran of well over 300 fights against the best amateurs in the world. Yet if you inspected his unmistakably Celtic face with a magnifying glass, you’d be hard-pressed to detect even the smallest of nicks or scars.
To have gotten so far with nary a scratch on his warm and welcoming visage, is testament to his abundance of boxing ability which is only complemented by his vicious right hand and a left hook to the body that, to use an old phrase, he throws “like nobody’s business.” Make no mistake about it; Moore is well on his way to much greater ring glory.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” said Silverglade. “James has a real will to succeed, a strong work ethic, and a real winner’s mentality. He’s a real fighter. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is making a big mistake.”
Other fighters scheduled to appear at the Plattduetsche are Hyland, as well as local favorites Eilon Kedem, Joe Rosa, Kamel Alolabi, Karl Desravines, Vanessa Greco, Kimberly Torres, Daniel Sostre, Roman Oliveri and Joseph Judah.
The show, which begins at 7:00 P.M., is nearly sold out but some tickets are still available by calling Gleason’s Gym at 718-797-2872.
The Plattdeutsche is located at 1132 Hempstead Turnpike, which is one mile east of Belmont Racetrack. The phone number is 516-354-3131.
Come early and enjoy some of the finest German food you’ll ever have on this side of the Atlantic. The Plattduetsche is one of the oldest restaurants on Long Island and the ethnic fare is nothing short of sensational.
Exiting the cage, Evans showed himself the more valid of the two fighters, as he took a split decision, by scores of 29-28 (Evans), 29-28 (Bisping) 29-28 (Evans) in a fight that left the fans hungry for two more rounds, and more closing skills.
Did Evans achieve total validation? Probably not, as he finds himself without an overwhelming MO when he takes his man to the floor, but in the end, he simply does win, so maybe that speaks louder than any perceived hole in his game.
Afterwards, Evans (16-0-1) gave Bisping credit for a solid fight. Both men talked trash coming in, but Evans said all is forgiven after the tussle ended.
"I controlled the pace of the fight," he said, explaining his edge.
"Hats off to Rashad. I proved I did belong in there," Bisping said, before thanking UFC for putting him in a main event on the PPV. He then said he thought he won the fight, and cancelled out Evans' takedowns.
Evans, 28-years-old, from New Mexico, living in Michigan, weighed in at 204 pounds, while the Brit Bisping (15-1), age 28 as well, weighed 205 on the dot .
The third round saw Evans take Bisping down, but he couldn't capitalize. Bisping then looked like he could sink something in, as he had Evans' back, but the wrestling expert spun out of danger. Evans went back to rasslin, and carried the last round, on my card, with his edge in aggression.
In the second, Evans scored with a slam, which Bisping partially diminished with a free arm. Bisping continued to be in "respond" mode, and needed to get into gear. Evans outboxed his man in the middle of the road, but Bisping did find a tactic, the knees, which suited him. Still, Evans' boxing took the round. Neither man wanted to close the distance though, showing regard for each others' inside games.
In the first, Evans looked to smother Bisping. He pressed him against the cage, and was more aggressive in the striking department. He notched two takedowns, and while he didn't overwhelm the Brit on the mat, he was the more effective fighter in the first. Generally, he showed the judges he wanted it more.
Evans had won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show on Spike, while Bisping won the third season. The Brit came to ring, all swagger, not ready to admit that he by all accounts didn't deserve the win that the judges gave him over Matt Hamill at UFC 75 on September 8. Evans didn't draw more than 50% of the buzz that Houston Alexander did in the fight before his, with the fans understanding that the jury was still out on his all-around skill set, submission skills and overall aggression.
Fan fave Houston Alexander (8-1), a 35-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, took on 25-year-old Thiago Silva (11-0), from Brazil in a light heavyweight faceoff.
The joint was on steroided up amphetamines when Houston came to the cage.
In the first, Houston was put on his back, and Silva looked to drop elbow rain. He pounded away, in conquering mount position, and Houston blocked some but not for long. Silva wouldn't be denied. The ref stopped it at 3:25 of the first, TKO, after giving Alexander ample time to toss the Brazilian off him. He was almost in total la-la land. The crowd booed, as they took the fan fave's loss to heart. Alexander left the cage, shaking his head, without commenting to Rogan. Not sure why he left like that, the people would have liked to hear from him.
Silva will get a title shot, sooner rather than later.
Karo Parisyan, age 25, has been fighting pro since he was 16. He came to Newark with a 25-4 mark, and came to the cage with a cocky grin, to George Thorogood's "Bad To the Bone." Randy Couture gave him a few wake up, go out and get 'em slaps before the start. Thirty-one-year-old Ryo Chonan of Japan, with Chris Leben-red hair, owned a 14-7 mark. Karo owned the ground in the first, and one had to wonder what strategy the Japanese fighter would/could uncork to get the nod.
He came out throwing in the second, and tried some kickwork to decent effect. There were some "boring" chants to close the second, as Parisyan was dominant on top, but wasn't able to press his advantage.
In the third, it was more sub scintillating action. The crowd was sitting on their hands and booing occasionally. Neither man looked in top form, and the energy was lacking. Karo didn't act like he was demanding a title shot. It was mostly standup in the final round, but of the fairly desultory variety. The judges spoke: 30-27 across the board, for Karo. There was half hearted claps to greet the decision. "I apologize to my fans," Karo said to Rogan. He cited some personal life woes that affected him. The Thorogood song wasn't a fitting song choice, sadly.
The Ultimate Fighter alum, 27-year-old Ed Herman (entering at 15-4 from Vancouver, WA., sporting the best sponshorship of the night, CondomDepot.com) met 30-year-old Canadian Joe Doerksen (39-10) in a rematch from a 2004 squareoff. Herman lost that one, on a triangle chokeout. But he came in to this one looking at easy and ready to rock. He owned the ground in the first. He also cut the Canadian on his eyelid with a strike. The second started slow, with Herman atop Doerk. Things perked up when it looked like Doerksen met wrangle another submission win, but Herman wriggled free. Not so at the end of the round, when Doerksen locked on a triangle choke to armbar, but the horn sounded to end the period. Lucky Herman.
Unlucky Doerksen, then, as the redheaded hitter dropped him with a nighty-night left hook to close the show, and gain his revenge.
The official time: :39 of the third.
UFC threw a hometown boy on the card in the first PPV fight. Twenty-six year old Frankie Edgar (7-0 coming in) of Toms River met up with 31-year-old Spencer Fisher (21-3) of North Carolina, fighting out of Miletich-ville, Iowa in a lightweight attraction.
The respectful crowd didn't hoot or holler as Edgar took Fisher to the floor twice in a row, and looked to pass guard and ground 'n pound. The education level of the watchers has grown a hundredfold since my last live card, in 2002.
The Jersey boy had the edge in strength and technique as he took Fisher to the mat again and again, and sapped his strength. He could probably stand to beef up his submission arsenal, but tell that to Fisher, who had little luck mounting any offense through two.
Same thing in the third. Edgar's favored submission tactic is a choke from behind, but Fisher has too much vet savvy to fall for that.
The judges called it for the local, duh, 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. "Not bad for a Jersey shore kid, huh?" he said afterwards to Joe Rogan.
Chris Lytle, trying to claw his way back into relevance, met Thiago Alves in a welterweight beef scheduled for three. Lytle, of Indiana, came in with a 34-14-4 mark, while Alves, fighting from Florida, was 18-4 . Alves' pacing in the cage before the bout--I saw that look back when I worked in the psych hospital from 1992-1994. It was a locked unit. It usually meant I would be forced to rumble shortly with the pacer.
Lytle was cut over his left eye early in the first, from a right hand. Both men are wide swingers. This was a stand up fest. Lytle, a pro boxer, swings reaaaly wide for a pro boxer. The fight came to a premature halt, as a doctor halted the bout--dare I say it, maybe prematurely--after the second round, and Alves got the TKO nod.
Alves even said after that he thought the bout should have continued. Maybe bone was showing in the slice over the eye, who knows. Lytle wanted it to continue, too. "I'm just pissed it's over," he said.
The third fight of the card had 38-year-old Illini Jason Reinhardt (18-0 coming in) taking on TUF reality show alumnus, massachusetts' Joe Lauzon (14-3), age 23, who holds a win over Jens Pulver. The crowd booed a tiny bit for Reinhardt's entry music, a country tune. The red state/blue state divide stands, eh? I admit a had a small rooting interest for the graybeard, being 38 meself. Was not to be.
Lauzon came out fast and furious. The boys went to the ground and Lauzon cranked on a rear naked choke. Reinhardt tapped out at 1:14 of the first.
In a lightweight scrap, Florida's Marcus Aurilio met Nebraskan Luke Caudillo. Luke ate too many hammerfists, and the ref hopped in and halted it--TKO, unanswered strikes--at 4:29 of the first round. Caudillo glanced up at the big screens as he went to the dressing room, but averted his eyes in disgust.
Japan's Akihiro Gono met Binghamton, NY's Tamdan McCrory in the welterweight kickoff bout. Gono strode to ring wearing a wig that looks like it was swiped from a demented granny. Solid.
The crowd was at 70% capacity or so at first bell, as all those too-cool city cats must've figured they'd make a grand, late entrance. Gono, the even tempered vet, snagged a tapout armbar win in the second round.
OCTAGONAL ODDS AND ENDS The Vegas shows usually get some decent celebs. I saw Chuck Zito. He counts in some circles I guess. That Frankie Valle 'do doesn't exactly scream "current!" but at least he wasn't sporting one of those cutoff sweatshirts that scream "80s!"
--It's smart for Bruce Buffer to provide a little info to the crowd, announcing the finishing holds after the bouts ended.
--Hey boxing take note of this...UFC plays little promo videos to whet everyone's appetites in between bouts. Instead of dead air, where you have fans craning their necks for hotties in the crowd, this practice adds to the anticipation.
--BJ Penn was strolling around. He looks fit, not fat. Bad news for Joe Stevenson.
--Joint looked like a Boston Celtics crowd. It was Caucasian Nation in the Prudential.
--This is a brand spankin new building. The home of hockey's NJ Devils, it opened up October 25. Thus, it didn't smell.
--Hats off the the PR crew. They moved the press through to get their pass quickly, unlike the debacle at MSG for Cotto/Mosley. They didn't take my pic for the pass. They don't need a a pic for a pass anywhere. What is that for, to stave off an impostor. Or terroristic threats? C'mon...
--OMG, I went off when they used "Baba O'Reilly" in one of their promo pieces, as opposed to the usual angry white boy rap-punk, or whatever the genre is. Classic rock, baby! The lyrics were set to the action perfectly. And Keith Moon, a real MMAer on the drums, bashing cymbals as mat slams were executed...perfect. Well done, editor.
--Off topic plug: please check out my friend Tim Struby's nice piece on Ricky Hatton, which focuses on his efforts to keep his waistline in check, in the next ESPN The Magazine.
--Matt Serra came up on the Jumboscreen. There was a mix of cheers and boos. Lotsa Liddell fans in Joisey, Keith Jardine drew boos.
--Boxing promoters. Word to the wise. You MUST come to a UFC show to see how to produce a live event. The pacing is so spot on, and the use of video and music BLOWS away anything I've ever been to boxing wise. I'm just sayin.
He had a flashy physique, a flashy signature punch, a flashy nickname (“Left Hook Lacy”)…and his prospects went up in a flashy puff of smoke when Calzaghe doled out a dose of painful reality in Manchester, England.
Calzaghe got angles on the more-immobile-than-we thought Lacy, who entered the ring at M.E.N Arena with a blemish-free 21-0 record, and showed him the meaning of ring generalship. Calzaghe’s stock shot to the moon, while Lacy’s tanked like a subprime stinker. No one would have been terribly surprised if the shocking whupping sent the Floridian, now age 30, to a permanent hiatus from the sport. The whupping was that complete.
But Lacy (22-1, 17 KOs) is back, and he says, fired up to fight again.
He’ll meet up with another Calzaghe-conquer-ee, Peter Manfredo, on the undercard of the Dec. 8 Mayweather/Hatton scrap in Las Vegas.
Can he shift the momentum back to a time when there was positivity surrounding him? Lacy was the first man from the vastly disappointing 2000 US Olympic squad to snag a title, the vacated IBF 168 pound strap, from Syd Vanderpool, on October 2, 2004. Perhaps he can get back in that frame of consciousness. But there have been chronic injuries, and then the bad beatdown. A restoration of his rep, and psyche, is a tall order.
He’ll need to be physically whole, or, at least, as whole as your average boxer can be, to re-elevate himself. Lacy is coming off surgery to his arm (shoulder, bicep), and he says that he’s at 100%, bodily.
“I’ve been in training for the last five months, with rehabilitation of my left shoulder, making it to a point where I feel comfortable throwing it,” he says. “So it’s been months that I’ve been in training camp, and I am really looking forward to my return to the ring. We signed with Oscar de la Hoya, all the lights shine and I’m ready to go.”
Mentally, he says that the Calzaghe loss has helped him mature.
“The main thing I’ve learned that I’m a very emotional person when it comes down to what people read and what people say about you,” he says. “I’ve learned to understand and deal with emotion a lot better than I did before because when you’re on that winning stage, it’s like everybody’s praising you and everybody’s doing this and that. But when you get a chance to taste a little bit of the bad side of boxing, it kind of really turns your stomach a little bit and keeps you focused on you.
I’ve learned mostly more about myself. It’s all about what Jeff wants to do. What do I want to do, and when do I want to do it, and then if I come to the plate, my fans are going to be happy no matter what. And that’s the main thing I’ve learned in the last 24 months.”
Manfredo cannot be seen as a gimme for Lacy, not after he looked so uninspired against Vitali Tsypko (MD10 win) on Dec. 2, 2006, his first and only fight after the Calzaghe disappointment. But it was revealed after that he tore his shoulder up early on in that scrap, so his subpar performance was mitigated.
But the Rhode Islander, too, comes in as re-furbished goods, as it were, having had left elbow surgery in August to quiet bone spurs and bone chips.
On the subject of refurbished goods, we really don’t know how Lacy’s head is, if the aching in his psyche from being knocked violently off his pedestal has receded, if he still enjoys the business of boxing enough to be able to concentrate on the difficult task at hand. That, in itself, may be a more rigorous fight than Peter Manfredo will provide on December 8.