Written by David A. Avila
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 19:00
Mosley, who is preparing his son Sugarfor a welterweight match against Luis Collazo, dropped his name into the De La Hoya derby. De La Hoya will be fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 5 at the MGM Grand.
“I helped Shane fight De La Hoya twice and I prepared him to beat Fernando Vargas. I think I deserve a little credit,” said Mosley, who is back training his son after a short respite following the first loss to Winky Wright. “I know how Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights and we’ve prepared for him should we fight him.”
Mosley says with him in De La Hoya’s corner there would be numerous benefits for the East Los Angeles prizefighter.
“Not only would Oscar have me in his corner but Shane as well,” Mosley said. “Shane could also help him prepare for Mayweather’s style.”
Mosley said the quickness of Floyd Jr. can be neutralized by working on De La Hoya’s methods.
“Oscar still has some of the quickest hands in the business. He just needs to work on his feet quickness and I can help him with that,” Mosley said. “Money isn’t that big an issue. All I want is what they think is reasonable.”
Of course Floyd Mayweather Sr. is the prime candidate for the position to continue training De La Hoya and he’s voiced his request to be paid more for this fight because of the increase in financial rewards the matching will bring and because it is his own son he would be opposing.
Another name that has popped up numerous times is Freddie Roach whose success with Manny Pacquiao and James Toney has elevated him to near demigod status. The Hollywood-based trainer has been noncommittal but hasn’t ruled the potential merging out of the question.
One final name has been dropped and that is Mexico City’s famed boxing guru Ignacio Beristain who trains Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez. Now that his fighter works for Golden Boy he’s entered the trainer arms race and could be a very viable option says one source.
Right now there are four highly capable trainers opting for the position of De La Hoya’s guru for the biggest fight of his career.
Richard Schaeffer, CEO for Golden Boy Promotions, said De La Hoya is expected to make his selection next week.
“The decision is his and his alone,” Schaeffer said.
Where’s Librado Andrade
Librado Andrade speaks both English and Spanish eloquently, has a trainer considered one of the best in the sport, and to boot, Andrade is ranked number one by the WBC.
So why can’t he get any respect?
In the western section of Las Vegas, close to the Red Rock Casino, Andrade works daily inside Wayne McCullough’s ring-size gym that takes up the whole garage of his brand new home.
McCullough built a career with superb conditioning and still commands total respect from the boxing world for his never-say-die attitude inside the ropes. As a trainer he’s refined both Andrade and his younger brother Enrique Ornelas into the same type of fighting machine he built his career on.
‘They’re both good listeners,” McCullough says. “Whatever I tell them to do they don’t even hesitate.”
Andrade had an opportunity to fight Mikkel Kessler for the WBC title but was offered step-aside money to let the Dane fight Germany’s Markus Beyer. The lanky Andrade from California eagerly accepted the large bundle of money.
“I got more money to not fight than I had ever made fighting,” confessed Andrade, who moved to Las Vegas from La Habra, California and is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. “I was happy.”
But the glee has rubbed off. While other super middleweights are grabbing the limelight like Joe Calzaghe, Kessler, and Jeff Lacy, the Mexican super middleweight has been resigned to keeping sharp while sparring with McCullough.
“They’re (Andrade and Ornelas) both pretty strong,” said McCullough, who would probably face a heavyweight if given the opportunity. “I can really feel their punches even though they’re holding back.”
It’s extremely difficult to secure sparring for the hard-hitting Andrade and his brother. They get tired of sparring with each other. But few other boxers are willing to step in a sparring session for free against the Blast Brothers.
“They say they’re coming back and we never see them again,” McCullough says.
In his last boxing contest Andrade blasted Richard “The Alien” Grant into orbit in one and four opponents before that. Few are able to withstand the quick fisted boxer who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. The six-feet, two-inch super middleweight has seemingly run out of opponents.
Now managed by Al Haymon, the Andrade team is banking on the elite boxing manager to open the doors to the mega-fight kingdom.
“I don’t know why it’s taken so long but I look at other fighters like Edwin Valero who trained at my gym and it gives me hope,” said Andrade, who saw Valero overcome a national medical ban for an injury sustained long ago. He recently captured the lightweight world title and defended it for the first time with a first round knockout in the first round. “He’s my hero.”
Sam Peter beats James Toney
In their second match in four months Samuel Peter proved that fighting at a lower weight makes a difference, even if you’re a heavyweight.
Peter, who arrived eight pounds under his previous weight of last September, won a unanimous decision over James Toney who arrived one pound heavier. The Nigerian heavyweight fired more punches and appeared more nimble than his first encounter with Toney.
Toney suffered a knockdown in the first round when a Peter left jab caught him off-balance and he toppled to the floor. Though unhurt, it proved that his weight has made him top-heavy despite the protein diet provided by Tae Bo expert Billy Blanks.
Since 2001, whenever Toney fought below 220 pounds he knocked out the opposition with the exception of Vassiliy Jirov who barely escaped on his feet. Any time he fought above 220 the fight ended in a decision.
Toney needs to be able to move quickly on his feet and fire more punches. He can’t do that against the elite heavyweights when he weighs more than 220. Even against the non-elite heavyweights he can beat them handily, but the knockouts disappear.
For me it’s clear, if Toney fights below 220 he can beat any heavyweight in the world. Above 220 it’s a 50/50 shot.
Even Muhammad Ali, who is five inches taller at 6-3, fought at most in the 220-pound range. Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who is more similar in body style to Toney, fought regularly at 209 to 215 pounds. When he fought George Foreman in their second encounter Frazier weighed 224 and got smoked.
Weight plays an important factor, even for heavyweights.
“You wouldn’t run a marathon with 18 extra pounds on your back,” said one boxing trainer. “Boxing is like a marathon, you need to have stamina.”
Mendy and Hanshaw result
The super middleweight tournament organized by Showtime and Gary Shaw Productions finally ended last weekend with a draw between France’s Jean Paul Mendy and America’s Anthony Hanshaw.
Though Showtime commentators felt Hanshaw was the definite victor, it sure didn’t seem that way when you turn off the sound. Mendy was throwing some bullets at his opponent who tired after the fifth round.
It was a great fight and both were dogged in their pursuit of victory.
Another fight would be very entertaining that’s for sure.
Fights on television
Thurs. Versus, 6 p.m., Kid Diamond (23-1-1) vs. Antonio Pitalua (41-3).
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Cornelius Bundrage (24-2) vs. Chris Smith (20-3-1).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Tomas Villa (16-5-3) vs. Trinidad Mendoza (21-12-2).
Written by Rick Folstad
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 19:00
He probably takes in stray dogs, doesn’t swear around children, loves his wife and volunteers to work the soup line back home in Manchester, England.
So how did he end up in this cutthroat line of work?
Hatton (41-0, 30 KOs) is scheduled to fight junior-welterweight champion Juan “Iron Twin” Urango (17-0-1, 13 KOs) on Jan. 20 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas (HBO) for Urango’s IBF title.
It’s the same title that used to belong to Hatton until he pitched the championship belt aside last spring and moved up to welterweight to fight Luis Collazo for Collazo’s WBA title.
That fight wasn’t one of Hatton’s best, but he blames it on a lot of distractions, including a switch in opponents because of an injury that meant he had to move up a weight class if he wanted to fight for a belt.
Hatton won, but it wasn’t pretty.
“He was a tricky, slick, speedy southpaw,” he said of Collazo. “He proved he was a lot better fighter than people gave him credit for.”
Apparently, Collazo hadn’t read any of Hatton’s clips. He didn’t actually shut down the Hatton coming-out party, but he put a serious dent in the number of champagne corks that were popped.
So now the Brit gets a second chance to fight in front of America on HBO, prove that the Collazo fight was just a fluke, an anomaly, a lousy night at work.
“I never really intended to move up to welterweight,” Hatton said on a conference call promoting his fight with Urango. “It was just the position we got put in when we were looking around for suitable opponents.”
A living buzzsaw with no off switch, Hatton also liked the idea of winning a championship in two divisions. Sounds better when you tell the grandchildren about it 30 years from now.
“I liked the idea of the challenge,” he said. “And I can always say I was a two-weight world champion.”
Asked if he felt like he was going to be fighting Urango for a title belt that was rightfully his since he never lost it in the ring, Hatton said it would be disrespectful to Urango to claim it was still his title.
“My goal is to climb the pound-for-pound [ladder],” Hatton said. “I’m going in there as the challenger.”
The future for Hatton looks, well, busy.
If he beats Urango and Jose Luis Castillo beats Hermann Ngoudjo on the same card, Hatton versus Castillo is a natural.
Miguel Cotto is also a good fight for Hatton on paper, and Diego Corrales hasn’t gone anywhere and would probably be up for another good payday.
And of course, there’s the big one hovering out there, though there are still a lot of hoops that have to be jumped through before a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. can be signed and sold.
But Hatton still has to get passed Urango, and then maybe Castillo, and Mayweather has a May 5 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, and that doesn’t come with any guarantees.
And if Hatton wins and wins again, and Mayweather beats De La Hoya, Hatton would have to move up to welterweight again since Mayweather probably won’t be moving down.
If all the cosmic tumblers somehow fall into place, we could someday see a Hatton-Mayweather fight.
But Hatton understands how the system works.
“If you lose this fight,” he said, referring to Urango. “You also lose the next one.”
And probably the one after that.
Written by Deon Potgieter
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 19:00
You'll have to look hard to find a more humble man considering his achievements than Bungu, a proud man who came from very poor beginnings. “Bungu came from a very disadvantaged background,” says Rodney Berman who promoted most of his fights. “The story that always brings a tear to my eye, is that when Bungu attended school, he was too proud to admit that his family was poor and couldn't afford to pack him lunch. To hide the fact he used to wrap stones in paper and pretend it was a sandwich. He'd then go off to one side and make as if he was eating, so that the other children wouldn't suspect his situation.”
Fueled by the fire of desire to improve his standard of living and that of his family, Bungu took to the square ring in April 1987. Equipped with a tenacious will to succeed, he scored an impressive ten knockouts in his first 15 fights. On May 13 1990, he captured the South African super bantamweight title by outpointing the powerful and heavy hitting former world title contender Fransie Badenhorst over 12 rounds.
Badenhorst had inflicted the first loss on Bungu's record nine months earlier in a brutal bout in which Bungu was dropped 3 times in the first 5 rounds and Badenhorst once in the seventh. The rematch was thus a hotly anticipated affair which did not disappoint either, although Bungu had learned his lesson with regards his defense and avoid being hit. His career was by and large built on a phenomenal defense and an unrelenting and persistent attack.
Bungu made 5 defenses of his title and scored another 7 knockouts in his next 9 fights. At the time he was the IBF super bantamweight world champion Welcome “the Hawk” Ncita's primary sparring partner. “It was Welcome who encouraged me and made me to believe that I could become a world champion,” says Bungu. “When I saw him lose his belt to (Kennedy) McKinney (against the flow of the fight), I knew that it was time for me to step up. I had the beating of McKinney in me.”
Bungu was matched to face Ncita's conqueror on August 20 1994. McKinney was a noted puncher and very highly rated as a champion. Few gave the soft-spoken South African a chance and he was considered a rank underdog going into the fight. “I didn't want to take the fight,” says Berman. “I never rated Bungu as high as Ncita and McKinney defeated him twice. It was madness to accept it, but Mzi (Mguni) convinced me that his boy could do it ... and the rest is history.”
Bungu put up a masterful display in taming McKinney over 12 one-sided rounds and the stage was set for a fistic future that would have few peers. The new champion accepted all challenges and successfully defended the crown 7 times over the next 2 years. He was then matched in a rematch with McKinney who fervently wanted to reclaim his lost glory.
Bungu frustrated the former golden boy with his watertight defense and weathered a last ditch all-out offensive by McKinney to retain his title in an exciting 12 round split decision win. The Beast, so named for his movement around the ring which resembled an animal stalking his prey, continued his undefeated reign against solid opposition, making another 3 defenses before traveling to Atlantic City to face Danny Romero. Romero, then a former two time world champion who boasted a record of 33 wins, 2 defeats with an incredible 29 knockouts, was expected to be Bungu's toughest opponent to date.
The television series “Survivor's” credo of “Outwit, outplay and outlast” could have been inspired by Bungu as that was always his strategy going into a bout. He had little difficulty in again upsetting the odds in defeating Romero over 12 rounds, thereby equaling Brian Mitchell's South African record of making 12 successful world title defenses. On the February 6, 1999, Bungu went one better easily defeating Victor Llerena with a 7th round TKO. Llerena at the time boasted a record on 22 wins with 16 KO, with only 1 defeat. That at the hands of Bungu 4 years earlier.
Following this win, Bungu was convinced by his promoter and manager to relinquish his world title as it was an obstacle in their negotiations to land a fight with WBO featherweight kingpin Naseem Hamed. “The whole idea was for Bungu to retire as undefeated IBF world champion.” says Berman. “No one can ever take that away from him. He was the undefeated IBF world champion.”
Bungu had been eying a super-fight with Hamed to no avail for a many years and had given up on ever receiving the opportunity when after being inactive for a year he received an offer on short notice to face Hamed early in 2000. Passing the opportunity and the highest purse he had ever been offered was of course not an option, even though he has always been in fine physical condition when entering the ring. Bungu was mentally ill-prepared, did not receive the support from his team he should have and was overwhelmed on his arrival in London. Feeling lost, alone and sold out, Bungu suffered an embarrassing fourth round stoppage. Most assumed he was just collecting a last paycheck, having run into serious conflicts with regards back taxes the previous year and that they had seen the last of the Beast.
His pride and reputation hurt, Bungu returned to the ring two years later and put on a fine performance in a failed bid to claim the vacant WBU featherweight world title against another former IBF super bantamweight world champion Lehlo Ledwaba. Showing he was still a class fighter, Bungu came back a year later to defeat the now highly rated Takalani Ndlovu in an IBO featherweight world title eliminator. The two met again the following year for the title and Bungu again proved victorious.
The one fight a year continued and in 2005 Bungu lost his IBO world title in a somewhat disputed points decision to Thomas Mashaba. Although he never formally announced his retirement, Bungu never fought in 2006, but was seen in the corner of a number of fighters and is shaping into a fine trainer. Whichever road this humble champion's life now takes he has undoubtedly proven himself a living legend in South African boxing and his 5 year tenure as IBF super bantamweight world champion with 13 successful defenses is one to be proud of.
Written by Robert Ecksel
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 14:22
Wednesday afternoonâ€™s press conference to announce the fight was at the Russian Firebird Restaurant in midtown Manhattan, last visited for the Valuev/Barrett presser, a Faberge jewel box of a bistro, where the dÃ©corâ€”chandeliers, marble fireplaces, gold leaf, a grand piano, a statue of an armless woman on a pedestal, paintings on the walls of the winter huntâ€”spells all things Russian all the time.
Unlike the Valuev/Barrett presser, where exotic Russian finger food was served buffet style, and where the boxing press was herded into rows of seats in the tiny banquet room on the second floor, the Briggs/Liakhovich presser, although in the same room, was a sit-down luncheonâ€”complete with table cloths and cloth napkins, harried waiters, black bread and golden butter, more cutlery and plates than you could shake a stick at, and of course the familiar Nicholas and Alexandrian ambience. And while Iâ€™m no expert, the food to my undiscerning palate was lip-smacking good, if not exactly for those who hope to live past sixty.
Because the veneer of civilization touches almost all things some of the time, even boxing, a mixed green salad with goat cheese dappled with vinaigrette started off the press conference and meal. The main course was a multiple choice consisting of Salmon Kulebiaka, which is salmon baked in a puff pastry sitting on a disk of spinach floating in a beurre blanc sauce, or Beef Stroganoff, described on the menu as â€˜Filler of Beef, Onion, Mushroom in a Veal Jus, Pearl Barley,' or that delectable old standby, Chicken Kiev, a boneless chicken breast pounded and oiled in cold unsalted butter, before being breaded and fried to within an inch of its life.
I opted for the Salmon Kulebiaka, still somewhat wary of cloned meat, but no sooner had I finished what tasted like a formerly frozen piece of fish stuffed into something doughy nesting in a swamp of melted butter, than I was reaching for my Maalox, yearning for some vodka, and calling for the head of Joseph Stalin.
Luckily for me, it was early afternoon and the bar was closed and the 21st century and Uncle Joe is dead and gone and good riddance to bad rubbish, but very alive and very well were Brooklynâ€™s own Shannon Briggs and Russianâ€™s own Sultan Ibragimov, their teams, corners, promoters, aide-de-camps, and everyone else associated with the March 10 heavyweight title bout at Madison Square Garden.
Ibragimov told the press, â€œMy English not so good. I know Shannon is a tough, strong fighter. I am ready for strong, tough fight.â€?
Shannon Briggs is also ready for a strong, tough fight, but in the meantime heâ€™s happy to be home. â€œComing home to defend my title!â€? he said. â€œIâ€™m happy to be defending my title in my hometown. Itâ€™s a dream come true for me, to showcase my title at home, to be talking to you as champion rather than as an opponent.â€?
Even though heâ€™s not on the card, the biggest gun in the small room was Bernard Hopkins, representing Golden Boy East, who said, â€œThe heavyweight division is starting to have light and positivity. Now the division is starting to shape up. The heavyweight division has always been looked at as THE division. Shannon Briggs is a very determined and tough fighter. Sultan is an upcoming silver medalist, strong.â€? Hopkins the old pro paused. â€œI think Iâ€™ve changed my mind about this heavyweight stuff.â€? Read more at the BLOG
Written by Rick Folstad
Tuesday, 09 January 2007 19:00
And you had respect, or at least that’s what they called it.
Me, I never figured it that way. You didn’t buy respect like you might buy a bottle of good wine. Respect didn’t come that easy. Anyone who told you they could buy respect, well, don’t trust that sonofabitch because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
To me, it was all about taking a chance, about putting your ass on the line and winning and then watching the bastards reach deep into their pockets to pay up. There was nothing sweeter than watching them dig. That made it all worthwhile, made it count for something, proving the assholes wrong.
Gambling and winning, that’s what it was all about. Not the money. Not really.
Maybe that’s why I was always broke. Maybe that’s why Jo had a hard time living with me, watching me spend big when I won, and hock her jewelry when I lost. But I always knew that someday I’d hit the big one, score enough to where I didn’t have to worry about the rent or pawning her rings. I guess in a way, it was about the money, but that was only when I didn’t have any.
I thought Kenny Boy might be the big score I was always looking for. I put a lot down on him to win and got great odds. No one thought he had a prayer, but I thought he had a chance. There’s always a chance. That’s why you go with the odds. He gets lucky and lands one of them barroom, overhand rights he always used to throw, and bingo, I’m suddenly sitting prettier than a homecoming queen, buying Jo new jewelry instead of trying to get the old stuff out of pawn. I’m buying three-piece suits and silk ties and a better car and I’m getting us out of that dump we’re living in on the second floor. Maybe I find a place closer to the beach where you don’t hear the rats scratching inside the walls late at night.
Too bad Kenny Boy had to lose. The guy he lost to busted him up pretty good. He was never the same after that night, but for awhile, it looked like he might win. I was so close.
The street cops on the South Side, they never trusted Kenny Boy after he lost, never gave him a chance. They said he was crazy, messed up in the head like those crackheads down on Fifth Avenue who were always beating the shit out of each other over pocket change.
The street cops say Kenny Boy took too many right hands to the head and it changed him, left him mean and wild and touched, someone to watch out for. So every time they saw him limping down the street hunched over wearing his dirty Yankees baseball cap and that ratty, old, green army jacket of his, they'd laugh to themselves and go shake him down.
They'd shove him into a dirty alley, slam him up against a wall and search his pockets for blow or a pipe, something they could take him in for. Even if they didn’t find anything they’d still pull out their sticks and swat him across the back of his knees. They'd leave Kenny Boy hobbling around in the cold, wet alley, yelling at the pricks as they walked away laughing.
‘Kiss my ass,” Kenny Boy would yell at them. “You got nothing on me and you never had nothing on me. Go to hell.”
And the street cops would always turn around and smile and yell to Kenny Boy that he was crazy, that he'd been hit too many times in the head and it wouldn't be long before he couldn't remember where he lived or where he was going or how to count to ten.
“Hey, Kenny Boy,” they'd yell. “You know what time it is? It's punch-drunk time, asshole.” Then they'd laugh.
Pricks. They didn't understand. They didn't know what it was like to be good at something, to be one of the best in the whole goddamn world. Kenny Boy was there for awhile, was almost king of the mountain. But he didn't quite make it to the top. He had his chance, but the poor sonofabitch lost. Lose and the bastards who used to beg you to come into their bar and drink were suddenly turning their backs on you at the front door, treating you like you had some kind of contagious dying disease.
I never thought Kenny Boy was so bad. I think he just had a hard time after that last fight. Something broke loose inside his head and it kept rattling around in there and it messed him up pretty good.
Kenny Boy fought for the championship of the world once, but that was the fight I was telling you about where he got beat up so bad. He never got another chance at the title.
Hell, he never fought again.
“Hey Billy,” he used to say to me on those slow nights when I'd stop by his apartment above the drugstore to see how he was doing. “I think I could have beaten that bastard if only I hadn't gotten caught with that right hand of his. Man, one right hand and nothing is ever the same any more. Damn it, Billy. If he don’t catch me with that right hand, I'm champion of the whole world, a rich man with nothing but Cadillacs, diamond rings and big-titted women with long hair.”
“Yeah, Kenny Boy,” I’d tell him. “If pigs could fly, huh? He beat you, man, beat you like a drum and that just about says it all. I'm surprised he didn't kill you. He sure tried to.”
I remember the fight like it was yesterday because you don't forget the times you do something mean and can't forgive yourself for doing it.
The fight was on a hot, muggy Friday night in July in the big arena downtown and everyone was there, all the guys from the gym and most of the street cops and the mayor and the city council and everybody who had money and wanted to show it off.
Kenny Boy's name was in big red letters out in front on the marquee and everyone was dressed up fancy. Even the pimps from Riverside were there, wearing white furs and two-tone shoes and wide-brimmed hats the color of red wine.
The cops who had to work, who couldn't make it to the fight, had to shut down Main Street an hour before the first prelim because there were too many people standing in the street, blocking traffic, waiting to get inside and see Kenny Boy win the title.
I was in Kenny Boy's corner that night, working with Doc Thayer, who everyone thought was the best thing to ever happen to Kenny Boy.
Doc Thayer was about 55 with a tiny white mustache and thinning white hair that he combed straight back. He was short and stocky and when he got excited, he’d start blinking real fast, like he had something in his eyes. They said he used to be a minor-league catcher and that's how his fingers got all busted up, but I never believed it. It wasn't foul balls that snapped his stumpy fingers. It was someone slamming a pool cue or an iron pipe across his hand.
Along with most of his fingers, Doc's nose was also broken, which gave him a little credibility in the gym. If the guy teaching you to fight doesn't have a few scars or marks to show, you figure he never had a tough fight in his life. No one’s so good that they don’t show a few nicks. You're not going to listen to a guy like that. Fighters are picky about who they listen to.
Doc was always in pretty good shape for how old he was and how chubby he was, but you had to be in shape if you were working with young fighters most of your life.
He was a smart guy and I figured that’s why everyone called him Doc. I don’t think he ever got a degree or anything.
I used to sit in his tiny, cramped office at the gym and listen to him bullsh-- other trainers and managers, trying to get fights for his guys. That’s how I usually knew who to bet on.
His office didn’t have any windows and the only light in the place came from a lone bulb that hung down from the ceiling on a long, twisted brown cord. The place smelled like a mix of sweat, leather and ointment. It wasn’t a bad smell, just different.
On the wall behind Doc’s tiny desk were a bunch of old fight posters and photos, and above the doorway going out was a picture frame with an old quote in it that said, “Life is a well of joy; but where the rabble drinks too, all wells are poisoned – Nietzsche.”
I used to ask Doc about it, why he had it hanging up there, but he said he just liked the way it sounded. I still think about that quote, how it seemed so right that it was hanging in a boxing gym.
A few weeks after Kenny Boy started coming to the gym, Doc pulled me aside and told me the kid had potential. It was late afternoon and the gym was empty except for me and Doc.
“He's a tough, tough kid,” Doc said. “Got real potential. Can take a shot and doesn't seem to mind getting hit in the face once in a while. I just gotta see if he can punch as hard as I think he can. He knocked Danny Toliver on his ass the other day. Did ya’ see it? I don't ever remember seeing Danny get knocked on his ass like that. Of course, you never know what they’re gonna do until you get him in the ring in a real fight.”
It was just a week later when Doc decided to take Kenny Boy under his wing. He made him start training harder and got him some better sparring and he even bought Kenny Boy new boxing shoes. White with red stripes. I thought Kenny Boy was going to cry right there in the gym.
Kenny Boy’s family was out in Iowa or Wisconsin or someplace and he said he never got along with his old man. One day his dad came after him swinging a two-by-four, so Kenny Boy took off and never went back. He was bagging groceries at the A&P when he happened to stop in the gym one day. That’s where he met Doc.
Four years later, after Kenny Boy had won something like twenty fights in a row and had worked his way up to being a top contender, Doc went out and somehow put the championship fight together. He talked the people who were handling Fin Baker – the middleweight champion of the world – into coming into Kenny Boy's backyard to defend his title.
No one could believe that Kenny Boy was really getting a shot at the title, no one but maybe Doc.
“It ain't that tough if you got somethin’ to deal with,” Doc said, smiling that tight smile he always showed when he thought he was pretty big stuff. “And I showed them a special deal they couldn't turn their backs on.”
Doc made it sound like he did something special, which was just bullsh--. What really happened was, Doc knew one of Baker’s handlers and the champ agreed to take what he thought was going to be an easy fight just to keep sharp and make a little money until something bigger came along.
That night in the arena, Kenny Boy fought the fight of his life. He showed a set of balls I never knew he had. He even rocked the champion a couple times in the first few rounds and the place went crazy, the hometown crowd cheering for their hometown boy.
It wasn't until the sixth round that Kenny Boy finally got tagged. It was a left hook and it caught him just above his right eye, the punch causing a small explosion of flesh and blood. Kenny Boy instinctively reached up with his glove to brush away the cut, which quickly became a deep gash.
When the bell ended the round, he came tottering back to the corner like he was drunk.
“How bad is it?” he asked Doc after collapsing on his stool. There was a trace of panic in his voice. You could tell he was struggling to stay calm. He looked up at me. “Can you stop it, Billy?”
The blood was flowing pretty good out of the cut and the ringside physician, a small, old, mousy guy dressed in a gray suit wearing wire-rimmed glasses, climbed up onto the apron of the ring to look at the damage.
But Doc played it real cool. He managed to get in the doctor's way, kept him from getting a good look at Kenny Boy’s eye.
While Doc was running interference, I was working on the cut, rubbing some of Doc’s miracle cure on a Q-tip and placing it in the cut, then squeezing it together over the Q-tip. It was a bad gash. Real bad.
Just before the bell rang starting the seventh round, I smeared some Vaseline over the cut and looked at Doc.
“I don't know, Doc,” I told him. “He'll be lucky to get through this round. One punch, that cut could bust wide open again.”
Doc didn't say anything. He just shook his head, like he didn't want to hear what I was telling him.
Somehow, Kenny Boy managed to rally back in the seventh round without the cut opening up. He even bounced a few left jabs off Baker’s forehead.
At the bell ending the round, he came back to the corner tired, but smiling. I couldn't believe he was still on his feet. I worked on the cut again while Doc told him to keep the jab going, to let everything follow the jab.
“That sets it all up,” he told Kenny Boy. “Everything starts with the jab, son. Double it up. Throw it three times in a row. Pop, pop, pop. Keep him off balance. Stay loose.”
Bent over in front of Kenny Boy, Doc was waving the water bottle around in one hand and pulling the waistband of Kenny Boy’s trunks out with the other to make it easier for him to breathe.’’
“You can do this, son,” he told him. “You can beat this guy.”
The 10-second whistle blew and Doc slipped Kenny Boy’s mouthpiece in and slapped him across the leg before climbing out of the ring.
“You can do this,” he whispered to him.
I couldn't believe it, but Doc was right. Maybe Kenny Boy could win. Going into the eighth round, I had it a close fight.
There was maybe 20 seconds left in the eighth when he ducked into a right-hand lead. It was a beautiful punch and it landed flush on the bridge of Kenny Boy’s nose. I still swear I heard his nose crack.
With his nose broken and blood pouring out of both nostrils, Kenny Boy went down hard. By the time he realized he was no longer standing, the referee had reached the count of six. He finally got back on his feet and just beat the count when the bell rang.
We managed to get Kenny Boy back to his corner, but you could see the fight was gone in him. He was pretty busted up. He didn't know what town he was in, what day it was or why he was sitting on a stool in a hot room with bright lights.
I don’t know why I even bothered, but I stuffed a couple Q-tips way up his nose to slow the bleeding down, then started working again on the gash above his eye. The right hand to the nose had been so hard, it broke open the cut over his eye, and now there was blood trickling down the side of his cheek. The poor bastard looked like he'd been in a car accident, his head banging off the steering wheel. There was blood everywhere – on his cheek, on his shoulder, dripping down the front of his chest.
I was just about to tell Doc to stop the fight when Kenny Boy looked up at me and asked me where he was. I looked over at Doc.
“He's done, man,” I said. “We need to call it. Tell them he’s done, that the fight’s over. He can't go out there again.”
Doc didn’t say anything. He just reached into his pocket, pulled out the scissors he used to cut tape with and handed it to me so that no one noticed what he was doing.
“Slice his glove,” Doc whispered to me. “Slice it right in the middle, in the fat part of the stuffing. Maybe we can buy him some time.”
“I tell ya, he’s done, Doc. He doesn’t need to go back out there.”
“Cut it, Billy. Quick.”
I reached out and using my thumb, pushed down hard on the edge of the scissors along the thick part of the glove where the cut would be easy to see. It was a small slice, but it was enough.
Kneeling down in front of Kenny Boy, who was still lost on some distant planet, Doc turned around and yelled at the ref.
“Hey ref,'” he yelled. “My fighter's glove is torn. Here, look at it. He can't fight with a torn glove.”
The ref quickly came over to our corner.
“What's the problem?” he asked, leaning over us.
“My fighter's glove is torn. Here. Look at the slice. He needs a new glove.”
The ref picked up the glove, saw the slice and looked over at one of the commissioners at ringside.
They stopped the fight long enough to put a new pair of gloves on Kenny Boy. It gave him time to clear his head a little. The guys in Fin Baker’s corner were really pissed, yelling out that we were just trying to buy some time, trying to give our fighter a chance to rest and clear his head.
“Assholes,” I thought to myself. “Of course that’s what we’re doing. Just about everyone in the place knows that’s what we’re doing. But there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop it.”
When they were finally ready to start the ninth round, Kenny Boy still had that far away look in his eyes, though he did manage to answer a few simple questions Doc asked him, like where was he and who was he fighting. But he never should have gone back out there for the ninth and I never should have let him. But I had two grand riding on Kenny Boy, and I got those great odds. If he lands one of them overhand, barroom haymakers, Jo and me are moving away from the rats.
Of course, it was wrong what we did that night, pushing him back out there, making him fight when he didn’t have nothin’ left to fight with. I knew it and Doc knew it. But sometimes you get caught up in stuff. Sometimes you do stupid things you wish you hadn't done. I never should have sliced that glove, but damn, the punks would have been paying out the ass if Kenny Boy could have landed just that one punch.
Somehow, he staggered out there for the ninth round and managed to stay away from the champion for most of the round. He clinched him every time Baker got close, and once in awhile, he even threw a punch or two. But it was over. He never should gone back out there.
Toward the end of the round, Kenny Boy started taking even a worse beating, Baker landing just about everything he threw. The sonofabitch couldn't miss. Toward the end of the round, Kenny Boy looked like a blind man trying to feel his way around a strange room.
I thought the referee would stop it, but he must have been listening to the home crowd, afraid of getting jumped later if he stepped in and took away any chance Kenny Boy had of landing that magical punch everyone heard about but never saw. He was still on his feet when the bell rang.
In the corner before the start of the 10th, Kenny Boy was breathing real hard, but he had gotten his head back together. He asked Doc if he was winning, which surprised me. He seemed almost clearheaded, like everything was all right. Sometimes, when you get hit hard enough, I think it can knock you out of your stupor, sort of bring you back from the dead. I think that’s what happened to Kenny Boy.
Doc wouldn't lie and told him he was losing. He told him he needed a knockout to win, and poor Kenny Boy just sat there breathing hard, his arms dangling between his legs, his body covered with sweat, his right eye swollen shut and his busted nose spread out across his face, blood trickling from one nostril.
He looked down between his legs.
“Damn,” he whispered to himself. Then he spit up some blood.
When the bell rang, he somehow found the guts to stand up and go back out there.
I put my hand on his shoulder to stop him, but Doc grabbed my hand.
“Let him go,” he said. “He’s got his second wind.’
Screw his second wind. He was getting his ass kicked and Doc wasn’t doing anything to save him. If I didn’t have that money bet on him, I would have tossed in the towel. Instead, I dropped down off the ring apron, sat on the stool and watched Kenny Boy take the beating of a lifetime.
“Right hand,” I yelled at him, wishing to God he’d land the punch. “Right hand, right hand.” But he didn’t throw it. He couldn’t. He didn’t have anything left.
In the end, it got to where even the hometown crowd couldn't stomach it anymore. They started booing and yelling at the stupid-ass ref to stop the fight, to put an end to the slaughter. When that still didn't work, they started throwing junk into the ring, empty beer cups and coins and hotdog wrappers.
Finally, Doc grabbed a towel, stepped up onto the ring and tossed it in, the white towel floating down and landing at the referee’s feet. He quickly moved in between Baker and Kenny Boy and waved his hands up over his head, putting a merciful end to one of the worse beatings I'd ever seen, in or out of the ring. Kenny Boy's face looked like something you'd see at the butcher shop.
That was it for Kenny Boy's boxing career, though Doc didn’t want to admit it.
“You’re all guts. I never seen a guy with so much guts,” Doc told him after the fight when Kenny Boy was sitting on the table in the locker room getting his face stitched up. “We’ll get a rematch. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll get a rematch. You can beat that guy. You can do it.”
I glanced over at Doc and shook my head. He knew better. We all knew better.
Kenny Boy didn't say nothing. He just stared back at Doc with this strange look in his eyes. I think he was still trying to remember why he was there in the first place.
Kenny Boy stayed away from the gym after that night and Doc never said another word about it. It was a few months later when we started hearing rumors about Kenny Boy getting high all the time. He was getting into all kinds of trouble and that's when the cops decided to come down hard on him.
I didn't tell Doc, but I visited Kenny Boy quite a few times after his last fight, always bringing a few beers with me. I guess maybe I felt bad about cutting that glove and letting him go back out there when he shouldn’t have. Besides, Jo left me after I lost the two grand on the fight, so I had a lot of extra time on my hands.
His apartment above the drugstore was a dirty, rundown place with torn, green carpeting and holes in the walls, most of them looking like they were made by someone’s fist. When he opened the door and you walked in, the first thing you noticed was the smell of stale beer, pot and piss. The second thing you noticed was that it was hard to see anything. He kept the place dark, using old blankets to cover the windows because there weren't any shades to pull down.
The only furniture in the room was a fold-out, blue couch, a black-and-white TV on a wooden box and an old metal table with two chairs. The place was always a mess – clothes, empty beer bottles and old newspapers scattered all over – but that didn't bother Kenny Boy.
We'd sit at his table drinking beer and he'd always say the same thing, telling me how if he hadn't gotten hit with that one right hand, he might of been middleweight champion of the world.
“Kenny Boy,” I'd tell him. “He didn't beat you with one right hand. He beat you with everything he threw. In the last few rounds, he couldn't miss. He might as well have been hittin’ the heavy bag. You looked like a goddamn statue out there.’
Kenny Boy would shake his head and run the fingers of his hand through his dark hair, trying to understand what I was telling him.
“No, no,” he'd say. “I remember it, Billy. He just got lucky with a right hand.”
It was about six months after the fight when Kenny Boy really began to lose it. The last few times I visited him, he couldn't remember the fight at all.
My last visit, he couldn't remember my name.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” he said when I reminded him of who I was. “Sorry, Billy. Just slipped my mind. I been getting these headaches lately and sometimes I just forget stuff.”
It was in early January when Kenny Boy suddenly showed up at the gym. He didn’t make a sound coming in. He just found a quiet corner and stood there watching everything.
Doc, who was in the ring working the focus mitts with a Mexican lightweight, saw him first.
“Christ, Kenny Boy,” he yelled out. “You scared the sh-- out of me. I didn’t see you come in.”
Along with me and Doc, there were only four guys working out, so when Doc yelled, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked over at Kenny Boy.
“Hey, what are ya doin’ here?” Doc asked him, lowering his voice almost to a whisper and glancing over at me like he was wondering if I knew what was going on.
I’d been watching some big, dumb heavyweight hit the heavy bag, and when I looked over at Kenny Boy and then back over at Doc, I could see something was wrong. Doc looked nervous, scared.
Kenny Boy still hadn’t moved or said a word. He was wearing his ratty army jacket and his dirty Yankees cap and I remember thinking he looked different. I couldn’t tell what it was, but there was something about him that wasn’t right. Then I realized he was smiling. I hadn’t seen him smile since before the fight six months earlier.
“Hey, Kenny Boy,” Doc said to him again. “What’s up?”
No one moved or said a word and it got real quiet except for the sound of one of the heavy bags creaking as it swung back and forth on its chain. We all just stood there looking over at him, waiting for him to say something.
Thinking back on it now, I should have seen it coming. We all should have seen it coming. Kenny Boy was on the raw edge and something had to happen. He couldn’t go on like he was going, getting crazier and crazier, the headaches getting worse. We should of gotten him some help.
We were still waiting for him to say something when he pulled out the gun. It was a .38 and he’d been hiding it in his pocket, holding it in his right hand, the same right hand I’d put all my money on in his fight with Fin Baker, the right hand he wouldn’t throw.
Now he was pointing the gun at Doc, making a strange humming sound as he pulled the hammer back.
“Sonofabitch,” Doc said, his voice cracking. “What are ya doin’ Kenny Boy? What are ya doin?”
Kenny Boy, who hadn’t taken his eyes off Doc, suddenly stopped humming and took a step toward the ring.
“You never should have done it, Doc,” he finally said, sounding calm and clear for the first time in weeks. “Why did you do it? Why? I lost it all because of you.”
Doc shook his head.
“Geezus, Kenny Boy, we were just trying to buy you some time,” Doc said, almost pleading with Kenny Boy. “We figured if we cut the glove, you’d have time to recover, to get your head back. We were just trying to help you win.”
“No, no, no, Doc,” Kenny Boy said, closing his eyes and shaking his head while still pointing the gun at Doc. “That’s not what I mean, that’s not what I’m talking about, Doc. Don’t ya know? Don’t ya know what I’m sayin’, what I’m tryin’ to tell ya?”
Doc just stood there in the middle of the ring, the focus mitts still on his hands.
“I don’t understand,” he said so softly you could hardly hear him.
“The towel,” Kenny Boy said, sounding tired. “The towel, Doc. Why did you throw in the towel? I coulda been middleweight champion of the whole world, but you stopped it. You took my championship from me.”
Then, in what seemed like slow motion, Kenny Boy turned the gun on himself, jammed the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger, the sharp crack of the gun bouncing off the old walls of the gym. Blood and pieces of bone and flesh splattered across the wooden floor as Kenny Boy fell backwards onto his back, his body twitching two times before growing still. Lying there with his eyes still open, a pool of dark red blood started to form around his head.
No one moved or said anything for what seemed like an hour, though it was just a few seconds. Finally, Doc yelled for someone to call the cops.
I didn’t go back to the gym for a couple months after that. I tried to patch things up with Jo, but it never happened. She found someone else, some stable guy who didn’t gamble and who worked 40 hours a week. I guess it was what she needed.
When I finally went back, I found out nothing had changed. Doc was standing on the apron of the ring yelling at a couple middleweights who were sparring.
When the round ended, he climbed down off the ring and came over and shook my hand and started telling me what I’d missed.
It was getting late and there was a little featherweight standing over by a heavy bag waiting for the bell to ring to start another round. When it finally sounded, he began to pound the bag with both fists, snapping his punches and shuffling in and out as the bag swung back and forth. The whole gym suddenly came alive again, everyone hitting bags or skipping rope or shadow boxing in front of cracked mirrors leaning against gray, concrete walls.
Doc turned and looked over to where the little featherweight was still slamming his fists into the bag.
“Hey Billy,” he said. “That little featherweight over there, he's a tough kid. He's got potential. He can take a pretty good shot. Of course, you never know what they’re gonna do until you get them in the ring in a real fight. But a couple years and some good wins...”
Written by Robert Ecksel
Tuesday, 09 January 2007 04:01
"I give him 24 months before the intensity starts fading for him,â€? Steward told the Manila Bulletin. "He is so incredibly exciting. He is going to make a lot of money, no doubt about that. He is always exciting and he will leave his legacy in the ring. He is making his mark. But it's his face-first style that will shorten his boxing career.
"That type of fighter, well, they seldom go past age 30. That type of guy does not age well."
Steward has a point. Pacquaioâ€™s blood and guts, do or die style, which makes him the â€œmost exciting fighter in the world,â€? according to HBOâ€™s wise man Larry Merchant, also makes him vulnerable to getting hit, never a good thing for any pro, no matter how offensive-minded or resilient he might be.
That said, maybe the tradeoff is worth it, when one considers all the fistic thrills Pac-Man has already given us, and is likely to give us during the next two years, before the inevitable slide, which Steward predicts, begins. Read more at the BLOG
Written by David A. Avila
Monday, 08 January 2007 19:00
Pacing and rhythm are deadly serious even during drills.
Other pugilistic trainers peek a look over at the professor of boxing who wears a white cut-off tee shirt emblazoned with “World’s Greatest Trainer” on the front. Mayweather shouts out instructions to his protégé who is sparring inside one of two boxing rings.
Inside the Las Vegas boxing gym Mayweather appears content. But once the gym quiets down the turmoil regarding his potential tutoring of Oscar De La Hoya boils to the surface. His son Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be opposing the Golden Boy on May 5, 2007.
It could be the greatest boxing event of this century.
Critics decry the father for intending to guide a fighter against his own son. In one recent piece a boxing writer debased Mayweather for his decision to train De La Hoya for the right price.
Mayweather was incensed by the comments tossed at him.
“That writer is an a*****e,” Mayweather said. “He’s a coward for not saying it to my face.”
It irks the professional boxing trainer that anyone should be able to toss rocks through his glasshouse.
“People don’t understand I was training Oscar before little Floyd wanted to fight him. So why should I have to stop,” said Mayweather. “I didn’t tell little Floyd to fight him.”
Teaching prizefighters the finer points of the science of boxing has enabled the former professional boxer to accumulate a number of the best prizefighters in the country. Fighters line up to learn the finer points of boxing from the boxing maestro, like some modern-day Socrates.
Professional fighters such as Panchito Bojado, Mickey and Cortez Bey, Chad Dawson and Laila Ali enlist his aid to prepare for battle inside the ring.
“I got a few more,” Mayweather says.
On this day, after Chad Dawson completes his training for the day, Ali steps through the ring ropes to begin her work with the boxing maestro. Speed and more speed with precision, timing and defense are Mayweather’s trademarks.
“Floyd works on everything defense and offense,” said Ali who is preparing for her next bout, that takes place in Africa on Feb. 3.
Though Mayweather has guided De La Hoya’s last eight prizefights during the last seven years, the former Michigan native feels a variety of reasons predicate a larger contract for this looming clash. At the moment, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather are negotiating.
“First, both Oscar and little Floyd are getting much more than they normally get, so why can’t I get mine? I got to be compensated,” Mayweather says adding that De La Hoya is making more than $26 million and his son $12 million. “Second, he’s (De La Hoya) fighting my son. I’m the one who taught him (Floyd Jr.) all he knows.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has rocketed through the boxing world capturing world titles in four weight classes beginning in 1998 when he stopped Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez for the WBC junior lightweight title. Since then he moved up in weight three more times in winning the lightweight division, junior welterweight division and welterweight division world titles. Now he’s zeroing in for a fifth against De La Hoya.
“If Oscar wants to beat little Floyd he has to come to me. I’m not saying he can’t beat Floyd without me because he does have a puncher’s chance,” Mayweather said, adding that De La Hoya has the heart of a champion. “But I got all the answers because little Floyd learned all he knows from me.”
When De La Hoya first announced he would consider fighting Mayweather Jr. he insisted he would do it with Mayweather Sr.
“I won’t fight without Floyd Mayweather Sr. in my corner,” De La Hoya said after beating Ricardo Mayorga last May.
At first Floyd Sr. balked at the prospect of guiding a fighter against his son. But now, for an unspecified price, he would prepare the Golden Boy against his son Floyd Jr.
Back in the late 1990s Mayweather Sr. was imprisoned for several years on drug charges. He resumed training his son but soon the two broke from each other due to differences of opinion over managerial matters. Papa Mayweather was kicked off the residence his son had allowed him to use and the two have barely spoken with each other since. Floyd Sr. was replaced as his son’s trainer with Roger Mayweather the uncle.
Mayweather Sr. said this past November the Mayweather family gathered for a holiday at grandma’s house. He arrived early and expected to see the whole family. When Floyd Jr. arrived and learned his father was present, he departed quickly.
“He jumped back in his car and left,” said Mayweather shaking his head. “That decided for me to kick his [butt] and get someone to kick his butt for me.”
Floyd Jr. refuses to comment on the family matters. He acknowledges the boxing wisdom he attained from his father and his uncle.
“My father is more defensive-minded,” said Floyd Jr. “My uncle Roger’s style is more exciting.”
Family strife aside, Golden Boy Promotions has yet to decide whether to bow to Mayweather’s demand for a monetary boost for his services. Calls to the Golden Boy headquarters on Friday afternoon have not been returned.
Mayweather doesn’t worry about whether he will be retained or not.
“When he challenged Oscar he challenged his daddy,” he says of his son. “Training fighters is my job. It’s my business. I don’t want to go back in prison again.”
As Chad Dawson, one of his fighters, prepares to leave the gym, Mayweather gives the lanky southpaw some advice. The light heavyweight challenger listens intently as if it were his father.
“I’m a teacher,” Mayweather said. “Ain’t no one man going to hold me down.”
Written by Aaron Tallent
Monday, 08 January 2007 19:00
“Think he’s got a drug habit?” asked Ben.
“Probably,” said Frank.
Danielle rolled her eyes. Frank was the agent for A-List action movie star Scott James, her boss. Frank was persuasive enough to convince an aspiring actress that couch favors were necessary to garner the role of Victim #4 in “Zombie Hookers from Outer Space.” Even though his knowledge of athletes was severely lacking, however, it did not stop him from speaking on the subject with authority. Ben, Scott’s personal photographer, appeared to be eating it up. For renowned boxing trainer Bobby Dee, the drug speculation had been enough.
“Moon is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” he said, “but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why he is doing this.”
“You think Scott has a chance?” asked Frank.
“Even if Moon was suffering from heroin withdrawal, he would still tear Scott to pieces,” said Bobby.
Danielle had been Scott’s personal assistant for eight months, ever since her old boss, magician Wendell Mosser, had lost his network television contract. Despite the switch from magician to action movie star, she was still miles away from an inside track to the film industry. Yet her eight months with Scott had been refreshing. While Wendell had required her to work long hours, seven days a week, fulfilling the most miniscule and whimsical demands, Scott had allowed her to work from 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and her only duty was to fulfill his one addiction: risk.
In the past eight months, she had coordinated his climb to the summit of Denali, an iron man competition in Hawaii, and a $20 million winner-take-all Texas Hold ‘Em game in Geneva. The job had been taxing on occasion, but her main worry was that her boss came back from all his jaunts in one piece.
Three months earlier, Scott had blackberried her with a message that said, “I want to fight a former fighter at my home in Maryland. I don’t care who. Just make sure he’s a heavyweight around my size and has fought the best. Set the fight up for October.”
When she coordinated Scott’s climb of Denali, she had no idea that it and Mount McKinley were one in the same. In setting up the fight, she learned a great deal about heavyweight boxing as well. After extensive research, she finally found www.moonmozier.com
Moon Mozier was a former fighter who had compiled a record of 35-3 throughout his career with 30 knockouts. He had also unsuccessfully challenged for the heavyweight title on two occasions. His last title shot ended with him being knocked out in the ninth round by Kwame Orange. The knockout was forever embedded in the memories of sports fans by a Katya Sorenson photograph that showed an unconscious Moon lying on the canvas while Kwame leaped in the air with his arms raised in victory. The picture earned the prestige of being part of Sportsweek’s top 15 photographs of the 20th Century. After the loss, Moon retired at the age of 32. That had been eight years earlier.
Danielle had learned that most fighters who retire in their early 30s usually live pretty comfortably. That is why she was shocked to see that Moon had a “Challenge Moon” page on his website that read:
Think you can take Moon? For a fee, Moon will give you a shot at besting the greatest heavyweight to never win a title. If you are interested, please click here.
She was the assistant to the number three box-office star in America and felt that she was above using the “contact me” icon on a website. However, the website did not offer a number. The next day, she received the response:
Dear Ms. Holden,
Thank you for you contacting us. We are huge fans of Mr. James’ work. Moon is available during October. His fee for a sparring session is $100,000. Also, Mr. James would be required to cover Moon’s transportation, accommodation, medical examinations, and licensing fees. Please get back to us on this as soon as possible as Moon’s schedule fills very quickly. Thank you.
Moon Mozier, Inc.
When she brought the information to Scott and Frank, all she received was criticism.
“Why did you mention Scott’s name?” asked Frank. “This guy probably has a group of attorneys pimping him out. The minute you mentioned his name, they are trying to shake us down for a hundred grand. We probably could’ve gotten him for much cheaper had you not given him so much information.”
However, Scott was 6’2” and weighed 190 pounds. Moon weighed around 215 but was 5’11”. Scott thought that this may have allowed him to have an advantage when Moon closed in. After letting Frank berate her for a few more minutes, Scott told Danielle to have his attorneys finalize the deal with Moon.
Moon arrived alone at Scott’s Aberdeen mansion around 2:00 that afternoon, and Danielle led him to one of Scott’s many bedrooms to use as a dressing room. In street clothes, he did not look like a broken man in need of a paycheck. However, she had seen many a well-groomed actor who concealed their hand-to-mouth lifestyle with charged designer clothing.
Scott built a boxing ring in his gargantuan basement, hired Bobby, made sure Ben would be there to photograph the event, and trained for two months. He had played a prizefighter early in his film career and had learned the fundamentals of the sport then. Despite the prior knowledge, Bobby did not hesitate to tell him he was making a big mistake fighting Moon.
The contract between Scott and Moon had stipulated that both fighters be in the ring by 3:15 that afternoon. At 3:10, Scott walked down to the basement wearing a red silk robe. Danielle bit her upper lip to keep from laughing as he posed for Ben.
“Well, that’s real practical,” said Bobby.
“I don’t care,” said Scott. “I’ve always wanted one of these. Hey Frank, check this out.”
He turned around to reveal a patch on the back his robe reading, “Shamrock Meats, Inc.” Frank shook his head.
“I always figured Rocky was your inspiration for this,” he said.
Frank looked his watch. 3:12.
“Moon better get out here soon,” he said. “The contract stated 3:15.”
“Don’t worry,” said Bobby. “I taped him up 15 minutes ago. He’ll be out any minute.”
Seconds after Bobby spoke, Moon walked down the stairs into the basement wearing only boxing trunks and shoes. He did not resemble a former athlete who had buried his Adonis-like body under frequent trips to the buffet table nor did he look as if he was skipping many meals. His physique was not chiseled, but it had country boy healthiness. Moon stepped into the ring and walked over to Scott’s corner and shook the star’s hand.
“Mr. Mozier,” said Scott. “Thank you for the opportunity.’
“It’s your money,” said Moon.
He studied Scott’s robe and smirked, as Bobby placed the headgear on his head. After Scott put on is headgear, both fighters went to their respective corners.
Round one of their four-round sparring session got underway at 3:30. Moon walked out of his corner and slowly circled the ring. Scott kept his distance and stayed parallel with him. Occasionally, Moon would fire a soft jab, which Scott would either slip or slap away. A little more than two minutes into the round, Moon threw a loopy left hook, and Scott ducked under it and pounded a right into his side. Moon winced and tottered a bit and backed against the ropes. Scott closed in and threw wild rights and lefts at his opponent, who had built himself a cocoon of gloves and limbs. With about ten seconds left in the round, Moon glided out from under Scott’s attacks and threw a right hand lead at his shoulder. The bell rang with Moon backpedaling.
In Scott’s corner, Bobby quickly went to work on his elated employer.
“He didn’t become the number heavyweight contender in the world for nothing,” said Bobby. “Don’t get cocky, and only punch when you have an opening.”
When the bell rang for round two, Scott charged out of his corner.
“Don’t go after him!” screamed Bobby.
Scott stopped three feet in front of Moon and stepped backwards. Moon continued to throw a very weak jab and spoke while he did.
“You ain’t too bad,” he said. “But you got a lot to learn. When you fight for the heavyweight title, come talk to me then.”
Danielle frowned as Moon threw another limp jab. Frank leaned in next to her.
“It’s a testament to boxing if this old pug was once considered to be a star,” he whispered into Danielle’s ear.
She shuddered and moved away from him. Moon once again tossed a left hook with the velocity of a wet noodle, and Scott was again able to slip under it. However, this time he was met with a bone-crushing right uppercut under his chin. Scott’s head snapped back and he dazedly staggered backwards. Danielle closed her eyes. Moon followed up with a quick left and right into his chest sending him back into the ropes. Scott did not fall, but his arms were dropped at his sides. Moon looked over at Scott’s corner.
“Think he’s done, Bobby?” asked Moon.
“Yeah, he’s done,” said Bobby as he climbed into the ring to help Scott.
Ben set his camera down and helped Scott to his feet as well, as did Frank. As they helped lead Scott upstairs to a bedroom, Frank turned around to look at Danielle and Moon.
“Mr. Mozier, Scott would say goodbye, but he’s too woozy,” he said. “Danielle, what time is your flight back to L.A.?”
“Ride with Mr. Mozier to BWI and see that he gets situated,” said Frank.
It took Moon about 30 minutes to shower and change clothes. Danielle met him in one of Scott’s many hallways. As they walked to the front door, they passed a large detailed print of the famous photo of Moon and Kwame. He stopped, stared at it, and shook his head.
“Wonder if any photos of me and Scott will go up next to that?” he asked.
The limo ride was mostly quiet. Three years ago, Danielle would have had difficulty concentrating if she had been alone in a car with a beastly prizefighter, but now she just passed the time reading The Baltimore Sun.
Moon’s cell phone rang when they were five miles away from the BWI exit. He pulled it off the holder attached to the belt holding his jeans up.
A few moments passed.
“Thanks for calling me back, Bill. I can make that show on the 13th. And I’ll be happy to sit with Kwame and sign that darn picture. The only thing is that I want $150 for every one that I do.”
Moon held the phone away from his ear. She could not decipher any of it, but Danielle could hear very intense verbiage coming from his cell phone.
“Bill, I hear you and I’m sure Kwame will be upset if I make more money than him on this. But Kwame has to understand that I’m the draw here. He’ll sign that picture any old day of the week. I won’t. The swallowing of my pride should be worth a few extra bucks. Also, more people want Kwame’s autograph than they do mine so in the end, he will make more money anyway.”
Ten seconds passed before Danielle could hear some noise from the phone.
“Thank you. I appreciate you understanding. We are pulling into the airport so I will touch base with you in the next couple of weeks about logistics for the 13th. Take care.”
The lines at Baltimore-Washington International Airport were slim and Danielle and Moon quickly got their boarding passes and made their way through the security checkpoints. As they walked to their respective gates in Terminal C, Moon turned to her.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Danielle could not find an ulterior motive.
“Sure,” she said.
They went to the Beer Garden and sat at the bar. A tanned man with salt and pepper hair was chiding the bartender as he poured a Guinness.
“Do you not put a spoon in it?” he asked. “It ruins it when you don’t put a spoon in it.”
The bartender paid him no mind and continued.
“Go to any pub in Ireland, or even New York for that matter and you’ll see.”
Moon rolled his eyes.
“Where’d you learn that from? Guinness.com?” said Moon.
There was silence as the bartender handed him his beer and approached Danielle and Moon.
“I’ll have a double Johnny Walker Black on the rocks,” said Moon. “You know I went to a Johnny Walker taste-testing once and learned that it’s blended from 40 different scotches. If I were a jackass, I would tell every bartender that poured me one about it.”
The finicky man took his Guinness and moved to a table. The bartender turned to Danielle who was trying her best to keep from laughing.
“You got it,” said the bartender as he quickly went to work on the drinks.
Moon rolled up the sleeves on his button-down shirt.
“I wasn’t going to do anything,” said Moon. “I just hate to see people act that way.”
She nonchalantly held up her hand letting him know it was okay.
“So is Scott from Maryland originally?” he asked.
“He grew up in Rockville,” she said. “After he signed his first million dollar contract for Under the Knife, he bought that house in Aberdeen so he would have a place to go to get away from it all.”
The bartender delivered the drinks. They clinked their glasses together and Danielle took a sip.
“I don’t know what it is with him though,” she said, “with these endeavors. He actually thought he could beat you. It’s like these guys have things fall the right way for them movie-wise and they all of the sudden think that they are invincible.”
“A lot of guys of his stature – guys with money to burn – let their ego get the best of them,” said Moon. “It’s how I make most of my living. Guys like Kwame Orange are too proud to waste their time boxing with some pampered movie star or flash-in-the-pan wide receiver. For me, it’s an easy way to make money and an excuse to stay in halfway decent shape. And at the end of the day I think I give them a greater respect for the sport and a bit of a humbling experience at the same time. I like to think of myself as a professional grounder.”
Danielle almost spit up her drink.
“Come on,” she said. “You carried him for an entire round.”
“I gotta keep business coming in,” he said. “If I really unloaded on him in the ring – and I’m not saying this to toot my own horn – he wouldn’t last thirty seconds and he would likely get seriously hurt. Taking someone with no experience and putting him in the ring with a professional fighter is like sending a guy with no mountain climbing experience up K2.”
“Then why would Bobby Dee do it?” she asked.
Moon winked at her.
“Because Bobby and all the other trainers these rich boys hire aren’t fools,” said Moon. “If I destroy someone inside a round, I’ll never get another gig like this and neither will they. So what I do is spend a round, maybe two, figuring out their glaring weaknesses or just baiting them. Once I’ve done that, I can finish them off in four punches or less. I get paid and they get a bit of self satisfaction.”
Danielle tilted her head in disbelief.
“You just wait,” continued Moon. “Scott will come back in a couple of days bragging about how he lasted almost two rounds with Moon Mozier. Someone else will hear that and think they can do even better.”
They finished their drinks and walked out of the bar into the concourse.
“Thanks for joining me,” he said.
“Thank you for the drink,” she said as she gave him a slight hug.
They started to walk their separate ways before Danielle remembered the money.
“Oh,” she said. “Do you want me to contact Jacob Kilrain about wiring you the rest of the money?”
“Naw,” he said. “Just contact me. Jake Kilrain was an old bareknuckle boxer from the 1800s. I just use his name so y’all won’t think you are dealing with some sad sack with a website.”
She bit her bottom lip and smiled.
“Take care,” he said. “Have a safe flight.”
Danielle smiled as she walked to the gate. She wondered if Scott’s next adventure would teach her as much as this one had.
Written by Michael Woods
Monday, 08 January 2007 19:00
It wasn't supposed to go down like this. Toney was supposed to enter the ring in majestic condition, trimmed down and pumped up, ready to right an egregious wrong, and convince everyone that the judges were morons when they awarded a victory in September to Peter.
Then, we dialed back expectations when we realized that Toney wouldn't be impersonating Bernard Hopkins in physique in the rematch. Our eyebrows were raised, in a big way, when Toney stepped on the scale on Friday and actually weighed one pound more than he did for the first go-round. But, we Toney admirers rationalized, it is obvious that his bodily composition has changed, greatly. There is less jelly on the belly, and almost a hint of six-pack if you squinted hard enough.
No one, save James himself, could squint hard enough to view Saturday's fight in Florida and declare that he beat Peter.
The rounds were reasonably close, we'll say that. Some rounds, neither man put a conclusive stamp on a three-minute chapter. But Toney simply wasn't busy enough throughout the affair, and while he had a bit more bounce in his step, the much vaunted Billy Blanks training regimen was a bust, we quickly decided. It's back to the video store VHS remainder bin for Tae Bo, I'm afraid. Toney's footwork wasn't appreciably different. His punch output, it looked like, was actually more stingy than in the first waltz.
After the bout came the cringe-inducing moment, when Toney said he thought he won the fight.
"I give Peter three rounds at most," Toney said, clearly lost in the fog of the skirmish. We should probably give him an allowance for the fact that no one should be held as accountable as the heat of the battle lingers. But, in contrast to the humble warrior Peter, who maintained that he likes Toney, even as Toney tore him a new orifice, Toney came off poorly. Toney seemed to vacillate between delusion and reality-based thinking as he indulged in the post-fight post-mortem with Showtime's Jim Gray, as he fixated on the fact that Peter couldn't knock him out. Any of us couldn't have any beef with Toney if he chose to cling to that moral victory life preserver, but it wasn't as easy to shrug off his daffy declaration of victory.
So, if we all can agree that there's more of a likelihood of Trump and Rosie hooking up than of Toney trimming down to cruiserweight territory, then we must ask, What's next for Toney? Having proved that he wasn't able to approximate the Toney of the 80s, 90s, even the Toney of four months prior, even after enduring a supposedly grueling training camp, then what should Toney do? Continue to campaign as a heavyweight, a division where his punching power is negligible? Transition to being a steppingstone, a gatekeeper sort who serves to separate the true contenders from the manufactured pretenders? His speech patterns are already worrisome; guests in my house Saturday night were unable to decipher his post-bout verbalizations. Should Toney take more punishment, and continue to soldier on at this reduced level of effectiveness? Or should he call it a day, and exit the savage science, even though this is his singular calling in life, and he will be hard-pressed to keep himself occupied without fighting.
I'm usually hesitant to tell, or even gently lobby, a fighter to hang 'em up, and walk away. But as a chronicler of the goings-on in the sport, I do have a vested interest in the long-term health of boxing, and of its participants. So, I'll defer to one of the people closest to Toney, his promoter Dan Goossen, and put him on the spot, asking him whether James Toney should retire.
"I had a meeting with James' managers on Monday," Goossen told me by phone on Tuesday. "Before anything else, I want to make sure James has a rest period and we have him checked out medically from head to toe. He's not only a great warrior, but a great friend, and I want to make sure that by a medical standpoint we get as much information that we can before any decision is made whether James should fight again. But he said to me in the locker room right after the fight, 'I want to fight next month.' He's certainly disappointed, but he's a pro and knows sobbing doesn't do much. Against Peter, I saw James look flat and right now I can't tell you what that means until he gets a complete physical. But he hasn't really taken a lot of punishment based on the amount of fights he's had. He was fighting a big, strong boxer. Peter was still cautious with James until the last round. Peter had some suspicion of James' strength, to the end. A loss to Peter isn't disgraceful. It was a competitive first half of the fight. And he was knocked down but he got up quicker than my 25 year olds do. I know James wouldn't go down to cruiserweight. I believe most boxers he would have knocked out. Brock, Liakhovich, he would have beaten them. His conditioning—well I can't say the Billy Blanks experiment was a success or a failure until we get the medical evaluation done. Time will tell. But he's been getting prepared for fights his way for 20 years and maybe these workouts were foreign to his system. I don't want to say he left his strength in the gym but his body may not have responded. I can't explain it, his body was in better physical shape. I still believe he's a player in the division. The key is getting him some rest, but I see him in the ring in May or June."
I wanted to get trainer Freddie Roach's take, get his appraisal of Toney, weigh in on whether or not he thinks Toney should hang 'em up. But Roach is doing promo work with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines and wasn't reachable at deadline. I wonder if Freddie saw any signs in the gym that Toney's legs aren't there, if he had any struggles in sparring that indicate an erosion of skills.
How about you, readers? Has Toney slipped in your eyes, or does Sam Peter have more to do with Toney's mediocre outing than anything else? Can Toney still compete, and beat, some of the division's top guns? Or should the old warhorse trot into the sunset, secure in the knowledge that he's taken us all for a helluva ride?
Written by Robert Ecksel
Monday, 08 January 2007 07:41
According to Dan Rafael at ESPN.com, Hopkins, who is described as â€œworld light heavyweight champion,â€? despite a propensity to retiring and un-retiring with the frequency of a diva, told Dandy Dan that he is â€œin negotiations to face rival Roy Jones Jr. in a July 21 HBO PPV rematch.â€?
Great, just what boxing, the quintessential young manâ€™s sport, needs: a 42-year-old getting it on with a 38-year-old, on pay-per-view no less, to avenge a loss that occurred 13 long years ago (1993), and that by now most of us have forgotten.
Rafael writes that Hopkins â€œnamed Jones as one of the fighters he most wanted to faceâ€¦ One reason a rematch might be made this time around: Jones, who turns 38 next week, doesn't have any other options for a significant fight.â€?
I guess thatâ€™s as good a reason as any for the match to get made.
"We're talking to Roy,â€? said Hopkins. â€œWe'd both like the fight. I'm about 185 or 190 right now, but I will be back at 175 and be in great shape." But Hopkins said he isn't coming back for just one fight. "Three more," he said.
Hopkins has always made blowing minds one of his sub-specialties, but his proposed fight with Jones seems less about blowing minds than about blowing hard-earned cash on what increasingly looks like boxingâ€™s seniorâ€™s tour.
But if Bernard really wants everyone to sit up and take notice of his skills and willingness to keep fighting, he and Mackie Shilstone should get to work ASAP to get Ex back down to middleweight, so he can fight someone worthy of his talents and ambition, someone, say, like Edison Miranda.
That bout would be guaranteed to give fight fans the maximum bang for their maximum buck.
But the Hopkins vs. Jones rematch? What about it, Blog Squad? Is it worth fifty smackers to you to see Bernard Hopkins/Roy Jones II? Read more at the BLOG