Hazzard served as commissioner of the Athletic Control Board since 1985.
Hazzard, a three-time champion in the Golden Gloves competitions for amateur boxers, highly regarded professional boxing referee, and black belt in Jiu Jitsu, was known for taking matters into in his own hands, and stepping on to the apron to halt a one-sided affair.
He has drawn tepid criticism in the past for liking the spotlight a bit too much for some people's taste, and injecting himself into events by leaping on to the apron, and calling a halt to one sided bouts.
Deputy commissioner Sylvester Cuyler will be acting commissioner until a replacement is chosen.
Hazzard has responded, and called the move "retaliation" for his writing to NJ Gov. Jon Corzine and detailing what he deemed were shoddy practices by commission employees.
Hazzard put his foot down regarding "employee's decisions to sanction mismatches in mixed martial arts contests, to okay a fighter who failed to test negative for HIV and to allow promoters to "shop" for medical approvals for their fighters," according to the Newark Star Ledger's Franklin McNeil and Rick Hepp.
The plot thickens more, and a potential storyline emerges when Hazzard's attorney, according to the newspaper, referenced a "decision by the Attorney General's Office to transfer 'an individual with no experience' to the state Athletic Control Board by creating a new title that paid $90,000 a year."
This allegation could indicate that Hazzard was canned for standing up to an egregious example of cronyism, if in fact his attorney's charge is correct.
Milgram has stated that the decision to fire Hazzard didn't stem from a stance of retribution.
But so far, the AG hasn't released any concrete reason why Hazzard was dumped.
Middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins has entered the fray, and released a letter backing Hazzard.
Says Hopkins: "I am shocked and appalled at the decision by the New Jersey States Attorney General Anne Milgram and her office to dismiss Larry Hazzard from his services as long-standing head of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission. I am standing up to renounce this decision and I encourage all members of the boxing community—fighters, trainers, judges, promoters, commissioners, television networks, and the media—to join me in protesting this decision.
What's most disturbing is that they not only did they do this the same day he buried his 41-year old nephew, but they also admitted that "Commissioner Hazzard did nothing wrong. It was just time for a change." (Atlantic City Press, Nov. 16.) This might be a change that they needed but it is certainly not a change that boxing needs. We were just fine with Larry Hazzard as a leader in our sport.
Larry Hazzard for the past 22 years has run one of, if not the most, efficient and ethical Commissions in boxing. From a fighter's viewpoint, he championed safety and welfare for all of us, whether we were champions or just four-round fighter. He was always looking to improve the sport and never feared speaking his mind for the greater good of boxing.
The bigger question here, and as far as I know, Ms. Milgram did not consult anyone within the boxing community to get opinions to base her decision on. Boxing is a difficult sport anyway and how are they going to be able to replace Larry Hazzard with someone who is as competent as he is? I have to use the old saying here, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
Please join me in expressing your outrage by contacting the State's Attorney General's office. You can write to 25 Market Street, Trenton, NJ, 08625-0080 or call 609-292-4925 or send an email to http://www.nj.gov/oag/offices.htm <http://www.nj.gov/oag/offices.htm> ."
It is certainly the AG's right to install her choice in the position, and put her stamp on the board. But one has to hope that this isn't a case of political payback.
Nothing has emerged to indicate that Hazzard wasn't performing his job in capable fashion. Certainly, the timing of the move leaves something to be desired, both on a personal basis--Hazzard was set to attend his nephew's funeral--and a professional one, as New Jersey plays host to a high profile boxing and MMA card on Saturday night, in AC and Newark, respectively.
As of right now, with the information we've been given, this move stinks, and the stench needs to be addressed.
Others, if you’re not acquainted with either fighter, get acquainted. Aside from Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, they make up the cream of the 130-pounders.
Guzman (27-0, 17 KOs), the Dominican boxing stylist, meets the feared Soto (43-5-2) at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday. The fight will be televised by HBO.
Don’t miss it.
It’s one of those battles that pits a pair of boxers that others ignore like door-to-door salesmen. They’re both ornery, heavy-handed punchers who have chased most of the competition away. But they have each other.
It’s like the days of old when only Jake LaMotta would step in the ring against Sugar Ray Robinson or Archie Moore could only fight Ezzard Charles. Nobody wanted to fight boxing wizards of this pedigree.
It’s the same with Guzman and Soto. They scare the others away.
“This is a very important fight for the both of us,” said Guzman, who trains in the same gym as WBC welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas. “The winner of this fight moves on to much bigger things.”
Both hope a win means fighting Manny Pacquiao.
Soto (43-5-2, 27 KOs), a tall and rugged featherweight, moved up to junior lightweight because of the same reasons that Guzman moved up: nobody wanted to fight him.
“Why I haven’t gotten the opportunity before I don’t know,” said Soto. “Guzman is a great fighter, a lot of skills, as far as I’m concerned he maybe the best 130-pound fighter out there.”
Two years ago Soto accepted a last-minute fight against Rocky Juarez then undefeated. That night Soto engaged Juarez in a brutal slugfest and emerged the winner.
“Humberto Soto is one of the best fighters nobody heard of,” said Juarez recently. “I’d like to fight him again.”
Right now Soto has quicksilver Guzman first.
“I love a challenge, that’s why I took this fight,” said Soto who trains out of Tijuana and Mexicali. “Maybe Guzman is the favorite in this fight, but that doesn’t mean much to me. I’ve been scratched off before and I’ve succeeded.”
Guzman has said repeatedly that Soto is the best fighter he’s faced yet.
“This is not going to be an easy fight,” said Guzman. “He’s very tall and he can take a punch. I expect this fight to be close.”
The fight will be televised by HBO.
Also on the card will be Abner Mares (14-0, 9 KOs) facing Damian Marchiano (14-2-1, 5 KOs) in a bantamweight showdown of rising prospects. Marchiano fights out of Argentina and Mares fights out of Montebello, California.
Mares has been on a rapid rise, especially after stopping former flyweight world champion Chino Garcia in September. He dropped down from featherweight without a hitch and maintains the same speed and the same power.
Marchiano has never fought outside of Argentina but needs a good showing to stay in the upper tier of the division.
If you missed it catch the replay of the Contender finale between Sakio Bika and Jaidon Codrington. Without a doubt that was one of the most electrifying battles from round one until the end.
It’s definitely a candidate for Fight of the Year along with the two fights between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez.
Bika and Codrington blasted each other for eight rounds before the referee stopped the fight at 2:18 of the eighth round of a 10-round bout. I won’t tell you who won just in case you don’t know. It was one great fight.
Glen Johnson fight
Florida’s Glen Johnson, the former light heavyweight champion who knocked out Roy Jones, meets former middleweight champion Reggie Johnson (43-7-1, 25 KOs) at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday Nov. 17.
Johnson (46-11-2, 31 KOs) is shooting for another title match against any of the current recognized champions including Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr. or Joe Calzaghe.
Known as the “Road Warrior”, he was close to fighting a rematch with Julio Gonzalez but the card fell apart.
Reggie Johnson, 41, hasn’t fought in two years but is willing to step right back to face a dangerous light heavyweight. The bout will not be televised.
Baldomir Back next week
Former welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir meets Luciano Perez at Morongo Casino on Friday Nov. 23. The rugged fighter is attempting to stop a two-fight losing streak and now fights at junior middleweight.
Baldomir (43-11-6) is promoted by Sycuan Ringside Promotions and lost a title challenge to Vernon Forrest for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. Like always, Baldomir gave a spirited effort and has become a rich man despite two consecutive losses.
Perez (15-6) fights out of Chicago and is fighting for survival as a prizefighter. The fight will be televised by Telefutura.
Also fighting on the same card will be Bobby Pacquiao, the younger brother of Manny Pacquiao. He’ll be matched against Mexico’s extremely rugged Fernando Trejo in a lightweight match.
Final week for Vargas-Mayorga
Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas, 29, returns for the final time against Nicaragua’s Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga, 34, at the Staples Center on Nov. 23. The fight will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view.
Vargas promised that this is absolutely his last fight.
“I want to go out a winner,” said Vargas (26-4, 22 KOs), who is a two-time junior middleweight champion. “Win or lose this is the last fight. I’m doing it for my fans.”
Former welterweight champion Mayorga promises that Vargas will go out a loser.
“I’ll knock out fatty,” said Mayorga (28-6-1, 23 KOs) citing Vargas inability to fight at 154 pounds any longer. “After Fernando I’ll fight Vernon Forrest. I’m his daddy.”
Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley will face Jose Luis Castillo (56-8-1, 48 KOs) in an elimination bout ordered the WBC.
The speedy Bradley (21-0, 11 KOs) remains undefeated and Castillo got back in the win column with a victory by stoppage over Adan Casillas last month in Mexicali.
It’s going to be very interesting to see if Bradley’s youth wins this battle over experience.
Fights on television
Thurs. Versus, 6 p.m., Jesus Soto Karass (17-3-3) vs. Juan Buendia (14-1-1).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., David Lopez (32-12) vs. Darryl Salmon (16-2). Ward (13-0) vs. Roger Cantrell (12-0).
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Francisco Figueroa (17-2) vs. Noel Rodriguez (13-1).
Sat. HBO, 9:45 p.m., Joan Guzman (27-0) vs. Humberto Soto (43-5-2).
Stepping in the ring with either of these cash cows is akin to winning the lottery for a boxer. Not only do they earn a huge paycheck, they also have the chance to build their name by either beating or putting on a credible effort against either of these boxing superstars.
Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto (43-5-2, 27 KO’s) and Joan Guzman (27-0, 17 KO’s) are arguably the two top super featherweights in the world and are set to face off, hoping to make a confrontation with Pacquiao a lucrative reality.
“An Assassin. That’s what they’ve been calling me after every fight,” said Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto from the Hotel Crown Plaza in New York just days before the fight. “El Asesino. I might have to change my nickname.”
Soto’s last trip to the East Coast landed him at Madison Square Garden in New York where he bludgeoned Manny’s lesser known and less talented brother, Bobby Pacquiao.
Soto systematically broke down the Filipino before stopping him in the seventh round.
“He was a very strong and determined fighter. It wasn’t a particularly difficult fight for me though,” said the always rugged Soto. “I’ve had much tougher fights.”
He’s got a more difficult assignment this time against WBO jr. lightweight champion Joan Guzman on the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” card this weekend. Guzman, who hails from the Dominican Republic, is an undefeated and highly respected boxer-puncher who is currently being trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr.
“I know of all his abilities. He’s one of the best in the world. He’s got tremendous speed and footwork. We’ve developed a plan for him,” said Soto. “I have to beat Guzman. He’s keeping me from the big time fights.”
Guzman was fighting as a super bantamweight and decimating his opponents with lighting speed and brutal punching power. Soto believes he hasn’t been as devastating in the super featherweight division.
“He was knocking out everyone,” Soto said. “As a super feather he’s not as powerful but I realize he’s still dangerous because of his boxing abilities.”
Although Soto has been briefed on Guzman, he admits he hasn’t watched any of his fights.
“My trainer watched his tapes. I don’t like to watch video because a lot of fighters tend to change their styles and I like to improvise inside the ring,” said Soto. “I know I change my style all the time so watching tape is useless to me.”
The early word is that Guzman is the slight betting favorite.
“It doesn’t bother me one bit. I was picked to lose against Rocky Juarez too,” said Soto. “I’ve beaten the odds before and I’ll do it again.”
The Los Mochis, Sinaloa native defeated the former Olympic Silver medalist, Juarez, and became the WBC “interim” champion. Ridiculously enough, Soto has remained an “interim” monarch since 2005. For those of you who don’t understand what being an “interim” titlist means, it’s like saying you’re “kind of” the champion but not really.
Exactly. Call it sanctioning body logic.
Soto finally gets a chance at a full fledged title as he tries to lift Guzman’s WBO crown.
“I ‘d be great to have a whole title instead of a piece of one,” said Soto. “Guzman is as tough as they come. He’s hungry like I am. He’s not going to give up his belt so easy.”
The 27-year-old intends to make the most of the biggest fight of his career.
“I plan to demonstrate why they call me The Assassin inside the ring on Saturday night,” Soto said. “I want to face guys like Pacquiao and Marquez. I have to win this fight to prove that I belong in the ring with them.”
He’s got one final message to all his fans.
“All the people that have supported me need to know that I’m not going to disappoint them,” assured Soto. “As always, I’m coming to fight like a warrior. I’ve shown it in the past and this fight won’t be the exception. I’m coming to execute my opponent.”
Spoken like a true assassin.
The twelve round main event is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Sycuan Ringside and Top Rank. HBO will televise from The Borgata Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Boxing After Dark at 9:45 PM ET/PT.
“I never thought I’d fight him,” said Cantrell, 21. “I think he’s going to have a great career, but not in this weight class.”
Confidence is a great equalizer and Cantrell (12-0, 8 KOs) puts it to the ultimate test Friday night against the undefeated fleet-footed Ward (13-0, 8 KOs) at St. Lucia in a super middleweight fight promoted by Goossen-Tutor Promotions. The fight will be televised on Showtime.
“He’s not as strong as me,” said Cantrell of Ward. “I don’t think he can throw combinations with me.”
Cantrell, a Sioux Indian living in Oregon, has never tasted defeat. Though a large portion of the boxing world would not recognize most of his opponents, he has run into and defeated a couple of unfriendly fighters like Marcus Pernell and Jonathan Corn with a slam-bam style that has won him popularity in the Northwest.
The lanky Cantrell fights like a grizzled warrior and uses that wiry strength to fight inside or outside. When opponents get hit by his punches they have this queer look as if they just missed their bus ride.
“People always underestimate me,” said Cantrell, a friendly and bright-eyed youngster who anxiously accepted the chance to meet the more decorated Ward. “Andre Ward is going to be surprised and sorry he took this fight.”
It’s going to be a different atmosphere for both Cantrell and Ward. Fighting in an island paradise is not a usual occurrence and it’s the first time the tiny nation has exhibited its sandy beaches and first rate hotel and casino to an American national audience.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” said Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor Promotions.
Fantastic is the word expressed by boxing experts when they first glimpsed the athletic talent of Oakland, California’s Ward. After showing off his Sugar Ray Leonard-like hand-speed many tabbed the fighter as a sure boxing star. But things don’t always happen quickly even if you win the gold medal.
Ward was the only American boxer to win that precious gold medal in Greece on a team that also featured Vicente Escobedo, Rock Allen, Andre Dirrell and Vanes Martirosyan.
“It was a great moment for me,” said Ward, 23, whose speed and agility has enabled him to remain undefeated after 13 pro fights.
But boxing fans expect quick results from its gold medal winners.
Fighters like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Michael Spinks, Oscar De La Hoya and David Reid proceeded to win professional world titles within four years of winning the gold medal. So the same is expected of Ward.
Every fighter has his own timetable says Ward’s camp.
“He last lost when he was 13 years old,” said Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter. “The theory is he’s never been tested or pressed.”
Ward was knocked down by slick fighting Darnell Boone and has been stunned a few times in other fights. Other than that, Ward has streaked to an undefeated record but has been carefully matched.
Yet he does possess that blazing hand speed that can shock opponents.
“He knows his terrain,” said Hunter.
This past July, Francisco Diaz looked like he had touched a high voltage tension wire after tasting a Ward blow.
Expected to hit and run from the bigger and talented Diaz, the Oakland fighter stood his ground and effectively worked right in the wheelhouse of his opponent. A short left hook counter knocked Diaz out in staggering fashion.
“We’ve been working on that,” said Ward calmly after the fight in front of a California audience. “I was surprised it ended early.”
Goossen expects a memorable war between the two super middleweights.
“This is what boxing is all about,” said Goossen. “They’re both very confident.”
Cantrell’s team believes their fighter is a notch above Ward’s former opponents.
“We know that Andre is very hard to figure out so we’re going to fight our own way,” said Bill Hines who trains Cantrell. “Roger does not lose.”
Though Ward has the Olympic pedigree, he’s not cocky.
“He seems very confident and doesn’t give up,” said Ward. “At this level I never feel any fight is going to be easy. He’s a dangerous fighter.”
Cantrell can’t believe his luck
“I’m so excited,” Cantrell confesses. “Not too long ago I was essentially living out of my car and now I’m fighting an Olympian.”
If you were a consultant in sports/media relations, and wanted to show clients how an athlete should not act to the media, and then how a fighter should act to the media, you couldn't have found two better examples, plopped helpfully side by side.
Tuesday night, we laid out Tarver's laundry list of allegations and smears, so you're all covered on that subject.
Today, let's examine the performance put forth by the classy Forrest, who gloves up with Italian Michele Piccirillo on December 1st at Foxwoods. Tarver's 154 pound strap will be up for grabs in a fight that shouldn't be labeled a gimme, as some pundits have. The artist formerly known as The Viper, before shoulder woes nearly stripped him of his vocation, took the vacated belt on July 28, when he met the durable vet Carlos Baldomir, and impressed the heck out of any and all with his fists, feet, and stamina.
That outing came a year after he was less stellar against Ike Quartey in New York, in a fight that could have gone either way.
The Forrest who fought Baldomir looked like the sort of rangy athlete who could, dare I say it, give fits to Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather, and at this juncture, there aren't but a miniscule handful of people you can say that about (take a bow, Paul Williams, you are in fine company).
The straightforward and humble Viper, who came to fight fans attention as a favorite entering the 1992 Olympics, was succinct when explaining why he looked so on message against Baldy.
"I wasn't as healthy as I was then," he said. "I'm just healthy again."
"Then" was back in 2003, when Forrest suffered back to back losses to Ricardo Mayorga. The first loss was a loss with a capital L, a TKO3 shocker against the crude clubber. The second loss, six months later, was much more debatable. The Viper was scheduling surgeries instead of fights after that, to shore up his shoulder and elbow in his jab (left) arm. He could've called himself The Cortison Kid instead of the Viper, for all the shots he was taking to dull the pain.
There were three cutups in all, and Forrest was off for two years, rehabbing. He fought twice in 2005, once in 2006, and just once this year. At 36, his time to shine is ebbing, but a win against Piccirillo could kick off a busier, better year, in 2008.
Forrest maintains that he's no longer gun-shy, favoring that reconstructed left arm.
"Early on I was a little concerned about it. I'm not as concerned now because I know there are some things you do to catch on to see if it will hold up. I'm more comfortable now. I think it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I'm more comfortable now knowing that I can use it effectively and not worry about re-injuring it again."
Then, he showed an attribute, humility, that would be so instructive for Tarver to soak up, and learn from.
Forrest was asked why he lost to Mayorga, and his one word answer spoke volumes about his character.
"Overconfidence," he explained.
Forrest then went on to clarify, and also dice up one of the hoariest cliches in the game today, a catch all adage overused regularly.
"People say styles make fights," he said. "And people use that term because they don't understand how a guy on paper, who appears to be a lesser guy, beats a better guy. So they say style makes fight, but what happens is he's really overconfident. I didn't study the guy. Only thing I knew is he was the champion, and I wanted his belt. So I just went out there and didn’t fight as a skilled fighter should, I just went out there and fought. Anybody can fight. But the best fighters use their skill and they're able to beat lesser guys.
"I didn’t do what I trained to do, which is to outbox him as opposed to just fighting him. He caught me before I caught him. In the second rematch I thought I won, and so did everybody that watched the fight. Sometimes you win and you make a decision to just move on."
See, Tarver, it isn't that hard.
Is there a chance Forrest could look past the Italian, which wouldn't be wise, considering he's won his last four, and back in 2002, won the IBF 147 strap when he bested the dreadful to watch but still immensely talented Cory Spinks?
"I have every bit of confidence in my skill and my ability. I doubt if that will happen again. A guy beat me because he's better than me, not because I made a mistake."
See that Tarver? He's confident, without being obnoxious in announcing it. And he's humble enough to allow that he can never say never. He "doubts" whether he'll look past a foe again, but he cannot say for certain.
I'm guessing that Vargas will put away Mayorga, and that's the last time we'll see the Nicaraguan, but Forrest doesn't want him to fade away.
"Mayorga is the only fighter that I feel that I have to fight again, and I have to beat to satisfy my career," he said. "There is no Mayorga without Piccirillo, though. I'm going to make sure I handle the business ahead of me come December 1. And whatever happens December 1 is fair game.
And what about Mayweather? I figure he's locked into 147 for awhile (Cotto, Williams, Cintron, Margarito, Berto late in 2008, maybe), but what if he wants to dodge some of those younger guns, and take on an established name? Might Forrest wants a piece of Pretty Boy?
"That's another fight I've been screaming about," he said. "I fought the best guy in the world at the time he was the best guy in the world, and I'm willing to fight Floyd at the top of his game."
Have there been any business discussions about and you Mayweather, he was asked.
“It was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen,” said Rudy Hernandez trainer and manager for the soft-spoken Santa Cruz. “I haven’t seen anything that bad since Mando Muniz lost to Jose Napoles.”
Though it was apparent to many at Madison Square Garden and millions watching the fight on television, nobody felt the fight was close let alone a victory for Casamayor. Two judges found Casamayor the winner 114-113 twice and 114-113 for Santa Cruz. But the fans and boxers did not.
It’s one of those decisions that raises a big question on the credibility of those judging fights and the future of professional boxing itself.
“This fight should be investigated,” said Hernandez who plans to file a formal complaint.
It was ironic that Hernandez mentioned Muniz’s fight with Cuba’s Napoles three decades ago as another terrible injustice. Muniz himself saw the fight between East L.A.’s Santa Cruz and Cuba’s Casamayor.
“That was a terrible decision,” said Mando Muniz who lives and works in Riverside, California as a schoolteacher.
It was in March 30, 1975 when after battering and bloodying Napoles for 12 rounds in a 15-round fight, the referee stopped the fight and the win was awarded to the Cuban fighter though according to the rules the win and the world title should have been awarded to Muniz. The injustice by the WBC was never over-turned.
To this day it remains one of the most egregious injustices in boxing.
Ironically the WBC is also involved in the fight with Santa Cruz and Casamayor.
“I thought it was just a formality that Santa Cruz would get the decision. But when I saw Casamayor’s hand go up I thought what the heck happened,” said Muniz who watched the fight on television with several friends. “He (Santa Cruz) won that fight hands down.”
Before the fight began many experts picked Casamayor to win easily against Santa Cruz who had failed in two previous world title bids. After all, the Cuban had beaten the late Diego Corrales a year ago and many felt Santa Cruz was a whole level below “El Cepillo.”
But as soon as the bell sounded it was the Mexican-American fighter who took control and forced Casamayor to resort to holding throughout the fight with impunity. It’s almost impossible to understand how the judges could see Casamayor winning the fight when it was his head that was snapped back many, many times. He had moments, but they were very few. One thing he did do was hold.
“I ran into the referee (Steve Smoger) on the elevator and asked him cordially how many times someone is allowed to hold without being penalized,” said Hernandez regarding Casamayor’s constant holding without being warned or penalized. “He didn’t say one word.”
Former world champion Antonio Tarver, who saw the fight on television, said the result should have been an easy decision win for Santa Cruz and blames poor judging for the result.
“The (New York Athletic) Commission needs to go out and look at these judges. All three of these guys in the Casamayor fight ought to never be allowed to judge again,” said the outspoken Tarver who has been on the receiving end of bad calls. “These are people’s livelihoods they’re affecting and it’s just not fair.”
Santa Cruz scored a knockdown in the first round with a punch to the shoulder that caught Casamayor off-balance and down he went. Though it wasn’t what anyone would call a true knockdown, it should have given the East L.A. fighter a two-point lead in the very first round.
The extremely skinny Santa Cruz seemed to get the better of the Cuban fighter for at least eight of the 12 rounds.
“My fighter was pressing him and landing more punches,” said Hernandez. “I don’t know what the judges expect. He won the fight easily.”
The former Southern California crowd-pleaser Muniz, who is now a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame, felt Santa Cruz was the true winner of the contest.
“It was an easy fight to score,” Muniz said.
After all the fights were concluded, including the main event between Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley, a post fight press conference was staged. Santa Cruz and his team were not invited.
“Oscar De La Hoya is always talking about fixing boxing and helping the fighters,” Hernandez said adding that De La Hoya was involved in two fights that he lost causing controversy including the second fight with Shane Mosley and the fight against Felix Trinidad. “I hope Oscar realizes that my fighter has suffered a loss he didn’t deserve.”
Hernandez wants the judges to be scrutinized for their poor judgment calls and perhaps removed as judges for title fights.
“My fighter’s future is at stake,” said Hernandez. “This isn’t about me but my fighter. He won that fight and the title and they took it away from him. Casamayor didn’t take it away, it was the judges.”
Hernandez is waiting for his promoters Golden Boy to aid him.
“We deserve a rematch, that’s a solution,” Hernandez said.
Fights on television
Thurs. Versus, 6 p.m., Jesus Soto Karass (17-3-3) vs. Juan Buendia (14-1-1).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., David Lopez (32-12) vs. Darryl Salmon (16-2).
Fri. Showtime, 10 p.m., Andre Ward (13-0) vs. Roger Cantrell (12-0).
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Francisco Figueroa (17-2) vs. Noel Rodriguez (13-1).
Sat. HBO, 9:45 p.m., Joan Guzman (27-0) vs. Humberto Soto (43-5-2).
The last option seems the most likely, as the Magic Man turns the big 3-9 on Nov. 21st. But he’s not hearing it.
Tarver (25-4, 18 KOs), who takes on relatively untested Danny Santiago (29-3-1, 19 KOs), a Bronx-born Floridian on Dec. 1 at Foxwoods in Connecticut, on a free Showtime card. The Magic Man basically implied that he was poisoned before his June 2006 bout with Bernard Hopkins on a conference call on Tuesday afternoon to hype his IBO title fight.
He didn’t try to make the “I wuz doped” excuse to explain his showing against Elvir Muriqi this past June. In that effort, the Tampa-based southpaw won a majority decision against a man not generally regarded to be in the same skill class as the fighter who holds two wins over Roy Jones, and a nod over Glen Johnson.
For the Muriqi fight, Tarver explained that the judges were blind, or stupid, or both. Furthermore, the former IBF, WBC and WBA light heavy titlist said, this has been a persistent thorn in his side, basically since he exited the womb.
Bad, blind, old-ass judges, who aren’t sophisticated enough to see the intricate craftsmanship in front of their eyes, should get tested by commissions to insure their eyesight hasn’t deteriorated, the fighter said.
“They don’t understand ring generalship,” he railed.
Count me amongst the simpleton saps, because I thought a case could be made that Muriqi pressed the action, and was busier that night than an underinspired Tarver. “Muriqi landed no real shots,” Tarver said, and pointed to his unmarked face as proof.
It sure as heck sounded like Tarver could be setting up for another subpar outing against Santiago, as he spent most of his time railing against the career-long judging conspiracy against him, and lobbying for a rematch with Hopkins. No, he said, he wouldn’t overlook the 34-year old Santiago, whose best win stands out as a 2004 TKO4 win over Muriqi.
Quickly, though, it was back to Hopkins.
HBO is “trying to hand Hopkins to Calzaghe,” said Tarver, who doesn’t believe Hopkins, who he alleges is a dirty fighter, is an ‘A’ level draw, or fun for fans to watch.
Their meeting, Tarver said, is still perplexing to this day.
“I was a shell of myself,” he said. “Whether it was the weight, or I was overtrained. Hopkins has never been in with the Magic Man.”
If Hopkins and Calzaghe do get it on, Tarver maintains, the winner will need to challenge Tarver. “The winner has to see me,” he said.
Back to the conspiracy.
“Coming in, the judges will not be looking in my favor,” he said. “I got to knock people out. I beat Glen Johnson (Dec. 2004, SD loss), I beat Roy Jones the first time (Nov. 2003, MD loss). It’s ridiculous. They rob me.”
A little later, he went whole hog. “Every time, there’s judges in somebody’s pocket,” he said, then backed off the bribe charge.
Tarver described himself as “lethargic” and “lifeless” against Hopkins, and referred obliquely to a theory his sister floated. “It was more than being mentally and physically wrong with me,” he said. “Somebody took my soul. I had no life in my eyes, no emotion, no spirit. I can’t put my finger on it. He shoulda killed me that night.”
What about it, were you drugged, then?
“I wouldn’t put that out there,” he said. “I felt like something was terribly wrong. I have no proof.”
Could it be age, perhaps, maybe?
“It hasn’t entered my mind,” he said. “I’m getting better.”
Tarver does not comprehend that he doesn’t win any friends, among the press or the judges, when he labels the arbiters dolts. “Maybe we need to get some younger guys,” he suggested.
If he gets past Santiago, Tarver said, Hopkins should give him another crack, with a 50-50 purse split.
“But he’d never do anything like that,” he said.
“It’s never been about money for me,” he stated, right after laying out his monetary demands.
Then, three minutes later, Tarver said that “at the end of the day, it’s all about money” in the context of the Roy Jones/Tito Trinidad January PPV event.
The underdog, meanwhile, said that Tarver’s been on his radar for many years, even if he wasn’t a minute blip on Tarver’s screen.
Tarver has been rumored to be signing on to fight Chad Dawson, the WBC light heavy champion, but that compelling matchup hasn’t come about because of…you guessed it…money issues.
Tarver was supposed to take on the more highly regarded Australian Danny Green on Dec. 1, but Green took a match with WBA titlist Stipe Drews instead, and blamed Tarver for being indecisive on signing a contract.
Santiago, in contrast, came off as a classy gent, as he pondered that maybe Murqiqi trained like the dickens for Tarver, and only in regulation fashion for their meeting.
I’ll say this for Tarver, he did make for a lively call.
But I’d love to set him up with one of my favorite characters, the acerbic Scottish-born chef and reality TV god, Gordon Ramsay.
I’d love to see the look of incredulity on Ramsay’s face as he took in Tarver’s rantings and inconsistent viewpoints and assertions, and the look on Tarver’s face when Ramsay gave him the what for, and ripped him a gaping new one.
That, I’d pay PPV money for.
SPEEDBAG I’m eager to check out the Cotto fight on the tube. I was at MSG and I thought Cotto pretty clearly outboxed Mosley, who it has to be said, fought as well as could be expected any 36-year-old could’ve. But even being “close,” in the fourth press row, I had a hard time deciphering which shots were landing clean. I admit, I think I can do a better job in coverage off TV.
--Did y’all see the Youtube heavyweight champion Kimbo Slice in action on Saturday on Showtime? The new-to-MMA bruiser should really do the right thing, and pay for a new set of shorts for his foe, Bo Cantrell, who seemingly soiled his skivvies when Slice came at him in the opening seconds. Slice landed a sharp right to the chest, and followed with a forearm/elbow that looked like it grazed the head of Cantrell (10-11). The loser went down like he’d been maced, and started tapping before Kimbo went in for the kill. Sorry, I have regard for ANYONE stepping in to the ring or cage…provided they give an honest effort. Cantrell should’ve just saved us all 20 seconds and tapped out when his name was announced. Weak.
The first fight of the Pacquiao versus Barrera II undercard put Alejandro Perez’s boxing skills 11-0-1 (6 KOs) on display.
Perez is not your typical undefeated prospect. The man understands the concept of dedication. His goal is simple, to become world champion. He says he is a nice guy. But I would love to ask his twelve opponents their opinions. His last fight in Las Vegas created a platform to build on.
Perez showcased a blistering attack to the body that is reminiscent of the great Julio Cesar Chavez and Marco Antonio Barrera. His throwback style has worked so far. Alejandro’s quest to become world champion will not come easy. But this scorpion is willing to work for his ambition.
R. Markarian - What are your feelings on being signed with Top Rank?
Alejandro Perez –It is really exciting. I have been working really hard for this. And for a big company to sign me and notice my talents make me feel like I am going in the right direction as a boxer. The hard work is paying off right now. One of the agents from Top Rank saw me fight in Los Angeles. I guess he liked what he saw and got in contact with Brad Goodman from Top Rank. Goodman gave me a phone call and we went from there.
RM- Alejandro, Tell me about your last fight.
AP-In my last fight, I fought in Mandalay Bay on the under card of Manny Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera against Jamie Villa. I knocked him down four times and eventually out in the 5th round. We were expecting a tough fight. I always train hard, things worked out well against Villa. We are hoping to build from that performance.
RM - Where do you train currently?
AP - I am training at Wild Card in Los Angeles, Ca. I am training here with Hector Valladarez. I enjoy it here because of the international sparring. I get the opportunity to work with a great variety of styles. Training at the Wild Card helps me prepare to face any type of boxer. I value this opportunity
RM – The Wild Card is where a number of great boxers train. Have you gotten a chance to speak with Freddie Roach, Oscar, or Manny Pacquiao at all?
AP - I run into some of the great fighters. I have connected with Sugar Shane Mosley and James Toney. Mosley is a great guy to talk to you. Mosley is really a nice person. Toney gives great advice. James Toney knows about the ins and outs of the game. I have trained with Manny Pacquiao. And I see Oscar, Freddie, and the other guys come in and out of the gym all the time.
RM - Why did you choose to become a boxer? There are so many members of our youth that choose to play baseball, football, or basketball. Why boxing for you?
AP - There is just something about boxing. It is just in me to be a boxer. I didn’t plan to become a boxer. I was ten years old and I went into the gym with my older brother to train. The funny thing is that my older was being trained by Hector Valladarez, the same person that trains me. I walked into the gym, and Hector told me to start doing sit ups. After that, I would go to the gym with my brother and I started doing sit ups everyday. The next thing you know I was hitting the speed bag and then sparring. I never thought about becoming a professional boxer it just happened. Ideally it is just a part of me now. It is hard to live without boxing.
RM - How often do you train?
AP - I train everyday. I spar 3 days a week. I am in the gym 6 days a week. On Sundays I only do road work.
RM - When is your next fight?
AP - I am scheduled to fight on December 20th at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, Nevada. But who knows things could change they could tell me to fight somewhere else. I just have to stay ready.
RM - Have you found your opponent?
AP - No, the Top Rank officials find me my opponent a few weeks before the fight. They look for an opponent for me and let me know who it is going to be.
RM - What does the future hold for you?
AP - I am still a young fighter. I am only 21 and my dream is to become a world champion. I have been working hard. And if we continue at this pace and continue working this hard I think I will become a world champion. I have been working for this since I was ten. I just hope all of this hard work pays off.
RM - If you had a realistic chance to fight anyone who would it be and why?
AP – (Alejandro chuckles.) I have never thought about that. But if I had a chance to fight anyone I would have to train extremely hard before the fight. I will never underestimate any fighter no matter what his record is. I would need to prepare before the fight. The way that I train and the way that my trainer trains me make me feel like I would be ready for anyone.
RM - Ok Alejandro, the floor is yours. Tell me something about Alejandro Perez that you want the world to know.
AP - I want people to know that I am down to earth. I love to meet people. I enjoy boxing. I love what I do. I am a person that wants to fulfill my dream. I am just a simple guy that is trying to live my dream.
RM - Look out for Alejandro “El Alacran” Perez. This scorpion is ready to bite.
There were no knockdowns in the bout, which featured the younger man, tabbed as the banger, actually boxing more and better than the slicker Mosley. It was no fight of the year, but the nearly packed Garden sent the fans fans, split fairly evenly between the 27-year-old Cotto and Mosley fans, home happy.
The judges saw it 115-113, 115-113, and 116-113, while TSS gave Cotto the edge in rounds, 8-4. The crowd seemed to accept the judgement.
Cotto came in with 30-0 (25 KOs) mark while the 36-year-old Mosley entered MSG with a 44-4 (37 KOs) record. Cotto's WBA welterweight title was up for grabs.
Cotto backed up in the final frame and refused to give the masses a toe to toe going away gift. He popped his jab some, but one had to wonder why he didn't throw it more. A clash of heads opened a gash over Cotto's right eye, but it was too late for Mosley to target it.
Did Cotto send the right message backing up and boxing in the 11th? Well, his long left to close the round maybe gave the judges what they needed to give him the round. He was more active up close than Mosley, but Mosley stalked the stalker with admirable toughness.
Mosley showed great energy in the tenth and took the round with some nifty right hands that had Cotto backing up. A "Mosley" chant started, as the fans got behind the underdog. The older man showed tremendous stamina at this late juncture.
Cotto outboxed the man who is supposed to be the slicker boxer in the ninth. He made Mosley follow him, and remembered his jab, which set the table for him. He used his fresher legs to his advantage, and took the round.
Mosley didn't move as effectively in the eight and didn't throw enough. Cotto didn't blow anyone away, but he was more active, showing the judges he wanted it more.
In the seventh, Mosley's movement was effective. He moved to get angles, and he was light on his feet, and throwing, while Cotto followed a step behind. Could Mosley keep up with this tactic, or would his older legs betray him?
Cotto looked fresher in the sixth, as Mosley got on his bike, and shied away from contact. Cotto kept closing the distance and it served him well, as he tossed short, sweet hits. The crowd booed Mosley's movement.
Mosley was more grabby in the fifth and he started moving more, maybe to get away, rather than get angles. Even when he landed a flush right it didn't look like it bothered Cotto. Cotto's hands looked to be faster and still, the Puerto Rican's defense held up.
The fourth was Cotto's. The distance closed in the fourth, and Cotto's power started to take over. Mosley landed a few clubbing rights but the power edge looked to be firmly in Cotto's corner.
Both men landed well in the third. Cotto started targeting the body with laserlike focus, and then Mosley talked with a sharp right that the crowd ate up. A Cotto uppercut scored and maybe gave him the round.
The second was a tight round with Cotto slipping well, as his underrated defense looked on message. Mosley hit him with a strong right late that had the crowd pumped, and pressed him on the ropes but Cotto fought back well.
The first was a respectful, feel it out round, but Cotto got down to business a bit more. He worked the jab and looked to land lead rights. Mosley took a while to get a sweat going.
Cotto mayb be second guessed some for choosing not to stay in Mosley's face, and stalk him in bullish fashion. Who knew he would outbox the man known for his sweeter feet? Who knew that Cotto's hand speed was quicker than Mosley's? Who thought before this fight that neither man would get seriously buzzed, or hit the deck, and that Cotto wouldn't land a flush shot on the Mosley family jewels. certainly, the bout was close enough, and Mosley looked sharp enough, to warrant a rematch if the public calls for it. Cotto, in the end, was fast with his fists, and his feet, and he stayed away from the fury, in order to turn in a smart, sharp performance.
Joel Casamayor beat Jose Armando Santa Cruz, or so the judges said. The 36 year old Cuban has friends in judges Ron McNair and Frank Lombardi, who had it 114-113 for him, while Tony Paolillo had it 114-113 for Santa Cruz. The WBC's interim lightweight title was up for grabs.
The loser scored a flash knockdown in the first, and pressed the action continuously.
Casamayor (35-3-1, 21 KOs) last fought in October 2006, in his tiebreaker match with the late Diego Corrales.
The Mexican Santa Cruz, age 27, drops to 25-3, but we all know better, don't we?
Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25 KOs) gave the what for to Golden Johnson, notching a KO win at 2:38 of the first round.
Margarito, age 29, typically starts slow, but he wasted zero time getting after the 33-year-old Johnson (25-9-3, 18 KOs).
There were three knockdowns, and the ref finally interceded on the loser behalf, though it appeared he could have done so about a minute earlier.
Looks like we'll have a Cotto/Margarito matchup next, a Puerto Rican vs. Mexican tussle that will be sure to get the flags waving. The Texan Johnson had been on a 3-0-1 role in his last four.
Top Rank says junior welterweight Victor Ortiz (20-1-1, 15 KOs), from Oxnard, Calif., is going to be a star. He showed some spark blasting out Carlos Maussa at 1:47 of the first round.
Maussa dropped to 19-5, 17 KOs. The 36-year-old Colombian looks to be at the end of the road. He's dropped his last three bouts.
SPEEDBAG Some Hollywood morons almost made me late. Some fools who made a movie, "The Fast and the Furious," starring Vin Deisel, in 2001, made the promoters change the name of the event from "Fast and Furious." What, somebody was going to confuse the boxing with a film? What, it's not like maybe somebody would be spurred to rent the flick because the bout reminded them of it? Idiots. The PR staff had to re-do all the press passes, removing the "offensive" title, and thus there was a bad bottleneck of press trying to enter. And then some jackass in a trenchcoat cut me. You know who you are, Trenchy...
--There was a ton of noise for Mosley in the arena, way more than I thought there'd be.
--Jay Gon got a crappy auxiliary seat. Uncool. He was going to write up the undercard. Not cool at all. Was everyone ringside writing on deadline? C'mon now.
--Oscar says he's going to fight in May, in Dodger Stadium. He knows against who, but won't say until after the Mayweather/Hatton fight. Hint: he has already fought Mayweather, and lost, so he won't be fighting PBF. Who does that leave? Hmmm. Who could put about 20,000 imported bums in those seats to go with Oscar's 20,000? Hmm.
The Aussie lefthander already has leg speed, hand speed and a pretty good chin. But what he really has is Jack and Shane Mosley showing him what boxing is all about: fighting hard even during sparring.
“Working with Shane and Jack has been very helpful,” said Dib, 22, who spent most of the past year with the Mosleys. “It’s great to work in Big Bear.”
Dib recently sparred with former world champion Freddie Norwood, and also works a bit with Sugar Shane at times. Speed alone cannot give him enough advantage to keep away from the elite fighters.
“The only way to learn is to go hard every day,” said Shane Mosley. “When I was young I used to go to the gyms in L.A. and spar with guys like Zack Padilla, Genaro Hernandez and guys like that. We never took it easy. That’s the only way to learn.”
Mtagwa’s battled with very tough customers in his career. Though he hasn’t always come out on top he’s a durable fighter that can be counted to go the distance. He’s lost against Martin Honorio, Orlando Salido and the late Agapito Sanchez. But he’s beaten gritty foes like Fernando Trejo and Joe Morales. He’s not easy.
But the Mosley’s know what it takes to make it to the top tier and both feel Dibs has a future.
“He’s got good hand speed and movement, we’re just trying to harness that talent and show him what it takes,” said Jack Mosley.
Dibs moves gracefully around the ring from one side to the other. When he chooses he can fire stiff and rapid combinations.
“The sparring I get here is the difference between the U.S. and Australia,” said Dibs.
In his last fight he beat Jose Alberto Gonzalez. Now it’s one step tougher for two reasons: Mtagwa is a rough customer and it’s inside Madison Square Garden.
“It’s really going to be great,” said Dibs.
Riddick Bowe going MMA
Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe plans to return to fighting, but not into boxing. He’s going to try mixed martial arts.
“I’ve got to make a living,” said Bowe who last fought two years ago in Temecula against Billy Zambrun. “I’ve got fast hands.”
Bowe will be fighting for Xcess Fighting and will be training under MMA star Mark Kerr. His promoter said he could be ready by Dec. 12.
“He wants to be the first guy to win a world championship in boxing and MMA,” said Bruce Valachi, CEO of Xcess Fighting.
Arreola fight postponed
Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola will not be fighting on Nov. 16 due to the death of his best friend Alex Carranza.
Arreola was scheduled to fight Teke Oruh in a heavyweight fight at St. Lucia, a resort island in the Caribbean. But his managers postponed the fight after learning about
Carranza’s shooting death that occurred on Saturday Oct. 27 in Riverside, California at a house party. The 25-year-old Carranza was shielding his girl friend when a gunman fired shots at random. He died that night.
“Alex was Chris’s best friend and he was a friend of mine too,” said Henry Ramirez, who trains Arreola.
Ortiz vs. Maussa
Oxnard’s Victor Ortiz faces former junior welterweight champion Carlos Maussa of Colombia at Madison Square Garden on Saturday Nov. 10.
“It’s just fight like any other fight to me,” said Ortiz, who hopes a win over Maussa can lead to a world title bid early next year. “A boxing ring is a boxing ring.”
Maussa, who fights what some call “the drunken boxer” style, used his unorthodox fighting to beat Vivian Harris by knockout two years ago. Then Maussa faced England’s Ricky Hatton in a unification match and was stopped in nine rounds.
Ortiz is not fazed.
“I can’t wait to step in the ring,” said Ortiz. “I can’t get in there fast enough.”
Margarito vs. Johnson
Former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito needs to beat Golden Johnson to get a shot at the winner between Shane Mosley and WBA titleholder Miguel Cotto.
“We’ve been told that Tony could face the winner,” said Sergio Diaz, the co-manager of Margarito.
Margarito also wants another crack at Paul Williams, who took the Tijuana fighter’s WBO welterweight title away last July.
“We know that Golden Johnson is an experienced fighter,” said Margarito. “We are not coming unprepared.”