Written by David A. Avila
Monday, 21 January 2008 19:00
Filipino superstar Pacquiao (45-3-2, 35 KOs) will train regularly at the Wild Card Boxing gym in preparation for his long-awaited rematch against Mexico’s other star WBC junior lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs).
The second fight with Marquez takes place on March 15 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and will be televised on HBO pay-per-view.
Ironically, though Pacquiao can scarcely walk out of his own house without attracting a few thousand worshipping fans, in the streets of Hollywood he can walk freely without nary a second look from passersby.
During the day thousands of tourists descend on Hollywood Boulevard or Sunset Boulevard to look at the historic spots where movie stars and other celebrities once or currently inhabit.
You can go to Lucille Ball’s first house or find the footprints and handprints of several hundred stars of yesteryear at the Mann Chinese Theater. One can even eat at one of the favorite eating and drinking spots like the Formosa Café, or the Pig N Whistle Restaurant, but you can’t always visit the Wild Card Boxing gym when Pacquiao is in town.
It gets too crowded with Pacquiao’s fans whenever he starts training in the small gym located on top of a laundry mat.
If you attempt to gain entrance you will be stopped by a muscular guy who’s job is primarily to stop gawkers and autograph seekers from attempting to enter the boxing training center of dozens of prizefighters.
Many of Pacquiao’s fans wait on the parking lot to get his attention. After a two-hour workout Pacquiao usually spends time signing autographs and taking pictures with the hundreds of fans that gather when he’s in town.
Though it seems like a lot, it’s nothing compared to the reception he gets in General Santos City, Philippines.
Remarkably, Pacman gets a rest from the Pacman mania he receives in his homeland.
In California he can expect hundreds of fans to see him daily. In the Philippines you can add an extra zero because it numbers in the thousands.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank promotions. “People stand in front of his house waiting to get a glimpse of him.”
Arum, who also promoted Ali during his prime, says Pacquiao has the same magnetism as a mega movie star or the former heavyweight champion Ali. One added factor is that the Filipino boxer has people lined up asking for favors or help.
“He’s a welfare system in his self,” says Arum, who witnessed Pacquiao in his home city trying to help his people. “He’s such a wonderful person.”
Roach, a former boxer who has trained Oscar De La Hoya, James “Lights Out” Toney, and Mike Tyson, has spent months in the Philippines watching the public reaction to Pacquiao on a daily basis.
“Manny is a very humble person,” said Roach. “He can’t say no to people.”
Recently the famous trainer purchased an adjoining property and converted the room into another place to put a boxing ring and other equipment. It also provides needed privacy for sparring.
Pacquiao’s arrival also attracts reporters, photographers and video cameras of web sites, magazines and newspapers. It gets so crowded that boxers can’t perform their regular routines.
“It was getting so crowded in here we couldn’t train,” said Roach, who bought the adjoining building and added another ring so that Pacquiao could spar in private. “It still gets crowded whenever Manny is here.”
The media requests go off the chart.
“It gets crazy in here,” says Eric Brown, one of the resident boxing trainers at the Wild Card Gym.
Though many might see chaos, Pacquiao sees a relief.
“Here I can walk around and people don’t know who I am,” said a smiling Pacquiao while at the Beverly Hills Hotel during a press conference. “It’s different.”
However, don’t expect Pacquiao to let down in the ring in the ides of March.
When Mexico’s beady-eyed Marquez held Pacquiao to a draw despite being knocked down three times in the first round, it put a stop to the Filipino superstar’s master plans of total domination over Mexican fighters.
Marquez feels he won the fight and is anxious to prove it.
“I took this fight and agreed to all of his conditions just so that I could fight him again,” said Marquez, 34, who captured the WBC title last year by beating fellow Mexico City boxer Marco Antonio Barrera.
Aside from seeking to beat Pacman, he wants to prove he’s the best of the Mexican featherweights from his era.
“I’ve always wanted to prove that I was better than Marco Antonio Barrera and better than Erik Morales,” says Marquez. “I proved it against Barrera but Erik Morales never wanted to fight me.”
So far, only Morales was able to pin a victory over Pacquiao. Then he got clobbered. Marquez seeks to be the thorn that bursts Pacquiao’s bubble of success over Mexican boxers.
“The people followed Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera because they had more experience,” said Marquez who at one time fought for Top Rank that promoted Morales and Forum Boxing that promoted Barrera. “I was put in the back of the line.”
After beating Barrera last March, maybe Marquez’s luck has changed for good?
“I’ve been trying to demonstrate who I am,” said Marquez who feels a win over Pacquiao would finally lead to star status. “I built a career in Los Angeles and people will know me in Mexico when I beat Manny Pacquiao.”
Pacquiao, 29, only smiles when he hears Marquez’s predictions and goals. He only remembers that he knocked Marquez down three times in the first round and failed to finish the job.
“After I knocked him down three times I thought the fight is over,” Pacquiao said. “I made a mistake.”
Marquez also remembers the three knockdowns he suffered and claims he can solve the Pacman riddle.
“That won’t happen again,” says Marquez about the knockdowns.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao roams the streets of Hollywood amongst thousands of tourists and star seekers who don’t recognize him when he walks down Hollywood and Vine.
But that’s a good thing.
“I’m comfortable here,” says the Filipino super star.
Written by Michael Woods
Monday, 21 January 2008 19:00
Now, the bad news.
Jones only works in spurts these days. He’s a master at energy conservation, and for most of every round, he’s either resting his legs by leaning back on the ropes, or saving his energy by not punching.
Either tactic will prove fatal if, as is rumored, he secures a date with Joe Calzaghe.
The Welshman, even if he doesn’t punch straight most of the time (and no, my Welsh “fans” I’m not interested in an email deluge, so I will not refer to Joe C as “Slappy Joe” again), is busy, busy, busy, and for Jones, that would spell loss, loss, loss.
Roy Jones could not have picked a more perfect opponent than the man he fought on Saturday. A semi-retired boxer, who periodically decides to re-enter the fight-for-a-fee ranks when the whim strikes him, fighting at a weight class about 20 pounds too high for him…tailor made for the Floridian, who just turned 39, and fought on Saturday skillfully, but with a clear comprehension that he needed to be smart about not pushing his stamina to a breaking point.
I have to keep reminding myself, Tito chose Jones as his target foe, not the other way around. That was going to be part of my “good news” on Jones, that he’s wise about picking his opposition these days. But if Tito chose him, then I suppose I have to back off on that assessment a bit. Prince Badi, Hanshaw, Tito…none of these cats are that dangerous, and for a man with a compromised chin, all are smart foes to step in with.
I’m sorry, but when I saw Trinidad “whaling” away at Jones’ gut early on Saturday night, I knew immediately that he would not have the pop to hurt Jones one iota. It was like a zookeeper trying to take down an escaped lion with spitballs.
But Calzaghe will hurt Jones. He is far too busy for Jones, and he will not allow Jones to lay on the ropes, and rest, without peppering him like he peppered Manfredo. (No, Jones fans, I am not comparing Roy with 'Fredo, he has more now than 'Fredo ever had, and he's too smart to not punch back, if he has his wits about him, as 'Fredo did when he was stopped.)
I cannot even guess what’s in Jones’ head if he’s serious, and wants a date with Joe C.
Does he see that foe as the best marriage of risk and money?
Does he think Joe is in the same league as Prince Badi, Hanshaw and Tito, and cannot hurt him?
Or does he think Hopkins will take down the Welshman, and is positioning himself for a rematch with the just-turned 43-year-old Philly survivor?
Because that’s the fight that makes the most sense to me, if I’m playing matchmaker, and want Jones to collect the most pay, for the least risk. That’s not me the matchmaker talking, as I think the work rate and clutch rate in Jones/Hopkins II would make for some channel-changing fare.
Bottom line, Roy still has something left in the tank, but the tank only holds about 20 or 30 seconds of gas every round. Against Calzaghe, that will run out in 20 or 30 seconds, and that leaves waaaaay too much time to get tattooed, and possibly kayoed.
As for Tito, I’m feeling like it’s 55-45 that we do NOT see him glove up again. He too has something left in the tank. But it’s mostly ethanol, I’m afraid.
Trinidad may have enough pop left to do some damage to some 154 pounders. But I question vociferously if he could get down to that weight again.
He didn’t look blimpy at 170. He has filled out, as any 35-year-old man will, and getting down to anything below 168, I’m afraid, would take the last bit of life from his legs.
Some of you might say, hey, fight at 168 then. Please, Tito fans, be content with your memories, and let the man fade into the sunset, and be free from any more damage to his noggin. The next beating he absorbs is one beating too many.
Did we get any clues on what he may do next from his postfight comments?
“I took off two years and eight months,” he said. “I take nothing away from Roy but if I could have avoided the knockdowns, I think I would have won the fight. He was very fast and strong and threw great punches. I have no excuses.”
Um, if I was more handsome, I’d have been in movies. If I were smarter in my stockpicking, I’d be retired, on a yacht, sipping O’douls. Get my drift?
Granted, some grains of salt must be applied to any comments made while still sweating from the heat of the battle, but TT, you cannot avoid the knockdowns, and that is why you should savor the memories.
“He demonstrated speed and took my body punches,” Tito said.
Yes, and I’m afraid so much time off has affected your punching power, as well as your legs (and we know that those two areas are inextricably connected.) I really think most anyone in the top 20 from 154-175 pounds would be able to withstand your assaults, Tito.
“I fight for my fans and the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.
And I hope that he will bestow upon his avid supporters another gift beyond the oodles of sunny memories that are stored in their minds. I hope he will choose to stay retired this time, and not absorb any more punishment.
“Roy Jones was very fast and he fought a good fight,” he said. “I think he won the fight but not by such a wide margin.
Again, back to my grain of salt/heat of battle adage. But this statement is worrisome. Hopefully, Tito will watch the tape, or listen to some trusted advisor who can clue him in, that he did lose decisively, that the margin was quite wide.
“I will decide if I fight again or not,” Tito said. “I will speak to my father but I will make the decision as to whether or not I will fight again.”
My guess, and that’s all I got: Tito, whose interest in the sport has perked up only periodically since Hopkins sapped his will in 2001, will feel the ache in his ribs, and the tenderness in his chin, and decide, finally, for good, that’s it.
Time to be the man who sticks to the retirement plan.
I try somewhat to steer clear of telling fighters when to walk away. That’s their business. But sometimes, there is a dearth of voices of reason surrounding them. Fighters have posses and managers and promoters who earn when their guys fights. They have a vested interest in staving off retirement. My vested interest is to entertain readers, by and large. I have no veiled motivation, or clouded judgment, though ardent Tito fans may beg to differ.
“I fight for my fans,” Trinidad says.
TT, you can sign autographs for your fans.
You can pose for pics in PR for your fans.
Stay retired for you.
Written by Ralph Gonzalez
Sunday, 20 January 2008 19:00
Light Flyweight, Odilon Zaleta, led the way for Mexico as he took the first fight of the night with a 13-11 decision over Luis Yanez. Yanez is the only fighter already qualified for the U.S. Olympic team.
Braulio Avila won in impressive fashion over 2007 Flyweight U.S. silver medalist Daniel Lozano. Avila jumped ahead quickly on points with a non stop assault. By the second round, Avila would take a lead of 22-3. It was at the: 53 mark of the third round that the United States coaches called a halt to the action to give Avila the victory by stoppage.
Oscar Valdez defeated hometown boy David Clark in the bantamweight division with a 15-12 decision. Clark took the early lead but Valdez poured on the attack and never let Clark regain the point’s edge to make it three in a row for Mexico.
It looked like Rico Ramos of Los Angeles was about to bring in the US team’s first victory as he seemed to clearly out box Arturo Santos but surprisingly lost an 18-11 decision that seemed to outrage the U.S. supporters in the crowd.
Francisco Vargas kept the roll going for Mexico by keeping a high work rate that seemed to overwhelm Cleveland, Ohio’s Miguel Gonzalez in the lightweight division. Vargas took the win over Gonzalez with a score of 38-11.
Light Welterweight Andre Sherard came close to stopping the Mexican’s win streak with a solid performance over Mexico’s Jesse Vargas. It was a close fight with Sherard going into the final round ahead in points. Vargas stepped up the pace and finished with a 15-12 victory.
It was Welterweight Greg Carter that finally took the first U.S. victory in a very messy win over Oscar Molina. Molina was ahead on points at the end of the first but Carter kept piling on the points. Carter was mauling Molina for most of the fight. At one point both fighters nearly tumbled over the ropes. Carter wins with a 24-13 decision.
Marco Antonio Periban defeated the United States’ Shawn Porter in middleweight action. Periban pressed forward and had a 20-5 lead after the second round and never let up. The Mexican took the fight with a 47-12 decision.
Light heavyweight Joshua Garza easily out pointed Siju Shabazz of New Mexico and ended up with a 27-4 decision.
Heavyweight David Carey outworked Javier Torres en route to a 27-16 decision. Carey had a slim lead throughout until a hard combination in the last round which led to a standing eight count, sealed the win for the American.
Mike Wilson took a 16-9 decision over Mexico’s Andres Ruiz. It was an exciting contest that seemed a lot closer than the final score revealed. The 270 lbs. Ruiz seems to be better suited as a pro than as an amateur. The crowd voiced it’s disapproval over the final decision.
Faces in the crowd:
Former World Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield who told the crowd he’d be fighting Mike Tyson next. Holyfield was serving as the U.S. team captain.
Mexican boxing hero and former champion Erik Morales who was the captain of the Mexican team.
Former world champion Terry “Terrible” Norris.
The 2008 “Battle Across The Border” was the first USA vs. Mexico dual meet since 2000.
Written by Raymond Markarian
Sunday, 20 January 2008 19:00
This was my first chance to meet with the Oakland, CA. native.
He speaks with confidence and feels like he is ready for the next level. The guy is a boxing junkie. For Andre, boxing is not just a game it is a way of life.
Raymond Markarian: Tell me about how you began boxing.
Andre Ward: Well basically, I was talented in a lot of different sports growing up. My father was a boxer when he was in high school and he was 15-0 as a heavyweight. He used to tell me stories about his preparation for fights, the fights themselves, and he just really inspired me. I wanted to be just like my dad. I wanted to put down every other sport to see what boxing was about. We finally went to the gym when I was 9 years old, and I got my start. From the beginning, my father wanted me to learn the art of boxing. He wanted me to be taught how to hit, and not get hit. We went to the gym and ran into Virgil Hunter who is now my godfather and trainer and we have been together ever since. That was how I got my start in the game. I got battle tested for a year before my first amateur fight. I was well schooled and had to overcome some giants, so to speak, in the gym before my first amateur fight. When I went to the next level, and began fighting, I was ready mentally and physically and I have not looked back since.
RM: If you could compare your style to anyone who would it be?
Ward: I don’t think my style is comparable to anybody. At times I have a little bit of Duran in me, you know because I could fight rugged and break you down inside, you can also see glimpses of Roy, and you can see glimpses of Floyd as well. It is not intentional, I don’t try to fight like them but talent is talent and skill is skill. There is not one person per say, you could put your hand on because I am still evolving. I have 14 fights now and I am doing things now that I was not doing in my 2nd or 3rd fight. So I am still evolving and I am excited to reach the next level. To be a champion, you have to be able to adjust. If you look at Floyd Mayweather in his last 4 or 5 fights, he couldn’t fight the same way. He had the base style with the shoulder roll defense and different things like that. But he had to be able to adjust to his opponent. That is one of the major keys for me being victorious, being able to adjust on a dime.
RM: When do you fight again Andre?
AW: We are looking to fight on February 29th, maybe early March, and possibly again in April.
RM: What can we expect from Andre Ward in 2008, what are your options for this year?
AW: Well, the main thing is to keep winning. I let the critics worry about time tables and who I should fight and everything like that. We are just going to keep taking what presents itself. Like I said, I believe I could go with the best of them right now. I believe you have to think that way and I don’t believe you can think any other way in a game like this. I also know I am on the verge to go to another level. My body is still maturing and filling out and I am getting stronger daily both mentally, and physically. Just the whole spectrum is coming together. In 2008, I am looking for it to be a big year, hopefully a foundation year. And if the Lord wills it, in 2009, we will be closer to making bigger things happen.
RM: Many boxing experts consider you to be one of the best young fighters in the world. Do you feel pressure to live up to those expectations?
AW: Thank you, but not really, I mean, I appreciate the comments people make about me and I take it in stride. But I just have to keep winning. There is no one that can set the bar higher for me than myself.
RM: A few months ago, there were talks about you fighting Edison Miranda in 2008, is there any truth to that?
AW: Well Miranda’s name was brought up and Allan Green was brought up too. But there was nothing that came to me personally. So, it was just something that was just brought up. I don’t know who brought it up. I am not quite sure if it was a thought from Goossen my promoter, but it really didn’t go any further than that so it was not something we gave a whole lot of thought. So, that is where we stand with that now.
RM: Ok, well let me ask you this, when do you think you will be ready to fight some of the bigger names like Kelly Pavlik, Jermain Taylor, Kessler, or any others?
AW: You have to pay your dues. You have to earn it. You have to keep winning. I have had 14 fights now but like I said, I am still evolving. I just have to keep winning and I will let the critics worry about the time tables. I cannot worry about it. I just have to do my part and that is to win. You know, I mean, these guys have rankings and status like they have. But like I said, I believe I could beat all these guys. I am not trying to be braggadocious but, you have to think like that. You know, at the same time, business is always something you have to consider. I think it is a disservice for the boxers that wouldn’t consider it. This isn’t pride fighting, it is prize fighting. We are fighting for a prize. So, the bottom line is if you make a step like that you have to be compensated. So everything has to be right and everything and has to be clicking on all cylinders and if it was then that is definitely a fight I would be willing to take. But, then you have to ask yourself, after that then what? Where do we go from there?
RM: You say your goal is to be the best. When your career is over, do you think winning the Olympic Gold Medal will be your greatest accomplishment in boxing?
AW: No I don’t. The Gold Medal is something that is close to my heart, representing the U.S.A. against so many different countries is definitely an honor. To be honest, winning a world championship would be difficult to surpass a Gold medal in my eyes, but I am definitely here to become a world champion, and go to the Hall of Fame. I don’t want to crawl in the Hall of Fame. I want to walk into the Hall of Fame on my own terms. I am here to reach the top and I believe it is going to happen by the grace of God.
RM: With the Olympic Games coming up this summer is there any advice you would like to give to the boxing competitors?
AW: Well there is a lot of great talent out there. Rau’shee Warren and Demetrius Andrade won the world championships last year. But it is not just them, we have a very talented team. I would tell them that it is a short period of time and the results are definitely worth it, just pay your dues and don’t cut any corners and you will be compensated in the end.
RM: What do you think of the state of boxing? Do you think it is on the rise or is there still more work to do?
AW: I think boxing needs to keep doing what it is doing. There were articles about people saying boxing is dying out but boxing is not going anywhere. MMA is hot right now and some of those guys train in my gym, King’s Gym, and I have respect for those guys because they train just as hard as boxers do. The MMA is on the rise right now but boxing is America’s past time. Boxing has been here and it is going to be here in the future.
RM: What do you like to do for fun?
AW: Spending time with my wife and two kids that is my party man! I live a simple life. We have a place in Dublin, CA, and I just love to spend time with my family, that’s my party. You know, I am a simple man, and it is well-documented that I am a Christian and I believe in the Lord and I am thankful for everything he has provided for me and my family.
RM: OK Andre, tell me something about yourself that you want the boxing world to know. Is there anything else you want to say?
AW: Stay tuned! Just stay tuned!
Written by Robert Mladinich
Sunday, 20 January 2008 19:00
Although he hailed from the tiny town of Bowlus, Minnesota, he had honed his boxing skills in the U.S. Navy. After being stopped by future heavyweight title challenger Ron Lyle in 1970, he built up a string of 60 straight victories.
He won scores of military honors and beat a lot of world-ranked amateurs. Included among was Cuban legend Teofilo Stevenson at the Pan Am Games and future heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who was disqualified against Bobick in the Olympic box-offs.
Early on in the Olympic competition, Bobick beat the Russian who had been favored to win the gold. In his next fight, however, he was stopped in the third round by Stevenson, who would remain the most fearsome amateur heavyweight for over a decade.
Bobick does not think the slaughtering of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games had anything to do with his loss. “I was staying was on the other side of the Olympic Village, far away from where everything was happening,” he recalled.
Prior to the actual shooting, Bobick looked out his window and saw a hooded terrorist pushing a person along in the distance. “My brain didn’t register,” he said. “I didn’t realize what was going on, even though I felt like something might be wrong.”
Bobick also recalled the Cuban boxing team being taken to a secure area away from the Olympic Village. While it was apparent something was amiss, most of the boxers were kept in the dark. Never for a moment did Bobick think about leaving once the shooting started.
“I was there for the Olympics,” he said. “This was my shot.”
Bobick returned home without a medal, but was still considered a blue-chip professional prospect. He turned pro amid much fanfare in April 1973, and began barnstorming the country under the tutelage of esteemed trainer Eddie Futch. Assisting Futch was Murphy Griffith, who had coached Bobick for much of his amateur career.
Among the who’s who of contenders Bobick beat on his way up were future champion Mike Weaver, Chuck Wepner, Randy Neumann, Larry Middleton, Scott LeDoux, and the previously undefeated Fred “Young Sanford” Houpe, who garnered his nickname because he was managed by comedian Redd Foxx, who at the time was the star of the hit television series “Sanford and Son.”
(At one point, in the early 1980s, Larry Holmes and Mike Weaver simultaneously held versions of the heavyweight title, and Bobick had scored stoppage victories over both of them).
Besides the fact that Bobick beat most of those fighters handily, promoters always advertised the fact that he had made Holmes quit during the Olympic qualifications.
As Bobick was progressing through the pro ranks, Holmes was utilizing his rapier jab and tremendous right hand to steamroll his way toward a seven-year run as the universally regarded heavyweight champion of the world.
To this day Bobick credits himself with making Holmes the awesome fighter he later became. “I think I gave him so much of my own jab – in the chest, in the face – that he realized how important a jab is,” said Bobick, now 57 and a member of the City Council in Little Falls, Minnesota.
“At the time I fought him, I had not even heard of him. But he must have been pretty good to be in the box-offs. I dropped him in the second round. After that, he grabbed and held and the referee disqualified him. I remember him having a decent jab, but he didn’t use it very much. Later on, he used it all of the time.”
Peter Wood, a 1971 New York City Golden Gloves finalist and author of two books, “A Clenched Fist: The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion” and “Confessions of a Fighter: Battling Through the New York Golden Gloves,” remembers training alongside Bobick at Gleason’s Gym when it was located in the South Bronx.
“He was a real nice guy, who was glad to offer advice if he was asked,” said Wood. “In the heart of the South Bronx, he always seemed a bit miscast with his sock hat, Midwestern accent and warm smile. But he could fight”
Bobick, who was managed by former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, had amassed a professional record of 38-0 (32 KOS) when he was matched with Ken Norton at Madison Square Garden in May 1977.
Although Norton was 37-4 (30 KOS) at the time, many people expected Bobick to beat him. The fight received a tremendous build-up, because the winner was in line to receive a $1.2 million payday against champion Muhammad Ali. That only made the inglorious result more difficult for Bobick to accept.
In uncustomary fashion he stormed out of his corner, only to be blasted in the throat by a well-placed Norton uppercut. Fifty-eight seconds into the fight, Bobick had his first loss on his record.
The loss was so high-profile, even “Saturday Night Live” did a parody of it. All of the toil and hard work that Bobick had put forth was for naught. The swiftness and brutality of the knockout was hard to forget.
“Bobick became a national punchline,” said Steve Farhood, a broadcaster on ShoBox: The New Generation and a noted boxing historian. “It was very unfortunate because he was a pretty good fighter. But the only fights he is remembered for are losing to Stevenson in the Olympics and getting hit in the throat and stopped against Norton. Nobody remembers him running Holmes out of the ring in the amateurs.”
Bobick says there are a number of reasons for his loss to Norton. The most crucial was the fact that he deviated from his usual game plan, which was to cautiously move forward at the onset of the bout.
“I was very upset and disappointed in myself, and it took me a long time to figure out what went wrong,” said Bobick. “I would usually play a little bit in the beginning, and not show any of my arsenal until the last 30 seconds of the first round or in the second round. I wasn’t myself that night.”
Adding to the distractions was the fact that Bobick had spent the night before, as well as the hours before the fight, virtually alone. He does not believe that any of the immense pressure from the media contributed to the shocking loss.
“The night before the fight Eddie Futch moved me to a prestigious hotel, away from the people I was familiar with,” said Bobick. “I was alone in that room all night, and it was as cold and harsh in the room as it is in late January in Minnesota.”
On the night of the actual fight, Bobick again found himself alone because Futch and Griffith were working the corner of so many undercard fighters. “They had fighters all night, so I was alone in the dressing room,” he said. “It was on the cold side, and those things were playing on my mind.”
As if losing to Norton wasn’t enough, Bobick would face an even worse experience less than a month later. His brother Rodney, who had served as a sparring partner for the Norton fight, was tragically killed in an auto accident. To say Bobick was devastated would be an understatement.
“I lost the fight with Norton, and then I lost my brother and drained into emptiness,” said Bobick. “I couldn’t get over the fact that he was dead.”
A month after Rodney’s death, Bobick returned to the ring with an impressive eighth round TKO over LeDoux, who also hailed from Minnesota. The fight, which was held at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, attracted over 9,100 fans and a live gate of $75,000.
Besides being sold as a comeback for Bobick, it was also billed as a revenge match because LeDoux had once won a 10 round decision over Rodney.
And, 15 months earlier, Duane had scored a 10 round decision over LeDoux at the same location. That fight attracted nearly 14,000 fans and a live gate of almost $114,000.
“Scott had one style, and that was to come in and bang,” said Bobick. “Before the fight I walked into his dressing room and said, ‘You don’t beat up my brother.’ That set the tone. I pulverized him, really took him apart. Sometimes, when he was on the ropes, I’d lift him up and punch him some more.”
The comeback continued with a third round stoppage of New York journeyman Pedro Agosta, but again screeched to a halt when Bobick was shockingly stopped in the third round by the then unheralded Kallie Knoetze in South Africa.
Futch immediately went back to America to train Joe Frazier for a comeback, while Bobick and his publicist, David Wolf, stayed behind. Disgruntled by his relationship with Futch, a dejected Bobick asked Wolf, a former sportswriter and author of the classic basketball book “Foul,” to manage him.
“Joe and Eddie had lost interest in Duane after the Knoetze fight,” said Wolf. “Duane had good reason to feel abandoned, if you ask me. But the chemistry between Duane and Eddie was never really good. Eddie always had other things to do, both personally and boxing (wise). Duane was not getting enough of his time.
“For the few weeks we were in South Africa, Eddie was not focused on Duane,” he continued. “Duane felt that acutely. When they left South Africa, Duane asked me to be his manager. I told him I had no experience in that area, but he said it can’t be worse than it already is.”
Wolf accepted the offer and quickly displayed the managerial savvy that would come to define him through his work with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. He decided to keep Bobick in South Africa for a spell.
He didn’t want him to return to the United States with a fresh loss on his record. He also wanted to take advantage of the abundance of positive press that Bobick had accumulated over there.
Six weeks after the Knoetze debacle, Bobick stopped South African Mike Schutte in eight rounds in Cape Town. Taking even more advantage of Bobick’s newfound popularity, Wolf learned of a South African boxing movie being filmed that he hoped to land Bobick a walk-on role in.
“I got a job doing rewrites on the script, so I asked for a screen test for Duane,” said Wolf. “He wound up getting the lead.”
The film was called “Billy Boy,” and Wolf jokes that the movie “never made it off the African continent,” except for one brief screening in New York.
“Duane was a big star in South Africa,” said Wolf. “The boxing commission said they would welcome him there but for political reasons they didn’t want an American making his base in South Africa. They said he could base himself elsewhere and come back and fight.”
Bobick and Wolf soon headed home, where the fighter quickly got married. Wolf scheduled him a series of fights against relatively easy opposition in out-of-the way places throughout the United States. After seven knockout victories, Bobick was back in the rankings and Wolf tried to negotiate title fights with both Holmes and Ali.
When they accepted a nationally televised fight against 1976 Olympian “Big” John Tate in February 1979, much ado had been made about Bobick’s work with Nautilus fitness equipment, which at the time was about as cutting-edge as it got.
The television network that broadcast the fight touted Bobick as a rejuvenated heavyweight because of his improved physical strength from working the Nautilus program.
Bobick says the regimen made him stronger, but in retrospect realizes it did not suit his personal needs.
“I couldn’t sit there and pedal, I needed to get out there and run,” he explained. “At the time, it was very futuristic and revolutionary. What happened to it, I don’t know.”
What happened to Bobick, however, is something he remembers all too well. He was humiliatingly stopped by Tate in the first round, and then lost his next fight against Baltimore’s George Chaplin by seventh round TKO in July 1979.
“Against Chaplin, Duane just wasn’t there anymore,” said Wolf. “He didn’t get knocked unconscious, but his movement was slow and he had nothing on his punches. It was time for him to retire.”
The Chaplin fight would be Bobick’s last, and he left the game with a 48-4 (32 KOS) record, the highlight of which he says was his sixth round TKO victory over Wepner in Utica, New York, in October 1976.
“It was a very competitive fight, but I gave him (Wepner) a lot of stitches and the fight was stopped on cuts,” recalled Bobick.
Retired at the relatively young age of 29, Bobick was a man adrift. He quickly went into a downward spiral. He lived in Atlantic City, where he says he became inconsolably depressed for several years.
His second wife had left him, and he was living alone in a house where he could easily sit and watch television for 12 to 14 hours a day and “not see anything.” That lifestyle lasted until 1984, and is best summed up in a poem he later wrote to address this difficult period in his life:
I spent too much time with the wrong woman
I spent too much time alone
I made too many bad decisions
And they cut me to the bone
In 1984, a broke and despondent Bobick called his brother Leroy in Minnesota and asked him to come take him home. Leroy arrived shortly afterwards with a cousin, packed up his stuff, and went back to Bowlus. Eventually, Bobick’s depression lifted.
“Day by day things got a little better,” said Bobick. “I had to find work to stay above water, so I did some stuccoing with my father. I had a drinking problem, but got to the point that I had to choose between good food to eat or liquor to drink. I was in a little shell, but eventually found myself out of it.”
A high school friend introduced Bobick to his third wife, Debi, who he describes as “wonderful and beautiful.” They married in 1986 and have two daughters together.
Sarah is 20 and Anna is 18. In addition, Debi has a daughter named Tara from a previous relationship. Bobick says that Debi has been “a very positive influence in my life” and that he has never been happier.
Four years ago Bobick was employed at a paper mill when he was accidentally pulled into a rolling machine. His right arm was stripped of skin and muscle from the elbow to the wrist. He was transported by helicopter to a trauma center, but still lost his index finger and has restricted movement of the entire arm.
If not for his positive attitude and the discipline he cultivated as a boxer, Bobick is certain that the outcome would have been much worse.
“I deal with it the best I can,” said Bobick. “I can’t put a lot of weight on it or pick up small items with my fingers, but I deal with it.”
As a U.S. Navy and National Guard veteran, Bobick has done plenty to pay back his country for all that it afforded him. He is now happy to be an elected official, and eagerly looks forward to having a positive impact on his community.
Little Falls has a population of 9,200 people, and Bobick makes no secret of how committed he is to working for them. He relishes the opportunity to make a difference, and to be involved in the day-to-day tasks associated with civic responsibility.
“I have a little bit of old school in me,” he said. “It’s easy to see that many politicians are wasting this country, but we’re not going to get into that. As I get older, I get more and more common sense. One thing I’ve learned is if it’s not broken it doesn’t need to be fixed.”
Bobick attributes so much of his current happiness to the lessons he learned from boxing. Some were harsh, but they all made him the happy, content and successful man that he is today.
“I’ve had a fantastic life,” he said. “It’s been sad at times, but who hasn’t been sad at times?
All of the bad times have only made me enjoy the good times more. Sadness prepared me for the good things I have now.”
Written by Michael Woods
Saturday, 19 January 2008 19:00
As TSS expected, Jones handily took a unanimous decision, by scores of 116-110, 116-110, 117-109, in a reasonably entertaining matchup of two legends, both long past their prime. TSS scored it 9-2 for Jones, with an extra two points for knockdowns.
Jones, who obviously has more left in the tank than Tito, knocked Trinidad to the mat twice, and it looks like this time, the retirement may be a permanent one for the Puerto Rican fight icon. He stated after, however, that he and his dad will discuss career options, and he may well fight on. The final decision will be his, he said.
The feature bout was titled "Bring on the Titans," but may as well have been titled "Bring On Hopkins." Jones is now a master at energy conservation, and a scrap with the too-busy Joe Calzaghe would not go well. He and the similarly conservatism minded Hopkins would be a better matchup for Jones at this stage of the game.
Jones, the 39-year-old Floridian, weighed in at 169 1/2 pounds, while Trinidad, the 35-year-old Puerto Rican, weighed in a 170 pounds on the dot.
Jones came in with a 51-4 mark, while Trinidad brought a 42-2 mark to NYC.
There were 12,162 fans in attendance at MSG, with an estimated 75% of those folks firmly in Trinidad's pocket. As Michael Buffer called out Jones' stats and name, it was impossible to hear, with all the boos obscuring the intro.
In the 12th round, Jones looked to end the show on a high note with a few hard flurries, and Trinidad mostly looked to hang in there,and finish on his feet.
Tito was still game in the 11th, but his hands were still slow, and lacked pop. He could land ten shots, but one showy Jones landing was that much more telling.
Jones scored another knockdown in the tenth with 15 seconds to go, with a jab that took his legs out, and Tito may have been saved by the bell.
In the ninth, it was more of the same, as Jones' faster and heavier hands simply made more of an impression on the Puerto Rican.
In the eighth, Tito was active but ineffective, as his shots simply couldn't compare to Roy's when Jones sat down on his shots. Roy's lead right, hooks and the odd uppercut or two made the crowd oh and ah, while Tito landed, but didn't make an impression.
In the seventh, Jones knocked Tito down, in delayed fashion. He rose with clear eyes, after taking that short right to the temple, and stayed mobile the rest of the way.
Jones looked to find his range in the last third of the sixth round, as his left hook and right started to look more damaging when they landed. Tito outworked him the first two thirds, but the old pro Jones conserved his energy, and came on late, and stole the round.
TT hit Roy low low, and Jones took a quick breather in the fifth, but he kept on moving, and staying off the ropes. But Tito was the busier, and scored several times with lefts to the head and body that weren't vicious, but were effective to a judge. Jones needed to get busier, it appeared, to make more impact.
Jones had promised to stop TT by the fourth but that didn't happen. He did land a triple left hook, and some smart rights. Trinidad, it looked like, by this time, didn't have the sort of pop at this weight to worry Roy.
In the third, Jones started out with some jabs, but he spent most of the rest of the round on the ropes, daring Tito to engage him. He pounded his own belly, and taunted Tito. The crowd ate it up, and Jones dictated the pace of the action.
In the second, Tito scored to the body and cemented the round with a right at the closing bell. Jones picked things up, with some lead rights, and few left hooks to the body of his own.
In the first, things heated up in the final 10 seconds, with Tito throwing some hooks, and Roy perking up to try and steal the round. No dice, as he spend 99% of it checking out Tito brought to the party.
Jones said afterwards that he'd be traveling to Wales to chat with Calzaghe.
Written by David A. Avila
Friday, 18 January 2008 19:00
Fate is sometimes cruel.
In 2001 Karmazin was signed and set to meet Oscar De La Hoya in a welterweight fight. But soon after the press conference and media hype, the East Los Angeles boxer suffered an injury to his hand. The fight never was rescheduled and all that remained was a footnote in history.
Karmazin shrugs his shoulders at the misfortune.
Now it’s 2008 and Karmazin is about to meet Africa’s Alex Bunema (28-5-2, 14 KOs) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday Jan. 19. A win by the Russian junior middleweight could catapult him into another world title shot.
But no De La Hoya.
“People back home always told me I’m a smart boxer, but no De La Hoya,” said Karmazin (36-2-1, 23 KOs), who began training in the Wild Card Gym in 2001 when the fight was signed with De La Hoya. It’s also where he met trainer Freddie Roach. “I would have liked to have proved what I can do.”
Despite the inability to test his skills against the future Hall of Famer, the Russian boxer decided the sunny climate, the abundance of sparring and the presence of Freddie Roach was a good reason to make it his boxing central.
“Where else can I enjoy sunshine almost every day,” Karmazin says.
Roach says Karmazin would have been a formidable foe for the Golden Boy. Last year the owner of the Wild Card Boxing Gym helped prepare De La Hoya for the showdown against Floyd Mayweather. He experienced first hand the Golden Boy’s fighting tools.
“They’re two different kind of boxers,” said Roach as he watched Karmazin go through his boxing drills in the crowded gym. “Roman is a great counter puncher and he has a beautiful power left hook.”
So does De La Hoya.
“Oscar is a different type of fighter and he’s very fast,” said Roach, who declined to say who would win a match between both fighters. “It would be a good fight.”
One common opponent both Karmazin and De La Hoya had was Spain’s Javier Castillejo. Karmazin lost in 2002 while De La Hoya soundly beat him in 2001.
It could have been Karmazin fighting De La Hoya, but alas, fate spun in another direction.
Though Roach has worked with Karmazin for more than six years, he knows the chances of the Russian boxer getting to fight De La Hoya are remote.
But De La Hoya does know Karmazin.
“Oscar was sitting in the front row with Bernard Hopkins when Roman beat up Kassim Ouma for the world title,” said Steve Bash, who advises Karmazin and translates. “He winked at Oscar as he was hitting Ouma.”
Karmazin battered Ouma for 12 rounds while De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley watched their newly signed boxer get his title ripped away. But in his next fight, Karmazin lost the title to Cory Spinks in St. Louis.
“Everybody says that I won the fight against Spinks. For me, in my mind, I lost that fight,” says Karmazin, a soft-spoken and well-mannered person in and out of the ring. “I lost it myself.”
Though he only has a few years left in his career, he still hopes to make that one big score against an elite fighter.
Last November he met former WBA junior middleweight titleholder Alex “Terra’ Garcia of Mexico and dominated him. In the third round Karmazin knocked Garcia out with a blistering left hook.
Roach was not surprised.
“He’s capable of fighting any style of opponent,” says Roach who sees Karmazin walk through the doors of the Wild Card every day. “He just knows boxing.”
But does boxing know Karmazin?
His next opponent Bunema is a rugged boxer with a ton of experience. He’s the kind of fighter that can ruin a run for the world title and even the slim chance of meeting De La Hoya.
“A fight against Oscar would be a good opportunity to win some money, and a great chance to show the entire world that I can compete with the best,” Karmazin says with resignation. “I want a chance to prove who I am.”
Madison Square Garden
The old New York edifice is enjoying a resurgence in big boxing title matches.
This weekend is the first world title fight card for 2008 but a few more are coming down the road including the heavyweight showdown between IBF titleholder Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine and WBO titleholder Sultan Ibragimov of Russia on Feb. 23.
Last November Miguel Cotto defended his welterweight title against Sugar Shane Mosley.
It’s beginning to be like old times at the Garden, which had its heyday before the 1960s and hosted such epic battles as Sugar Ray Robinson’s fights against Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong and Gene Fullmer in the Manhattan arena.
The first version of Madison Square Garden was erected in 1879 and was located on 26th Street and Madison Avenue. It closed its doors in 1890.
A second version was built on the same site in 1890 and had a Moorish architecture. It lasted until 1925.
The next version opened its doors in 1925 but was moved to 50th Street and Eighth Avenue by its builder Tex Rickard, he of Jack Dempsey fame. Of course the famous heavyweight fought there one time.
The fourth and current version of the Garden was built in 1968. Penn Station is situated underneath the arena. Muhammad Ali’s first fight with heavyweight champion Joe Frazier was the first mega fight in the Garden.
Written by Ronan Keenan
Friday, 18 January 2008 19:00
The former welterweight champion forced Stevenson to tap out after midway through the second round.
Penn, 13-4-1, is regarded as one of the most talented fighters in the world, but his commitment to MMA has been questioned in the past after some disappointing performances. But tonight Penn’s body appeared well conditioned and his dismantling of Stevenson must rank among his greatest accomplishments.
“B.J. Penn is one of the most gifted, talented fighters I’ve ever seen in my life,” said UFC President Dana White prior to tonight’s bout.
And on this night Penn finally lived up to such praise.
Immediately after the opening bell the Hawaiian rushed across the octagon and caught Stevenson with a right uppercut that sent the Californian to the canvas. The ultra-flexible Penn, 29, proceeded to control the remainder of the round on the ground, repeatedly stifling Stevenson’s efforts to escape. A pinpoint right elbow from Penn opened up a deep cut on Stevenson’s forehead that covered his face in a mask of crimson.
Stevenson, 33-8, came out firing jabs in the second, but Penn displayed outstanding stand-up skills by constantly landing sharp counter punches. A two punch combination finally sent Stevenson stumbling to the canvas. The 25-year-old wore a look of desperation and Penn eventually managed to force Stevenson into a position to sink in the rear naked choke.
Penn will now face returning former champion Sean Sherk who was stripped of the title after failing a postfight drugs test last July.
“I just know that’s going to be a great fight,” predicted Penn.
In the chief support, Fabricio Werdum defeated former heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga for the second time, landing a series of right hands to win on a second round stoppage. Gonzaga, 9-3, controlled the standing action in the first, landing numerous hard right kicks to the Spaniard’s leg. Conversely, Werdum, 10-3-1, had the upper hand when the fighters went to the ground, but he couldn’t prevent Gonzaga from regaining his feet.
But in the following round Werdum began to find his mark with a sharp knee strikes. After absorbing a barrage of knees Gonzaga fell to the canvas where Werdum pummeled on the defenseless Brazilian.
In a battle between streaking welterweight contenders, former pro boxer Marcus Davis recorded his eleventh straight victory with a first round stoppage over Jess Liaudin, 12-9. Davis, 19-4, used his boxing skills to send Liaudin to the canvas with a hard left hook to the Frenchman’s head. A follow-up salvo prompted referee Mario Yamasaki to halt the fight.
“I was angry. I said beforehand that I was going to punch a hold through his face,” remarked the Maine native Davis. “I was never this nervous for a fight. But I used the old boxing trick of the counter left hook.”
Wilson Gouveia scored a stunning second round knockout over Paul Lambert, 23-7, in a light heavyweight bout. After being outwrestled in the opening round, Gouveia, 10-4, started to strike more in the second, eventually catching Lambert with a wild let hook that sent the American sprawling to the canvas.
Jorge Rivera lived up to his “El Conquistador” moniker by scoring a TKO over Kendall Grove at 1:20 of the first round. Rivera, 15-6, started aggressively, knocking Grove to the ground at the offset before unloading a series of punches that forced the stoppage. It’s the second consecutive first round knockout loss for The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Grove, 10-5.
“I hurt him with my very first punch,” said Rivera. “I could see his knees buckle. He didn’t feel very strong to me.”
Antoni Hardonk, 6-4, needed just 17 seconds to defeat Northern Ireland’s Colin Robinson, 9-4. A series of leg kicks and a stiff jab sent Robinson to the ground, with referee Steve Mazzagatti rendering him unable to continue.
In an all-English welterweight war, Paul Kelly, 8-0, used his superior strength and wrestling ability to pound out a unanimous decision win over Paul Taylor, 8-3-1.
Former pro boxer Alessio Sakara, 16-6-1, scored a first round stoppage due to head strikes over UFC debutant James Lee, 25-3 in a light heavyweight contest.
In the first bout of the evening Sam Stout moved his record to 14-3-1 with a unanimous points victory over Sweden’s Per Eklund, 14-3-1.
Written by David A. Avila
Thursday, 17 January 2008 19:00
The affair will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
Jones, 39, can no longer speed across 10 feet of space in the blink of an eye, but still has a semblance of the hand speed to deliver his patented combinations.
But he’s not fighting Anthony Hanshaw or Prince Badi Ajamu who weren’t exactly powerhouses, now he’s facing a one-man wrecking crew who captured the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight world titles.
Trinidad can beat Jones because all it takes is one single punch.
It’s a fight that should have taken place seven years ago when Trinidad held the middleweight title and was about to face Jones in his next fight. But a man named Bernard Hopkins blocked Trinidad’s plans amid the smoking remains of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers.
Ready or not, it’s Jones versus Trinidad.
“Now I am back,” said Jones (51-4, 38 KOs). “My body is back to where I want it to be and I guarantee he (Trinidad) is not going to make 12 rounds with me.”
It’s too bad that Jones finally realized that he wasted his talent fighting the likes of Clinton Wood and Glen Kelly, when he could have faced Joe Calzaghe, Dariusz Michalczewski, James Toney or even Hopkins again.
It took a razzing from Antonio Tarver at a press conference immediately following Jones win over heavyweight John Ruiz that led the Florida boxer to accept that fight. And it was the extra muscle weight that took away his leg speed.
Knockouts by Tarver and Glen Johnson followed and Jones was left in the cold.
The weight gain of 20 pounds of muscle, then the subsequent weight loss put a strain on his legs and erased the cat-like quickness that was Jones trademark. Superman was grounded.
“That was a mistake,” said Jones of bulking up with muscle. “It took me a while to get back to where I feel good again.”
Jones took his show to the road and fought on little-known pay-per-view shows hosted in Mississippi and Idaho. Many boxing fans thought the Pensacola speedster had retired. Even his Teflon reputation took a burning.
But Jones is back and he claims to have recaptured the spring in his legs of 2003.
“It’s great to be able to do what I used to do,” said Jones.
Trinidad is back too
Following a humiliating loss to Winky Wright in 2005, Trinidad retired for the second time and returned to his island home in Puerto Rico. Only the diehard Trinidad fans thought he would lace up the gloves again.
“Everywhere I went people were screaming for me to be back in boxing,” said Trinidad, 35. “At the end, I made the decision to come back.”
Trinidad, 35, first retired in 2002 following a knockout of Hacine Cherifi. The fire was gone after losing to Hopkins the fight before. On the advice of his father, who trains him, Trinidad vowed he was through.
When he returned in 2004 to face Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga he showed flashes of the old Tito and battered the crazy Nicaraguan in eight rounds. Many clamored that Tito was better than ever.
With a large pro-Trinidad crowd on hand in Las Vegas eager to see the Puerto Rican slugger turn the lights out on Winky Wright, all that transpired was a one-sided beating. But it was Wright doing the hitting.
“I had a bad night,” Trinidad says. “One I would like to forget.”
It could be another bad night for Trinidad against the much bigger Jones. But the Trinidads obviously see a chink in Jones armor and are eager to exploit it. They sought out the former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight titleholder on one condition…drop down to 170.
The Pensacola flash hasn’t fought near that weight since he beat Otis Grant in 1998. Will the extra weight loss give Trinidad too much of an advantage?
“I’m not worried about it,” said Jones when he was in Los Angeles. “I’ve had enough time to take off the weight properly.”
Those extra five pounds could take the steam out of Jones who now fights off the ropes and uses his version of the rope-a-dope.
It could spell doom for Jones against the sledgehammer punches of Trinidad.
“Every time he has boxed someone that punches well, he was knocked out,” said Trinidad about Jones. “And I punch well. So lets see if he can stand in there with me.”
Now everybody is talking about knockouts.
It was Trinidad that asked to fight Jones who eagerly accepted.
“Roy Jones is the giant on the scene,” said Don King. “He is the biggest name and he has history attached to it.”
A win on either side puts that fighter back in the hunt for big game.
“This is what I missed during my leave, the feeling of a big victory,” Trinidad said.
Jones smiles when asked what a victory means for his career.
“I want whoever wants to fight me,” said Jones. “I had to learn the hard way.”
Written by Michael Woods
Thursday, 17 January 2008 19:00
Don King, the promoter of this event, which runs on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden, showed a good bit of ire in the final press conference before the aged battlers get it on.
No fair busting on the fight, King said. You've shown excessive contempt prior to merely cursory investigation, the Don said to unnamed New York outlets; wait to you see what goes down Saturday, if the hyperbole is just that, or indeed Jones has been sipping a (legal) youthfulness potion, and Trinidad is 100% amped to take down a legend. I've tried to maintain an open mind coming in tot he fight, and as always, hope that the fans get their money's worth.
At the pc, Jones showed up clad in a parka, with a heavy sweatshirt on underneath that, and he was topped off by Air Jordan winter hat. Now, maybe the Garden is looking to pinch pennies, as the Knicks are tanking and revenues are down, but it didn't feel to me like the heat in the room wasn't working. Maybe sweating off an ounce, was Jones?
The staredown between the Floridian and the Puerto Rican, age 39 and 36 respectively, was a top level contest of wills. Neither man wanted to break the gaze, and no winner could be determined as they simultaneously turned away from each other to pose for photogs.
There were plenty of those in attendance, and writers, and posse-members (Tito's 20-plus man camp showed up, Jones' squad is smaller, in the single digits) in the room, which surprised me somewhat. Maybe it shouldn't, as King has pulled out all the stops to garner interest in the show, which MSG paid an $8 million fee to land.
There was even a story in the NY Post, on page 3, on Thursday, telling readers that Ford models, not the usual strippers and the like will be holding up the round cards in between rounds on Saturday.
King, age 76, was in fine form; as is typical, his attention never wavered, even if ours did in the two hour affair. He slapped at the "naysayers" and "doomsayers" who've pointed out that neither headliner is in the prime of his athletic life, and likened the fighters to Ali and Foreman. "Don't forget," King said, making us feel like lowdown ageists for even thinking that Jones and Trinidad aren't what they once were, " Foreman won a title at age 45."
King pointed out that Jones' abs are "enviable," and said with his beard, he looked like Daniel Boone. I'm almost 40, so I got the reference, but I wonder if most of the post paper fightwriters, the Net Crew, got it...
King tried to play to all ages, announcing that he had a castmember from High School Musical doing the Anthem. No not the most famous one, or the one who had the nude photo flying around...this guy's name is Corbin Bleu. (Not Cordon Bleu, foodies.)
He planned to have Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) do the song, he said, but that didn't come off. Probably when he figured out it would take about a quarter mill to get her to sing for 2 1/2 minutes. No word on what Cordon Bleu, I mean Corbin Bleu is charging...
This bout, King said, would be appealing to the "masses, not the classes," which I believe was another whack at the keyboardists, who had to feel a little warmth inside when they were classified as an upper class. We're not used to that, you know...
Some proceeds from the fight will be given to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is described as the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, to help educate and raise awareness regarding the deadly disease.
Trinidad and Jones agreed to donate $50,000 each to Komen for the Cure, and I don't care if that's a ploy to get publicity for the promotion or what, that's cool..
King deviated some from his Only in America script, when he said, "They've been promising black people for 400 years and giving them nothing." Maybe the age issue has him pondering his own legacy that much more, but he also said that he's just "...an ex con...and this is the only country in which people are trying to break into." This came right before he introduced a man who he said swam from Cuba to MIami. Maybe one of you can clue me in who that guy is, and what he has to do with the event, as I'm unclear, and as I write this, my daughter is sick, and it's 1:41 AM, and I have to get up and talk about why people love boxing on Air America Radio (The Lionel Show) at 11 AM, and I can't do the neccessary research. TSS ROTY Radam, can you look into that for us?
King likes it when fighters go out on a limb, and predict coming KOs, so he urged undercard heavyweights Mike Mollo and Andrew Golota to predict stoppages.
He also went back to the age issue when he introduced the former Foul Pole, now 39, who King said looks much, much younger.
"What did you do," King said to Golota trainer Sam Colonna, "get him a face lift?"
After King asked the writers to "forget everything in this fight but pride and glory" Tito told all that he was very confident he would win, and that his passion for fighting is high.
His dad/trainer echoed that, saying his passion is burning as hot as ever, and he looked at Jones and told him that yes, he's a "great champion" but that he has "no chance" against his son. "You are going against the best Tito anyone has fought against," Papa T said.
King then re-slammed the New York press, saying that coverage had appeared on "Yahoo, eBay, Google...I don't care what they write in the New York papers." (He told me after that the negative press pissed him off, and he wished some of the naysayers would present their disgust to the fighters themselves, face to face.)
Jones then took the mike, and promised the old, razzle, dazzle Roy will be on display on Saturday.
All in all, it was a solidly planned and executed block of hype; the two principals, it was quite clear, are old pros at selling a fight, without having to resort to faux fury or staged shoving.
I do hope that the old pros will be as skilled come fight night, and that a goodly portion of the verbal buildup proves to be substantive. I'd like to see Jones press the issue, go for a KO in the first third of the fight.
I also hope that my intuition is off, and that Tito will not look plodding as he fails to cut off the ring and corner Jones. I also hope that time off, those retirements, that diappearing passion for the game, and coming up 25 pounds since his heyday affects him less than it could be expected to.
C'mon, old pros, prove us nattering nabobs of negativity wrong, and put on a hell of a show at MSG on Saturday night, will ya?