End the drumroll, and send the band home, because I’m not pleased by this rumor mill offering.
I’m hoping that this is just rumor, although since Golden Boy exec Richard Schaefer has gone on the record as saying that Money Mayweather is the only fighter with whom Oscar has negotiated with in earnest for a May tussle, it seems like my hoping is hopeless.
I was hoping, and still hold out hope until we get confirmation of a Mayweather/De La Hoya sequel, that Oscar would accept the most obvious and compelling test, Miguel Cotto.
Sure, Oscar’d be an underdog, but the Puerto Rican vs. Mexican and young vs. old angles would stir up plenty of interest.
Sadly, it wouldn’t stir up plenty of money, at least as compared to the De La Hoya/Mayweather re-do.
Or would it?
Are you guys pumped up for an Oscar/Money rematch? The results the first time were pretty conclusive, I thought, though many had the match scored tighter than I.
That night in Vegas, the judges saw a split decision, with Chuck Giampa giving PBF a four point edge, Jerry Roth a two point margin, and Tom Kaczmarek seeing Oscar a two point winner.
I just don’t see how a sequel could go any differently. What can Oscar tell us that he could do differently this time? Train harder? Fight smarter?
I’m not jazzed about Oscar/Money II. How about you?
Mora nodded his head and proceeded to thump on his opponent.
The East L.A. boxer shook off more rust and stopped Ruvalcaba in six rounds before a sold out audience at Morongo Casino on Friday. It’s the first step toward setting himself up against bigger and better things.
“The guy hit hard, real hard,” said Mora (20-0-1, 5 KOs).
Mora was coming off a disappointing draw against Elvin Ayala last October. He wants to keep busy in 2008.
“I want to get into the ring as much as possible,” said Mora, 27.
It was apparent that Ruvalcaba (31-9, 28 KOs) did his homework before meeting Mora. From the onset the tall angular Mexican fighter was set on making Mora attack. But it just didn’t work out the way he wanted.
In the third round, Mora began firing jabs to the body and head. That set up his left hook on the inside and overhand right from the outside.
From the fourth round on, Mora’s quickness and agility proved too perplexing for Ruvalcaba who kept trying to corner the fleet East L.A. boxer, but never could trap him effectively.
“I was very well-prepared,” said Ruvalcaba. “He’s getting better and better.”
A solid right cross by Ruvalcaba landed solid on Mora’s chin in the fifth round, but he quickly moved out of range with a string of well-placed jabs. An overhand right landed flush on Ruvalcaba’s head but he shook off the blow.
Mora looked more comfortable in the sixth round and fired a one-two that moved Ruvalcaba into a corner. The East L.A. fighter saw that he had stunned his opponent and fired several lightning combinations looking for the knockout. Referee Ray Corona tried to step in between the two fighters but was tripped up. Meanwhile Mora kept firing and when the referee managed to get up, he quickly stopped the fight at 1:22 of the sixth round to the crowd’s displeasure.
Ruvalcaba offered no excuses.
“He beat me,” Ruvalcaba said.
Mora seeks to fight Irish John Duddy this year.
Vicente Escobedo’s journey back from Mexico City resulted in another victory, this time against Puerto Rico’s rugged southpaw veteran Pascali Adorno.
Now trained by Nacho Beristain, the Sacramento native Escobedo took another step into the comfort zone with a workman-like performance in beating Adorno over 10 rounds in a lightweight bout.
“I trained properly for this fight but I couldn’t land the left hook to the liver because he’s a southpaw,” said Escobedo (16-1, 11 KOs), who prepared in Mexico City the past two months. “He was very durable.”
The first three rounds saw Escobedo trying to find the proper distance against the muscular, but shorter Adorno. He fired jabs tentatively but wasn’t able to land them with conviction.
Around the fourth round Escobedo began finding the range for his right cross and closed the distance. Adorno concentrated on firing back at Escobedo’s body.
“Escobedo is good but I didn’t feel his power like a Kid Diamond or Miguel Angel Huerta,” said Adorno (10-7-2, 4 KOs) who fought both lightweights in the past. “I only had one month to train for this fight.”
Escobedo landed repeated three-punch combinations and seemed to hurt Adorno with a right hand uppercut in the ninth round. But the Puerto Rican lightweight proved resilient.
“I feel I had a good fight I just need more activity,” Escobedo said.
All three judges scored it 100-90 for Escobedo.
New York’s Michael Anderson (2-0) used several quick left hooks to stop Utah’s Chris Montoya (2-3) at 1:52 of the first round in a welterweight contest. Montoya’s corner stopped the fight by throwing in the towel. Anderson had Shane Mosley in his corner.
Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (3-0, 3 KOs) needed just two rounds in blasting out Mexico’s Marlo Cortez (2-4-1) with a left hook at 1:07 in the second frame of a welterweight bout.
Puerto Rico’s Javier Cintron (14-9-2, 10 KOs) dropped Mexico’s Jonathan Arias (15-1, 8 KOs) with a counter right hand in the second round of a bantamweight fight. Then, in the third round, Cintron followed it up with another right hand that wobbled Arias forcing referee Tony Crebs to stop the fight at 1:05 in the third. The fans were upset. It was Arias first loss and first fight outside of Mexico.
Las Vegas junior lightweight Jose Magallon (6-5, 4 KOs) dropped Mexico City’s Jonathan Bobadilla (4-2) twice in the second round with left hooks and then cruised on to an easy victory after six rounds. The judges scored it 60-52 for Magallon.
In a heavyweight match, San Francisco’s Ashanti Jordan’s (2-0, 2 KOs) first punch convinced Arizona’s Fritz Dejean (0-1) he should not continue. A Jordan left hook beat Dejean’s left hook and down he went. Though the Arizona boxer beat referee Corona’s count, he did not want to continue and the fight was stopped at 1:06 of the first round. Dejean seemed to be having problems with his right eye.
Me, I'm most amped to see if Awesome Dawson is all that, or if I'm guilty of overhyping. We'll find out when he meets the Road Warrior Glen Johnson, a throwback banger who will go anywhere, to meet anyone, at anytime...
Here's the sched, weigh in with your top pick for most anticipated.
Friday, Feb. 1 (SHO), Live at 11 p.m. ET/PT at Grand Casino Hinkley, Hinkley, Minn., Alfredo Angulo (11-0, 8 KOs), Coachella, Calif., vs. Ricardo Cortes (22-1, 15 KOs), San Jose, Calif., 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Friday, Feb. 29 (SHO), Live at 11 p.m. ET/PT at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Lemoore Calif., Robert Guerrero (21-1-1, 14 KOs), Gilroy, Calif., vs. Jason Litzau (23-1, 19 KOs), St. Paul, Minn., 12 rounds for Guerrero’s IBF featherweight title
Saturday, March 1 (SHO), Live at 9 p.m. ET/PT at TBA. Israel Vazquez (42-4, 31 KOs), Huntington Park, Calif., vs. Rafael Marquez (37-4, 33 KOs), Mexico City, 12 rounds for Vazquez’ WBC super bantamweight title
Saturday, March 8 (SHO), Live at 9 p.m. ET/PT at Greenwich, England, Enzo Maccarinelli (28-1, 21 KOs), Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, vs. David Haye (20-1, 19 KOs), London, 12 rounds, for Maccarinelli's WBO cruiserweight title and Hayes’ WBA and WBC cruiserweight titles
Saturday, April 12, (SHO) Live at 9 p.m. ET/PT Chad Dawson (25-0, 17 KOs), New Haven, Conn., vs. Glen Johnson (46-11-2, 31 KOs), Miami, Fla., 12 rounds for Dawson’s WBC light heavyweight title
The loser, who strutted like Brutus Beefcake on the last season of the Contender, went through the ropes after getting his chin checked, and was actually draped on the second-to-lowest ring rope, on his back, before he managed to climb back into the ring and attempt to beat the count.
The 24-year-old Oregonian Banks couldn't make it up by 10, and we thus can look forward to June showdown between the 27-year-old Miranda, and Canadian Jean Pascal, who tangled with Omar Pittman in the chief support bout and emerged with a UD win.
It was the Colombian-born Miranda (30-2, 26 KOs), who we recall got the worst of it in a middleweight showdown with Kelly Pavlik in May, and then decided he'd do better in a higher weight class, who came away from the show with the more pronounced uptick.
The sight of Banks (15-4-1), dramatically splayed out, his back weighing down the bottom two ring ropes, has to leave a hardcore picture in the eyes of watchers, and Pascal.
Miranda and Pascal jawed after the fight, and have done a solid job at building drama for their showdown with their war of the words.
Pascal, the 25 year-old, scored a knockdown of the slightly green Pittman, of Philadelphia in the second round. It looked like he might be able to close the show, and stop Pittman for the second time, but the Philly fighter hung in tough. And, he actually landed a bunch of solid left hooks that stung the Canuck.
Pascal held a 172-123 connection edge at the end of the night.
The judges saw it 98-91, 98-91, 97-92, Pascal, after 10.
Pascal rises to 21-0 (with 14 K0s) while the loser slides to 15-4-1.
In a Miranda/Pascal match, look for Miranda to take advantage of some holes in Pascal's game. We know Miranda is not in the technical elite, but Pascal leaves himself open too often, drops his hands too much, and he should be working on his 'D' from now until the summer.
The last two years have been wasted if you ask Mora. A lot of questions popped up rather than were answered.
But the East Los Angeles native plans to drive himself all the way to the middleweight title. Not next year, but this year.
First there’s Ruvalcaba, then John Duddy and hopefully the winner between Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik. All in-a-row if possible.
“I’m not going to be picky,” said Mora (19-0-1, 4 KOs), adding that in waiting for a lucrative match, he made a mistake. “By the time I fought I was rusty.”
Meanwhile Pavlik stormed through the middleweight division like a modern day General Tecumseh Sherman. He took no prisoners as he became the judge, jury and executioner to three opponents in 2007.
Now he’s the middleweight champion of the world.
“He deserves it,” says Mora. “I have a lot of respect for Kelly Pavlik and for Jermain Taylor.”
Winning the middleweight world title is Mora’s dream.
It’s been three years since Mora emerged from obscurity and captured the first Contender reality television championship.
With his perplexing style many of the more favored boxers on the show like Peter Manfredo Jr., Ishe Smith and others had problems solving the movement. But after three years it’s no longer a secret.
So Mora evolves too.
“I think I’m going to go for more knockouts now,” said Mora. “I’ve never been a big hitter but I guess that’s what I have to do.”
Since turning professional in 2000, Mora’s quickness, unorthodox movements, defense and overall knowledge have forced opponents out of their game.
It was Mora’s odd style that gave Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas pause and later prompted him to help the youngster out in his career.
Anyone watching Mora spar in various gyms could see that he was too tough to pin down and fire combinations on. For years Mora has warred with the likes of Antonio Margarito, Kingsley Ikeke, Larry Mosley, Alfredo Angulo, and Vargas. None of his sparring partners ever dominated him.
In the many boxing gyms Mora’s ability is no secret, but to the casual boxing fan he’s regarded as a boxer from television.
Mora began boxing at 15 years old. Though he lived in East L.A. he attended schools in Montebello, a city that borders East Los as it’s called. He stepped into a makeshift boxing gym at the old Montebello armory and never stopped training.
“He always kept coming back when the other kids stopped,” said John Montelongo, who headed the Montebello Police Athletic League boxing program.
Mora wasn’t an instant success. He won as many as he lost in the beginning.
“Sergio always wanted to win badly,” Montelongo said.
Despite intense dedication and willingness to sacrifice, the winning formula didn’t arrive until his current trainer Dean Campos arrived.
Campos, though young in age, had an odd boxing theory that he felt could be used to win. He worked with Mora and suddenly the wins kept coming.
“It just worked,” said Montelongo about allowing Campos to implement his boxing style on Mora. “Sergio started winning all of his fights.”
Campos, though never a boxer, was sort of a boxing genius when it came to analyzing and dissecting opposing boxing styles.
“I grew up watching boxing,” said Campos. “Sometimes I just watch fight tapes all day and night.”
Middleweight champion Pavlik and Taylor are set for a rematch on February 16 in Las Vegas in a non title fight at a catch weight of 168 pounds. Whoever wins, that’s who Mora wants to fight eventually.
“It’s set,” said Mora.
But first, Mora must beat Ruvalcaba, then a tentatively scheduled fight against Ireland’s John Duddy.
“I can’t get too far ahead of myself,” said Mora. “First I have to win on Friday, then I have to fight and beat John Duddy.”
Mora sparred with tall fighters like Jesus Karass Soto and Eddie Sanchez.
Unlike 2007, Mora plans to fight often in 2008.
“No more waiting around for the big fights,” said Mora, 27, who fought to a draw against Elvin Ayala last October. “I can’t get rusty waiting for something to happen. I have to stay busy.”
At the Home Depot Center, Ayala gave Mora fits during the first half of the fight with a smart game plan that employed counter-punching and light, but quick punches.
“We weren’t prepared for his style,” said Montelongo. “We watched a lot of tapes and he never fought like that. He did a lot of counter-punching in our fight.”
In the second half of that fight, Mora increased the tempo of his punch output and attacked.
“I looked horrible,” confesses Mora.
The former Contender champion can’t afford to look mediocre if he intends to secure a world title match this year.
“I’m a technician and for a technician you have to be sharp,” said Mora. “The only way to stay sharp is by fighting a lot.”
In the next 12 months the East L.A. boxer intends to put every day to good use and burn a place in line for a middleweight title shot.
Yes, boricuas believe, but everybody else, it seems, feels it’s a tall order for Tito, who turns 35 tomorrow (Jan. 10th) to shed multiple layers of rust and handle a fleet footed, ultra-elusive target such as Jones.
Of course, there have been points in recent years when Jones hasn’t been as elusive as he’s needed to be; he was KOd by Tarver and Road Warrior Johnsin in ’04). And he himself is approaching Boxing AARP age; he turns 39 on Jan. 16th.
So, the boricua believers are feeling, and hoping, that the former 147, 154 and 160-pound champion Trinidad can bring enough power up from his welterweight glory days, and affect that compromised Jones chin.
Trinidad (42-2-1, 35 KOs), reserved and composed, took phone calls on Wednesday from the press, as he winds down his camp leading in to his Jan. 19 showdown with Jones at Madison Square Garden.
The fight, promoted by Don King, will be shown on PPV ($50 charge).
So, Tito, you fought once in 2002, not at all in 2003 (Cherifi TKO win), once in 2004 (Mayorga TKO win) and once in 2005 (UD loss to Winky Wright). Why are you back in the game? You’re not broke, are you?
“I want to fight, I came back to boxing to fight,” he said, simply, through interpreter Jose Ramos.
Yes, his finances are in order, he stated, so it wasn’t a dwindling bank account that lured him back. (Though surely the wily ways of promoter Don King, promising PPV plunder, did something to lure him back to the sweet science.)
His life in retirement, Trinidad said, is “very relaxed.” A big reason for gloving up again, he said, is the love his fans show him when he’s out and about. They always ask him when he’s getting back in the mix.
“I feel the passion and I’m back,” he said, sounding chill, bordering on disapssionate.
Trinidad dismissed the KO guarantee from Jones (51-4-2, 38 KOs).
“It is a promise he will not be able to fulfill,” Trinidad said. “He’s just one more fighter to say that.”
You may recall the last time Trinidad stepped in the roped off square, it was against Winky Wright. It didn’t go well in Vegas that evening. Winky jabbed his way to a near shutout, and Tito plodded after him, unable to land a game-changing bomb.
He talked rematch after that, but instead chilled out, happily steering clear of food deprivation, grueling roadwork, and rust-clearing sparring sessions. That loss, he said, did weigh on his mind.
“It did not hurt my pride, but I didn’t feel good from it. The way I lost, no one wants to lose,” he said. “It was something I had on my mind.”
Trinidad had guaranteed that he’d stop Jones in two, but he did say he’s prepared to go 12. If I’m a Tito fan, I’d rather hear him say he’s coming out guns a blazin’, and promising a stoppage, because if this fight goes 12, Tito is almost assuredly taking a decision loss. But, boxing, like politics, is the theater of the unexpected (Idn’t in, Obama, Clinton and McCain fans?) so we’ll see how it plays out….
Trinidad insists rust won’t be a problem on Jan. 19, and dismissed rumors that he’s employed neophytes and semi-retired pugs to spar.
Jones, he said, will feel his power.
“Every weakness he has will be discovered, and I will take advantage,” Trinidad said. “In the past, fighters who have punched him well, he went out, and I punch well. Let’s see if he can deal with my hands.”
Trinidad is not in ‘one and done’ mode, he said, but he is trying to concentrate on Jones, and not ponder his next move. He would, he said, welcome rematches with both men who bettered him, Hopkins and Wright.
I must admit, I am siding with the majority on this one, and believe Jones will elude and potshot his way to a UD12 win on Jan. 19, but hey, the polls said Obama would put the last nail in the Clinton coffin in New Hampshire on Tuesday, so let’s see how it plays out, shall we?
Where else can you find pyramids smack in the middle of a city populated with more than 18 million?
It’s where small town Vicente Escobedo decided to learn his craft.
Escobedo returns to his home state when he meets Puerto Rico’s Pascali Adorno (10-6-2, 4 KOs) at the Morongo Casino on Friday Jan. 11. The fight card is sponsored by Golden Boy Promotions and Tecate. It will also be shown by Telefutura.
Don’t think it’s easy for a Sacramento guy to jump on a plane and find a place to live in the most populous city in North America.
Mexico City is one huge expansive metropolis located on a mountainous plateau where the ancient Aztecs once had their capital Tenochitlan. Their true name was Mexica and it was a warrior society that has passed its ferocity to its professional boxers.
Today, one of the masters of teaching professional boxing is Nacho Beristain, the architect for a number of world champions such as the brothers Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez along with the great Ricardo “Finito” Lopez.
Beristain is recognized by many as one of the best.
Escobedo, a former Olympian, has attained a certain level of expertise but willingly seeks to reach the highest level attainable.
“Nacho Beristain is so technical,” Escobedo (15-1, 11 KOs) said. “All of his fighters are very technical boxers, not brawlers.”
Since May 2007, Escobedo and Beristain have worked together blending the Mexico City trainer’s way of doing things with the youngster’s athleticism.
Their marriage was fixed by Golden Boy Promotions that guides Escobedo.
“I did it as a favor to Oscar De La Hoya,” said Beristain, who also trains Rafael Marquez. “Vicente is a very good boxer. He can be a champion”
Escobedo burst onto the boxing scene after millions watched him perform in the 2004 Olympics in Greece. Many fans and experts were impressed with his energy, speed and power. Some predicted he would be as great as Oscar De La Hoya.
For two years everything went smoothly as Escobedo pierced through opponents like a human sabre. Then a loss to Puerto Rico’s Daniel Jimenez including a knockdown, showed that the Sacramento boxer had some flaws.
In stepped Beristain.
Escobedo packed his bags and flew to Central Mexico where Beristain has a gym located in the heart of Mexico City. If you know anything about that country’s capital you also know that an abundance of some of the country’s best fighters came from that ciudad including Vicente Saldivar, Enrique Bolanos, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Alfonso Zamora and Marco Antonio Barrera to name a few.
“If you throw your left hook just a little different he fixes it and says do it this way,” said Escobedo. “He’s also very defense oriented.”
Beristain trains Escobedo and also Abner Mares in the same manner he treats his many Mexico City pupils. It’s rugged, precise and long training in the high altitude that taxes your lungs if you’re not ready.
The sparring is taxing too.
“Nacho has a lot of fighters,” said Escobedo, who sparred with many of the Mexico City boxers. “We spar every day working on different things.”
The daily routine of going to the gym, running and surviving in the big city has its memories and moments.
It’s the mental toughness that is part of the game too.
“That’s just as important as the physical skills,” said Anthony Escobar, who advises Escobedo in business. “You can win fights with your heart as well as your punches.”
Though millions of people mill around the city and the tourist sites could take a lifetime to visit, Escobedo wants to focus on his fighting skills.
“I mostly stay at home after working out,” said Escobedo. “It’s pretty dangerous over here where I am.”
From his Mexico City apartment Escobedo takes the subway or catches a cab to the gym every day.
“The first time I took the metro I was shocked to see the people so crowded into the subway,” Escobedo said. “You had people’s faces smashed up against the window.”
Jose Escobedo, Vicente’s older brother, says it’s a new challenge.
“Vicente is kind of a quiet person,” said Jose Escobedo, who lived helped his brother find an apartment and lived with him for a month in Mexico City. “He doesn’t go out and take part in the nightlife.”
In his short time in Mexico City he’s seen one or two sights.
“I visited the Zocalo and Xochimilco, but that’s about it,” said Escobedo, 26. “Maybe next time I’ll be able to visit the pyramids.”
He’s inspired to be great.
“No more tune ups for Vicente,” said Escobar, who has taken in interest in Escobedo the past two years. “No more time for that. It’s nothing but the big fights after Friday.”
Now, Escobedo attempts to display his new boxing knowledge when he meets Puerto Rico’s Adorno a veteran of many tough fights.
“He’s a southpaw and used to fighting good fighters,” Escobedo said of Adorno.
Several highly-touted boxers make their Southern California debuts when Daniel Garcia, Ashanti Jordan and Jonathan Arias appear on the under card at Morongo Casino on Friday.
Garcia (2-0), a Philadelphia prospect, is a quick-fisted junior welterweight with good power and very good boxing skills. He appeared in Las Vegas last December and impressed the fans with his ability.
Heavyweight boxer Jordan, 30, has little time to make his impact in the boxing world. He quickly showed the need for alacrity with his first round blow out last month. Jordan (1-0) has good speed and good power.
Arias (13-0, 6 KOs) makes his first appearance in the U.S. when he faces Javier Cintron (13-9-2) in a bantamweight contest. Arias beat Francisco Arce, the younger brother of Jorge Arce. A rematch is scheduled for next month, but first it’s Cintron.
Malignaggi keeps title
IBF junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi edged past Canada’s Herman Ngoudjo after 12 rounds last Saturday.
It was close.
Now what’s next for the Italian-American?
“What ever makes the most money sense,” said Malignaggi.
Southern California has a number of talented junior welterweights like Timothy Ray Bradley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Angel Huerta ready to test Malignaggi. But will they get their chance?
So far, Lou DiBella, who promotes Malignaggi, has kept his fighter from meeting any of the California-based boxers.
It’s probably a smart move. Why risk losing the world title against a fighter that won’t bring in revenue like a Ricky Hatton?
But Hatton is searching for a bigger purse as well. A fight with Malignaggi doesn’t bring in $15 million dollar paydays. More like a $3 million dollar payday. That’s a huge difference for Hatton to squander in a match he could possibly lose.
It makes more sense that Malignaggi face WBO junior welterweight titleholder Ricardo Torres or WBC titleholder Junior Witter. Both are dangerous fights, but they will bring more money than fighting his mandatory challenger Demetrius Hopkins. Should Malignaggi opt to fight Hopkins, it’s a bad style match for the Brooklyn boxer against the long-armed Hopkins who loves to fire jabs. That’s Malignaggi’s Achille’s heel: a quick and steady flow of jabs as Ngoudjo proved last weekend.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Edison Miranda (29-2) vs. David Banks (15-3-1).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Sergio Mora (19-0-1) vs. Rito Ruvalcaba (32-8).
His next fight, just his fourth in four years, comes on January 19, against Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden. Jones has maintained that he will render the Puerto Rican unable to continue sometime in the first four rounds.
The bout, promoted by Don King, will be televised on pay per view, for $50 a pop.
The pairing of the two aging superstars has been met with a mixed reaction from TSS Universe. Some are intrigued at the style clash, and curious to see what Jones (51-4-2, 38 KOs), who turns 39 on Jan. 16, and Tito (42-2-1, 35 KOs), who turns 35 on Jan. 10, have left in the tank.
Others say they will turn up their noses, and watch UFC on Jan. 19, or let their wife use a “Chick Flick” card, and hit the multiplex instead.
Jones, who has historically been spotty in doing promotion for his bouts, now seems to realize that with KO losses to Tarver and Glen Johnson, and another defeat at the hands of Tarver on his resume, he cannot skate by and assume everyone will tune in.
Thus, he’s been exceedingly gracious with the media, and showing up for every promo task booked for him. Also, he’s been promising to knock Tito out, a bold pronouncement, considering the last person Jones kayoed was Clinton Woods, back in 2002.
Jones has been training in California, PA, and is nearing the end of a three-month camp. Paring down his weight has been difficult, he says, but come fight time he will hit his mark, and then Trinidad.
Why, Jones was asked, is he so confident he can stop Tito, who has been kayoed just once, by Hopkins in their post 9-11 clash, in 2001.
“He’s smaller than me,” Jones explained on a conference call Tuesday. The Floridian, who last gloved up in July, taking a UD12 from Anthony Hanshaw, in a fight in which he showed flashed of the “old Roy,” not just an old Roy, says his body is back in form now.
Making heavyweight, and beating John Ruiz in 2003, while weighing in at 193 pounds, and then dropping back down to 175, sapped him. He had to lose muscle weight, and he didn’t realize how detrimental that was until just recently, he says.
“Trust me, he’s not going the distance with me,” Jones told callers.
He went into the Superman shtick, and said he was Clark Kent for awhile, but he’s back wearing the cape.
As always, I look out for the interest of the average fan, who isn’t made of money. So I asked Roy and promoter King if they’d consider a money back guarantee for Garden fans if Jones doesn’t manage to stop Trinidad.
King chuckled mightily, and went into a monologue.
“So that’s a yes, Don?”
King laughed again.
But score a point as a promoter for Jones. He’s promising viewers, and those considering making the purchase, that he’s not going to fight using tactics we all expect. He’s not simply going to stick, and move, and move, and move, and stick, and steal rounds with intermittent flurries, as Tito plods after him. No, he says, he feels he must stop Trinidad, as Hopkins did, or this outing won’t be a success. Smart strategy, Jones, you’ve evidently been picking up moves from the master, King.
“I guarantee he won’t make twelve rounds with me,” Jones reiterated.
One questioner called from Puerto Rico, and Jones wouldn’t take the bait, and admit making 170 would be that tough.
“You in Puerto Rico. Think I would tell you? You’d be the last to know! But it ain’t gonna last four round, no.”
Jones, for the record, hasn’t weighed less than 171 pounds since 1996, when he weighed 167 ½ to fight Bryant Brannon. The weight cutting angle adds a layer of drama to this fight, and is a potential plus for Trinidad, who has to hope that Jones’ legs will be weak from the effort.
Jones did bring up his Faith several times, and said it was God’s will that he’s fighting at this late stage in his athletic life. If he’d not lost to Tarver and Johnson, and won the gold medal he deserved in the ’88 Olympics, he says, he’d probably be retired. Knowing that God was drawing up the lifepath, Jones didn’t party too hearty, and drink and smoke, he says.
If he gets past Tito, Jones said he’d consider anyone and everyone, except Hopkins, and wouldn’t be averse to going overseas to meet Joe Calzaghe, and making 168. Hopkins, Jones says, wants no part of him.
King said he was pleased as punch to be working with this cooperative version of RJJ, and at 76, he feels a similar level of revitalization as the boxer. He maintains the fight will be a good one, because Trinidad, who initially wanted to target Money Mayweather, will be properly motivated to be his best against the legend Jones.
Also, in the Yikes Department… Jones said he’d take the winner of a rumored Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield bout.
“I can see myself fighting the winner of anything,” he said. “Don King would make it happen quick.”
Tyson/Holyfield III…that sounds like something dreamed up by Lex Luthor. But we all know that it would make piles of money, don’t we?
Let your best flurries rip, TSS Universe.
Will making weight sap Roy, and leave him in Clark Kent mode?
Is Jones just promising a KO to lure in viewers, and will he simply revert to form, and fight a cautious effort?
Former Golden Gloves title contender Peter Wood explores the unseen world of gym rats and bad apples, and how pain forges athletic beauty, in his new memoir, A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion.
The book recalls Peter’s experiences coaching graceless, troubled, inner-city kids to be warriors.
“I teach kids to fight,” he says. “Without their realizing it, I sculpt their suffering into beauty. I chisel their anger and fear into confidence and power.”
A literary blend of Rocky and Up the Down Staircase, A Clenched Fist follows two teens as they try to navigate the merciless gauntlet of training, sparring and proving themselves in the ring. Both boys, and Wood, have demons lurking—but only one boy finds the courage to win.
What explains this boxing obsession? “Essentially, boxing transports us back to what we were before we became civilized,” the author believes. “Boxers are our civilized cavemen.”
A Clenched Fist differs from all other boxing books because its backdrop is the amateur competition known as the New York City Golden Gloves tournament. The book brings the intriguing subculture of amateur boxing up close. Like a hook to the jaw.
“Show me a boxer and I’ll show you an unhappy childhood,” he writes.
Fist will also shock, surprise and delight readers with boxing trivia, such as the “Jack Johnson Kiss” that’s passed down to every generation; speculation about why so few boxers die of cancer; the many similarities between boxers, monks and whores; and even Mike Tyson’s rumored bisexuality.
Recently TSS spoke to Peter Wood.
Tell us about your book.
A Clenched Fist covers my first year of coaching in the bizarre underbelly of amateur boxing. It’s about very troubled teens who want to be a New York City Golden Gloves champion, but who has the right stuff?
Why did you write the book?
Two reasons. First, to explore my belief that boxing is more of a religion or philosophy than a sport. Second, I’m not even sure boxing is a sport. You play a sport. You play baseball, football, soccer, but you don’t play boxing. In fact, it’s the opposite of playing: it’s fighting!
Who is the audience for your book?
A Clenched Fist will appeal to sports fans as well as to regular folks. Readers will identify with a troubled teen who veers off into rocky turf but manages to find the guts to achieve glory.
You were a pretty good amateur boxer yourself, right?
I was the middleweight finalist in the 1971 New York Golden Gloves Tournament. I also boxed for the U.S. in Montreal and was 1st alternate in the Maccabian Games in Tel Aviv. My record was 34-1. Yeah, I was decent, but I was no Mark Breland, Alex Ramos or Howard Davis.
Did any specific events in your life inspire you to write this book?
My stepfather’s violent tongue inspired me. His tongue was like Sonny Liston’s fist. Painful. I couldn’t outthink him, but I could outdo him physically. I could fight. Fighting was my art.
Why does boxing, ugly as it can be sometimes, continue to mesmerize us?
Boxing is every base instinct displayed in an elevated ring from which one person leaves deified, the other diminished. Honor, treachery, dreams won and lost...it’s all there. We’re drawn to boxing because it’s the closest thing to legal assault and battery. It’s the Roman Coliseum, here and now.
The media certainly is having a love affair with boxing these days—even MMA.
The New York Times reviewed 5 new boxing books last year; Million Dollar Baby won 4 Academy Awards; Cinderella Man grossed $100 million; PBS aired Ken Burns’ documentary about Jack Johnson, Unforgivable Blackness; and Rocky Balboa keeps coming back. Boxing has a rich, colorful history. MMA doesn’t.
Your real parents were artists, weren’t they?
My real dad was a professional songwriter. He wrote some big hits: “My One and Only Love,” “Till Then” and “Shoo Fly Pie & Apple Pan Dowdy.” And my mom is an accomplished oil painter.
Your background is not a typical boxer’s background.
No. I think I became a boxer in order to balance myself out. I’m still trying to figure it all out. Boxing is stupid. I hate it. I love it. I hate it. I love it.
It’s this brutal honesty which makes Wood’s A Clenched Fist a must read.
Wood writes, “I’m the new boxing coach. I already know the kids—fools, lost souls, loners and losers.
Boxing is stupid.
I hate boxing. I hated boxing the day I laced up my first pair of brown Everlast gloves at eight years old. I hated it 14 years later when I quit. But boxing saved my life. Boxing was the blood-sucking leech that fed upon my anger, my hurt, my hate, and my fear. Boxing purified me.
That’s why I love it.
In two days I’ll be introducing this sport to a generation of angry, hurt, and hateful boys. What’s wrong with me?
Boxing is insane.”
Other subjects Wood tackles:
§ Why do boxers fight, and what do they really want to achieve?
§ What is it like to train for and compete in a prestigious amateur tournament?
§ How does amateur boxing differ from the pros?
§ The history of the venerable Golden Gloves Tournament, first staged in 1927.
§ How does boxing purge athletes of their anger and create magic?
Whether Wood “loves” or “hates” boxing, a reader will love A Clenched Fist. It is packed with abounding energy, honesty, and astute observations. Did I mention excellent writing? Wood has certainly learned a lot about himself, and life, from boxing. Boxing was his Harvard and Yale. Pick up A Clenched Fist and read it—it’s a first round knockout!
Other endorsements for A Clenched Fist:
“Wood, a former amateur fighter, jabs and punches his words. His paragraphs are quick flurries and each chapter is an exciting, hard-fought round. A Clenched Fist is a definite knockout!”
—Alex Ramos, 4-Time NYC Golden Gloves Champion; Founder of Retired Boxers Foundation
“Wood writes like I used to fight—with blood, guts and courage.”
—Vito Antuofermo, 1970 NYC Golden Gloves Champion; 1978 Middleweight World Champion
“A Clenched Fist is a raw, vivid and rare glimpse into a fighter’s heart, mind and soul. It’s impossible to read this book unmoved. It’s like sitting ringside and getting your shirt splattered with warm blood. Don’t miss it!”
—Gerry Cooney, 2-Time NYC Golden Gloves Champion; Founder of F.I.S.T., an organization that helps former fighters.
“A Clenched Fist is a sick and beautiful book—just like boxing is a sick and beautiful sport. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Mark Breland, 5-Time NYC Golden Gloves Champion; 1984 Olympic Gold Medal winner; WBA World Champion
“Wood, as a middleweight, hit his opponents on the head with punches; now he hits the reader in the brain with words. Fist is an exciting, insightful and inspiring book about the courageous men and women who step into the ring to prove themselves.”
—Bert Sugar, Internationally acclaimed boxing writer; Former Editor-Publisher of The Ring
“If Peter Wood was as good a boxer then as he is a writer now, we'd be watching his old championship fights on ESPN Classic. He throws a sweet sentence and can knock you out with a paragraph.”
—Robert Lipsyte, Author of The Contender
About the author:
Peter Wood’s previous works include the autobiography Confessions of a Fighter; columns in The New York Times, Commonweal, The Ring and Boxing Illustrated.
“Tell those readers they have my honest thanks,” said Cotto. “People like them are one of the main reasons I work so hard, to earn their respect. And I respect them and wish them good luck, also. The people that support me know boxing. I hope the next year brings prosperity to us all.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr and Kelly Pavlik round out a trifecta of top performers who shared excellent ‘07 slugging seasons, and a legitimate argument can be any of them in terms of demonstrating the most excellence (my vote went to Floyd). If aficionados get their wishes, Cotto and Mayweather will meet each other, while Pavlik, presuming he gets past Jermain Taylor again, gets a shot at Joe Calzaghe, another boxer coming off a banner campaign calendar.
Maybe the Fighter of the Year award should go to the sport itself, which silenced a lot of the goobers, including some prominent correspondents, who’d been repeating the “boxing’s dead” chorus too frogging long. It was a shame to see longtime, supportive wags displaced ringside at Mayweather – Oscar de la Hoya by larger outlets that wouldn’t be at another fight all year and whose only reporting was derogatory. To them I say stay the hell out away from the game then, we’re having a pretty nice party without yaz.
But back to Cotto, who improved both his rumbling resume and mainstream public profile. Cotto is looking at an HBO date in March, probably versus a much lesser light but hopefully against Antonio Margarito. That’s almost a mismatch in my book, and I’d be surprised if Margarito lasts the distance, but he’s earned the opportunity if it’s available.
There’s speculation that after whatever spring marketing appearance Cotto does or doesn’t make, he’s on the short list of potential opponents for what has been announced as De la Hoya’s grand Cinco de Mayo finale.
Cotto and promoter Bob Arum discussed a few of the possibilities.
“2007 was by far my best year,” reflects Cotto. “The Shane Mosley fight was my best performance ever. I respect Mosley very much because he was a gentleman before and after the fight. I’m available to fight him again, but I see him the same as any future opponent. I don’t know if I’d fight him any differently or not. I’d have to see what he does.”
“I’m not just looking ahead to get a fight with Oscar de la Hoya,” continued Cotto, “I’m ready to keep fighting any big named opponents that are willing to fight me, and I mean it when I say it really doesn’t matter who. I always do what I have to do. I’ve never said no to any (proposed) opponent. Business is business.”
“Floyd (Mayweather, Jr.) has the biggest name, so I’m going after him. Mayweather always has an excuse not to fight me. He says I don’t represent enough money for him, but he knows I have a lot of fans. The real reason he won’t fight me is because he knows what I can do.”
“Paul Williams is a good fighter and getting a bigger name now, so that could be a big fight soon.”
“We’re looking at a fight March 8th,” said Arum. “Then in June. We have all these great welterweights out there and we’ll pick one, then we’ll pick another one. Do we go first with Margarito, or second? That we’ll have to determine.”
“We can’t call Oscar out, it wouldn’t be appropriate, because he’s at the end of his career and he’s fought everybody. He doesn’t have to fight Miguel and if he doesn’t want to, fine. I’ve talked to Richard Schaeffer about it.”
“Cotto – Mayweather will never happen,” promoted Arum, “Never, never. Because Floyd will not fight anybody who has a chance to beat him. This is the biggest con game ever. He will not fight anybody competitive. Not because he’s a coward, he’s not, but because he’s afraid of losing. When he has a chance to fight Margarito or (Carlos) Baldomir, he fights Baldomir because that’s not competitive. (Ricky) Hatton is not competitive. He won’t fight Mosley because Mosley’s got a shot to beat him.”
“I don’t think any boxer can have a better year than beating Shane Mosley and Zab Judah,” concluded Cotto. “I don’t know what Top Rank has planned for me next but I am very happy with them. I’d prefer to fight early in the year. I feel good and don’t have a necessity to change (anything). I’m pretty comfortable at this weight.”
Here’s hoping all Sweet Science readers get to weigh in for as good a 2008 as Cotto had in ’07, and that’s saying quite a bit.