Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) was looking to get his career back on track against the Contender alum Brewer (26-11-15 KOs) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The promoter of the event, also set to showcase flyweight Alex Sanchez, was an outfit called San Juan City Knockout. They told ESPN's Dan Rafael that a "local promoter" pulled the plug, though it looks like SJCK and Winky Wright Promotions were in charge, according to ads published in recent weeks.
Wright released a statement on the development. "I am really disappointed the show can't happen as I was training very hard and really wanted to get back in the ring. I was so looking forward to fighting in Puerto Rico in front of all the Puerto Rican people who are boxing fanatics and really know and appreciate the sport.
"I still am a bit shocked the show was cancelled by the promoter in Puerto Rico, but I want to make it perfectly clear it was not because I asked for millions of dollars to fight. We had done everything possible to make this show come together and I knew the financial considerations I needed to make in order for it to happen. Unfortunately now this is not the case, and I will look to find another alternative so I can fight as soon as possible. I hope that we can work something out so that I will be fighting in the early part of 2010, as I am anxious to use all the hard work and training I have already put in for this show. I just hope everyone has a great holiday season, and look for me to fight again soon after the New Year."
Wright, who turned 38 on Nov. 26, last fought in April, and dropped a decisive decision to Long Tall Paul Williams.
Brewer, who turns 39 on Dec. 22, weighed in from Oklahoma. "I was told Monday night," he told TSS. "I heard the show was stopped because the promoter didn't have funds and ticket sales were slow." Brewer is bitterly disappointed, considering he's been training full-blast for seven weeks, and won't get paid a dime for his trouble. "The contract I signed didn't (contain a clause ensuring payment if the fight was cancelled)," he said. "That's the sad part. We had a press conference in Puerto Rico two weeks ago, and I figured everything would go well."
Brewer is looking to hook on to an existing card on or around December 11, so anyone looking for a 154 or 160 pounder with cred, call Brewer at 580-284-3678.
Pacquiao, who turns 31 on Dec. 17, claimed his seventh world boxing title in seven different weight classes when he dissected Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 to win the WBO's welterweight crown. This entry into the political sphere figures to be a more arduous trek, considering his first foray into politics ended in defeat. He finished second in a 2007 race to be a district representative of South Cotabato in 2007 and came in second to Darlene Antonino-Custodio. A large segment of voters felt that he should stick to doing what he does best, and not muddy himself in a business even more seedy and complex than the fight game. Also, Custodio had a sturdy, entrenched machine in place to smack down the popular but politically green Pacman.
The election for the Sarangani Province congressional seat takes place on May 10, 2010. Pacquiao is vying for the slot as part of his own People's Champ Movement party.
Fight fans are wondering how this move will affect the fighter's schedule.
So is his promoter, Bob Arum.
Arum boarded a plan on Tuesday to fly to the Phillipines to get a sitdown with Manny, to see how the boxer is planning to juggle politics and pugilism.
So, how will Pacman fare in his second political head-to-head? He is slated to take on shipping biggie Roy Chiongbian, of the influential Chiongbian family, whose father is currently a representative there, and whose mother also held elected office. Like Custodio, he will be armed with a well-oiled campaign machine, and won't be an easy foe to steamroll for the political neophyte.
Pacman told the press as he filed his bid, "I want only good things for Sarangani. I will work for children, for the health of our countrymen and for their livelihood."
Arum will likely press for a Pacman-Mayweather bout before the May 10 elections, but one wonders if Manny will be able to adequately ready himself for Mayweather while campaigning. I am dubious, and wonder if a fall date with Mayweather isn't the wiser option.
The San Francisco Bay native of Filipino descent Julaton (5-1-1) faces the experienced power-punching Biggers (19-8-1, 16 KOs) on Frida, Dec. 4 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The winner plants herself right in the middle of the stormy 122-pound division.
Julaton recently captured the vacant IBA junior featherweight title with a hard-fought win over another veteran Kelsey Jeffries. That win has the entire Bay Area clamoring over the brunette with the Colgate smile.
How big was her win?
Julaton recently met with the president of the Philippines and was honored by that country and by the current Mayor of San Francisco for her achievements and for working with typhoon relief personnel in that storm damaged island country.
Now she’s preparing for another type of storm in Biggers.
“Me and my team have been watching her. We have some tapes of her and Rick Noble (Julaton’s trainer) has been watching her,” said Julaton, 29. “She is very tough and experienced and been in a lot of 10 round fights with some of the top fighters in the world.”
One could easily look at Biggers' five losses in six fights and dismiss her as barely a blip on the radar screen. But almost all of those losses came to several of the best female prizefighters in the world including Layla McCarter, Melinda Cooper, Jeffries, Canada’s Jelena Mrdjenovich and Mexico’s Jackie Nava.
“Melinda Cooper hits the hardest of anyone out there at any weight,” said Biggers of her scraps with some of the best. “Jackie Nava was a good fight for me too, she is a great boxer.”
That kind of experience is invaluable when fighting for a world title against someone like Julaton, who beat Jeffries by decision to win the IBA world title. Now she’s after the WBO and others.
It’s a pivotal fight for both Biggers and Julaton for different reasons.
“It’s very important. I need to win,” said Biggers, 36, who has 16 KOs in 19 wins.
Julaton and her team are looking to become a brand name if possible like their male counterpart Manny Pacquiao. She already has a big following in the Bay Area.
“When she has (autograph) signings at the Oakland Raiders games she has long lines of fans waiting to get her autograph,” said Angelo Reyes, who advises her. Julaton is also a popular figure at San Francisco Giant and Golden State Warrior games. “She’s big here in the Bay Area.”
Popularity is a capricious commodity when it comes to prizefighters. One or two losses can suddenly erode rock hard celebrity status with jackhammer efficiency.
Biggers does not care about Julaton’s celebrity or community recognition. She just wants and needs a win to remain a viable contender.
“I have seen some of her fights. I don't know very much about her,” says Biggers, who owns her own business selling machine parts and industrial supplies. “I just like to fight, so it doesn't really matter to me.”
The Shelby, North Carolina resident hasn’t fought in 18 months but loves to train and stay in peak condition.
“The training is so much fun, and is so worth it when you win a fight,” says Biggers, a petite blonde who travels nearly 90 miles to train in South Carolina. “I like to meet new people when I travel too.”
Julaton likes meeting new people too and realizes that since winning a world title those people she meets expect even more.
“It’s funny because of the interaction I get from people outside of my team the word world champ gives out this mystique,” Julaton said about her new status. “Just having that belt brings out that feeling within me.”
For years, King signed fighters to endless three-year extensions, often using a rollover clause that kept those contracts enforceable in perpetuity because every time the poor fighter won another title fight the contract was automatically renewed. Thankfully, this practice has been banned of late but when John Ruiz got himself back into the mandatory title mix following David Haye’s lackluster victory over WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev, King was quick to claim he still had promotional control of the two-time former WBA champion.
As it turns out he did not and the fact that King waited less than 24 hours to publicly admit it is perhaps a better sign than many of the other positive things going on in boxing lately that the sport has finally decided to conduct itself like a professional sport.
Not long after Haye’s victory Ruiz announced he was a free agent in search of a promoter. This was almost immediately followed by King announcing, as he often does, “Oh, no you’re not.’’
Ruiz’s manager, Boston attorney Tony Cardinale, immediately went into a public blitzkrieg, insisting King was full of turkey stuffings and a few things less attractive than that. He, unlike King, had his facts and his dates right.
For once instead of threatening a lawsuit or running to the WBA’s board of banditos, King went to his file cabinet, checked what he had been told by one of his employees was a three-year contract extension signed by Ruiz and found, lo and behold, it was only for two years. Rather than do what has been done in boxing for the past 40 years – which would be trying to find some way to tie the whole matter up until everyone was in a knot – King told his PR man, Alan Hopper, to issue a release saying something that is seldom said: “Sorry, my bad.’’
King should not get a gold star for this but with the way promoters, managers, fighters, TV executives and sanctioning organizations generally handle their business, it was refreshing to for once have a guy simply say the other guy had a point. Not to mention, a validly legal one.
“My boxing department had advised me my contract was still active, which turned out to be incorrect,” King said in a statement. “I apologize to John, his representatives, boxing fans and members of the media for making this mistake.
“When I was told this morning of this error, I immediately wanted to get the correct information out. John had been with me since 1998, and I would prefer to see him stay with me, but he is free to do as he sees fit. I wish him well.’’
If the latter point is a fib, by boxing’s standards it is a small one. The fact is Ruiz was a free agent and for once someone in the sport didn’t try to wrap a fighter in a cocoon of frivolous lawsuits to prevent him from auctioning off his services.
At the same time, King had also announced he had a letter from the WBA mandating an “interim’’ title fight between former champion Ruslan Chagaev and his fighter, Kali Meehan, who supposedly had been waiting quite some time for his own shot at the WBA title. How Meehan would have ever earned that shot is difficult to fathom but some problems cannot be explained away by a simple press release of apology.
It now seems that too was not quite right, although more accurate than King’s claim of a hold on Ruiz. King did receive a letter from the WBA asserting that claim but it was so filled with wherefores, as tos, maybes and maybe nots as to be worthless, which it soon proved to be.
There may be a Chagaev-Meehan fight but if so it will only be to establish the WBA’s next mandatory contender following the Ruiz-Haye fight next spring. Now you could debate how Meehan ever thought he was in the mandatory position when Ruiz already was there or you could argue all night whether or not Ruiz has done anything worthy of getting himself into that position as well, but the fact of the matter is, for once at least, the system avoided being clogged by lawsuits, legal threats and boxing politricks, as Lennox Lewis used to call the business end of the sport.
In the end, early next year Ruiz will be given a chance to win the WBA title for a third time in what will be his 12th heavyweight title fight. The winner may well have to make a mandatory defense against a Chagaev-Meehan winner but who cares? More than likely the winner will instead take on one of the Klitschko brothers and if so boxing fans might actually see the heavyweight title as close to unified as it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.
King has now stepped aside and who knows who might come forward to sign Ruiz. Maybe no one. Maybe Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which already is the American representative of Haye. If Golden Boy were to sign Ruiz that would be in the lowest tradition of the boxing business because they would now be the promoter having both sides of the fight, which has long been King’s modus operandi in such matters.
Prior to King’s retraction of his claim, Cardinale issued a stinging rebuke. One can understand his quick response and his anger at what he knew was a false claim but late in that release Cardinale did what has for so long been a staple of the boxing business, which is he bit the hand that had been feeding his fighter often undeserved title fights for years.
“Ruiz’ contract with Don King Productions (DKP) expired last month, prior to his Nov. 7 fight against Adnan Serin, legally allowing Ruiz to become a promotional free agent,’’ a statement from Ruiz’s publicist said.
It went on to claim King was “seeking retribution against Team Ruiz for its successful blocking of King’s bid at the recent WBA convention in Colombia to create an “Interim” title fight involving one of his fighters. King also failed to have Chagaev, promoted by a different company, dropped in the WBA ratings behind three other King-promoted heavyweights.’’
That seemed fair enough as well considering the circumstances and the history but what was the point of the following quote attributed to Cardinale?
“It’s a shame that Don King’s influence in the boxing industry has diminished so much that he has stooped to this level,’’ it said. “The fact is John Ruiz’ contract expired, by its own terms, Oct. 9, 2009. Apparently, Don has lost his ability to read or count as well…
“This is the nature of the beast we have been dealing with for the past 10 years. In every title fight John has engaged in under the DKP banner, King actively rooted for and supported John’s opponent, excluding only one fight (Ruiz vs. Kirk Johnson), in which he had no promotional interest in the opponent.”
Considering the enmity HBO had for televising Ruiz’ fights, he may well have been rooting against him but the fact is he worked for him for quite some time, getting Ruiz an unprecedented three straight title fights with the same guy, a far more saleable Evander Holyfield.
He also used his influence to get him a fight for the same kind of “interim’’ title Cardinale now finds reprehensible nine months after he’d lost in lopsided fashion to Roy Jones, Jr. Ruiz all but made Hasim Rahman quit that night and within four months King’s maneuverings with the WBA had worked to Ruiz’ advantage again, getting him the regular title without a fight.
After his one-sided loss to James Toney was ruled a no contest when Toney tested positive for steroids, Ruiz lost the title to Valuev. Somehow, without an intervening fight, Ruiz found himself 11 months later in a title eliminator against, lo and behold, Chagaev. He lost that fight by split decision but after two more wins against middling opponents arranged by King, Ruiz had himself another title shot against Valuev for the now vacant WBA title.
Ruiz lost a split decision and that was his last fight under his contract with King. He is now a free agent and earned the right to be one. But the fact of the matter is during much of those 10 years Ruiz was associated with King he was getting title shots he would never have gotten without that association.
That King was working against Ruiz’s best interests in Columbia this year at the WBA convention is likely but whatever he was doing then was no different than what he had been doing on Ruiz’ behalf earlier in his career. At that time, no member of Team Ruiz was complaining that some other fighter was getting screwed, which quite often was the case.
The point in all this is simple. As Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all get along?’’
Federal agents besieged the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, initiating a bloody, fiery confrontation that left six G-men and 72 cultists dead … South Africa adopted majority rule, effectively ending apartheid … The median U.S. household income was $31,241, and unemployment was at 6.9 percent … An Israeli-Palestinian accord was reached (but, alas, not for long) … The Best-Picture Oscar went to Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, the Best-Song Grammy to Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven … A 13-year-old boy accused Michael Jackson of fondling him, with an out-of-court settlement reached … The Cowboys trounced the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, the Blue Jays beat the Phillies, four games to two, in the World Series … Actress Audrey Hepburn, jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, Italian director Federico Fellini and iconoclastic rocker Frank Zappa bade farewell to this mortal coil.
In boxing, the big news that year was Evander Holyfield regaining the unified heavyweight championship by outpointing Riddick Bowe in the second of their three classic matchups, the “Fan Man” bout at Caesars Palace. And for fight fans who believe that good things really do come in small packages, there was Michael Carbajal twice coming off the floor to knock out Humberto Gonzalez in seven rounds to unify the junior flyweight title.
Look around at what’s happening today and one might conclude that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Evander Holyfield slogs on at 47 and is prepping for a January showdown with 41-year-old Francois Botha for a meaningless trinket, Botha’s WBF heavyweight belt, in Kampala, Uganda. Clint Eastwood continues to make good movies, Eric Clapton to strum that ax as few ever have, and we’re still talking about the national unemployment average and the late Michael Jackson. The Phillies were in the World Series again this year and South Africa is going to host soccer’s World Cup.
And, in advance of one of the longest-delayed rematches boxing fans have ever waited upon, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins participate in separate, Versus-televised bouts Wednesday at different sites around the globe. Should Jones (54-5, 40 KOs) snare the IBO International cruiserweight title held by Danny Green (27-3, 24 KOs) – that fight actually takes place in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday afternoon, allowing for the crossing of the International Date Line – and Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs) gets past Mexico’s Enrique Ornelas (29-5, 19 KOs) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, the two aging legends would vie for profit and legacy on March 13, 2010, at the MGM Grand.
Jones and Hopkins are sure-fire first-ballot inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame whenever they become retired long enough to qualify to induction, which could be some time down the road given each man’s disinclination to acknowledge the date on his birth certificate or to surrender the spotlight. The hype machine already is turned on high for Jones-Hopkins II, with representatives of both fighters breathlessly extolling the fighters’ age-defying skills and fact that they’ve been posturing at one another since the second year of the Clinton administration. The Israelis and Palestinians might have made peace for a little while, but RJ and B-Hop never really did.
“I think it’s a big fight, a super fight,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which handles Hopkins. “I believe it is a fight the American public will embrace. Both of these guys are superstars. They’re ring royalty.
“At this point both Bernard and Roy realize this is the fight people want to see. They don’t want to see Bernard Hopkins fight anybody else, and they don’t want to see Roy Jones fight anybody else.”
There is, of course, a chance that neither man will do what’s necessary to keep the appointed date. Jones is fighting out of the United States for the first time since he got jobbed out of the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, so you have to wonder if the scoring Down Under, if the outcome goes to a decision, could possibly be as scandalous as the home-nation nod that went to the South Korean, Park Si-Hun, Jones punched lopsided in the Olympic final. Hopkins isn’t as likely to be victimized by pencil, but Ornelas has a hard enough punch that the possibility of his landing a wild shot can’t be dismissed.
So what happens if Jones and Hopkins win as expected? Can their rematch be as big or bigger than their initial confrontation, which took place on May 25, 1993, at Washington’s RFK Stadium?
Quite frankly, the fight and the buildup should be greater than the original which, lest anyone forget, was an undercard bout in support of WBA/IBF heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe’s defense against lottery winner Jesse Ferguson. Jones, marked for greatness since his star turn at the Olympics, had not yet achieved superstardom while Hopkins, not far removed from his hardscrabble Blue Horizon days, was an up-and-comer who had yet to firmly establish his ring identity. Few could have anticipated that he would blossom into the immortal he became.
Yet fighters who have not entered their prime can engage in a highly entertaining scrap. Both Jones and Hopkins had demonstrated enough talent that there were those – myself included – who were certain they’d produce more back-and-forth fireworks than could be expected in the main event, in which Bowe was a 21-1 favorite to blow through Ferguson, whose bid for the title was solely the result of his upset of an out-of-shape Ray Mercer a few months earlier. The controversy attendant to Ferguson’s victory – audio of the HBO-televised fight raised questions as to whether a desperate Mercer, during clinches, attempted to bribe Ferguson to tank – gave the pairing a sort of man-bites-dog quality.
Ferguson, a sparring partner to the stars who on his own merits barely qualified as a fringe contender, made the most of his proverbial 15 minutes of fame. When Ferguson weighed in at a taut 224 pounds, 12 fewer than for Mercer, and Bowe came in at 244, the second-heaviest poundage of his career, Ferguson’s co-manager, Seth Braunstein, saw it as proof that his guy was ready to spring another upset.
“This is exactly where we want Riddick Bowe,” Braunstein chortled. “Less-than-perfect condition. Heaviest of his career (well, almost), soft like butter.”
Unfortunately for Ferguson, the buttery-soft Bowe packed fists of iron. He floored Ferguson with a left hook to the jaw late in the opening round. Ferguson arose at the count of nine – or maybe 11, since the official timer seemed a bit slow on the trigger – just in time to be saved by the bell.
It was but a momentary respite. Bowe rushed out to begin the second round, connected with an overhand right and Ferguson was back on the canvas. Referee Larry Hazzard counted to four, decided there was no need to go any higher, and waved off the mismatch after an elapsed time of 17 seconds.
At least Bowe’s victory, as one-sided as it was, featured a couple of knockdowns. Jones and Hopkins, for all their blustery pre-fight talk, each fought so cautiously you’d have thought they were playing chess instead of vying for the vacant IBF middleweight championship.
Hopkins, a 4-1 underdog despite coming in with a 21-1 record that included 16 victories inside the distance, was not nearly as aggressive as he’d been on his way up the ladder. Maybe that was because Hopkins, the ex-con, still thought of himself as the outsider while Jones was the guy with the big name, Olympic pedigree and HBO contract.
“I came up from the bottom of the barrel,” Hopkins had said in the days leading up to the Jones fight. “The odds are always against a guy like me. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was the favorite.
“What’s going to happen when somebody presses Jones? When somebody hurts him? Nobody’s pressed him or hurt him before. I’m going to press him. I’m going to hurt him. I want to see how he reacts.
“I don’t have a gold medal. I don’t have a silver medal. I’m just an inner-city kid who had to overcome a world of adversity. People said I wouldn’t make it to 21, but I’m still here. I was a neighborhood bully. I’d walk down the street and people would scatter. I was a good guy that went bad. Now I want to be a bad guy that went good.
“I’m damn lucky. God loves me. But you know what would really make it great? To be able to walk down the street and have people say, `There goes the middleweight champion of the world.’”
It didn’t happen for Hopkins that night. He lost a lackluster unanimous decision to Jones, who later claimed he was fighting with only one good hand. Whether that was true or not, Jones-Hopkins I was not a time-capsule kind of bout. We remember it not for what it was, but for what it should have been, given the subsequent successes of the combatants.
Hopkins, of course, got a second shot at the IBF 160-pound crown on Dec. 17, 1994, when he traveled to Ecuador to take on Segundo Mercado, a scrap which ended in a draw. When they fought next, on April 29, 1995, Hopkins whacked out Mercado in seven rounds to begin a title reign that would span 10 years and a division-record 20 defenses.
The onetime street tough evolved as his status improved, smoothing some of his rougher edges as he transformed himself into a slick-boxing technician whose stoppages were more the result of accumulated damage than of full-frontal assaults. That he has remained near the top of the pound-for-pound ratings as he approaches his 45th birthday (Jan. 15) is a testament to his guile and resiliency.
But while Hopkins has reinvented himself in some ways, his disdain for Jones has remained constant. Maybe it’s because he blames himself for not going after the preening Pensacola, Fla., native more aggressively, or perhaps it’s because he continues to resent Olympic pretty boys who turn pro with hefty contracts, high visibility and a sense of entitlement.
The 50-50 split, which increases to 60-40 for the winner should he score a knockout, adds to Hopkins’ incentive to take the kind of risks against Jones that he didn’t in 1993. Besides, B-Hop now knows how Jones reacts when he’s hurt. He saw Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson drill him like Hopkins has hankered to do for these past 17 years. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and this entrée has been kept on ice for what seems like forever.
Jones also has changed somewhat. In 1993, his bravado was leavened by just a touch of humility, a perceived weakness of character he has long since erased.
“There are a lot of fighters I’ve tried to pattern myself after, but I admire (Muhammad) Ali the most,” Jones said prior to the Hopkins showdown. “I also like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Howard Davis Jr., Wilfred Benitez, Marvin Hagler and (the late) Salvador Sanchez. I’ve taken small things from all of them. I don’t try to be exactly like any of them.”
The Jones of today probably would rather sew his lips together than to suggest he borrowed anything from anybody. He would have fans believe he is a creation entirely of his own making, a paragon of ring virtuosity for others to emulate rather than the other way around.
No, these are not the same fighters they were in 1993. In some ways, they’re not as good, in some ways better. But if they’re to go out together, at least it is in the marquee attraction and not as a preliminary.
Let’s hope that Danny Green or Enrique Ornelas doesn’t gum up the works.
Although Salita, 30-0-1 (16 KOS), has received no shortage of negative press over the level of his opposition since turning pro in 2001, he couldn’t be more thrilled about challenging the 22-year-old Khan, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, who despite a shocking September 2008 first knockout loss to unheralded Breidis Prescott, is still being talked about as a potential great.
The 5’10” Khan, 21-1 (15 KOS), rebounded from the Prescott loss by stopping Oisin Fagan in three rounds, winning a technical decision over Marco Antonio Barrera in five, and beating Andres Kotelnik by unanimous decision to take his title in July 2009.
“I’ve dedicated my life to this moment, from when I was a little kid, running before school, not going on trips, training in the gym for years,” said the 5’9” Salita. “It’s all for this chance to prove myself on December 5 in Newcastle,” said Salita.
Should Salita win, he will become the second Jewish champion to be crowned in less than a month. On the undercard of the November 14 matchup between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, another New York-based native Russian, a rabbinical student named Yuri Foreman, won the WBA junior middleweight crown from Daniel Santos. His life has been a whirlwind ever since.
Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and a non-devout but proud Jew, said there is a lot of significance attached to Jewish boxers in today’s world.
“I haven’t been in a synagogue in probably 30 years, but I’m proud of my heritage and I was extremely proud when Yuri won the title last month,” said Silverglade. “There was a time when Jewish champions abounded in boxing, but that was a long time ago. To have two Jewish champions today, at the same time, would be a source of pride to Jews all over the world.”
Because Khan is a Muslim and Salita is a Jew, much is being made about the social and ideological significance of their matchup. Silverglade scoffs at the notion, and says that while promoters might be doing ugly things to sell tickets, the motives of the fighters are pure. He talks about Foreman, who prior to arriving in the United States after leaving his native Belarus, had lived for a time in Israel where he trained in an Arab gym.
“At first they might have looked at him cross-eyed, but once they saw he could fight all that went out the window,” said Silverglade. “In boxing gyms, all assumptions and negative notions related to race or religion go out the window when you can fight. Even the worst of enemies can become friends when they train alongside each other every day.”
Salita remembers being teased and taunted as a youngster in his native country. After being called one particularly derogatory Jewish term, he kicked the boy who said it in the crotch. His father later told him that he did the right thing.
When the Ukraine declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union and anti-Semitism was rife, the Salita family made their way to New York.
This time the taunts continued toward the young Salita, although more often than not it had little or nothing to do with being Jewish.
“I had very bad clothes, stuff from Russia, just the cheapest stuff, because we didn’t have any money,” he said.
Salita described once being surrounded by seven boys, whereupon he picked up the desk that was closest to him and fought his way out of the room.
He made his way to the Starrett City Boxing Club, which was run by a wise old black sage named Jimmy O’Pharrow. While O’Pharrow took some pity on the pale, skinny foreign kid, many of the gym regulars, nearly all of whom were black, at first were not so kind.
“They looked at me as a white boy who couldn’t fight,” said Salita. “I knew I had to establish my respect. Slowly I got better, and eventually I put a whipping on some of them. Many of us are still friends today.”
While Salita’s late mother hated the notion of her son boxing, Salita would not be deterred. O’Pharrow was shocked not only at how often he came to the gym, but by how hard he worked when he got there.
“Most of the people he fought were black boys, so they’d look at him and say, ‘I’m gonna kick this white boy’s butt,’” said O’Pharrow. “Then they’d get in there and say, ‘Oh bleep, this kid is a handful.’”
When Salita was 16 he represented New York State in the Junior Olympics and won a bronze medal. “That’s when I really felt like an American,” he said.
Around that time, the colorful O’Pharrow, who is still with Salita, would tell anyone who would listen that, “The kid looks Russian, prays Jewish and fights black.”
When Salita won the 2001 New York City Golden Gloves, he also received the Sugar Ray Robinson Award as the tournament’s outstanding boxer. By that time, he had also become an Orthodox Jew, which he had become interested in a few years earlier while visiting his mother in the hospital when she was dying from breast cancer.
She had shared a room with a member of a particularly devout sect. During a heated debate with that woman’s husband, the man told Salita that boxing was “not a Jewish thing to do.”
The conversation only served to pique Salita’s interest in his spiritual background, while also increasing his commitment to boxing. After turning pro he often had conflicts with his promoters because of his refusal to train or fight on the Sabbath, which begins at sundown every Friday and lasts until sundown on Saturday.
Salita is as stubborn as he is determined to make his mark in the world the best way he can. He is as rabid a student of Judaism as he is of the sweet science. He always praises his religion for giving him the discipline and patience to succeed in such a tough sport.
While many orthodox Jews couldn’t care less about Salita’s pugilistic aspirations, there are scores of them that do. They were always a ubiquitous presence when he fought in and around New York, and many of them have made the trek overseas to see him challenge Khan. He and Khan both speak freely about their religions, and how they hope their boxing match can bring some much-needed understanding and camaraderie to both sides.
As big of an attraction that Khan is in England, as well as the Muslim world, Salita has been generating buzz for many years in New York – and beyond. He has been the subject of a documentary film, “Orthodox Stance,” which was produced and directed by Jason Hutt.
Prior to leaving for England, he appeared on “Last Call With Carson Daly,” the popular late-night talk show, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote him a letter praising his “hard work, dedication [and] stellar career.” Speaking for all New Yorkers, the mayor said he is “looking forward to welcoming you back to New York as the new junior welterweight champion of the world.”
As proud as Mayor Bloomberg might be of Salita’s goals and accomplishments, it will pale in comparison to what the now 84-year-old O’Pharrow will feel. He believed in Salita from the moment he met him, and always dreamed along with the young fighter about the day he’d finally compete for a world title.
When Salita’s mother was near death, it was O’Pharrow who told her he’d look after her beloved son. In the glorious melting pot of New York, Salita and O’Pharrow, despite hailing from opposite sides of the spectrum, have, from a pugilistic standpoint, become extensions of each other.
“Nobody deserves success more than Dmitriy does,” said O’Pharrow. “Him becoming a champion means we did something right. It means God put us together for a reason, and everything worked out right.”
A sold out crowd at Pechanga Resort and Casino saw Honorio (27-4-1, 14 KOs) use his long arms and long years of veteran craft to win a unanimous decision over the popular Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) to win the vacant NABO and NABF lightweight title.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way.
Known more for his pressure fighting Honorio opened up the first round with movement and counters while moving out of danger. Molina seemed to be bewildered by the movement and never could land the big blow.
Honorio proved that his years of fighting top prizefighters including a win over current WBO featherweight titleholder Steve Luevano was a major advantage in facing the sledgehammer fists of Molina.
Molina was never battered, just out-boxed, over the 10 round lightweight fight that was supposed to be his introduction to a national audience. The fight was televised on Showtime.
The Mexican contender Honorio never allowed Molina to load up or corner him. Instead he moved when he had to move and punched when he had to punch. The judges scored it 99-91 and 98-92 twice for Honorio.
“My guy was definitely sick, he had the flu,” said Joe Goossen, who trains Molina. “I didn’t know about it.”
Honorio said moving up to the heavier 135 pound lightweight was difficult but he made the necessary adjustments.
“The weight difference was definitely a factor. It took me a few rounds then I got comfortable. I could feel his punches but he never hurt me,” said Honorio. “I would love to give him a rematch but at 130.”
Molina said the flu did hurt him a bit but gave Honorio credit for winning handily.
“Martin Honorio is a great fighter and he did well tonight,” said Molina who was disappointed by the outcome. “I couldn’t pull the trigger. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”
South Central L.A.’s Rico Ramos, a standout amateur, was supposed to be facing his toughest test against Northern California’s Alejandro Perez (14-2-1, 9 KOs). But the speed and accuracy of Ramos' punches overcame Perez’s relentless pressure to the body. A counter right hand in the third round floored Perez for the only knockdown.
“I had to use my movement and my jabs,” said Ramos (14-0, 8 KOs) who remains undefeated. “I expected to win every round but not by dropping him.”
Perez remained diligent in his body attack but Ramos continued to batter him with counter left uppercuts throughout the eight rounds. The judges scored it a unanimous decision for Ramos 80-71 twice and 78-73.
Sharp shooting Javier Molina (3-0, 3 KOs), a former U.S. Olympian, overwhelmed Mexico’s Miguel Garcia (0-2) with stiff jabs and combinations in a welterweight bout. Several left hooks snapped Garcia’s head back and on one occasion the tough Mexican fighter seemed to touch the mat with a glove. In the second round Molina tore through every defense Garcia offered until his corner finally tossed in the towel at 2:42 of the second round. It was Molina’s third knockout in three fights.
“I just jabbed him, I kept jabbing him and I stuck with it,” said Molina who had not fought in several months.
Charles “Killer” Whitaker (35-12-2, 23 KOs) of the Cayman Islands floored West Virginia’s Chad Greenleaf (11-14-1) three times before the fight was stopped at 2:28 of the third round. A four-punch combination floored Greenleaf, whose corner stopped the middleweight fight.
A heavyweight match between Ernest “Zeus” Mazyck (7-1) and Ethan Cox (2-6-1) ended in a majority decision win for Mazyck after four rounds. No knockdowns were scored as one judge Ray Corona ruled it 38-38 but judges Marty Denkin and Pat Russell had it 39-37 for Zeus who landed more blows.
Rialto’s Matt Franklin (2-0) survived a first round knockdown by Ludwin Mondragon (0-3) to win the remaining three rounds and win by unanimous decision 38-37 on all three cards. A counter right hand by Mondragon in the first round landed flush but after that it was mostly Franklin’s quick counters that scored effectively in a flyweight encounter.
“When I was a kid all I wanted to be was a ninja or an FBI agent,” says Shiver who trains in Tampa. “Still would like to be a ninja.”
Shiver fights for the first time in New York City against its own popular Shea for the vacant WBA interim junior featherweight title on Thursday, Dec. 3. The bout takes place in the Manhattan Center. It will be televised nationally on Versus.
There’s a lot of room for a ninja in New York. But Shea’s got experience with all kinds of styles.
Shea recently convinced prominent trainer Tommy Brooks to work with her, after suffering a pair of losses. Those were the first losses on her ledger.
“When he first met me he said I should be fighting at 122,” said Shea (13-2, 7 KOs) who was competing at 130. “I’m really happy fighting at 122, it’s not even an issue.”
It’s a second title attempt for the Mexican-Irish fighter from the Bronx. Her first try ended in a loss to Peru’s Kina Malpartida and that was followed by another loss to Lindsay Garbatt. Both of those fighters were relatively unknown at the time, but now the world knows they’re very good.
So is Shea.
“I’ve always known about Maureen Shea,” said Shiver (9-4-1) who has been fighting for several years professionally in Florida. “I got a call to fight her years ago that we turned down mainly on the account of how all over the place I was at the time.”
Timing is everything.
“She’s taller than me and comes out throwing a lot of straight punches,” Shea, 28, says of Shiver. “We're looking to use our fight plan and I did my research with her. With the team I have now I feel I’m coming into the fight more prepared than ever before.”
Brooks, Shea’s trainer, had never worked with a female fighter before. In the past he’s trained Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes and scores of other excellent prizefighters. He’s now based in New Jersey and that is now where Shea travels daily to prepare for this fight.
“Believe it or not it’s a lot closer to the Bronx. It’s only 20 minutes from the gym. It’s easy to get there,” said Shea. “My whole career I always traveled to Brooklyn. I used to take the subway to Brooklyn, now I’m driving to New Jersey.”
When Shiver steps on Manhattan turf it will be only the second time. But the prizefighter from Florida has three generation of fighting bloodlines to fall back on. Her grandfather was a pro wrestler and her father a pro boxer.
“I love the sport on account of the challenges as an individual it brings to me, so much discipline in every area and ways to improve,” Shiver, 24, says. “It’s really a sweet science and it fascinates me.”
After 10 rounds on Thursday either Shea or Shiver will emerge as the new interim champion.
“It’s still very mind blowing to me that I will be fighting for a title out of the Big Apple, on TV no less,” said Shiver who is trained by Ron Coronangan. “Cannot wait for Dec. 3.”
Shea, whose mother is from Mexico City and father is from New York City, is willing to fly to California to work with conditioning coach Robert Ferguson. Whatever it takes she’s willing to do. Now after several months of training can she drive her way to a world title?
“I just want to show that those last two fights wasn’t really me,” says Shea. “I was putting too much stress on myself.”
Shea or Shiver, who will grab that title?
Right now the junior featherweight division is enjoying one of its best years with a flood of talent all over the world like IBA titleholder Ana Julaton, Kelsey Jeffries, Argentina’s Marcela Acuna, Mexico’s Jackie Nava, and bantamweights Melinda Cooper and Kaliesha West who can jump up a division at a moment’s notice.
“My goal in boxing is to really excel and build on every bit of skill I already possess to be the champ of course. Why else compete?” says Shiver.
If you’re in the New York City area get your tickets now by calling (718) 823-2000.
Also on the card is Mike Arnaoutis facing Tim Coleman for the vacant USBA junior welterweight title and undefeated welterweight Ray Robinson against undefeated Brad Soloman.
Now 25-0, Bute defended successfully defended his title for the fourth time before more than 16,000 enthusiastic supporters in Quebec City. (His usual home turf, the Bell Centre in Montreal, might have accommodated 5,000 more, but a Canadiens game occupied the building.) Andrade, stopped for the first time in his career, fell to 28-3.
Eleven months earlier, Bute had benefited from a generous dispensation of Quebecois justice, when Canadian referee Marlon Wright was all that stood between him and a 12th-round knockout by the resilient Andrade at Montreal's Bell Centre. Despite the controversial outcome and heightened interest in its sequel, Showtime not only didn't bid for the rematch, but when that network assembled what it deemed the world's best half-dozen 168-pounders for its highly-publicized 'Super Six' tournament, Bute's name was missing in action.
He delivered his answer to the perceived slight in the main event of HBO's Boxing After Dark card in Quebec. In their earlier bout Bute had built up a commanding lead over the first eleven rounds, only to find himself so spent that he needed the ring ropes to pull himself to his feet when Andrade dropped him in the 12th. This time the roles were reversed, and much earlier.
As expected, Bute had outboxed Andrade over the first three, but earlier in the fourth, when Andrade aggressively drove him to the ropes, Bute responded with a crisp counter-left to the jaw that nearly tore Andrade's face off. Down for only the second time in his career, the challenger got back up from that one, and even managed a sheepish grin, but with 15 seconds left in the fourth, Bute unleashed the left that caved Andrade's right side in.
Andrade, as tough as they come in this business, sank to the floor in anguish, and a proud man who had been around for the final bell in each of his previous 30 pro fights took the count on his knees.
All things considered, it was probably the most impressive performance of Bute's career, and if somewhere in the back of his mind the spurned suitor had the intent of embarrassing Showtime, his timing couldn't have been better.
It is probably only a matter of days before Jermain Taylor officially withdraws from the Super Six proceedings, and if the network, as expected, replaces him with a lesser light, they're only going to look sillier than they did when they omitted Bute in the first place.
Even were he belatedly invited, in the residual glow of Saturday night's showing, Bute would be nuts to join the party now -- and, were he so tempted, you can bet that HBO is already waving a bunch of money under his nose to make sure he doesn't.
Bute has lived in Montreal for the past six years, and the Quebecois embrace him as one of their own. And if provincial boxing officials had seemed generous in protecting Bute in the first Andrade fight, you have to wonder whether Joan Guzman secretly took Canadian citizenship papers in the past couple of days, for there is otherwise no accounting for the larceny that befell Ali Funeka in the co-feature of Saturday night's show.
The IBF lightweight title remained vacant when Canadian judges Alan Davis and Benoit Roussel conspired to return identical 114-114 scorecards that overruled the 116-112 of New Jersey's Joe Pasquale.
Guzman, his face battered from 12 rounds' worth of punishment at the hands of the 6'1" South African, was plainly resigned to defeat and, in light of the beating he had taken, and seemed happy enough to finish the fight on his feet. Incredibly enough, Guzman remained undefeated after what went into the books as a majority draw.
Funeka needless to say, appeared crestfallen by the bizarre decision, and Bob Papa, Lennox Lewis, and Max Kellerman found themselves wondering aloud whether the scores might have been added wrong.
Alas, they had not been. This time you couldn't even blame it on hometown scoring, but something worse: sheer ineptitude.
The bout matched two boxers whose career-defining fights had been scheduled fights against Nate Campbell. In September of 2008, Guzman was to have met the then-lightweight champion in Mississippi, but failed to make the 135-pound limit. Then, earlier this year in Florida, Campbell himself lost the title on the scale. Unlike Guzman, Nate went through with the fight. Funeka fought well enough, but ended up on th short end of a majority decision. (Roussel, ironically enough, was one of the two judges who favored Campbell in that one.)
The 33 year-old Guzman came into the fight 29-0 with 17 KO's, which seems impressive enough until you consider that three years ago he was 26-0, and that he hasn't stopped an opponent of any description in almost five years. Funeka, who appeared to have learned from his experience with Campbell, didn't begin to fight in earnest until the third, but once he did, he pretty much dominated every round thereafter.
Guzman seemed increasingly disheartened as his face sprung new leaks at every turn. A Funeka punch opened a cut along his right eyebrow late in the second. In the third, Funeka smashed Guzman with a punch up the middle, and blood spouted from his nose almost immediately. Another nick, this one on the right cheekbone, came from a fourth round clash of heads.
Referee Jean-Guy Brousseau missed the butt and ruled that it had come from a punch. Although the referee's lapse in judgement seemed to trouble BAD announcer Bob Papa, the mistake was in this case utterly inconsequential, since of all Guzman's wounds, this was the least troubling, and never threatened to stop the fight.
Funeka, who punished Guzman for ten solid rounds without meeting much resistance, had a veritable cakewalk to the finish line, and the only man in the building more shocked than Funeka by the judges' disheartening verdict appeared to be Guzman.
Funeka is left with a record of 30-2-3, Guzman 29-0-1.
The IBF will mandate another bout between the two for the still-vacant title, which will mean another payday for Joan and a delay of some months before Funeka can wrap himself with a belt which, by all rights, he should already own. Meanwhile, you can take this much to the bank: The rematch will not be in Canada.
* * *
QUEBEC CITY, CANADA
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Lucian Bute, 166 3/4, Galati, Romania TKO'd Librado Andrade, 166 3/4, Jesus del Monte, Mexico (4) (Retains IBF title)
LIGHTWEIGHTS: Ali Funkeka, 133 1/4, East London, South Africa drew with Joan Guzman 134 1/2, Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep. (12) (For vacant IBF title)
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Craig McEwan Edinburgh, Scotland dec. James Parison, San Diego, Calif. (8)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Keith Thurman, Clearwater, Fla. TKO'd Leonardo Rojas, Callao, Peru (2)
Kevin Bizier, St. Emile, Quebec TKO'd Patrick Cape, St. Louis, Minn. (1)
JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: Pier Oliver Cote, Charlesbourg, Quebec dec. Jason Hayward, St. John's, Newfoundland(10)
Mayweather-Marquez bout which brought in $52 million on 1.05 million buys. Pacquiao-Cotto is tied for third (De La Hoya-Pacquiao) amongst the largest grossing non-heavyweight fights in boxing history; Mayweather-Marquez is sixth.
So who's today's top draw, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather? The answer is: before the fight it was a toss-up. Pacquiao-Cotto did slightly better numbers - but Manny faced an opponent who was coming down in weight who was thought to have a more legitimate shot to beat him. Whereas Mayweather forced Marquez to come up nine pounds and was perceived by virtually all boxing insiders to have no shot to beat him.
Mayweather was also coming back after not fighting in roughly 20 months and there was an added curiosity to see if he had declined since his last fight. And Mayweather-Marquez was aided by the public perception as being a good-guy versus a bad-guy bout and Mayweather did a terrific job selling the fight in the final week before the fight. As opposed to the Pacquiao-Cotto promotion which was flat and featured good-guy versus good-guy, which was mentioned here as a potential pitfall prior to the fight.
It's fair to say that Pacquiao-Cotto didn't quite live up to it's expectations as far as PPV buys and Mayweather-Marquez exceeded expectations. But based on the action and excitement of their last fight, Pacquiao is a bigger draw and creates more excitement than Mayweather at this time. And I say that because if Mayweather and Pacquiao fought one of the top five welterweight contenders on the same night, Pacquiao's fight would do bigger numbers. That aside there's no other fighter close to either of them when it comes to capturing the interest of boxing fans or asking them to reach into their wallet and pay to watch them work.
Speaking of asking fans to shell out money to buy their fights, Pacquiao and Mayweather are minor league players compared to Oscar De La Hoya on the world stage and being a true superstar. He wasn't called the "Golden Boy" just because he's a former Olympic gold medalist, and in reality it took De La Hoya to fight both Floyd and Manny to put them on the radar and translate both into the quasi-stars they currently are.
When you compare the PPV numbers of Pacquiao and Mayweather next to De La Hoya's, it's no contest. Oscar's fight with Felix Trinidad more than a decade ago grossed $71.4 million on 1.4 million buys. Which is $19.4 million more and four hundred thousand more buys than Mayweather-Marquez, and $1.4 million and one hundred and seventy five thousand more buys than what Pacquiao-Cotto did. And in September of 1999, Oscar didn't have the benefit of fighting a superstar like himself to help draw attention to his fights like the spotlight he provided Pacquiao and Mayweather when he fought them. It also cannot be overlooked that he came up when the media world and sports/boxing coverage was in its infancy and hadn't exploded into the monster it is today.
Pacquiao and Mayweather had the benefit of four prime-time specials on HBO's 24/7, something that would've propelled De La Hoya-Trinidad into being an even bigger fight. In 1999 the boxing world was hungering for the type of personal access to Oscar De La Hoya that HBO 24/7 sheds on fighters participating in today's super-fights. By the time it evolved in 2007 for De La Hoya-Mayweather, the boxing public knew everything they wanted or needed to know about Oscar along with fully understanding that he was only a part-time fighter after being stopped by Bernard Hopkins in 2004.
Another obstacle De La Hoya had in 1999 was the fact that he was competing for the spotlight with Roy Jones who was in his prime, and three hall-of-fame heavyweights named Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. As of this writing Paul Williams is the only fighter that really intrigues and stimulates boxing fans excluding Pacquiao and Mayweather. And it doesn't hurt them that there isn't one heavyweight in the world that boxing fans would go out of their way to see fight.
Oscar De La Hoya had tremendous crossover appeal. His fights drew hardcore boxing fans, whites, blacks, Hispanics along with women and young girls. And it was his ability to bring in non boxing fans which probably made up one-third of the buys his bouts produced, which sets him apart from Pacquiao and Mayweather.
When looking at the numbers De La Hoya's bouts produced, it's nothing short of remarkable. And I say that because Oscar really wasn't a great fighter nor were his fights very exciting. Whereas Pacquiao always provides excitement when he fights and Mayweather is a superior boxer and technician. In reality Oscar did the most with the least and may wind up as one of boxings' greatest visionaries.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are the most talked about and comprehensively covered fighters in boxing today. A fight between them in 2010 could possibly produce the biggest grossing in boxing history. But that won't change the fact that neither one of them are close to being the world superstar and personality that Oscar De La Hoya was during his era and peak.
The top non-heavyweight pay-per-view events in boxing history:
1. Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya, 2007, 2.44 million, $136.6 million:
2. Felix Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya, 1999, 1.4 million, $71.4 million: