Cherry (21-6-2, 13 KOs) hadn’t fought in more than a year since losing by decision to Timothy Bradley. He took it out on Jones (9-8) for three one-sided rounds as he pounded and pounded on the seemingly much smaller fighter.
A double left hook in the first round blasted Jones to the ground to start the contest. In the second round it wasn’t much better for Jones who ate a right hand and was knocked down again. The third and final round saw Cherry deliver more than six thunderous body shots that collapsed Jones in a neutral corner. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight at 1:14 of the third round.
“I’ve been off for a year,” said Cherry who had fought Bradley and Paul Malignaggi unsuccessfully for world titles. “I still have a little rust. This is my comeback fight.”
In the co-main event, it was L.A.’s Santa Cruz (12-0, 4 KOs) who had target practice against the sturdy Juan Beltran (19-16-3) for three rounds. After constantly pounding the body, a flurry of punches with no return forced referee Lou Moret to stop the junior featherweight fight at 2:17 of the third round.
“In the gym we were (practicing) pressuring and pressuring,” said Santa Cruz.
Sharif Bogere (13-0, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas won a unanimous decision over Mexico’s super tough Cristian Favela (17-23-6, 10 KOs) in a fast paced six round lightweight contest. Bogere scored more blows but it was Favela who landed the bigger punches. In the end the referees scored it 59-55 twice and 60-54 for Bogere.
Russia’s Fedor Chudinov (3-0) and Mexico’s Cesar Ibarra (5-3) fought an entertaining four rounds with a right hand to the body scoring a knockdown for Chudinov. That set the trend for middleweight Chudinov who gained momentum from the knockdown and won by unanimous decision 39-36 twice and 40-35.
Florida’s Joseph Elegele stopped Juan Carlos Diaz at 2:52 of the first round. It was the third knockdown that did it. A left cross dropped Diaz first, followed by a left uppercut, then a counter left hand bounced Diaz to the floor a third time.
Russia’s Dmitry Chudinov (3-0) blasted Nicaragua’s Flavio Cardoza (1-4) three times to the floor first with a left hook to the body, then a double left hook to the head, and last with a right hand feint followed quickly by a left hook that sprawled Cardoza along the ropes. Referee Corona stopped the fight at 1:46 of the first round.
Las Vegas fighter Hastings Bwayla (2-0) collided with mixed martial arts fighter Anthony McDavitt, making his pro debut as a boxer. Though Bwayla had too much speed and skill McDavitt used his strength and tenacity to keep the fight interesting. A well-timed right hand floored McDavitt (0-1) but the fight resumed. A flurry of punches by Bwayla forced referee Moret to stop the fight at 2:23 of the third round.
“He had a good chin,” said Bwayla of his MMA opponent.
Russia’s Ivan Redkach (2-0) dropped Napoleon Mathews (1-3) twice en route to a first round knockout at 2:29. A left hook body shot dropped Mathews floored the Seattle fighter, forcing referee Corona to halt the lightweight fight.
Former amateur standout Fidel Maldonado of New Mexico blitzed Oregon’s Nick Brannies (1-3) with a flurry of punches in a lightweight bout. A combination dropped Brannies for the first knockdown. That was followed by an overhand right that dropped Brannies again. Referee Lou Moret stopped the fight at 1:10 of the first round. It was Maldonado’s first win as a professional.
But instead of gloating on the victory, Ward and the rest of his camp refuse to be complacent. The man spitting wisdom in the newly crowned champion’s ear, counseling against excessive self pride, is Virgil Hunter.
Ward’s long time mentor and godfather has garnered recognition as one of the more respected up 'n coming trainers in boxing. And anyone that knows Hunter will tell you that he never hesitates to speak his mind.
Hunter has high hopes for his prized protégé, including becoming a champion in multiple weight divisions. According to Hunter, the capacity of Andre Ward’s ability is nowhere near its peak.
“I think Andre is at 60% of what he is capable of. And he is a champion. Most fighters that become champion for the first time do not have much room for growth. But there is so much more canvas to build on with Andre.”
How is he sure?
“Andre only has twenty one fights. Who did Kessler fight in his 21st fight? Who did Pavlik fight in his 21st fight? Who did Calzaghe fight in his 21st fight? It is hard to answer. Andre has been fighting high caliber fighters for years but people do not give him credit for it. Anytime Andre has been in there when the money is on the line, he has won, convincingly. He has never had to win a close fight.”
Hunter went further to profess his ultimate goal for Andre Ward.
“By 32 years old, Andre Ward will be heavyweight champion of the world,” says the confident trainer. “He has always beaten guys bigger than him, even in the amateurs. If Andre gets to 200 pounds naturally and maybe grows an inch taller, he could become heavyweight champion absolutely.”
To put it lightly, the heavyweight division has had its better days. With the average 215 pound fighter getting massively outweighed by the Klitschkos, Valuev, and Arreolas of the world, there are some boxing insiders that feel like there should be a super heavyweight division in order to balance the landscape. However Hunter sees it differently. He believes that some of the massive heavyweights are only doing a disservice to themselves because they do not train to maximize their potential.
“I believe in the prototype heavyweight, the Joe Louis type, 6’3 or 6’4, 210, 215 pounds. If a heavyweight could fight at that weight, that is enough to beat any 6’7, 240 pound fighter out there. I think that heavyweights should all get their body fat measured and have an expert analyze their best fighting weight. You see, the extra weight is causing them to lay their punches in, instead of snapping the punches in. There is no weight limit on a basketball player, but each one of them knows that there is a weight for them to be their best at.
“Chris Arreola is a great example. I believe in Chris’s ability to be heavyweight champ. If he can get his weight under control, I think that he has the ability to beat any heavyweight out there. He used to box at a lighter weight in the amateurs and that means something.
“I am trying to inspire him. I think that if he got the weight under control and really disciplined himself, he could be a champion. He should be a champion because he has the skills.”
Get close enough to Virgil Hunter and you could about boxing for hours. The man has a passion for watching classic fight tapes. Yet, as much as Hunter knows about boxing, he is still considers himself a student of the game. He especially enjoys learning the evolution of Hispanic boxing. From the rugged boxing style of Carlos Palomino to the boxing technique of Salvador Sanchez, Hunter thinks that the progressions of hispanic fighters are a thing to behold.
“I am a connoisseur of Hispanic fighters. I study Hispanic fighters more than any other nationality. The Hispanic fighters in particular are a culture of evolution. In the past, there was one way that was required of you (Hispanics) to fight, and that was for blood and guts. Then Salvador Sanchez came along. He was one of the first Hispanic fighters that could move, slide, and counter. Then when Chavez came along, he had ingredients of a lot of greats in the past. He had a little bit of Sanchez in him, as well.
“Now you see the influence of the African American fight philosophy in the Hispanic fighters, and vice versa. Look at Juan Diaz, Timothy Bradley’s trainer; he is doing a hell of a job.”
Ward’s recent win over Kessler has given Hunter some much deserved recognition as an elite trainer. The victory shocked most. But all Hunter could say is I told you so.
“Every one was talking about Kessler’s power. And to the untrained eye, what Andre does in the ring seems like finesse. But there was no way in the world that Kessler is stronger than Andre, and it showed.”
Although Ward and Hunter are proud of their recent achievement, they refuse to take anyone lightly, especially potential opponent Jermain Taylor. After getting knocked out for the third time in five fights in October against Arthur Abraham, many in boxing expected Taylor to withdraw from the Super Six tournament and announce his retirement.
Meanwhile Lou DiBella, Taylor’s long time promoter, and friend, stated last week that he refuses to be involved in Taylor fights any further because of his desire to go on fighting. Ozell Nelson, Taylor’s trainer, recently said that Jermain is staying in the tournament. Despite all of the uncertainty, Hunter says that they will not play a waiting game.
“Taylor is extremely dangerous without a doubt. We do not overlook him by any means. No sir,” said Hunter. “He has everything to gain. They talk all that mess about him (Taylor) being washed up. But he has a belt to go after. This is a serious fight. We are not going to underestimate him because there is too much at stake. I think he is banking on the fact that maybe Andre does not punch as hard as Abraham or Froch,” Hunter said.
“You know, Taylor was winning that fight against Froch. And he was doing very well against Abraham. We are already starting the mental preparations for Jermain Taylor, fighting a guy that other people want to write off. We are not writing him off. Taylor is in the right spot, fighting for a world title.”
The Super Six Tournament has captured the attention of the boxing world. But Hunter thinks that some of the fighters in the tourney are becoming a bit too friendly with one another before they get it on. When asked about a press release before the Kessler/Ward fight that printed Carl Froch’s prediction that Kessler was going to defeat Ward, Hunter was rather curious about Carl Froch’s kind gestures towards the Danish fighter.
“I thought it was amusing that Carl Froch is trying to compare himself to Kessler before he is getting ready to fight him. Froch said that they were the same breed, no nonsense, get straight to the point type of fighters, they like fast motorcycles, they have a lot of things in common, and have each others' phone numbers, things like that.
“I feel like Kessler is going to take his belt. I think Kessler is going to win and Froch is looking for an out. Froch is implying that the only one that could take his belt is a man that is just like him, playing the friendship angle. He is trying to side up with Kessler. I do not mean any disrespect towards any man because that is not right. But you have to stand alone in this tournament.”
To further prove his point, Hunter compared Froch and Kessler’s “friendship” to the close relationship Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell have had for over a decade.
“The only guys in this tournament that are true friends are Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward. They came up together in the amateurs. Dirrell’s grandfather and I have been friends for years. So it is a different situation. Froch and Kessler did not come up together. Kessler is in Copenhagen and Froch is from England.”
Ward’s victory over Kessler has prompted many to place him as the best fighter in the 168 pound weight class, and a favorite to win the Super Six Tournament. However, Hunter senses much more to prove for the rising star.
“I don’t rate Andre as the top Super Middleweight. I rate Froch, Abraham, Dirrell, Taylor, and Bute ahead of Andre. They were champions before he was. And the only way I would rate Andre ahead of those guys is if he beats them. I am not going to rate him above anybody that he has not beaten. So to me, they are above him. I think Dirrell and Abraham and tied for number one in the division, Froch number two, Bute is third and Taylor is fourth. I also got Allan Green above Andre. I only rate Andre above who he has fought. Like I said, he is only at 60% of his potential. And that is the beauty of it man, we have a lot to work with.”
Opponents have been questioning Ward’s ability and licking their chops to put a blemish on his record since he won the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. But they have found little like luck so far. Now that he is a champion, there will be even more potential combatants wanting to take the title out of his hands. However, Hunter says that he is ready to unleash a plan to counterpunch the critics with a shocking blow.
“I have already told people, that when Andre becomes champion there will be very few people that go the distance with him. You know, I listen to people talk about his punching power, but I think that he can hit just as hard as anybody out there, and they (the critics) don’t know that. Now that he is a champ, and you include that extra twenty five to thirty percent of confidence, I am going to start calling for the knockout. You see, I never used to call for it before. But believe me he could knock out anybody out there. And he could hit as hard as anybody out there. But the critics don’t believe that. They will believe that when it starts happening.
“We are getting ready to unveil something, and they don’t even know what’s happening. Ain’t that funny...? Ward is a fighter that nobody knows about. They can’t predict him. They can’t put a finger on him. They don’t even know what to say.”
But for the long-absent Pavlik, who has fought only once in the last 10 months due to an assortment of setbacks, much more is needed. To defeat light-punching Miguel Espino is expected but not satisfactory. This is not a case of following the philosophy of Hall of Fame trainer George Benton, who used to tell his fighters in that Barry White baritone, “Win this fight. Look good next fight.’’
In the end it is winning that is most important in boxing but after a year in which Pavlik has suffered with a bad knuckle and a serious staph infection and been accused of ducking the former welterweight champion Paul Williams winning is only the beginning Saturday night. There is also the question of how he wins.
“Winning is not enough,’’ Pavlik (35-1 31 KO) said this week. “I need to be dominant and I need to be impressive. I know what the mission is and I have every intention of completing it.’’
Top Rank, the Bob Arum-owned promotional company that handles Pavlik, has one mission – which is to get the guy back in the ring before the world forgets his name. Pavlik’s mission is far different. It is not just to win. It is to remind the world of who they thought he was before the night Bernard Hopkins undressed him in public for 12 humiliating rounds, beating him up before beating him down.
There are some in boxing who whisper he has never been the same and won’t be. Among them is someone who knows Hopkins well, his former promoter Lou DiBella. DiBella is no fan of Hopkins but he feels he left Pavlik adrift and caused the long walkabout that has gone on since.
“I think he ruined Pavlik and I know he ruined (Felix) Trinidad,’’ DiBella said. “He took them from the pinnacle and mentally beat them to a pulp. In general, fighting Bernard Hopkins is a career destroyer.
“He embarrassed Trinidad. He had to be saved by his father. He was never the same. He sent Kelly Pavlik back to Youngstown after he appeared potentially to be the next great middleweight champion. Kelly went from having a ton of confidence to having none after what Hopkins did to him. None! It was the kind of beatdown that leaves you confused about who you are…or who you thought you were.’’
Arum hears such things and goes off like a roman candle, insisting Pavlik’s only problems have been the knuckle injury that resulted in a staph infection and the poor way he handled treating it and its rehab. Other than that, Arum says with his usual bombast, he’s FINE!!!
“I don’t care what people think,’’ Arum said recently. “The kid was injured and he didn’t take care of it. It wasn’t some hangover from the Hopkins fight. It wasn’t some fear of Paul Williams. He couldn’t make a fist!’’
Although it is barely two weeks removed from when he was scheduled to fight Williams for a second time and had to pull out, Pavlik now allegedly can make a fist and intends to use it. For Arum and trainer Jack Loew all that is really necessary is that Pavlik get comfortable in the ring again and emerge still the holder of his portions of the middleweight title.
But Pavlik looks at Espino and sees a guy who can’t punch and who although ranked No. 3 in the world should not belong in the same ring with him if he, Pavlik, is who he thinks he is.
“The hand?’’ said Pavlik. “We’ve worked through that and it’s in the past. The problem with the hand was time-consuming. After the first surgery we thought we would be ready to go. After I got the stitches out it opened up again and pus started coming it. They did a re-culture and an MRI and it got worse.
“Finally we were on a new antibiotic and that wasn’t doing the job so we got another surgery. After that everything was fine. After it went away we got a new (bad) reaction from the antibiotics that put me in the hospital for four days with a very serious problem.
“At the end of the day we had two major surgeries within two months and the tendons were coming out of the hand. I had therapy to get movement back in the finger. But we wanted to fight. That’s the main thing.
“People may think I was ducking Paul Williams but that doesn’t bother me because some people know absolutely nothing about boxing. They don’t know how the sport works or what goes on in the sport. We were told we had to defend the title (or be stripped of it). So the people that said he’s now fighting two weeks later don’t understand the story and have no idea what was behind it.
“No matter the talk, I feel I have to go out there, especially after the layoff, and look good. I need a dominant win.’’
Pavlik believes much of the criticism he has recently received are because he is from the Midwest, which in recent years has produced few champions and a lot of guys with inflated records and minimal talent. Many saw him the same way until he stopped Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor. Suddenly he was transformed from overly protected Midwesterner with a phony record to next great middleweight champion.
After Hopkins, at best it seems the truth lies in between. How far in between is the question, one he intends to try and answer with a “dominant’’ victory over Espino.
But many a fighter has lost himself in the pursuit of dominance, trying so hard for the spectacular that they are undone. That, most of all, Kelly Pavlik cannot afford. A lackluster performance could be explained away by the long layoff and the recent medical problems. But a defeat would be harder to erase and much harder to overcome.
“It really makes me want to cry,’’ Arum said of the questioning of Pavlik’s heart or desire to face Williams. “They have absolutely no factual basis for what they are saying. Like the genius who trains Williams claiming that Kelly was faking the injury. When I hear that I feel so embarrassed for the sport.
“I’m 78 and I’ve put my whole life into this sport and to hear morons like that talk when they have no basis for what they are saying really makes me sad.’’
Not as sad as Kelly Pavlik might make him if he doesn’t deliver Saturday night.
Jones is tough but in Cherry's last fight he fought 12 rounds with Timothy Bradley and before that with Jose Armando Santa Cruz and two fights with Wes Ferguson. Throw in Paulie Malignaggi and you can see Cherry’s accustomed to fighting monsters.
“Yes sir, I get kind of a rest but not really,” said Cherry (24-6-2, 12 KOs) who weighed in at 134 pounds for his fight at Commerce Casino. “It’s been a little while since I fought.”
Cherry has changed trainers and location as he moved his camp from Tampa Bay to Winterhaven. Now he’s ready to return to the monster’s ball after a year off following his battle with Bradley.
“I’m looking to fight at 130 or 135,” says Cherry who has fought two junior welterweight world champions and lost by decision. “Everything’s been good.”
Also on the Commerce fight card will be Leo Santa Cruz who meets Juan Jose Beltran; Cristian Favela meets Sharif Bogere; Fedor Chudinov fights Cesar Ibarra; Dmitry Chudinov tangles with Falvio Cardoza; and two other fights are scheduled. The doors open at 7 p.m. For tickets and information (323) 721-2100.
Speaking of Timothy Bradley, his decisive win over Lamont Peterson proves he is the best junior welterweight in the world. No, I don’t consider Manny Pacquiao a junior welterweight any longer. He left the division when he clobbered Miguel Cotto last month. Bradley is all alone now at 140 pounds. But there are a lot of very good junior welterweights out there like bullets in a revolver. They’re all dangerous.
“Bradley keeps beating everybody they put in front of him,” says Gary Shaw, who along with Thompson Boxing Promotions co-promotes Bradley. “He deserves recognition.”
The junior welterweight division is one of the most talent loaded divisions in pro boxing and boasts more than a dozen fighters with varying styles that include speed defensive experts like Paul Malignaggi who defeated Juan Diaz on the same day that Bradley beat Peterson.
Along with Malignaggi are others like current titleholders such as WBC belt holder Devon Alexander of St. Louis, IBF titleholder Juan Urango of Colombia, and the WBA’s Amir Khan of England. Those are just the guys with the belts. More than a half dozen fighters without world titles are equally if not more dangerous such as Ventura’s Victor Ortiz, former world champ Ricky “Hitman” Hatton of England, Argentina’s Marcos Maidana, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell, Junior Witter and Juan Diaz.
Not to be forgotten is Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez who recently fought unsuccessfully Floyd Mayweather in a welterweight bout. Marquez is really a lightweight but could possibly fight at 140.
After Malignaggi defeated Diaz in Chicago this past Saturday he told HBO that he seeks a fight against the boxing master Marquez who last fought and lost a decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Bradley is the man, however, after thoroughly and decisively proving his boxing superiority without knocking out his last four opponents. Winning by decision has proven to lead to repeated controversy as fans often disagree with judge’s opinions. But not when Bradley fights. He has the ability to prove to fans, judges and opponents that he’s the winner every time he fights.
That’s a remarkable achievement.
Who should Bradley fight next?
The big money fight would be against Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao but that’s not going to transpire. The Filipino superstar already has his agenda set for the entire year and Bradley is not a part of it. Others exist that could help the Palm Springs pugilist gain further fame and fortune.
Here’s a short list for Bradley:
Amir Khan (22-1, 16 KOs) – The speedy power punching Khan has a four inch height advantage and equal speed to Bradley. A big advantage Khan possesses is one-punch knockout power with either hand. One disadvantage is his defense and chin. He can’t take a punch like Bradley. It could be a super fight that would probably take place in England.
Victor Ortiz (25-2-1, 20 KOs) – Yet another speedy power punching junior welterweight but Ortiz is a southpaw who cracks with both hands. He recently defeated Bradley’s friend and stable mate Antonio Diaz. This fight has been visualized for the past three years by Southern California fight fans. It would be a firecracker of a fight.
Marcos Maidana (27-1, 26 KOs) – This past June in L.A. the Argentine out blasted Ortiz in a firefight at Staples Center. It would be interesting to see if Bradley’s speed and guile could prevail against the always pressing Maidana. The fight could take place in Los Angeles. Fans would definitely come to this event.
Paul Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KOs) – Brooklyn’s Malignaggi beat Juan Diaz in a rematch this past Saturday to even their record against each other. The colorful and chatty Malignaggi has quick feet, quick hands and a quick way with the word. He’s been eyeing Bradley for years and is always up for a challenge. It would definitely be the Italian New Yorker’s biggest challenge.
“I need a challenge, man,” said Bradley about preferring other titleholders and dangerous opponents. “Small fights don’t do it for me. I need big fights. I need a challenge.”
Chika Nakamura (8-0) fights veteran Gloria Ramirez on Thursday Dec. 17, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel. Also on the Roy Englebrecht Productions fight card is Daniel Perez (8-6) vs. Billy Bailey (9-5). For information (949) 760-3131.
Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez meets ex-NFL star Michael Westbrook in a mixed martial arts heavyweight clash promoted by King Of The Cage at the San Manuel Casino on Thursday Dec. 17. Proceeds go to City of Hope for cancer research. For more information (800) 359-2464.
Danny Valdivia, a long time ring announcer in Southern California, has died. Valdivia, 75, had previous heart problems but was a regular at local fight shows. He emceed the Irvine Marriott fight card this past October and worked both boxing and mixed martial arts cards from California to Texas. Valdivia lived in Venice, Ca.
WBC and WBO middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs) defends his titles against Southern California’s Miguel Espino (20-2-1) on Saturday Dec. 19, at his hometown Youngstown, Ohio. The fight is being televised on pay-per-view television. Also shown will be Humberto Soto ( 49-7-2, 32 KOs) facing former world champion Jesus Chavez (44-6, 30 KOs). Vanes Martirosyan (25-0) fights Willie Lee (17-5) for the NABF junior middleweight title.
Manny Pacquiao has agreed to $25 million to fight Floyd Mayweather but the fight has not been finalized said Top Rank’s Bob Arum. “We still don’t have a site,” Arum said angrily. A proposal to place the fight in the Dallas Cowboy Stadium was not entertained by Golden Boy Promotions, which is promoting Mayweather. Las Vegas is one of the other main alternatives.
In UFC 107 it was BJ Penn beating Diego Sanchez by fifth round TKO. Penn continued his undefeated string as a lightweight. All of his losses have come at heavier weights. Sanchez also suffered his first loss as a lightweight.
Edwin Valero (25-0, 25 KOs) defends his WBC lightweight title against Mexico’s Hector Velazquez (51-13-2, 35 KOs) in Venezuela on Saturday Dec. 19. The fight will not be televised. Valero seeks a match with Juan Manuel Marquez if he wins.
Fights on television
Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Kelly Pavlik (35-1) vs. Miguel Espino (20-2-1); Humberto Soto (49-7-2) vs. Jesus Chavez (44-6); Vanes Martirosyan (25-0) vs. Willie Lee (17-5).
That is the sad reality for Espino, a 29-year-old, hard-scrabble kid from North Hollywood, CA., who is by all accounts a good fighter and a world champion of a guy. Unfortunately, the world not being the fairest of places, such fellows only infrequently become world champions inside a boxing ring.
Espino was among the first cast of “The Contender’’ series but has never really been a contender anywhere but on a reality TV show. Even Saturday night, ranked No. 3 in the world by the World Boxing Council, the fact is he’s still not. He is a fighter with an opportunity but no chance, which he knows is how he got this $100,000 payday from promoter Bob Arum.
To his credit, Espino neither bemoans this nor ignores it. He told Kevin Iole, the great boxing writer at Yahoo.com, last week that, “I don’t think they’re bringing me in to win. But the great thing about boxing is when the bell rings everything is equal.’’
Not really. Talent is not equal. Promotional clout behind you is not equal. Judging in a situation like this, where the money lies all behind one man, is not equal.
Espino understands this of course just as he understands why Arum called him just as he sat down to eat a lunch of tacos and a Coke a few weeks ago as he was relaxing from the job of sparring with Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., whom Espino was helping prepare for his next fight.
Arum asked if he would be willing to fight Pavlik, who has not fought since February and was supposed to be facing top-rated Paul Williams instead of Espino, until an ongoing battle with a staph infection in his knuckle forced him to pull out of that fight.
What is odd about that is the fight was scheduled for early December. The champion was too hurt to fight that night but could come back two weeks later to face Espino? Makes you wonder.
It doesn’t make Espino wonder however, because he understands it was neither his No. 3 ranking nor his 20-2-1 record that got him this fight. What got him the fight is that he has only nine knockouts to his credit. Paul Williams has 27 knockouts. Enough said.
Yet Espino is the kind of guy you want to hope for because a win like this would change his life and his family’s in a meaningful way. This is a guy who has never made any real money in boxing but who has fought on through disappointment after disappointment. He is a guy who moved in with his blind mother after she got divorced to help care for her. His sister left a top college, Carlton in Minnesota, to do the same, losing a year’s worth of hard-earned credits to attend Cal State-Fullerton in the process.
This is a family in the best sense of the word, the kind that sticks together and sacrifices for each other. Espino is the head of that household now and so he comes to Youngstown with hope laced with hard reality.
“I thought I was going to go to big fights after “The Contender’’ and TV fights but that wasn’t the case,’’ he recalled recently. “I had to fight local fights and in Mexico in little stadiums of 500 people. I kept working hard and look at me now. We are fighting for the middleweight championship of the world. My last fight was on Telemundo.’’
That fight was seen by few. This one may be as well because it’s on pay-per-view six days before Christmas. It’s on pay-per-view not because Arum thinks it will sell but because he couldn’t sell it to HBO, who normally televises Pavlik’s title defenses.
Espino knows that too but what he is holding firmly to is the knowledge that if you hit a guy right everything can go wrong for that guy in an instant. Espino and his family have been hit that way in life a few times. Now he’d like to return the favor to Pavlik, who enters the ring in Youngstown after the longest layoff of his career and amidst rumors of a lifestyle gone a bit off the tracks.
Will any of that make a difference once the first bell sounds? Not likely, but Miguel Espino figures getting this fight wasn’t very likely either so, who knows?
“Any fighter that is in the ring has a shot,’’ Espino said. “He’s the champion but do I have a shot? Absolutely. Am I going there to win? Absolutely. I’m not going in there just to receive the biggest payday of my career or just to say I fought the world champion and gave him a tough fight. I wouldn’t be in this game if I were to do that.
“I’m going to Ohio to give the best performance of my life. God willing I am going to come back with the belts (WBC and WBO). That’s what I’ve been training for.’’
Surely he has, but unfortunately for Miguel Espino God is not much of a fight fan. God hopefully will watch over and protect both Espino and Pavlik Saturday night--but as a priest at ringside once said when asked if a fighter who had just knelt down and made the sign of the cross before the opening bell would be aided by that said, “Only if he can fight.’’
Miguel Espino is a fighter, both in the ring and more importantly in life. He’s doing the right thing in that North Hollywood apartment for his Mom and for his family. If life was fair he would win Saturday night. But this is boxing, a place where fairness seldom has much to do with the outcome.
Might Pavlik be tentative because of his 10-month layoff and be unsure of how well his now repaired hand will hold up? Yes, he might be. Will that be enough to turn the tide in favor of a guy who, relative to his peers, can’t punch?
The 880 patrons at BB King's Blues club, on the other hand, got to witness four things no one had ever seen before: They got to watch Rigondeaux fight a fifth round, a sixth round, a seventh round, and an eighth round. Not once in his storied litany of nearly 400 amateur and professional bouts had the 29 year-old Rigondeaux ever gone beyond four.
Rigondeaux was extended the distance for the first time in four pro fights by Ghanian Lantey Addy, and while he didn't lose a single round on the scorecards of judges Steve Weisfeld and Julie Lederman (80-71 twice) and just one on the 79-72 card returned by John Signore, it wasn't exactly the big splash Team Rigondeaux was hoping for when they brought him to Times Square. As the old boxing truism holds that it takes two to make a fight.
"I'd like to see him in there with somebody who's actually trying to win the fight," said trainer Freddie Roach. "This guy went into a shell early on, and when a guy is in there determined to survive, he can usually do it."
If Addy had any designs on an upset, they were quickly disabused in the first round when the Cuban southpaw drove him to the ropes and dropped him with a perfectly executed one-two -- a hard righthanded jab, followed by an even harder straight left up the middle.
Addy, who spent the rest of the night in earnest retreat, landed only one punch of significance in eight rounds. That came in the second when a posing Rigondeaux stood before him like a statue and waved his right glove in front of the opponent and then, without so much as shifting his feet, stuck out the left. It was as if somewhere in Addy's veteran mind a synapse reminded him "He's got to drop that thing sometime," and the instant he did, Addy lashed out with a right and belted Rigondeaux in the chops.
Although the audience grew increasingly restive as the fight wore on, Rigondeaux said he never felt pressure to put on a show in his Big Apple debut. "I just listened to what Freddie told me in my corner, and took it one round at a time," he said through an interpreter.
Roach said he was pleased to see Rigondeaux finally get some rounds in, but wished it had been against an opponent who was actually throwing punches back at him.
Has Rigondeaux fought anyone of that description yet?
"Yeah. In the gym," said Roach.
After Rigondeaux' third fight Roach had said that, given his wealth of amateur experience, the Cuban could probably already beat any of the extant 126-pound champions. Did he still think Rigondeaux was ready to fight for a title based on what he'd seen in New York?
"Well," said Roach, "maybe after one more fight."
New York heavyweight Tor Hamer is a college graduate (Penn State) and undefeated, and if he keeps fighting guys like Nasr Ali he is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. In fairness, Hamer (10-0) wound up facing Ali (6-5) only because his originally scheduled opponent, Domonic Jenkins, was discovered to have a fractured orbit bone at his pre-fight physical.
The fight was barely more than a minute old when Hamer maneuvered Ali into a corner, dug a left to the body, and came over the top with a right hand that sent the Brooklyn opponent straight down. Ali was so reluctant to resume the fray that he turned his back on Randy Neumann once the referee had completed his mandatory eight-count. At that point Neumann asked him point-blank "Do you want to fight?" When Ali shook his head 'No,' Neumann had no recourse but to stop the bout at 1:38 of the first.
Sunset Park (N.Y) welter Gabriel Bracero won his eighth without a loss with a unanimous decision over game Oklahoman Carl McNickels (6-3).
Bracero bled from a nasty gash above his left eye from the third round on, and tried to pick the pace up after springing the leak. Midway through the round he caught McNickels with a solid left that sent him flying into the ropes. Referee David Fields might have ruled that a knockdown, but didn't, but when Bracero chased McNickels into a neutral corner and pushed him to the floor, the referee, in what was plainly a make-up call, administered a count.
It was the only knockdown of the fight, and by the final round Bracero was in full retreat, with McNickels bombing him with right hands when he could get close enough. Julie Lederman scored it a shutout at 60-53, while Carlos Ortiz had it 59-54 and John Signorile 58-55.
Puerto Rican junior lightweight Luis del Valle (8-0) was awarded a TKO when his Mexican opponent Noe Lopez retired at the end of the second with an injured left hand. Lopez is now 4-5.
Fighting for just the second time as a pro, Bronx welterweight Christian Martinez wasted little time in disposing of his Toledo (Ohio) opponent Gabriel Morrris (1-5-1). Martinez initially floored Morris with right to the body, and put him down again in a neutral corner with a left. Action had barely resumed when Martinez landed a left that, had the ropes not gotten in the way would have put Morris on a part of the stage normally reserved for the horn section. Referee David Fields stopped it after the de facto knockdown at 0:58 of the first. * * * B.B. King's Blues Club and Grille New York City Dec. 16 2009 FEATHERWEIGHTS: Guilllermo Rigondeaux, 125 1/2, Havana, Cuba dec. Lantey Addy 124, Accra, Ghana (8) HEAVYWEIGHTS: Tor Hamer, 222,, New York TKO'd Nasur Ali, 205, Brooklyn, NY (1) WELTERWEIGHTS: Gabriel Bracero, 142, Sunset Park, NY dec. Carl McNickels, 142, Gulfport, Miss. (6) Christian Martinez, 141, Bronx, NY TKO'd Gabriel Morris, 142 , Toledo, Ohio (1) JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: Luis Orlando Del Valle, 127, Bayamon, P.R. TKO'd Noe Lopez, 127 1/2, Nogales Sonore, Mex, (2)
Billy Miske, who hailed from Minnesota where he was known as the St. Paul Thunderbolt, had paid for those presents with the $2,400 purse from his last fight, a fourth round knockout of the highly respected Bill Brennan that occurred just seven weeks earlier in Omaha, Nebraska.
Later on that Christmas Day, after reveling in the joy of his family, which included three children, the 29-year-old Miske called his manager, Jack Reddy, and told him he was dying. Reddy rushed to the house, where he immediately whisked Miske off to a local hospital.
One week later, on New Year’s Day, 1924, Miske, died of Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment that he had been diagnosed with in 1918.
At the time of the diagnosis, Miske was told to immediately stop fighting and given five years to live. However, because he had amassed about $100,000 in debt from a failed car dealership, he fought 30 more times.
During the post-diagnosis phase of his career he more than held his own against the likes of such champions and contenders as Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, Battling Levinsky and Tommy Gibbons. Prior to the diagnosis, he had tangled with esteemed champions Jack Dillon and Kid Norfolk.
His final ring ledger was 72-15-14 (33 KOS), which included 63 newspaper decisions, meaning no official decision was registered at the time.
Although Miske was sick enough to have only been eating boiled fish in the months leading up to his final fight, he was determined to earn enough money to make what he expected to be his last Christmas a memorable one for him and those he loved.
“My grandfather had to know that was going to be his last Christmas,” said Dick Miske, who was employed as a corrections officer at the Ramsey County Work House for 30 years.
“All through my life, whenever we’d go to my grandmother’s house, we’d see the couch and the chair that were the last presents Grandpa bought for the family. The whole time I grew up, that baby grand sat in my grandmother’s house. It was all part of the family history.”
Prominent local journalist Jake Wegner, who is writing a book on Minnesota boxing history, has done a lot to keep Miske’s name alive as a Hall of Famer. He is also in the process of trying to retrieve the baby grand from the nursing home it had been bequeathed to.
At the time of his death, Billy Miske had squeezed an awful lot of living into his short time on Earth. An American of German descent, he was born in Minneapolis in 1894. His father Herman had been a St. Paul policeman for many years.
Miske began fighting as a middleweight, but is best remembered for his many bouts as a heavyweight. He fought the great Jack Dempsey three times. His third round knockout loss to his good friend Dempsey in September 1920 was the first heavyweight championship fight to ever be broadcast on the radio. It was also the only time Miske had ever been knocked out. There is a famous photo of Dempsey helping carry Miske to his corner after the brutal stoppage.
That Miske even continued fighting after his terminal diagnosis is testament to his fighting heart. Determined to support his family and pay back the debts that he had accumulated, he told his wife that his ailment was nothing more than “some kidney trouble.”
Nothing could have been further from the truth. The ailment was enough serious enough to make him ineligible to fight in World War I, but his grandson said he more than made up for it on the home front.
“He wasn’t able to go to war, but he did a lot of benefits for the Red Cross,” said Dick Miske. “We still have a framed statement and a Silver Cup from the Red Cross thanking him for his service.”
Miske even traveled to Hollywood where he boxed an exhibition with movie star Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to raise money for the war effort. A year later, when another of Miske’s sons was born, he was named Douglas. There has always been speculation by the family that he was named in honor of the celluloid hero.
By all accounts, Billy Jr., who was born in 1917, had a wonderful relationship with his father for the short time that they were together. After his father’s death, the youngster was shipped off to boarding school. He later embarked on his own professional boxing career, amassing a record of 16-10-1 (13 KOS) between 1937 and 1940.
His son, also named Bill, was a St. Paul patrolman for 35 years. He believes that a back injury suffered by his father while working for the telephone company hindered his boxing success. He said that his dad suffered from the pain of either botched or crude surgery for decades, until his death in 2000.
Although they grew up as members of a prominent fistic family, neither Dick nor Bill Miske had much interest in the sweet science. They were well aware that their grandfather had been a top-tier boxer during a particularly tough era, and that he had displayed an inordinate amount of courage and decency both in the ring and in his personal life.
But coming from rock-solid, Midwestern stock, those qualities are so common they don’t even stand out. It is only as one gets older, and realizes that in many quarters those qualities are an anomaly, that they are fully appreciated.
Of course they were aware that their own father, Billy Jr., had tried his hand in the ring with mixed success, but like so many children of achieving parents and grandparents it was not until later in life that the magnitude of their familial accomplishments became so clear to them.
Bill Miske sounds genuinely mournful when he talks about all of the years he visited his grandmother’s Lake Johanna house and took the story of the baby grand, as well as the couch and the chair, for granted.
During the last decade or so, however, he has become interested enough to really delve into his family history. He and so many other family members are now incredibly mindful and prideful of the travels and travails of their fighting family and the glorious fistic legacy that they left behind.
He, along with other family members, couldn’t be more thrilled about Billy Miske being a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame class of 2010 inductees. He was voted in, along with Young Corbett II and Rocky Kansas, in the Old-Timer category.
“If I had more of an interest earlier, I would’ve gotten more information from my grandmother,” said Bill Miske. “I really regret that it took so long, but in the past few years I’ve become really interested in learning everything I can. Now I can’t learn enough.”
In deference to their grandfather and great-grandfather, Bill and Dick, along with Bill’s son, Joe, have all had boxing gloves with a thunderbolt through them tattooed on their bodies by famed local artist Don Nolan. Written are the words ‘St. Paul Thunderbolt.”
“It’s hard to put my finger on why we had it done,” said Bill Miske. “The older you get, the more you think about and appreciate the past. It was something that we just had to do.”
The Hall of Fame induction weekend is scheduled for June 10-13, 2010. For more information, log onto: wwwIBHOF.com.
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (December 16, 2009) – T-minus three days and counting until World Middleweight Champion KELLY “The Ghost” PAVLIK (35-1, 31 KOs), of Youngstown, Ohio, defends his title against the World Boxing Council’s No. 3-rated contender MIGUEL ESPINO (20-2-1, 9 KOs), of North Hollywood, Calif., at Youngstown State University's Beeghly Center. Promoted by Top Rank, the Pavlik-Espino world title tilt will headline a two-country world championship doubleheader produced and distributed Live on Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT This Saturday! December 19. The suggested retail price is $39.95.
Combined, these two sluggers boast an incredible record of 55-3-1 (40 KOs), a winning percentage of 92% and a victory by knockout ratio of 72%!
Today, both fighters and their trainers spoke to the media at the final news conference at the Beeghly Center. Here’s what they had to say:
It's been a long year for me, very frustrating because of a series of setbacks. First it was a hand injury, then it was an infection, then it was a bad reaction to the antibiotic. And then rehab therapy for the original injury. But now I'm back. I feel great. I have a huge hunger to get back into the ring. On Saturday night it will be 'bombs away!' Two fighters who only go forward. My strategy is simple. I will be leading with double and triple jabs to keep him on his toes. Once I land a big shot, it's going to be a whole new ball game. Winning is not enough. I need to be dominant and I need to be impressive. I know what the mission is and I have every intention of completing it.
We are taking nothing for granted with Miguel Espino and John Bray. We've been in their position. It wasn't that long ago when were presented our own title shot, against Jermain Taylor. Espino has been fighting since he was 12. He may be easy going outside the ring , but inside he's a tough veteran who hasn't lost in four years and is riding an 11-bout winning streak, the last four by knockout. We're prepared for war.
Kelly is tall, lanky and hits hard. The key for me is to stay focused throughout the fight, stay calm and stick to the game plan. It's a good one designed to exploit Kelly's flaws. I have every intention of making the most of this opportunity. I'm excited and I'm ready. This is what every good fighter dreams of, the chance to fight for the world championship. I'm ready to take it to him.
The to Miguel winning is to pressure Kelly back him up. I have watched every professional fight of Kelly's and know him as well as Miguel. I know his strengths and his weaknesses and there enough of them for Miguel to exploit. Miguel is a very good fighter with a huge heart. He's going to lay it all out on Saturday night.
RemainingTickets to Pavlik vs. Espino, priced at $208, $158, $108 and $58, including $8 processing fee, can be purchased online at www.Tickets.com. They can also be purchased at the Youngstown State University Athletic Ticket Office. For ticket information call (330) 941-1978.
Produced and distributed Live on Pay-Per-View by Top Rank, the four-bout broadcast will begin at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. It will open from the Arena Itson in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico with WBC super featherweight champion HUMBERTO SOTO (49-7-2, 32 KOs), of Los Mochis, Mexico taking on two-time world champion JESUS CHAVEZ (44-6, 30 KOs), of Austin, Tex., in a 10-round lightweight bout, followed by a rumble between WBA interim bantamweight champion NEOMAR CERMEÑO (18-0, 10 KOs), of Anzoategui, Venezuela, defending his title against ALEJANDRO VALDEZ (22-3-2, 16 KOs), of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. The pay-per-view action will shift to Youngstown where undefeated Top-10 super welterweight contender VANES MARTIROSYAN (25-0, 16 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., and trained by three-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach, will challenge NABF super welterweight champion WILLIE LEE (17-5, 10 KOs), of New Orleans, in a 12-round bout, followed by the main event, Pavlik vs. Espino.
Ever since showing up at the now famous Wild Card Boxing gym, the impish Pacquiao with his shock of black hair, bulging calves and coterie of friends has carved his way to greatness with a march that would make General Tecumseh Sherman proud.
“I love the way Manny fights,” said James “Lights Out” Toney who knows a thing or two about boxing. “He comes to fight.”
After winning his second world title against Lehlo Ledwaba under Freddie Roach’s supervision he immediately set upon the warrior grounds of Mexico and challenged each and every Aztec fighter beginning with Marco Antonio Barrera. Many people laughed at the Filipino’s verbal quest to beat all of the good Mexican fighters. I remember thinking it couldn’t be done.
Barrera never knew what hit him but Mexico and its multitude of boxing fans north of the border soon witnessed Pacquiao eventually plunder through Erik “El Terrible” Morales, Hector Velasquez, Juan Manuel Marquez and others. It was amazing.
This year the Pacquiao express continued to blaze with even more astonishment as he frightfully knocked out England’s Ricky Hatton and bludgeoned Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.
Years from now boxing fans are going to remember this fighter as truly one of a kind. They’ll argue with younger generations how Pacquiao was absolutely one of the most exciting and riveting prizefighters of any generation.
Are there any other fighters to compete for TSS Fighter of the Year?
Well there are the Klitschko brothers Wladimir and Vitali. Palm Springs Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley had an impressive year too as proved with his lopsided win last week over Lamont Peterson. Paul “The Punisher” Williams dominated Winky Wright and beat by a thin margin Sergio Martinez. England’s Carl Froch showed a lot of grit in two big fights. Oakland’s Andre Ward showed he had substance with a big win over Mikkel Kessler. Sugar Shane Mosley shocked the boxing world with his one and only fight against Antonio Margarito. Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero was impressive in his move up to a higher weight division and still winning. Celestino Caballero continues to scare the heck out of other junior featherweights. Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa fleeced the bantamweights of most competition. Nonito Donaire continues to excel with his blend of speed and knockout power. And little Ivan Calderon is still undefeated after all of these years.
Let’s not forget Canada’s Lucian Bute, Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez and Armenia’s Arthur Abraham who all made their mark in 2009.
What about the best fighter of the decade?
Contemplating who made the biggest impact from 2000 to 2009 there is Floyd Mayweather Jr. who participated in the most watched fight ever when he faced Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya in the mega fight of mega fights. He also beat Hatton before retiring. He’s returned to the ring and now will probably face Pacman in a fight that should exceed the De La Hoya blockbuster.
Others having a great decade are Puerto Rico’s Calderon, Pomona’s Mosley, Panama’s Caballero and throw in Williams, the Klitschkos and Bernard Hopkins.
TSS Fighter of the Year definitely goes to Pacquiao and Fighter of the Decade is undoubtedly his too.
Move over Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali.
Fight of the Year
Several fights took place this year that riveted boxing fans and continue to be watched.
The first epic clash took place when Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz traded blows in Houston. It was Diaz’s punch output versus Marquez’s master counter punching. It ended with that picture perfect uppercut by Marquez that sent Diaz reeling and ultimately unconscious.
Next came Juan Manuel Lopez’s back and forth struggle against Rogers Mtagwa that saw the Puerto Rican finally meet someone who could stand and trade. The 12-round struggle left fans at Madison Square Garden and those watching on television breathless.
A little publicized fight between Ghana’s Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko and Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez took place next in a small arena at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas. Not since Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez fought had there been a mixture of boxing science and technical brawling seen on that Halloween night. From round one to round 12 the two used every trick in the book to try and gain an advantage. It was a blur of savagery seen on television but only a few thousand fans witnessed in person.
Last came Paul “The Punisher” Williams and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez in a fight that matched two of the most avoided fighters in the world. That night both could not avoid each others punches in one of the best middleweight fights in years. It’s a must see again and again type of fight.
This was very difficult to pick. All were pretty equal in my eyes but I think I have to go with the Williams-Martinez blood fest just because it was so darn equal in the end.
Fight of the Decade
Best fight of the decade has to go to the late Diego Corrales against Jose Luis Castillo in May 7, 2005. In their first meeting it was Corrales surviving what looked to be a sure lost after several knockdowns then he came roaring back with that indomitable spirit that he exhibited over and over. The come-from-behind 10th round knockout of Castillo (who would beat him in the rematch) proved to be the absolute best of what prizefighting is all about: never say die until the last blow is thrown. It’s hard to imagine boxing without Chico Corrales who died exactly two years to the day after his greatest triumph on May 7, 2007.
Knockout of the Year
Pacman’s one punch demolition of Hatton in round two that left the rugged Brit unavailable for comment, was both devastating and cathartic. It was the sweet science exemplified in a single blow.
Knockout of the decade
Anyone remember Antonio Tarver’s second round knockout of Roy Jones Jr. back in 2003? That was the punch that shook the boxing world. Jones had just reached the top of the boxing world with a victory over John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title. At the time, some were praising him as the best fighter in the history of boxing until Tarver landed that overhand left to send the RJ world tumbling down. It was an end of the Jones era.
That’s it for now. Check with us later for more of the best.
While many might quarrel with the idea that Manny Pacquiao is a greater fighter than Muhammad Ali, as the voters in The Greatest Ever Boxer competition decided by putting the Filipino Flash ahead of Ali in the vote for all-time greatest boxer, no one could eclipse Robinson, who fought his last fight 44 years ago and has been dead for 20 years yet lives on not only in the minds of fight fans but in the deep respect held for his vast set of skills.
Robinson was the only fighter nominated in two weight classes – welterweight and middleweight – and won both divisions in balloting to name the greatest fighter of all-time in each of the eight original weight divisions. Ali was named the greatest heavyweight, which would have pained my father deeply because he went to his grave believing Joe Louis would have whipped Muhammad’s ass, an argument we engaged in many times from the time Ali first appeared on the heavyweight radar in the mid-1960s to well past his retirement.
That is part of what keeps the sport alive despite its best efforts at self-immolation. Every generation has its favorites and fiercely defends them. With Pacquiao at the peak of his world-wide fame after defeating Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in his last three fights in ever more spectacular fashion, his supporters hit the internet hard. Pacquiao got 56 per cent of the vote in the featherweight division, easily surpassing Willie Pep, who got 15 per cent and Salvador Sanchez, who received eight per cent, and ended up with more votes than Ali, which boggles the mind.
Having had an uncle who was a close friend of Pep’s, an older brother who believed he was second only to Robinson in boxing skill and having been exposed to many films of him in his prime the thought of a Pep-Pacquiao fight is intriguing because there could not be two more contrasting styles. Pep was the consummate boxer and Pacquiao the constantly stalking puncher. This would have been speed vs. power but the guy with the power also has enough speed to have made it interesting. Hard to say who would win but it would have done big business on pay-per-view.
The same is true if Sanchez got in with the winner because anyone who ever saw him fight would argue neither Pacquiao nor Pep would have been a lock against him.
For my money the heavyweight vote was disappointing but predictable with Mike Tyson finishing second to Ali, a testament to celebrity and ESPN highlights over cold, hard facts. Ali received 48 per cent of the vote in that division, Tyson 18 per cent and Rocky Marciano 11 per cent. The latter is also surprising because even though Marciano was the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated (49-0) many believe Louis, Jack Dempsey and Jack Johnson would have all been his master.
For my taste it is Ali, Louis and then take your pick, as long as the pick isn’t Tyson. Tyson is a guy who never got off the floor to win and was stopped by Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. Did I forget anybody?
He was not only not the second best heavyweight of all-time, he wasn’t even the second best heavyweight of his own time in my mind, behind at least Holyfield and Lewis. Just to refresh the memory he was 0-3 against them.
It was to me astounding to see Pacquiao finish ahead of Ali in the overall vote but just as my Dad would passionately make the case for Louis over Ali, surely Pacquiao’s fans will argue pound-for-pound his skills rival Ali’s. Below is a list of the top three finishers in each division with a word or two on each voting.
World's Greatest Ever Heavyweight
1. Muhammad Ali 48% 2. Mike Tyson 16% 3. Rocky Marciano 11%. Enough said on this category but I would have gone with Ali, Louis and Dempsey.
World's Greatest Ever Light heavyweight
1. Roy Jones Jr won with 37% of the vote over No. 2 Archie Moore, the oldest man ever to win the title, at 17% and No. 3 Joe Calzaghe at 14%. Calzaghe retired undefeated and is a tweener in that the bulk of his work was done at super middleweight so to me, Moore was clearly No. 1, knockout artist Bob Foster No. 2 and Gene Tunney, who retired with a 65-1-1 record, 45 Kos and also the heavyweight title to his credit, third.
World's Greatest Ever Middleweight
1. Sugar Ray Robinson 47% 2. Marvin Hagler 24% 3. Bernard Hopkins 12%.
I have to admit some bias here because of a long association with Hagler but to me again the vote should have been clear: Robinson, Hagler and Harry Greb. Hopkins once said to me when I asked who he wished he could have fought out of all the all-time greats and he said “Hagler.’’ I asked who he thought would have won. Out of respect he replied, “I don’t know but it would have been a great fight. We would have both ended up in the emergency room.’’ When I later saw Hagler I related that conversation and his face turned stone cold before he said. “He’s right about one thing. We would have both been in the emergency room. I would have gone there to visit him.’’ That’s why I love Marvelous Marvin.
World's Greatest Ever Welterweight
1. Sugar Ray Robinson 39% 2. Sugar Ray Leonard 36% 3. Oscar de la Hoya 10%.
Hard to argue with the first two but come on with De La Hoya. I am a great admirer of him both as a boxer and as someone who has given much to the sport without once besmirching it. But third best welterweight of all-time? I think even De La Hoya would say “Huh?’’
To me the debate would be between Barney Ross, Mickey Walker and Thomas Hearns with Walker getting my vote.
World's Greatest Ever Lightweight
1. Roberto Duran 33% 2. Henry Armstrong 22% 3. Floyd Mayweather 14%.
I would have reversed the first two but can’t quarrel with them as clearly the best. My number three would be Benny Leonard, who fought in the 1920s, and is widely seen by knowledgeable students of the fight game as one of the greatest boxers of all-time. Having said that, Mayweather would have done well in any era. Would have loved to see a Duran-Mayweather match because of the contrasting styles.
World's Greatest Ever Featherweight
1. Manny Pacquaio 56% 2. Willie Pep 15% 3. Salvador Sanchez 8%
If you reversed Pep and Pacquiao I would be well satisfied and couldn’t really argue all that loudly for anyone other than those three at the top of the list.
I agree with the first two choices in that order. Although I have great respect for Zarate I would have chosen Panama Al Brown, a guy from the vast long ago but a guy old fight guys used to talk about with great admiration and respect.
World's Greatest Ever Flyweight
1. Ricardo Lopez 27% 2. Jimmy Wilde 20% 3. Michael Carbajal 12%
This is a “wilde’’ group. I always thought Lopez was very underrated on pound for pound lists because of his size, or lack of it. When you retire undefeated that tells me you were a baaaad boy, especially if you fought as often as he did. My choices would have been Wilde, who many historians rank among the greatest fighters of all-time, first; Lopez second and Miguel Canto third. I am mystified by Carbajal finishing above Canto and some of the other nominees, most especially Khaosai Galaxy, who was 49-1 with 47 knockouts. Galaxy defended the WBA title 19 times, winning 16 by knockout. Carbajal would have been his 17th had they ever met.
I feel nearly as strongly about Pascual Perez over Carbajal. Yet having said that there is no denying Michael Carbajal’s popularity and his historical position as the first guy of his size to earn a $1 million payday and bring recognition to the smallest men in boxing.
There are my final choices. I’m sure you have your own. Let the arguments begin.