Bradley and Peterson both entered undefeated but it was the Palm Springs boxer-puncher who exited still unbeaten in front of 2,200 fans at Agua Caliente Casino who screamed and cheered for their desert hero.
“He came out and made me fight like no one ever has. He’s a tough, tough fighter,” said Bradley (25-0, 11 KOs).
After a tenuous opening two big right hands by Bradley stunned Peterson in the first round and let him know that power came behind those rights.
“My game plan was to win the first round but in the middle of the first round I got hit real hard in the middle with a couple of right hands. I was in trouble and fell behind. I got reckless,” said Peterson (27-1, 13 KOs). “I couldn’t make it up.”
Bradley agreed with that assessment.
“He had the right game plan but he got a little careless and he was rushing in there instead of following his jab,” Bradley said. “When he came in is when I nailed him.”
The Palm Springs fighter kept landing right hands and finally an overhand right dropped Peterson to his knees in the third round. That knockdown seemed to inspire Peterson who finally slipped into a more aggressive gear.
In the fifth and sixth rounds Bradley suddenly slowed down the pace and boxed and moved against the taller Peterson who attempted to load up against the swift moving desert fighter.
Peterson shortened up his punches in the seventh round as Bradley slowed down and the D.C. fighter seemingly won his first round outright.
“I felt a little gassed in the seventh round but I was able to keep on boxing and do what I had to do,” Bradley said. “My conditioning was superior.”
Bradley entered the eighth round more aggressive and returned to his heavy-handed right hand. A quick right cross stunned Peterson who quickly moved out of range.
Knowing he was ahead Bradley changed from his aggressive stance to a more controlled boxer. He kept Peterson at bay with his speed and never allowed Peterson to do what he does best: counterpunching.
After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Bradley 120-107, 119-108, 118-110.
“He’s a great champion. I gave it all I had,” said a gracious Peterson.
Bradley also gave kudos to his pal.
“Watch Lamont Peterson he’ll be a world champion some day,” said Bradley.
WBC and WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Vic Darchinyan (33-2-1, 27 KOs) needed only two rounds to prove that he’s too strong for most 115-pounders in knocking out Mexico’s Tomas Rojas (32-12-1) with a sidewinder left hand.
Darhinyan had last fought as a 118-pound bantamweight and had problems with the heavier guys so he returned to the junior bantamweights. No problems fighting at 115 pounds. After a competitive first round the Armenian fighter powered on with left after left to blast Rojas through the ropes forcing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop the fight at 2:54 of the second round.
“I got careless and never saw the shot coming,” said Rojas who lives and fights out of Vera Cruz.
Darchinyan was confident about a knockout win.
“I don’t feel any stronger at 115 than at 118, the switch in weights don’t mean anything to me. It’s all about mental preparation. I took my time and I let the KO come to me,” said Darchinyan who lives in Australia. “He was hitting me with punches but I was hitting him back more and with more power. It was only a matter of time before he felt my power.”
The Armenian mini powerhouse wants a rematch with the first man to beat him, IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire.
“Every night when I go to sleep or I’m preparing of a fight I’m dreaming of a rematch with Nonito Donaire,” Darchinyan said. “All it's all up to my promoter Gary Shaw.”
Shaw said that he’s been trying to make the fight happen and is currently negotiating with Donaire’s promoter Top Rank.
Australia’s Lenny Zappavigna (22-0. 15 KOs) powered through Pacoima’s Sergio Macias (14-18, 6 KOs) with blistering shots but just could not drop the sturdy veteran. After six rounds all three judges gave Zappavigna every round 60-54.
Mexico City’s Freddy Hernandez (27-1, 18 KOs) out-worked Octavio Narvaez (7-9-1, 4 KOs) despite his head butting style to win by unanimous decision after eight rounds in a welterweight bout. The scores were 78-74 twice and 80-72 for Hernandez.
The nephew of Mexico’s famed Salvador Sanchez (18-3-2, 8 KOs), who also bears the same name, won a majority decision over Las Vegas veteran Rodrigo Aranda (8-12-2) in six round featherweight contest. Sanchez' stamina and combination punching proved the difference. The scores were 57-57, 60-54, 59-55 for Sanchez.
Lateef Kayode (9-0, 8 KOs) clubbed his way to a second round technical knockout over Billy Willis (11-19-1) in a heavyweight match scheduled for six. Kayode is trained by Freddie Roach.
South Gate’s Daniel “Travieso” Hernandez (9-0, 5 KOs) clobbered Mexico’s Aaron Dominguez (10-5) for a knockout at 2:15 of the first round in a lightweight contest.
Klitschko (39-2, 37 KOs) retained the WBC heavyweight championship belt, but he had to work for it, a little bit anyway, as the unknown Johnson (22-1-1, just 9 KOs) proved elusive, and showed defensive smarts which kept him from getting dissected like previous Vitali challenger Cris Arreola 11 weeks ago.
The judges saw it 120-108, 120-108, and 119-109 for the Ukrainian born Klitschko, age 38. The 30-year-old Johnson, who talked some solid smack before the bout, surprising given the fact that his best win was hard to decipher when one appraised his resume, used a snappy jab to Vitali's chest to keep him at bay. He was loose from the get go, and didn't look like he was overwhelmed by his graduation to the big leagues. Johnson's head movement, maybe his strongest asset, kept Vitali from locking in on him.
If one is inclined to look on the darker side, one could easily find fault with Johnson for spending too much time in sparring partner mode: for too many minutes, he looked like he was there to help Vitali shed rust, and rarely set down with his shots, and looked to land a consequential toss. He saved the bulk of his fury for the end of the fight, when he stared down Vitali, bumped him, and shoved off little brother Wladimir, who went over to calm him.
Kevin Johnson is no more ready to fight Vitali Klitschko for the WBC portion of the heavyweight championship than Kevin Costner is. Despite that, the 30-year-old American has been labeled by some as the best heavyweight prospect in the country. If this is so, it doesn’t say much for the country.
The undefeated Johnson (22-0-1, 9 KO) may be a nice fellow and is certainly a dutiful one. After not beginning to box until he was 18, Johnson posted a 14-2 amateur record and then decided if he was going to spend his time getting hit he might as well get paid for it and turned professional.
That was six years ago and since that time Johnson has defeated everyone who stood in front of him but former Olympian Timor Ibragimov. The fact that that fight might have been his best tells the real story of what is about to happen to him.
Johnson had only three professional fights when he stepped in with the then undefeated (13-0) Ibragimov and boxed him to a standstill, ending up with a draw. It was a notable performance for such an inexperienced fighter. Unfortunately, it was also the most notable performance of his brief career.
Since that fight Johnson has won consistently but beaten no one of note. He has done what he’s been asked but he has not been asked to do enough. At least not enough to adequately prepare him to challenge Klitschko.
In a way, Johnson is a poster boy for our times in boxing. He is a guy getting a title shot because somebody had to. After six years his biggest win was probably stopping one-time accidental heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon, the guy Mike Tyson mistakenly called “Bruce Seldom’’ before he knocked him out without landing a solid blow, Seldon collapsing to the floor at the suggestion he’d been hit by Tyson.
At the time he faced Johnson, Seldon was a year and a half into a comeback after serving nearly two years in jail. He was 41 years old and 13 years removed from his brief, one-fight grasp on the heavyweight title. He was seldom thought of any more.
Seven month ago, Johnson continued his progress, stopping undefeated former American Olympian Devin Vargas (17-0) in six rounds, Vargas’ corner throwing in the title as Johnson peppered him with jabs. It was a good win. It was not, however, the kind that should result in a fight for the heavyweight title.
Johnson is ill-prepared to face Klitschko, who is 38-2 with 37 Kos and has been in with the likes of Hall of Fame heavyweight Lennox Lewis, because he has no idea how to fight an opponent of the size and power of Klitschko. Worse, Johnson has shown an alarming decline in conditioning in the past year or two. In 2007 he fought at 229 pounds. In his last outing he was 246, a difference of 17 pounds of suet. That is not a fighter going in the right direction.
Yet he will be at the PostFinance Arena in Bern, Switzerland Saturday night in a fight that will be telecast on delay by HBO after the Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi rematch in Chicago. The delay will surely last longer than the Klitschko fight because despite Johnson’s dominant jab and superior speed, it is unlikely the light-hitting Johnson can hold off Klitschko for long. A two-inch reach advantage and a willingness to throw his jab will not be enough.
This is Klitschko’s third title defense and comes 2 ½ months after he destroyed America’s previous leading heavyweight contender, portly Cristobal Arreola. He did it with ease, stopping him after lumping up his face during 10 one-sided rounds. Compared to Johnson, Arreola comes off as Joe Louis, which he is not.
How things have come to this in America is difficult to explain. There is the issue of our heavyweights having gone off to play tight end, linebacker or power forward. There is the issue that so many of them now are forced into a fast-track toward a title shot they cannot possibly be prepared for because they have not had enough fights.
Worse, they are pushed into a position where they are ranked before they deserve to be, move up those rankings simply for winning with little regard for whom they’ve faced and suddenly they look up and find themselves being offered what appears to be an opportunity when it really is not.
The dream is not to fight for the heavyweight title. The dream is to win the heavyweight title. Surely Kevin Johnson has that dream and Saturday night he will carry it into the ring to face Vitali Klitschko. He will not carry a belt out with him because he is utterly unprepared to even be competitive.
It is not Kevin Johnson’s fault that he can’t punch. It isn’t even his fault he’s not ready for this. It is his handlers’ fault he has been rushed into this well before he is ready. Had he faced Arreola or Eddie Chambers along the way, as well as some of the former champions still kicking around, Johnson would at least have fought the best competition. He would have been as prepared as possible for a showdown with Vitali Klitschko.
He has done none of that and so he comes to Bern with a stiff jab, no power to keep Klitschko off him, poor conditioning and no idea what is about to happen to him. Although he will not be able to overcome any of the former he will very quickly understand he is in a place he doesn’t belong, fighting for a title he has dreamed about for years but has no chance of winning.
We cannot know. Not even Ortiz can know. Not until he feels the walls crashing in around him again. Feels the hot breath of an opponent whose only goal is to separate him from his senses at any cost. Feels the panic of being unable to respond to the challenge in front of him.
Only then will we, and more importantly he, know whether he is still the brightest prospect in the stable of Golden Boy Promotions or just another kid for whom boxing was not the way out it once appeared to be.
Last June, Ortiz entered the ring as a 22-year-old prodigy, a boxer with a bright smile, a nightmare life story that boxing was turning into a fairy tale and an opponent in front of him he felt sure to remove without too much trouble.
Even after Marcos Maidana (25-1) dropped him in the first round Ortiz was more chagrined than bothered. Soon he had Maidana on the deck. Then he had him down twice more and the fight was only in its second round. Clearly it would not be much longer before Ortiz’s hand was raised for the 25th time and he held his first world title belt in his arms.
And then Maidana said “No!’’ He said, “Let’s fight some more and see, hijo. Let’s see what you are made of.’’
Soon Ortiz' right eye was cut. Then his left eye began to swell grotesquely. Then Ortiz went down a second time in the sixth round and Maidana moved in. It was clear to both men at this point how this would end. The only question left was how the end would come.
And then Ortiz decided. It would end without any more violence. It would end as he turned his back to referee Raul Caiz, Sr., pointing to his fast-closing left eye. He had surrendered.
In an effort to save face for the beaten young prospect, Caiz called in the ringside physician and made a display of stopping the fight but Ortiz had beaten him to it and the boxing world knew it. What made it worse was what Ortiz said after the fight.
“I’m not going out on my back,’’ Ortiz told a dumbfounded HBO audience. “I’m young but I don’t think I deserve to be beat up like this. I have a lot of thinking to do.’’
It was the rawest of emotions – fear, defeat, resignation. It was a young man honestly grasping the harshness of the life he had chosen and realizing he was not sure if it was for him.
Ortiz’s childhood, such as it was, had been a nightmare of a mother who never loved him and walked out on him and a father who took that out on his kids until he, too, was gone. It was a life of homelessness, shame and a fight for survival, a survival that came, really, only because Ortiz was quick with his fists, quick with a smile and gifted in a savage way.
He became a highly touted amateur boxer and the almost instant darling of first promoter Bob Arum and later Oscar De La Hoya and HBO. Life quickly went from difficult to a dream of glory. He was not yet a king but already a prince the night he got in with Maidana and learned there is more to boxing than having your hand raised.
Ortiz was 24-1-1 with 19 KOs the night everything changed. Saturday he will try to reverse the damage against Antonio Diaz, a wily veteran of the fistic trade who has been a title contender and an earnest professional for many years.
Earlier this week Ortiz said at a press conference in Chicago, where he will face Diaz on the undercard of the Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi rematch, that, “What’s done in my past is done. I’m ready to move on.’’
So is boxing but not until Ortiz can erase the memory not of defeat, for defeat comes to nearly everyone who chooses boxing for a living, but rather the memory of the choice he made. The only choice not given to boxers.
Victor Ortiz made the choice to quit in the ring, turning his back to his opponent with one eye cut and the other swollen half shut. It was not an unreasonable choice. In most circumstances it would have been seen as the wise one.
But boxing is not most circumstances. Boxing is desperate circumstances. It is a place where you cannot “tapout’’ as they do without shame in the world of mixed martial arts. In boxing you fight to the end or you are not a fighter. Harsh rules but boxing is a hard place with sharp edges.
Saturday night we will learn a little more about “Vicious’’ Victor Ortiz. We will learn if that night was an aberration, a moment of weakness after a lifetime of steady resolve or if it wa something deeper and more troubling for a fighter.
Ortiz has already overcome many obstacles and if he never fought again, if he simply stuck to his guns and decided he’d already been beaten up enough for two lifetimes between his family and the sport he chose, no one would blame him.
But he has made another choice. Whether willingly or not he has come back to boxing to face his most humiliating moment. How he handles it and the pressure Diaz is sure to try and put on him will say much about who he is.
At this juncture, before the first bell has tolled for him, we cannot say we honestly know. Was last June just a bad night, just a moment of weakness amidst a life of courage? Or was it a peek into the soul of a frightened kid who realized as Maidana beat on him with a heartless resolve that he’d had enough of that kind of abuse?
We won’t know until he and Diaz square off and maybe not even then. Not until he finds himself once again feeling trapped and put upon. Only then will we truly learn who Victor Ortiz really is. That is why we will watch and why he will fight again - because we want to know the answer and so does he.
He’s not a fighter as much as he’s an icon, a good guy getting along in a tough-guy profession. So when Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik tells you his left hand is back to where it belongs - back to knocking guys on their backsides - you have to believe him. Choirboys don’t lie.
Pavlik says the staph infection that sidelined him these past several months required two surgeries, lots of antibiotics, time and stitches to heal. And when he finally went back to the gym to start training for his Dec. 19 fight with Miguel Espino, he started out sparring with 18-ounce gloves, which is like sparring with pillows.
“The hand is at about 100 percent right now,” Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs) said on a conference call promoting his WBC middleweight championship title defense against Espino at Youngstown State University (pay-per-view) near Pavlik‘s home. “I’ve been sparring eight and ten rounds with the gloves we always use and my hand doesn’t hurt.“
But his feelings do.
Maybe now the worst thing about the bad hand is the questions it raised about Pavlik‘s willingness to face the best out there. He was supposed to fight Paul Williams twice this year, but had to pull out both times because of the hand. Instead, Williams won a close, tough fight against Sergio Martinez on Dec. 5, one of the days originally scheduled for a Pavlik-Williams fight.
Two weeks later, Pavlik is set to defend his title against Espino. And a lot of fight fans are left wondering why he could fight Espino but not Williams.
“I can understand (why people pointed fingers), but the reason it doesn’t bother me is that those people know absolutely nothing about boxing,” Pavlik said. “They don’t know what goes on in the sport. The thing is, we had to take the fight (with Espino). We were told (by the WBC and the WBO) we had to defend the title. We had to. We had to make that fight happen.”
Along with making it happen, he says he has to make sure he shows some of his old stuff against Espino.
“Especially after the layoff, I think we have to look dominant,“ Pavlik said. “I think it’s very important to win big. If there are critics now, you know there is going to be a lot more (if he doesn’t dominate).“
If there is anything positive about a layoff, maybe it’s a whetting of the appetite. Pavlik said the long layoff has left him hungry to get back in the ring.
“I miss it,“ he said.
The thing about Pavlik is that he became middleweight champion of the world the old-fashioned way: he earned it. He beat a lot of good fighters on the way up to where Jermain Taylor ruled the division. And when he got his chance, he stopped Taylor for the title in seven rounds in 2007. And then he beat Taylor again in a rematch. His only loss was a lesson as much as it was a beating, Bernard Hopkins doing the instructing.
They should hand out degrees to anyone who survives a fight with Hopkins. They learn more in 12 rounds with “The Executioner” than they’ll learn in 12 years with most trainers.
While Pavlik is confident going in against Espino (20-2-1, 9 KOs) , the challenger isn’t exactly rolling over and playing dead. The WBC‘s No. 3 contender and a former fighter on NBC‘s “The Contender,” he’s won his last 11 fights and his last four by knockout.
“Do I have a shot to win?” said Espino, who lives in North Hollywood, CA. “Absolutely. Do I believe I can win? Absolutely. I‘m going out there and give the best performance of my life.”
In enemy territory.
He knows it’s a big home-field advantage for Pavlik.
“I know they’re going to be cheering for Kelly Pavlik, but there will be a handful of Mexicans there cheering for me,“ he said. “This is a great honor and I’m humbled by it.“
Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, said they’re expecting nothing but “the best,“ from Espino.
“A win like this could change his life,“ Loew said. “It changed ours when Kelly beat Jermain.”
The fight will be one of four fights televised from both the United State and Mexico. The telecast will open from Sonora, Mexico, where super-featherweight champ Humberto Soto takes on Jesus Chavez in a lightweight fight.
He might not have been Lou DiBella's first world champion -- Bernard Hopkins was - but he was the first he'd developed from square one. DiBella had signed Taylor straight out of the Olympics and promoted his entire career, watched a kid who'd never had a pro fight become a man who won the undisputed middleweight championship of the world, and if their personal relationship wasn't exactly father-son, it was at the very least uncle-nephew, and when Lou said he '"loved" Jermain, you believed him.
This is a sport in which the term "bloodsucking promoter" often seems redundant, but when DiBella severed his relationship with Taylor on a cold Friday afternoon in Chicago yesterday, it was a move borne of conscience alone. Rather than be a party to what he considered the "unnecessary risk" of Taylor's continuing to box, DiBella walked away and left more than half a million dollars on the table.
Ask yourself this: How many other promoters would have done the same?
It has been clear since the night of October 17 that DiBella would never promote another Taylor fight. After sitting up all night watching his fighter wander in and out of consciousness in a Berlin hospital, the promoter extracted a promise from Taylor that he would hang up his gloves. No announcement was made at that time because DiBella wanted to give the guy who had once been the middleweight champ the opportunity to retire gracefully, on his own terms, and with any explanation he wanted to offer.
The two have not met face to face since they parted in Germany. DiBella flew back to the states. Jermain Taylor stayed behind. It was announced that he wanted to spend a week touring Europe with his wife. The truth of the matter is that the German doctors who treated Taylor for the concussion administered by Arthur Abraham warned that it would be dangerous for him to get on an airplane.
Make of that what you will. Once Taylor got to the hospital that night, the staff neurologists -- as opposed to the boxing buffs with kit bags who pass for "ringside phsyicians" in that country -- were sufficiently concerned that they put him on a round-the-clock watch. It is our understanding that Taylor underwent multiple MRIs. We know he passed the last one, else he would not have been released. But what about the others?
By the time they parted company in Berlin, DiBella's mind was already made up that this was it. If Taylor ever boxed again, it would not be under the aegis of his company. This understanding was as clear to Taylor that morning as it was to DiBella.
In the nearly two months since, there had been increasing rumblings emanating from Little Rock that Taylor was wavering on his pledge. The rumors were a matter of sufficient concern that in Atlantic City last Saturday night, DiBella found himself huddled together with Taylor advisor Al Haymon as they tried to figure out a means of heading off the comeback plans without embarrassing Taylor.
The matter was already producing a schism within the camp. Manager Ozell Nelson, who had returned to the corner as trainer after the tenures of Patrick Burns and Emanuel Steward, was working with Taylor in Arkansas, and of course the Little Rock homeys who comprise Jermain's inner circle down there were foursquare behind their man -- for pretty much the same reasons that Muhammad Ali's entire entourage, with the exception of Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, who had walked away, not only abetted but encouraged Ali's participation in that ill-fated 1980 fight against Larry Holmes.
On the way from O'Hare to downtown Chicago yesterday, the wife of one of Taylor's closest friends confirmed to me that Jermain had decided to keep boxing and would reaffirm his place in the ongoing "Super Six" super-middleweght tournament, and hours later, Taylor repeated that intention to another website.
So by five o'clock Friday in Chicago, DiBella was making an announcement of his own -- that he was out, recusing himself as Taylor's promoter. When he had signed him out of the 2000 Olympics, DiBella had promised the fighter that he would leave the game with his faculties intact, and he had promised the same thing to Jermain's mother two months ago in Berlin. Now that that prospect had assumed proportions of an unacceptable risk, DIBella felt that he could not in good conscience function as an enabler.
It should probably be noted that even today, Taylor would probably be DiBella Entertainment's most marketable client, and that by walking away right now, Lou DiBella is out between $500,000 and $600,000 he stood to collect just for passing 'Go.'
Obviously, DiBella could use the money, but after what he has seen he seems to feel that he can't comfortably condone the notion of Jermain Taylor continuing to box.
All of us, of course, have seen Taylor lose four of his last five fights and get knocked out in three of them. But what we haven't seen is Taylor's alarming behavior in the locker room once he regained consciousness -- behavior so erratic and so indicative of possible frontal lobe damage that an ambulance was summoned.
And what we haven't seen, either, are the results of the several MRIs administered in the hospital that night. While that information is shrouded in medical confidentiality issues, Taylor's post-concussive state should be a matter of extreme concern for whatever jurisdiction considers licensing him again.
As of last night, Al Haymon planned to fly to Arkansas in a last-ditch effort to discourage Taylor's comeback plans. If he is unsuccessful, it will be interesting to see whether he follows DiBella out the door.
The current Super Six schedule calls for Taylor to fight Andre Ward in April. No site has been named, but it is a reasonable assumption that a pairing of two Americans would take place in the United States. Whichever commission winds up with this one in its lap needs to take a long, hard look at the situation.
And so, for that matter, does Showtime. Before this tournament even began, we had expressed our reservations about the whole concept of a "knockout bonus" and suggested that it could lead to something like this. We'd even noted that if they were going to award one point or a knockout, why not two for putting the opponent in the hospital, and three if you managed to kill him.
That had been intended as sarcasm, but now we may get a chance to find out.
As the creators, sponsors, and bankrollers of of this enterprise, the people at Showtime are uniquely posited in this case. If Jermain Taylor can pass a brain scan in March, even the most circumspect boxing commission might legally have difficulty denying him a license, but Showtime can, and should, go one step further.
The network can't demand that the Germans hand over confidential medical information, for instance, but they can, and should, take Jermain Taylor aside and ask that he obtain the neurological reports from that night, and make the information available to them. They could, and should, make that a condition of his continued participation in the tournament.
And it they don't, they must share in the responsibility for the consequences.
* * *
TEXT OF DiBELLA ENTERTAINMENT's OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON JERMAIN TAYLOR:
I have just been informed though numerous press reports that Jermain Taylor has elected to continue his participation in The Super Six: World Boxing Classic tournament, and will face Andre Ward in April. It is with a heavy heart, but strong conviction, that I will recuse myself and DiBella Entertainment as Jermain’s promoter.
“Jermain’s career has been outstanding, and it has been a pleasure and honor to promote him. His victories against Bernard Hopkins remain the highlights of my career as a promoter. Jermain is not only a great fighter, but a good and decent man with a wonderful family. It is out of genuine concern for him and his family that I am compelled to make this decision.
“I informed him, as I do all my contracted fighters, that my goal was to help his secure financial stability for his family, maximize his potential, and leave our unforgiving sport with his health intact.
“It is my belief that the continuation of Jermain’s career as an active fighter places him at unnecessary risk. While he is undoubtedly capable of prevailing in future bouts, I cannot, in conscience, remain involved given my assessment of such risk.
“I wish Jermain all the best in his future endeavors. All of us at DiBella Entertainment hold Jermain close to our hearts and consider him and his family part of our family. We wish him Godspeed and continued health.
Shelly Finkel, Larry Hazzard, Wilfried Sauerland, Bruce Trampler and Ed Schuyler also enter Hall of Fame
CANASTOTA, NY - The International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum announced the newest class of inductees to enter the Hall. Living inductees include light flyweight champion Jung-Koo Chang (South Korea), featherweight champion Danny “Little Red” Lopez (USA), manager Shelly Finkel (USA), referee / commissioner Larry Hazzard (USA), promoter Wilfried Sauerland (Germany), matchmaker Bruce Trampler (USA) and journalist Ed Schuyler (USA).
“We’re extremely excited about the Class of 2010 and very much looking forward to honoring the 21st class of inductees,” said Executive Director Edward Brophy. “All living inductees are anticipated to attend and participate in 2010 Hall of Fame Weekend festivities.”
The 21st Annual Hall of Fame Weekend is scheduled for June 10-13th in Canastota, NY. Over 20 events, including a golf tournament, banquet, parade and autograph card show, are planned. An impressive celebrity lineup of boxing greats of yesterday and today will attend this year’s Induction Weekend. The highlight of the weekend will be the Official Enshrinement Ceremony on the Hall of Fame Museum Grounds in Canastota, New York on Sunday, June 13th to welcome the newest members.
The Hall of Fame also released names of posthumous honorees: light heavyweight Lloyd Marshall in the Modern Category; featherweight champion Young Corbett II, lightweight champion Rocky Kansas and light heavyweight and heavyweight contender Billy Miske in the Old-Timer Category; broadcaster Howard Cosell in the Observer Category; and Paddington Tom Jones in the Pioneer Category. Inductees were voted in by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.
For more information on the events planned for the 2010 International Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend, please call the Hall of Fame at (315) 697-7095.
“I’ve known Timothy for a long time,” said Peterson (27-0, 13 KOs) who fights out of Washington D.C., a hotbed for boxing. “We even roomed together in England when we were amateurs fighting in a tournament over there.”
Bradley and Peterson are very familiar with each other having participated as representatives in international competition as amateurs. Both have extensive experience as amateurs.
Now Peterson will try to punch his way toward winning Bradley’s WBO junior welterweight title on Saturday, Dec. 12, at Agua Caliente Casino. The Gary Shaw Production will be televised by Showtime.
Just recently Bradley has grabbed boxing fans with his ultra fast hand and foot speed in successfully defending his title against Nate Campbell, Edner Cherry, and Kendall Holt. People forget he beat England’s then much hyped Junior Witter.
Bradley knows Peterson very well.
“Lamont is young, hungry and trying to make a name for himself,” said Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs) while at his Indio training camp that was bustling with fighters. “He’s got real long arms he’s going to try to keep me at bay and make me fall short.”
Speed and stamina are probably Bradley’s strongest attributes. Against Campbell the flashing fists and footwork were on full display. He has other factors that he plans to utilize.
“I have more experience than he does and the ability to adjust,” says Bradley who is fighting in Palm Springs a second time. “He’s fighting in my hometown so he will have to bring it.”
This fight is not just a regular world title fight between to 140-pounders. It’s perhaps the most pivotal battle in a division that is overlooked due to the blue hot welterweight division. But a victory by either Bradley or Peterson could lead to several lucrative and interesting fights.
Can anyone say Amir Khan?
Khan just recently erased Dmitriy Salita like a human fly swatter. Since teaming with venerable Freddie Roach, the lightning quick Khan with his ability to attract fans can energize the division.
Americans barely saw Khan one time. That came against former featherweight great Marco Antonio Barrera, who is past his prime. Salita may not have been estimated to be a world beater, but he was undefeated for 10 years.
Bradley realizes he’s smack in the middle of something good, but doesn’t want to look ahead. He knows Peterson presents a multitude of problems with his height, defense and overall boxing skill.
One more thing says Bradley about Peterson: “He’s got good conditioning.”
Peterson likes Bradley but this is all about winning for the Washington D.C. based fighter.
“If Bradley were engaging another opponent I would support him. But since he is fighting against me, there is no such thing as a friendship,” says Peterson.
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg is not supposed to be in charge of justice or of boxing. His job is to buy fights, not make fights. He’s in charge of the largest cable budget dedicated to the oft-maligned and often ignored art of prize fighting and that’s about it.
His job is to televise fights, not right the wrongs of incompetent or corrupt judges, shady or inept referees and greedy or worse promoters even though he well understands that shady decisions like the scorecard last weekend that had Sergio Martinez losing 119-110 to Paul Williams in a fight that was tighter than Tiger Woods’ lips are at the moment do boxing no good, either in the short term or the long term.
Yet when he watched tape of the absurd scoring in Malignaggi’s loss on points to former three-time lightweight champion Juan Diaz in August and then began to read the raging storm of criticism he told The Sweet Science, “That 118-110 (scorecard of long inept Texas judge Gale Van Hoy) was on another planet. These kinds of things are terrible for the sport. They have to stop. But a TV network is in a difficult spot. In some ways we are the only ones who can put pressure on because we finance a lot of this stuff…but we can’t start regulating state commissions.’’
Greenburg was right on both fronts but he was most right when he made clear to Diaz’ promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, and Malignaggi’s promoter, Lou DiBella, that if they wanted to fight on HBO any time soon it would be against each other.
For DiBella and Malignaggi this was welcome news but for Diaz’s people not so much. Malignaggi is stylistically difficult for most everyone he faces and particularly for someone like Diaz, who comes straight forward time and again, earnestly throwing punches. He is not known as “The Baby Bull’’ for nothing.
Diaz’ handlers would just as soon have moved on to a rematch with, say, Juan Manuel Marquez, then face Malignaggi, a consummate defensive boxer who is under appreciated by today’s boxing fan, but Greenburg made clear what fight he wanted for HBO.
“I give Ross credit,’’ DiBella said of Saturday night’s Diaz-Malignaggi rematch in Chicago. “Ross was concerned with the perception from those scorecards in Texas. He met with me, Paulie and Paulie’s attorney and he promised he’d do all he could to make the rematch.
“Ross did exactly what he said he’d do. Had he not been supportive of a rematch it would not have happened. Juan would be fighting (Ricky) Hatton or Marquez. Ross is getting sick of this s***. I could see it on his face when they read that scorecard Saturday night in the Martinez fight and the fans started booing.
“That was an American crowd. They didn’t come to Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey to cheer for a guy from Spain. But the fans have had enough and so has Ross. Again, I give him credit. He could have just moved on and left us out in the cold but he didn’t.’’
Greenburg tried to deflect credit for forcing the rematch, saying the fight had been an exciting one that required little pushing to make. Perhaps so, but exciting or not it isn’t a fight Diaz will be looking forward to.
“They had to do it again at a neutral site,’’ Greenburg said. “It was an exciting fight. Look, it made good TV.
“It’s a tough fight for Juan because of the style but there wasn’t a ton of arm twisting that had to be done. We remain a TV network looking to put on the best fights. We’re glad to be bringing a solid fight back to the American public.
“I take a little pride knowing Paulie is getting this second chance and Juan is getting a chance to clear up a controversial win on his record. After this both fighters can sleep at night without having to live with that black mark on their record.’’
So can Ross Greenburg, who got it done, and fans of boxing, who should understand this fight happened because the new sheriff in town drew his fiscal gun and made clear he wouldn’t be firing any greenbacks out of it for anything but a rematch between these two.
HBO executive producer Rick Bernstein, producer Thomas Odelfelt, their staff and the announcing crew will delve into the circumstances surrounding the scoring of the first fight and how it led to this rematch on Saturday, a story line that will remain a theme throughout the night to be sure.
“We’ll be all over that,’’ Greenburg said. “Our announcers will be armed and ready and the story of the mysterious scorecard will be told.’’
Greenburg believes these kind of situations surface in boxing not because of corruption, even though that is what the public suspects, but rather ineptitude and incompetence. Although he says he has no jurisdiction to change that, he believes state commissions should more closely monitor their officials and remove them when there is a pattern of having scorecards that are alarmingly out of sync with what actually happened in the ring.
“In other sports, team sports, the leagues review the officials and their abilities,’’ Greenburg said. “They remove officials they feel are incompetent. They make sure the best officials work the big games.
“This kind of stuff has been going on in boxing for ever but that doesn’t make it right. There has to be some accountability.’’
This time there was. The new sheriff made sure of that.
Vitali Klitschko is another one of those active fighters that when discussing him there's no middle ground. On one side of the debate there's the faction out there who contends he's nothing more than a big stiff and is fortunate that he fights in one of the more pedestrian heavyweight generations of the modern era. The other side insist that he's one of the greatest heavyweight champs of all time.
As is the case with most boxing/sports debates both sides are over-stated. I'll weigh in and say Vitali Klitschko is definitely not a stiff and can in fact fight. No, he's not the greatest heavyweight champ ever, but he'd be a handful for many past greats from John L. Sullivan up through Lennox Lewis. And if you think any of the greats between Sullivan and Lewis could've just shown up on fight night and walked right through him, you're wrong.
Vitali Klitschko is great at using his size to manipulate his opponents, but he's also smart. He can go to his left just as good as he can to his right, he's strong with more than adequate power in both hands. Vitali has a great sense of timing and distance and is difficult to hit cleanly. And he knows what punch to throw and when to let it go, and like his younger brother Wladimir he takes boxing seriously and always shows up in top shape and never cheats himself or boxing fans. Unlike Cris Arreola, you can count on Vitali not weighing in for his upcoming fight with Kevin Johnson 12 pounds heavier than he was for their bout three months ago.
With that said, the heavyweight division would get an infusion of excitement if somehow Kevin Johnson were able to score the upset and win the WBC heavyweight title from Vitali Klitschko on December 12th. Despite Vitali and Wladimir always putting forth their best effort and having shown they're capable of rebounding from a disappointing loss or setback, they've had the division locked down since Vitali fought Lennox Lewis back in June of 2003. Ever since Vitali returned to the ring last year and recaptured a piece of the title, the biggest and only fight in the division that anyone would go out of their way to see is Vitali Klitschko versus Wladimir Klitschko.
Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are currently the two best heavyweights in the world. A fight between the brothers would be huge because of the fact that they're brothers, and since Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis they're the only heavyweights who stood 6'5' and over who had clue one about how to fight. But a fight between them is never gonna happen, no way no how regardless of how much money they could be offered. And since that's the reality of it, the heavyweight division would be best served if one of them, preferably Vitali, was defeated conclusively and lost their title.
The reason I say Vitali is because he's viewed by most boxing observers as being the tougher and more durable of the brothers. Whereas Wladimir, despite his shut-the-other-guy-down-and-keep-a-fight-from-breaking-out style, projects a fighter who worries about getting nailed with a big shot and coming undone. Then again in all fairness to Wladimir, he hasn't been in that position since he got off the canvas three times against Samuel Peter to win a one-sided decision more than four years ago.
If Kevin Johnson were to upset Vitali Klitschko in a fight that wasn't perceived as ending in a controversial manner, it would set up a rematch between them along with opening up the division a little more for future competitive bouts. As of this writing the division is thought of as being Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and a bunch of either undersized or overweight journeymen. And it'll remain that way until the next once-in-a- generation heavyweight comes along or one of the K-brothers is knocked off.
Vitali Klitschko has put together an outstanding body of work since turning pro a little over 13 years ago. Sure, his record indicates that he lost to the two best fighters he's been in the ring with, (Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis) but in his defense he was leading in both fights nor was he out fought or punched around the ring one-sidedly.
To beat him it'll take a fighter who can confront him physically with a game plan to disrupt him enough to take him out of his comfort zone. This fighter will have to posses good power or the ability to hit him repeatedly enough to where at the least he's concerned to the point where he can't execute what he wants to do with total impunity. His conquerer will also have to possess a strong will and chin along with the stamina to fight at their optimum for 12 hard rounds. If a fighter currently exist in the heavyweight division, I don't know his name.
Therefore it would be good for the division if Kevin Johnson were that heavyweight. And if he happens to be, a rematch between them would spark more interest than the monotone interest there is leading up to the upcoming fight between them this weekend. Right now there are heavyweights like Denis Boystov, Alexander Povetkin, Eddie Chambers, David Haye, Cris Arreola and Tomasz Adamek who could make for some half way decent fights. Not to mention that with the exception of Chambers, the rest of the group would have at least a puncher's chance against Wladimir Klitschko.
The problem in the division is the Klitschko's don't really make for must see or compelling fights. But that's not their fault nor is it their responsibility to do so. They're just supposed to keep winning and that's what they've done since Lennox Lewis retired. The onus is on their opponents to make them fight with a sense of urgency and need, but none of those who make up the current crop are good enough to do that.
I could care less about the nationality or ethnicity of any fighter; I just want to see good fights between two pros fighting at the highest level in professional boxing who show up in top shape. I've accepted the fact that Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are the two top heavyweights since the end of the Holyfield, Lewis, Tyson and Bowe era. And one of the brothers will be remembered as the heavyweight of the decade circa 2000-2009.
It would be a shot in the arm for the division if one of the up and coming younger heavyweights like Kevin Johnson could legitimately dethrone one of the Klitschkos while they are at or near the top of their game instead of having them walk away with the titles. The only stipulation with that is - the fighter who takes the title from either brother is for real and doesn't win on a technicality or a fluke. It would wake up a division that's been in the doldrums for awhile.
This way the heavyweight who took one of them down could be viewed as the fighter to beat in the division and would make for some decent matchups down the road where it would be hard to say for sure who was the favorite. Today when it's announced that either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko are fighting the biggest intrigue is not if they'll win the fight, but it's more along the line of how long will the opponent last and will he even manage to win a single round?
I'll say this about Kevin Johnson, I don't think he's the type fighter who'll come unhinged at the first sign of things not going his way. He's probably a little better than he looks and I sense that he fights to the level of his opposition in some ways. If he loses the fight it will be for no other reason than Vitali was just better. However, Johnson does strike me as being an opportunist. If some deficiency shows up in Vitali during the bout, Johnson may spot it.
Maybe Kevin Johnson is the fighter who can disrupt the reign of Vitali Klitschko, but the betting man that I am says he's probably not.