When it was over, when the three-plus rounds came to an end, Manning Galloway, a man who has logged over 600 professional rounds, looked relieved. He sat in a folding chair as the wraps were removed from his hands. A long, thin cut ran along his left eyebrow. It was just another night in a fighter's life. Just another night in a sport where the young usually overpower the old.
“I've been cut like this before,” said Galloway. He seemed about as concerned over the injury as a man might be upon learning his dry cleaner has gone out of business. It's more of an annoyance than anything else. His fight against 26-year-old Lenord Pierre, in the main event at New York's Monticello Raceway on October 7, had been stopped due to that cut. It was ruled a No Contest because four rounds had not been completed.
Galloway, who is 45 years old, was more practical than emotional about the stoppage.
“I could have gone on,” he said. “But it's a no contest. You have to be smart about it. I’m in the other guy’s hometown. Look, if it goes into the sixth round and then they stop it, who knows, now maybe I don’t get the decision. Now it goes into the records as the doctor stopped the fight.”
And for the record, Galloway (62-18-1, 14 knockouts) was ahead on the scorecards when it was stopped.
The fight never really found a rhythm. Pierre, trained by Kevin Rooney, was anxious to make a good showing. He was two fights removed from his first career loss, a stunning knockout to fellow prospect John Duddy.
“This guy is a little bit cute,” said Rooney of Galloway. “The longer the fight goes, the stronger my kid gets. I think he'll knock him out somewhere along the line. What the general public doesn't understand about Lenord is that he hits exceptionally hard.”
The styles of Galloway and Pierre never seemed to mesh. Perhaps because Galloway is a southpaw, perhaps because he is too cute and Pierre is too inexperienced. The fight featured more clutching and fighting inside than definitive blows.
Galloway was rocked by a left hook in the first round but that is about the best of it. At 45 years old, Galloway looked incredibly fit, coming in at 154 1/4 pounds. But his movements were herky-jerky, clipped almost is if the fight was being watched under a strobe light. They say the legs are the first to go on a fighter and perhaps that was the case here. While Galloway bounced around the ring like a 25-year-old before the bell — actually jumping and bringing his knees to his chest to loosen up — his footwork was off. There were times when his legs looked rubbery, the way a fighter moves after he has been hurt. The problem was that Galloway wasn't hurt
In Galloway's corner was longtime friend Jerry Page, who grew up with Galloway in Columbus, Ohio and won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. While his friend fights the physical battle, he is fighting the psychological battle from the corner.
“He missed again,” shouted Page from the corner each time Pierre couldn't find the target.
Other proclamations, such as “He can't touch you,” “He can't find you” or “He can't hurt you” are meant to plant seeds of doubt in Pierre's head.
When the fight ended, it was clear that Galloway has earned his nickname – The Spoiler. Although he took the fight on a week's notice, he was not there to simply collect his $3,500 paycheck. He was there to win. The fighting was intense, if not aesthetically pleasing. Each man threw punches with bad intentions, although the impact of the blows were slightly muffled by Galloway's dipping and dodging and desire to take the fight inside. This former WBO welterweight champion would be a difficult assignment for any young prospect.
Referee Benji Estevez ruled that the cut was the result of an accidental clash of heads. That is completely plausible considering the proximity at which the fighters waged war. Steve Lott, at ringside with a video camera, suggested he had proof the cut was the result of a Pierre punch. The New York State Athletic commission felt that was inconclusive. Thus the fight is a No Decision, with Galloway leading 29-29 on all three scorecards.
“For a guy who is 45 years old, he's a tough guy,” said Bob Duffy, of Ring promotions, which promoted the card. “He has fought a lot of good fighters. He's like a consummate pro. He's fought at all levels of competition.”
Gallowayis a man who is not looking for an easy fight. This is not the George Foreman route back to the title. The record of his last nine opponents stands at 177-23. Of those nine fighters, six entered the ring with two or less losses on their record. He epitomized his role of spoiler in April of 2004 when he beat Olympic prospect Ricardo Williams Jr.
Back in the dressing room after the Pierre fight, veteran New York cutman Nelson Cuevas, who was hired that evening to work Galloway's corner, estimated the cut would require eight stitches. Galloway shrugs and asks for the endswell and he gently presses it against a mouse protruding beneath his left eye.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel a little bit tired because I took this on short notice. They called me last week. But the little things I was doing, I had him confused. I could see it. If they want a rematch, I'll give it to them for more money. I was getting a little bit tired. So instead of staying off of him, I got a little closer to neutralize his power. Plus to buy myself a little time.”
When asked how the fight would have gone if Galloway was 28 and not 45, he replied, “I believe I would have beaten him easy. He might have gotten knocked out.”
Gallowayturned pro at the age of 28, the year was 1978. A lot has changed. The New York Yankees were still a baseball powerhouse, except the guys in pinstripes were named Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella and Willie Randolph. Leon Spinks was heavyweight champion and Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and the Bee Gees had the best song in the nation and the Berlin Wall still existed and Affirmed won horse racing's Triple Crown and there was war in Afghanistan and Larry King had a late-night talk show.
Okay, so not everything has changed.
What also hasn't changed is Galloway's desire to fight.
“I have my own business, a landscaping business,” he said. “I cut about 100 lawns. I have a lot people working for me. But I still like going to the gym and boxing.”
It was suggested that he can still go to the gym and train without actually fighting and getting cut over the eyelid.
“I like the thrill of fighting,” he said.
Standing nearby in the dressing room was Page, who is a year younger than Galloway. After winning the gold medal, Page retired after a 15-fight pro career. He was asked if he worries about his friend once the bell rings.
“No, I'm not worried,” he said. “Manning is a pro. He's going to take care of himself. Nobody gives him ample time to prepare. He can compete. That's not an issue. The skill level is there. He's the most talented 45-year-old in boxing.”
Over the years, Galloway has displayed that talent in Hungary, Canada, England, Puerto Rico, Italy, France, Denmark, South Africa and Australia. This was his first bout in New York, bringing the total of states he's fought in to 16.
He was asked to list the highlights of his career.
He thinks for a moment.
“Beating Darnell Knox. Being the first man to win the WBO welterweight title. That was special. Winning the welterweight tournament at the [Great Western] Forum.”
He was asked what stands out the most. “When I beat Tap Harris,” he says.
Who is that?
“This was the only guy I was afraid to fight. We had come up together. He was the number one ranked fighter in the prison program.”
Before turning pro, Galloway would travel with his amateur team to matches inside prisons. “I had seen him knock guys out at the Marion Correctional Facility.”
Harris was out of prison by the time Galloway turned pro and a match was made. “I was scared because I didn't know how good I was,” he recalled. “I couldn't say no, I couldn't say I didn't want to fight him. I ended up winning the fight.”
Back to the present. Although he is still competitive, you could see the rounds slowly catching up with Galloway. He was asked how much longer he will fight.
“Next year I am retiring,” he said. “No matter what. If they offer me a fight for a million dollars, I might consider it.”
He was also asked, if he were given the opportunity, could he win another world title against a good young fighter. Galloway prefaced his answer by saying he would need time off for training, perhaps go to training camp. But his affirmation suggested that talk of retirement could change.
“If the opportunity presents itself, to put myself in the right, to take a tuneup fight,” Galloway said. “Yes, I think I could. I think I'm that good.”
There are some young talented fighters who will probably agree with that assessment.