Although he is just 39 years old, former light-heavyweight title challenger John “Iceman” Scully of New Windsor, Connecticut, has been feeling somewhat old in recent weeks.
A fixture on the New England boxing scene since his amateur days in the early eighties, Scully seems surprised that he is now considered by many to be a wise old sage.
That became very apparent when he learned that he was going to be inducted into promoter Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES) Ring of Honor during a special ceremony at the “Night of the Rising Stars” boxing extravaganza in the grand ballroom of the spacious Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on Saturday, September 23.
In a show dedicated to the memory of the late Hartford-based trainer Johnny Duke, Scully will be inducted along with his good friend and pupil, WBA super welterweight champion Jose Antonio Rivera of Worcester, Massachusetts, and living legend Willie Pep.
Past CES inductees include New England favorites Vinny Pazienza, Marlon Starling and Micky Ward.
“I’m happy to be inducted, but it’s making me feel old,” joked Scully, now a top-flight trainer who is never at a loss for words. “I still consider myself a fighter who trains fighters more than a trainer who trains fighters.”
Scully, who compiled a 38-11 (21 KOS) record against such championship caliber opponents as Henry Maske, Graciano Rocchigiani and Michael Nunn, won’t have much time to bask in the adulation of the scores of fans expected to be in attendance on Saturday night.
The show is being headlined by WBC USNBC cruiserweight champion Matt “Too Smooth” Godfrey, 12-0 (7 KOS), of Providence, Rhode Island, against WBC Continental Americas title holder Danny “Boy” Batchelder, 24-2-1 (11 KOS), who hails from upstate New York.
While Scully is not affiliated with either of those fighters, he either trains or co-trains three other hot local fighters on the show.
Matt “Sharp Shooter” Remillard, 10-0 (7 KOS), moves up in weight to battle undefeated Jose Hernandez, 6-0 (2 KOS), of Fort Worth for the vacant WBC Youth super featherweight title.
Former USBA and NABF lightweight champion Israel “Pito” Cardona, 35-6 (27 KOS), takes on Connecticut rival Shakha Moore, whose deceptive record of 9-10-3 (1 KO) belies an abundance of talent.
And USBO super bantamweight champion Mike “Machine Gun” Oliver, 15-0 (7 KOS), takes on Oscar De La Cruz, 4-3 (2 KOS), of Atlanta in a six round non-title bout.
Also appearing on the show is undefeated local heavyweight Tony Grano, 4-0-1 (4 KOS), and several top area amateurs.
Scully will be in the corners of Remillard, Cardona and Oliver, all of whom he believes are on the verge of making their presence known at a time when the sport could use some fledgling superstars.
“Matt is a beast in the gym,” he said. “He trains like nobody I’ve ever seen. It’s almost unnatural. He wants a title so bad. It’s like an obsession to him.”
Although Remillard will be engaging in his first ten-rounder, Scully worries more about the opponent than Remillard being able to last the distance if he has to.
“I keep telling Matt that when I fought in my first ten-rounders it was no big deal,” said Scully. “And Matt trains much harder than I ever did. In my opinion, ten rounds should be simple for him.
“This is a real good fight for him, against a real live opponent,” he continued. “I keep reassuring him and telling him to think more about his opponent than lasting the distance. This guy (Hernandez) is coming to win.”
Having scored impressive victories over the likes of Ivan Robinson and Golden Johnson, Cardona was once considered to have world championship potential.
But that was then and this is now. After a host of personal and professional setbacks, the 31-year-old Cardona now finds himself on the comeback trail.
“He’s showing glimpses of the potential he had,” said Scully. “But he’s going to have a tough opponent in front of him. I’ve known Shakha since he was an amateur. He’s got a very tricky style. What happens in this fight will tell a lot about what Pito has left and where he’s going.”
Although the southpaw Oliver has fought above his natural 122 pound weight in recent bouts, Scully believes that he is virtually unbeatable at super bantamweight. He and Oliver go back a long way, so Scully is not prone to exaggeration when discussing his protégé.
“I started boxing in 1982 as a 14-year-old,” said Scully. “Mike started the same year, as a three-year-old.”
Scully believes that Oliver, who has had more than 300 amateur fights, is probably the most experienced amateur in Connecticut history.
When Scully fought in his last Golden Gloves tournament back in 1988, Oliver was doing exhibitions throughout the state. He was so small, said Scully, his feet didn’t even touch the canvas when he sat on his stool.
“There’s nothing he hasn’t seen,” said Scully. “He’s getting ready to break out. When he does, watch out. He’s going to be a star.”
Tickets for Saturday’s show are on sale at the Connecticut Convention Center, phone 860-249-6000 or by going on-line at www.cesboxing.com. Not including state taxes, ticket prices are $35, $50, $75, $100 and $150 for platinum VIP.