Last week was quite the busy one for boxing in NYC. Thursday, the legendary promoter Bob Arum got honored, ie roasted by the Friars Club in NYC. Then Friday night, NYC was the site of the 85th Boxing Writers Association Dinner. And earlier in the day, me, Tom Hauser, Steve Farhood and Michael Rosenthal all tucked Derringers into our boots, and met members of the Boxing Promoters Association for an exchange of ideas. Then, Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, Miguel Cotto showed that his tank isnt on E, against rabbi-in-training Yuri Foreman, in a fight that ended in a bizarre manner.
The roast was billed as a tribute; if yall ever get together and do a tribute for me in this fashion, can I at least get blindfolded first? LOL. Comedian Freddie Roman started things off with a joke that I wont repeat, because of my comprehension that political correctness is so prevalent, that a segment of our readership might well not understand the time and the place and the context, and call for my head for repeating it. It had to do with a certain ethnicity, their high numbers in the function room, and how Romans lunch will get spit on when he eats at the club next week. Fill in the blanks yourself….
Arum was introduced as being synonomous as Everlast. The promoter, who did his first fight back in 1966 (Ali-Chuvalo in Toronto) after being introduced to Ali by footballer Jim Brown, grinned good-naturedly as he was lovingly paid tribute to by emcee Jim Lampley, Manny Pacquiao, Ross Greenburg, Lou Dibella, George Foreman, Boom Boom Mancini and son Richard. The highlight for me was a clip of Arums IMDB offering: the 1975 film The Marijuana Affair. Arum played the part of a good guy-bad guy who was trafficking coke from Jamaica. He had been brought in by the films producer, Jamaican betting magnate/boxing promoter/racehorse owner Lucien Chen. The clip featured no sound, but the 400 in attendance can all attest that it is best Arum didnt get too infected with the acting bug, and stuck to what he does best. His overacting is simply Shatneresque in its exuberance.
Son Richard, a sociology prof at NYU, relayed a funny tale about going with pop to Jamaica. They went to the track, and the kid was pumped when he saw one horse was named Bob Arum. As post time beckoned, one horse, then another, then another then still another was scratched, leaving Arum to run solo. Arum won the race, for the record.
Manny Pacquiao then gave Arum ample credit for helping to build his iconic status.
Finally, Arum spoke. He talked about how his legacy should include his commitment to not straying from his heart, how he stood with Ali as most of the nation branded him a traitor for refusing acceptance into the US military. You got to do what you believe, said Arum, even if it means screwing up a potentially bountiful business deal down the line.
After the roast, Arum told me hed give me the lowdown on The Marijuana Affair one day. I will be on Ebay trying to hunt down a copy in the meantime…
I chatted with Andre Berto after. He laughed when I asked if an HBO Facebook rumor about him going down to 140 was true. He said for now hes sticking to 147, but Im not ruling it out totally. He would like to fight Shane Mosley, if Mosley wants to keep active. A title consolidation match against IBF champ Jan Zaveck, he said, is also a possibility. Hed like to glove up in December. Berto is staying ultra busy raising money for his charity. Hes on the board of the Carma Foundation. From their website: The Carma Foundation Mission—The Carma Foundations is a non-profit organization classified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The mission of Carma is to measurably improve the health of poor and vulnerable women and children in Haiti. Carma effectively utilizes media and pop culture to create a platform of awareness, dialogue, and then action. Carma, an urban spin on karma, embodies the belief of cause and effect behavior or practices to affect the lives of others. It is with this belief that Carma mobilizes others to not only care, but to become involved. Since its inception in 2007, Carma has already impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Haitian women and children and plans to extend its reach to the millions of Haitian citizens. Haiti leads the western hemisphere with the highest poverty level amongst any of its hemisphere’s neighbors. The Carma Foundation has chosen to spearhead several small projects addressing the needs of education, skill development and job creation of women and children in Haiti. In addition, the future goals of Carma are to reform Haiti’s infrastructural needs in the areas of reproductive health, proper nourishment, health care, and STDs. By the way, he liked Cotto going in to the Foreman fight, so he gets a thumbs up for his power of prediction.
The meeting with the promoters, which included president of the group Joe DeGuardia, Jimmy Burchfield, Alex Camponovo, Lou Dibella, Nick Garone, Bobby Hitz, Mills Lanes son Terrance and Thomas, Arthur Pelullo, Gary Shaw, and Terry Trekas, went well. We touched on matters which affected the promoters and the writers, and tried as much as possible to keep it real. We trafficked in the tendency of writers to go negative, and tear down the sport excessively; the fear of retribution, or a freezeout if we write too truthfully about certain big-name outfits; arbitrary or worse seating arrangements at live fights; the sad state of pay per view undercards, and the widespread feeling that bad fights wreck the boxing brand; the movement of coverage away from the papers to the internet; how to lure more papers into covering more boxing; and the need to play up positive stories more often. The meeting ran more than two hours, and then we broke for a nice lunch, and more informal chatting. All in all, its great to see promoters band together, and recognize their common goals and interests. I told all of them that they are always free to reach out to me, suggest stories, and vent if they think we did something wrong. I stand by that.
Friday night, we had our dinner. My wife, 30 weeks pregs, gamely got gussied up. Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty/
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City. Our neighbor Kim took Annabelle, 3, for the night, so we could par-tay. OK, I quit the sauce back in 1995…you didnt know they raised my number to the rafter and retired my number?…and shes pregs, so we didnt tie one on. Rather, we enjoyed the convivial atmosphere, and seeing some of the guys we see so rarely. We both chatted with BBM, Big Bob Mladinich, who is psyched about his business which is really taking off, REM Private Investigations and Security. Go to remprivateinvestigators.com to learn more if you are in the market for such services, or know someone who is. Theres no one with the decency and credibility who I would trust more in this arena than BBM, for the record…We shot the breeze with Zach Levin, and the ladies who ran the silent auction. They were impressed with Jessicas appearance, and her gameness in coming out for the affair with a basketball in her belly. They, and I were wowed by her stunning dress. Jess was sad Pete Hamill wasnt there this year, but she always loves listening to the classy Manny Pacquiao, who earned his 17th consecutive fighter of the year award. He always leaves us feeling that much more upbeat about being associated with the sport, which is often refereed to as the red light district of the sporting scene. Heres his speech.
Good evening everybody.. Good evening everyone. Thank you. Poverty confronted our family; poverty challenged my youth. In my journey, I was pressed but was not crushed. In my struggles, I was knocked down but not destroyed. I gained experience and learned from my mistakes. At the start of the 21st century, I was convinced that I could excel in boxing. The ring became the breeding ground of my dreams. Boxing became the platform of my victories. To the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, Mr. Jack Hirsch, to the vice president Ron Borges, . . . to Don Steinberg, . . . to the officers, board of directors, and members of the Boxing Writers Association of America, representing almost every state, thank you very much for this distinct honor and recognition. Tonight, I overflow with joy and gratitude. I appreciate this distinct honor and recognition of being awarded as the Fighter of the Decade. Once more you affirm that my destiny is to be a boxer. An excellent professional boxer. I am thankful that just like [Muhammad] Ali and Joe Frazier and other fighters, I decided to get into boxing. I decided to not give up; to never give up. I decided to sacrifice. But not only that, I decided to trust God. I will never stop thinking God. He formed my destiny. He formed me in my mothers womb. He formed me from nothing into something. He knows everything about me. I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who believe in me. My wife, of course Jinkee. And to our children: Princess, my daughter. Youre my inspiration. My promoter and friend, Bob Arum. Thank you for everything. Youre my firm believer and defender. My trainer Freddie Roach, you are my trainer inside and outside the ring. I applaud your victory as Trainer of the Year. Coach, youre the man. To my countrymen, the countless Filipinos around the world, you are my strength. With you, the long and painful seasons of training, and the discipline and sacrifices have become beneficial and rewarding. It is great to be living in the 21st century. We come from different backgrounds to represent different races, but we are all connected. We all desire to have a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, a sense of contribution. We all desire to be both great and good. We all desire to leave a legacy. I am Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao. I am proud to be a Filipino. And I want to remind all of you tonight, we are all destined for greatness. As one author said: Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. Tonight I recognize the contributions of those who use their strength to make a difference: world class boxers, boxing promoters, managers, trainers, fans, and of course, all the boxing writers . . . come on, give some noise. To the Boxing Writers Association of America, and to all of you who believe in boxing, in the ideals it upholds, thank you very much for the honor and recognition. Please accept my gratitude and let it resound throughout the 21st century. Goodnight and God bless everyone. Thank you.
Too often religion and worship are used as a truncheon, for leverage. This guy is the real deal…when he talks about God, I can handle it, because it feels authentic.
Broadcaster Nick Charles and former heavyweight contender George Chuvalo shared the top vote for the Bill Crawford Perseverance in Overcoming Adversity award. Chuvalos acceptance speech, which touched on his losing a son and his wife to suicide, and two sons to drug overdose, was a kick in the emotional gut. The man faced sad challenge after sad challenge, and it is to his credit he didnt throw in the towel. The ex heavyweight contender gives anti drug speeches to at risk youth these days.
TSSs George Kimball gave a ballsy and amusing speech when he introed trainer of the year Freddie Roach. Kimball read Freddies speech for him, and touched on some of the spicier aspects of Dedham Freddies existence. In Freddies voice, he talked about how a certain trusted aide cashed a check meant for him, and made off with memorabilia. I had to check Freddies face as George spoke, but judging by Freddies grin, Kimball was in cahoots with the trainer of the decade on this one. Always good to have someone stirring the pot and tossing in some subversion at an affair when everyones overdressed. But not oversauced..Word is that the site of the dinner, the Roosevelt, wanted $10,000 just to keep the bars open during the dinner. Cash bars. The BWAA quite rightly nixed that extortionate demand. That seemed like a greed-based request on the part of the hotel.
As we filed out, I told Jess, who is an immense Kennedy fan, to ask Arum about his dealing with the first family back in the 1960s, when he worked with Bobby at the Justice Department. Bob told her about his piercing blue eyes, and battles with lawyer Roy Cohn, and left her with teary eyes. He chuckled after I pointed that out….and LOL Bob blasted me the next night for asking a stupid question during the Cotto-Foreman press conference (See that here, compliments of the Fabulous Mady, at the 7:50 mark www.youtube.com/watch….LOL…No one like Bob, is there?
All in all, BWAA president Jack Hirsch and planner extraordinaire Gina Andriolo, who received a surprise MVP award, did a bangup job. This dinner is a annual highlight for me and my wife. Thanks guys.
On Saturday, boxing was back in the Bronx, in a big way. Cotto fought Foreman at Yankee Stadium. The event was a success, if for no other reason than the rain stayed away, and the 20,000 plus who showed up stayed dry. The main event got screwy, when Foreman trainer Joe Grier used a method of surrender that isnt the preferred way, lobbing in a white towel, instead of asking a commission member to alert ref Arthur Mercante to stop Foreman, on a bum knee, from absorbing more punishment.
Yall read my take on that a couple days ago…The brouhaha hasnt been quelled, as people are still sparring on whether Mercante did the right thing. Foremans manager and Foreman himself say they have no beef with the way it went down, for what its worth. Mercante, it must be said, might want to choose his words more carefully, or offer no comments. Telling the NY daily News Tim Smith that Bee Scottlands injuries came largely from being jostled around in the elevator going from the USS Intrepid to the hospital after his fight against George Khalid Jones does his credibility less than no good…