FISTIC NOTES AND NUGGETS — Nine years ago, I wrote an article entitled “BoxRec.com: Boxing’s Indispensable Website.” I praised John Sheppard, the indefatigable Brit who has maintained the site as a gift to the boxing community since its inception in 2000. And I quoted numerous boxing aficionados, among them:
Matchmaker Bruce Trampler – “Short of actually being at a fight, they’re the best source of information out there. I have my own computerized records, and I’m on BoxRec at least a dozen times a day. We take it for granted, but everyone in boxing would miss it if it was gone.”
Historian Mike Silver – “BoxRec.com is a dream come true. It’s one of the greatest gifts to boxing fans and boxing historians in the history of the world. Years ago, you needed a whole shelf of Ring record books to track the records of fighters. Now anyone can do it in seconds for free. Every time I write about boxing, I want to thank them.”
Promoter Lou DiBella – “Anyone in boxing who says he doesn’t use BoxRec is either a complete imbecile or lying.”
Virtually everyone who follows the sweet science, from the most powerful denizens of the boxing world to casual fans, uses BoxRec.com.
John Sheppard still works fulltime on the site, as he has since 2005. He recently hired his first fulltime employee, a computer programmer who works from home “so I’m not so stressed anymore.” The site has almost 200 editors located around the world, none of whom are paid. The end result is a data base that’s unparalleled in the history of boxing.
BoxRec.com has data on more than 55,000 referees, judges, managers, promoters, matchmakers, supervisors, and other “non-fighters.” But its core content consists of more than 2,050,000 bouts that have been entered into its data base. That includes roughly 23,000 active (having fought within the past 365 days) and 622,000 non-active fighters. These numbers keep growing as new fights take place and more old ones are recorded.
And there’s a feature unique to BoxRec.com that makes it the clear industry favorite. Anyone who views a fighter’s record can also see the complete record of that fighter’s opponents, his opponents’ opponents, and so on down the line.
One change from recent years is that BoxRec.com has now been embraced by, and is an official registry for, the Association of Boxing Commissions. That makes life easier for Sheppard because, in his words, “Even the most recalcitrant states now send us results.”
On a typical day, BoxRec.com has 116,000 visitors who view 700,000 pages. Those are impressive numbers that translate into 3,596,000 visitors who view 21,700,000 pages per month. Roughly 27 percent of this traffic comes from the United States and 25 percent from the United Kingdom.
And BoxRec.com’s recently-hired computer programmer is now redesigning the site and code. “We have so many ideas on how we can take the site forward,” Sheppard explains. “But we’ve been held back by the original code base, which is fifteen years old.”
Converting BoxRec.com to a pay-site would mean a big payout for Sheppard. But nine years ago, he told this writer, “I’ve always lived within my means. I’ve never needed a lot of money to be happy. That’s not why I started the site. That’s not what it’s all about. I don’t want Boxrec to ever become a closed shop.”
To this day, Sheppard maintains that view, saying, “It’s never going to happen. Not on my watch.”
Three years ago, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Sheppard with the James A. Farley Award for Honesty and Integrity. He deserves that recognition and any other accolades that come his way.
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It was the kind of knockout that boxing fans love and hate.
On March 11, HBO Boxing After Dark featured David Lemieux (36-3, 32 KOs) vs. Curtis Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Lemieux-Stevens shaped up as an exciting fight.
Lemieux, age 28, was being groomed against soft opposition when he went in semi-tough against Marco Antonio Rubio in 2011 and was knocked out in the seventh round. His ship sank further when he lost a decision to Joachim Alcine in his next outing. Since then, Lemieux had won eleven of twelve fights, most notably against Fernando Guerrero, Gabriel Rosado, and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. But he was obliterated when he stepped up in class to fight Gennady Golovkin in 2015.
Stevens, age 32, turned pro in 2004 and was expected to rise steadily through the ranks. But he has run hot and cold during his career, losing fights he should have won (versus Marcos Primera) and also fights he was expected to lose (against Golovkin and Andre Dirrell). Curtis can be formidable, even heroic. Or he can stink out an arena (as he did in disappointing efforts against Jesse Brinkley and N’Dam N’Jikam).
Both Lemieux and Stevens made the 160-pound contract weight one day before the fight. But because their encounter was for a pair of very minor sanctioning-body belts, they were required to weigh-in again at 170 pounds or less on Saturday morning. Stevens did so, weighing-in at 167-1/4 pounds. Lemieux blew off the second weigh-in, leaving him ineligible to compete for a faux title that virtually no one in or out of boxing cared about. On fight night, according to the “unofficial HBO scale,” Lemieux entered the ring at 177 pounds and Stevens weighed 170.
Lemieux was a 3-to-1 favorite, which struck some insiders as long odds depending on which Curtis Stevens showed up.
In the end, it was which David Lemieux showed up that mattered.
There was considerable trash-talking between the fighters in the build-up to the fight. Lemieux was the primary provocateur, but Stevens gave as good as he got.
“I am who I am, seven days a week,” Curtis said during a media conference call. “If I’ve got something to say about you, I say it to you. The difference between me and David is, David says it to the camera and I say it to directly to his face.”
Later, Stevens added, “This is boxing. Everyone has a turn to get hurt.”
On Saturday night, it was Curtis’s turn.
Lemieux pushed the action from the opening bell. Round one saw hard-punching, non-stop exchanges that could have been taken from a movie script with Lemieux dishing out more than he took. Round two featured Stevens throwing hard left hooks up top that missed and hard left hooks to the body that hurt. In round three, Stevens continued to meet Lemieux’s aggression with aggression. Then . . .
Both fighters threw left hooks with Lemieux pulling the trigger first. Stevens was unconscious before he hit the canvas. He lay there for a disturbingly long time and was taken from the ring on a stretcher after regaining consciousness.
Main Events (Stevens’s promoter) later reported that Curtis underwent a CT scan at a local hospital as a precautionary measure and was responsive and well in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The knockout brought back memories of November 4, 2005, when Jaidon Codrington – a super-middleweight who was once considered a “can’t-miss” prospect – brought a 9-0 (9 KOs) record to Oklahoma to fight Allan Green.
Stevens and Codrington were friends who trained together at Brooklyn’s Starrett City Boxing Club. Because of their all-knockout records, they were known in boxing circles as “The Chin Checkers.”
Seconds into Codrington-Green, Green fired a left hook to the temple that landed in a freakish way, leaving Jaidon senseless but still standing with his arms frozen upright. Green then landed several more blows and Codrington pitched forward face-first into the ropes where he was entangled on the bottom two strands. Several spectators pushed him back into the ring. His body looked lifeless and his neck was twisted grotesquely so that his head was tucked beneath his torso. He was carried from the ring on a stretcher.
“I thought he was dead,” Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood who was at ringside later admitted.
Codrington recovered and resumed his pro career. But he was never the same fighter again.
Boxing isn’t a video game. And the stakes go far beyond the money involved.
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Times goes by. Paulie Malignaggi retired this week after a 16-year career in boxing. But it was twenty years ago that Paulie saw his first professional fight. Years ago, he told me about that night:
“It was Naseem Hamed against Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden [on December 19, 1997]. I was sixteen years old and hadn’t had any amateur fights yet. But I was a fan, and none of my friends wanted to go with me so I went by myself. I got to the ticket window, and the cheapest tickets they had were twenty-five dollars plus a two-dollar surcharge. All I had in my pocket was two subway tokens and twenty-five dollars. But the woman at the ticket window was nice. I was wearing an old sweatsuit, so she could see I wasn’t made of money. She looked around to make sure no one was watching and then she slid me a ticket for twenty-five dollars. I sat up in the nosebleed section. Ricky Hatton was on the undercard in his second pro fight. So was Joan Guzman. Junior Jones fought Kennedy McKinney. There was some real talent that night. Then it was time for the main event. Hamed did this dance behind a screen and then he danced down a ramp into the ring. I saw what he was doing and I said to myself, “Wow! That’s me.” I was rooting for Kevin and Junior, and both of them lost. But I had a great time that night.”
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Over the years, thousands of participants and observers have tried to explain why boxing is important. Teddy Atlas recently put his imprint on the subject in a conversation with this writer.
“It’s real simple what it is about boxing more than any other sport that sends shockwaves, that gets people’s attention,” Atlas said. “It’s that, in a world where life is often unfair, on one given night if it means enough to you, if you have trained yourself hard enough, if you are determined enough, if it’s inside of you; you are going to go in that ring no matter where you came from, no matter what you didn’t have growing up, no matter who your parents were, no matter what your ethnicity was, your religion, anything, no matter how poor you were; you can get in that ring and you can make things right on one given night. If you want to be champion bad enough, you can be the best in the world. You can even the playing field in an unfair world. That’s magic. That makes this sport special.”
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Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent book – A Hard World: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – was published recently by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.