PART ONE (A-K) OF A TWO-PART SERIES — This is round four, so to speak, of our survey. We previously asked a set of respondents to name their favorite boxing book, favorite fighter, and favorite fights.
The respondents are listed in alphabetical order, but as the architect of the survey, I have the privilege of weighing in first. My favorite round of boxing was the 10th and last round of the fight between Earnie Shavers and Roy “Tiger” Williams on Dec. 11, 1976. The round saw a badly hurt “Acorn” being accosted by a glowering Williams who moved Earnie into a corner and applied brutal, non- stop punishment until the referee called a standing eight count. Roy thought the fight had been stopped, turned around and raised his hands in victory, but when he turned back to find a determined Shavers still standing, the Tiger’s spirit was visibly depleted. Still, he came on, but then, almost imperceptibly, Shavers started to connect with some medium hard blows. Suddenly he connected with one of his deadly uppercuts and it straightened the Tiger up. Earnie moved Roy into a corner and Roy could not withstand the ferocious onslaught. The referee now gave him a standing eight, incredibly the second in the round. Williams took a step forward, hesitated, and then collapsed, a beaten man. Ernie sagged over the ropes too tired to celebrate. Shavers later said he wouldn’t drive through Philadelphia because he didn’t want to take a chance on running into Williams.
JIM AMATO (historian, writer, and collector):
Round 1. Frazier vs. Quarry I, June 23, 1969.
Quarry was normally a counter puncher but at the sound of the opening bell he met Frazier at ring center and the battle was on. Toe to toe, head to head. No quarter asked. No quarter given. Thudding punches to the head and body were exchanged without letup and the Madison Square Garden crowd loved it. I do not recall referee Arthur Mercante having to break a clinch in this thrilling opening stanza.
MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI (TSS Boxing writer):
Round 9. Gatti-Ward I, May 18, 2002.
Gatti was dropped by a patented Ward left hook to the body early in the round. Amazingly, Gatti got up but then protecting his rib cage was raked with flush head shot after head shot. On the verge of being stopped, Gatti suddenly rallied back against a now arm-weary Ward, landing vicious combinations to the head and body. However, Gatti then tired and Ward rallied back, battering Gatti around the ring. At one point, Gatti couldn’t even hold his hands up. Miraculously, though, at the end of the round a beaten and exhausted Gatti tried to answer Ward who was still throwing and landing when the bell sounded.
DAVID AVILA (TSS West Coast Bureau Chief):
Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I, May 7, 2005.
This was also my favorite fight I ever saw live. Very few people showed up to the fight. Castillo knocked Corrales down twice in this round. Corrales looked done and after spitting out his mouthpiece a second time, he had a point deducted. But it was the extra time he needed. As Castillo moved in to end the fight, he was caught by a Corrales right cross and staggered against the ropes. Corrales moved in quickly and fired more telling blows as the crowd erupted. The reporters looked at each other in shock at the sudden turnaround. I can still remember watching James Toney and Winky Wright running up and down the floor cheering. I’d never seen that before. Sadly, two years exactly to the day, Corrales died in a motorcycle accident on the streets of Las Vegas.
BOB BENOIT (former pro boxer, founder of the Massachusetts State Troopers boxing team, current referee, and retired Massachusetts state trooper):
Round 3, Tommy Dragon vs. Manny Freitas, Nov. 9, 1970.
Freitas was from Lowell; Dragon from Providence. Freitas was down three times early on and the fight was stopped. The crowd went wild and smelled a fix. The referee, concerned about the screaming crowd, spoke with the boxing commissioner and even though the fight was officially stopped, it was started up again with the permission of both fighters. Freitas came back from the dead and dropped the undefeated Dragon twice, knocking him out and breaking his jaw. Never saw anything like it in 50 years.
JOE BRUNO (former New York Tribune sportswriter; author of more than 45 crime-related books, including true crime, novels and screenplays):
Round 14, Pryor-Arguello I, Nov. 12, 1982.
I was sitting at ringside in Pryor’s corner. Arguello won the 13th round big and after the round the HBO microphones picked up Pryor’s trainer, Panama Lewis, saying to cutman Artie Curley, “Give me the bottle, the one I mixed.” But I didn’t hear a thing. Amazingly, Pryor started the 14th round on fire, and soon he was pummeling Arguello against the ropes. The ref stopped the fight and I was flabbergasted. When I phoned my story into the Tribune, someone told me what Panama Lewis said. I ran to the dressing rooms and confronted Lewis. He told me, without missing a beat, that it was peppermint schnapps in the bottle. A year later, Lewis was given a lifetime suspension from boxing for his foul involvement in the Resto-Collins fight. I broke that story first because Artie Curley, who was dying from cancer, told me what had happened. Lewis’s lawyers threatened to sue me, but he soon pled guilty and that was that.
STEVE CANTON ( a Floridian, Steve has been involved in every aspect of boxing for more than 52 years):
Round 4, Ezra Sellers vs. Carl Thompson, Nov. 26, 2001.
There have been so many, but this is my favorite. Sellers was moving around the ring trying to get Thompson to come forward loading up on his right hand. Thompson, a better counter-puncher, obliged. He landed some but without effect as Sellers moved and rolled to take out some of the force. He was looking for the counter “upper-hook.” Finally, with his back to the ropes, Ezra caught Carl on the point of the chin with his short, powerful “upper-hook” and Thompson folded, completely out for the first and only time in his career.
JILL DIAMOND (boxing writer, and boxing official who recently received a Humanitarian Award from the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame):
Round 5, Andy Lee vs. John Jackson, June 7, 2014.
CHARLIE DWYER (retired pro referee, former boxer, member of Ring 4 and US Marine Boxing Halls of Fame):
Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I
This round was stunning in its turnaround. The last round of the grudge match between Jamie Clampitt vs. Missy Florentino in Providence is a close second and still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.
STEVE FARHOOD (award-winning TV boxing commentator and 2017 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame):
Round 1, Sechew Powell vs. Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage, May 6, 2005.
I’m going a bit off the common path here, but I’ve never seen anything like it and never will again. The fighters scored simultaneous knockdowns with the very first two punches of the bout. They both rose, then Powell kayoed K-9 with the third punch thrown. The whole thing lasted 22 seconds
BERNARD FERNANDEZ (TSS mainstay and one of eight lifetime members of the Boxing Writers Association of America):
The Fernandez Fab Four, listed in chronological order, are:
Round 15, Holmes-Norton, June 9, 1978, Las Vegas: All three judges had this instant classic knotted at 133-all after 14 gruelling rounds. So it all came down to those final three minutes, and until the final 30 seconds it appeared Norton would retain his WBC heavyweight championship. But Holmes reached deep inside himself for one more furious rally to win, 143-142, on two of the cards while Norton got the nod by the same margin on the other. It was amazing
Round 8, Matt Franklin-Marvin Johnson II, April 22, 1979, Indianapolis, Ind.: If Franklin – later known as Matthew Saad Muhammad – isn’t the greatest action fighter of all time, he’s at least in the conversation. His stoppage of Johnson in this round earned him the WBC light heavyweight title.
Round 1, Hagler-Hearns, April 15, 1985, Las Vegas: The heck with feel-out first rounds. If you’re going to bomb away, just get to it. These guys fought like they were both double-parked and the meter maid was down the street.
Round 9, Ward-Gatti I, May 18, 2002, Uncasville, Conn: Ward on the verge of scoring a knockout! But wait; now it’s Gatti who has Ward in trouble! Here comes another rally by Ward! Nothing ever filmed by Sylvester Stallone featured more momentum shifts or nonstop action.
DICK FLAHERTY (retired boxing judge and referee):
Round 9, Ward-Gatti I
I had the perfect seat as I was one of the three ringside judges. The referee was the legendary Frank Cappucino. Through eight rounds this was a battle of attrition as both fighters dealt out and received punishment. This was a “take no prisoners” battle and going into the ninth the bout was very close on our scorecards. Gatti seemed to be slowing down a bit when Ward landed his famous left hook to the liver. Gatti backed away and then went to his knees holding his midsection. Gatti was still on his knees as the count continued. Cappucino had his back to Gatti’s corner and did not see Buddy McGirt, Gatti’s trainer, on the ring apron trying to stop the fight. A second pulled McGirt back down.
Gatti somehow got up and managed to cover up from Ward’s punches. Ward continued his attack but was getting tired. Gatti then started to come back. Ward was forced into the ropes with Gatti now on the attack. Then in true warrior fashion Ward came back. He worked off the ropes and started to land on Gatti again with heavy shots, moving the bout back to the center of the ring. Cappucino was moving closer to the action, perhaps thinking of stopping the fight, when the bell rang. Ward’s corner thought the fight had been stopped and were celebrating. Both fighters were now pretty well drained but continued to battle through the tenth round.
Ward won a majority decision. Judge Lombardi scored it a draw and Steve Weisfeld and I scored it for Ward. Wow!
JEFFREY FREEMAN aka KO DIGEST (TSS New England correspondent):
Round 1, Hagler vs. Hearns.
The look on the face of Hagler when it was over told the story. It was pure menace. Even though it’s not what we really expected to happen when the opening bell rang, it was exactly what we expected from these two willing warriors, if you know what I mean. Total WAR! The first three minutes of the best three rounds in boxing history were 180 seconds of blood, sweat, and pain. Hagler-Hearns set the standard for what a FIGHT should look like. More than thirty years later, fans of all combat sports still yearn for a round this good. They can keep waiting. It doesn’t get any better than this.
IVAN GOLDMAN (ex-Washington Post and LA Times newspaperman, boxing writer, novelist):
Round 9, Gatti-Ward I
Gatti comes out hurt after a terribly punishing eight rounds and after catching a tremendous hook to the liver, sinks to his knees, his face showing utter agony. Looks like this is it, but he rises and protects his body with his arms so Ward goes to work on his head. But Ward punches himself out and Gatti comes back, first tentatively, then with vicious shots as he recovers. They trade dominance the rest of the round. It’s a savage round in a savage, ferocious fight. Both men rise well above what could be expected of a human being. It was unbelievable, full of surprises, twists and turns. It was a 3-minute drama. No clinches. If you saw it, you couldn’t believe it. You’ll never forget it.
ALLAN GREEN (former super middleweight title contender):
Round 1. Hagler vs. Hearns.
LEE GROVES (author, journalist):
Round 3, Wilfredo Gomez vs. Lupe Pintor (Dec. 3, 1982).
While there were no knockdowns there was action all the way through. Gomez dominated the first 90 seconds by pinning Pintor to the ropes and whaling away with dozens of bombs. But Gomez made the mistake of hitting Pintor with one too many low blows, prompting referee Arthur Mercante to issue a warning. That gave Pintor enough breathing room to get off the ropes, after which he launched his own counterattack that had Gomez on the retreat. This was the round in which this fight crossed over into becoming a war and by the time it was done it became one for the ages.
HENRY HASCUP (historian, collector, and long-time president of the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame):
Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I
We all thought that the fight was going to be stopped as Corrales was getting pounded, but he unexpected turned matters around. Hearns vs. Hagler, round 1 comes in a close second.
KEVIN IOLE (Yahoo combat sports writer):
Round 15, Holmes vs. Norton
The fight was dead even with the heavyweight championship on the line and the round was sensational, with the guys going toe to toe and landing bombs. Two judges scored it for Holmes and one for Norton, giving Larry the win by the narrowest of margins.
MIGUEL ITURRATE (former MMA matchmaker, writer and Senior Archivist at The Boxing Channel):
Round 12, Chavez vs. Taylor I (March 17, 1990). For sheer drama, this was it.
DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUM (former amateur boxer, co-founder of the National Association of Boxing Commissioners):
Round 5, Caveman Lee vs. John LoCicero, July 9, 1981.
We were crowded into an aging nightclub, the Twenty Grand, on a blistering hot night in the Motor City. Philly transplant Lee, a powerful puncher with either hand, was being groomed by Manny Steward for a title shot against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The fifth round started with Lee pounding Lo Cicero who appeared punched out from the brutal fourth round. For the first minute Lee pounded away with Lo Cicero barely standing upright. Finally, Lo Cicero went down. just beating the count. As Lee went in for the kill, Lo Cicero caught him and wobbled him and Lee was now held up by the ropes with just 40 seconds left. But then Lee caught John with a right and Lo Cicero went down for the second time with just 16 seconds left, but this time he stayed down. William “Caveman” Lee is now 60 years old. The other day he came to visit me in my medical office close to where the Twenty Grand was.
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