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Out of the many champions produced by Argentina, the name of Gustavo Ballas is one of the least discussed and remembered even by some of the most ardent boxing connoisseurs. But “Mandrake,” as he was called in honor of the late magician and to illustrate his wizardry in the ring, was probably Nicolino Locche’s closest imitator, developing an exquisite defensive style similar to that of the fabled “Untouchable” after traveling to Mendoza to train under Paco Bermudez, Locche’s mentor. Ballas became the WBA super flyweight champion in 1981 when he defeated Korea’s Suk Chul Bae in Buenos Aires, but trouble ensued for the Bell Ville, Cordoba native of Greek ancestry, and soon enough he was out of luck, out of a title and out of money, robbing cab drivers armed only with toy guns and screwdrivers to feed his cocaine addiction, and eventually hitting rock bottom with a few long sentences in jail.
But Ballas ducked and countered the slings and arrows that life threw at him to become a substance abuse counselor and a motivational speaker, and this past Tuesday, Dec. 19 he added a primary school title to his trophy case at the age of 59.
“When they played the national anthem at the ceremony, I remembered the day I became a world champion,” said Ballas to La Nacion’s Andres Vazquez. “I am getting old and everything is twice as emotional now. Going to school after such a long time was a tough assignment, but my fear of failing was even greater. And now that I started I won’t stop: I want my high school diploma next,” said Ballas, who ended his career with an extraordinary 105-9-6 (29 KO) record and who eventually plans to study psychology. “You can’t just relax, because life is a challenge you have to commit to every day.” – Diego Morilla
Crackerjack PR consultant Bob Trieger says that 18-year-old heavyweight Derek Anderson is a name to remember. Anderson won gold and was named the Most Outstanding Boxer at the recent USA Boxing tournament in Salt Lake City. In the finals, Anderson scored a 5-0 decision over five-time national champion Cam F. Awesome. It was another heartbreaking defeat for the 29-year-old Awesome (aka Lenroy Thompson) who serves on the USA Boxing Board of Directors.
Derek Anderson, who stands six-foot-two and weighs 200 pounds, comes from Toledo, Ohio. Two other Toledo products, 19-year-old middleweight Oshae Jones and her younger brother Otha Jones III, also captured titles at the Salt Lake City tournament. Oshae Jones is touted as the next Claressa Shields. Her brother competed in the 141-pound class in the youth division. – Arne K. Lang
THE FLOYD-DANA LOVE-HATE BROMANCE HAS TO STOP
They pretended to barely tolerate each other for a long time. After that, they said they were getting together for one big occasion only, like two leading members of a big and dysfunctional combat sports family promising to get together for one last Thanksgiving, with emphasis on giving – too little to the fans, too much to the doggie bags in which they hastily ran away with their respective pieces of the rather large and profitable turkey they cooked together. And now, denying their obvious attraction towards each other is getting harder day after day.
It doesn’t really matter who started it or how is it going to end. But the endless cycle of news and articles involving an alleged interest by Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27 KO) in joining the UFC to make a billion dollars in a handful of bouts is really starting to become a case of two grownups trying to one-down each other on the slippery slope towards a TMZ job audition. Allegedly, Floyd was his usual coy and casual self when he proclaimed that he could wrestle (sorry, “grapple”) about a billion dollars from the UFC if he ever felt so inclined. Dana White, the organization’s president, confused an illusion with a post-dated check and ran to the cashier window like a maniac, claiming that Floyd was just minutes, yes, minutes away from signing with his company. Floyd then denied it, but by then the thermometers had already began measuring the degree of crispiness of that big fat turkey being roasted right before our eyes. Numbers are projected, hypotheses are being drawn, and nonsense explodes everywhere. Did Floyd and Dana call each other a liar during this entire ordeal? No. Do they think we’re a bunch of suckers for falling once again in their little game? Probably. – Diego Morilla
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