Monthly Archives: March 2010

An Outsider Looks In On Abraham/Dirrell Results

By Bobby Mac

March 30, 2010

In my preview of this fight, I threw out the possibility that this fight had the potential to be a classic for the ages.

The fighters did their parts, training to their maximum to utilize their styles to the best of their abilities in the difficult circumstances that each style caused for the other. The expected frontrunner ran to a dynamic lead with the late finisher closing strongly in what looked to be a compelling, dramatic fight to the finish.

Dirrell knocks Abraham to the ropesropes

The finish was sudden and dramatic alright, but it turned on an ugly foul that left Arthur Abraham disqualified as Andre Dirrell fell into unconscious convulsions on the canvas.

The good news is that Dirrell was given a thumbs up release from the hospital where he had been taken as a precaution. The bad news is that boxing was given yet another thumbs down black eye for yet another poorly cobbled together bout that left health assistance to Dirrell dangerously delayed and left Abraham and his team puzzled and dissatisfied over his disqualification.

The contrast drawn between the fighters was stark with the fight playing out much like many had suggested. Dirrell melded quick elusive footwork to a busy attack that kept Abraham covered up for much of the first half of the fight. Abraham started to make adjustments and was closing powerfully as tension built for the championship rounds.


Would Dirrell be elusive enough to survive for the certain decision, or would Abraham close the show with another crunching blow to a young contender’s aspirations? Everyone with a pulse filling Joe Louis Arena was in hog heaven dreaming of their fighter proving his mettle down the stretch and cheering him on.

All would be decided with the controversial disqualification of Abraham by referee Laurence Cole at 1:13 of the 11th round.  In spite of ample video evidence, boxing aficionados have their own eyes, so the events are disputed, but the results are certain to stand. Dirrell wins and Abraham loses by DQ.

Dirrell played hard to get in the 11th round as Abraham chased him down. The End turned on a few precious seconds of action as Dirrell moved to the corner as Abraham closed hard, jabbing his way in. A jab lands to Dirrell’s head as his right foot slipped out just before Dirrell launched a left hook that landed on the point of Abraham’s jaw and throat just before that glove hit the canvas. Is that enough busy action for you?

Cole shouts “STOP” after the glove touches, just before Abraham launches a right hook. As the “P” tails off  Cole’s “STOP” command, Abraham’s hook jolts the jaw of Dirrell, freezing him in place before he falls on his back to the ring apron.

Sheriff sez Hold’em High

These are the split second events that I pieced together from many slow motion replays after the fact. It is important to remember this careful reconstruction is obviously unavailable in that terrible flash  moment of real time when ring action screeches to a stop as chaos breaks out in the ring.

Technically it could be said that Dirrell went down from the Abraham jab that bounced off his noggin, another knockdown that was not called in the fight of another controversy separate from the ending, but regardless, down is down by whatever the means when Abraham’s glove crossed over to Dirrell’s chin.

Viewing things at a distance on video in slow motion after the fact is an odd thing. It gives us superiority over ring officials stuck in the moment in real time. The danger is that we lose perspective of what real ring time means to those making those split second calls. Otherwise, hereto blind men can suddenly see under such advantageous circumstance.

When the slip occurred, Laurence Cole was some distance behind the fighters, not in position to physically intervene. It is unclear how much he was able to see, but Abraham’s back surely blocked much of his view. He may not have seen Dirrell’s left hook bouncing off of Abraham’s jaw, but he seems to have seen the glove fell silent to the canvas a fractional moment before Abraham launches his right hook. It doesn’t seem likely he saw Dirrell’s head a give a little twist upon impact, but perhaps he understood as Abraham has turned to go to neutral corner with gloves up.

Cole advanced as Dirrell goes into convulsions at the most disturbing point of the fight for me. Make that extremely disturbing for me.

Cole seems to wave off the timekeeper’s count at 3 to stand over the convulsing Dirrell. At 10 seconds from impact, Cole yells “FOUL” to someone. A few seconds later he dips down to examine the shaking Dirrell and nearly 20 sec after impact he calls for doctors who enter seconds later.

Cole then walks away and some 30 seconds after impact Cole shouts that Abraham is disqualified and then argues with Abraham about the incident. As far as I could see and hear, the decision was made by Cole without consultation some 10 seconds after impact with his “foul” pronouncement and subsequent “disqualified” pronouncement. That’s the assumption.

So the onus of the disqualification falls upon the actions of Abraham and Cole in those final moments, unless one accepts the premise floated that Dirrell acted out the KO. That seems too implausible for me, a bridge too far, but it’s out there.

So, what of Cole and Abraham is there to assign blame for this travesty? I am but an outsider from distance with no particular insight into the character of either man, but I think it’s a fair and reasonable assessment that both reacted perfectly naturally in the heat of the battle in those final moments. How could they not with the arena screaming their lungs out as Abraham tore into Dirrell for the finish?

It’s mano a mano moments like those that make boxing the King of all sports with the richest, most storied history of all sports, yet this time it all turned bad in a twisted split second that I have no doubt all parties wish they had back to do over again.

King Arthur filed a protest over the unkingly disqualification, but the likely result is that he will just have to live with the loss and learn from it like so many thousands of fighters before him. He is still the tournament leader in good position, but his reputation for good sportsmanship took a hit when he charged Dirrell with acting.

I’ve heard some call for Abraham’s banishment from this tourney, indeed, from boxing itself. I don’t see it. A fighter relies on his fighting reflexes, and I for one cannot fault him for those split second reflexes after coming in with heavy artillery and taking return fire. Ban, boxing if you must, not Rocky Marciano, Marco Antonio Barrera, and too many other storied warriors caught in the heat of battle.

Anthony Dirrell is the winner on paper, gaining his first points and improved rankings. He will have to live with the frightening specter of a shaky threshold of punch resistance in spite of otherwise proving to be a durable fighter in his career.

Laurence Cole has come under scrutiny after previous bouts favoring hometown fighters in Texas and even a suspension. He missed at least two knockdowns and appallingly broke up the action a couple of times for no good reasons when Abraham appeared to have the upper hand.

Why he was chosen for such a high profile bout, and why an out of the mainstream venue like Detroit was chosen after a delay because of an alleged injury are  unanswered questions for a poor promotion that delayed getting what could have been critical medical assistance to Dirrell.

I don’t have the answer on how to make a call like that, but it seems a good deal more discussion was needed to make the call AFTER Dirrell was secured and removed to an ambulance to go to the hospital. I saw a rush to judgment based on fractional technical merit that bore no resemblance to the spirit of the regulations that the letter of the regulations is supposed to represent.

Not even Dirrell’s own team and Showtime can escape scrutiny. His team were cuffing and roughing him about, trying to man him up for a moment he was understandably clueless about and further delayed his transport to the hospital while Jim Gray flitted about trying to gain an interview.

The Super Six Tourney started with a grand gesture by Showtime to bring together fight teams and promoters from America, United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany in an international diplomatic statement of goodwill. Boxing fans were excited, the excitement spread through the boxing press into the mainstream press. Folks stood up and took notice.

There have been 4 fights with all 4 fights won by the hometown fighter. Three of the fights had controversies revolving around the hometown favoritism. The results have been odd to say the least with a split decision, a technical decision, a disqualification, and a dramatic last second KO.

Let us hope the rest of the tourney is stocked with the best officiating and promotional venues available that these fighters deserve. There will always be disputes, grievances, and complaints, but surely boxing can do better.

The Contrast of King Arthur Abraham vs The Matrix Andre Dirrell

by Bobby Mac

Super Six tournament leader King Arthur Abraham is being matched in the fabled Joe Louis Arena in Detroit against Andre The Matrix Dirrell in one of the most important bouts of 2010.

The contrast in the nicknames between the medieval “King Arthur” to the modern “The Matrix” cannot be any more pronounced than the boxing styles the boxers will bring into this bout. Abraham has a very relaxed elbows tucked high guard he employs as his base of ring operations that has seen him to an unblemished championship quality record of 31-0, 25 KO, compared to the high energy frentic footwork flash of Dirrell, currently sporting an 18-1, 13 KO record.

Abraham is the proven fighter having made 10 defenses of his IBF middleweight title before moving up a division to knock out Jermain Taylor in one of the most dramatic and concussive knockouts in fistic history. At age 30 with few demonstrated weaknesses in the ring, he seems in the big middle of his prime years. Jermain Taylor also turned out to be excellent preparation for this Dirrell bout with both having fast footwork, fast hands, and sharp jabs.

Dirrell is largely untested coming off a loss in his biggest fight to date against Carl Froch, part of the opening series of the Super Six tourney. He is an athletically gifted boxer, but it remains to be seen if he can actually win at the top level he now finds himself at. His last 5 fights have been his greatest challenge to date, and while he showed flashes of greatness, he also showed flashes of anxiety which  robbed him of his balance and tangled his footwork. He reminded me of the late great Floyd Patterson’s tendency to go down in the barest of breezes.

Abraham is the shorter, stockier, man, probably the strongest and most powerful fighter in the tourney. Dirrell is the younger fighter, taller and quicker by a significant margin over Abraham, so the physical differences are yet another of many contrasts in this fight.


Before the Battle

So, the $64,000 question those interested are asking is how is this fight going to play out?

Two years ago, Anthony Hanshaw really brought it early to Dirrell, scoring two knock downs Hanshaw was quite unfortunate not to get the call on. Dirrell regrouped enough to trade with Hanshaw and force the stoppage in the 5th round. In his next bout, Dirrell scored a dramatic one punch stoppage of undefeated Mike Paschall, knocking him down and splitting his forehead open. Then came the overmatched Organov and Findley where he simply outclassed and then overwhelmed aspiring prospects.

Abraham has been a Ring ranked fighter since 2005 when he outclassed the #1 Howard Eastman with a decision. By the end of the year, he’d knocked out the 6-4 freakishly tall Kingsley Ikeke for the IBF title that he defended like a Lion against a variety of challengers. Abraham has only had two fights at supermiddle, both non-title bouts that he blasted out ranked contenders Edison Miranda and Jermaine Taylor with dramatic, highlight quality knockouts.

So King Arthur will enter this match as the favorite because he’s much better than any fighter Dirrell has met and he’s also beaten a host of fighters as good or better than Dirrell that possess some overlapping natural attributes.

There is one fight that saw Abraham almost in a life and death struggle, the first Miranda fight. Abraham reportedly lost 2-3 pints of blood after his jaw was broken and seemed to have been given some unsporting extra penalty points and time to recover by the ref. Regardless, recover he did. He was knocking Miranda back at will by the fight’s end to win a controversial decision that he later settled in the rematch.

The switch hitting southpaw Dirrell will be looking to box and move, peppering Abraham with sharp jabs and quick combinations before he has a chance to set to punch. Though winning on the cards against Taylor, Abraham did look ponderous against the quick waterbug defense of Taylor at times. Dirrell also has 13 knockouts in his 19 fights and often marks up his opponents, so he is a live dog in this dustup as long as he comes to fight with some fire and purpose. He cannot rely on spoiling his way to a decision as he tried against Froch against such a quality champion as Abraham is.

Abraham is a devastating puncher who is a solid boxer in his own right, an excellent tactician who intuitively knows when to duck and cover or when to open up. I’d think his team have already spotted Dirrell’s shaky balance in the ring and will be looking to pick their big shots early to build a lead with knockdowns.

Even when not taking punches Dirrell operates on surprisingly stiff legs that belie his fast footwork and quick reflexes. Abraham will put those stiff legs to the test with more pressure than Dirrell is used to which makes me think this will be another Abraham stoppage.

To win, Dirrell would have to bust up Abraham’s face for a TKO stoppage at the discretion of the ref or ring doctor. I don’t see Dirrell’s stamina holding enough to win a decision if he lasts. Dirrell would have to perform well above his previous efforts to beat Abraham. Sure, it’s possible, after all, the Hall of Fame is packed with great fighters who beat bigger odds to establish great legacies.

Dirrell has something of a home advantage in Detroit in spite of never having boxed professionally there and he certainly has the talent, but does he have the fight and the smarts to pull it off?

Stay tuned and we will find out. If the stars all line up just so, they might even duke out a classic for the ages.

Klitschko vs Chambers, The Fat Chances of Fast Eddie

by Bobby Mac

Now, let me be up front and state that I like Eddie Chambers even if I am not always enthralled with his conditioning and style. Fast Eddie comes to fight and brings some stellar natural attributes to his challenge to Wladimir Klitschko‘s titles.

This is, however, not a billiards contest where the sharp shooting and sharp eyes of Fast Eddie might stand him in good stead, but a traditional blood sport that has been incrementally refined over the decades into it’s current twelve round championship format.

Wladimir Klitschko has made himself the master of those twelve allotted rounds, and almost never gives anything away to his opponents, no matter what their style, size, or strength is. Moreover, Wladimir rarely uses all of his allotted rounds, preferring to end fights sooner rather than later.

If careers were measured in rounds and stoppages instead of fights, Wlad and his brother Vitali would be in an elite class of their own, but thankfully careers are not measured in that fashion.

On his way to racking up 53 dominant wins with 47 KOs, a stellar record in any era, Wlad has been beaten in three major upsets against opposition he held almost all the advantages over, much like he does against Chambers, so therein lie the hopes and dreams of Fast Eddie.

Chambers has made upsetting bigger, stronger fighters part of his tidy 35-1, 18 KO record that has seen him to his current #8 Ring rating. He was the first to put a dent in the unblemished records of Derrick Rossy and Alexander Dimitrenko, and he also went the distance with Alexander Povetkin. Recently he defeated the former WBC champion Samuel Peter, all huge, strong fighters by any standard.

So, how does Fast Eddie turn the trick against Wladimir?

For starters, he seems to have whipped himself into a fine shape at 209lbs after stinging criticisms that he was sporting too much baggage. This is near the same form when he upset the massive Dimitrenko in his last fight, which has propelled Chambers into his first title challenge.

Returning to the scene of Wladimir’s last relevant loss against Lamon Brewster six years ago, Brewster used a concrete chin to break the strangely fragile stamina of Klitschko, who collapsed in a heap after 5 rounds. Chambers has proven to have a good chin thus far, but it seems a stretch to have to rely on Wlad collapsing in a heap again, but it has happened once, so the possibility is there.

It was seven years ago that Corrie Sanders used his lightning left hand out of a southpaw stance to surprise Wlad early with a big shot, and never let him recover for an early TKO. Chambers has never shown that level of power early in a fight, but Eddie does have some pretty fast hands and is capable of putting together the type of quick combinations that can drop a heavyweight, so he will be looking for this opportunity.

Realistically though, the above seems implausible for Chambers given the recent championship form of Klitschko, who is in the middle of his prime years. Wlad’s style is to impose a distance fight at range using what is arguably the most versatile jab in heavyweight history. It can be a shotgun in automatic mode, a pawing feint, a slapdown of defenses, or a set up for his excellent hook off the jab. Any fighter getting inside of his jab will be tied up by his prodigious size and strength, if not stretched out on the canvas from his right hand.

It all seems too much for Chambers to overcome, but Wlad is going to have to prove it one more time against the best proven American heavyweight today. Fast Eddie has already proven he belongs, and make no mistake, Chambers is the hungrier fighter with the greater incentive.

HBO thought so poorly of Chambers’ chances that they won’t be broadcasting this fight, which is a real shame. Maybe Chambers loses in a blowout, but he deserves better than being dismissed out of hand, especially since HBO has recently broadcast inferior American heavyweights in their title challenges.

If HBO had shown as much business acumen as the heart and ringmanship that Fast Eddie has shown in his career, maybe they wouldn’t be so rightly derided for poor matchups that have seen them lose market share, and called into question their devotion to the sport of boxing, which seems more oriented to painting by compubox numbers than the fighting spirit of the sport.

I expect both Wladimir and Chambers to acquit themselves quite nicely, so enjoy the moment.

I certainly will.

The Lucky 13 Draw of Luck McCarty

The Lucky 13 Draw of Luck McCarty

By Bobby Mac

March 16, 2010

The date is March 17, 1892, the 5 yrs before Bob Fitzsimmons buried a left hook up the gut of James J Corbett to claim his World Heavyweight Title in Carson, City, Nevada.

Tucked in a tiny enclave so obscure that it’s scarcely remembered today, Driftwood Creek, Nebraska, another legend of the ring and future heavyweight champion of the world was born, Luther “Luck” McCarty.

How many future heavyweight champs are born on the same day as such a momentous heavyweight title bout have there been? What are the odds you ask?

Well, the short answer is only this one lucky young man, yet this wouldn’t be the first time the luck of the draw favored young Luck McCarty.

His father, Anton P. McCarty, was reputed to be an Indian, standing well over 6 feet and well over 300lbs, a big man even by modern standards. With his mother standing 6 foot and a stout 200lbs, it was obvious that young Lute as he was known back then, well, Lute was gonna be a mighty big boy. Even his older sister was big and strong and athletic enough to tour as a woman’s punch bag champion.

Luther’s Ma passed away shortly after he was born, so Pa moved the family to Sidney, Ohio as his new base of operations where he could make the rounds as a travelling medicine man, selling snake oil remedies and other assorted and sordid medicines to the local populace while accompanied by a troupe of “entertainers.” Pa was known by his Indian name of Chief White Eagle and his business had a name, The White Eagle Medicine Company. White Eagle dressed in full Indian garb as part of the performance and walked through the transfixed audience to sell his cure-all elixirs.

Young Lute’s job was to raise and care for the snakes that were the source of the home remedies which may be where he developed his cool, calm and collected ring demeanor that stood him in such good steed during ring combat. He was mature enough to have been married to a local girl named Rhoda and had a baby daughter named Camelia by age 18 when he first left home to pursue a boxing career.

He hadn’t yet stopped growing and filling out before people really started to take notice of this young, strapping, handsome cowboy who as much at home breaking broncos as he was busting up grown heavyweights. His official record grew to an astonishing 15-0-1,15 KO, before his 21st birthday, perfectly positioned to enter the front end of his prime years.

This was no tomato can record either. He was matched hard early and often against some of the big names of the era. Sure, he was raw still and didn’t always look the most polished, and the few bouts that went the distance were often criticized by the papers the next day, but, regardless, his swelling audience and accolades quickly buried any criticism before the ink was dry.

Wait a minute, you say. Who is this Luck McCarty? Never heard of him, so how could he be heavyweight champion of the world?

Well, my friend, listen up to what the New York Times had to say about young 20 yr old Luck McCarty barely a year after his pro debut.


Youthful Heavyweight with Terrific Punch, Who Is Expected to Regain Title.

June 2, 1912, Sunday

Luther McCarty, the youthful giant who surprised the world by tumbling Carl Morris to the ring floor, is not the fortunate child of a lucky punch, as some have intimated. Rather he is the embodiment of all that goes to make the ring champion, the possessor of speed, hitting ability, an aptitude for learning the finer points of the fistic sport, and one of the gamest men who ever laced on a glove.

It wouldn’t be the last time he garnered notice from the NY Times either. After all, he was still in his debut year when he fought a prime era great black contender, Jeff Clark. Folks tend to straighten up and take notice when a big rawboned kid from nowhere bursts through the ropes to fight era contenders.

What’s more, the kid appears to have had a sense of humor and destiny, fighting Jeff Clark as Walter Monahan, Jack Johnson’s sparring partner.

Midway through his 2nd year of boxing, young “Walter” went on a tear, fighting future Johnson challenger and conqueror, Jess Willard, and Johnson challenger Al Kaufman who had gone the 10 round distance against Johnson, but was blasted out of the ring by Luck in the 2nd round. Then it was on to Fireman Flynn who was fresh off his title challenge to Johnson, knocking him out in two bouts in between knocking out the White Heavy Champion, Al Palzer, for his belt. Then he whipped Frank Moran a year before he challenged Jack Johnson. In that torrid 8 month period, Luck whipped 4 of Johnson title challengers it took Johnson almost 6 years to fight, and Luck hadn’t even turned 21 yet.

Great, you say, sign him up, but still never heard of him, so how could he be the champ?

Fair point, but consider that boxing was as fractionalized then as it is today. The white and black heavy champions were making big money and considered “separate but equal” by some. Here is McCarty’s diamond studded belt which was valuable enough to be legally attached by a lawsuit later on for example.

The NY Times again:

January 5, 1913, Sunday

The most meteoric in the history of pugilism aptly describes the career of Luther McCarty, whose decisive victory over Al Palzer at Vernon on Wednesday last has made him the most-discussed personage in all fistiana. Heralded everywhere as the white heavyweight champion of the world, he has the distinction of reaching the loftiest pinnacle in the boxing world in less than two years after he first climbed through the ropes.

It don’t get any bigger for a 20 yr old kid until Mike Tyson stormed the ropes in 1986 some 73 yrs later.

Lute quickly accepted a $2000 per week vaudeville offer in New York City, an act where he dressed in cowboy gear and entertained the crowd with rope tricks and banter much like his Pa’s medicine show did.

A chip off the Big Chief’s block he was.

Speaking of White Eagle, he was always the entrepreneuring entertainer with the sharp eagle eye for opportunity and was quickly besieged by reporters for interviews. Big Chief let it be well known that Luther was not undefeated since he’d never whipped his Pa yet!

With that cat let out of the bag, the Chief was quickly snapped up for a travelling vaudeville circuit and reportedly made more money in a month than he made in a year of being a Indian medicine man. Luck’s good luck was contagious.

But Lute was still a country boy at heart, and when he took time off, his hobby was horses and the mountains.

One of his favorite pastimes was to pack into the mountains for a week or so, shooting game to eat and soaking up the vast isolation like a sponge to cleanse himself of the maddening crowds that were now packing his fights. Maybe a dream or two about challenging the great Jack Johnson in between roping elk, chasing off grizzlies or other wild cowboy pursuits.

The Johnson fight appeared to be all but officially cinched. Here’s what was printed before Arthur Pelkey challenged him in Calgary, Canada, a homecoming to the source of Luck’s debut fight. Note that Jack Johnson is well into his legal problems that ultimately caused him to flee the US for Canada and then Paris, France.

Luther McCarty Willing To Meet Johnson

White Champion Ready To Face The Black Title Holder

Johnson’s statement that he would fight Luther McCarty of Nebraska, white champion of the world, providing he could get permission from Judge Carpenter’s jurisdiction of the court…

Johnson’s proffer of a fight was immediately transmitted to Billy McCarney, manager of Luther McCarty, the white champion, who is training in Calgary, Alberta, for his match there on May 24, with Arthur Pelkey of New England, for the white heavyweight title.

“McCarty has signed for no battles after May 24…he would gladly declare everything except this Pelkey match off on the spot if assured a meeting with Johnson. Further, I want to say that right now McCarty is Johnson’s master, and would beat him sure.”

-Milwaukee Free Press. May 17, 1913

Here’s a publicity photo taken before the Pelkey fight showing the still maturing Luck in the absolute pink of condition.

Yes sir, Luther McCarty surely was the luckiest young man in a America, so much so that he had developed elaborate rituals with his Manager, Billy McCarney. Thirteen was the lucky number chosen as the basis of these rituals, or rather, it seems that the number imposed itself on the team.

As Billy McCarney explained it, there were 13 letters in each of their names as well as in other members of his camp. It was in Luck’s 13th bout that he was propelled to stardom with a big showy KO over undefeated White Hope Carl Morris.13 bouts later he had knocked out Palzer for the White Heavy Championship on the first day of the first month of the 13th year, commonly referenced as January, 1st, 1913.

Moreover, McCarty had gotten exactly $13,000 for that bout. The number 13 started figuring so obviously in the career of Luther McCarty, that Billy McCarney had pins of number 13 made for the team to wear. Soon travel and housing arrangements started to be made with an eye to maintain #13 in room and sleeping car numbers and such as Calgary, Canada, and the correct spelling of his next opponent, Arthur Peltier, both names having 13 letters. The fight starting time was manipulated by McCarney to start in the newly innovated military time of 13:00, which seemed to buoy young Luck in the ring.

So the coffers of young Luck had been overflowing with bountiful good fortune when he decided to take a few days off from training for a horseback ride into the nearby mountains of Calgary. Reports get murky here, but apparently he took a nasty tumble off his horse, not a healthy thing to do even in pastoral conditions much less in the in the high altitude of the Rocky Mountain wilderness where the difference between good judgment and bad could mean the difference between life and death.

What is certain is that the fight against Arthur Pelkey at the Tommy Burns Arena went on as scheduled. However, as happens far too often in the murky history of boxing, the sequence of events that followed the first sounding of the bell differ widely before the fatal conclusion of the bout where everyone finally comes around to full agreement.

They met in the ring and had scarcely commenced to fight before falling into a clinch when young Luck collapsed in a heap on the canvas. Other reports indicate that McCarty had taken a right hand over the heart that caused “valvular” damage. Yet another indicate that Pelkey had landed a straight left hand that snapped McCarty’s head back, breaking a cervical vertebra and causing a fateful hemorrhage. No time is ever given at the point of his collapse in that first round, perhaps because time itself was suspended in horror as the spark of good luck drained out of the fearless cowboy.

Or perhaps time was simply lost in the ring chaos that broke out once it was apparent that Luther McCarty was down for the rest of the ages to follow. Spectators stampeded the exits.

Arthur Pelkey was arrested on charges of manslaughter by authorities at his training facilities hours later and had his bail posted by former champion Tommy Burns who was the promoter of this Calgary bout. The very next day, Tommy Burns Arena burned down in what was thought to be a case of arson. Four grueling days later, Pelkey was cleared of the manslaughter charges by the Coroner’s report.

By all accounts, Arthur Pelkey was a broken man from the moment that McCarty collapsed in front of him.

Offers by theatric promoters flooded in to put him on stage, no doubt in recreation exhibitions of this bout, all of which he seems to have refused. It wasn’t until the following year that he was able to step back into the ring, losing his title to a formidable era contender and Jack Johnson sparring partner, Gunboat Smith. Reportedly Pelkey didn’t want to fight again, but was forced into it because of legal fees incurred to defend himself in the aftermath of this tragedy.

Arthur Pelkey had begun his career as a polar opposite to the young phenom of Luck McCarty. He turned pro in Boston, Massachusetts at the advanced age of 26, doubtless recruited by era advertisements and the clarion calls of newspapers scouring the land for a Great White Hope to restore the purity of the Heavyweight Title.

Pelkey had lost his first two bouts, but hard work combined with his natural size and strength had led him to the top of his profession as champion with an official record of 18-3-1, 15 KO, a solid contender making good. But this was no dream he was living anymore, but a nightmare.

He could no longer defend himself in the ring, losing almost every bout after this fight, usually getting knocked out after a beating. Arthur Pelkey’s record is stacked with a who’s who lineup of up and coming Hall of Famers and era contenders who wanted and needed the eminence of his name on their records to bolster their own as happens in boxing. His fine record tumbled to 22-20-3, 17 KO with a staggering 15 KO losses.

Pelkey settles in Ford, Ontario to become a police officer and city councilman and seems to have recovered a semblance of redemption before tragedy befalls him one last time.

Arthur Pelkey contracted a strange “sleeping sickness” that was sweeping Canada and died at a very young 36 yrs of age, having secured a draw against Young Peter Jackson 3 months prior.

The White Heavyweight Championship Title had fallen into the shadows by then with Jess Willard and then Jack Dempsey having regained the “official” Heavyweight Title. Pelkey was quickly forgotten in the heady days of the Roaring 20s, but Luther McCarty remained an arcane talking point among boxing historians, most of whom rated him quite highly.

Chief White Eagle had buried young Luck in Piqua, Ohio in a ceremony attended by thousands. The remains of his estate went to his young wife, Rhoda, and his daughter, Camelia. Reports vary as to what was left after the vultures had picked through it, but it was estimated anywhere from $10,000-65,000, a small fortune in 1913 and a blessed relief for his small family.

Jack Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act and fled the country shortly after the Luther McCarty tragedy, passing through Canada on the way to Paris.

Few stars have ever streaked across the sky as brightly and fallen so tragically as did Luther McCarty. Lute’s Lucky 13 had turned into a very unlucky year by the end of 1913, but oh what could’ve been a classic between he and Jack Johnson had he not taken that fateful ride into the mountains.

Such is the luck of the draw sporting men live by.

The Class of the 3rd World Vs Boorish Thuggery of the US

The Class of the 3rd World Vs Boorish Thuggery of the US

By Bobby Mac

March 13, 2010
Am I the only one noticing the vast gulf of class between eminent 3rd world emissaries Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey as opposed to the general thuggery and juvenile inclinations of boxing’s unsavory US emissaries, Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley?

Both Manny and Josh have been nothing but gentlemen boxers in the leadup to the big Cowboy dance in Dallas. It goes further, however. Both seem to be genuinely buoyed by the presence of each other and are happy to be part of the historical inauguration of Cowboy Stadium‘s boxing venue.

One could easily see each return for a joyous joint appearance 25 yrs hence shaking hands and signing autographs in a big anniversary celebration of The Event.

Now compare to the unseemly immature thug mentality of the Who R U Picking promotion with the tawdry pulling and pushing posing session that kicked off the Mayweather/Mosley match. Or was this choreographed by some 7th grade class as part of their yearly class play or was this the actual representational mental ages of the two 30ish year old American MEN these days?

But wait, there’s more.

Mayweather is part of a team with long rap felony sheets to rival any team in boxing history and was last seen being part of the promotional team served a civil lawsuit for “allegedly” slandering the career of Pacquiao with Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) accusations.

Shane Mosley has a more sympathetic reputation, but is also a key member of that promotional group and was investigated by a federal grand jury for his role in the notorious Balco Laboratories scandal that resulted in several criminal investigations, convictions, and prison sentences.

Oh, I have no illusions that Pacquiao and Clottey are the sainted reincarnations of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Any of us may have kicked the odd dog or proffered the odd obscenity or otherwise behaved rudely or even dangerously in the maturation process, but most people grow into to the larger social responsibilities of citizenship.

And, doubtless both Mayweather and Mosley have hugged children and otherwise engaged in charitable causes, so it’s not as if they are without some measure of redemption.

A key difference is that Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey are motivated by seeing themselves as representatives for their countries, diplomatic ambassadors if you will. They wish to honor their country and peoples to enhance their reputations and improve their impoverished lot.

There was a book written about Americans by Americans, Eugene Burdick and William Lederer over 50 yrs ago named The Ugly American that has come to be emblematic of far too many American athletes these days.

I guess if there is a positive spin to be put on this minor rant, perhaps it would be that all of the aforementioned parties are free to chose their behaviors, so what you see is who they are.

Well, we shall see who brings the most bottle to the battle soon enough, which is what these promotions are supposed to be about, right?

Perhaps, but I already know which one fans will but popping up for review years from now.

How about you?

The Breakdown of Manny Pacquiao vs Joshua Clottey

The Breakdown of Manny Pacquiao vs Joshua Clottey
By Bobby Mac
March 8, 2010

Come March 13 this Saturday, yet another chapter in fistic history will be etched in stone, but some of us of the sweet science persuasion cannot wait for results. Perhaps some day scientists will isolate the pugilistic gene that defines our lot’s behavioral characteristics, but for the here and the now six days before history is made in Cowboy Stadium, we want to know NOW.

How do these guys match up and what is the outcome?

There are a thousand and one internet boxing sites quoting a hundred and one “experts” already stating the obvious, that Manny is too fast, too elusive, too aggressive, and too busy before the first bell sounds. When added together, however, it all becomes too true, a conclusion that is greater than the possible sum of the figures.

Poor Joshua Clottey seems to have never won a fight given the sum of his plodding, ear muff style figures.

If boxing was only about adding numbers or filling out standard forms for perfect grades, there would be no need for the actual fighting and fight fans would be left withering on the vine. Fortunately, the fighters have to prove it in the ring, and there are bigger underdogs that have upset the favorite than Joshua Clottey.

This bout is more than boxing, it’s also about opportunity which is big. “The Event” is an apt promotional moniker given the growing buzz coupled with a near capacity gate of 45,000 in the shiniest, newest venue in the world, Cowboy Stadium.

The winner moves to the $JACKPOT$, the winner of the May 1st bout between Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather if the fans have their say. Though Pacquiao is the big star already commanding the lion’s share of this purse, they are both financially motivated to win, not to mention the accolades the winner would receive.

So the current ledger reads natural talent and ability mostly on Pacquiao’s side, but Clottey will have size and strength on his side and it must be said that durability also favors Clottey who has never been stopped. Some may poopah the Clottey advantage, but they could play a role in the outcome.

With financial incentive and pride near equal, what of other incentives?

Both are well known in their native countries which also happen to be of the 3rd world and both are on board with making improvements in the lives of their families and countrymen with Pacquiao actually running for office, so both near equal there. Pacquiao might even be distracted from the fight because of politics.

Oddsmakers are a sharp lot and like to look at recent performances as part of setting odds for every fight, so what of recent performances against what kind of fighter and style?

Pacquiao has looked like a flamethrower the way he’s been burning up established contenders and champions with 4 straight Kos, and he also boxed quite well. Have to go back 2-3 yrs ago to find old featherweight rivals, Marquez and Barrera who went the distance. They survived largely by neglecting their offense to box defensively, but they still lost.

Clottey, however, lost his last bout to the fighter Pacquiao last knocked out, Miguel Cotto. It was a tough bloody battle that Clottey lost, and some claim he should’ve been granted the win. He did win the previous five, so for Clottey’s last six bouts, he’s 5-1, 1 KO, but only 3 of those fighters were contender/champion types.

Moreover, only one of Clottey’s six remains relevant in current ranking whereas four of Pacquiao’s last six remain highly ranked so Manny has a big edge not only in recent performance, but against a stiffer grade of competition.

Pacquiao has moved up from super featherweight, so what about the size and strength of recent competition? That would be an advantage in Clottey’s favor, him being the natural welter.

What about the advantage of Pacquiao’s natural southpaw style? Clottey has faced lefties Shamone Alvarez and Zab Judah and won decisions, so while he might be at some disadvantage, he has shown he can win against southpaws.

What other factors are there to influence a fight?

Both signed to the same promoter, Bob Arum, so that’s a wash. Only Manny has ever fought in Texas, 2 big KOs scored in San Antonio against Marco Antonio Barrera and Jorge Solis. The venue might be a small advantage for him, but they will be fighting in metropolitan Dallas/Fort Worth this time.

How about rest versus rust? Pacquaio last fought 4 months ago and sustained a busted eardrum from a Cotto left hook. Rumors were floated that he may have injured a leg in training. Was he recovered from the Cotto fight before rushed into training for this bout?

Clotty had more rest with 9 months off from his own tough bout against Cotto. When does rest turn to rust and when does rust turn to flab? Is there enough time for Clottey to regain his form in good health and condition?

Looks like no particular advantages there since they look ripped and ready. Most fighters go into bouts with nagging injuries anyway, and those things are usually hush-hush.

Most advantages still point in Pacquiao’s favor, but can Clottey leverage his advantage of size, strength, and durability? Style will play a key role in that if Joshua is to upset the odds.

How about the dirt factor?

Manny is generally known as a clean fighter, but he has a busy, buzzing in and out lefty style that leads to unintentional headbutts that often plague lefty bouts. Clottey has a long reputation of leading with his head and often receives warnings in his bouts, even being disqualified 11 yrs ago and winning a technical decision just 2 yrs ago. Headbutts could be a factor.

What can never be measured is when a key point comes in an athlete’s career where he has to either perform above his proven capabilities or be beaten and lose. Well?

Pacquiao has beaten as good or better fighters than Clottey, so is less likely to need to exceed himself. Pacquiao is the best fighter Clottey is likely to ever fight, so, unless Clottey can elevate his performance or land the lucky punch, he seems likely to lose. Pacquiao has to regress in form badly or get careless to lose, possible, but less likely.

It could be hard for both, or it could be easy for Manny, but one thing for sure, this is likely to be a fun fight for fans as long as Josh keeps his noggin to himself.

113th Anniversary of Corbett vs Fitzsimmons, The First Ever Blockbuster

by Bobby Mac

March 17, 1897

I really never got why Hollywood and the rest of the assorted cinema and boxing worlds have never accorded proper respect for the Great, Great, Great, Grandpappy of modern filmed spectacle, the 1897 Heavyweight Title Shootout at The Race Track Arena, Carson City, Nevada with young champion James J. Corbett going against the grizzled veteran champ, Bob Fitzsimmons.

Bob Fitzsimmons

Bob Fitzsimmons

This was “The Fight” long before trifling embellishments such as Century or Millennium needed to be tacked on for distinguishing marketing purpose. It was only the 3rd ever heavyweight championship defense held under those wildly popular new fangled rules drawn up by the Marquis of Queensbury, so public interest was immense.

Noted university professors with boxing experience re-enacted telegraphed round by round descriptions on theatrical stages before rapt crowds. After the dustup was settled, the public got the shocker of their lives months later that changed everything, Thomas Edison’s first ever release of his film of “The Fight.”

The Fight begot all the subsequent cinematic blockbusters that followed and became the lucrative boxing industry prototype for subsequent filmed matches as a supplement to live gate and print media sales. This decades before “Closed Circuit” and “PPV” would be developed. The Fight became a huge theatric hit after it’s debut at the Academy of Music in New York City, May 22nd.

Requested bookings quickly exceeded Edison’s fledgling Veriscope Company capacity, so by fall near a dozen new companies had been formed with territorial distribution rights. They toured the US with improved film footage and newly upgraded Veriscope projectors to show The Fight in big cities and small towns.

New companies were also formed overseas so The Fight could be distributed and seen in Great Britain and Europe, making it the first big international film. Previous cinematographic releases had been novelty “shorts” of only a few minutes or even a few seconds duration, mostly of everyday street scenes or historical re-enactments.

It wasn’t until 1903 release of The Great Train Robbery that box revenues could approach those generated by the real life action and drama of Bob Fitzsimmons and James Corbett’s ringmanship on that sunny 1897 March day.

My goodness, The Fight predated the concept of movie theaters by a decade for a reference point. Without The Fight, the development of movies, movie audiences, and movie theaters would have been much slower to less acclaim.

The Fight was the blue print for the ballyhooed Ali/Frazier Fight of the Century much later that featured two modern era Hall of Fame quality stars with competing claims to the greatest prize in sports, The Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Gentleman Jim was unmarked, undefeated, and played the young, handsome, fleet footed, fast handed, loose lipped dandy full of braggadocio to the battle hardened, quiet, hard working slugger of Ruby Robert 73 yrs before Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier ever became an item.

Jim Corbett

Jim Corbett

The Fight had actually been scheduled to be filmed in the fall of 1895 Dallas, Texas before fainthearted Texas legislators passed a law outlawing boxing. The month before, Corbett and Fitz had hooked up badly in a Philadelphia hotel while on the exhibition circuit and bad blood boiled over, giving impetus to the showdown in Texas. The cancellation setback turned out to be quite fortunate for all involved parties and boxing given the primitive state of cinematography that was still in experimental development.

So, with the Dallas fight cancelled, early in 1896, Thomas Edison cinematographer guru, Enoch J. Rector, found himself following Ruby Robert and Peter Maher on through Langtry, Texas, picked up and guided by the legendary frontier judge Roy Bean who wanted to put Langtry on the map with a title fight. The party crossed over to a tiny sand spit smack dab in the middle of the mighty Rio Grande. That’s Rio Bravo for you Mexican aficionados.

Bird's Eye View of No Man's Land, Rio Grande

Bird’s Eye View of No Man’s Land, Rio Grande

The cagey Judge Bean had matched them on an international no man’s territorial boundary where the Mexican and American law enforcement held each other at bay in what surely had to have been boxing’s first Mexican standoff.

Peter Maher was one of a plethora of turn of the century great fighters that have been forgotten by the passage of time.

Maher was the Irish middleweight and heavyweight champ before immigrating to America in the big Irish wave that swept over US shores. Maher had freshly defeated another forgotten fighter, Aussie Steve O’Donnell, for a dimly remembered claim to the world heavyweight title.

O’Donnell, who was also of Irish extraction, had came to America to fight black contenders Frank Craig and Old Chocolate George Godfrey back to back, and then on to the great Jake Kilrain twice among others and had been undefeated in his American debut.

Apparently in a pique of hysteria over the cancelled Fitz defense, the overly dramatic Corbett had announced his retirement and bestowed his title on the winner that Maher promptly claimed via a neat one minute first round KO of the overwhelmed O’Donnell.

Somehow, Bob Fitzsimmons managed to stay in the Edison contact loop and finagled a title challenge against the new heavyweight claimant, Maher, whom he had knocked out in New Orleans some 4 years previous.

Now, with Enoch Rector impossibly set up with his bulky Edison Veriscope on a here today, adios mañana pile of sand in the middle of a river of legend all set to film the first ever championship boxing match between the champion Peter Maher and challenger Bob Fitzsimmons, the Irishman against the Cornishman with history poised in the making………and then………

…….and then fickle Mother Nature put the drizzle on filming.

Not that it mattered much since in the time it took for a gentleman to light a fine cigar, poor Maher became his own 1 minute victim of the early exit via the murderous punching Fitz. Alas, boxing’s first championship KO highlight reel was lost to a common twist of fate, so we are left to imagine which punch Ruby Robert selected from his vast arsenal.

Rector pulled up sandy stakes and salvaged his ill fated Texas misadventure with the filming of a bull fight up the river in Juarez, Mexico, before returning to Thomas Edison’s legendary Black Mariah Studio for further brainstorming and development.

Championship fights were too few and far apart back in the unsanctioned outlaw days of boxing, not to mention financially out of reach for the average American who followed most of boxing by way of newspaper coverage or attending local bouts. Exhibitions came to fill a needed gap across America. They were steady, legal work that the boxers could supplement irregular fight schedules, and the best boxers could travel now to gain bigger exposure.

Exhibitions also provided cover for the genuine matches since one could substitute for the other as needed depending upon the presence or absence of law enforcement.

Gentleman Jim and Ruby Robert were the lionized ring legends of the day who toured the country to appear in countless exhibitions and plays in between their official dustups. In short, they were their own traveling mints, making silly money at every stop which is how they became to be wooed by the bullish industrial icon and inventor, the no nonsense deaf-genius otherwise known as The Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison didn’t need Hollywood and Q-ratings to tell him Corbett and Fitzsimmons could establish public interest in his newest development. No sir, these were self made men of considerable swagger, intuitive action, and reach who conquered their moment in time like few before or since.

Luckily, in a rare, prescient moment in boxing history, both Corbett and Fitzsimmons agreed to the filmed fight for a $10,000 guarantee and 15% share of the profits for each thanks the reconciliation of an era promoter named Dan Stuart. Of course the old problem that caused the first cancellation still remained, the venue.

No problem once Nevada entered into the mix. With a smooth talker like Dan Stuart painting visions of well heeled hordes of spectators flooding the state with heavily laden pockets, Nevada officials gave back what the Texas Legislature had taken away by passing a law legalizing prize fighting.

Carson City, Nevada was chosen for parity after Fitzsimmons had been infamously disqualified by referee Wyatt Earp in his last fight against popular California Irishman, Sailor Tom Sharkey.

Not sure what it was with all those great Irishmen running amuck in boxing back then. Something in the whiskey they drank I guess.

But what about the fighting of The Fight you might ask?

The fighting was in essence a reprisal of the plot line of the best selling novel of the day, Ben Hur, with two bitterly competitive rivals going at it mano a mano to the bitter end minus the stuntmen, swords, chariots, horses and Jesus. Instead, The Fight featured the presence of legendary lawmen and gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson who oversaw operations to insure a fair shake.

Bat Masterson was the dapper timekeeper captured forever on film in his famous bowler hat tending the ring bell. Wyatt Earp showed his hand again by riding shotgun for James J with “associates” he had assembled for this moment. Fitz had secured his own guns to oversee his interests, so needless to say, everyone was fare thee well hardwared for a fair contest, lending quite a bit of prefight tension in the air.

Both men enter the ring in their robes, pacing about as officials and seconds dicker over last minute setup and instructions. Then the first glimmer of recognition occurs as both fighters are made aware of the presence of the camera and thereby the audience, so they stride over for a look see. Sunny Corbett smiles supremely as he starts to preen a bit whereas the deadly Fitz blinks and then glares into this new intrusion into his world and both go to their corners.

It’s on!

Corbett is the bigger man moving around the ring like an agile big cat, coming in and out of range with a blizzard of feints, flurries, and grapples that never allow Fitzsimmons to get set long enough to get his punches off. Fitz is applying steady pressure, trying to walk his man down and feint a counterpunch, but Corbett is just too fast of hand and foot and too strong and starts to wear the old man down.



Finally, the 6th round, and they trade heavily near a corner with Fitzsimmons being wobbled and having to grab Corbett on his way down. Corbett seems flummoxed by this development, no doubt made aware of the guns of Fitz’s corner, so he pleads to the referee, George Siler, as Fitzsimmons lets go.

Grabbing the ropes, Fitz straightens himself while on one knee to which Corbett leaps in to pummel him, so Fitz wisely holds his position on his knee. He feints another rise, and then comes up quickly and the fight resumes.

Perhaps Corbett was discouraged that he had let his golden opportunity slip away, or perhaps he thought he had the fight wrapped up and grew careless in his confidence. Some say he had gotten too far into the finer dissipations of great champions preceding him, fine wine, food, and women, but whatever the reason, the old man started to slowly reel him in and walk him down by increments.

Then in a quicksilver flash of the first filmed phantom punch, Ruby Robert shot a left hook to the body and Gentleman Jim dropped like a common sack of potatoes, writhing in paralysis!

The Fitzsimmons punching techniques were hotly contested in his day, but the boxing experts concluded it was a legal punch and assigned it a new, scientific name, the solar plexus punch.

Corbett tried to drag himself to the ropes for assistance, but he was too deep in the count. Whatever claim James J Corbett had on the Heavyweight Title of the World transferred to Bob Fitzsimmons in that fateful 14th round.

It was the same punch Fitz had knocked out Sailor Tom Sharkey with in California that Wyatt Earp had disqualified him for. Fitz had sued to impound those stakes, but the presiding judge ruled that prizefighting was illegal and he had no authority. This time Fitz had dueling guns in his corner to offset the favoritism for the champion, so the lions share along with the championship belt was his to keep.

And, fair play, even Corbett’s main man, Wyatt Earp declared, “I consider that I have witnessed today the greatest fight with gloves that was ever held in this or any other country.” Gentleman Jim was not so easily placated though, going after Fitzsimmons when he recovered, his bad blood still boiling over.

The reported profits from the film were an astounding $120,000 after Corbett and Fitzsimmons’ share of the revenues had been settled.

Corbett lobbied heavily for a rematch, but Fitz, perhaps remembering the cancellation and all the profane insults he and his wife had endured trying to get Corbett into the ring, would have none of it. Instead he embarked on a series of exhibitions and plays as Champion for two years that were guaranteed purses with less danger of being filled with bullet holes.

Viewers with sharp eyes and curious natures however recalled a Mountain of a Man in Corbett’s corner that sterling day. That Man, dwarfing all around him, was none other than the soon to be great, another James J out of the Corbett stable of fighters, James J. Jeffries.

Two years later, Jim Jeffries would brutally pound the belt off the heroic Fitzsimmons in a classic Big Man against little man matchup the old man was never destined to win, but oh what a hellacious battle he put up.

Jeffries would go on to rule his era with an iron fist, but he and subsequent champions, the boxing fraternity, and the visual media, all owe an incalculable debt to those men playing their parts to perfection in bringing us the first filmed classic, James J. Corbett vs Bob Fitzsimmons.