Monthly Archives: June 2010

Stars & Stripes, An Independence Day Centennial Review, July, 4, 1910

It’s coming up on the centennial anniversary of the Jack Johnson/Jim Jeffries Fight of the Century, July 4th, 1910.

Raise the Flag

The importance of the order of their names cannot be understated since the aftermath of the fight has seen the reputation of Jack Johnson spike beyond the standard ring legend just as assuredly as Jeffries’ own formidable reputation was left as battered and bruised as he was on the ring apron after 15 rounds of being slowly skewered over the slow roasting fire that Johnson brought to the ring that fateful Independence day.

Look for the usual crusted suspects dating back from the Jurassic era of boxing to be trotted out for the usual stock quotations and tales mixed in with liberal doses of Howard Sackler’s broadway hit, The Great White Hope, the defacto biography of Jack Johnson by way of the larger lazy media.

Slow Dance

Since most accept that the fight itself was a dud, Jeffries was quickly out of clues and out of steam after just a few rounds, how did this fight become so big that spontaneous rioting broke across the American landscape for over a week afterwards?

Much of the dubious credit belongs to Jack London and the prevailing white supremist press of the day who so willingly hyped this ring encounter into a morality play between the battle of the races.

London was the bastard son of the western US frontier, born in San Francisco in the era of John L Sullivan, and raised in a hard scrabble, self educated, itinerant fashion to become a prolific author of books and magazine articles. He famously issued the clarion call that ultimately roused Jeffries from his alfalfa farm to “wipe the golden smile from Jack Johnson’s face.”

Jack London & Charmian

Jack London & Charmian

London was part of the prevailing progressive “socialist labor” movement of the day, and was not shy about examining racial profiles in print, having previously alerted the public to the 1904 menace of “the yellow peril,” a theme that later became the subject of an ambitious science fiction piece he wrote in 1910 called The Unparalleled Invasion, taking place in the futuristic 1975.

Hmmm, might have to review that forgotten work at a later date.

That Jeffries was the overwhelming favorite in spite of being some 6 years removed from boxing and having to shed some 100lbs speaks to the power of the white supremacy movement. John L Sullivan covered the bout for the New York Times was not suckered however, nor was Jeffries himself who could sense John L’s less than enthusiastic assessment of his chances against Johnson and accused him of being in cahoots with Johnson.

Golden Jack

Golden Jack

How Johnson arrived at the point of his biggest fight ever against a ring legend is the stuff of his own self promotional guile where he willingly embraced terrible insults so as to deflect them with the greatest possible humor in the ring for all to see. That persona became the myth promoted by Nat Fleischer, and later that of the other previously mentioned author, Howard Sackler. Johnson became this unbeatable fighter, the likes whom has never been equaled in the ring, only brought down by the legal apparatus of the white establishment.

Yet it was the rusting hulk of Jeffries who was widely considered invincible when he entered the ring that fateful July 4th, 1910. Contrary to modern revisionism, Jeffries was more than willing to fight the prevailing black contenders of the day, with almost a quarter of his record against black contenders. When he affixed the gaze of his formidable bulk on Johnson from across the ring before the bell, it must have been a chilling, “MAN or a mouse” moment for Johnson in spite of his outward sunny confidence.

Jeff was the forgone KO bludgeoner of his day. Nobody could stand against him for the duration.

Ironman Jeff

Ironman Jeff

Thirteen unlucky years previous, sunny James J. Corbett had been dethroned by a single devastating punch by the scowling Bob Fitzsimmons in Reno in the the first ever “Fight of the Century.” Boxing remains the only sport where one single scouring action, THE KNOCKOUT, can wipe out a scoring shutout in a nanosecond, nothing for sunny dispositions to be trifling with.

This sunny day in Nevada, however, proved to be the sunny day that smiled upon the sunny disposition of Jack Johnson, forever altering boxing history, and indeed, the modern interpretation of US history. The Johnson victory is acclaimed as a seminal moment in black boxing history in spite of there being previously acclaimed black boxing champions, George Dixon, Barbados Joe Walcott, Dixie Kid, and Joe Gans, all Hall of Famers.

Johnson netted the lion’s share to the winner, a staggering $115,000 with Jeffries allotted some $90,000, near as much as his entire career earnings as champion, thus proving the real impetus for his return to the ring. Both can thank the hyperbole of Jack London, who to his credit, showered Johnson with all just due praises in his victory, as did Jeffries who proved to be a gracious loser.

Alas, poor Jack Johnson, we had only barely gotten to know him before he ran afoul of the Mann Act, fled the country, and eventually was dethroned and receded into the background like so many great champions before him.

Today, run Jack Johnson through the internet search engines and you’ll more likely end up with Jack Johnson, the modern day Hawaiian musician, not the boxer, but such are the slings and arrows of modern internet memory. Jim Jeffries has been morphed into a modern comedian, the barest shadow of what used to be the truest grit of a man’s character, mano a mano in the ring with no quarter asked, just a fair referee and a handshake on the purse.

It wasn’t the greatest of fights, but thank you Lord for the fighting souls of Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries this 4th of July, 2010.

We should be so lucky to be remembered 100 yrs hence.

http://budweiserboxing.forumcircle.com/viewtopic.php?p=26770#26770

The Prince & The Pauper, The Tale of Two of Boxing’s Native Sons

Boxing’s closest thing to Mexican royalty, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will be going mano a mano this Saturday against Boxing’s current resident native pauper, Ireland’s John Duddy for one of the WBC’s freshly minted titles, the WBC Silver Belt.

Junior, by way of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, is a chip off the old block of Senior, the Son of the Legend as the promotions go. He’s young, age 24, darkly movie star baby face handsome, undefeated with a 41-0-1, 30 KO with his sole blemish, the draw against Carlos Molina promptly avenged, and Junior is a fringe contender, holding WBC youth, Continental, and Latino titles.

Duddy, by way of Derry, Northern Ireland, is a chip off ye olde Green Shamrock, the Son of the Leprachans of the Emerald Isle. He’s prime, age 31, movie star ruddy red handsome with jagged scar tissue, and once defeated, 29-1, 18 KO, his sole blemish coming against recent middleweight title contender, Billy Lyell. Duddy is also a fringe contender with near identical boxrec ranking to Junior and holder of WBC Continental and IBA middleweight titles.

Even their native flags are near identical:

Mexico

Mexico

 

Ireland

Ireland

Both turned pro in 2003 and have been promoted smartly ever since in their selected ethnic markets, such that this match could easily be conceived by those of a more nationalist bent as Mexico vs Ireland in this season of the world cup.

Critics of the two who are many and quite vocal, insist they are nowhere men, severely lacking in skills, nuance, art, and heart, well protected from the big dogs of the division. The problem with that argument is there are few big dogs in the division they might need protection from. Both have come up against their fair share of prospects and fringe contenders, and Duddy has faced genuine contenders and former champions.

Now is the time chosen to move them along to a real title challenge, and one can only hope it’s the winner who gets that call, but such is not always the case in boxing.

You can safely dismiss the critics for this one as far as the fight goes. Both are decently skilled distance boxers who love nothing more than to end up in a good old fashioned nose to nose slugfest, exactly the mix of styles the casual boxing fan loves that has made these two big ticket sellers in fan friendly fights.

Chavez Jr is the bigger name, and thusly attracted the attentions of Boxing’s current Svengali, Freddie Roach, who assiduously adopted Junior for some 3 weeks of tweaks and fine tuning in advance of the expected pre 4th of July fireworks. That type of grooming alone makes Chavez the favorite, but Duddy’s stiffer competition makes this a close enough fight that you might want to lock away the deed to the family farm in a secure location and handoff the key to the wife.

Chavez vs Duddy

Chavez vs Duddy

Both are also near identical height and reach also, but the intrigue is that both are new to this, the biggest, most acclaimed fight of their careers, so how do they react to the attention and pressure?

My theory is that Junior has been under public pressure from his first day as a pro, being constantly compared to his legendary father, and yet has remained unblemished. Duddy has been under a different pressure, coming up the hard way, slowly building the public acclaim to finally arrive on his biggest stage yet. It’s fair to say that he is the hungrier fighter, and I think he will recognize the rowdy San Antonio boxing crowd in a similar vein to the raucous Irish boxing fans at home.

Everything is pointing to a spirited, hotly contested fight, the kind that can only benefit both fighters no matter the winner. My crystal noggin foresees a Junior victory, perhaps Duddy being a victim of his previous scar tissue. I do see Duddy has having the slight power advantage with perhaps Junior’s chin not yet being properly tested, so this could have a surprising end.

Regardless, it’s Win/Win for the fans, so get ready for a rumble down Olde San Antone Way.

Ward vs Green, The Prefight:

Undefeated Andre Ward defends his shiny new WBA belt against replacement Allan Green as part of the ongoing Super Six Tourney this coming Saturday.

Ward vs Green, simple, right? Just basic American single syllable names in a simple basic rockem-sockem American style fight, right?

Let’s take a look.

Green was the replacement for Jermaine Taylor who chose to withdraw from the tourney after being knocked out so devastatingly by Arthur Abraham. Hard to believe that Allan Green has kicked around as a pro now for some 8 yrs now without ever beating a top ten contender or receiving a single title shot, but there it is, the dilemma of the modern American fighter, nibbling around at the fringe, darting among the shadows.

Andre Ward

Andre Ward

The Ward challenge represents a quantum leap in class and opportunity against another American oddity, America’s last Olympic gold medalist in boxing from the 2004 team. Andre Ward was supposed to be another Golden Boy, a 20 yr old phenom turning pro in the golden hills of California with a sunny, smiling disposition borne of golden Olympic credentials, yet he too has seemingly had a modern American shadow cast on his career, nibbling at the fringe primarily in California.

In the biggest fights of his career, 3 of his last 4 will have taken place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California, perhaps a testament of the residual weight Olympic Gold carries in these barren American boxing days. Currently the hometown is vastly favored in the Super Six Tourney, 5-0, so the hometown advantage is quite distinct. Green has also campaigned mostly in his home state of Oklahoma, but he has traveled to distant locales within the US and even made it Puerto Rico for his biggest fight, Edison Miranda, whom he dropped a 10 rd decision to.

Oddly enough, Andre Ward has never once fought in Las Vegas, much less Nevada, nor has he appeared in Madison Square Garden, very unusual for such a uniquely all American creation. In comparison, Green did make Las Vegas on a Friday night undercard as a 4 rd novice, but otherwise has stayed away from the glittering lights.

So, the oddsmakers will be making Ward the big favorite with him coming off his biggest win against the top ranked Mikkel Kessler combined with the glittering amateur credentials and hometown advantage.

Ward does have a strike against him though, he’s also coming off of reconstructive knee surgery after the Kessler bout. We saw an example of how devastating knee problems can be a few weeks back in the Yuri Foreman defense against Miguel Cotto, so until the knee is properly tested, there will be a concern to any players as to the odds they’re getting.

Allan Green

Allan Green

Allan Green has had far more serious medical problems though, having had most of his colon removed back in 2007, a major debilitating operation. He seems to have rebounded nicely with 5-0, 3 KO record against fringe contender types, but as mentioned, as yet still untested against top opposition.

So the bout has some intrigue born of both fighters needing a testing to see what they have left. Andre Ward represents the boxer in this bout with his unblemished 21-0, 13 KO record. He was rumored to have a soft chin that needed soft opposition coming up, but his chin was intact with solid performances against big punching Miranda and Kessler, so perhaps those rumors were unfounded.

Ward is meeting a huge, hard punching fighter in Green who turned pro at the lightheavy limit and has been as high as 181 lbs, but Green made a career decision in 2005 to campaign in the super middle class, so here he is, 29-1, 20 KO, feeling neglected and hungry for opportunity which finally seems to be unlocking it’s doors to him.

As to the tactics, well, Ward is going to use movement to keep Green moving and box him in and out much like he did Miranda and Kessler. Green is going to box to prevent himself from looking bad on the cards, and setting traps, looking for the big counter or hands down moment to deliver his bomb. It should be a decent technical fight at very least, and it could be a dramatic fight if Green can solve Ward’s footwork and put him in some trouble.

Logic dictates a Ward win, but I’m going against all logic here because I feel Green will be in the condition of his life and has some untapped potential that might well prove to be America’s newest Superman’s kryptonite.

So, it’s Green for me unless some breaking news comes out that would alter my pick. I just got that funny feelin’.

6/21/10- Post Fight Review:

Well, excuses are like gas, everyone has some, but it was well noted in the media that Green may have overtrained, and, indeed, that appears to be the case as Green as the bigger, allegedly stronger fighter having been as high as cruiserweight early in his career, turned up as weak and meek and tiny as a newborn kitty.

Punch Swap

Punch Swap

It could be that the 80% bowel resectioning has weakened him enough to be exposed at the elite level, or maybe the hype of the interviews coming into his first major event took a mental and physical toll on Green as he only weighed 166 after previously being at the 168 lb supermiddle limit in his last two fights. He certainly had the style, the punch, and the reach to be a major danger, but, Ward tossed a blanket on his tiger and smothered him inside, near suffocating Green by the end.

I’m reading in the Ring blog where the author acknowledges the boredom of the bout, but justifying it on thrilling technical merit, but I’m sorry, but that’s complete hogwash. It was a fight that was 90% contested inside, nose to nose, grabbing and tossing out popcorn and kisses for punches. Nobody was ever buzzed, staggered, or more than barely mussed from the best punches.

That reminds me of a host of great inside work done by Dick Tiger who was The Man slaying a landscape of monsters in his day. Thinking also of scarcely remembered crown jewels of boxing such as Griffith/Paret III and Frazier/Quarry I & II if you want to see the way the all timers do nose to nose blasting demolition against prime hungry man eating predators.

For me, the best fights of the super six series have been Froch/Kessler who brought some old school technique and toughness into that donnybrook, and Abraham/Taylor which featured Taylor in the physical condition of his life working Abraham as hard as he’s ever been worked in his career to give it all up with one of the most dramatic one punch KOs you can ever witness.

Moreover, not that hometown cooking played  a role in this final result, the hometown fighters are 6-0 in the series. I do take issue with the scoring as Green was game and fighting even up with Ward through the first 5 rds before his boiler ran out of steam. He operated at around 20% capacity after that, just using his skills and experience to hold on for the big Home Run Shot Heard Round the World that never came.

Queuing up as we speak, perhaps Froch/Abraham can deliver a Fight of the Year classic, with some possibilities for Ward/Dirrell and Green/Kessler.

Yes they can…….keep hope alive……..and never say die when one punch changes everything.

My Thoughts on Agape Boxing and Gypsy Jem Mace

Gypsy Jem

by Bobby Mac

I  was walking my dog Dingo Red the other evening. Normally we do our thing in the cooler morning hours, but I was in desperate need of a shower, so I cobbled together a quick workout regimen to get good and lathered up before my shower, ie, a brisk walk of Red around the park followed by some spirited bag work.

So we made our rounds in the park which includes a walk around the small parking lot at the Salvation Army Church which has organic vegetable gardens growing in the back lot.

Weeks previous, I had noticed a small sign on one of the side doors to one of the wings of the church, Agape Boxing.

“Hmmm,” I thought, “What’s this? My side of town doesn’t have any boxing gyms.”

I peered in, and couldn’t see anything because of darkness, so I made a mental note to keep checking to find out if anyone ever showed up to train. No such luck, the door remained locked and the lights remained dark.

Finally, this evening, I hit the jackpot. The door was thrown open and stopped in place, so I peaked inside and saw a well equipped little facility that looked to be buzzing along. Since I had Red with me and smelled like a bum sleeping in a sewer, I wasn’t yet in fit circumstance to enter for inquiries.

I went ahead and finished Red’s workout and launched into my bag session, and then hopped into a blessed hot shower. I emerged starving, but I didn’t know how long the Agape Boxing Club would remain open, so I skipped dinner and hightailed it over there still dripping in hopes someone was still there, and, sure enough, it was still humming along. Big fellow resembling Ken Norton working the heavy bag near the entrance nodded at me, with maybe 8-9 guys total in various stages of work outs centered around the one sparring ring.

Fellow by the name of Mike Lopez called me out, so I went over for introductions, and what a friendly gentleman he was for a young whippersnapper. Well spoken and informative also. He was the assistant trainer of this boxing club with his father being the head honcho, but away at the moment.

Mr. Ken Norton’s twin turned out to be the Texas superheavyweight amateur champion, and the Texas lightheavy champ was busy doing laps in my park that I do my laps in, so, wow, what a revelation to find out some top boxers had invaded the neighborhood.

Now, lemme tell you, the odds of running into a box gym in Austin are slim and none, and on my side of town, I’d given better odds of finding a $1000 bill in the park than finding a boxing gym, so I felt a divine obligation to go in and probe the background story.

Mike says they have 15-16 kids from 8 yrs of age to early 20s that they train, and that 7 are in the amateur USAB program, and these boys have some credentials as you can see. The trainers are LCB 1 certified and the club is a Christian organization sponsored by the Salvation Army.

There was one heavily tattooed artist whirling up miniature twisters next to him as he breezed through the skiprope routine for the entire 10 minute duration of my conversation with Mike, including before my arrival and after my departure.

Mike says the facility is open to the public, but it looked to me like he was running a tight ship, so I asked if I could come and do some sparring. He was very cool with his funny look that he gave me, but he said, sure, but I have to come in and work out, ie convince him I could get out the way of my shadow before he would deign to sic one of his boys on me. Fair enough.

I’ve been recently reading up on Gypsy Jem Mace who was reknown for his fitness and health into his 70s. He fought a prime HOFer Charley Mitchell in Scotland for the English title at age 59, drew with Mike Donovan at age 65, and was still giving exhibitions well into his 70s. I could never surpass ye olde Gypsy on that front, but stranger things have happened in boxing. Just think of the miracle of St. Leon.

However, the thought of me having to lose my two front teeth makes me cringe though, so perhaps I’ll leave the miracles of St. Leon in my pipe of dreams where they are better savored.

So, those are my thoughts on Agape Boxing and Jem Mace in a nutshell. Neither knows or knew the first thing about the other, but for some strange reason known only to my Creator, I do.

Go figure.

Bare Knucks-A Modern Twist

By Bobby Mac

Ongoing negotiations between former title contender Bobby Gunn and Kimbo Slice

LINK(3 parts):

http://www.examiner.com/x-42747-Fort-Smith-Boxing-Examiner~y2010m6d2-Exclusive-interview-Bobby-Gunn-in-negotiations-with-Kimbo-Slice-for-BareKnuckle-fight 

Mr. Slice

Mr. Slice

Excerpt:

LS: Tell me about this possible matchup with Kimbo Slice.
BG: Okay, here’s how it would go down, Lorne. It ain’t going to be a street fight like you see on YouTube. It would be under the London Prize Fight Rules, or the rules of John L. Sullivan, before the gloves came. When the gloves came, they were the Queensberry Rules. This will be an old-time, proper fight with a referee and judges.

———————————————–

Any of me olde Boxing Banter bandies may recall I proposed bringing back select prize fights under the old LPRR(London Prize Ring Rules) rules to compete with the MMA and attract a new participant and viewer.

Still think it’s an excellent idea.

Mr. Gunn

Mr. Gunn

BTW, I’m picking Gunn which is why the fight probably won’t be made. Everyone knows it. Probably Slice’s team would pick Gunn to put their money on.

I’d pick Gunn in the backyard as well, on the roof, on the dock, in the empty swimming pool.

Phone booth belongs to Kimbo.

If they could find the proper venue which they are sorting, the fight could be pretty big and make each some good money as the big promoters and other middlemen would be cut out. They’re talkin’ PPV also, which may not be realistic given how squirrelly the network honchos are, but it’s an idea who’s time has come IMO, except for one thing.

The Blood.

In a fight to the finish, it’s gonna be a bucketful in each corner, and moderns are squeamish about that. I know I prefer extreme cases to be stopped. Still………

Hmmmmmm, I can hear it now:

Gentlemen, please bring your fighter to the scratch line. The fight shall commence!

June 5, 2010, The State of Boxing

by Bobby Mac

For the true boxing fans, Fridays and Saturdays are days of pleasure and sometimes intense excitement when good fights are scheduled.

This coming Friday is pretty much a wash with few prospects fighting to supplement the stock journeymen fights. Saturday is where the fights are this week, so I’m going to display my bias by listing the most important ones in the likely chronological order they’ll be fought in.

First in the breech, we have a superior all action dustup of two hungry, undefeated fringe contenders in Istanbul, Turkey between Selcuk Mini Tyson Aydin, 19-0, 15 KO and Ionut Jo Jo Dan Ion, 26-0, 14 KO. The shorter 26 yr old Aydin fights in a very strong, aggressive style as his ring alias would suggest and he’s in his backyard for this fight. Jo Jo Dan is a very popular Rumanian fighting out of Canada with a significant height and reach advantage and will be looking to box and move Aydin around the ring.

The fight is for the newly minted WBC Silver Welterweight Belt and a possible Ring ranking. Aydin is fairly crude, but unbelievably strong with more experience at the top level, so I’m picking him, but Jo Jo Dan could be the new kid on the block after this, so if you can pick up the fight, it’s definitely worth a look.

Next, we have an excellent cruiser bout between top ranked Steve USS Cunningham against a new top ten contender, Troy Ross out of Canada. Interestingly, perhaps a reflection of the poor state of boxing, they have to go to Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany to make this fight, wherever the heck in Germany that is.

I don’t know very much about the 34 yr old Ross except for his fine 23-1, 16 KO record, but on paper, he looks like a decent matchup for the 33 yr old Cunningham with his 22-2, 11 KO record. Looking a bit closer though, Ross has never been in against this elite class of fighter before. Cunningham has been in against the best in the division, and will have some significant height and reach over the much shorter Ross. Cunningham has also been very competitive in his only 2 losses and is a very artful technical boxer.

So Cunningham should be a big favorite, and unless Ross has some untapped potential that nobody has seen yet, The USS Cunningham should blow him out of the water convincingly to grab the vacant IBF title that Tomasz Adamek vacated last year.