Tag Archives: mike tyson

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko~A Battle of the Unknowns?

Anthony Joshua defends his IBF heavyweight belt with the chance to win the vacant WBA Super Heavyweight and IBO heavyweight belt against former forever champ, Wladimir Klitschko, Saturday, April 29th @ Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London. That’s in merry olde England for those that need to know.

Anthony Joshua vs Wlad Klitschko~It's ON!

Anthony Joshua vs Wlad Klitschko~It’s ON!

This is a huge opportunity for both with each being a magnificent scalp for the other in the legacy of great fights that this promises to be. This also represents a prime 27 year old fighter with an 18-0, 18 KO record against a past prime, 41 year old fighter with a 64-4, 53 KO record coming off a terrible loss when the plagues of his personal life heavily shackled him against his biggest ever, most fight worthy opponent in Tyson Fury. Nobody really knows just how good Joshua may or may not prove to be just as nobody really knows if Wlad is truly washed up as his critics are want to say. Prior to  his loss nobody but the loony Uncle Teddy’s of the world would be picking Josh in this fight, but now Josh is the slight favorite going into the fight. That tells me that the gaming pros who make their living having to set the best odds to rake in the greatest number of bets to turn a healthy profit on whomever wins essentially see the fight as even. That the fighter mutual unknowns seems to be lost with regrettable “Ring boxing experts” picking Josh by a 29-1 margin is one of a host of sideshow stories created in the big excitement of the biggest heavyweight fight in many years.

As a point of comparison, 19 year old Mike Tyson was also 18-0, 18 KOs early in his career, but he was still just a developing kid. Josh is much more mature 27 years old and has a rather settled, pacific way about his public profile for a young man, full of the trappings and fabulous purses of an all time great champion, yet still a gangling teen in accumulated pro rounds, only 44 compared to Tyson’s 34 rounds at that same stage. Josh has already defeated better fighters than Tyson though, so perhaps those 44 rounds represent a soon to be great all time prodigy. Thing is, Wlad is going into his 69th fight with all the twists and turns of 358 pro rounds, and in no way looked past his sell date until the Fury fight.

Folks have been asking how long will it be before we have another dominant heavy champ like Wlad. All I can say is just as Joe Louis was a record setting, once in a lifetime heavy making his debut in 1934 some 62 years prior to Wlad making his debut in 1996, so by those numbers it won’t be until 2058 until a fighter of their caliber makes his debut to fill the Wlad gaping gap. Much of Wlad and his brother Vitali’s careers have been spent getting little respect from the public fans and media save for their high Ring and Boxrec ratings, yet here now strides the affable British colossus with enough natural attributes, prime, youth, and unbeatable career momentum to knock Wlad out of boxing and upset cold statistical models.

Some 90,000+ rabid fans will be cramming Wembley Stadium to stress out their facilities to the max in anticipation of a monumental battle, so both have much to be thankful for as the heavy division becomes the most relevant division in boxing for at least this fight in this year.

However, bizarre performance reports out of the Wlad camp would seemingly indicate he is “shot.” I can guarantee he is no where near shot, but in spite of his breezy self confidence going into the fight, I could in no way guarantee the result because both have so many unknowns going into this bout. The bad rumors are likely planted by the betting agencies to spur what is near guaranteed to be monumental money being wagered. The gaming industry has a dirty business model in that regard. Wlad, although quite experienced, has an additional uphill battle with the traditionally dirty BBB of C oversight of judges, referee, and other official selections that have as much influence as the fighters have on the outcome. Such is the current shameful nature of boxing’s dubious official oversight of the sport.

The still young Tyson Fury who is turning 30 this year can be blamed for creating this perfect storm of an all time heavyweight boxing promotion when he mentally unraveled after his grand upset of Wlad in 2015. Now he weighs in as blob like 350+ lbs and has been seeking treatment for cocaine dependence and depression, so he’s out of commission until sometime next year, if ever though he has reported to have, cough-cough, entered training, perhaps for a Kebab eating championship. For now he’s pretty much confined to buckets of kebabs and idiotic twitterings.

Someone had to fill his big shoes, and as it turned the Fates have lined up young Joshua for opportunity of a lifetime. And then they lined up Wlad for the same opportunity. The only two fights that have bitter rivals Showtime and HBO working together were Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, and both of those fights were duds because they happened way past the fighter’s best years. Wlad may be past his best, yet still in tremendous shape, but here is Joshua at his very best and still rising, so I smell knockout by one or the other.

Wlad also has a rare opportunity to beat his 3rd Olympic heavyweight Gold Medalist in Ray MercerAlexander Povetkin, and now Josh. Wlad may be the only one to beat two heavy gold medalists as it currently is.

Josh vs Wlad~Who YOU Got?

Josh vs Wlad~Who YOU Got?

Josh vs Wlad~Who YOU Got?

Josh vs Wlad~Who YOU Got?

It’s rare to have such a big fight between heavyweights with so many unknown factors going into the fight, and don’t think the fighters don’t know it as well. These are top, highly motivated pros and will be looking to exploit the least little edge, so, Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

WBC Emeritus Vitali Klitschko Returns For Historic Scrum of 20 Heavyweight Champs

WBC Emeritus Champion Vitali Klitschko is supposed to be on his way to a historic scrum of near two dozen former heavyweight champions Saturday, September 5th. Former Vitali victim, the permanently topless Shannon Briggs, 58-6-1, 51 KO, goes against Michael Marrone, 21-4, 15 KO, in the main event of this heavyweight brouhaha at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The Mayor of Kiev has had his hands full since elections with the ongoing Russian military conflicts over Ukrainian sovereignty. He was seen last week in Kiev watching Ukrainian compatriot and fellow boxer Oleksandr Usyk demolish South African Johnny Muller, so I assume K2 Promotions he runs with his brother Wlad are doing well these days.

Projected  former world heavyweight champions slated to attend include reigning champ Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Michael Spinks, Tony Tucker, Roy Jones Jr., Michael Moorer, Ray Mercer, Hasim Rahman, Tony Tubbs, James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Chris Byrd, John Ruiz, Mike Weaver, Evander Holyfield, Tim Witherspoon, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Pinklon Thomas, Michael Bentt, Lamon Brewster, Leon Spinks and Bruce Seldon.

Neon Leon Spinks will be the most senior of the champs dating back to his shock of Muhammad Ali in 1978  who is likely unable to attend due to his poor health. Other projected absences would be Herbie Hide(jail sentence,) James Toney(stripped by IBF after positive steroid test,) and David Haye(recovering pinky toe.)

In particular the new owner of “regular” WBC heavy strap, Deontay Wilder may also be missing in action even though he’s only a hop and skip away in Alabama(Sugardaddy Al Haymon, his overseer, passed on a $2 million dollar Shannon Briggs offer to challenge Wilder for considerably less against a Frenchman in Alabama. I don’t make this stuff up folks, only in boxing)

Can’t say I know many of the details, but presumably there will be a meet and greet type banquet with requisite speeches prior to the boxing matches. Probably some autograph and picture sessions, the usual splashy stuff that would befit this historic occasion. It’s telling how many “champs” have been packed in this 37 year span, yet less than a handful could be said to have been dominant, and only Wlad can be said to have cleaned out the division, a couple of three times now as he is tying and breaking Joe Louis heavyweight records.

To Be Or Not To Be Undefeated, Is That Really A Question?

To be, or not to be–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing end them.

http://www.monologuearchive.com/s/shakespeare_001.html#zvRdClc6x7OyrpMg.99

In tribute to the most ballyhooed undefeated record of an active boxer since Julio Cesar Chavez ran his record out to 89-0, and perhaps with the gentle lassitude of centuries passing, a comparison to the first great undefeated boxing record, that of John L. Sullivan to that of Floyd Mayweather Jr might be instructive.

John L, The Boston Strong Boy

John L, The Boston Strong Boy

The Boston Strong Boy turned “modern” boxing on it’s nascent head by not only becoming the first recognized heavyweight champion under the new fangled Marquis of Queensbury rules, but he became boxing’s first “fully unified” champ of sorts when he also claimed the last remaining bare knuckle title claim under Revised London Prize Ring Rules in a memorable, a quite remarkable contrast of styles against Jake Kilrain down Mississippi way.

Sully was in the final days of his long standing dissipation from the ravages of a great fighter’s most formidable enemy, that of the gross excesses of wine, women, and song, unceasing calls carousing like sirens set loose in the night ensnaring those possessing such great fame and fortune as did Sully. He was only at age 30, a figure usually considered near the peak of most traditional sports, but not necessarily so in such a brutal sport of the era of boxing that he fought in.

Sirens singing their fatal calls for Ulysses

Sirens singing their fatal calls for Ulysses

John L reaped a fortuitous turn of The Luck of the Irish when impossibly he agreed to the spartan training regimen of the champion Greco-Roman wrestler and physical trainer of the era, William Muldoon, a son of Irish immigrants just like Sullivan who cut his own swath of considerable size and strength to match his advanced theories of physical cultivation that brooked no stick from any man. In short, he was the last man standing in the world that John L could respect enough to set aside his massive ego and pride to be ruled over those many months it took to cut out the fifty some odd pounds of flab and add the hard conditioning and strength that the 220 lb Sullivan commanded at his best.

William Muldoon

William Muldoon

Sullivan had already “unified” any of the standing claims to the Marquis of Queensbury gloved rules and really had no need for another bare knuckle unification added on to his own claims. The problem he shared with Floyd Mayweather was profligate spending that ultimately left him in needs of funds despite being literally a walking mint in his prime years, an estimated ring earnings of near one million dollars on top of his considerable touring exhibitions of boxing, plays, and other public appearances that likely exceeded his ring earnings.

Consider how staggering those figures were in the considerably deflated 19th century dollars where few American citizens earned more than a few hundred dollars every year, if even that.

Building the secret Mississippi venue

Building the secret Mississippi venue

Jake Kilrain was something of multi sport athlete, being both a champion sculler in his early days before turning to boxing and the considerable income brought in by being a claimant to the heavyweight bare knucks title. His style has some overlap with that of Mayweather, being a lithe 178 lbs against the considerably stronger, more powerful Sullivan, and of being a wrestler and clincher of considerable skill combined with a limited light tapping offensive arsenal operating out a running, contorting defense that went down upon the landing of any heavy or light blow landed by the soon to be frustrated Sullivan. Kilrain’s style was the practice of the defensive masters under LPRR rules.

Last Bare Knuckles Fight of Champions, Jake Kilrain vs John L Sullivan

Last Bare Knuckles Fight of Champions, Jake Kilrain vs John L Sullivan

The reigning consensus of the day was that Sully could not maintain his strength over distance much less in his current bloated, dissipated state, so imagine the Kilrain shock as Sullivan stripped down to reveal a Muldoon rejuvenated John L in better condition than ever. There were at least three dozen knockdowns and throwdowns or more of this contest that went 75 rounds, too many to count with most every one being the game Kilrain hitting the turf. He was successful in defensively extending out Sullivan beyond the point of no return, alas, to no avail by the end. Kilrain retired on his stool at the end of 75 rounds, pulverized beyond recognition after going far beyond any prudent notion of survival instincts, unable to do more than lift a pinky to wipe his bloodied face while drawing painful breaths.

Sullivan was undefeated under Queensbury rules, an amazing 38-0, 32 KO record of what would prove to be one of the highest knockout ratios in boxing history at 84%.  He was also undefeated under his dozen or more bareknuck fights with many more savage knockouts. He promptly sauntered forth on a greatly renown tour to be feted by his fans, yet still savaged by his enemies who had long spared no expense with full page challenges of his reputation of being an intemperate, bull necked, drunken brute of a bully. Sullivan did not have to return to the ring some 3 years later in a such a poorly trained corpulent  state to go against his former sparring partner and touring buddy, James J. Corbett. They had conducted a boxing exhibition in formal dress attire when the cocky, youthful manner of Corbett became the final challenge to the fierce pride of Sullivan.

So Sully ultimately went out on his shield, finally giving satisfaction to his vehement critics, but not before 21 hard rounds against a lithe boxer and mover in his prime. Noteworth was that Corbett was also considerably bigger and stronger than Kilrain with more offensive nuance at his disposal.

Fast>>forward 123 amazing years later spanning three centuries and here we are again in 2015 with Floyd Mayweather currently standing at 47-0, 28 KO after having finally rising to the top of the monied food chain of boxing. He rakes in more than his fair share of the billions, sometimes trillions the US government issues in printed money and debt every year. Where does boxing and Mayweather go from here?

He has more in common with James J. Corbett who was 9-0-2, 3 KO than he has with the powerful John L who was the proto undefeated Mike Tyson of his day. Corbett had also had defeated the unbeaten under Queensbury rules version Jake Kilrain who was also closer to Mayweather than to Sullivan. Kilrain was 19-0-9, 12 KO coming off his grueling bareknuckled beating by Sullivan the year before going into the Corbett 6 rounder which can hardly be seen as significant given the light nature of the fight.

Kilrain would log several more wins culminating with his last significant win in a fight to the finish under Queensbury rules against era black contender George “Old Chocolate” Godfrey. It was recorded as a thrilling contest of skill until Godfrey landed face first in a pile of straw after having been knocked out of the ring after 44 rounds.

Unlike Mayweather, Sullivan fought all across the country, taking the fight to the people wherever it could be arranged in those “illegal days” when boxers had to dodge the authorities as much as they did punches. He even traveled to Great Britain and France because that’s where the money and the challenges were.

Floyd Mayweather is obligated to fulfill his last two fights under his Showtime contract. He will be in his 8th straight year of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, almost half of his career and all of his most acclaimed period of a fighter. No fighter in history has ever been so confined, coddled, swaddled, and rewarded in such a single venue, there is no precedent. He will be looking more and more like an aging, shopworn 38 years of age if his last two fights against Marcos Maidana are any indicator. The emasculated Mayweather nation can blow their smoke up his keister ’til Gabriel blows his horn in the end times, but the plain truth is that Mayweather didn’t fight his main rivals during their prime years, most especially Manny Pacquiao, a fight that will continue to be floated to the public by the press in fruitless efforts 6 years after it’s primacy has passed.

In short, he will not have any “signature fights” of note to be remembered by. It’s his money, his many “retirements, and his hometown venue that will  that stand out as his legacy when future historians rate him. We can only judge in our days where he manages to cover much of the full range of the spectrum from a so, so great to the best ever, but we have no final word as ratings of boxers goes up and down all through history with every new generation.

There are near some 50 fighters of any note who retired with undefeated records, most not being HOF fighters and none making the International Boxing Research Organization, IBRO, their historical rankings of P4P top 20 fighters. Such is a perspective to consider as Mayweather and his here today, gone tomorrow bandwagon fans proclaim him The Best Ever.

http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Category:Undefeated_Boxers

Retirement is near and beckoning while the siren sings the eternal song of mo’ money, Mo’ Money, Lot’s MO’ MONEY We Gots Next!   We’ll see how that all works out for him come 2015 after a long rest from his recent “grueling” schedule of 2 Mexican Holiday fights at the MGM Grand per year with two more TBAs in the queue waiting, waiting…forever waiting….until…..and……?  

Floyd Mayweather Jr Off to “The Big House”

Well, folks, it finally happened. The other shoe finally dropped in regards to Floyd Mayweather Jr‘s plea arrangement on multiple charges of domestic abuse when the Clark County judge in Nevada sentenced him to 90 days detention at the Clark County Detention Center.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

The full sentence includes 3 suspended months which could be reinstated if Mayweather cannot mind his Ps and Qs during lockup. Part of the plea deal was the dropping of felony battery charges which could carry many extra years of imprisonment if reinstated. You can catch up to more of the history of his charges here:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/future-shock%e2%80%94what-caused-the-ruination-of-floyd-mayweather-jr/

Mayweather had recently reserved a May 5th date next year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for his next bout, but that could well be “money” flushed down the drain given the length of the sentence. A desirable high profile fight is not likely be secured on such uncertain notice,  not that his last alleged fight against Victor Ortiz was such a fight.

Mayweather will be 35 years old at the time of his release, traditionally past prime for most fighters and athletes, but regardless of the plethora of Mayweather personal flaws, he tends to stay in some semblance of training between fights. Many fighters blow up their weights and have to constantly be trained down to make their division limits, so perhaps traditional age limitations cannot be placed on him.

The question is whether or not this represents a long drawn out process of the wheels coming off of his career during his “retirement and comeback” phase of his career. His bitter retirement after the controversial Oscar de la Hoya supermatch that smashed all PPV records for a single fight burned a lot of boxing bridges, but all was forgiven during his comeback fights that generated more interest than all of his entire previous career.

Vs JJMarquez

Vs JJMarquez

Though his comebacks have included Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley in high profile matches, the Philippine Pacific Cyclone storming out of Manilla named Manny Pacquiao has sucked all the wind out of his sails and left the well accomplished Mayweather short on the awards, accolades, and rankings as the last decade closed out.

You can read about their compelling parallel career developments through the decade here:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/modern-p4p-rankings-manny-pacquiao-vs-floyd-mayweather-jr/

Needless to say, the fabled on again-off again super matchup against Manny Pacquiao seems to be no more than schoolboy fantasy at this point. The 33 year old Pacquiao has been on more than a tear through boxing’s ranks, he finally got elected to his congressional district after years of hard campaigning all while logging an incredible number of miles back and forth in international air travel as he pursued his remarkable fight career.

At some point, there has to be a toll on his boxing and life. His overriding ambition has always been to be elected to the Philippine Presidency, so the Floyd Mayweather Jr super fight is fading fast as his next career priority. He was supposed to be retired by now, but the money on the table is simply too big to walk away from, so he has amazingly carried on two very demanding careers.

If Mayweather does keep the May 5th date intact and is released in time for a reasonable training camp, there will be no shortage of lesser contenders and champs willing to strike at a low ebb in his career.

His last fight with Victor Ortiz may well to be the farce of the new millennium. The only thing missing was Big Show storming the ring to pile drive the lot of them during their frequent nuzzles as they exchanged sweet nothings. Nobody in boxing was calling for the Ortiz fight, and Mayweather even denied he was fighting Ortiz.

Could Ortiz be the last fight of his career?

Prior to that, he backed off the date of the showdown he requested against Manny Pacquiao and had to be forced into the ring against Shane Mosley he was so reluctant to fight again, but he desperately needed the money after the government put a lien on his Marquez purse for back taxes. Mike Tyson started exhibiting the same traits as his career wound down, and not surprisingly Tyson seems to have become a favored member of Mayweather’s large entourage.

It’s a long month before Floyd Mayweather is to report to serve his sentence, so his family and friends can only hope he doesn’t land in more hot water during that time. Then he has to play his get out of jail card according to the terms set by the prosecution and detention officials.

The glitter of Las Vegas will be a bit grittier and grimier in the immediate term as history and boxing anxiously await the final return of Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

Edited Update:

Mayweather has been granted a temporary stay to fulfil May 5th contractual agreements. The moveable date of incarceration begins June 1st. More details here:

http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/mayweathers-jail-sentence-delayed-105503

Evander Holyfield–When Enough Ain’t Enough

Good golly Miss Folly, when will enough be ENOUGH ALREADY for Evander Holyfield?

"The Greenbriar"

“The Greenbriar”

So as not to be a spoilsport, I’m OK that he is fighting  Sherman Williams at The Greenbrier, a historic high end hotel resort privy to the moneyed bluebloods and the ruling establishment of Washington DC.

Hey, it’s the kind of classy soft landing clubfight venue that fans and former fans of 48 yr old Mr. Holyfield have long pined for after a career spent going against most of the best heavyweights of the 1990s, one of the best heavyweight eras of boxing.

Mr. Field notched his first top ten heavy scalp in 1989 against Michel Dokes in a thrilling fight of the year kinda slugfest that wowed boxing fans everywhere. In between his last top ten scalp against Hasim Rahman in 2002, Mr. Holyfield managed to win 4 heavyweight titles, a new record, but the magic was clearly gone when he had to billygoat his way to victory over Rahman in a bizarre technical win that ended with Rahman sporting a lump the size of a softball over his eye.

That’s a long legendary 13 years against the best, and an even longer 9 years afterwards that sees Mr. Holyfield struggling to show any form against top ten fighters. He has even struggled against retired, inactive heavies on the comeback trail, aka Sherman Williams, 34-11-2, 19 KO as it may happen this Saturday at The Greenbrier.

This fight has been bounced around from venue to venue as promoters struggle to put together a viable package they can market as has happened to many of Mr. Holyfield’s scheduled opponents whose fights ultimately were canceled for lack of promotional and public interest. His next fight is supposed to be on March 5th against Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The soon to be 46 yr old former IBO/IBC champ Brian Nielson is another retired heavy announcing a comeback after a sweet 9 year vacation. And why shouldn’t he hop on the newly formed Real Deal Senior Circuit?

Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes are reported to have received special viewing invitations at this historic West Virginia landmark, so could be a chance for one or all to scout out the promotion and contemplate their own comebacks against Mr. Holyfield.

And I’m OK with that, this new senior circuit league.

What I’m not OK with is Mr. Holyfield’s incessant quest to not only regain a 5th heavyweight title, but to unify the division, something he could never do in his prime, though he did win and go to defend a unified title 3x before losing it to Riddick Bowe.

Don King leveraged the legend of Mr. Holyfield to maneuver him to two consecutive title challenges in 2007-2008 to WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov and WBA champ NikolayValuev. He could scarcely mount an offensive threat against the champs who were clearly wearing the cuffs, not wishing to be the one blamed for scrambling the remainder of his brains for the rest of his life, or WORSE!

In his prime as a champion, Mr. Holyfield’s KO ratio was abysmal and has only gotten worse as his reflexes abandoned him while aging through the decades. It just ain’t a fairfight anymore unless he gets “assistance” from officials as he now requires.

The Greenbrier “Redemption in America” card has been heavily promoted in Fightnews, seemingly some dozen or more articles every week for several weeks now. He did an interview with boxing fanhouse as part of the leadup to the fight claiming the Klitschkos are ducking him:

http://boxing.fanhouse.com/2011/01/19/evander-holyfield-and-the-klitschkos-can-make-20-million-apiec/

I don’t know what is more laughable, or is it cryable, when Mr. Holyfield followed the ducking charge on the topic of money, how much he made and how much he could make for everyone, splitting $40 million against one of the brothers in ‘Vander World.

Newsflash for Mr. Holyfield:

Top contenders don’t want to fight you because they don’t want to hit you, and as much as you want to hit them, you can’t any more than you could hit the side of a barn with a sawed off shotgun in your current state of decline.

It Happens

It Happens

Give it up and stay on the senior circuit.

I suspect even the rusting 258 lb Sherman “Tank” will give you more fire than team Atlanta has seen since General Sherman marched through the Atlanta cottonfields some 145 yrs ago. The parallel may be lost on you, but fairplay, we know the fight is the perfect prep for a Tyson rubber match, something more in your league, so good luck, but please, keep your delusions to yourself, you’re scarin’ folks.

George Foreman was knocking around a prime Shannon Briggs like a bowling pin at your age, but you ain’t Big Bad George. You were  lucky enough hang on for dear life in the closing rounds to survive him in your prime, a distant 20 yrs ago.

For the sake of boxing, your fans, and more importantly, your family, especially your children, please do find that perfect soft spot to land your retirement on with a semblance of dignity your career deserves.

Oh, did I mention Mr. Holyfield is defending his newly “won” World Boxing Federation heavyweight title he acquired from “knocking out” Kris Kringle in the form of one Frans Botha?

Yah, va con Dios, mi amigo.

Ali vs Tyson—The Final Ultimatum

Sorry Folks, but a software glitch in the editing has rendered the article into a raw, unfinished state. Such it shall remain after fruitless hours of editing only to watch it reconfigure itself:

Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson are often cited as the two most well known boxers on the planet earth, and as always follows in the minds of ever inquisitive fight fans, they all want to know who would win a fight between them prime to prime? 

Well, folks, this Bud is for you:

Intersection of Time & Space in The Great Pantheon

Intersection of Time & Space in The Great Pantheon

Whoops, let’s amend that opening statement now that Tyson has become something of a grizzled oldtimer with his retirement a few years back, up for entry into the IBHOF next year. Who’d have ever guessed that day would ever come back when the 21 yr old Tyson briefly strode atop of the boxing world like no other before or since?

Was there ever a bigger, brighter, more explosive shooting star, ever?

Arguably Manny Pacquiao is now the best known fighter ever, and his promoter, Bob Arum who promoted some 25 Ali fights claims that Pacquiao is a better fighter than Ali, and presumably by extension, Tyson, but that is another endless debate for another time and another place.

I Remember When..

I Remember When..

Ali could certainly spin a few stories about the ravages of Father Time had he still had a voice, so boxing fans will just have to do with watching his flashing fight reruns and wondering:

What if?

When I first tackled the internet forums more than a decade ago, the AOL baseball forums were great “amateur” preparations for the hysteria of their boxing forums which you can read about here if you want to get sidetracked:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/how-the-greatest-boxing-web-forum-in-history-crumbled-into-dust/

Anyway, Big Mac Mark McGwire was in the middle of shattering Homerun records, naturally begging the question of who was better, McGwire or Babe Ruth. I quickly learned that some weigh in with a considerably more studied approach than the average keyboard hacker on a drunken swaggering binge fueled by modern media marketing that propelled Big Mac into a larger than life Superman, but I digress.

Mainly, I was well prepared to duck and roll with the punches on the boxing forums which I discovered as an afterthought after the record setting baseball season ended. I was quickly swarmed by a blizzard of angry cyber popcorn  punchers as soon as I weighed in with my observations about Ali whom I had watched develop when I followed his every move as a starry eyed schoolboy.

Same deal with Mike Tyson. Who on the planet with a pulse could not follow their exploits and infamy?

Just a hint of their names or that of Rocky Marciano on the forum would detonate an explosion to raise the dead, kill the living, and wipe all history from the vestiges of the great pantheon of boxing. Vilest of names and threats were issued not to mention actual real ring challenges as if a few rounds in the ring were adequate to answer any question about a proposed fantasy.

Some infidels even hit on creating alternate forum accounts and names so that they could agree and congratulate the intelligence of themselves.

Really!

Truth be told, from what I see, Ali sports a record of 1-2-1 in fantasy fights, losing by KO to Rocky Marciano in Murray Woroner’s computer elimination tourney in the late sixties,

Ali vs Rocky

Ali vs Rocky

  being bounced off the canvas by Gorilla Monsoon before drawing with Antonio Inoki in 1976

Ali vs Inoki

Ali vs Inoki

but beating Superman in 1978, the greatest comeback by The Greatest in fantasy history perhaps.

Ali vs Superman

Ali vs Superman

Tyson’s record is more muddled, having Stone Cold Steve Austin shoot him the finger before shoving Tyson into the bleachers, but then assisting Stone Cold in winning the WWF title by pushing him out for battle whilst almost snatching the speedos off of him.

Capt'n Hook

Capt'n Hook

My, my!

When Teefs Go Flying

When Teefs Go Flying

Certainly Tyson owns Ali in street fight wins, with at least a dozen publicized knockouts of assorted civilian and pro boxer challengers like Mitch Green who became only the 2nd fighter to last the distance against young Tyson, yet couldn’t last 15 seconds in the street:

Busted!

Busted!

The answer to any of these fantasy fights is of course completely subjective and dependant upon point of view, and believe you me, POV in Ali vs Tyson is all over the galactic map, stretching far into the fistic heavens above and reaching way, way down into the hellish muck below.

Git Up Chump!

Git Up Chump!

My own impetus for another look at this fight is wanting a ceremonial celebratory piece featuring the two best known modern fighters of their day to bookmark the end of the first decade of the third millennium while both are still alive.

Smokin' Greetings

Smokin' Greetings

 

Hitman Greetings

Hitman Greetings

The spark of life of life regenerated in the two legends when the fight recently appeared in a particularly dire website produced by some gameboy who ran the fight through his game console and proclaimed the definitive once and for all time answer………X 10!

Yup, they fought 10 consecutive times in gameboy-fantasy world, so now he knew the results and was “sharing.”

Yeah, right, Junior. Get back to us when you grow a pair fill your shorts and another pair to fill your frontal lobes.

Geez, I generally stopped responding to these fantasy fights on subsequent forums because too many only wanted to rant, from whose loins sprang a brand new type of critter never before seen stalking the earth, a ham handed species known as  Nazioso Moderatus who always purports to a higher purpose than their flimsy, venal grasp could ever latch on to in real life.

Nazioso Moderatus

Nazioso Moderatus

 

The fun was gone, the innocent majic of internet communication across generations and state and international borders ruined by underdeveloped homo sapiens unable to contain long repressed schoolboy emotional insecurities as they acted out their playground fantasies.

The Ali/Tyson fight has been proposed in fantasy millions of times to never be answered in the here and now reality that we, those of us who can currently hold up our hands to be counted, live in, but like séances and crystal balls, some claim to know the definitive answer once and for all.

Ali and Tyson existed as fighters in two different eras in what turned out to be a huge, ongoing evolution of the heavyweight division that currently has an unlimited weight class for any fighter scaling over 200 lbs. In Ali’s day, the marker was 175 lbs, a different era as I mentioned, yet oddly enough there is less than 4 years span from Ali’s last fight at age 39 until Tyson’s teenage debut at age 18, and only 6 years span between Ali’s last title fight until Tyson’s first title.

Oh, oh, so close, yet so, so, far away. Amazing!

In the “middle-ages” of the 20th century, Jack Dempsey vs Joe Louis was the red hot fantasy bout of the day, and it’s still a great one for those of us who relish breaking down styles and physical attributes of fighter matchups. Back then fans actually lived boxing instead of just watching it and arguing over the internet. Thousands of teeth were knocked loose from their roots to be scattered across barrooms in the quest to prove a point when civility ceased as tempers combusted in many of these debates.

Boxing was  the unrivaled King of American sports in those days, dominating the sports sections of newspapers.

Now, I’ve been watching boxing in fascination since forever and the next day, so, naturally, ahem, being of a modern superiority oriented bent to all that preceded me, I’ve arrived at a more modern, more mature, more studied approach to the ever lasting debate dilemma with all due deference to my fascination with baseball’s SABRE movement, a newer formulaic method that expanded the use of statistical analysis by weighting eras and ballparks and the offensive and defensive parameters of players.

The Disclaimer:

Let’s be clear here though; folks, unless you die and are admitted into fistic Valhalla where all the greats are in constant battle with each other for you to observe the actual results to report, in the mean streets of the here and now you may or may not make a credible case for your man but you cannot provide definitive ring results, period.

Man up for some civility while listening to some other points of views. Tune them out if they threaten the existence of your favorites, but no need to go into meltdown.

Moving back to point, Ali vs Tyson, who you got?

I’ll say it proud and I’ll say it loud and I’ll come as close to proving it as is possible before I’m through, it’s Tyson in a walkover.

OK, OK…………….just spiking some blood pressure for old time sake with that last exaggeration, I confess, but hear me out with an open mind, I promise to be serious from here on.

Who would you actually bet on if you were forced with everything you hold dear riding on the outcome?

That has to be the bottom line.

Fight fans tend to become highly emotional about their favored fighters, something oddmakers and gambling interests have made a fortune on as far back as distant memory can be pulled up. So consider carefully and make an informed choice unless you want to lose your family farm with your stock of prized blue ribbon mules as the girl of your dreams snatches your dog and storms out of your life forever.

Surely you would put in a little research, so here we go:

Usually it’s assumed that 1966-67 Ali, age 24-25, is tops Ali, and 86-88 Tyson, age 20-21, is tops Tyson. Both are undefeated and marching through their opposition with nary a care for their futures. They are at their peak primes, plain and simple, ready to rumble with any challenge that developed.

Jab This

Jab This

Remember, lesser talented and weaker fighters have been upsetting the odds from time immemorial also as well as greats being unrecognized until they had a platform to showcase their abilities. Savvy gaming interests factor records, styles, ages, betting patterns and many other elements into formulating their odds.

In fantasy world, I am using my freshly cloaked time machine, “Slipping Time,” to go stealthily back into time to lure the combatants to the Ultimate All-time Fight. I have stocked my ship with a large caldron of gold bullion as the tempting purse to be split: winner takes 60/loser takes 40% as the lure.

A small bundle of Ring Magazines featuring each fighter in their primes is included so they can read about each other, along with DVDs of those fights that they can view to prepare fight strategies.

Da Ring

Da Ring

 

“Slipping Time” is big enough to accommodate their trainers, HOFer Angelo Dundee for Ali, including Bundini Brown and any of his key advisors such as Gene Kilroy, ect. Tyson can be with his HOFers, Cus D’amato with Kevin Rooney as trainers and his HOF managers, Jimmy Jacobs and Bill Clayton advising.

So, that is the first thing that stands out to me, the overall strength of Tyson’s team, probably the strongest assembled team of professionals of all time. Without them, Tyson would’ve run off the rails much sooner than he did.

Smokin'

Smokin'

The next thing that stands out is the tone of the Ring Mags as we thumb through them. While praiseworthy of Ali achievements at that time, periodic flaws and complaints are cited. In 1966, Ring did not award a Fighter of the Year, and in 1967 gave the award to Joe Frazier. Those were Ali’s best years. Need I remind anyone that those were controversial political years for Ali, but then his whole career is riddled in controversy, that was his mother’s milk. Still, Ring editor Nat Fleischer steadfastly defended Ali through this time, yet perhaps the controversy overshadowed Ring’s perception of Ali as a boxer, who knows?

The tone of the Tyson articles is not merely only praiseworthy, but grows into a glow of awe over the absolute dominating manner he has dismissed every opponent. Tyson is being couched in terms of the best ever, it was almost a given at that point. He had already won two Ring Fighter of the Year awards.  I mean the kid was only 21 and it was assumed he wasn’t even fully mature yet and was only gonna get better.

The Kid

The Kid

OK, but what of the primacy and strengths of the undefeated fighters themselves coming into this fight?

Typically, the last few bouts are the best indicator of the physicaland style attributes each will possess in the ring. Boxrec uses the last 6 bouts as an indicator for their records website, so let’s use that impartial objective standard.

In Boxrec order, Ali had last defended against Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell, and Zora Folley respectively, a perfect 6-0, 5 KO, very impressive, but let’s look closer and compare.

Tyson last defended against Pinklon Thomas, Tony Tucker, Tyrell Biggs, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, and Michael Spinks, also a perfect 6-0, 5 KO record to match Ali. Hmmmm….

Wow!

It must firmly be addressed that Cooper is sometimes cited as arguably knocking out Ali in the first fight before being stopped himself depending on which unreliable source of “factual” information you believe. Only edited fight tapes remain of the encounter unless the beeb uncovers the master tape lost in their dingy archives, so the fight has well passed into legend shrouded in mystery and entombed in myth now like so many Ali fights, but there is no doubt Ali was wisely more defensive in the rematch and opened up bloody ‘enery face as expected. An awkward, bloody walkover that at least helped to set the record straight like Joe Louis used to do for his few controversies.

Compare to Pinklon Thomas, 30 lbs of tough, former champion muscle bigger than Cooper that Tyson dismissed by one sided beatdown, a superior opponent by most every measure with all due respect to Sir’enery who’s left hook, “Enry’s ‘Ammer,” became almost Arthurian in British legend.

Next up for Ali was Brian London, easily dismissed in 3 rounds.

Compare to the then undefeated IBF beltholder Tony Tucker, a prime, tall, well built, balanced boxer/puncher who was undefeated. Tucker put up a decent early scrap, but went on the run late to survive the distance for a wide decision loss. Tucker is light years ahead of London.

Now Ali is on the road for his 3rd straight defense against German champ, Karl Mildenberger. Interesting bout with the quickish lefty having enough success that Howard Cosell almost choked on his toupee at one point, but Ali ultimately put together a nifty combo in the 12th to put the fight away.

Compare to tall, quick, undefeated, superheavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Briggs, good enough to have kept Lennox Lewis buried in the amateurs another 4 yrs, yet viciously chased down and brutalized by Tyson in a 7 rd demolition. Most would say that a prime Briggs is considerably more talented and formidable than a prime Mildenberger, but Mildenberger proved to be much more competitive  in his challenge if that counts for anything. One could differ on who was the better fighter from that POV I suppose.

Moving on, many consider Ali’s perfect demolition of Cleveland Williams his signature fight of excellence. Can’t argue that point, but Williams was missing half his guts and had arrived DOA at Ben Taub Hospital after a shootout with Houston police some two years earlier, so he had no business in a title fight other than a retirement benefit that Ali graciously provided. Big credit to The Big Cat for showing up as a powerful looking figure even if his reflexes were gone, a legend in his day.

Compare to the 38 yr old HOFer Larry Holmes who had stalked Tyson for over a year, loudly issuing public challenges while making notes and battle plans. Tyson left him ice stone cold in the shape of a crucifix nailed to the canvas in the 4th round, Holmes’ sole KO loss in a very long, extended career. Nobody could doubt that Holmes was miles ahead of Williams at these points or most any point.

Next up for Ali is a unification bout with tall Ernie Terrell on the best run in his career. After putting up a spirited early scrap, Terrell was injured and hung on to survive terrible punishment to lose a lopsided decision on the cards.

Tyson was fighting Tony Tubbs, a big fast handed former WBA champ who actually tried to trade with Tyson for 2 fruitless rounds before being whacked out. Fairly even high quality defenses between Ali and Tyson, finally, even if there was a wide difference in the results.

Last on Ali’s docket in March of 1967 was Zora Folley, an older contender with a long career past his best form, yet given a decent counterpuncher’s fighting chance, dismissed in 7 rds.

Compared to Tyson’s signature bout against all time undefeated HOFer Michel Spinks, blasted out as easily as a child throws a rag doll to the floor. Unbelievable and no wonder so many of the old timers thought Tyson was the 2nd coming of a new and improved Jack Dempsey by that point.

Only the blinkered could deny that Tyson was beating up on much better overall competition than Ali to those points of time, so what next?

The biggest legacy names on Ali’s record had been in 1964-1965 against Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson, so surely that has to count as something right?

They certainly went a long way in making the legend of Ali, but remember, Liston gave a suspect effort in those fights, causing enough of an uproar to have Congress investigate boxing and haul Liston up to give testimony under oath. Liston died under mysterious circumstance a week or two before his 2nd appearance several years later. At any rate, Liston was already disgraced enough after the first fight to have the WBA strip Ali before the rematch that was it’s own elite category of travesty and farce, or worse.

Doubt Floyd Patterson was even given a chance by his own family, though he did regain status as a contender by remaking his style before retiring. Thing is, his back was completely out for this challenge, a painful fight that had spectators wincing between rounds as Floyd’s corner manfully tried to jerk Floyd’s back in place between rounds.

I don’t see these Ali fights as having much if any relevance to a fight against a prime, healthy Tyson, but at the tail end of 65, Ali did win a wide 15 rd decision over George Chuvalo, a squat, muscular banger/brawler who worked the body with hooks much as Tyson might. Where that similarity ends is that the game Chuvalo was light years slower than Tyson in hand and foot speed and well down in power, never showing the shooting star offense and defensive brilliance that characterized Tyson at his best, yet George had some success in trapping Ali and banging him up the best he could.

Looking back, it’s almost as if The Fates had planned on staging this Ultimate Fight for Tyson’s advantage. The  last 5 of the 6 fights noted above were against tallish, quick, boxer/puncher types, 6-3 for Tubbs, Holmes and Spinks and 6-5 for Briggs and Tucker who could also jab, counter, and move around much like prime Ali.

Most every boxer who came after Ali at least practiced doing him in the gym for some good sport, but few could implement it as well as Briggs and Tucker did in the ring. Fighting Chuvalo may have toughened up Ali’s core, but in no way prepares him for the highly trained and arguably most highly skilled heavy in history at his absolute peak.

A glance at the overall record to these points in time also show that Ali had been susceptible to quick lightheavy types with good left hooks, being knocked down hard by Sonny Banks and Henry Cooper and having Doug Jones take it to him hard enough that many thought Jones won their fight. Young Clay had been looking so vulnerable in recent outings that many thought him undeserving of a title shot against Liston.

The kid in me was worried for his health because that’s the way I saw him, as one kid to another kid. He wasn’t supposed to survive a mauling by the Big Bear, much less win. What a shocker!

In Tyson, basically Cus D’amato lucked into the perfect, moldable, fighting physio-type for his beloved bob and weave style he loved to teach. A struggle for Tyson coming up was a knockdown of a spoiling Quick Tillis and winning a wide decision as a 19 yr teen. The “struggle” was that Tillis was one of the few Tyson couldn’t knock out.

To this day you can still find oodles of critics, some with press and boxing credentials, who criticize big punchers for winning fights when they failed to knock out their opponents, slamming them for outboxing the other guy, something they would never criticize a boxer for doing. You certainly can’t tell them that they can’t come up with a single 19 yr heavyweight in history that would be capable of beating a slick, experienced former contender who was still capable enough the year before to go the distance against Larry Holmes’ title challengers, Carl Williams and Marvis Frazier as well as against future champ Gerrie Coetzee and then Tyrell Biggs.

Whatever, dude. Everyone’s entitled to pick the wave they want to ride in on.

When Push Comes to Crunch

When Push Comes to Crunch

If Ali is to have any degree of significant advantage over Tyson, it’s in knowing that he is his own man fighting his own fight to his own muse. Ali was mostly fighting on natural self-honed talent, only taking those part of boxing skills he deemed useful to meld to his instincts and ignoring the rest. Angelo Dundee was primarily a professional motivator and emotional stabilizer for the chaos that was Ali’s persona along with his sidekick, Bundini Brown. Dundee would pick flaws in opponents to be worked on in sparring, but they were as much suggestions to be planted in Ali’s fertile fighting brain as to actually be worked on in the gym. Ali spent many a sparring session clowning around which he enjoyed immensely since there were ever growing crowds around to be entertained that were future butts in the seats to watch him fight.

So, like a jazz musician, Ali was usually able improvise when the going got rough to bring the fight back to his own rhythm, whereas Tyson was more of a finely oiled by the numbers machine that could potentially go off the rails with the right kind of kink in the tracks. Still, that was a HOF team of mechanics in Tyson’s corner to make the repairs and jigger the fight plan and it cannot be ignored how seamlessly they operated by forcing their own beat as in beating the meat and marrow to the man out of their opposition.

It’s these contrasting fighter mental makeups, with different corners and fight styles that instinctively make the fight as compelling for the dreamy fan as a moth driven to the flame.

Remember, both were undefeated and full of the cocky self assuredness of young men who KNOW they could never, EVER be beat, and what a raucous legion of supporters they had.

Who to Stand?

Who to Stand?

 

What comes after 1967 and 1988 is meaningless and has no bearing on a prime, peak fight between the two. That’s more a question of legacy which bears no relevance to any projected fight. They were both eventually beaten by lesser fighters as typically happens in the greatest of careers, and Tyson’s career in particular fell apart from endless documented mental problems, run ins with the law and subsequent incarcerations and legal entanglements.

Huge “superfights” like this have a way of surprising and is no guarantor of being a classic, but the way I see the action breaking down is as follows.

Tyson comes roaring out looking for a retreating Ali ala the first Liston fight. Tyson is quick on the target who is just as quick as skipping off the ropes, flicking the jab in retreat. Tyson is put off his normal rhythm of being able to engage while Ali is unwilling to engage though he is trying to counter flash right hands off Tyson’s noggin and working his jab in retreat, trying to land something, anything on him to keep him off.

Tyson quickly finds his patience and balanced restored when he moves to stalking mode and cutting off range, making Ali run harder and longer as Tyson begins to slowly reel in the distance with feints, range finders, and positioning. Ali can’t find his timing on the bobbing and weaving Tyson, so much like the Folley fight where he also dropped those early rounds until he figured out how to swoop in on Folley without being countered, it’s a boring fight with him spoiling, clowning, and giving away rounds.

Ali knows he eventually has to stand and fight the monster as he did in the first Liston fight after 5 rounds, so he starts to settle closer to his range as the mid rounds progress. Finally we are starting to see some limited exchanges, but now folks are booing when Ali breaks off. People forget that Ali was often booed at any given fight and forget that his entire ring persona was based on famed wrestler, Gorgeous George, one of the greatest heel personalities in history for whom boos were money raining from the heavens.

Ali is using this time to sharpen his instincts and timing because he will have to choose his spots carefully to start doing some damage on the unmarked Tyson.

So, finally the time comes when Tyson has trapped Ali again who’s ready with his lightning counter right which Tyson shakes off with a massive burst of a combination from Hell that shakes Ali to his core.

So, that’s how I see the fight starting and I can’t see how it starts in any other fashion unless someone actually believes in Ali’s famed “Anchor Punch” that he learned from Stepin’ Fetchit. Me thinks the Tooth Faerie is gonna have to leave it under Ali’s pillow the day before the fight.

How the fight ends is where we get into the really meaty bone of contention. Tony Tucker went on the stick and move the last few rounds against Tyson when he saw he couldn’t survive trying to exchange with him. Some would say smart choice to take your chances with fickle judges whose empty pockets might be bulging by fight’s end. Bonecrusher Smith and Mitch Green, neither scarcely possessing a trace of Ali attributes, survived by tying Tyson up and losing every round, not a prime Ali style.

I’d like to think Ali at his core was more the warrior who would pull out all the stops to win back the early rounds he gave away which is where his fatal flaw is.

Mortals cannot trade in Tyson’s wheelhouse, period. Tyson had won almost every round he contested to that point in his career by cutting off the ring and forcing himself into his own distance with impeccable timing and speed, punctuated with lightening combos.

To simplify his game, his offense was his defense. Hardly any punches could land on him from distance, and once in his range he was absolutely blistering.

Maybe Ali extends it into later rounds by mixing fighting hard with running and clowning around as he sometimes did, frustrating Tyson into making mistakes, but Tyson back then was kept on track by his trainers and was all business, especially when he knows he winning the rounds and putting serious hurt on his guy.

Ali did put together a late rally combination to knock out Mildenberger, but Mildy is about as far removed from a prime Tyson as he is from Ali in comparison, but it’s out there, in the record, and no doubting the lightning quality of Ali’s handspeed when he was sufficiently motivated.

Ali does have the longer, quicker, flicking jab he could adjust the snap to suit his purpose, and it was a slicing, cutting marvel that won a lot of cut TKOs for him, so that’s a possible win scenario for him nobody could discount. As a one punch counter, Ali’s right hand is probably the fastest of any heavyweight, and it could be a slicer as well, so try as I might, I can’t see any other way he can win this fight but cuts, but on a 21 yr old fighter never before cut in more contested bouts than Ali had?

It seems silly to bet the farm on a cut knowing Ali is likely to lose most of the rounds and maybe get knocked out, but then again, can you remember how many folks put money on Ali to beat Holmes and Tyson to beat Lewis when each was well past his best?

Go look at the record, and you’ll find a wide assortment of “experts” picking Ali or Tyson for those fights, and one can only imagine the names of those experts who lost their silly money in those lopsided losses.

Yes, I said it. Anyone can get knocked out, and Ali had already been on the canvas or hurt by smaller, lesser skilled and credentialed heavyweights than Tyson. Maybe he could knockout Tyson, his right hand was somewhat underrated compared to the potential power I believe he had, but it just ain’t probable in what we know about the fighters going into this bout.

Tyson also had an excellent jab he famously out jabbed the hugely rangier Tucker with, and on a one punch basis his speed and timing were superb, but it was his combinations that were as quick or quicker than any heavy that preceded him. He was well versed enough in a wide variety of them for every occasion that typically he only needed a few combinations to terminate a fight.

So, Tyson is the favorite for me. I’d have no problem with anyone picking Ali, except that few ever make a good case to counter Tyson’s advantages and generally come up with unrelated nonsense or worse,so I did map out how Ali might win. One can never discount his one off talents coming up with something never seen before.

For the record, Ali was once asked about this fight in Tyson’s prime presence near 25 yrs ago and he indicated Tyson would knock him out. Tyson responded by protesting no way could he ever beat Ali.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki4UKsI8bms

So, there it is, your most gracious true factual answer to the perpetually unanswerable, complete mutual respect forever captured in time.

Such shall have to suffice for the here and the now. Still, we can dream, “What if?”

Until The End Of…………….

FYI: The Hasegowa vs Montiel Friday Firefight.

By Bobby Mac

Two of today’s most fearsome banties will be battling in Tokyo, Japan this Friday in as compelling a fight as can be made today.

Fernando Montiel is becoming something of a Mexican legend with a title record of 16-2, 12 KO in 3 WBO sanctioned divisions which is outstanding when you throw in his career record of 40-2-2, 30 KO, yet only just turned 31.

This little fella can crack, let me tell you, and he can box, never having been beaten cleanly. His only two losses came by majority decision and split decision in title fights. Unfortunately, the fly and banty divisions get little notice or airtime in America where I live, so I’ve only been able to follow his career fitfully against overmatched journeymen on Telefutura back when, but I was quite fortunate to catch his 4 rd demolition of a very good Martin Castillo a couple years back.

Montiel’s last defense against Ciso Morales was against a young unproven fringe contender that did nothing to prepare him for his first ever title fight outside the WBO organization when he goes against a 29 yr old aspiring Japanese legend, Hozumi Hasegawa.

Hasegowa can now be said to be a star in Japan, rising rapidly through the tough Japanse ranks. At 28-2, 12 KO, his record looks sparse upon first glance compared to Montiel, but in this case, looks are very deceiving as regards to him which I suspect is a large reason for his success in the ring.

Hozumi Hasegawa

Hozumi Hasegawa

His only two losses were against undefeated prospects in 4 rounders ages ago. He had 4 title OPBF title wins before winning his WBC banty title 5 yrs ago against a superior Veeraphol Sahaprom before reeling off 10 straight WBC title defenses with 6 K0. Five of those knockouts came in his last 5 defenses. Only one was able to make it past the 2nd round, but he was gone by the 4th round.

That is some seriously harsh treatment of some very fine contenders by a physically very imposing fighter at this weight class. He’s listed at 5-6 to Montiel’s 5-4, but is ripped to shreds and gives the impression of being several divisions above banty. Indeed, he wants to move up but decided to set a Japanese record for consecutive title defenses at one weight, which if patchy memory serves, he only needs 2 more successful defenses.

With Montiel fighting primarily in Mexico and Hasegowa in Japan, it would’ve been real easy for these little bombers to avoid each other, but they didn’t. Further, Montiel will be the guest fighter in Hasegowa’s home base, Hozumi having never fought outside of Japan, so Fernando deserves super props for going on the road. Think about it though, he’s doing exactly what we expect a Mexican legend to be doing.

Legend!

This is not a hostile environment though. The Japanese boxing fans are as savvy and appreciative as any of the history of the fight game and love great fighters, so Montiel should be well received by a public panting in anticipation of a classic international doozy. How lucky they are and how I wish I could be ringside taking it all in. Oh to be Joe Koizumi for the day, the IBHOF quality Japanese matchmaker, manager, and journalist who will have unfettered access to the fight and fighters.

Alas, me being me, I have to do primarily with his reports and the record of Hasegawa, though I have seen a couple of his last fights that are poor examples of what Fernando Montiel brings to this fight.

Perhaps Veeraphol Sahaprom has the closest attributes of Montiel in size and quality. Hasegawa won a unanimous decision and a KO in those matches early in his title run, and he’s clearly a better fighter, seemingly improving every year since he turned pro.

Montiel dropped a split decision to a very good version of Jhonny Gonzales a few years back. Johnny was a tallish boxer/puncher champ at banty like Hasegawa.

There is an additional factor at play. Hasegawa is a lefty, and lefties with power are generally considered the most dangerous of boxing.

From what I see, both are patient boxers who know each can bang, so this should start cautiously. I’d pick a bob and weave and jab inside for Montiel and then throw short rights, short hooks, and uppercuts like Mike Tyson used to do against tall opponents. Take away Hasegawa’s reach advantage and seize control of the fight.

Hasegawa doesn’t appear to be one to fluster, however, part of the reason he’s likely to be the favorite in this bout. I’m predicting he will carefully pick his shots and outwork the game Montiel from a distance. There will be some firefight type of exchanges, and a KO is possible, but probably only for the intimidating Hasegowa, but bet at your own risk at this level of quality. Neither of these fighters’ chances can be dismissed out of hand regardless of selection.

May have to search around to find the feed before or after the fight, but I’m confident it will be worth it.

Hozumi Hasegawa vs Fernando Montiel

Hozumi Hasegawa vs Fernando Montiel

The Lucky 13 Draw of Luck McCarty

The Lucky 13 Draw of Luck McCarty

By Bobby Mac

March 16, 2010

http://www.ringnews24.com/index.php/writers-columns/70-bobby-mac/298-the-lucky-13-draw-of-luck-mccarty.html

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.

LUTHER M’CARTY THE LATEST “HOPE”;

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.