Tag Archives: muhammad ali

The Other Ukrainian Oleksandr~Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs Artur Beterbiev

The other Ukrainian Oleksandr, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, WBC Lightheavy champ,  defends against highly touted Russian IBF champ, Artur Beterbiev, this Friday, October 18th @Liacouras Center, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. 

This is a highly desirable unification bout between two Eastern Europeans whose countries are currently engaged in a low simmering war with multiplying long term casualties and displacements. The 32 yr old Gvozdyk, 17-0, 14 KO, and the 34 yr old Beterbiev, 14-0, 14 KO, don’t seem hold such deathly hostilities towards each other, yet nonetheless, these are two no nonsense fighters who will look to discombobulate the other within the legal rules of boxing. World leaders would do well to emulate that honorable part of boxing, but the corrupting spoils of war and glory have regrettably proven endemic throughout history.

You can also see that Beterbiev has a massive skull set that may well prove to be impossible to crack. While he knocked Gvozdyk in the amateurs, he also lost to the other Ukrainian Oleksandr, Oleksandr Usyk having beat him on the way to Gold in the 2012 Olympics in the heavyweight(Pro Cruiserweight) class. So here Beterbiev is now drained down to current pro era Lightheavy limit of 175 lbs that allows maximum rehydration after the weighin, that in his case may be well into the 190s. That advantage may well explain the overall thickness of his physicality, power, and perpetual scowl from having to make an unnatural weight class.

In short, Beterbiev is a Big Load for the division.

I suspect that Gvokdyk is the better boxer but for the handicap of his new trainer, the certified Loonytunes Teddy Atlas who is known to have pulled a gun on young amateur teenage Mike Tyson that got him booted from the Cus D’Amato stable, and years later and none the wiser, he grabbed his gun to go track down Donny Lalonde with bad intentions. Thankfully that search turned out to be fruitless, but nonetheless, Teddy is the wildcard in this fight and typically will viciously bait Beterbiev in the pressers hoping to get him off his team strategy.

Beterbiev is not the kind of guy to be put in a frenzy, so The Nail really does have his work cut out for him similar to the Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier first Fight of the Century. To paraphrase Joe during the post fight after beating up and knocking down Ali, “I knew Clay was gonna have to fight and run whereas all I had to do is fight.” Most assuredly, gonna to be some kind of an epic fight in Philly this Saturday night and near a guarantee Loony Teddy blows his top by the end.

1969 Fight Of The Year~Joe Frazier vs Jerry Quarry

When Joe Frazier defended his title against Jerry Quarry June 23, 1969, little did these old school fighters realized just how momentous this year was to be. One month later on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong rang Houston Mission Control to inform them that “The Eagle Has Landed” as the Apollo 11 NASA spacecraft first touched down on the moon for “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

While Joe and Jerry were fighting that momentous night in Madison Square Garden@New York, last ditch preparations were being made for the first ever visit of men to the moon, a public project that sorta flew under the radar of sports and Hollywood crazy Americans still reeling from the 60s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, and presidential contender, Robert F. Kennedy, so while many if not most Americans knew of the NASA Moon Landing plans, putting a man on the moon was pretty much dismissed as pie in the sky and thusly set apart from the hustle and bustle of daily life needing tending for everyday survival’s sake.

This was Joe’s 4th title defense that he won in 1968 against Cus D’Amato trained giant Buster Mathis in Madison Square Garden, an epic, gate busting 11 round battle as hundreds of Black Power protesters supporting the deposed Muhammad Ali agitated their disapproval outside the venue.

Here Quarry looks on top of things, but look closer. Already his left eye is showing damage and soon his right eye would follow.

Quarry has been forced into the ropes at the ring corner. They may look stationary in a still photo captured in the moment, but Quarry has shifted off his back right foot as the anchor to deliver the counter left hook that demolished so many opponents. Meanwhile Joe has jumped off his own right foot for his own left hook to catch Jerry in the heart in this mutual slugfest waged in 8oz merciless gloves of the day.

Head to head phone booth action may have thrilled the fight fans, but is as tough as it gets for the fighters. Quarry has been forced into his umpteenth corner fighting for survival.

Here Quarry nearing another corner back to the ropes as Joe in the middle of the bob and weave style first perfected by Jack Dempsey that has proven so effective over these many ages of boxing.

Jerry was eventually stopped in the 7th round by the ring doctor on a busted right eye, but nobody ever forgot the nonstop, ferocious toe to toe action that night where the better man won the fight as boxing was intended on one of it’s best nights in history.

A month later, “The Eagle Has Landed.” Heady times indeed in the midst of national tragedies that nobody is immune to.

 

 

 

 

The Modern Day Hercules, Anthony Joshua, Tumbled by Fatboy Andy Ruiz, The Postmortem

Anthony Joshua was The Colossus of the modern heavyweight division. Like Hercules when The Son of Zeus cleaned out the stables of King Augean and then killed him when he welched on their agreement, Joshua in this case cleaned out the nefarious Al Haymon stables of undefeated heavies, easily knocking them out of his unified title picture and otherwise exposing them badly, yet somehow, in some inexplicably perplexing way, he became terribly unraveled by Fatboy Andy Ruiz Jr this last Saturday in Joshua’s American Debut at Madison Square Garden. 

And it was more than just blunt force trauma as is typical in these situations although there was plenty of blunt force trauma on display between the combatants, the 3rd round being perhaps Ring Round of the Year.

After that third round in which Andy got dropped first followed by two knockdowns of Joshua, the stage was set in later rounds with perhaps this shot instructive as Joshua is awfully low like his legs can barely support him, and indeed it seemed like he never gained full use of his legs and was often left punching flat footed out of position where he had little leverage on his formidable power.

Anthony Joshua was 22-0, 21 KO  that included a unified title record of 7-0, 6 KO going into the Ruiz fight at age 29. Simply put, there is no heavyweight with a better record before winning the title since the turn of the 19th Century when in 1892 James J. Corbett with an 8-0-2 record knocked out John L. Sullivan. James J. Jeffries set the 20th Century record, 10-0-2, when he knocked out Bob Fitzsimmons in 1901. Corbett made 2 successful title defenses before succumbing to Fitz, and Jeffries made 6 defenses before retiring undefeated.

The modern day record Joshua holds: He has set the 21st Century heavyweight record, 15-0 when he won his title that he carefully unified along with 6 title defenses, so what could go so wrong for this modern day wunderkind seemingly sculpted out of bronze striding atop his Mount Olympus of solid gold?

Being naturally possessed of a predatory mind that fortunately I was able to get a handle on early in life thanks to my mom’s heroic efforts at civilizing me, I saw some alarming things in the lead up. The first being this amiable, happy go lucky lad has been making outsized riches and accolades beyond the pale of mortality as any proper Greek God might, so much so that his very creation was the impetus of the DAZN combine that put together the #1 subscription streaming boxing network in the world in short order.

Disclaimer: I subscribe to DAZN and have enjoyed it immensely and witnessed THE FIGHT.

Any investor(s) worth their salt want to maximize their investments with that being of going global by starting in America. They have completely wrecked the traditional broadcasting and PPV format by signing big stars like Canelo Alvarez for HUGE $$$. Thus they pushed for Joshua to make his American debut so they could further expand their foothold on the American market they started, Coming to America as it were

Now Joshua has probably cleared at least $100 Mil in his 22 fights previous and has set records by selling out Wembley Stadium with over 90,000 fans screaming like banshees at his every concussive blow. Only one fighter had ever gone the distance with him. Specifically, why make his US debut at Madison Square Garden, home of probably worst boxing commish in the US, that being New York? Most American champions stayed home within their own culture and made any foreign heavy contenders come to them.

Joshua is more than a record setting boxer, he’s a highly intelligent guy in love with boxing and it’s history, and at one time MSG was the place to go until Vegas cleaned their clock decades back. Joshua went to a lot of trouble to fly into the dangerous environs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just to support UK boxing during the 2016 Olympics. He supports all the local boxing programs and does his fair share of charity work that has made him into such a native boxing icon that has never been seen on British shores before.

Getting back to the fight, I felt something Rotten in Denmark during the opening two rounds as Josh looked puzzled at Ruiz slowly pressing him without throwing much. Just stick a jab with a lateral step and slowly work out your timing as you set up your traps, easy for Josh, but not on this Saturday. In his ring walk the golden boy was slapping all extended hands in a glow of accolades. Nobody extended hands or Ruiz to slap, so already Ruiz is majorly focused on that ring instead of lollygagging around. I also spotted Sam Watson, Haymon’s main man with Team Ruiz when Bob Arum has been his promoter, like forever. Now, that ain’t right!

Here he is in the prefight with the Ruiz team listening to the Mexican anthem with Sam:

This is just seconds after the fight was stopped. Ruiz team in the ring on top of him in celebration with Sam collaring the ref who hasn’t even had time to consult with officials yet, now that ain’t right!

Two officials have crawled through the ropes in Josh’s corner where he was stopped still in the same position. The officials haven’t even time to straighten up. Josh team outside the ropes, so what are they doing? Where’s his trainer, Robert McCracken. Had I a fighter I poured my blood and sweat into I’d be in the ring so fast someone might get knocked over if they were in the way.

In the post fight presser with Josh absent in the hospital for evaluation, Ruiz thanks his team and Al Haymon for this opportunity, so when did the changeover from Arum to Haymon happen and where was an announcement of a new contract? Was it buried in the media blitz? Three days after the fight, Boxrec updated their promoter/manager info showing Arum seemingly ending his contract with Ruiz in 2018 and Haymon his manager. McCracken absent at the presser and no mention of him. Was he at the hospital with Joshua? Will he even be with him for the rematch this November or December, probably at Wembley. Might be too late for a new trainer with the rematch coming in November, but like I say, the Josh was just off the whole night like he was fighting on Mike Tyson’s psych meds underwater. 

Both mentally and physically Josh finally looked dialed into his timing during that 3rd round when he caught Ruiz with that left hook that put him down for the first time in his career. Then upon a return to action he caught Ruiz with a full on flush straight right that would’ve finished any of Haymon’s heavies, save Ruiz. Normally Josh would return to careful boxing to look for the next big shot. He’s already near guaranteed a decision in a distance fight, but instead got greedy for a quick KO and got clocked and then clocked again. He sorta skeeters around for round 4 and 5 until the 6th starts as Ruiz is starting to bully him before the ill fated 7th.

In short, there is just too much monkey biz with this fight as I laid out. He has to take the loss and move on because these suits these days or a lot more clever than in the past.

Also hearing how Josh’s father had to be pulled off Fast Eddie in the dressing room after the fight and various rumors that Josh had been knocked out during a sparring session.

It wasn’t until many years later that all the monkeyshines surrounding that upset in Zaire by Muhammad Ali over George Foreman came out that cast a pall over that epic fight. Controversial calls are part and parcel of every sport, but no sport comes close to the weekly controversies and poor officiating than boxing. For now the fight is not controversial, but many if most felt from the first round something wasn’t quite right as the highly lucrative rematch looms. 

Bobby Mac Sez This Ain’t Yer Pappy’s Top Ten Heavyweights in History!

A directive was recently issued to me, that of a compilation of the greatest top 10 heavyweights of all time, a daunting task for the serious aficionado full of disputation to be sure. The criteria ain’t specified other than the assumption of my own unique perspective, so with me and myself having seen and made so many such lists as to become fuzzy over time, I am going to recreate two lists based on two distinct criteria; that of the overall excellence of record, and that of looking at heavies who had the biggest impact on boxing and the world in which they lived, both leavened with the unique opportunities and obstacles of their eras.

The first list is the boxing and world impact, both of which have the biggest influence in boxing.

1.Joe Louis…It don’t get any bigger worldwide than the rematch with Max Schmeling on the eve of WW2 in a bout that was relayed worldwide via the nascent radio of the era. Joe was the first black American heavyweight the overwhelming white majority could rally around and set the stage for the post WW2 integration of Major League Baseball and the US armed forces and subsequent civil rights movements. Need I add that Joe was also a major inspiration in the development of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King as young boys avidly listening to his fights on the radio?

2.The Klitschko brothers…Their collective was 109-7, 94 KO and never once took a ten count that averages ot to 55-4, 47 KO. Between them they moved the heavyweight division to Germany and knocked Don King out of the heavy division to usher in the continuing saga of East European dominance of the heavier boxing divisions.

3.Bob Fitzsimmons…A rare trifecta of being part the first proposed full length feature cinematographic project by Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio, the first title fight against James J Corbett to be held in Dallas, Texas, circa 1895 that was cancelled when the Texas Legislature made prize fighting illegal. The always overly dramatic Corbett publicly forfeited his title that was then fought over near Langtry, Texas by Fitz and Peter Maher.

Maher had previously claimed the forfeited Corbett title in November of 1895 against Steve O’Donnell with a 1st rd KO. Fitz and Maher were situated in 1896 on a spit island in the middle of the Rio Grande(Bravo) for the first failed full length feature cinematographic project by Thomas Edison. Tragically the crew could not not get properly set up in misty conditions before Maher became his own victim of a first round KO as his claims to the title transferred to Ruby Robert. Whatever may have been filmed has thus far been lost in time though hope springs eternal that it may possibly turn up.

The 1897 Corbett vs Fitz fight held in Reno, Nevada, the first ever successful full length feature film that additionally became the first ever national and international blockbuster that established art of cinematography permanently in the world. Subsequently James J Jeffries helped develop the art of cinematography further when he knocked out Fitz to claim the title though sadly almost all of the Jeffries film has be either lost or waiting to be rediscovered. The first non boxing blockbuster featuring actors was The Great Train Robbery 6 years later in 1903, a film of only 10 minutes for perspective that introduced the first ever silent screen star to the public, Bronco Billy.

4.John L Sullivan, 39-1-1, 33 KO. John L was the first and only unified Bareknucks and Gloved Queensbury champ and the first American to consolidate titles that had previously belonged exclusively to the British. John L first set up the worldwide heavyweight stage in a growing age of literacy and media expansion, where they remained save for a nanoblip by Ingemar Johansson for a century before Lennox Lewis upset the American monopoly.

5A.Jack Dempsey, 55-6-8, 45 KO. Established the modern spectacle of boxing that is seldom matched and never exceeded.

5B.Muhammad Ali, 56-5, 37 KO. Perhaps the 2nd best known fighter in the world only exceeded by the modern phenomenon of Manny Pacquiao and his 3 billion Asian population base enhanced with modern communication broadcasting.

5C.Mike Tyson, 50-6, 44 KO. Youngest ever champ who cleaned up the derelict post Ali era to unify the titles and temporarily wipe Don King’s slate clean. He had already held the record for career purse earnings before King and Robin Givens ever sunk their claws into him.

OK, now, and what about the greatest records?

1.Joe Louis, 66-3, 52 KO. Nominally his 26(27)-1 heavyweight title records were exceeded, but, overall never surpassed. The 27th was Lee Savold who claimed both the white heavy title and the BBBC heavyweight title that Joe is seldom credited with after knocking him out.

2.The Klitschko brothers, 109-7, 94 KO and bukos title fights with nary a 10 count between them. Collectively they smashed the Louis record, and though individually Wlad exceeded his total career heavyweight title fights, he fell short of the overall Louis record. They may well hold the heavyweight record of the most winning rounds scored as overmatched opponents seldom penetrated their defense.  More importantly they put down Don King for years of 10 counts and transferred heavyweight title fights to Germany-HERESY to be sure!

3.Rocky, 49-0, 43 KO. The most iconic record in all of boxing. My next door neighbor who knows shinola about boxing can recite Rocky’s record like a mantra.

4.Sam Langford, 178-29-39, 126 KO. Mere numerical records FAIL to capture Sam’s greatness, not the least being the sheer number of fights he had against HOF fighters that greatly exceed all such fights by other fighters.

5.Anthony Joshua, 22-0, 21 KO. Going into his 8th title fight as a unified belt holder, no heavyweight as yet has done as much with such a limited number of fights. I always like to include a current great in rankings just to PO dusty mossbacks not understanding that all the greats in the making were moderns in their day as Josh is.

Consolidating the two lists by working backwards using my fighter ratings as their points totals, that’s Josh with 5 points, Sam with 4 points, Rocky with 3 points, The Ks with 2, and Louis with 1.

Then we have Dempsey, Ali, and Tyson tied with 5 each, John L with 4, Fitz at 3, the Ks at 2 and Louis at 1.

Adding up the two lists with fighters not appearing on both lists being assigned a place value of 6 to keep my rankings on keel, That’s Louis 1+1 with 2 pts, the Ks 2+2 with 4, Fitz 3+6 with 9, John L 4+6 with 10, Dempsey, Ali, and Tyson, all 5+6 with 11 each, Josh 5+6 with 11, Sam with 10, Rocky with 7. Divided by 2 to get the final point rankings in numerical order:Louis 1, Ks 2, Rocky 3.5, Fitz 4.5, John L 5, Sam 5, and Dempsey, Ali, Tyson, and Josh 5.5

Translated into standard numerical ranking order:Louis 1, Ks 2, Rocky 3, Fitz 4, John L 5A and Sam 5B, Dempsey, Ali, Tyson, and Joshua 7A, 7B, 7C, 7 D.

So technically that 11 heavyweights if we split the Klitschko brothers, but they were such a dominating force in boxing that they really have to be consolidated as one unit to understand their impact.

Honorable mention goes to Manny Pacquiao who has a super duty heavyweight heart encapsulated into that compact frame. He’s become a huge name both here and in the largest potential boxing market in the world, the Asian culture. His dynamic style and willingness to take on, beat, and knock out the most Ring P4Pers in history at the start of the 3rd Millennium after being born into one of the poorest families in history in the 3rd world resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of career purses, most of which was returned to his native peoples in the forms of schools, hospitals, and other desperately needed infrastructure developments as well as holding Congressional duties as well as too many other interests to stagger reality.

Yeah, I know it ain’t yer Pappy’s top 10 heavyweight rankings, but I ain’t much for feeling like your pappy. It’s my list and the one I’m sticking with for now since their is no agreement on how to rank fighters. I at least gave my methodology combining two important elements. Another ranking method many use is who beats who in a fantasy fight. While interesting from various physical and stylistic attributes, seldom do these rankers specify uniform rules and rounds that would average out the wide ranging eras of  the competing fighters and always disputes as to who beats who even before fighters glove up with each other today.

Fighting is the nature of boxing!

Wilt Chamberlain vs Ali~50th Year Anniversary Tribute

In 1967, Wilt Chamberlain contracted  to challenge Muhammad Ali for his undisputed heavyweight title in Madison Square Garden. ABC and Howard Cosell arranged a special sports segment with Ali and Wilt appearing jointly to announce the fight. Jim Brown was supposed to have been the promoter and had enough money lined up on the table that enticed the Ali team to enter into contract negotiations. The abbreviated story is that Ali’s manager, the Nation of Islam, son of Prophet Elijah Muhammad, Herbert Muhammad, passed on the deal without comment, so Ali refused to sign the contract as verified by the public ABC youtube footage shown here. Ali did put on a credible act of talking about a fight, yet couldn’t be induced to pen his John Henry to paper.

Instead, Ali’s last title defense of 1967 was a milquetoast affair against grizzled long time contender Zora Folley before being stripped of his titles in 1968 for refusing to be drafted into the US Army. That led to a 3 year exile from boxing and a pending case before the US Supreme Court before Ali was able to make his 1970 comeback against Jerry Quarry in Atlanta, Georgia. Not many boxing fans know a gang of Northeastern big city thugs crashed Ali’s elite Atlanta victory celebration filled with Atlanta’s most renown political icons,  media big shots, and various celebrities to rob the well heeled bunch at gunpoint. Got away with it for a huge harvest too, but slowly the underworld extracted a payback of sorts since these were just two bit punk gangsters, not the real gangsters who would never dream of pulling that kind of public relations nightmare heist. 

The 1960s through the 70s was quite an era for sports fans. Boxing’s big fights usually aired over “real” free terrestrial TV as did the Olympics, World Series, Superbowl and many of their regular season games. Then you had the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500 and Daytona 500 and so on. Ripe, passionate sports fans of all ages, sex, and races grew on trees into the furthest reaches of America ready to be plucked for viewing every sports weekend.

What could’ve been the biggest sports splash of the Century slowly ebbed out of existence. Oh, to be sure there was a brief flare up in 1971 had Ali pulled off the win against Joe Frazier in the Fight of the Century. The closed circuit fight was to be in the Houston Astrodome with posters actually printed up.

Ali instead got well whooped by Frazier, so Wilt canceled their contract since the heavyweight title was no longer Ali’s to defend as most of the money backing the deal also fled for greener pastures. I don’t know who the promoters were, but Jim Brown talks about the fight in his Siri interview below where he laughs about the Ali shouting “Timber” story that supposedly killed the fight. He may have been part of the promotion, or at least close enough to deny “The Timber” moment ever happened as reported. Ali once again entered  into his wanderings in the wilderness of being yesterday’s news even as he was ultimately reaffirmed with a favorable Supreme Court ruling and could now box free of Federal charges against him. Wilt was in his last two creaky knee years of an all time career in the National Basketball League, so he was less inclined to further pursue an assbackwards sport, boxing, rife with so many contractual problems and other boxing monkeyshines magnified by the political instability of Ali himself.

At any rate, Ali never had had full control over his career with Herr Herbert at the helm. Ali wisely recalled the fatal fate of  Malcolm X after getting crossed up with the NOI. He picked a later date after his retirement after NOI founder, Elijah Muhammad,  passed away before Ali felt safe to leave that sect.

Nonetheless, Wilt did his part in trying to make this fight, and he had more than just financial backers that included substantial boxing support from Cus D’Amato. The future HOF trainer had long made a study of the Ali style and was training Wilt in secrecy just how to leverage his immense gifts of size, strength, reach, athletic ability, and, yes, it must be stated frankly, Wilt was substantially more intelligent. Substantially! Ali may have been a naturally gifted fighter, yet he was physically inferior to Wilt with Ali further burdened by a limited boxing style that only he ever used to success that served him ill has he aged. Cus knew how to crack his style and famously showed Ali how in a documentary just how Frazier was going to break him down. That prophecy was fulfilled on March of 1971 in the Fight of the Century.

Ali fans naturally scoff and deride the notion of a basketball player being able to beat Ali, but they typically show ignorance in understanding just how gifted Wilt was compared to every other athlete in the world. He would’ve preferred track and field or the Harlem Globetrotters over pro basketball, and yet he set all those still unbroken basketball records because that’s where the money was. Now, seriously, think about it. For sure boxing promoters and trainers hounded him from day one as a pro with the Globetrotters, and eventually a rumor here or there would surface about him in training and of course his two contracts to fight Ali.

As stylistic matchups go, in some notable boxing “exhibitions” against athletes from other sports, Ali looked not only very poor, but vulnerable as well. Ali also looked vulnerable against legit contenders using their own personalized awkward boxing styles.

The Ali/Antonio Inoki fight in Tokyo netted Ali a cool $6 million, but also landed him in a Tokyo hospital on a critical condition after Inoki kicked his leg into a throbbing mess that threatened to send a fatal blood clot to his brain. This a fight where Ali had full access to boxing rules, yet Inoki was limited to only 10% of his arsenal and had to be pulled off  take downs of Ali by the American ref, Gene Lebell, a notoriously famed Judo expert and all around street and Hollywood tough guy.

Then there was the farcical encounter with 400 lb Gorilla Monsoon who quickly popped a vicious body slam on Ali that I’m certain was not supposed to be part of festivities. Ali luckily escaped without injury, but only because the match was immediately stopped.

And then the also ill advised exhibition against Denver defensive lineman, Lyle Alzado, who was likely pumped up on steroids. Ali had nothing to keep Alzado off him and was mauled throughout.

Most fighters are trained in a traditional, upright boxing style that overall is the best style to use in boxing, but boxing has always had a cast of “awkward-savants” who dished out serious punishment to great success. Ali used his own awkward style to great success against traditional fighters, but struggled mightily against other awkward fighters no matter who won. Just think Karl Mildenberger, Buster Mathis, Joe Frazier, Oscar Bonavena, Rudi Lubbers, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Chuck WepnerRon Lyle, Earnie Shavers, and Leon Spinks.

Wilt, with his huge physical advantages, would be the King of Awkward. Wilt had already proven that he could outrun the NFL’s premiere running back of the era, Jim Brown, twice in a row in fact. Wilt turned pro early, an action that was forbidden in his day, but not for the Harlem Globetrotters whom Wilt loved for the rest of his days. He played a 7-1 guard, now think about all that crazy ball handling he got in as a key part of the comedy troop. While no doubt he met many intellectual equals or even greater than his own considerable intelligence, I doubt he ever met his physical equal in his life. If that athlete existed, he’d be in the public record, but nope, just the usual greats of every era, but no Wilts. There are only two other of the most celebrated all around athletes in their day that could match Wilt’s all around ability, yet both would be as equally dwarfed in size and strength as was Ali. The first being the greatest all around athlete ever in this world, Jim Thorpe, and Babe Ruth who still holds Major League Baseball pitching and hitting records, neither of whom lived long enough to meet with Wilt because of age differences. No doubt, they would be mightily impressed.

As to my opinion then and now, well then I was a punk kid pumped for the fight. What’s not to like about such a pairing? I was still raw and unstudied, but instinctively I knew Wilt had a decent chance. I still like the fight today knowing so much more about both Wilt and Ali. I didn’t know who would win when I was young, but now I strongly favor Wilt because of all those physical and mental advantages with Cus D’Amato lined up in his corner focusing on one specific Ali style only. Ali could not study Wilt boxing because there was zero tape, and more importantly, zero sparring partners who could replicate Wilt. Cus claimed that during his childhood Wilt boxed in the amateurs for a short duration, but no record exists that I know of.

Chamberlain loved physical challenges as his varied sport interests are a testament to, but what a shame the public didn’t get to see one of the greatest “what if?” fights in boxing. Cus D’Amato is supposed to have made him an offer to box Ali in 1965, the first of the 3 fights with Ali offered to Wilt. The Philly 76ers talked Chamberlain out of the match with more money, but the idea of the fight never died and gets talked about on boxing forums to this very day 50 years later.

Cus D’Amato trained Wilt Chamberlain vs Angelo Dundee trained Muhammad Ali, who ya got?

 

 

 

My Brother The Boxer, The Terry Daniel Story by Jeff Daniels

My Brother The Boxer, The Terry Daniel Story by Jeff Daniels

This interesting self published book follows 7 years of Texas heavyweight contender Terry Daniels from his brief debut with the Southern Methodist University Mustang football team to his title challenge of champion Joe Frazier in New Orleans the day before Superbowl V in 1972. 70 million viewers are estimated to have watched Frazier to defend against Daniels on free terrestial TV for context to today.

While not a pure biography, it can be seen as an authenic ethnographic record of a young man born into a loving middle class family during the Harry Truman presidency to mature during the Vietnam War torn, racial rioting America of the 1960s. Raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, he has to come to Texas for his first bar fights, first love and marriage, and rapid rise to stardom in boxing after a knee injury ended his football aspirations.

This coming of age in the mythologized ’60s is as much God, family, honor, and country as the machinations of a storied boxing era of Texas amateur boxing with Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and of course Terry Daniels

http://www.mybrothertheboxer.com

Fatboy Andy Ruiz Steps Up Vs Franklin Lawrence

Andy Ruiz Jr, 28-0, 19 KO, steps up in class for the first time Vs Franklin  “Yah Yah” Lawrence, 22-2-2, 16 KO Saturday, September 10th @ Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Lemoore, California.

Yeah, Yah Yah may be a funny name, yet Lawrence had been highly regarded briefly during his 2010-11 years before entering a phase of torpor that sees his once top 10 boxrec ranking dip to 54th. He’ll be just a couple of weeks short of his 41st birthday on the day of the fight. He got a somewhat delayed start at age 30 for reasons I’m not privy to with little amateur background, so he had a lot of ground to make up to get to this point. He’s been in the mix from his first year when being knocked out by fellow novice and future WBC beltholder Bermane Stiverne, and later holding his own in a close decision loss to former WBC champ Oliver McCall, before knocking out former contender Lance Whitaker. His major problems have been periods of inactivity, again for reasons I’m not privy too, but then again, he’s recorded 9 straight knockouts since the McCall loss, so at least he’s a warm body for Ruiz who may heat up to actually put him into a fight.

Ruiz is also an unlikely looking heavyweight contender, being born in the Baja California border town of Mexicali, yet currently staying comfortably close to his roots with a hop, skip, and a jump across the border to nearby Imperial California. Like former contender Buster Mathis of the Muhammad Ali era, he turned pro at a roly, poly near 300 lbs, both sweet natured looking fellas hardly looking like any kind of fighters, and like Buster he has bounced his weight around trying to get a handle on it. For the past few fights I see he’s been at or under the 250 mark which sounds about right for him. Some folks were genetically predisposed to be fat, so no use in fighting mother nature when your bigger immediate fight is in the ring. Of course there is a healthy weight for him to be at that he seems to have reached. Anyone calling him a fatboy will be relying on his good humor, because make no mistake, this soon to be 27 year old kid knows how to handle himself in the ring. He’s beaten a couple of highly regarded prospects, a former belt holder and a former contender, so he and Lawrence are right about the same level of experience and success with Ruiz being the busier fighter in the 7 years he’s been fighting and, more obviously, being the money fighter with a future sure to include a lucrative title fight leveraged by the strongest, most experienced promoter in the business, Bob Arum of Top Rank.

Oh, did I mention that Andy also works with future HOF trainer Freddie Roach, so need I say more if the very busy Roach found time to prepare him for this bout?

The winner of this fight takes a major step forward, perhaps even straight to a title fight, so for the fighters the stakes could not be higher. I expect both to eventually end up in a slugfest looking to impress the judges if not take it out of their hands with a knock out.

Top of the Food Chain, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali?

 

These kind of discussions over the internet tend to favor moderns who are want to express opinions without context or factual basis as to why their hero is is #1.

Bert Sugar perhaps infamously chose Cleveland fullback Jim Brown for his all time greatest athlete. Never mind that teammate Marion Motley has a higher career rushing average and did it basketball hightops because no football cleats could be found then to fit his monstrous feet. Motley could also clear out the defense in support of his running back and quarterback, hard, gritty work that was beneath Brown, and Motley also pulled fulltime duty as linebacker, a two way, 60 minute player, something the coddled Brown was never good for. But of course Brown was also such a great lacrosse player, never mind that Wilt Chamberlain proved in two footraces that he was significantly faster than Brown and could turn him upside down to shake all his change loose at will not to mention being a collegiate, multi-event track and field star during his down time from basketball. Wilt a world class volleyball player in his retirement, the best in his day. Wilt didn’t even like basketball because of it’s stupid rules and the stupid media always pestering him, but it was the most lucrative option for him, so he made the best of it as a record setter both on offense and defense. Even did a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters before his NBA career, damned hard to top that.

Now modern media “experts” claim Michel Jordan is the best athlete ever, never mind he wasn’t even a mediocre division B minor league baseball player and only a modestly endowed golfer. Jim Thorpe, fresh off an Indian reservation, won both Pentathlon and Decathlon Olympic gold medals in Sweden, then played major league baseball for several years before co-founding and becoming the first ever star of the National Football League. It don’t get any better than that as an athlete, but moderns just shrug and say, Jim Who?

So, here we go, Bobby Mac’s Facts Update, just the facts ma’am, so:

What are the career records of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali?

Joe 66-3, 52 KO vs Ali 56-5, 37 KO

OK, clearly Joe is vastly superior, but there are records and then there are RECORDS, so let’s delve deeper.

ProDebut:

Joe, age 20 yrs, 1 month, 22 days, coming off winning the United States National AAU tournament with a final record of 50-4, 43 KO, debuted @ 181 lbs against Jack Kracken, 27-7-3, in the “city of the big shoulders,” Chicago, July 4th, 1934, US Independence Day. Drops Kracken in the opening seconds and then blasts him through the ropes into the lap of the shocked Illinois commish to formally announce to the world the transformation from Joe Barrow to Joe Louis. Has there ever been a better boxing debut than that? Prior he was no more than a po’ sharecropper’s boy from Podunk, Alabama. The $59 depression purse went a long ways in those days, the most money he had ever earned in his life.

Ali, age 18 yrs, 9 months and 12 days, coming off Olympic Lightheavy Gold glory with a multitude of final ama record claims, debuts @ 192 lbs, October 29th, 1960, in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky against Tunney Hunsaker, 16-9-1, a Sunday School teacher and police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Ali touched up Hunsaker some with a bloody nose and cut eye for a 6 round unanimous decision and a healthy $2000 purse for the day. Solid hometown pro debut for such a young kid, but no comparison to the spectacular 4th of July fireworks set off by Joe.

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Longest Title reign and record:

Joe 11 years, 252 days, 26-0, 23 KOs vs Ali three combined title runs of 3 years, 63 days + 3 years, 108 days + 284 days = 7 years, 90 days, 22-2. OK, but Joe had three more title fights, 1 competitive decision loss to Charles in his comeback and a knockout of Lee Savold who held the BBBC version of the split title + the last white heavy belt for a final title record of 27-1 vs Ali’s humiliation KO loss to Holmes for a final title record of 22-3.

Now, if we extend out the Ali years up to the first Frazier fight, they’d be just short of Joe, but, remember, Ali also relinquished his Ring belt early so his good buddy Jimmy Ellis could fight for it. Ring never awarded the belt to Ellis yet kept Ali as Champion through 1969. Joe is still superior and lost just as many prime years as Ali did under dangerous flying conditions in the US Army.

First and last Ring Top 10 ratings:

Joe #1 in his first year of eligibility, age 20 vs Ali #9 in his first year of eligibility, age 19.

Joe #5 when he challenged Champion Charles in 1950, age 36, and #6 against #2 Marciano in 1951, age 37. Ali was last ranked as Champion in 1978, age 36.

Joe clearly superior though Ali managed to slide into Ring ratings a year earlier than Joe because of his earlier debut.

HOF fights:

Joe 13 such fights, 10-3 9 KO vs Ali 14 such fights, 11-3, 8 KO. Joe with 2 KO losses vs Ali with 1 KO loss.

Joe earliest HOFer and win @ age 21 yr, 4 month, 11 days over Baer vs Ali earliest HOFer and win @ age 20 yr, 9 months, 28 days over Moore.

Joe last HOF win @ age 37 yr, 3 month and a day over Blivins vs Ali last HOF win @ age 34 yr, 8 months, 11 days over Ken Norton, a hotly disputed decision.

Ali with tiny edge in total HOF fight, Joe with KOs, and Ali with one less KO loss. Joe a few months older for first HOF fight vs Ali a bit younger, but Joe considerably older for last HOF win than Ali. They both lost their last HOF fights by KO, but Joe in his 8th fight over 10 months in his 37th year gave Marciano all he could handle for 8 rounds vs Ali out of retirement carried mercifully by Holmes trying to get the fight stopped with no damage to Ali. Joe definitely finished the stronger fighter overall.

Controversial fights:

Joe only had two, the first Buddy Baer and JJWalcott fights which he quickly avenged with savage KOs in the rematches vs far too many controversial fights for Ali, really too embarrassing to mention that he always benefited from every controversy. Big advantage Joe who consistently took care of business in a more professional way than did Ali who needed a lot of help from the suits.

Unified America behind him:

Joe

Split up America over him:

Ali

Won a Supreme Court Decision:

Ali, of course, major props and maybe the highlight of his life.

Young Cassius

Young Cassius “The Greatest” Clay

Summoned to the White House by the President for consultation on impending military desegregation policy:

Joe, the one and only.

Inspiration for the two most prominent black civil rights spokesmen in history:

Both Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela count Joe Louis as providing the inspiration for a higher dignity and purpose of what their people might achieve if allowed their civil rights.

Who loses to Leon?

Ali, of course. Joe on his worst day in shackles and blindfolded could never lose to Leon.

Now, lest this take on a wholly one sided analysis, in general most fans would agree that Joe Frazier and George Foreman are better than the best Joe took on, but Ali never really showed he was better than Frazier. Most can finally admit Joe whooped the holy jinn out of him the first fight, and did it in spite of referee Mercante near poking out his only good eye midway through the fight. The second fight was competitive and close, and the third a happenstance of incredible good fortune when Frazier’s scout couldn’t make it from Ali’s corner to Frazier’s corner to tell them Ali was quitting. Joe was on his feet bouncing around like a rubber ball waiting to be unleashed when Eddie Futch pulled the plug as Ali stood up and collapsed. Nor could the terribly grievous conditions in Zaire that all favored Ali ever be replicated, thus no rematch with George who only spent 9 seconds on the canvas in his first career knockdown, yet was counted out. Compare to Ali who collapsed seconds later for a 30 count that took his legions to elevate him over to his corner.

Yeah, and maybe Sonny Liston was better than Joe’s best too, but Joe could easily beat a fighter who quit on his stool and take a dive as well as the next guy, so let’s keep it real…over and out.

 

 

Nat Fleischer On The Push To Make Ali Great

After the magnificent performance, skill, heart, and courage of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in the 1971 Fight of the Century that roused not only a country, but the rest of the world, there was an heavy push back on Nat Fleischer to revise his All Time Top 10 Heavyweight rankings. 

Nat, of course, was the founding father of gathering and cataloging fighter records, and in time because of the seminal nature of his work, his copious contributions, his ringside witness to so many great fights, he and Ring Magazine became synonymous as The Bible of Boxing, so any of his pronouncements and observations were literally taken as being passed as the Word of God. Boxing fans studied his edicts religiously as Nat coasted along secure in being at top of his game.

But the landscape soon changed when Ali was convicted of dodging the draft and suspended from boxing for 3 1/2 years as he battled all the way to the US Supreme Court. The push to make Ali great began to gather steam during this Ali lull. Miraculously, Ali’s conviction was overturned and he was allowed to return to boxing.

Then the unthinkable. Down goes Ali. Frazier whoops Ali.

A very interesting period piece of journalism followed as Fleischer holds his ground, not stubbornly, but rather in well thought out logical explanations that may have given succor to the larger base of boxing fans, but did nothing to satisfy Ali supporters. They incredibly insisted their man won the Fight of the Century and demanded that Ali be put in Nat’s top 10, a veritable flood filling his mailbox every month.

Down Goes Ali, Down Goes Ali

Down Goes Ali, Down Goes Ali

Now as we have over 40 years of hindsight, it’s easy for moderns to look at Nat’s list and see how silly it looks, but back then he was one of the few willing to publish such a list at the risk of great personal criticism. One thing to note is the fighters on his list were long retired, meaning no way was Nat going to rate some young whippersnapper just entering the middle of his career. Since he passed in 1972, he never got to see Ali upset George Foreman in Zaire, so we can’t say how that might of altered his view of things, though I suspect very little as to adding a currently active heavyweight to his list. We can say within a year or two after the Foreman upset as I recollect, Ring came out with a revised list that had Ali at or near the top of the 10 in a vast rearrangement of Nat’s list. In the encapsulated words of the immortal Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, “Roll over Beethoven ’cause the big dog’s moving in”

In Nat’s own words:

As I have had it listed in The Ring Record Book for some years, my all-time rating of heavyweights is as follows: 1. Jack Johnson, 2. Jim Jeffries, 3. Bob Fitzsimmons, 4. Jack Dempsey, 5. James J. Corbett, 6. Joe Louis, 7. Sam Langford, 8. Gene Tunney, 9. Max Schmeling, 10. Rocky Marciano.

I started the annual ranking of heavyweights in the 1953 with only six listed: 1. Jack Johnson, 2. Jim Jeffries, 3. Bob Fitzsimmons, 4. Jack Dempsey, 5. James J. Corbett, 6. Joe Louis.

In later years I found it necessary to expand the ratings in all classes to top 10, with these top listings: heavyweights, Jack Johnson; light heavies, Kid McCoy; middleweights, Stan Ketchel; welters, Joe Walcott; lightweights, Joe Gans; feathers, Terry McGovern; bantams, George Dixon; flyweights, Jimmy Wilde.

For some time now I have been under great pressure from some readers of The Ring magazine and of The Ring Record Book, as well, to revise my ratings, especially in the heavyweight division.

Here is a strange facet to this pressure move. It has concerned, chiefly, Cassius Clay.

Never before in the history of the ratings did I find myself pressured to revise the listing of a heavyweight, right on top of a defeat.

There was considerable pressure to include Clay among the Top 10 during his 3 1/2-year interlude of inactivity.

But the campaign became stronger after Clay had returned with knockout victories over Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena. The demand on behalf of Clay became strongest after he had been beaten by world champion Joe Frazier in a 15-round contest that saw Cassius decked in the final heat.

Clay’s fight with Frazier left thousands of his admirers, who had seen the contest over television, protesting that Clay had won and that the unanimous decision of referee Arthur Mercante and judges Artie Aidala and Bill Recht, was a hoax, or worse.

Before we go any farther, let us dispose of this point. Frazier was declared the winner without a dissenting vote because he was the winner with unanimous force and unbiased conviction.

Clay never hurt Frazier. He messed up Joe’s left eye and made it look as if there had been an indecisive result, or a definite verdict in favor of Clay. Clay’s gloves reached Frazier more often than Frazier’s punches reached Clay. But Cassius lacked force.

Clay was hurt, especially in the 11th and 15th rounds. Clay came near being knocked out in the play-acting 11th. Clay’s constant retreat to the ropes was the tipoff on the fight.

I sat in the first press row in the Garden and emphatically saw Clay beaten. However, we have thousands of Clay backers insisting that he had established himself as one of the all time Top 10.

I did not regard Ali as a member of the leading 10 before he got into his argument with the Federal Courts. I did not see, in the Clay record as it stood after his seven-round knockout of Zora Folley in New York on March 22, 1967, any reason for my revising the heavyweight listing to include Cassius among the all-time 10. Nor did the Quarry, Bonavena, and Frazier fights impress me to the point at which I found myself considering ousting one of my Great 10 to make room for Clay.

Suppose I suffered an aberration and decided to include Clay among the top 10. This would mean ousting Marciano to make room for Ali as my all-time number l0. That would be farcical. Clay never could have beaten Marciano. Clay’s record is not the superior of the one the tragic Rocky left behind him when he retired from boxing unbeaten.

I even had something to do with Clay’s winning the Olympic light heavyweight championship in Rome in 1960. I spotted him for a likely Gold Medal, but I did not like the way he was training–or rather, not training. Cassius was entertaining the gals of the Italian capital, with gags and harmonica playing, and forgetting what he had been entered for.

I gave him a lecture and a warning. Maybe it had something to do with his victory. Maybe he would have won just the same. But I doubt if my talk did any harm.

After Cassius had won the title I felt that we had another Floyd Patterson in the making. He did not have Patterson’s speed of hands at that time, but he had more speed of foot. And more animation, which, of course, is an understatement. Floyd never has been a paragon of vivacity.

As Clay left the Olympic ring a champion, I saw him growing fast into a heavyweight. And I treated myself to a dream. I said to myself, “This kid could go far. It all depends on his attitude, his ability to tackle his job earnestly and seriously. Some of his laughter could be a real asset.” Ultimately it was.

Neither animus nor bias, neither bigotry nor misjudgment, can be cited against me in my relations with Cassius Clay. After he had been found guilty of a felony by a Federal jury in Houston, and Judge Joe Ingraham had sentenced Ali to five years in a penitentiary and a fine of $10,000, there was a rush to take the title from the draft-refusing champion.

The Ring magazine refused to join in the campaign against Clay, a stand now thoroughly vindicated. The Ring insisted that Cassius was entitled to his day in court, and that his title could be taken from him only if he lost it in the ring, or he retired from boxing, as Marciano, Tunney, and Jeffries had done before him.

Pressure on The Ring was tremendous. But this magazine would not recede one iota from its never relaxed policy of fighting for Law and Order.

Only when Muhammad Ali announced that he would fight no more and asked permission to give The Ring world championship belt to the winner of the Frazier-Jimmy Ellis fight, did The Ring declare the title vacated and drop Clay from the ratings.

With Clay’s return to the ring, The Ring revived his rating among the top 10 heavyweights. Not until Frazier knocked out Ellis in five rounds did The Ring allocate the vacant world title to Joe.

I do not mean to derogate Clay as a boxer. I am thoroughly cognizant of every fistic attribute he throws into the arena, every impressive quality he displayed on his way to the title and in fighting off the challenges of Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell, and Zora Folley.

When Ali went into his 3 1/2-year retirement, he had not yet achieved his personal crest. Nor did the fights with Quarry, Bonavena and Frazier, which marked his return to action, send him any farther in the direction of fulfillment of claims of his loyal supporters.

The way Cassius Clay stands, he does not qualify for rating with the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nor, the way the future shapes up for him, is he likely to qualify. Now his hands are quick. His footwork is quick. His punch is not the type that is calculated to stop a man forthwith, no matter what he did to Sonny Liston in their second encounter, at Lewiston, Maine.

Cassius has got to wear down his opponent. He has got to flick his glove into the eyes of the opposition, the way he did against Frazier. He has a style all his own. But its sui generis quality does not make him one of the top 10.

I want to give credit to Clay for punching boxing out of the doldrums into which it fell with the rise of Liston to the championship. Liston could not get a license in New York. Liston had a bad personal record. Liston was emphatically not good for boxing. Into the midst of this title situation came the effervescent kid from Louisville, favored by conditions, by his potential, by his personality and his clean personal record.

The situation called for a Clay and, fortunately, the situation was favored with one. He was the counterpart, in boxing, of Babe Ruth in baseball, after the Black Sox Scandal.

Through superior punching power, Frazier is Clay’s current better as a ringster. But Frazier has yet to develop the overall influence that Clay exercised. Nor does it appear likely that Joe will ever be to boxing what Cassius was when he became the world champion and when he stirred up world boxing with his exploits against the best opposition available pending the development of Frazier, another Olympic hero.

I have the utmost admiration for Cassius Clay as a ring technician. Certainly not for his attitude toward the United States and its armed forces. Of that mess he is legally clear.

I do not see Cassius Clay as a candidate for a place among the top 10 heavyweights. Nor may Frazier, his conqueror, eventually force me to revise my all-time heavyweight ratings.

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.