Connect with us

Articles of 2002




For the past four years, Russell Peltz has functioned, more or less out in the open, in a dual role – simultaneously serving as a boxing “coordinator” for ESPN2's “Friday Night Fights”, and running a full operation as an independent promoter, staging shows and signing fighters to contracts, often with the implicit guarantee of ESPN exposure for those who will commit themselves to him.

Over the course of time, people have become “wise” to Peltz, and have called him out on more than one issue that has arisen out of this apparent conflict of interest. Some of these revelations have resulted in chapters to this series on boxing reform.

The general opinion in the boxing community is that Peltz has sought an alternate route to do supplemental business – in effect dealing himself in with promoters who are granted shows on the network, sometimes through his recommendation – either by partnering on the promotion itself, with a “silent” interest in a main event fighter, or both.

Those suspicions may indeed be substantiated by an upstart promoter who felt it incumbent upon herself to stand up to Peltz' power play.

Diane Fischer knows she's behind the eight-ball to begin with, as a woman in a man's game. But this Atlantic City operator gets an “A” for effort, and she simply didn't want to take no for an answer when seeking to produce a show that would air on ESPN2's Friday fight series.

Fischer had been dogging Bob Yalen of ESPN about televising an all-women's boxing card, and after considerable effort on her part the network relented. On July 31, 1998 in Atlantic City, Kathy Collins beat Olivia Gerula Peveira in the ten-round main event of what was, by all accounts, a sensational show with a sell-out crowd. After the fight, Fischer inquired with Peltz, ESPN's newly-named “coordinator”, as to when she might be able to promote another women's show on the network.

“He told me there would be no more dates,” Fischer says. “He said, 'We're going only with men's fights'.”

That didn't necessarily dull Fischer's persistence, but she had become frustrated as a result of her subsequent attempts to deal with ESPN. Peltz seemed resigned not to give her any more TV dates, regardless of whether it was for women's OR men's fights, and numerous calls to Yalen, ESPN's “Director of Brand Management”, who heads up the boxing package for the network, led nowhere.

“Peltz told me 'As long as I'm involved with ESPN, she'll never get a date',” says Rick Glaser, who has had a well-chronicled spat with Peltz regarding lightweight Billy Irwin – another freeze-out situation which resulted in Peltz ultimately stealing the fighter from Glazer's control.

Fischer once again approached Peltz about promoting an ESPN show in March of 2000 at the Sands Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City. One of the featured bouts she proposed would have pitted her fighter, Will Taylor, a light heavyweight with a 15-3 record, against Peltz' fighter, Sammy Ahmad, who was 14-0-2. “Russell told me the fight wasn't strong enough,” says Fischer.

Interestingly, in December of that year, the matchup suddenly became viable, when Peltz indeed used that very same ten-round fight on one of the Blue Horizon shows HE promoted on ESPN2. Fischer, who because of the television freeze-out was finding it difficult to get worthwhile action for Taylor, took the fight for a small purse, in her words, “to get the exposure” (Taylor won a decision, and went on to fight Reggie Johnson for the USBA light heavyweight title).

Then, last summer, Peltz called her, with a very curious proposition, and one that was rather surprising for Fischer. He told her she could promote fights on ESPN, with one condition. “He wanted to know if I was interested in going 50% partners with him in the promotions,” Fischer says. Peltz also wanted a 50% share of Fischer's fighters; although she only had Will Taylor under contract, Peltz was seeking a half-share in the promotional rights of anyone Fischer would sign in the future, as a result of her TV deal.

It is not known whether Peltz' employers at ESPN knew that he was making this kind of overture to a promoter. Our inquiries as to whether ESPN management was aware of Peltz' activity, and if so, whether it sanctioned and approved such activity, have gone unanswered, despite repeated attempts.

It deserves mention that Fischer is an industrious operator with an impeccable reputation. She has been licensed in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, and was granted a promoter's license in New Jersey when it was a very difficult thing to acquire.

Peltz had requested a sit-down with Fischer to go over the finer points of the business proposal he was making to her. But principle, and her better judgment, took over.

She never engaged him in the follow-up meeting.

“That would have been like getting in bed with the enemy,” explained Fischer. “I don't need that right now. It would be going completely against my beliefs.”

Peltz made her pay, soon enough. Fischer had promoted three outstanding cards at Dover Downs in Delaware, a pari-mutuel establishment that had installed slot machines. Although she harbored plans to expand her relationship to something long-term, Fischer was effectively back-doored by Peltz, who went to Dover Downs management, and guaranteed them that Fischer could not produce television, but that HE could.

Peltz promoted a May 10 card at the facility, which featured Kassim Ouma in the now-famous “tattoo incident” (which is dealt with in Chapter 18 of this series). He grossed a reported $105,000 for his efforts, not including that which he pocketed as an ESPN “coordinator”.

Dover Downs indicated to Fischer that it would be happy to field additional proposals from her, but of course, they put her “in the trick bag”, so to speak. They told her their next available date was October 4, but that they had to have TV coverage. For Fischer, part of the explanation she got was unusual indeed.

“All three shows I had done with them were on a Saturday,” she says. “Now they want to do a show on a Friday. I knew what was happening.”

What happened is that the race track had, in fact, already made a deal with Peltz, yet it was giving itself a certain plausible deniability, creating the facade that it was conducting a fair and open bidding process. And probably for good reason – it was no secret that Fischer, along with other promoters in the Mid-Atlantic region, had spoken to attorneys about initiating an anti-trust suit against Peltz and ESPN. In fact, Peltz' pitch to go partners with Fischer came after talk of the prospective lawsuit began to circulate publicly.

Fischer has been led to believe that the bidding for the October 4 show is still active, despite the fact that it has been reported in several newspapers, including Tuesday's

Philadelphia Daily News

, that Peltz is scheduled to promote the show at Dover Downs on that date.

Peltz is a life-long resident of Philadelphia, and is licensed by the state of Pennsylvania, within the jurisdiction of former ABC president Greg Sirb, who is currently executive director of the Pennsylvania commission. Thus far Sirb has not initiated an investigation into any of Peltz' activities regarding fighters or promoters that might constitute a conflict of interest.

But there's at least one disgruntled former associate who thinks there should be an investigation, and a thorough one.

“If this guy (Peltz) were Italian, they'd probably have led him out in handcuffs already,” says Glaser.

(NOTE: Russell Peltz has refused to make comment to with regard to his activities with ESPN)

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002




Walk the dog, stroll through the park, have a picnic at the lake.
There are safer things for IBF cruiserweight champ Vassily Jirov to do this month than defend his title against James “Lights Out” Toney.
Barbecue, play softball, fish, visit the zoo. Thank his lucky stars.
Jirov, who lives in California, won’t be fighting Toney on HBO on Jan. 25.
Something to do with his insides.
Ask Toney why Jirov pulled out of their fight and he’ll tell you it was Jirov’s heart that let him down, his backbone that went soft, not his banged-up ribs. Ask Toney and he’ll tell you about heartbreak and lies and revenge and fighting anybody in the universe if it means another title. Jirov claims he suffered the damage while sparring. Maybe. But it’s the fourth time Jirov has found a reason not to fight Toney. How many times you got to be told to go home before you realize the guy doesn’t want to come outside and play? How many times you got to be bit by the same dog before you realize it wants to be left alone? Jirov has more excuses than a politician caught with a hooker on his lap.
In his own eloquent way, Toney recently described how disappointed he was in the cancellation of their title fight on the undercard of the Vernon Forrest – Ricardo Mayorga welterweight title fight.
“The @#%$%*&#@,’’ Toney said after learning of the postponement on Christmas Eve. “Jirov can @&%$#% and then he can @%$#@#$. He’s nothing but a #$%#@#.’’ That said, it doesn’t brighten up the New Year in the Toney household.
“I’m done with it,’’ said Toney, sounding like a guy who finally gets tried of being stood up by the same girl.
As of Dec. 30, there was still no word of an opponent for Toney, though he’s still making regular trips to the gym.
Merry Christmas, James. Have a Happy New Year.
“Bah, humbug,’’ said Toney’s promoter Dan Goossen. “We didn’t have much of a Christmas. I got the news on Christmas Eve. But you just have to bounce back.’’ Funny thing about fighters. Some make excuses, some fight through them. You get the feeling Toney could have cracked five ribs and his right tibia and still climbed into the ring against Jirov.
It raises a lot of questions. What’s Jirov got against fighting? After a busy 2001, he hasn’t fought since last February. How do you hold a title after you’ve gone into retirement? Just who is this guy and why does he like to hide? Is there really a Vassily Jirov out there, or is he a creation of the IBF, a shadowy figure who won the title and decided it was too big a risk to keep defending it? The bottom line is, Toney may be left with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands if they don’t find him another fight, though he knew better than to mark the date on his calendar in ink. There are no promises in boxing. When dealing with a guy like Jirov, all bets are off. But Toney can still hope. The name O’Neil Bell – the WBC’s No. 1 challenger – has been knocked around, and Toney said he doesn’t care what contender or champion he knocks out on Jan. 25. “#@#$%$#,’’ Toney said.
You can say that again.

Continue Reading

Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions



A new year is upon us, which means it's time for new years resolutions. Yeah, never mind that most resolutions are broken, oh, around the third week of January; everybody still makes them.

Here are my resolutions that I'd make for some of the luminaries in the sport of boxing.

* Floyd Mayweather: No more excuses. Anyone else sick of listening to 'the Pretty Boy' whine about what ailments he came into the fight with? Whether it's his fragile hands, a bum shoulder or his squabbles with his promoter Bob Arum, he always has an alibi. Hey Floyd, nobody cares, you get paid plenty to perform and those that buy tickets don't care that you might have a hangnail; they want nothing but the best effort out of you.

Mayweather reminds me of former Los Angeles Dodger slugger Mike Marshall, who's second home seemed to be the disabled list. The bottom line is this guy is lucky to be a boxer where he only has to perform once every 6 months- he simply couldn't handle the rigors of an NBA, NFL or baseball season. Ask any athlete if they are ever 100-percent healthy after the first day of training camp or spring training and they'll laugh at you.

Injuries and ailments are a part of the job, overcoming them is what makes a true professional. Mayweather still hasn't grasped that concept.

* Jim Gray: Respect. I guess this little weasel is whom Aretha Franklin was talking about in her song. Think about it, have you ever seen a guy be so disrespectful to fighters in post-fight interviews like this guy. Don't even mention HBO's Larry Merchant- he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions like a true journalist and he's consistent. Gray looks at boxing as a secondary gig and looks down on boxers in general.

Don't believe me? Just compare and contrast his softball interviews that he does for NBC and the hatchet jobs he does on Showtime.

* Max Kellerman: No more over-hyping New York boxers. Look, I get along and respect Max, but when you look up the term 'East Coast Bias' in Webster's, his picture may be used as the definition of it. From Zab Judah to James Butler and to Tokumbo Olajide, he'll have you enshrined in Canastota if you come out of the Big Apple.

What's worse are the excuses he'll come up with for his New Yorkers when they fall on their faces. Max is great for boxing but he's gotta realize New York hasn't been a player on the boxing scene for at least 20 years.

* Crocodile: A new catchphrase. You know Crocodile, right? He was Mike Tyson's hype-man for all these years…the guy with the menacing shades and the army fatigues who used to scream, “GUERILLA WARFARE” at the top of his lungs over and over again.

I've heard that enough and it's about as played out as 'Whoop, there it is' and it's time he came up with a new one. All the great ones can add to their repertoire.

* HBO: Admit they acknowledge the titles. Stop being the Hypocritical Boxing Organization and just stop saying that you don't recognize these organizations. The latest example of their double-talk? Well, for years they dogged John Ruiz and his WBA title, suddenly Roy Jones challenges Ruiz and HBO is hyping this up as some sort of historic challenge of a light heavyweight trying to capture a heavyweight title.
Yeah, the same title they had basically trashed for years.

* Joe Cortez: No more over-officiating. His line is that,' He's firm but he's fair'. I'd argue about that the last couple of years but my biggest gripe with him is that he seems to make himself waaaaay too visible during fights and gets too involved. Nobody is there to watch him and he should just let the fighters fight.
Too often I see these fights with Cortez lose their flow as Cortez continually interrupts the action with his admonishments and warnings. Joe, take a step back and let us watch what we came to see.

* Don Turner: Stop living off of Holyfield-Tyson I- If you ever talk to this guy, he'll talk as though he invented boxing. And his big coup was co-training Evander Holyfield against Mike Tyson. 'The Real Deal' upset Tyson and suddenly Turner was being hailed as the new Chappie Blackburn and he became a media darling.

My question is this, did he suddenly teach Holyfield how to fight 35 fights into his career? Also, I contend that my mother and I could work Holyfield's corner and he would whip Tyson everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. And ask yourself this, when was the last time he was in the winning corner for a big fight?

* Newspaper writers: Start crediting the Internet. Ok, this is a sore subject with me, but too many times I've seen stories from the major newspaper scribes who amazingly have stories that are eerily similar to stories that I've read on the internet (or that I've written myself) and use quotes that I got in one-on-one interviews and they don't attribute their sources- the internet.

When I take quotes or info from a story I make a point to give credit where it's due. Now, I just wish these guys would do the same.

* Roy Jones: no more hip-hop entrances. Roy, you're a magnificently gifted prizefighter, you can also play just a bit of hoops, but your rhyming skills are that of Shaquille O'Neal. In other words, you're doing street nursery rhymes not Nas.

Please, oh please, stop embarrassing yourself and the sport with your cheesy as nacho's attempt to become a hip-hop performer. His last entrance/performance reminded me of one of those really bad Sir-Mix-Alot videos of the early 90's.

* Panama Lewis: an exit out of the game. You remember Lewis right, the guy who gave Aaron Pryor the mysterious white bottle before the 14th round of his bout against Alexis Arguello, which seemed to give 'the Hawk' a sudden burst of energy that enabled Pryor to brutally KO Arguello. Afterwards, Pryor would skip out on his post-fight drug test.

Then there was the fight with Luis Resto, where he would tamper with his gloves between rounds, and bearing the brunt of this tomfoolery was Billy Collins who's faced was turned into a bloody mess. Collins, in the aftermath of this brutality committed suicide. For this, Lewis was banned permanently from working a corner. But that doesn't mean that he can't go into the gym and train fighters and even attend fights.

The bottom line is simple, this man has no place in the game of boxing and boxing shouldn't tolerate him in any way.

* Cedric Kushner: no more gimmicks. This guy has tried everything from the disastrous 'ThunderBox' to one-day $100,000 heavyweight tournaments- and all have failed miserably.

He can put on a boxing version of 'Survivor' or 'Real World' if he wants but the reality is, boxing fans want good fights and interesting fighters, nothing more, nothing less.

Stop with the shenanigans and stop with the junk.

Continue Reading

Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003



Hey, we can all dream, right? Isn't it our God-given right as boxing fans to think about fights that should happen – but often times don't?

And not just fights that have the highest profile or the biggest names – because sometimes those fights, like Lewis vs. Tyson – are nothing more than high-profile mismatches. I'm talking about fights that are evenly matched between the game's best and are the most intriguing inside the ring.

Here are some fights I'd pay to see in the upcoming year; full well knowing that most of these fights are pipe dreams as the business end of the sport would bog these fights down quickly. But hey, we can dream right?

* Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera: Name me another fighter that has never won a world title belt that is better than Marquez? You can't and this guys been ducked and dodged long enough. On February 1st he takes on Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF featherweight title and it says here that he should face one of the game's best known 126-pounders, either Morales or Barrera. Marquez is a master boxer with great counter-punching skills and his hand-speed would give either one of his Mexican compatriots fits. There are some in the industry who have been saying for a while that Marquez is already the game's premiere featherweight; I'm not inclined to disagree that strongly.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: With Barrera, not good, as Ricardo Maldonado sees no real upside in this match-up and would most likely take an easier fight on HBO for about the same amount of money he could make facing Marquez.

With Morales, the logistics are much less complicated. Both of them are promoted by Bob Arum and there is some talk that they could face each other in May if a Morales-Barrera III isn't made.

* Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones: Not only because it's a match-up of two of the very premiere fighters in the world, but Hopkins needs to resume his career with some meaningful fights and Jones should be fighting guys like 'the Executioner' instead of participating in novelty acts like his proposed bout with John Ruiz.

And don't think for one minute that this would be a blowout. Jones couldn't blowout a green Hopkins in 1993 and won't be able to do it now. Hopkins, unlike most of Jones' opponents, isn't in total awe of Pensacola's finest.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not good, Sharon and Arafat will find a common ground regarding the Middle East before these two proud and stubborn men find one in contract negotiations.

* Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vernon Forrest: For fans of pure boxing and strategy this is a fight that can't be missed. Both men have strong jabs and match-up well physically. 'The Golden Boy' has the better left hook and 'The Viper' has a more effective right hand. Between these two well-schooled boxers you can expect a tense and tight boxing match with subtle momentum swings round by round.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: For 2003, not very good because it looks like Oscar will be fighting once in the upcoming year – a September rematch against Shane Mosley – and Bob Arum has stated that Forrest simply brings nothing to the table promotionally. This can be interpreted as another way of saying that he's not Latin, too dangerous or just another black fighter who can't sell a ticket. The bottom line seems to be that unless Forrest raises his profile in the upcoming years, De La Hoya will be facing guys that make economic sense.

* Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu: This would be a face off of the sport's premier lightweight against the game's best jr. welterweight. 'The Pretty Boy' would bring speed, quickness and boxing ability to the dance. While Tszyu would bring a decided edge in strength, size and punching power. They say styles make fights and you have two contrasting ones here.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not likely. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Vlad Wharton who promotes Tszyu, is seemingly deathly afraid to take any risks with Tszyu, who's basically his cash cow. Secondly, Mayweather got a reality check from his two bouts with Jose Luis Castillo, who at 135 pounds was able to muscle him throughout their 24 rounds they fought in 2002. And Tszyu is faster, sharper and just as strong as Castillo. I'm not sure Mayweather is in any rush to make the move up to 140-pounds.

* Lennox Lewis vs. Wladimir Klitschko: The industry is always better off when there is action in the heavyweight division. So why even mess around by having Lewis take on 'the other' Klitschko or knock out Tyson again; getting right in there with the man most pundits are claiming is the heir to his throne in Wlad Klitschko?

The time is now, Lewis is getting up there in age and really doesn't have that much left in his gas tank anyway and it would be prudent for him to face Klitschko now before he gets any better. Remember, that's the tact they took in facing Michael Grant when they did – but it has to be noted that Klitschko is much better than Grant.

Lewis would have the advantages in experience and savvy, but for one of the few times in his career he would be facing a disadvantage in size and perhaps power. The two best big men on the planet squaring off, what else could you ask for?

CHANCES OF HAPPENING: Actually pretty good, since Lewis himself has stated his plans to take on both Klitschkos in between his rematch with Tyson. But with Don King now making a full court press to garner the services of Lewis, who knows what direction he goes to now.

Continue Reading