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Articles of 2002

JOSE, CAN YOU SEE……THE POINT?

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This press release came to me from WBC President Jose Sulaiman, dated August 5, 2002:

“The practice of active litigation is not customary nor a part of the idiosyncrasy of the society where I was born and live, Mexico, and I have never personally in my life presented a lawsuit against anybody, for any reason whatever.

“However, my life has been impacted dramatically since I was injured during the physical confrontation between boxing heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson last January in New York, where I was abandoned by all participating parties on the stage of the theatre, waiting for an ambulance that never arrived: with no concern or precaution to medically or spiritually help the person who was the President of the WBC, the organization that was an important factor for their championship bout to take place, and thus, I have felt a blast of disrespect against my pride and dignity as a human being.

“More than six months have passed, and I have been examined by several prestigious medical specialists, clinics and hospitals in Mexico City, California, Florida and New York, as well as having undergone numerous therapy treatments in an unsuccessful effort to find a remedy for my numerous traumas, some which are permanent and disabling and which, as of today, have limited me to stay at home, from where I have to do my work.

“All of the above reasons, plus my inability to understand or rationalize why institutions of so much experience and financial power, and teams of the two most highly recognized professional boxers, could plan and handle a press ceremony so poorly with no security, nor any control of credentials, for an event that even a child could foresee would be widely attended.

“Nor have I been able to understand the reason to have two boxers, who had shown so much bad blood for each other and who are two powers for nature, left alone for a face off all by themselves on a theatre stage without any security between them. Not only to avoid their hurting each other, but also to protect innocent bystanders from being hurt. Which happened to be my case.

“I perceive that with my lawsuit, I will be confronting a group of gigantic and powerful people and institutions, but I know that justice has no immunity. If I don´t do it, I would be betraying my principles and my struggle for what is right, as well as my pride and dignity as a man, as a

WBC public figure and as a human being.

“I have put my case in the hands of the law firm Sullivan, Papain, McGrath, Block and Cannavo, who will in the future answer questions through my attorney Christopher McGrath, and following their advice, I will not in the future make any more comments.

“To conclude, I am so firmly and strongly convinced of my rights that we will go through any and all legal instances, whatever the cost.”

Now wait just a doggone minute here.

When the dispute over officials between the World Boxing Council and the Indiana Boxing Commission was taking place in connection with the Vernon Forrest-Shane Mosley fight, we were informed that Forrest's camp objected – rather strongly – to the presence of Fred Jones as one of the fight's judges because he was registered to the International Boxing Federation.

And why was that a problem? Well, partly because the IBF had previously stripped Forrest of its welterweight championship, and it was determined that an “IBF official” might prejudice Forrest for that reason – even though it could be argued that the stripping of Forrest at the time was justifiable, since, in the organization's estimation, he did not comply with the official rules that were set forth regarding obligations on the part of champions toward mandatory challengers (as a result, Michele Piccirillo recently won the 147-pound belt over Cory Spinks).

In a one-on-one conversation with Sulaiman, who is the president of the World Boxing Council, his explanation was that the decision to replace Jones was much more out of protest by Forrest's people than it was of his own doing.

Fair enough; it's true that the protests that came from Al Haymon, the representative of Forrest, were strong, and that they carried a lot of weight with the Indiana commissioners who were in attendance at their July 15 meeting.

Certainly, though, the WBC did nothing to mitigate the effect of such protests; in fact, they acquiesced to them, and in a sense, may have reaffirmed those objections. In a letter sent by Sulaiman to William Kelsey, chairman of the Indiana commission, on June 27, Sulaiman pointed out that,

“In regards to the title defense in Indiana from Vernon Forrest versus Shane Mosley, Forrest, the champion, has strongly and specifically stated that he would not accept IBF registered officials, as the IBF stripped him of his world title.”

That objection seemed to be good enough for Sulaiman, and let's say, for the sake of argument, that it was.

Then you tell ME – how much of a legitimate objection does Lennox Lewis have now, in ANY fight in which he would defend his WBC version of the title, with the appointment of any official that is registered with the WBC?

I mean, if Forrest can squawk about a judge who has, in the past, worked for an organization that has stripped him of a title – for cause – shouldn't WBC officials now be disqualified from participating in any future Lennox Lewis title defenses, on the basis that the dispute between Lewis and the president of the organization that would seek to govern his title bouts is characterized by much more direct acrimony – to the tune of what is no doubt the lion's share of 56 million dollars?

It would appear to me that the only fair thing in this situation would be for WBC officials – that includes judges and referees – to recuse themselves from the process of officiating at any of Lewis' fights, or Tyson's, for that matter, until the litigation initiated by Sulaiman comes to a definitive resolution.

Because at this point, if I were part of the management team of Lennox Lewis, I would be worried that anyone from the WBC might prejudice me, simply because right now we'd be in an adversarial position.

I'm just using the same kind of simple logic that has been presented to me before, in the Forrest-Mosley case.

Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that Sulaiman suffered some injuries as a result of the press conference melee in January – there are plenty of witnesses who can attest to that. Whether Lewis had any direct connections to those injuries is a matter that will be addressed during the discovery process.

But is this lawsuit, in part, really about something else?

Surely, Sulaiman had to be anticipating the judgment awarded Graciano Rocchigiani, who stands to collect a lot of money (how much money will vary, depending on the results of an appeal) as a result of the decision in the damages phase of his lawsuit against the WBC. The original figure, with interest, was projected to be as high as $31 million – enough in and of itself to send Sulaiman scurrying to find alternative streams of income (has he tried MLM marketing yet?).

And here's another thing that may have been a factor, at least until recently – we've been told that Lewis may have severely under-reported his purse for the June 8 fight with Mike Tyson.

The figure he registered was $10 million, according to our information, when in reality the purse was guaranteed for $17.5 million.

Since the WBC gets 3% of a fighter's purse in the form of a sanctioning fee up to $10 million, with 1% for every dollar after $10 million, the difference between the real figure and the reported figure made quite a bit of difference indeed as far as the fee the WBC was to be receive ($75,000, in fact).

In all fairness to Sulaiman, he would not have been altogether wrong if he were upset about that. Eventually though, the matter was settled.

Of course, since we intend to be instructive around here, I'd like to point out that this is just another reason to reinforce the point I made in Chapter 42 – in the interests of disclosure, no fight should be allowed to take place without a signed contract that is on file with the jurisdiction which is sanctioning that fight. In speaking with someone from the Tennessee commission in connection with another story, I was informed that it is not within their rules or regulations to require that ALL bout contracts be filed. They certainly did not have all the contracts pertaining to the Lewis-Tyson bout registered.

That kind of policy – or absence of it, as it were – is simply wrong, and unwise.

And let me make another point – let's say the WBC, for example, had been required to be licensed, registered, or regulated – whichever word you want to choose – pursuant to a Federal or state law.

Sure, it's something they certainly don't want, or look forward to, but consider the flipside – they would at least have had some protection in this situation. In fact, they would have had a right to DEMAND protection from the commission, simply on the basis that they, as a licensed entity, are entitled to the same protections any other licensee would be entitled to when it came to GETTING PAID.

And who knows – the wheels of justice may have turned in a different direction.

Yep, another multi-pronged argument. But that's just me being me.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

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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.

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Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions

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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.

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Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003

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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.

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