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Articles of 2002

NEWS ITEM FOR MAX – NABF IS AT IT AGAIN

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The 2nd Round

The notorious North American Boxing Federation, which was exposed for its corrupt ratings practices, blatant favoritism toward selected promoters, and violations of the Professional Boxer Safety Act and Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act in “Operation Cleanup”, is at it again.

And once again, the NABF is being bankrolled in that pursuit by that bastion of respectability; the organization that is so vocal about the “dirty, filthy sanctioning bodies” and wants to clean up the sport – unless, of course, any of it applies to them – ESPN.

Tonight, in Temecula, Cal., ESPN is televising a co-main event feature which pits Radford Beasley against Art Simonyan for the vacant NABF title.

Or is it in fact for a title?

It seems now everybody is backpedaling.

Teddy Reid, who was originally scheduled to defend his NABF welterweight title – the same one he got as a by-product of the NABF's violations of the federal law back on June 28, had to pull out with an injury sustained in training. To fill that void, co-promoter Arthur Pelullo and NABF officials (presumably Sam Macias) quickly put together another NABF championship bout in its place – this one pitting Beasley against Simonyan.

Here are the exact words, as they appeared in a press release from Pelullo's Banner Promotions issued on Tuesday:

NEW CO-FEATURED FIGHT ON DECEMBER 13 – ARTYOM SIMONYAN VS RADFORD BEASLEY FOR VACANT NABF FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE IN TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA, TELEVISED ON ESPN2

North American Boxing Federation welterweight champion Teddy Reid was injured in training and has withdrawn from his title defense against Sam Garr.

In the new co-featured bout, Artyom Simonyan, 10-0-1, with 5 knockouts, of Glendale, Ca., will challenge for the vacant NABF featherweight title against former world title challenger Radford “The Man” Beasley, 22-1, with 14 knockouts, of St. Louis, Mo.

The only problem with all this is that neither Beasley nor Simonyan is even rated among the top fifteen featherweight contenders by the NABF. In fact, neither guy is rated in ANY division. And the ratings listed on the NABF's website (http://www.nabfnews.com) were last updated on November 23.

And there's the small matter of how the NABF could actually pull the rug arbitrarily out from under the champion. While it's true that Juan Manuel Marquez, who won the title in March, is scheduled to fight Manuel Medina for the IBF 126-pound crown on February 1, there has been absolutely no announcement that he has been stripped, nor any procedure that has been conducted by which to strip him. And it certainly is not the policy – at least the official policy – of the NABF to strip fighters once they agree to world championship bouts.

The list below is taken directly from the NABF website. They are the current rankings, which, according to the organization, were updated on November 23. As you can see, Marquez is still recognized as champion, and Beasley and Simonyan are conspicuously absent:

FEATHERWEIGHT (126#)

NABF CHAMPION: JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ, MX, (W 3/09/02) WBC #3

WORLD CHAMPION: ERIK MORALES, MX

WBC AMERICAS CHAMPION: VACANT

CONTENDERS:

1. JUAN CARLOS RAMIREZ, MX

2. CESAR FIGUEROA, MX

3. ZAHIR RAHEEM, NJ

4. ROCKY JUAREZ, MX

5. WILLIAM ABELYAN, CA

6. GUTY ESPADAS, MX

7. BOBBY VELARDEZ, CA

8. JOHN MICHAEL JOHNSON, TX

9. LUIS FUENTE, MX

10. HECTOR VELAZQUEZ, MX

11. LEWIS WOOD, TX

12. MIKE ANCHONDO, CA

13. ENRIQUE SANCHEZ, MX

14. DAVID MURRILO, MX

15 MARTIN HONORIO, MX

16. STEVE LUEVANO, CA

Of course, the obvious question is, if Marquez was indeed stripped, why weren't any of the people listed in the NABF's top fifteen contacted with regard to the fight? Why were all of them bypassed in favor of these two?

Well, the answer is obvious enough, and fits into a very recognizable pattern – Beasley is signed with promoter Bobby Hitz, and Simonyan has recently inked a promotional agreement with Pelullo. That jumps them to the head of the pack, regardless of what the ratings say.

As a result, what we had here was yet another NABF title fight which has appeared literally out of thin air, constructed solely for the purposes of convenience – working to the advantage of the promoters, the sanctioning body, and the television network – basically in that order.

Beasley would seem qualified to compete for an NABF title. He is a former NABF champ, who challenged Joel Casamayor for the WBA's 130-pound title in September of 2000, suffering a fifth-round TKO defeat. After taking nearly two years off he has come back with two wins – over fighters with a combined record of 10-27-4.

Simonyan is a bit of a different case. He has never gone ten rounds, won a FOUR-round decision in his last fight, and has fought a roster of opponents with a combined mark of 47-75-12. Hardly enough credentials to justify him leapfrogging FIFTEEN rated contenders to earn a championship opportunity, when what he was originally scheduled for was his first-ever eight-round bout.

When asked whether ESPN acknowledged or endorsed the fact that such a manipulation of the NABF championship process had taken place, Bob Yalen, ESPN's head of boxing, said, “When the promoter came back with this as a replacement fight, I questioned him on the fact that neither fighter was rated by the NABF, and that I thought Juan Manuel Marquez was the champion. He stated that it had been indeed sanctioned as the vacant NABF title fight. If it is sanctioned by the NABF we have to acknowledge that fact, though we don't have to endorse it, as we were not privy to what was discussed between the promoter and the sanctioning body.”

There is no doubt in our mind that what was discussed between the promoter (Pelullo) and the sanctioning body was a way to facilitate the NABF generating a sanctioning fee to replace that which was lost by Reid's pullout, with Pelullo's fighter (Simonyan) receiving the title shot. There is no reason to believe that Pelullo would have gone ahead and issued a press release announcing a title fight if he had not been given authorization from the NABF, because if he had, that would constitute false advertising, wouldn't it?

TOTAL ACTION became apprised of the NABF's latest game on Wednesday, and began to investigate it. Apparently that put a whole set of wheels in motion.

Now the NABF is trying to circulate a story that the information in that press release was a mistake, and that the Beasley-Simonyan fight is NOT for an NABF title, and never was. That simply doesn't pass the giggle test.

On the Banner promotions website, the fight, under “Upcoming Events”, is listed like this:

“CO-FEATURE – 10 ROUNDS, FEATHERWEIGHTS”

Yet underneath that is exactly the same stuff that was in the press release:

“In the new co-featured bout, Artyom Simonyan, 10-0-1, with 5 knockouts, of Glendale, Ca., will challenge for the vacant NABF featherweight title against former world title challenger Radford “The Man” Beasley, 22-1, with 14 knockouts, of St. Louis, Mo.”

Gee, when the NABF panicked, somebody forgot to change something.

Surely it was the NABF's intention to sanction the fight. Otherwise it would have notified Pelullo, and there would have been an announcement by now. Instead, as of 9 AM Eastern time on Thursday, when I had my contact with Yalen, he was operating on the assumption that the fight was indeed an NABF championship bout. According to a feature story about Simonyan, obviously PR-inspired, published on the Fight News website late Thursday morning, “Simonyan was scheduled to fight an eight rounder, however he jumped at the opportunity to fight in his first television bout. His 12 round vacant NABF featherweight title fight replaces the NABF welterweight title fight between Teddy Reid and Sam Garr when Reid suffered an injury during training.”

I have yet to receive a press release from Banner Promotions, or anything in the way of an announcement by either the NABF or ESPN, with the intention of clearing up this confusion.

So now we'll have people paying $30, $50, and $70 for tickets at the Pechanga Resort & Casino who think they are going to see a “championship” fight, with legitimate contenders, who in fact will not.

Perhaps this is a matter for the California State Athletic Commission to explore.

And how does ESPN intend to handle it? Obviously they're in the middle of something pretty sleazy here. Yalen told us he'd be just as happy with a ten-round fight as he would with a 12-rounder, and that's fine. But the fact remains, this act of manipulation was performed, at least in part, by promoters Yalen has consciously chosen to do business with – Pelullo and Hitz. If Yalen, and ESPN, are really concerned about integrity in boxing, perhaps they might want to find out who was lying to them – Pelullo or the NABF, or both, and take action accordingly. My guess is they won't. Of course, it's an educated guess.

And how about those “journalists” manning the ESPN microphones? Yalen says, “All the announcers have free reign for every fight to question the method by which the fighters are rated or the method by which a fight gets sanctioned – there are no cuffs put on them at all.”

Well then, in that case we should enjoy listening to Max Kellerman, who has passed himself off as sort of a “guardian of principles” in boxing (that is, when he's not conveniently looking the other way), as he brings into question the motives of the NABF, and the motives of his own employers as they willingly participate in this out-and-out charade. We'll find out tonight if he has that kind of integrity.

C'mon kid – spit all over that studio. I dare you.

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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