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Articles of 2005

Cory Spinks and Zab Judah Talk Grudge Match

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SHOWTIME boxing will come out with both fists blazing on Feb. 5, 2005, when its first telecast of the year will feature a grudge rematch between Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks and Zab “Super” Judah. In a sensational co-feature, two boxers ranked in the top 10 in each of boxing’s four major governing bodies will square off when undefeated Owen “What The Heck” Beck faces Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett in a 12-round heavyweight elimination bout on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. SHOWTIME will televise the doubleheader at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The event will be promoted by Don King Productions.

Question: Cory, do you feel extra pressure fighting in your hometown?

Spinks: No, not at all. I am going into this fight like I go into any other fight – clearheaded and ready to go into the ring and handle my business.

Question: Why do you feel you need a rematch since you beat Zab fairly easily in the first fight?

Spinks: Well, this is something that happens. He is still one of the best guys in the welterweight division. I am all about fighting the best and I am ready to go.

Question: Do you think that the reason some people think the rematch is warranted is because they forgot about the 11 rounds you dominated and only looked at you getting knocked down in the last round of the fight?

Spinks: Yes, I truly think so, but it is something that I am not worried about. I am prepared to go in there and do what I have to do in this fight.

Question: Cory, what kind of shape are you in?

Spinks: I never go into a fight out of shape. I am always prepared for any fight, so you know what type of shape I am in.

Question: Were there other fights or options you would have liked to have taken before fighting Judah again?

Spinks: Of course, any boxer wants to fight the best. We were willing to fight Kostya Tszyu, even willing to take on Felix Trinidad. But sometimes that is not the way the ball bounces, so we have to go with the next best.

Question: Zab, talk about your training. How do you feel now?

Judah: I feel excellent. I just want to thank Cory, Kevin Cunningham and Don King Productions for giving me another opportunity to fight them again. I am just going in to do my best.

Question: What are you going to do differently this time?

Judah: I do not think that I have to do anything differently. I will go in there with the same game plan. Just be myself.

Question: Do you think you can finish the job this time?

Judah: I guess the good thing is we do not have 30 more seconds or one more round; we have 12 more rounds and a whole new fight and two fresh men. So I think it will be interesting.

Question: What is the capacity of the arena?

Promoter: Official capacity will probably be over 21,000, but the sellable seats are 20,423.

Question: Cory, did you consider training in St. Louis for this fight?

Spinks: Never. We do not train for any fight in St. Louis, no matter how small or big it is.

Question: Why is that?

Spinks: Well, first of all, if you are going to prepare for a fight, especially a fight of this magnitude, you do not want to be around any distractions – at home, around your woman, your boys, your buddies and just relatives. It is just all a distraction when you are trying to focus and get ready for a fight of this magnitude. This fight here is life and death. That is how we see this fight.

Question: Cory, you have fought small fights in St. Louis, but never anything like this. Do you treat the rematch any differently?

Spinks: No, I am just going into this fight like I am fighting any other big fight. Even though it is in my hometown, I have more energy because it is there, but I will not let that get to me because I am a smart fighter. I have been doing this all my life, so I know what it takes.

Question: Cory, can you tell us just a little bit about your life growing up in St. Louis?

Spinks: The neighborhood I grew up in was terrible. It was killing here, killing there. It was basically all about survival. I am just happy I survived it. As far as my daddy having an impact on my career, my dad had his own life. I was more close to my mom. My mom was my backbone, but once my mom passed, my daddy started to play that dad role. As he started to play that dad role, I just embraced him. He is a cool guy. I see where I get some of my personality from.

Question: Zab and Cory, the last fight was a boxing match for 10 rounds and then it turned into a fight and both of you were down in the last two rounds. Are you going to pick up from there?

Spinks: Well, sometimes that is the way the fight goes. You want to put on a good show and when good fighters get in there, they know what it takes and that is what happens.

Judah: I think I am prepared for anything. I am prepared to go boxing and I am prepared to fight.

Question: Would you prefer to fight more than box in this one, Zab?

Judah: I am prepared to do whatever. However the fight should come to me, I am ready for it.

Question: Cory, why does your ring entrance have such a big effect on people?

Spinks: I guess because of the dancing. That is the dance that is really out there now and I just know how to do it. Just brings me extra energy.

Question: Cory, what does your ring entrance tell us about your state of mind just before a fight?

Spinks: Well, lots of people do not know this. My brother, when he was alive and boxing, that is what he used to do and he taught me how to dance and everything. I took that from him and I am continuing that. That just shows people that I am relaxed and ready to go.

Question: Cory, do you think the fight was as close as the scorecard said last time?

Spinks: Well, it was not that close – 116 to 112. But I came out with the win. That is all that counts.

Question: Zab, do you have any regrets about not following it up more aggressively after you knocked down Cory in the 12th round

Judah: Well, I did not have any more time to do anything. By the time I came in after the knockdown, I threw a punch and Cory grabbed me and then the bell rung. So I did not have much time to finish him off.

Question: Cory, what part of St. Louis did you grow up in and where do you live now?

Spinks: I grew up in the north side of St. Louis, the water tower area. I live in St. Charles now. I am married now, grounded, have a daughter. So I am not as wild as I used to be when I used to live in the city. I am more settled, stay at home a lot with my family, just relax.

Question: Cory, you had mentioned when you were in St. Louis before that you would probably come into town a week before the fight. Based on the distraction factor that you mentioned earlier, what kind of schedule will you have when you come into town?

Spinks: We are not coming in town a week before the fight. We are coming in three or four days before the fight.

Question: Will there be any sort of public workout?

Spinks: We are working on that for Wednesday, a media workout.

Question: Cory, how important and meaningful is it to be at this stage of your career fighting in front of a sold out crowd? Is this a statement fight for you?

Spinks: Yes. I just want to show St. Louis what type of champion they have. It has been a dream for me to defend in St. Louis and it just so happens that I have all three and it is just a blessing.

Question: Zab, does it give you more confidence knowing you were able to knock Cory down?

Judah: Yeah, I guess because I am known as a knockout puncher. I figure that any time that I choose to turn it up, I can do whatever I want to do in the fight.

Question: Have you replayed that in your mind how you are going to finish that, Zab, if you get that opportunity again?

Judah: Oh, definitely. If the opportunity came around again, I would not let it pass me this time.

Question: Zab, what, if anything, would you have liked to have done different at the end of the Tszyu fight and are you still hopeful of getting a rematch with him?

Judah: I would have loved to kept composure of myself and took the time and relaxed for a second and let everything play out and just let everything blow over. Of course, I would love to fight Kostya Tszyu again.

Question: Cory, do you feel that you have gotten the respect you deserve for being an undisputed world champion?

Spinks: Well, kind of not because I have not turned down any fights. I have given boxing what they need more of – real champions.

Question: Do you think your style has something to do with it; since you are not a let-it-out, knock-them-down guy?

Spinks: Well, that too. I just stick to the rules. I stick with what boxing is. It is called an art. Hit and not get hit and that is what I stick to.

Question: Zab, in the past you have been accused of showboating. This is probably the biggest fight of your career. Are you going to be doing any of it this time around?

Judah: No, definitely not. Like I told my dad already, if I choose not to win another fight in the world, this fight right here means a lot to me and I will win this fight right here.

Question: Cory, do you have any final thoughts and a prediction on this fight?

Spinks: I predict I will win. I am going to put on the best performance of my life. I guarantee you that. I am so prepared. Every fight I have I learn a little mistake I made and I come back and correct them. But I am very, very focused for this fight. Trust me, I am going to put on a show.

Question: Are you going to win by knockout or by decision?

Spinks: See, that is what I do not do. I do not predict anything because when you predict things, it does not happen. But I think that I will win this fight.

Question: Zab, what are your thoughts and do you have a prediction on this fight?

Judah: I would like to elaborate on what Cory said. In layman’s terms, what he is really saying is that he has prepared himself well and he is bringing his running shoes to run around the ring from that hard hitting junior welterweight, Zab Judah. That is what he really means to say.

Question: And what are you going to do about that, Zab?

Judah: I am going to finish him forever. Like I said, no disrespect to Cory Spinks – I like him a lot as a person – but my whole thing is this. I am here to take. I am going to his back yard because I am from Brooklyn. That is what we do. I am from the home of the taking state. Now watch this.

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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