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Articles of 2005

Is Tex Cobb the Real Contender?



I recently saw Tex Cobb sitting ringside at the Blue Horizon and asked him for an interview. “I don’t do interviews,” he said. Then Tex laughed.

There was a time when Cobb was more talkative. He lived his life on the razor’s edge and left a trail of wisecracks in his wake. There’s a ton of evidence suggesting the former contender once had something to say.

“If you screw up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing,” Cobb said several years ago, “it’s your a**, darlin’.”

Although he fought for the WBC heavyweight title in the Houston Astrodome against Larry Holmes in 1982, Tex never wore the crown. No one questioned his heart or ability to take a punch – Cobb had one of the best chins in heavyweight history – but all agreed that Tex lacked something essential.

Randall “Tex” Cobb was born May 7, 1950 in Bridge City, Texas. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1968. He studied philosophy and played fullback at Abilene Christian College, where he was a backfield mate of Wilbert Montgomery, who went on to star for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tex was good with his hands, but he was not a conventional Golden Glover. He dropped out of college at the age of 19 and commenced fighting in smoke-filled Texas saloons: “Beer mugs, knees, fists, elbows, and top of your head take the place of the Marquis of Queensberry Rules,” recalled Cobb.

Cobb made a name for himself as a kickboxer rated by the PKA (Pro Karate Association). He was tough, he was a draw, and he went to Joe Frazier’s gym on Broad Street in North Philly for some formal training. Tex picked up a few fundamentals and gave the amateurs his best shot, but his best shot was not good enough. “I only had two fights as an amateur and lost both of them. Heck, I figure I didn’t have much of a future there,” Cobb said, “so I turned pro.”

His professional debut was on January 21, 1977. Tex scored a first round knockout over Pedro Vega in El Paso.

By the end of 1979, he reeled off thirteen straight wins, all of them by kayo.

“All I want to do is hit somebody in the mouth,” Cobb confessed. “It’s a whole lot easier than working for a living.”

His next fight was against a Cleveland heavyweight named Terry Mims. In 1980 Tex went the distance with Cookie Wallace. Two fights later he punched his way into the heavyweight rankings with an eighth round TKO over Earnie Shavers at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

“The toughest thing to do in the ring is restrain myself. I want to knock the other guy in the groin,” said Cobb, “but I know I can’t do that.”

Three months later Tex dropped a controversial split decision to ex-champion Ken Norton, but Cobb was in the mix: “If I were any more serious, they’d make me a national disease.”

In 1981 he gave a good account of himself in a losing effort against Michael Dokes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Two fights later, Tex muscled rugged Bernardo Mercado over ten rounds. That victory set the stage for the big fight with the heavyweight champion of the world Larry Holmes.

When asked before the fight if he was afraid of Larry, Tex replied, “What the hell is this guy going to do to me? Hit me? You think I got all this scar tissue running into parked cars?”

The two men met on November 26, 1982 in Houston, Texas and Holmes beat Cobb to within an inch of his life. For fifteen lopsided rounds, the champ pounded the challenger. Larry didn’t drop his opponent – Tex was too damn stubborn for that – but at one point Cobb turned to the ref and said “You’re white. Help me.” The ref may have been white, but the ref didn't help, so Tex stood there and took shots.

Ringside announcer Howard Cosell was calling the fight. “I have been called obnoxious, bombastic, sarcastic, confrontational and a know-it-all,” Cosell said about himself. “Of course, I am all these things.” Cosell threw up his hands in disgust at Holmes vs. Cobb and quit boxing because of the fight. Cosell said during the bout: “This is brutalization.”

Tex explained away the loss (“When I got up I stuck to my plan – stumbling forward and getting hit in the face”) but took pride in the fact that he was the man who drove Howard Cosell from the fight game for good. Cobb said it was “My gift to boxing.”

Tex won his next four fights. James “Buster” Douglas, soon to become undisputed heavyweight champ, beat Tex on points. Cobb met Michael Dokes in a rematch and dropped a four-round technical decision. Tex lost his next two fights, a verdict to Eddie Gregg and a one round kayo to a club fighter named Dee Collier.

Randall “Tex” Cobb was on the slide and took 1986 off to regroup. It was about time: “I figure I’ve been hit in the head with everything ‘cept a ‘54 Pontiac.”

Tex made the inevitable comeback in 1987. He racked up nine wins in a row without a loss, setting up the March 1, 1988 bout in Memphis, Tennessee against ex-titleholder Leon Spinks. Although near exhaustion at the end, Tex hung on to squeak out a ten-round point decision over the aged former champion.

Even though Tex said “It never bothers me to hit people I like,” getting hit by people he liked was another story, so he took a second hiatus, this time for three years, after his fight with Neon Leon.

Cobb made another comeback in 1992, scoring a first round TKO against Paul Barch, in a bout that was shrouded in controversy. Barch sold his side of a sordid story to Sports Illustrated, claiming he went into the soup for Tex while both men were high on cocaine. Cobb denied everything and sued the magazine for libel. Tex won the lawsuit, which was overturned on appeal, but it was definitely case closed when he uttered these immortal words: “It’s one thing to call me white and slow. But to call me a fat, cowardly, cocaine-snorting, fight fixing cheat? Who are they calling fat?”

Tex continued to soldier on. He won his last eight fights, the final one on May 7, 1993. Cobb retired with a record of 43-7-1 (36 KOs).

“I’m not standing up for the great state of Texas or the state of the white race or any of that,” Cobb said. “I’m a guy making a living.”

Tex Cobb had a second career in Hollywood, part of which ran concurrently when he was fighting, but he and LA were like snake oil and water.

“I find it a drag being sensitive twelve hours a day,” said Tex. “I’ve got thirty minutes of sensitivity in me in the morning, thirty minutes in the evening and that’s it. I’m more at home kicking butt.”

Despite his attitude, perhaps because of it, Tex Cobb was a character actor in demand for several years. He has over two-dozen TV and film appearances to his credit, including appearances in The X Files, Miami Vice, In the Heat of the Night, Married…with Children, Uncommon Valor, Raising Arizona, The Champ, Golden Child, Police Academy 4, Diggstown, Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

“People always ask if success is going to change me,” Cobb said, “and I tell them I sure hope so.”

Being on the west coast, instead of the east coast where he now lives, had some advantages.

“Hollywood’s a great place to vacation, but I wouldn’t want to live there. The people don’t have a concept of reality,” the former contender said. “Their reality is how good they pretend.”

But since Cobb was acting for a living, pretending in LA became a way of life.

“I love acting,” Cobb said. “It’s easy for me. All you do is look in the camera, smile, and lie with charm. I learned how to do that watching Don King promote fights.”

Many people have it out for Don King, and vice-versa, and it sounds like Cobb might be one of them: “Don King is one of the great humanitarians of our time. He has risen above that great term prejudice. He has screwed everybody he has ever been around. Hog, dog or frog, it don’t matter to Don. If you got a quarter, he wants the first twenty-six cents.”

Tex was never champion, but he got to deal with the top rank of the game.

“Don King is like everybody else in boxing. He’s a liar, a thief, a murderer and a racketeer. And a con man,” Cobb said. “But there ain’t anybody as bad as Bob Arum. That New York City Jew lawyer will make you hate city folks, Jews, and lawyers in the same day.”

Randall “Tex” Cobb is alive and well and exercising his right to remain silent in Philadelphia.

Articles of 2005

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



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

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




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



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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