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Articles of 2005

Recall and the Rematch



Expectations are always high when the rematch of a sensational fight looms. This is the case for the Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo fight on Saturday.

Can Corrales and Castillo match their thrilling first-fight? Is it even fair to expect them to?

Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale topped their first-fight brawl in a furious rematch, but the second Joe Louis-Billy Conn and Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott fights were duds that followed two of the best heavyweight title bouts in history.

By rematches I mean the second fight, which disqualifies a bout such as the “Thrilla’ in Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and does not count the third through 20th matches between Jack Britton and Ted “Kid” Lewis.

Conditions change between the first and second fights, as can mind sets. The fierceness of the first bout can effect a fighter’s approach to the rematch, especially if he is capable of changing his style. After being knocked down twice and almost stopped in the 10th round after fighting inside, which is Castillo country, why would the taller Corrales not try to fight from outside on Saturday?

There would appear to be little doubt that Walcott, then 39, had Marciano’s power very much in mind when he tried in 1953 to regain the heavyweight championship he lost to Marciano in 1952. Walcott was knocked stone cold in the 13th round by arguably the most famous right-hand punch ever thrown. In the rematch, Jersey Joe was knocked out in the first round.

Walcott did not move until the count of 8, and Jesse Abramson wrote in the New York Herald Tribune that Jersey Joe sat there “like an old man resting in the park on the grass and reviewing his past life.” Walcott got up an instant after referee Frank Sikora counted 10. A lot of people thought he could have beaten the count. The Walcott camp cried “fast count,” a cry that echoes throughout boxing history.

The passage of time had a lot do with the Louis-Conn rematch in 1946 falling far shot of Louis’ 13th round knockout when Conn was on the verge of a major upset in 1941. Neither man had fought since 1942 and neither was the fighter he had been in 1941, but time had treated Conn more harshly than Louis.

Before being knocked out in the eighth round, Conn shook Louis with a right to the head in the second round, and he landed a hook to the head and a combination hook to body and head in the third round. The rest of the time, Conn tried to stay out of harm’s way, and  he was named  “Flop of the Year” in what then was annual Associated Press poll.

The second fight against Conn was one of eight rematches in which Louis was involved. He won all of them, including six by knockout in title defenses. His most famous rematch was a one round knockout of Max Schmeling in a politically charged atmosphere in 1938. Schmeling was seen by many Americans as a representative of Nazi Germany.

In Detroit’s Paradise Valley section, fans displayed a banner proclaiming, “Joe Louis Knocked Out Hitler.”

Still another heavyweight championship rematch that was a dud, at least if you paid to see it, was Muhammad Ali’s first-round knockout of Sonny Liston with a right hand that some observers called a perfect punch and others termed a phantom punch in 1965. Because of that punch or non-punch the fight became part of boxing lore.

A rematch of historical significance was Floyd Patterson’s fifth-round knockout of Ingemar Johansson in 1960 that made Patterson the first man to regain the heavyweight championship.

Sometimes the difference in skill levels between two fighters works against a rematch being nearly as good as the first fight. That was the case of Archie Moore and Yvon Durelle. In 1958, Durelle knocked down the light heavyweight champion three times in the first round and once in the fifth, but Moore rallied and knocked down the Canadian three times before knocking him out in 11th round. The chance of Durelle surprising Moore did not exist in the rematch in 1959 when the champion scored a third-round knockout after putting Durelle down four times.

The mind set of both Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano was such that a rematch between them was much anticipated. So on the night of July 16, 1947, a sweltering crowd of 18,547 in Chicago Stadium paid a then indoor record $422,918 to see if they could match the thrills of their first fight, which was “Fight of the Year” in 1946. In that fight, Graziano was down and almost out in the first round and Zale was on the floor when the bell sounded at the count of 3 in the second round. Zale also was in deep trouble in the third and fifth rounds before knocking out Graziano with a right to the body and left hook to the jaw in the sixth round.

Zale, who had held the middleweight title since 1941, was in control in the first four rounds of the rematch, knocking Graziano down in the third round and ripping a cut over his left eye. Then in the fifth round, Graziano began a battering of Zale that did not end until the fight was stopped late in the sixth.

Carmen Basilio also was involved in two rematches that closely resembled first fights as action packed.

 After stopping Tony DeMarco in the 12th round and winning the welterweight championship in 1955, Basilio knocked out DeMarco in 12th round of the rematch the same year. One difference was Basilio was comfortably ahead in the first fight, but he was clearly behind in the rematch.

In 1957,  Basilio won the middleweight title on a split decision over Sugar Robinson, with referee Al Berl voting for the loser. Robinson won the rematch in 1958 on a split decision, with referee Frank Sikora voting for the loser.

Although the verdict was different, the Lou Ambers-Henry Armstrong lightweight title rematch in 1939 closely resembled their first fight in action and in the actions of the referees.

Armstrong, already featherweight and welterweight champion, became the first man to hold three titles simultaneously when he won a split decision over Ambers despite being penalized three rounds by referee Billy Cavanaugh for what James P. Dawson of the New York Times called “accidental fouls.”

In the rematch, Ambers became the first man to regain the lightweight championship, winning a unanimous decision (12-3, 8-6-1, 12-3) after referee Arthur Donovan took five rounds from Armstrong for low blows. Dawson thought Donovan was overzealous in applying the foul rule. “On this observer’s score sheet Armstrong was the victim of an injustice . . . Giving Ambers the benefit of the doubt in the five rounds he won by the ring’s law enforcement, Armstrong still won the battle eight rounds to seven in this writer’s opinion,” Dawson wrote.

Some rematches will always be remembered for incidents that occurred during the fights:

Jack Dempsey failing to go immediately to a neutral corner and allowing Gene Tunney to be on the canvas for 14 seconds in the “Battle of the Long Count” won by Tunney in 1927.

Roberto Duran suddenly saying “No Mas” and quiting in the eighth round against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980

Fan Man crashing against the ropes during the seventh round and causing a 21-minute delay in Evander Holyfield’s majority decision win over Riddick Bowe in 1993.

Mike Tyson biting Holyfield’s ears and getting disqualified after three rounds in 1997.

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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