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Articles of 2007

W.C. Heinz: The Great Communicator



Communicating by writing is done on a two-way street. The writer, going in his direction, and carrying the offering of all he has put into the book, meets the reader. If the reader, coming the other way, does not bring with him the same perceptivity and sensitivity, intelligence and honesty, there is no real communication…. I am grateful that you are out there and brought so much to me and my book when we met on that street.

W.C. Heinz wrote the above to me in 1981, in response to my review of “Once They Heard The Cheers,” his wonderful book about many of the figures in sports – including Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Floyd Patterson and boxing manager Jack Hurley – he covered in the illustrious career as a newspaperman and freelance journalist that made Heinz, as Sports Illustrated called him several years ago, “The Heavyweight Champion of the Word.”

Heinz’s letter launched a correspondence between us that went on for over 20 years, until just after his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. Most of his letters were typed on the 1932 Remington typewriter given to him by his father, which Heinz used to write the columns, feature pieces, and books that won him numerous awards and the idolatry of such current literary giants as David Halberstam, Elmore Leonard and David Maraniss. (One letter was typed in shocking red ink. “It is just that all-black ribbons for 1932 Remington portables have long been extinct. I still have a couple of the ‘rouge et noir,’ also on their way out, and reserve the black for strangers who might otherwise think me whacko,” Heinz explained.)

It is a treasured collection of letters from a friend and towering icon of journalism whose comments and advice on matters literary and pugilistic were always as insightful as his seminal novel about boxing, “The Professional,” published in 1958.

“It was meant to be an absolutely honest and accurate portrait of a gladiator of its time, and I trust it is still that,” he wrote to me 24 years later about the novel Ernest Hemingway called “The only good novel I’ve ever read about a fighter and an excellent novel in its own right.” (In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that once I compiled a ranking of the top boxing novels ever written for The Ring magazine, and put “The Professional” first. Heinz’s response: “I finally made it into The Ring’s ratings.”)

“The Professional” tells the story of middleweight contender Eddie Brown and his manager, Doc Carroll. The novel takes them through training camp as Brown prepares to fight for the world title, and through the gut-wrenching one round fight itself that has broken the heart of everyone who read the book. The author’s, too.

“What I did in that fight scene … was to break down the thought, action and reaction to reveal, and thus explain, but without slowing the tempo, the essence of the science and art,” Heinz wrote in a 1985 letter. “I just felt — and I still do — that I had boxed a hell of a round.

“When I say ‘I still do,’ I should explain that I haven’t read that passage, or the ending of the book, since it first appeared. I just don’t want to suffer again, watching Eddie Brown lose. That is how much he, and it, meant to me….”

“The Professional” has been reprinted twice to renewed acclaim, the latest time a few years ago by DeCapo Press. In the mid-1980s, Heinz was buoyed by a Hollywood producer’s interest in turning the novel into a movie “as pure and true as the book.” But nothing came of that and several later stabs at it. In 1992, Academy Award-winning actor Walter Matthau wanted to play Doc Carroll, Heinz wrote, “but says the script has no chance. Says he: ‘Way too good.’”

When the internet took off in the 1990s, Heinz was wary of its literary impact. “I’m not for more writers,” he said, “only better ones.”

Once I inflicted on him a piece I had written for an historical publication, and in his reply he said that I had flubbed the lead badly, showed me how it should have been done, and imparted the rule of thumb that served him so well in his own work:

“Early in my struggles as a city-side journalist working on occasional features and searching for the lead, I would ask myself, ‘What is the first thing I’ll tell Betty (his wife) about this?’ Of course, Betty always said that I told my stories better than I wrote them, but we both know how much easier it is to talk than to nail the pelt to the wall.”

In case I still didn’t get it, he put it in boxing terms: “A story lead should identify a writer and what he is about to do as his first moves early in a fight identify a fighter.”

No one was as critical of his own writing than Bill Heinz. In 1990, he sent a copy of a baseball story he wrote called “One Throw.” “It is one of three pieces of mine that I can read after many years (40 in this case) and not want to change a word,” he said. (The others were “The Morning They Shot The Spies” and his widely anthologized piece about Al “Bummy” Davis, “Brownsville Bum.” Both are available in the Heinz anthology “American Mirror.”)

“What I have always tried to do in writing about fighters, G.I.s, doctors, etc. is to find the common qualities that relate us all, and thus entrap the reader into seeing something of himself,” Heinz wrote in a 1992 letter. “I mean the hopes and fears, the aspirations and the daydreams that go with them and the frustration and exaltations.”

A year later: “When, after World War II, Milton Gross got a column in the New York Post, he asked Red Smith for advice. Red said: ‘Be there.’ That’s the beginning of it, and after that never stop looking and asking and learning. Once you’ve got your punches and your moves perfected, stay within them. Never reach. That’s when writers, like fighters, get countered and knocked out.”

Boxing is as true an art form as writing, of course, and the changes in the sport over the years troubled him. “I am still a follower of boxing, but at a great distance,” Heinz wrote in 1990. “Up here on this (Vermont) mountainside I get only the three commercial TV channels and PBS. That doesn’t give me much access, but I too cringe every time one of those morons intones: ‘Let’s rum-ble!’ They have no feeling for what a fight is all about, and thank God they’re not in Saudi Arabia [covering the first Gulf War] for CBS.”

Four years later he wrote: “Once I hoped that when my time came to go I would die at ringside at a heavyweight championship fight, and now I can’t even name the champion. Only part of that is due to the softening of my squash.”

But he always defended the sport from its detractors. “HBO has been pestering me about fixed fights and dishonest officials,” he said in 1999. “I tell them that they’ll run the last dishonest manager or official out of boxing on the same day that the last dishonest bank teller goes over the hill with the contents of the till. I said, sure, Frankie Carbo went to prison. But so did a guy named Whitney who, at the time of the crash, was President of the New York Stock Exchange.”

His letters shrewdly assessed boxers such as Archie Moore (“the most scientific of the fighters of my time and, outside the ropes, the most inventive”); Sonny Liston (“a thug, and once you took his gun and made it man-to-man he was a coward”); and Mike Tyson, who “might have been the best heavyweight of all time. That, of course, is like saying the Paganini could have been as great as Heifitz if he had just played the violin better. What I mean is that Tyson had the native physical talent and mental capacity to be the greatest if he had come into the hands of (Jack) Hurley [the model for Doc Carroll in “The Professional”] rather than (Cus) D’Amato, who was a theorist but not a teacher.”

Then there was Muhammad Ali, of whom Heinz wrote in 1992: “Thanks to TV, the telephone, air travel and other national and international impediments to serious thought, there is no question that Ali had the greatest impact world-wide of any sporting figure. What, however, Joe Louis, with his quiet dignity, modesty and honesty, accomplished toward bringing the races closer, Ali, with his exhibitionism, insufferable in any individual regardless of race, and with his adoption and advocacy of the credo of the Black Muslims, counteracted.

“He was the greatest athlete ever to hold the heavyweight title, and did more than any other to draw public attention to, and increase the popularity of, boxing. For that he should be forever honored, but it remains that he was a runner and a grabber, couldn’t punch to the body or fight on the inside, and introduced into the art form that is boxing that shuffle step that was in as bad taste and demeaning there as it would be interjected into a performance of ‘Swan Lake.’”

But he didn’t begrudge those who thought and wrote otherwise, and understood their cheerleading for Ali. “There was a saying in the fight game that every boxing writer falls in love with a fighter, sooner or later and mostly sooner,” he wrote. “My affair was with (Rocky) Graziano.”

There was, however, a danger in getting too close: “We journalists who associate with the famous may sometimes contribute to the stardom in the belief that some of that star dust will end up on our shoulders.” All too often, however, “it’s dandruff.”

While my own writing caused some eye-rolling, I hit a home run when, in 1992, I introduced Heinz to Hugh McIlvanney via the latter’s first collection of boxing pieces. “The best since Joe Liebling and — this being boxing coverage only — maybe even better,” was his verdict. “Joe made sport of the sport, always above it and covering the contestants and their coteries as characters, not whole people. That is not bad, for he did it so well that he gave it first time respectability among the literati and intelligentsia of his time and since, but McIlvanney’s work seems to be not only about but of those who fight and why and those who surround and follow them.”

Heinz referred to McIlvanney after that as “boxing’s best friend,” and said, “I have read no one else who so succinctly and so well reveals the meaning of boxing and why it has survived for 3000 years in spite of itself and society.”

My last note from Heinz came in 2004, after I wrote to congratulate him on his IBHOF induction. By then debilities associated with advanced age were ganging up on him, and he had moved from his beloved mountainside into an assisted-living facility. But, he wrote, “As an 89-year-old who has had an adventurous life, I have no complaints.”

Bill Heinz turned 92 on January 11 of this year. I have been loathe to bother him again, but visit him often on that street about which he spoke in his first letter. It is always a rewarding and worthwhile experience and one I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone to whom beautifully crafted prose is as exciting and awe-inspiring as a classic heavyweight rum-ble.

Articles of 2007

St-Pierre, Liddell, Clementi Win @ UFC 79



LAS VEGAS-A reinvented Georges St. Pierre proved he’s ready for the true Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title with a dominating win over Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell returned to the win column in his big showdown on Saturday.

St. Pierre took the final chapter in the trilogy with Hughes and now is the UFC interim champion at the 170-pound division.

Hughes just shook his head after tapping out before a sold out audience at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was called “Nemesis” and St. Pierre conquered his nemesis.

“Georges is just a better fighter,” said Hughes (43-6) who beat St. Pierre several years ago, but lost two years ago in a title match. “I just don’t know how much longer I got.”

St. Pierre (15-2) found Hughes using a left-handed stance to change up his attack, but the Canadian quickly adapted and used his quickness, skills and raw strength to take Hughes to the ground.

“If it wasn’t for my wrestling training I wouldn’t have been able to adjust,” said St. Pierre who had been preparing to represent Canada’s Olympic wrestling team.

Inside the Octagon the Canadian was never in danger. In fact, Hughes was the fighter teetering for the entire fight that ended in 4:54 of the second round.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Hughes, known for his wrestling skills, just couldn’t solve St. Pierre’s quickness. Every move the Illinois fighter attempted was squashed.

St. Pierre is now promised a fight against the current UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, who pulled out of the fight with Hughes because of injury.

“If I don’t get my belt back, I’m going to consider myself champion,” said St. Pierre filled in for Serra with less than a month of training.

After dominating the first round on top of Hughes, the second round was even worse as St. Pierre landed elbows and fists. Though the Illinois fighter escaped from underneath, he was quickly thrown down. Within seconds St. Pierre grabbed Hughes left arm and turned it into an inescapable arm bar.

Hughes screamed out: “I tap!”

St. Pierre now awaits Serra to recover from his back injury.

The semi-main event was no less intense.

The light heavyweight showdown between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Brazil’s Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was a three-round punch out between two famous sluggers. In the end Liddell’s sharper punches in the first and third round decided the fight despite a knockdown in the second scored by Silva.

Silva (31-8-1) dominated the second round for four minutes and 30 seconds but Liddell rallied and took the Brazilian to the ground. Two judges were somehow impressed by Liddell’s last 30 seconds and inexplicably gave him that round.

With both fighters huffing and puffing, and Silva with a bad cut over his right eye, Liddell seemed the stronger puncher and landed a back-handed fist and a right hand that stunned the former Pride FC fighter Silva. But he survived the round.

The judges scored it 29-28, 30-27 twice for Liddell who won his first bout after back-to-back losses.

“I knew it was a big fight for everybody and especially for me to get back on track,” said Liddell (21-5). “He had a lot more than I thought he had.”

Silva, who was making his first UFC appearance, was gracious in defeat.

“He won,” said Silva. “I gave my best.”

Temecula’s Rameau Sokoudjou fell short against Brazil’s undefeated Lyoto Machida (12-0) in their light heavyweight contest. The Cameroon native was unable to use his punching power with effectiveness against the karate-trained fighter. Then, unexpectedly, Machida landed a left hand that dropped Sokoudjou (4-2) and proceeded to gain an arm triangle that forced a submission at 4:20 of the second round.

“I’ve been working on my ground game,” said Machida who wants a world title match. “I beat the Alaska assassin, the African assassin, what other assassins are left?”

A heavyweight bout featured two Southern Californians eager to punch out. But San Diego’s Eddie “Manic Hispanic” Sanchez’s experience proved decisive in beating Temecula’s Soa Palelei (8-2) with uppercuts for three rounds. With his nose bleeding profusely and sustaining three consecutive uppercuts, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight at 3:24 of the third and final round for a technical knockout.

“He was out of gas,” said Sanchez (10-1). “He was always putting his head down.”


A grudge fight between two Louisiana fighters ended in a decisive submission victory by Rich Clementi of Slidell over the favored Melvin Guillard of New Orleans. A rear naked choke at 4:40 seconds of the first round forced Guillard, who had been predicting domination, to tap out. Though the fight was definitively over, Guillard attempted to assault Clementi but referee Herb Dean grabbed the fighter.

“He still didn’t learn his lesson,” said Clementi after Guillard attempted to rush him after the fight. “I validated what he’s known for six years, I’m the better man.”

James “The Sandman” Irvin (13-5-1) was nearly put to sleep by an illegal knee to the eye from Brazil’s newcomer Luis Cane (8-1) in the first round of a light heavyweight fight. Unable to continue, Irvin was declared the winner by disqualification at 1:51. Cane seemed unaware that UFC rules disallow knees to the head while the person is on the ground. Some mixed martial arts organizations allow it.

Former Ultimate Fighter participant Manny Gamburyan (6-3) quickly took his fight to the ground with former boxer Nate Mohr (6-5). Once on the ground the lightweight used his quickness to grab an ankle and twist. Mohr screamed to stop the fight at 1:31 of the first round.

“I’m so sorry for you man,” said Gamburyan who suspects he broke Mohr’s leg. “Nate’s a great guy.”

San Diego’s Dean Lister (10-5) scraped out a unanimous decision win over Bulgaria’s punch-crazy Jordan Rachev (16-2) in a middleweight bout. The judges scored it 29-28 for Lister.

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Articles of 2007

Pavlik Or 'Money': Fighter of the Year Is…



There’s nothing like the terror felt when you have a big black bear snarling and snorting and hunting you down, eager to stuff your tender head into his mouth, to make you run as fast as you’ve ever run.

Thanks, Dana White, aka the big black bear.

Thanks for waking up the semi-slumbering powers that be, and forcing them to acknowledge that boxing needed to step up its game, or be eaten alive, and shifted even further back in the sports world’s relevance race, in 2007.

With UFC threatening to snarf up those much lusted after PPV dollars, the suits went into overdrive, and worked smarter, and harder, to give fans compelling matchups.

They agreed to get along to get money, and they relegated the sanctioning bodies, with those moronic mandatories, and instead listened to you, the consumer, and booked the fights that made sense.

Nobody worked smarter or harder than the PR arms for HBO, and “Money” Mayweather, the artist formerly known as Pretty Boy Floyd. Through his appearance on the ABC reality dance competition “Dancing with the Stars,” and stubbornly effective marketing by HBO (24/7 before the De La Hoy and Hatton showdowns were masterful mini-movies which whet appetites of even non fight fans), “Money” emerged as a pay per view attraction who can take the baton as the premier earner from Oscar De La Hoya.

He transcended the sport, and boxing added another player to the mix of fighters that even non-fight fans in the US recognize the name of. Now there’s Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather…

Boxing, a sprawling mess of interests lacking a central organization that insures cohesiveness in marketing, and message, and mission, relies on a central figurehead to maintain its precarious perch in the mainstream sports information flow. Mayweather, a savvy marketer who has outgrown his periodic outbreaks of youthful indiscretions, is a superstar that fits our age to a T.

He knows exactly what buttons to push to keep his name in the papers-—or, more accurately today, on computer screens—and feeds us rabid presshounds of negativity and turmoil red meat, with his intra-familial beefs and 50 Cent-inspired rants proclaiming his peerlessness.

The only thing holding Mayweather back is his own talent, probably, as he owns too much of it. He blew out De La Hoya, and Hatton, and like Roy Jones in his heyday, he so dominates his opposition, that drama is missing from his fights. Most of us tune in to the sport to savor the drama that comes from one man reaching deep into the well of heart and guts to bring forth reserves even he didn’t know he possesses, and imposing his will on an opponent who had been imposing his will upon him. That sort of drama, as manufactured by the late Diego Corrales, is the variety that the sweet science can deliver like no other sport.

We saw it in excess in 2007, from my personal choice for 2007 Fighter of the Year, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik.

He dug into his well, after getting knocked to the floor in the second round of his tussle with middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, and refused to lose.

All of us could apply his tenacity in staying on his feet, and roaring back to topple Taylor with a furious flurry in the seventh round of their Sept. 29 battle, in our own lives. We all could identify with, and root for, the TSS Fighter of the Year.

One could argue that Mayweather, with ultra high profile wins over De La Hoya and Hatton, who did as much as anyone to keep the sport relevant in the last 12 months, deserves the TSS FOTY honor. As referenced before, maybe his superior level of talent has set the bar too high for us nitpickers. We may be prone to be too hesitant to bestow praise on Floyd, because he makes it look too easy. Sorry, Money, it’s possible you are being penalized for just being too damned good. You certainly are the runaway frontrunner for Fighter of the Decade…

Pavlik, we didn’t know how good he was coming in to this year. We knew how good his promoter, Bob Arum, thought he was. But we reserved judgment, unwilling to make too much of wins over Lenord Pierre and Bronco McKart. We became believers, to a point, when the Ohio native showed boxing skill and a closer’s mentality with his January win over Jose Luis Zertuche (KO8), and true believers with his dominant march over Edison Miranda (TKO7), the heavily hyped Colombian who was no match for the Youngstown hitter’s work rate in their May match.

But we still withheld a measure of respect before Pavlik met Taylor, the middleweight king, in Atlantic City. Maybe we had been burned by (not as great as we were led to believe) white hopes in the past, and were worried that hype and marketing were his greatest attributes as a boxer. The respect came pouring forth when he stayed on his trembling legs in the second round of his September scrap with Taylor, and intensified when he closed the show with a KO crack in the seventh.

The fighter has to be rewarded for staying the course, and not allowing himself to be knocked off the title path since turning pro in 2000, and progressing at a sometimes snailish pace, and sticking with his no-name trainer Jack Loew even though some experts urged him to trade Loew in for a flashier model, and battling frail hands, and getting pinched for slugging an off-duty cop in 2005.

Pavlik’s rise in 2007 came the old fashioned way, via training his tail off, and staying on message mentally, and rising to the occasion when the situation offered a softer, easier choice.

There was no mega marketing machine bombarding our short attention spans with a campaign to make Kelly Pavlik into the torchbearer for the sport in 2007.

But the 2007 leg of his march to prominence reaffirms the best of what the sport has to offer, and reminds us that with talents like Pavlik, the sweet science will never crumble into obsolescence.

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Articles of 2007

Resolution Time For Harold Sconiers



When Harold Sconiers of Tampa, Florida, looks in the mirror these days he doesn’t see the journeyman heavyweight with a 15-17-2 (10 KOs) record that most other people do.

What he sees is the dynamic, hard-hitting heavyweight who made it to the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials, and began his pro career with six straight knockouts and one decision victory.

Since being stopped in the first round by then undefeated Bermane Stiverne, who had won all nine of his fights by knockout, in February 2007, Sconiers has completely reassessed his life and career.

He has come to understand what transformed him from an exciting amateur and fledgling young pro with seemingly limitless future to a nominal heavyweight who had at one point lost 10 fights in a row.

Now aligned with a new manager, David Selwyn of New York, he plans on utilizing that newfound knowledge to embark on what he believes will be the comeback story of 2008.

“I always knew I had a lot of talent, but I never let that talent completely develop,” said the 31-year-old Sconiers, who has lost to such notables as Clifford Etienne, Maurice Harris, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, David Defiagbon, DaVarryl Williamson and Eric Kirkland.

“I had a lot of different problems, but my biggest problems were self doubt and self sabotage. I would do things to make sure I never rose above a certain level.”

During his intensive, exhaustive and brutally honest re-examination of himself, he chose to forego all of the negative aspects of his career and instead focus only on the positive. Through lots of reading and candid discussions with his former trainer Larry Berrien, he went about changing the mindset that made him so comfortable with losing.

The first thing he did was look at his complete record from a totally different perspective. Rather than just dwell on the losses, Sconiers lauded himself for beating six previously unbeaten or once beaten fighters. Among them was Ray Austin, who was 14-1 at the time and later challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight title.

He also fought Edward Escobedo, who was 12-1, to a draw, and lost a split decision to Ruddock, who has always been a formidable ring presence.

When he examined his 10 fight losing streak, he realized that his opponents had a combined record of 164-32-8. Of the 32 losses, Harris, who had revitalized his once dismal career in much the same way Sconiers hopes to, had incurred 10 of them.

And the always competitive Sherman Williams, accounted for another 10, which means eight other opponents had only 12 losses between them. Several were undefeated at the time they faced Sconiers.

“Losing to all of those guys gave the boxing world the perception that I was washed up and just didn’t care anymore,” said Sconiers. “I realized I had to change that perception, and the only way to change it was to change my old habits and my old ways of thinking, dissect everything I’d been doing wrong, and working really hard to establish a new belief system.”

Tapping deep into his own psyche, Sconiers came to realize that much of his lack of self worth was rooted in childhood issues. As a kid he had a passive personality, and both of his parents were college graduates who held what he calls high ranking positions in the corporate world.

He was bright enough to skip grades in school and he scored high on IQ tests. In no way was he destined to become a boxer. His parents had told him on many occasions that he would be well-suited as psychiatrist or attorney.

His life changed when his father held a Mike Tyson fight party at the family home. To say that Sconiers was mesmerized would be a gross understatement.

“I was instantly locked in,” said Sconiers. “I told myself that I have to do this.”

Sconiers ventured to the Frontline Outreach Gym in Orlando, where he met Antonio Tarver, who was roaring through the amateur ranks en route to the 1996 Olympics. Because Tarver was a few years older than Sconiers, he became a surrogate big brother to him. To this day, Sconiers has the utmost respect for Tarver as both a fighter and a friend.

During Sconiers’ amateur career, which consisted of 77 fights, of which he lost 9, his mother continuously reminded him that, in her opinion, “boxing was for dummies.”

Still, he managed to win a silver medal in the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where he beat eventual Olympic representative and future heavyweight title challenger Calvin Brock, as well as the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials. In that tournament he lost to Williamson and Lamon Brewster.

When his pro career began to get derailed, the young and immature Sconiers blamed everyone but himself for his shift in fortune.

“I thought the problem was outside me, and thought everyone was responsible but me,” he said. “I dumped Larry in order to self-manage myself. I left what had always kept me grounded. Some of the fights I lost I could or should have won. There’s no way I should have lost to Etienne, but all I did was show up. The Ruddock fight should have been mine.”

As Sconiers lost interest and motivation, he also began dabbling in drugs and alcohol. More times than not, he would take fights on short notice. Even if he had time to train, he never cared if his opponents were switched or where he was lacing them up. Resigned to the fact that he was just fighting for money, he didn’t train hard, if at all.

He’d also pick up a few dollars working as a sparring partner for the likes of Etienne, Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline, Larry Donald and Kirk Johnson, but the passion was gone. Many of those fighters, as well as their trainers, told Sconiers to snap out of his trance because he was a lot better fighter than he gave himself credit for.

While working with Etienne, the esteemed trainer Don Turner told Sconiers he could make him heavyweight champion of the world if only he’d “get his (stuff) together.”

Sconiers said he was at his personal abyss in mid-2003, when he was stopped by Kirkland, who was 16-1, in the first round in Vallejo, California.

“That was a real bad time for me,” he said. “I was up all night using drugs and alcohol and just didn’t care about anything.”

Although it would be nearly four more years before Sconiers embarked on his personal renaissance, when he looks back on his sordid past that is his most vivid memory. He has learned to use that memory to his advantage.

“A lot of people go down the same route I did and destroy themselves completely,” he said. “I was close to that point around the time of the Kirkland fight, but managed to survive another four years. It is so obvious to me now that I was trying to destroy myself.”

Sconiers is the first to concede that once you fall into the role of an opponent, it is hard to extricate yourself.

“A lot of guys go through this and fall by the wayside,” he said. “Look at Emanuel Burton (Augustus). He’s an immensely talented guy who’s good enough to be competitive and probably beat anyone. But he is in that opponent role, which is hard to snap out of.”

Having done lots of reading on positive thinking and overcoming psychological roadblocks, as well as completely revising his physical training regimen, Sconiers believes he has snapped out of it.

Besides the steadfast support of his beloved wife of six years, Jennifer, who just earned her master’s degree, he believes that his association with Selwyn is a pivotal component to the success he foresees for himself.

They plan on having a momentous and memorable 2008.

“Harold says he is going to be the Cinderella Man of 2008,” said Selwyn. “We plan on keeping a very busy schedule. History has shown that heavyweights are always just a few wins away from redemption. At his best, Harold is very good. It is undeniable that he was his own worst enemy in the past. Now he believes in himself, Larry believes in him, and I believe in him. I’m really looking forward to working with him so he can reach his full potential.”

“We plan on a busy schedule and a lot of upsets,” added Sconiers. “After my first couple of wins, people will probably say they were a fluke. I’m not quite the Cinderella Man and I’m not quite Rocky, but I am an underdog who can make it. Hope sells in boxing, and I plan on being one of the biggest stories of the new year.”

Manager Dave Selwyn can be contacted at: or 845-893-2829.

*photo courtesy Harold Sconiers

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