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Articles of 2009

Naazim Likes Mosley In Upset Over Margarito



Naazim Richardson’s personal preference is to introduce his fighters to boxing at an early age and to painstakingly guide them along the path that, hopefully, someday will lead to world titles and extended title reigns.

Richardson, whose products of Philadelphia’s Concrete Jungle boxing team for the most part are related to him, is still waiting for that long-term vision to be realized. The closest thing he has to a made-from-scratch champion is his son, 27-year-old welterweight prospect Rock Allen (14-0, 7 KOs), who began boxing at 8 and was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Athens, Greece.

Other fighters whom Richardson has nurtured, in some cases for nearly two decades, include sons Tiger Allen (Rock’s twin brother) and Bear Richardson and their cousins, Karl “Dynamite” Dargan and Mike “Sharp” Dargan.

Brother Naazim, as he is known in gyms around the country, probably is best known as the trainer of ageless wonder Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 44, whose corner he has worked for over a decade, but as the chief second only since the Jermain Taylor rematch in 2005, when he rose to the top spot after Hopkins had a falling-out with his longtime instructor, Bouie Fisher. But one of the fight game’s best-kept secrets could find his own star shining more brightly if his newest pupil, “Sugar” Shane Mosley (45-5, 38 KOs), pulls off the upset in Saturday night’s challenge of WBA welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Richardson is replacing Mosley’s father, Jack Mosley, whose on-again, off-again relationship with his son once more is off, at least in a professional sense.

“After Shane signed to fight Margarito, I got a call from his wife, Jin, asking me if I was interested in working with him because they were going to go in a different direction,” Richardson said. “I said, `OK, so long as there’s no controversy.’ I didn’t want it to seem like I was pushing Jack to the side. Jin said, `No, this is our decision and you’re our first choice.’ It was made very clear to me that if I wasn’t available, they weren’t going to go back to Jack. They would simply hire someone else. `It’s time we moved on,’ she said.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Shane’s, so I said, `Of course I’ll work with him. It’d be an honor.’”

Richardson has never been much of a hired gun, taking on established fighters who were looking for the boost occasionally generated by a change in the corner. But he had a history with Shane Mosley that made it feel almost as if he was helping another family member, which made the challenge a bit more intriguing.

“Me and Shane would always talk at different fights,” Richardson said. “I guess we had a lot of similarities in the way we approached certain things in the boxing business.

“I guess I first met Shane when my sons were little kids and they were fighting in the Blue & Gold tournament (in California). Rock and Tiger must have been about 12 or 13. They took pictures of Shane, and obviously were impressed by him.

“When we came home, all I heard was Shane Mosley this, Shane Mosley that. They talked me to death about Shane. I said, `Well, Shane’s got a big house. You want to move out there with him?’

“But, really, Shane is a wonderful person. Everybody feels that way when they meet him. He’s polite to everyone. And he’s a great student (of boxing), a lot like Bernard, so it’s not hard to transfer philosophies to him.”

Richardson’s role, as he sees it, is not necessarily to tear down and reconstruct the 37-year-old Mosley. It’s more to study Margarito for flaws and weaknesses that can be exploited on fight night.

“With every job I’ve ever taken in boxing, my first question is, `What exactly are you asking of me?’ he said. “When I find out what my job description is, I stay in my lane.

“Now, with Shane Mosley, my primary goal is not to teach him how to box. He knows how to box. My primary goal is to study Margarito and to formulate the very best fight plan I can. If I can put together the right fight plan, and it’s executed by an exceptional athlete like Shane Mosley, usually you get a good outcome.”

Which is not to say that Mosley is so set in his ways that Richardson can’t tweak a thing or two. As always, the trainer goes to his extensive tape library to unearth clues as to what works for individual fighters and what doesn’t. For Richardson, the past is always prologue.

“One thing I did was to study some of the tapes I had of Shane when he was an amateur,” Richardson said. “I saw something Vernon Forrest had exploited way back when. When Shane was undefeated and the world champion, Forrest exploited the same, exact thing.”

Reviewing old tapes, many dating back to a fighter’s amateur career, is a trademark of the Richardson way.

“When Bernard fought Antwun Echols, and when he fought Robert Allen, I went back to the amateur tapes I had on those guys,” he said. “Man, they were making some of the same damn mistakes they were making when they were kids! Maybe they had learned to mask those mistakes a little better, but they were still there.”

The reason why certain faults linger, uncorrected, is the same reason why Richardson sometimes is criticized for bringing fighters like his son, Rock Allen, along more carefully than some people think is prudent.

“I just watched Andre Berto have a world of trouble with (Luis) Collazo,” Richardson said. “Berto was a beast as an amateur, talented as could be. But Collazo pretty much exploited him the other night. What’s that prove? It proves that you need to take your time and learn so that when you get the belt (Berto retained his WBC welterweight title on a controversial unanimous decision), you know how to keep it and keep it for a while.

“Some guys, it’s like they get their GED and they think they know all there is to know. Smart fighters keep learning until they go to college, in a boxing sense, and start earning advanced degrees. There’s more to having longevity in this business than coming along with hot talent.

“The ones that don’t learn as they go, you seem them making the same mistakes over and over. The smart ones figure out what’s wrong, they fix it and they don’t make the same mistake again.”

Richardson, not surprisingly, cites Hopkins as an example of a serious student of boxing who has used his ring smarts to sustain and even embellish his career past a point when the aging process should have eroded his physical skills far more than they have.

“When Bernard fought (Felix) Trinidad, everybody said he was too old then, and he was only, like, 36,” Richardson said. “But he wasn’t too old, was he? And he wasn’t too old against (Kelly) Pavlik either.

“Some fighters are just exceptional that way, but a lot of it has to do with the way you approach your craft. If you look at the 20-year-old Roy Jones and put him in with the Roy Jones of today, the 20-year-old Roy Jones would wipe the floor with today’s Roy Jones within two rounds.

“Now, if the 20-year-old Bernard Hopkins fought the Bernard Hopkins of today, the 20-year-old Bernard Hopkins would get his ass whipped. He’d get embarrassed.”

So which is Mosley? Is he more like Jones at this deep stage of his boxing life, or more like Hopkins?

“More like Hopkins,” Richardson said. “The 20-year-old Shane Mosley couldn’t beat this Shane Mosley. He’d get dominated. When guys learn their craft and become true students of the sport, they become better fighters. That’s why you want to move some fighters along slow, so they can be better at 30 than they were at 25.”

Richardson, of course, has gone to his tape vault to find out what it is about Margarito that Mosley can take advantage of. He already believes he knows what Mosley could do that would work in rematches with Forrest and Miguel Cotto, against whom he is 0-2 and 0-1, respectively.

“Cotto moves like a boxer, but he’s not actually a boxer,” Richardson said in assessing Margarito’s highest-profile victim. “He can emulate a boxer pretty well because he’s been in the gym with guys like that for so long, at so many different levels. But what he actually is, is a slugger.

“You see it whenever he goes to punch. He’s up on his toes, but he goes flat-footed whenever he’s sets himself to punch. And that’s when Margarito would catch him.

“That little stop-and-start gave Margarito a chance to wear him down. Some guys get discouraged by getting beat up. A beating don’t mean nothing to them, unless it’s some kind of exceptional beating. They’re going to keep walking through the beating. Margarito was taking an ass-whipping from Cotto, but that didn’t discourage him.

Cotto, on the other hand, got discouraged when he found himself in with a guy he couldn’t stop. Cotto likes to walk to you and break you down, and when he didn’t see this dude breaking down – he didn’t see blood coming from his nose, or his face reddening – he started to fold up mentally.”

OK, so maybe Mosley can put that knowledge to use against Cotto, if and when they ever fight again. But what of Margarito? How do you discourage someone who doesn’t discourage easily, if at all?

Richardson isn’t giving away any trade secrets here, but maybe he already has. For guys for whom a regular beating don’t mean nothing, then you have to put an exceptional beating on them.

Richardson understands what a successful run with Mosley can mean to his own reputation. He has been nominated for the Condon-Futch Award as 2008’s Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, but in conjunction with former WBA middleweight champion John David Jackson, who serves as Hopkins’ assistant trainer. Even when he is receiving more recognition than ever, Richardson doesn’t even get full credit.

He says it doesn’t irk him, but every man has his pride, you know? He believes he would be more of a household name if he weren’t so selective, if he expanded the parameters of his operation to include all comers.

If that sounds like a bit of a potshot at Freddie Roach, who took over as B-Hop’s lead trainer when Richardson was recovering from a minor stroke, well, make of it what you will.

“I was hoping (Joe) Calzaghe would take a rematch with Bernard because I’d love to be in a position to head up Bernard’s camp,” said Richardson, who noted that he took a secondary position to Roach for a fight Hopkins lost on April 19, 2008, on a split decision. “I really felt that by me being sick, I wasn’t there for Bernard as much as I should have been for his fights with Winky Wright and Calzaghe. The last time I was able to run his camp my way was for (Antonio) Tarver.”

And we all know how that one turned out. B-Hop tuned up the “Magic Man” in one of the finest performances of his luminescent career.

“Not taking anything away from Freddie Roach, but I’ve worked with coaches in Philadelphia who were really good but never got anywhere near his level of recognition,” Richardson said.

“Kenny Weldon told me years ago that I had the potential to be a great coach, but I never would be because I love my fighters too much. I didn’t understand what he meant then, but I think I do now.

“You work with a hundred guys, you got a chance to be on TV a hundred times. Some of them win, some of them don’t, but that’s the numbers game. Let’s face it, it’s easier to win if you work with a bunch of guys who already knew how to fight when they came to you.”

So maybe Shane Mosley, by definition, can’t be Richardson’s masterwork. Maybe Hopkins really can’t be, either. Maybe that imprimatur of greatness, the same one that has been stamped upon the Emanuel Stewards, Cus D’Amatos and Eddie Futches, won’t be there for Richardson until Rock Allen and a couple of other Concrete Jungle alums complete the journey from boxing neophytes to adult champions.

But for Naazim Richardson, the arrival at some glorious destination is only as worthwhile as the arduousness of the trip itself.

“It can be funny sometimes, the relationship between a coach and a fighter,” he said. “There comes a time when every fighter has to decide which route he wants to go, and who he wants to be on his team.

“I’ve told my sons they could go another way if they wanted to, and I’d be OK with that if it turned out to be the best thing for them. But changing for the sake of changing isn’t always the right thing to do.

“(Music producer) Damon Dash fell apart from his partner, Jay-Z. Damon Dash said, `I made Jay-Z. And Jay-Z said, `Well, if you made me, make another me.’ That was a heck of a statement.

“It’s like I tell my amateur kids. I say, `If you leave this gym, come back in a year and I’ll have a different national champion.’ Sometimes fighters can take a coach for granted, and sometimes coaches can take a fighter for granted. It happens all the time. But I’m pretty comfortable with who I am and what I bring to the equation.”

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva



Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010



As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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Articles of 2009

A Very Special New Year's Day Column



It has been just over four months since Nick Charles, the play-by-play announcer for Shobox: The New Generation, was diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer and forced to take a medical hiatus from the monthly show that has aired since 2001.

Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.

If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.

“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”

As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.

Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.

While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.

Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”

His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”

“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”

That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.

“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”

Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.

“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”

Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.

“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.

While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.

“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”

Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.

“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”

Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.

Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.

“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”

He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.

“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”

More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.

“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”

In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.

By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.

I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”

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