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Articles of 2009

Roy Jones Gives It Another Go

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ROY JONES JR. RETURNS TO FIGHT IN PENSACOLA AGAINST OMAR SHEIKA IN “MARCH BADNESS” ON SATURDAY, MARCH 21

LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW

Card will Feature MMA Bouts with Stars Seth Petruzelli,

Bob Lashley, Roy Nelson, Jeff Monson & Doug Marshall

Pensacola, FL (February 11, 2009) – Roy Jones Jr., Eight-Time World Champion, returns to Pensacola to fight for the first time since January, 1999 when he battles Omar Sheika at the Pensacola Civic Center on Saturday, March 21, 2009.   The fight card will also feature a bevy of Mixed Martial Arts stars headlined by Seth Petruzelli, who most recently knocked out Internet legend and previously undefeated Kimbo Slice.  The event is being promoted by Square Ring Promotions in association with Hirsch Borao Boxing and the Pensacola Civic Center and will be broadcast live on pay-per-view.

Tickets, priced at $128, $103, $78, $53 & $28 go on sale Wednesday, February 11th at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at all Ticketmaster locations, the Pensacola Civic Center Box Office and Ticketmaster.com.

It wasn’t that long ago that Roy Jones Jr. (52-5, 38 KOs) was the consensus “pound-for-pound” champion and just over 20 years since the exuberant, talent-brimming Jones was denied an Olympic Gold Medal by corrupt judges.  In a contradictory but unofficial admission the “Silver Medialist” Jones was named the Most Valuable Boxer at the ’88 Seoul Olympics.  Jones later used that unfortunate episode as inspiration to become an eight-time world champion in four weight classes, claiming belts at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.

He blew through the 90s and well into the 21st Century in unstoppable fashion, stunning his opponents with blinding quickness and brutal power, beating the top names in the sport, including Bernard Hopkins, James “Lights Out” Toney, Mike McCallum and Virgil Hill.  He made history on March 1, 2003 when he stymied then-heavyweight champion John Ruiz to become the first former middleweight champion to win the heavyweight title in more than 100 years.

Following the Ruiz triumph, Jones was to take on “Iron” Mike Tyson, but when the deal fell through he had to lose twenty-five pounds of solid muscle in six weeks to drop not one, but two weight classes to regain the light heavyweight championship from Florida rival and nemesis Antonio Tarver on November 8, 2003.  It was an unprecedented feat in boxing history, going from middleweight champion to heavyweight champion then back down to win the light heavyweight championship once again. However, the sudden weight variations had taken a toll on Jones’ body and he subsequently lost consecutive bouts against Tarver (twice) and Glen Johnson.

Down, but not out, Jones came back to score wins in his next two fights, setting up a highly-anticipated duel with Puerto Rican legend Felix “Tito” Trinidad at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2008.  A renewed Jones looked sharp and focused, flooring Trinidad twice, in capturing a hard fought unanimous win.   In his most recent bout, on November 8, 2008 in “Battle of the Superpowers” Jones fought undefeated and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Joe Calzaghe.  Jones started out strong, knocking Calzaghe down with a left-right combination in the first round and had “Super” Joe practically out on his feet.  To his credit, Calzaghe mustered the heart to get through the round, gaining strength in the next few rounds until Jones rocked him in the sixth with a deadly uppercut.  The fight, however, took a significant turn in the seventh when Jones was cut for the first time in his career from a Calzaghe right hand.  Jones’ corner was unable to stop the bleeding, and the steady stream of blood running over his eye was wreaking havoc on his vision and his pace had slowed considerably.  Calzaghe went on to win a unanimous decision.  To Roy, this was just another valley, and he will now begin another trek back to the peak and the first step takes place on March 21 against the always game, exciting brawler Omar Sheika.

Sheika (27-8, 18 KOs) of Paterson, N.J. accomplished something Roy Jones Jr. did not: he beat Glen Johnson, on June 2, 2000 at the famed Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. In the fourth-round, Sheika was getting inside of Johnson’s jab and began to nail him with uppercuts.  He then floored Johnson with a powerful right hand. The fight went the distance and Sheika won a majority decision.

The Johnson win catapulted Sheika to a world title fight against reigning super middleweight champion and another Jones common opponent, Joe Calzaghe on August 12, 2000.  In the fifth round of that bout a nasty laceration was forming above Omar’s left eye due to an accidental clash of heads earlier in the fight.  However, the referee had ruled it had come from a punch and when it was decided that Omar could not continue, the fight ended as a technical knockout loss for Sheika.

But Sheika may mostly be known for his two brawling and brutal bouts against Scott Pemberton.  The first meeting took place on July 25, 2003 and was ESPN2’s Fight of the Year.  Pemberton won a 12-round split decision after being knocked down by Sheika in round two and surviving a late round rally.  Their January 23, 2004 rematch, again for the NABF super middleweight title, was just as action-packed and an early candidate for 2004’s Fight of the Year.  Sheika knocked Pemberton down in round two and in the sixth, drove Pemberton into the ropes with an overhand right leading to a mandatory 8-count.  Pemberton survived the round and in a reversal of fortune, knocked Sheika down for the first time in his career in the tenth and the fight was soon stopped.  In Sheika’s last bout, on September 29, 2007, he stopped Tiwon Taylor in the fourth round in Atlantic City.

Mixed Martial Arts Fights

Seth “The Silverback” Petruzelli vs.        Doug “Rhino” Marshall

Bobby Lashly vs.    TBD

Roy “Big Country” Nelson vs.       Jeff “The Snowman” Monson

Headlining the Mixed Martial Arts portion of the card will be Seth “The Silverback” Petruzelli (10-4, 9 KOs) a wrestling/karate specialist from Fort Myers, FL.  Seth has had only three of his fourteen bouts go longer than one round.  Most recently, on October 4, 2008, Petruzelli took a fight against Internet Legend Kimbo Slice on one hour notice in an event broadcast on national television.  Petruzelli attacked Slice from the opening bell and the fight was stopped 14 seconds in, giving Kimbo his first professional loss…and a new MMA star was born.

Doug “Rhino” Marshall (9-3, 6 KOs, 3 Submissions) is a Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu specialist from Visalia, CA.  Doug began his MMA career at heavyweight and won his pro debut in 32 seconds.  “Rhino” was given the opportunity to fight for a title in only his third pro fight and won that in 22 seconds!  Doug’s thirst for winning was motivating him to train harder and his new regimen dropped him down to light heavyweight.  On August 17, 2006, Doug won the WEC light heavyweight championship and had three successful defenses.

Bobby Lashley (1-0, 1 KO) is 6’3”, 265 lbs and cut like a Greco-Roman statue.  He hails from Junction City, Kansas and was a three-time NCAA wrestling champion (1996-’98) and four-time All-American while at Missouri Valley College.  After college, Lashley joined the Army and was a two-time Armed Forces Champion and 2002 Silver Medalist at the Military World Championships.  In 2005, he began working in professional wrestling and before long was a WWE superstar.  In 2007, Lashley was the star of Wrestlemania 23, representing Donald Trump in a bet against Vince McMahon.  Lashley won the match and helped Trump shave Vince McMahon's head in the ring.  Lashley then began to train in MMA full time and made his debut on December 13, 2008 by stopping his opponent in 41 seconds in Miami, FL.

Roy “Big Country” Nelson (13-3, 6 KOs, 3 Submissions) is a grappler and Jui Jitsu specialist from Las Vegas, NV.  Nelson played football and baseball and wrestled in high school.  “Big Country” became motivated to learn martial arts after watching “The Karate Kid” and now trains with Ken Shamrock in The Lion’s Den.  The 250 lb. heavy-handed Nelson is the current International Fight League (IFL) Heavyweight Champion.  He’s a fan-favorite for two reasons…his body type (soft) and his skill (outstanding).

Jeff “The Snowman” Monson (27-8, 2 KOs, 17 Submissions) from Olympia, WA is 5’ 8” 240 lbs of solid muscle and was recently featured in a 3-page spread in ESPN The Magazin, as the world’s most intimidating MMA fighter.  Monson got his nickname while in a 1999 grappling tournament in Brazil.  He came in unknown and beat four Brazilians in a row, each tougher than the one before him, to win the tournament.  They said he was like a snowball: white, compact, rolling downhill while getting bigger and stronger.  In a fight, he is an avalanche headed straight for you.  From 2002 to 2006, Monson won sixteen consecutive fights over the four and a half year time period.  Monson, who has run into problems with the law as an open anarchist, comes into the ring using John Lennon's “Imagine” and is a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies). Not only a superb athlete, Monson is an intellectual and idealist, and these attributes coupled with his skills as a fighter, make him one dangerous and unpredictable opponent.

“March Badness” is being distributed by Square Ring Promotions, Inc. live on pay per view at 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT in North America, on cable and satellite via iNDemand, TVN, DirecTV and Dish Network in the United States, as well as Viewer's Choice, Shaw Cable, Star Choice and Bell TV in Canada, for a suggested retail price of only $29.95.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

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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

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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 TheSweetScience.com 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

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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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