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Articles of 2009

BERNIE'S BACK! Jump Shots And Jabs

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Hey there, all of you in The Sweet Science cyberspace! I’m back. At least until further notice.

Perhaps some of you have noticed my absence from TSS for the past three months or so. That is because I was wearing my basketball cap, which temporarily displaced my boxing and football caps.

Being a sports writer – not exclusively a boxing writer — for a major metropolitan daily newspaper obliges those of us still hanging on in our troubled industry to exercise a certain degree of versatility. You go where the assignment is, the better to enlighten readers and to draw that all-important weekly paycheck.

But the Philadelphia 76ers were ushered out of the NBA playoffs last week, which again opened a window of opportunity for me to re-enter the world of my primary sporting love, which involves sweaty men with padded gloves on their fists. The Sixers’ elimination in Game 6 by the Orlando Magic came too late for me to be credentialed or to fly out to Las Vegas for the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton megafight, but I caught all the action in a sports bar in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, one night after I covered my first live fight since February, in which Rogers Mtagwa outbrawled Ricardo Medina over 10 rounds at the Blue Horizon. Sitting there at ringside, chatting up former Pennsylvania boxing commissioner George Bochetto (my onetime opponent in a local “celebrity” boxing match some years ago) felt like … well, it felt like home.

And if my Monday column in the Philadelphia Daily News about the ramifications of Pacquiao’s smashing victory — coupled with the announcement of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s unretirement — was written on the basis of my observations made while watching the pay-per-view telecast in a smoky restaurant-bar (cough, cough), so be it. You can’t always be there live and in person.

Unless, of course, you’re covering the NBA monster that requires daily feedings.

The latest of my occasional transformations was initiated when Phil Jasner, our great (you’re officially great when you’ve been inducted into the writers’ wing of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., as Phil has) Sixers beat writer, took ill and underwent two surgeries that sidelined him for an indefinite period. My telephone rang, and on the other end was my executive sports editor, asking if I might be available to fill in for Phil while he recuperated.

Hey, when your paper is in Chapter 11, as so many of our finer print publications are in these uncertain economic times, you don’t say you need time to think things over. You immediately volunteer your services, and begin booking flights for points hither and yon.

Unlike boxing, whose major events are sporadically scheduled, the 82-game NBA regular season is at once a marathon and a sprint, with players, coaches and media bouncing around from city to city like human pinballs. While many of my colleagues who were in Vegas to cover Pacquiao-Hatton arrived four or five days in advance of the event, to write about all the preliminary stuff leading up to Pacquiao’s two-round masterpiece, those involved with the NBA often fly in, do their thing, fly out the next morning. What’s the old joke? Oh, yeah, if this is Wednesday, it must be Phoenix.

My reintroduction to life in the NBA – I also had pulled extensive pinch-hit duty for Jasner during the 1992-93 season, when he was rehabbing from back surgery – featured a dreaded seven-day, five-game West Coast trip, during which the Sixers played the Lakers in Los Angeles, the Suns in Phoenix, the Warriors in Oakland, the Kings in Sacramento and, finally, the Trail Blazers in Portland.

(Confession: It actually was a nine-day trip for me. My first two days in Los  Angeles were spent researching some stuff and advancing the Sixers. But I never left my hotel room, other than to go to practices, so it wasn’t as if I was hanging out at Hollywood and Vine or taking the tour at Universal Studios. I was working very hard, thank you very much. Honest.)

A few things have to be taken in consideration about these West Coast jaunts (East Coast teams take two of them every season). One, you’re going to feel jet-lagged for a couple of days while your body clock readjusts. Second – and this is the really hard part – the games are starting three hours later, with tipoff usually at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. With an 11:15 deadline for the first edition, that means your sidebar is filed before the game is played, about something or someone connected with either team. Whether that thing or person is remotely involved with the actual game, of course, is purely coincidental.

The game itself also can be a bit dicey. Under the best of circumstances, you have an extremely tight time frame in which to file your story for the first edition, which sometimes means an editor has mandated that your story be ready for transmission, oh, five minutes following the game’s completion. That requires East Coast types to write “running,” which means cranking out a large percentage of your game story while the game is in progress, a procedure which has certain built-in drawbacks. In the NBA, that blowout you think you were going to write about – one team up by 20 or more points midway through the third quarter – can change in a hurry as the team that’s behind goes on a run to make it close or even go ahead. It happens more often than you think.

Take the Sixers-Lakers game at the Staples Center. It was one of those back-and-forth affairs, a nail-biter whose outcome probably wasn’t going to be determined until the final buzzer – or, in this case, a nanosecond past the final buzzer. With the Lakers leading by two points, Andre Iguodala fired up a three-pointer which didn’t swish through until after the horn had sounded and the red light framing the backboard went on.

Try writing all that in five minutes and, oh, yeah, with a couple of pertinent quotes included, if you please.

Not that I or any other sports writer has much reason to complain. Aside from the occasional churning stomach while confronted with a killer deadline, we have one of the best jobs people could imagine. We get paid for going to games and boxing matches. We stay in nice hotels, our meals and rental cars are paid for. The average fan would imagine that’s a pretty good gig, and he’d be right.

In the 1970s, many idealistic young people elected to go into journalism after reading “All the President’s Men,” or seeing the movie version starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. The aspiring reporters were all going to change the country and save the world, see? Except that many newspaper beats feature a certain amount of drudgery. The mechanics of producing a story are always the same, but those of us who cover sports or review movies have a higher fun quotient. That’s a major reason why we do what we do. Thousands of people pay to attend an important fight or big-time baseball, football and basketball games. What’s happening at the City Council meeting might have a greater impact on the individual lives of citizens, but games are their outlet, which is why, in my town, Eagles mini-camp is much more closely followed than the mayor’s plans for closing a budgetary shortfall.

At my paper, the beats, with few exceptions, are rotated after a number of years. Marcus Hayes, who picked up the Sixers for me for the final three regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs (my wife and I took nearly two weeks of vacation to attend the wedding of a relative in Louisiana), previously served as the beat writer for the Eagles and then the Phillies. Only rarely does someone – Jasner on the NBA, me on boxing – remain on a beat for decades, so long that he or she becomes singularly identified with whichever sport or team is being covered.

But despite that veil of familiarity, even the most typecast of sports writers have to be ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice.

When I interviewed with Mike Rathet and Brian Toolan, then the executive sports editor and sports editor, respectively, of the Philadelphia Daily News in the spring of 1984, I’d already been in the business for 15 years. They asked me what sports I had covered. I told them I’d written about most everything: baseball, football, basketball, tennis, a little golf. Oh, and I think I mentioned I was fond of boxing, my dad having been a fighter before he joined the New Orleans Police Department. “The only thing I probably haven’t covered, being from the South, is hockey,” I think I remarked.

I was hired, setting me on a quarter-century adventure that continues. Some months after my move to the Philly area, I called the head sports department clerk to inquire about my schedule for the following week and was told that there were three days when I down for doing stories on the Flyers. That’s the NHL, for any of you who are unfamiliar, as I was, with anything that had to do with pucks.

I immediately, and frantically, telephoned Rathet. “But I don’t know anything about hockey!” I protested.

“Yeah, but you have five days to learn,” replied my boss, who advised me that it was easier to teach a good writer the nuances of a sport than to take someone knowledgeable about that sport and teach him how to write.

Must be at least a little true. By the time the 1984-85 Stanley Cup playoffs rolled around, I was part of our four-person coverage team for the finals, which pitted the Flyers against the superb team that would win it all, the Edmonton Oilers of Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr. I was assigned to do pieces on the Oilers, which was one helluva way to become acclimated to a sport with which I had had limited experience.

Sometimes it’s like that restaurant scene involving Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.” When in doubt, fake it. Any veteran sports writer can turn on his tape recorder and craft at least a semi-readable story on an event about which he normally would be clueless. I’ve done it with figure skating and auto racing. I once was assigned to cover the figure-skating nationals in Providence, R.I., during an Olympic year, and the truth is I didn’t know the difference between a double-axel and a toe loop. But there were reporters there who covered that stuff all the time, so I let them do the heavy lifting. The competitors answered any and all questions from the more informed media, I copied the responses and produced a story that, I think, conveyed all the pertinent information readers would want to know.

It was different with boxing, when I took over for Elmer Smith in November 1987. I’d been watching the “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” with my dad since I was a little kid, and he had increased my awareness of and interest in the pugilistic arts by taking me to live cards. Go ahead, ask me about the New Orleans welterweight rivalry that pitted Jerry Pellegrini against Percy Pugh in the 1960s.

I’ve never been rotated off boxing, maybe because no one else on our sports staff has the passion for it that I do. But I’ve always been required to branch out as needed, be it for takeout pieces or, these past four seasons, as our beat guy on Penn State football. That’s been a good fit; I love college football, and, I’m not sure why, but legendary Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno reminds me a little of Angelo Dundee.

Still, most of our Philadelphia Daily News readers identify me with boxing, as do those of you who regularly visit this site. Five terms as president of the Boxing Writers Association of America can do that for a keyboard jockey, which is why, after I picked up the Sixers this season, I had readers sending emails that basically stated, “I didn’t know you could do basketball.”

Hey, when you’ve been a sports writer for nearly 40 years – I celebrate that anniversary in August – the likelihood is that you’ve covered hundreds of basketball games. And football games. And baseball games. And … well, you get the idea.

Not that the ability to shift gears on the fly is always appreciated. Some years back, I was assigned to cover the NCAA women’s Final Four in the Louisiana Superdome. Not only was it a chance to return to my old hometown, but Geno Auriemma, the acclaimed coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program, is a Philadelphia guy. His Huskies wound up playing Pat Summit’s Tennessee Lady Vols in the final in one of the most anticipated games ever in women’s hoops. There was a sellout crowd in the arena, and the television ratings were the largest ever for a women’s game.

Back in Philly, I was missing two minor fight cards that were off TV and drew maybe a couple of hundred spectators at each venue. The publicist for both shows wanted to know why I wouldn’t be at either show.

“I’ve been assigned to the women’s Final Four,” I said.

“But you’re the boxing writer!” he yelped. “You should tell your editor to go bleep himself.”

Yep, that sure enough would do wonders for my job security.

Anyway, I’m refocusing on boxing and am prepared to again joust with Ron Borges, Michael Woods, Frank Lotierzo and other members of the crack TSS team for your attention.

And if any of you are wondering about what the 76ers need to do as they retool in preparation for the 2009-10 season, I’m good with that, too.

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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