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Articles of 2009

Cintron's Manager/Lawyer Can't Quite Wrap This One Up

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Legal ethics require Josh Dubin to consider the evidence before and during a trial. From a purely evidentiary standpoint, if Dubin were to go before a jury with only his strong suspicions that Kermit Cintron was wronged in his two defeats to the now-disgraced Antonio Margarito, he understands that the verdict likely wouldn’t go the way he and Cintron would prefer.

Every lawyer, you see, knows that the law isn’t so much about justice as it is about what’s legal. Trials are won and lost not so much by what a shrewd counselor knows or thinks he knows, but by what he can prove to the 12 good men and true sitting in that jury box.

Dubin serves in the dual capacity of attorney and manager of Cintron (30-2-1, 27 KOs), the Reading, Pa.-based former IBF welterweight champion who takes on Alfredo Angulo (15-0, 12 KOs) Saturday night in Hollywood, Fla., in the top undercard bout of an HBO-televised show headlined by WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto’s defense against Juan Urango. Cintron is, in fact, a warmup act, but he could lose even his hold on future second billings if Angulo were to finish what Margarito and his possibly loaded handwraps began.

“All I have is suspicions and circumstantial evidence,” said Dubin who is keeping Cintron under wraps from the media, so to speak, with one of the more pivotal bouts of his career just a few days away. “I’ve yet to speak to Naazim Richardson (the trainer for Shane Mosley who detected Margarito’s incriminating handwraps, which led to the California State Athletic Commission suspending both Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo). I’d like to.

“It would be extraordinarily difficult for us to prove, in a legal sense, if anything untoward happened in Kermit’s two fights with Margarito. The best thing we can probably do at this point is to concentrate on the future and move forward.

“Does Kermit have his suspicions? Yes. Do I have my suspicions? Yes. Does Emanuel Steward (Cintron’s former trainer) have his suspicions? Yes, absolutely. But suspicions and conjecture is where it stops.

“I’m somewhat biased, of course, but my first vocation is as an attorney and jury consultant. As such, I have to maintain my objectivity. Part of my job is to see the other side of the coin and play devil’s advocate. I have to be very careful about appearing that we’re crying over spilt milk while at the same time I have to protect Kermit’s best interests.”

Margarito and Capetillo were caught, um, red-handed when Richardson, in Margarito’s dressing room prior to his Jan. 24 bout with Mosley at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, spotted irregularities in the way Capetillo was wrapping Margarito’s hands. Forced to enter the ring with rewrapped hands, Margarito – a 2-1 favorite – not only didn’t whack out Mosley, as many had expected, but he seemingly punched with far less authority before he was stopped in nine rounds.

Margarito’s confiscated handwraps were inspected by a California Department of Justice senior criminologist, who viewed them under a stereomicroscope and with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. His determination was that the wraps contained sulfur and calcium, two primary elements of Plaster of Paris. When mixed with oxygen and water, sulfur and calcium make Plaster of Paris.

While the ensuing scandal might not have had the national and international repercussions of say, baseball’s steroids controversy, the fallout was immediate. Margarito’s improbable rise from journeyman to the “most feared man in boxing,” as his promoter, Top Rank founder Bob Arum frequently insisted, was naturally questioned. But beyond that, fight fans were left to wonder if several of the emphatic victories Margarito had scored during his ascension, most notably the two over Cintro and his July 26, 2008, come-from-behind stoppage of Miguel Cotto, were on the up-and-up.

On an even wider scale, it must be noted that it was Richardson, then an assistant trainer to IBF/WBC middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who detected irregularities in Felix Trinidad’s handwraps prior to Hopkins’ Sept. 29, 2001, unification showdown with the undefeated Puerto Rican slugger in Madison Square Garden. Fighting with certifiably legal handwraps, Trinidad, who also had been favored, was tuned up to a fare-thee-well by B-Hop before being stopped in the 12th round.

Richardson thus qualifies as the keenest sleuth since Hercule Poirot, but everyone in the fight game was left to wonder how often loaded handwraps had slipped past the scrutiny of state commission inspectors who might or might not have been qualified, or even of representatives of the other fighter’s camp sent to the dressing room for just such a purpose.

Was Margarito – now disdainfully known by many as Marga-Cheato – a solitary figure trying to skirt the rules? Or is he the tip of an iceberg, emblematic of a bigger problem than anyone had dared to imagine?

For his part, Hopkins claimed not to have been surprised that Trinidad and Margarito were found out. The ageless wonder from Philadelphia is shocked only that more miscreants haven’t been similarly exposed.

“If you put on tape, then gauze, then tape, then gauze, it’s like a (plaster) cast,” Hopkins said. “It’s like being hit with a baseball bat. I’m giving out some secrets here, but you can dip your hands in ice water and that tape will, like, marinate and become harder.”

Dubin was not with Cintron for his first fight with Margarito, but he wonders if an ethically-challenged trainer with some quick moves of his own couldn’t pull a fast one even as commission inspectors and representatives of the other fighter looked on.

“We had a representative from our camp in (Margarito’s) dressing room watching Margarito having his hands wrapped (for the second fight),” Dubin noted. “Had something suspicious been going on, we would have detected it, I think.

“Now, I don’t know who was in Kermit’s dressing room for the first fight with Margarito because I wasn’t with him then. If I remember correctly, it was either Manny or Joey Gamache who watched Margarito’s hands get wrapped for the second fight.

“Look, you’re dealing with a white substance that may have been adroitly slipped into the wraps. Who knows how detectable it would have been visually? My hat’s off to Naazim Richardson for catching it. Maybe Manny or Joey Gamache, whoever was the observer, didn’t catch it.”

What is indisputable is this: Having been pounded twice by Margarito, Cintron ceased to be regarded as a growth property. Steward exited as chief second (Cintron is now being trained by Ronnie Shields), and Cintron’s longtime promotional company, Main Events, also dropped him like a hot potato. He now is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, which seems to specialize in reclamation projects.

There are some slight differences between Cintron’s two losses to Margarito. In the first, on April 23, 2005, Cintron was never counted out; he was taking punishment when Cintron’s then-trainer, Marshall Kauffman, threw in the towel in the ninth round at Caesars Palace.

Cintron pieced together a five-fight winning streak thereafter, all the victories inside the distance, before he attempted to even the score against Margarito in their April 12, 2008, showdown in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

Cintron, then the IBF 147-pound champion, claimed he had put any and all bad memories of his first meeting with Margarito behind him, but, although he had his moments, he was put down and out from a crushing body shot in the sixth round.

“He hit me with an uppercut and I couldn’t breathe,” Cintron said at the time.

As a lawyer who is obligated to consider all the evidence, Dubin is not prepared to cast too many aspersions on Margarito’s pounding of Cintron in the rematch. After all, Margarito absorbed some big shots from a big puncher and still went on to win, as he did in his July 26, 2008, bout with Miguel Cotto.

“Kermit is a very emotional guy,” Dubin said. “He wears his emotions on his sleeve sometimes. But he was relatively upbeat after the second Margarito fight. He said, `I don’t want anyone in here hanging his head.’”

Still, a private conversation between Cintron and Dubin suggested that maybe the beaten – and beaten-up – ex-champ was not as fine as he wanted his corner team to believe.

“He told me, `Josh, I hit that guy with as hard a straight right as I’ve hit anyone in my life,’” Dubin recalled. “`I felt it reverberate all the way through my arm and down my leg. Then he looked at me as if to say, `Nice shot,’ and he kept on coming.’

“That had to be psychologically demoralizing. Kermit is a big puncher. Hey, you’ve got to give Margarito some credit. I don’t think anyone was loading up his chin.”

But those handwraps, those possibly tainted handwraps …

“There’s a few indisputable facts here,” Dubin said. “One is that to this date, Kermit’s only two losses are to Margarito. To this date, the only two times he has been stopped have been against Margarito.

“I’ve never seen Kermit go down like that (in the ninth round of the rematch) like that. OK, it was a perfectly placed body shot, but he never went down like that before.

“When we got back to the dressing room in that fight – which was very competitive in parts; Kermit went toe-to-toe with the guy – he put his arm around me and said, `I feel like I got slammed in my ribs with a hammer. I’ve never been hit that hard in my life. Every punch the guy threw hurt.’”

So now all that’s left is the questions that forever will go unanswered.

“I would be lying if I didn’t concede that these matters have been discussed in the Cintron camp,” Dubin said. “Kermit and I have had some pretty substantial discussions about it.

“It’s sort of an interesting paradox. There’s really no way to go back in time and find out, unless someone preserved Margarito’s handwraps from both of his fights with Kermit. In the absence of those, all we can do is speculate, and speculation isn’t proof of anything.

“But I do take issue with those who equate loaded handwraps in boxing with steroids in baseball. If indeed Margarito loaded up in his two fights with Kermit and in other fights, it’s much, much worse. With steroids in baseball, the only thing that’s getting harder is the ball. No one’s life is in danger. In boxing, somebody’s life is always in danger, more so if there’s anything to these allegations.”

For the record, Cintron isn’t the only boxer to regard a setback or setbacks to Margarito as being possibly bogus. Remember, Cotto was doing very well against him until Margarito began to turn the tide in the sixth round of their bout at the MGM Grand. Margarito finally won on an 11th-round TKO.

When the Margarito handwraps flap came to light, Cotto refuted the notion that the Mexican slugger was somehow an innocent dupe unaware of what Capetillo was doing.

“We are boxers and we have to be alert from the moment the trainer puts the handwraps on and puts on our gloves,” Cotto said. “(Margarito) tells the people that he doesn’t know what the trainer put on his hands. That’s a lie. You’re aware.”

So perturbed was Cotto that Arum, who also promotes Margarito, had come to Margarito’s defense that he threatened to end his association with Top Rank when his promotional contract expired.

“I’m going to stay with them until the contract is finished,” Cotto said before his five-round wipeout of overmatched Brit Michael Jennings on Feb. 21. “After that, we’re going to sit with the company and talk.”

Any friction between Cotto and Arum seems to have been eased. In any case, Arum makes no apologies for siding with one of his fighters, even if it was at the risk of ticking off another member of the Top Rank stable.

“We stand by our fighters,” Arum said. “No amount of monetary gain can make me throw Antonio Margarito under the bus.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether Margarito resumes his career after his year-long suspension is over, and whether he will be obliged to forever wear a scarlet letter as a dirty, rotten cheater. It’s a pretty safe bet, though, that Capetillo not only has been thrown under the bus, but it rolled over him before backing up and doing it again.

As a society, we have been preconditioned to tolerate cheating and bad behavior, if not exactly to condone it. Dog-fighting pariah Michael Vick could soon be back in the NFL. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez got socked with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a drug that increases testosterone, although you have to wonder why he’d have an interest in ingesting anything whose purpose is to boost female fertility. If Manny being Manny means he returns from suspension with a hot bat, figure on the Dodger Stadium faithful to overlook any past transgressions.

Meanwhile, Kermit Cintron and Miguel Cotto have defeats on their records that might not be legal proof of anything that was done wrong by Antonio Margarito, but, really, can you blame them for wondering?

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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