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Articles of 2009

Kimball Counters, Responds To Ring Charges



SOMEWHERE IN TUSCANY — Word travels slowly, even on the internet, to this part of Italy, hence my delay in responding to Nigel Collins’ attack on myself and colleague Ron Borges posted on the website the other day.

I frankly don’t think readers much care about these internecine squabbles, and I have no intention of engaging in a protracted online food-fight with Nigel Collins or anybody else, so while I do feel obliged to respond, rest assured that this is the last you’re going to hear from me on the subject of what the magazine’s editor described as “anti-Ring magazine articles on”

The column to which Collins objects dealt with three separate but not entirely dissimilar issues – (a) the growing obsession with pound-for-pound lists, a trend this corner perceives as not entirely healthy for boxing; (b) the attempt of Ring to cast itself as a fifth sanctioning body; and (c) the increasing tendency of network announcers to treat inconsequential International Boxing Organization titles as the real McCoy, disturbing, in our view, because it might legitimize the IBO in the eyes of some viewers.

Since Ring wasn’t even the first of these topics brought under scrutiny, and in connection with the third, my story said that “an IBO title… is even more ridiculous than the Ring version,” it strikes me that characterizing the entire column as an “anti-Ring magazine article” reeks more than slightly of paranoia.

Similarly, Borges’ column deplored the circumstances which had led Dawson to relinquish a legitimate light-heavyweight title for the second time in barely a year. His reference to the Ring belt, or the absence thereof, was merely tangential to that point, and only the seriously deluded could interpret it as “an anti-Ring magazine article.”

Like Collins, I am a First Amendment advocate. I am also an advocate of freedom of religion, but I have little patience with those zealots – and the world is full of them – who hold up their beliefs to be the one and only true religion to the exclusion of all others. And it strikes me that there is more than a messianic zeal to the fervor with which Ring, and its defenders like Tim Starks of,* not only defend its imperfections, but attempt to proselytize the rest of us by holding up its ratings (sometimes with the assistance of their friends at HBO) as the One True Church of Boxing, consigning all the nonbelievers to eternal damnation.

Starks composed his critique of story even before Collins posted his. Since Starks’ position is somewhat more eloquent, and a good bit less hysterical than Nigel’s, I’ll attempt to address points raised in both.

To one valid complaint voiced by both Collins and Starks – my description of Ring’s voting panel as “cloaked in anonymity” – I hereby plead guilty as charged. The makeup of the panel is indeed posted on the magazine’s website.

Back in New York last month I’d contacted several people I thought would know and they were also of the belief that there was no public list of Ring voters, and my attempts to find one via an online search didn’t turn them up. Maybe Ring could make it easier to find, but quite certainly I need to upgrade my online searching technique.

So I was dead wrong about that, and apologize – but not, as Collins claims, for “rephrasing the same accusation three times, clearly believing if you repeat a lie often enough it will be accepted as the truth.”

If Collins thinks I was “rephrasing” the aforementioned accusation when I said that any journalist writing about Ring’s ratings or Ring’s titles who also participates in their compilation should acknowledge as much, he is mistaken. Accountability is an entirely separate issue, and one with which even Starks agrees, to wit:

“If I was on the Ring board, I’d mention it every time I wrote an article or made a speech in public where I mentioned the magazine. Some writers (like Cliff Rold of BoxingScene) include it at the end of everything they write, period.”

Collins’ response to my noting that “the conflict of interest inherent in a publication owned by a major promoter is so evident that it shouldn’t even require mention” was to provide a laundry list of magazine cover subjects that is supposed to demonstrate that Golden Boy boxers have not been the beneficiaries of favoritism. (In his cited examples, by the way, Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose last three fights have been promoted by Golden Boy, is listed as “independent.”)

Perhaps Collins should have read more carefully. I never said that Ring had showed favoritism to Golden Boy boxers. My point was that the appearance of impropriety was so overwhelming that it would not be tolerated in any other sphere I can think of — although’s Dan Rafael did send an email asking “How is this any different  than UFC owning its belt and fighters and making the matches?”

Answer: It isn’t, which is precisely the point.

Even Starks concedes the validity of the conflict-of-interest angle, and adds that “it requires everyone in the boxing press to monitor Ring’s ratings closely,” but Collins refuses to even acknowledge the problematical nature of the arrangement.

In his purported attempt to correct what he labeled “blatant falsehoods,” Collins didn’t bother responding to what I described as his magazine’s “sordid history of corruption,” and Starks dismisses it as “really, just one incident.” Since Ring’s culpability in the ratings scandals of the 1970s involved many boxers and numerous instances of falsified records, nonexistent fights, and fabricated ratings, and warranted investigation by a Federal grand jury, it seems rather cavalier to describe it as “one incident.” And what about the Bert Sugar era of Ring? Some boxing writers are still waiting to be paid for work published by the magazine more than a quarter-century ago, and several more have died since without ever having been compensated by Ring for their work.

I never said the magazine had actually recognized in its pages the Hopkins-Winky Wright winner as its “170-pound champion,” but at a press conference held on May 15, 2007 at the ESPN Zone in New York, Golden Boy publicists distributed a press kit including the information that Hopkins’ July fight against Winky Wright would be for “the Ring Magazine 170-pound championship,” and when queried about this previously nonexistent title that day, Richard Schaefer confirmed that information.  If Collins wants to label that a “lie,” then it’s his bosses at Golden Boy he should be addressing, not me.

Both Collins (“he informed The Ring that he would return to junior welter to defend the 140-pound championship”) and Starks (“each fighter insisted that the move to another division was not permanent”) claim that the magazine did not violate its stated policy by continuing to recognize Hatton at junior welterweight once he moved up to fight Luis Collazo for the welterweight title in May of 2006.

I covered the Hatton-Collazo fight in Boston. What I remember hearing Hatton talk about in the days leading up to that bout was how much stronger Ricky felt at 147 and his insistence that his speed had not been affected.

But making the Hatton-Collazo fight was enormously complicated by the attendant obligations of both participants. Hatton was under a federal court order not to engage in a fight against anyone other than Souleymane M’baye, the mandatory challenger for the WBA portion of his 140-pound title. Collazo had been ordered to defend his WBA welterweight title against German-based Oktay Urkal.

The matchup was further complicated by a Boston Globe story reporting that “(Urkal’s) people in Germany were informed that Hatton would fight the mandatory next if he wins the title… along with that promise, the story goes, went a small envelope to the contender-in-waiting (Urkal) and his management team.” The latter revelation sparked a flurry of paranoia in the house of Universum when the promised envelope failed to materialize.

In any case, Hatton’s representatives had to appear before a federal judge in New York, where they successfully argued that the injunction should be modified on the grounds that Hatton intended to campaign as a full-fledged welterweight.

His performance in narrowly defeating Collazo obviously caused Ricky to subsequently rethink his career path, but since going into that fight Hatton both assured a federal judge that his future lay at welterweight and promised the Germans that if he beat Collazo he would defend the 147-pound belt against Urkal, I find it difficult to see that this makes me the one guilty of what Collins labels “a blatant falsehood.”

If Nigel is in possession of evidence that Ricky Hatton committed perjury in this instance, perhaps he should pass it along to the appropriate authorities at the First US District Court for New York instead of ranting about it on his website.

Collins’ and Starks’ logic in their point-by-point defense of other Ring titles is so convoluted that it ought to serve as Exhibit A for the prosecution, but there are a couple of instances that probably merit specific comment.

In citing examples of “mistakes” he attributes to me, Starks notes that Ring was actually being consistent with its stated guidelines when it anointed Vitali Klitschko, by virtue of his win over Corrie Sanders, whom the magazine listed as No. 3, as its “world champion.”  At the time Sanders was 1-1 against Top Ten heavyweights (Hasim Rahman, Wladimir Klitschko) and well over twenty of his wins had come in South Africa, many of them against the usual collection of bums.

If Ring actually believed Corrie Sanders was the third-best heavyweight in the world, is that my “mistake,” or theirs?

I guess some of my digs were too subtle for Collins and Starks, but no, I wasn’t seriously suggesting that Ring should emulate the real sanctioning bodies by adopting a “champion in recess” title for Israel Vazquez, though the intended humor apparently escaped them both.

Nor did I ever write that the Ring lightweight title should be on the line in next month’s Mayweather-Marquez fight. What I did suggest was that since Marquez was the lightweight champion, if Floyd wanted to return from exile and fight for an immediate title, he should have challenged himself to get down to 135 and fought for the one Marquez already owned instead of forcing an opponent who has barely fought as a lightweight to meet him at 144.

(And that, according to ESPN’s Rafael, is the actual limit. “The Ring is dead wrong about the weight,” he told us in an email.)

Likewise, my observation that “It’s probably just a coincidence, but did you happen to notice that The Ring presently lists its welterweight title as ‘vacant?’” was intended as irony, a humorous way of wondering whether an underlying reason for Ring’s refusal to sanction Mosley-Margarito as a title fight might have been a desire to keep the seat warm for Floyd’s eventual return.

The half-serious implication was that sometime between now and July 18 Ring might convene an emergency session of its voting panel to proclaim Mayweather-Marquez a welterweight title fight.

Of course, after this latest flap there’s no way they’d dare do that now.

Or would they?

EDITOR NOTE: Starks touched on the Ring/Kimball flap last week, after he deconstructed George’s original piece. From my perspective, I always stand behind my writers, and stand behind George and Ron 100% in this case. I talked to Nigel on the phone last week, and listened as he laid out his take on what he perceives as inaccuracies. We were both cordial.

It goes without saying, but let me say it anyway, we always strive to be totally accurate and fair here, and can always be counted on to listen to anyone who feels we’ve mischaracterized something, and to rectify a wrong. To me, there’s no need to start slinging accusations about lying or a deliberate lack of candidness. We are all pros here, let’s act like it; what say our default setting be one of mutual respect, rather than accusatory broadsides? Too often these days, and this holds true outside our fightwriter circle as well, instead of agreeing to disagree, two parties in conflict resort to overblown, inappropriately bilious rhetoric, or threats of siccing rabid lawyers on retainer on the case—whatever happened to spirited debate, with an underlying degree of respect and decorum?

In short: George has a 30-plus year track record of excellence in journalism, and to react to a flub with flaming retorts, to me, is not appropriate.

Moving forward, there will certainly be times when TSS critiques power players in this industry, with an eye on leveling the playing field, and giving a voice to the voiceless. Certainly, being owned by Oscar De La Hoya, if not being a subsidiary of Golden Boy Promotions, leaves Ring open to intense scrutiny. To my eye, I think Collins and company have put together a superior batch of ratings, and have bent over backwards–certainly with cover choices– of not favoring their employer. They are to be commended, as I don’t envy the difficult position they are in, and can identify with any man or woman looking to hold on to a full-time position in two industries (boxing, written-word media) that have seen better days. To me, the Ring crew has negotiated the minefield of potential conflict of interest skillfully, and believe that will continue moving forward. The power of the internet, in giving a platform to virtually all, helps insure that all of us do our job in a competent, equitable manner, so there will be no shortage of watchdogs barkin’ if they, or we, mess up. Nigel or Tim, feel free to leave a comment in our comment section in response if you like. And Damon Feldman, if this continues—which I don’t think it will—care to carve us out a TSS vs. Ring date on your Celebrity Boxing series calendar? Sincerely, Michael Woods, Editor

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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