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Articles of 2009

Alexis Arguello

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Lenny Mancini sat in a wheelchair at ringside on the night of October 3, 1981. In the archives of the old man’s head were images of a fight that never happened –his title shot against Sammy “The Clutch” Angott. Negotiations were in progress when Mancini was drafted into the army a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He requested a six week furlough and offered  to donate the entire purse to the Army Relief Fund. Uncle Sam turned him down. Lenny was hit by mortar shrapnel in France and got a purple heart, but he never got that title shot. It left a hole in his life.

When he was forty-one years old his third child was born, a son.

Ray Mancini had fifty fights as an amateur, developed a swarming style reminiscent of his father’s and was bequeathed his father’s nickname: “Boom Boom”. With a promise that he would complete the Mancini boxing legacy and become lightweight champion for both of them, Boom Boom went big time.

This was supposed to be the night of dreams. The twenty-year-old challenger entered the ring with a record of 20-0 with 15 knockouts and the build of a brawler. Like Rocky Marciano and a host of others from boxing’s golden era, Mancini fought with the kind of ethnic, neighborhood, and familial pride perfected by Italian-Americans. There’s power in that hot blood. Like another left-hooker in Smokin’ Joe Frazier, he was a converted southpaw, so his lead hand was souped-up. Mancini’s assets didn’t stop there: his movie-star good looks suggested neither the heart of a lion, which he had, nor did they suggest that he was a student of boxing history, which he was. The kid was a bello bull with brains.

The lightweight champion standing across the ring had the shape of a whip. At almost 5’10 he was known as the “Explosive Thin Man” and with a record of 72-5 with 57 knockouts he was a veteran of many wars. In 1974, he knocked out his idol “Rockabye” Ruben Olivares and became a featherweight champion. He went to Ruben’s dressing room after the bout and got down on his knees with a promise of his own: “I will defend this title with every drop of my blood.” In 1981, he took the lightweight title from Scotland’s Jim Watt. After the fight he told the man he had just defeated that he will defend the title for him with his blood and his heart. And he did. He insisted on fighting the finest challengers and had twenty-two title fights in four divisions by the time he was finished. The thin man was also a technician extraordinaire. Snapshots of the hook off the jab that finished Alfredo Escalera in the thirteenth round of their rematch can be used in an instruction manual. It landed after a grueling trench war that left both victor and vanquished bloodied. His right hand was famous. When that crossed onto a cheek, it sounded like an M-80 on the Fourth of July. It would set off car alarms outside the casino.

His name was Alexis Arguello.

The fight against Ray Mancini was Arguello’s first defense of his third title. It was a classic. Lenny watched as his son mounted a relentless, two-fisted attack –the attack of two men. Incredibly, Ray was ahead after the twelfth round on two of the three judges’ scorecards. But Arguello was a long-term investor. Enduring volatility in the market of the ring was nothing to him; he could stomach a loss in the value of his investment over several rounds. His mind was on the end, and he moved toward that end as inexorably as the stock market countdown. In the twelfth round, Alexis landed his money punch and Ray’s point advantage at once began to depreciate as he crashed. Ray was tough; he got up, though the long-term investor is patient. In the fourteenth, the champion delivered a left hook, an uppercut to the middle, two more left hooks, and then a right cross. Ray went down again and the fight was stopped.

The elder Mancini’s eyes fell to the floor for a moment and then found Ray, who was being assisted back to his corner by the referee. Alexis’ celebration was restrained. He saw the man in the wheelchair, leaned over the ropes and called out “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Minutes later, the champion was being interviewed in the ring. Ray walked over and Alexis’s eyes lit up when he saw him. He clasped Ray’s hand and embraced him. “Good, good, good, good,” Alexis strained to express himself in English but communicated his affection as flawlessly as any Italian. He pinched his cheek. He gave him perspective: “I love your father. That’s the most beautiful thing you have…” He offered encouragement: “I promise if I can do something for you, let me know, please, okay?” The Nicaraguan said these things with the tip of his thumb touching his first fingers, like an honorary paisan. Alexis knew about Lenny’s dream, he knew about Sammy Angott, he knew about the draft. On the way out of the ring, he took Lenny’s hand and embraced Ellen Mancini, “I’m sorry, it’s my job,” he said, “I love your son. He will be a world champion.”

At the press conference, Alexis quietly spoke to Ray about how he himself lost his first title shot when he was barely past twenty years old, how he cried, and how he won it in his second try.

Ray too would win a title in his second try only seven months later when he stopped champion Arturo Frias in one round. His parents celebrated in the ring with him. Alexis Arguello was there. “I told you! I told you!” he said to the Mancinis.

Four months later, Alexis fought southpaw James “Bubba” Busceme in Busceme’s hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Clive Gammon of Sports Illustrated and other reporters noticed that after Alexis stopped him in the sixth round, he took Busceme’s head in his gloves. “I told him that he was a man,” Alexis revealed in the dressing room, “I wanted him to feel strong again, and give him his pride back. I told him he fought like a man, just like Mancini.” The day after the bout, Bubba Busceme was in a local restaurant celebrating his 30th birthday. Alexis brought him a cake. Still at a loss last week, Busceme, now 57, asked the Beaumont Enterprise “How many guys would do that? How many world champion boxers would bring the person they just fought a cake?”

Roberto Elizondo, who was also knocked out by Arguello, told the San Antonio Express-News that Alexis “was always very gracious to me and my family. He was one of the best.”

When Jim Watt was introduced at the weigh-in at Wembley before their bout, Alexis was in the background, clapping for him. “Be nice with everyone,” Arguello told the Ocala Star Banner in 1982, “That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in 14 years of fighting.”

Aaron Pryor, the former junior welterweight champion who stopped Alexis from becoming the first quadruple champion, speaks now of how Alexis taught him to carry himself with dignity in public; how they were friends from the moment they shed tears together after their rematch –Alexis in his disappointment and Aaron for Alexis. “I’m finished,” Alexis said as he stood in defeat, head bowed.

The tears of Aaron Pryor mingle with millions now.

Alexis Arguello’s body was found in his home with a hole in the heart on July 1. News reports said there were no signs of violence in the room and that traces of gunpowder were found on his hands.

Officials in Nicaragua confirmed that he shot himself in the chest with a 9mm pistol.

Gary Smith’s Sports Illustrated profile of Arguello in 1985 opened with the story of his father’s attempt to commit suicide by jumping headlong into a well. He survived the fall but when they lowered a chair tied to a rope, he took the rope off the chair and looped it around his neck, then yelled “¡hale!” [pull!].Despite his efforts, he survived. Alexis was six years old. By the time he was fourteen, Alexis found boxing.

The Sweet Science anchored him. It is a common irony among fighters that sees the ring as a safe harbor. For him, it was a place of clarity, a place where his compassion followed his competitiveness on a valiant platform. “I am a reincarnated gladiator”, he told Smith. Gladiators faced ferocity in their virtual existence but were exempt from the distressing uncertainty of civilian life. They lived to fight and fought to live and there were no devils because there were no details. Their economy could be placed on a single coin –on one side was life/victory, on the other death/defeat. Combat is simple, the objective clear. It is outside the coliseum or the ring where things get complicated. Ask Mike Tyson. “I thank God that I found something to give me hope,” Alexis attested in an interview from the mid-1990s, “for giving me the chance to be somebody.”

After a fifteen year career capped off by legendary wars with Pryor, Arguello retired. It was like stepping out of Narnia and into a gray world where nothing mattered and no one seemed to care. Depression set in. Addictions spiraled out of control. The specter of suicide inherited, perhaps, from his father began to whisper in his ear; pointing to the corruption of his beloved country, the darkness in the world, the emptiness of his life. The end was almost in 1984. Alexis sat in his yacht off the coast of Florida with a gun to his head –his finger on the trigger. Something dark whispered “jale.” “Pull.” After several tense minutes and the pleadings of his twelve-year-old son, he relented.

Alexis was staring into the abyss and the abyss was staring into him. He returned to the ring briefly in 1985 and again in 1994. He had to. It was safe there.

God knows he had issues. You don’t watch your father try to kill himself twice, grow up in poverty in a third world country, endure war, exile, financial ruin, and the death of a younger brother shot and lit on fire as he lay on a pile of tires –and not have issues. For Alexis, a living rebuke to the calloused brutes of pugilism’s stereotype, these issues were magnified. His empathy was matched by his sensitivity. Most of us natural cynics hear about misery, corruption, or exploitation and shrug our shoulders –this man would grow indignant or sink into a morass of despair.

He was interviewed by Peter Heller in 1986 and spoke openly about how he is “lonely in the world”, about how he did not want to keep living because of the “wrong things” that seemed to be everywhere. Disturbingly, he wished that he could have “the guts” to commit suicide, “I wish I could. I wish I could, Jesus Christ, leave this place.” Most retired boxers will tell you that they have to find a way to make a living. To Alexis, still waters ran deeper –he wanted to find a way “to live again.”

Perhaps those dark whispers finally managed to drown out everything else –his faith, his family and fans, the rising star of his political career, his courage to go on. He once said that he was “disenchanted”, that the “beauty of the world had disappeared.” There can be little doubt that he was engaged in an internal back-and-forth battle with despair that made his ring wars seem like Sunday strolls. Fifteen rounds? This looked like an existential crisis that lasted over two decades. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, the late author of Man’s Search for Meaning saw a powerful connection between feelings of meaninglessness and the neurotic triad of depression, aggression, and addiction. Suicide, he said, is depression’s sequel.

Ray Mancini doesn’t believe that Alexis Arguello committed suicide. “He was the face of Nicaragua,” he told me recently, “he relished that. He loved that.” However, there were allegations that his election last November as mayor of Managua was marred by ballot rigging and intimidation and he himself was under investigation for misappropriating public funds. Perhaps he felt himself disgraced, defiled even, and forgetting that he was a Roman Catholic, did what a Roman patrician might have done under the same circumstances –fell on his sword.

I don’t know. I only wish that he had found a way to beat the count …because those he left behind didn’t hear a bell.

Thankfully, those he left behind still have his immortal image on fight films. We’ll marvel at this legend all over again and affirm how his spirit surpassed even the level of his skill and the splendor of his achievements. Despite his faults and failings, despite whatever happened at the end of his life, Alexis was noble. It should never be forgotten that during the last great era of boxing, he taught fatherless boys from poor neighborhoods all over the world about the divinity of kindness and the meaning of chivalry. I was among them. God knows we needed his example.

I hope he heard the applause of multitudes as he slipped between golden ropes to a place that’s better than this, to a place where every tear is wiped away and broken hearts are healed. May he shine like the sun.

Adios …y gracias, Alexis Arguello.

…..

Special thanks to Ray Mancini. Springs Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com.

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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