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Articles of 2009

Donaire Finally Standing Tall After Sitdown Strike

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As acts of civil disobedience go, the sit-down strike by brothers Nonito and Glenn Donaire at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in Tampa isn’t quite on a par with Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white man on that bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.

When it happened 9½ years ago, I compared the Donaires’ protest against the frequently unfathomable politics of USA Boxing – their father, Nonito Sr., coach Robert Salinas and family friend Jaquin Gallardo also plopped themselves down in the center of the ring in a five-minute show of defiance – to the scene in Animal House when the Delta frat boys learn they’ve been expelled from Faber College.

“I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture to be done on somebody’s part,” Otter says.

“And we’re just the guys to do it,” Bluto responds.

Perhaps, if the Tampa Five had ultimately succeeded in their quest, as did Parks and other seminal figures of the civil rights movement did in theirs, the status of Olympic-style boxing in the United States would have taken a dramatic turn for the better. But the way the real world is, some things are capable of being changed and some apparently aren’t. It’s all a matter of recognizing which crusades are winnable and thus worth the expenditure of a would-be activist’s time and energy.

To wit, a black man now occupies the White House. But amateur boxing in this country remains an unwieldy mess; America now produces Olympic medalists in the ring about as frequently as most people find endangered snail darters in their bathwater, and USA Boxing is again in turmoil after the entire five-person marketing and communications department was dismissed following the recent U.S. Championships in Denver.

Nonito Donaire, 17 at the time of the sit-down strike, is now the 26-year-old IBF flyweight champion. Donaire (21-1, 14 KOs) and will move up in weight against Panama’s Rafael concepcion (13-3-1, 8 KOs) on Aug. 15 for the vacant WBA interim junior bantamweight title at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. His sights are focused on the future, not the past.

“I haven’t thought about (the sit-down strike) for a long time,” Nonito said when I spoke to him a few days ago. “A lot of people didn’t know Glenn and me when we were amateurs. When we turned pro, we were nobodies.

“The politics of amateur boxing discouraged me to a point where for a while I really didn’t care about boxing. I was offered a spot at Northern Michigan University (where the U.S. Olympic Education Center is located) and a chance to compete for the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, but I was really down on the sport at that point. My idea was to forget about boxing and to go to school. I actually did quit boxing for a year or so.

“Then I saw Dre (Andre Ward, now the WBO super middleweight champion) and he got me back into it. He and some other people made me realize I had the talent to still achieve something.”

Cameron Dunkin, who manages Nonito Donaire, said the little Filipino-American with the thunderous left hook is “going to be a multimillionaire. I think he’s a top 10 pound-for-pound right now, and he’s only going to get better.”

Dunkin remembers the Olympic Trials sit-down strike as, well, just what Otter said of the Deltas’ sabotaging of the Faber homecoming parade: a really future and stupid gesture. Maybe the Donaires would have been better off just staging a food fight in the cafeteria and getting themselves placed on double-secret probation.

“I thought what they did was really stupid,” Dunkin said. “You’re not going to change amateur boxing by doing something like that. You’re not going to change bad decisions. Amateur boxing and bad decisions just sort of go together.

“What’s funny is that the brothers really didn’t want to do it. The guy who made them do it was Robert Salinas. The father told me afterward, `I shouldn’t have listened to him. We should have just gone ahead and fought.’ Heck, yeah. Give yourself a chance. You can’t be any worse off than you are just quitting.”

The Donaire family had emigrated to San Leandro, Calif., from the Philippines in 1994. When the Olympic Trials rolled around six years later, the hard-hitting Glenn and slick-boxing Nonito were just a couple of guys who hardly anybody knew about on the national level, and they were competing in a weight class that figured to be dominated by another Filipino-American, Brian Viloria, who just happened to be the reigning world champion at 106 pounds and USA Boxing’s Boxer of the Year.

There were more than a few observers who believed that Glenn’s brawling attack merited the nod in his matchup with Viloria, but the “Hawaiian Punch” was awarded a 10-5, electronically-scored decision.

Then, in the 106-pound final, Nonito appeared – at least to these eyes, and to Dunkin’s – to give Viloria a boxing lesson. By my count, he snapped Viloria’s head back with at least five punches in the third round. But, incredibly, he was credited with only one point in the computer scoring as Viloria won, 8-6.

Glenn, 20, was a prohibitive favorite to defeat St. Louis’ Karoz Norman in a losers’ bracket match; had he won, he would have moved on to a bout the next day with Nonito. The winner of the Duel of the Donaires was guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Olympic Box-offs in Mashantucket, Conn., where a pair of victories over Viloria would have punched a Donaire’s ticket to Sydney, Australia.

Except that Glenn Donaire never squared off against Norman. Instead, he and other members of the Tampa Five protested what they believed to be favorable treatment toward Viloria. But taking a stand on principle only appears admirable in retrospect if it serves as a real agent of change.

“None of the other people have enough courage to do this,” said Salinas, who suggested that a handful of bouts in other weight classes were tilted in favor of fighters conferred with sacred-cow status. “We know this is the wrong way (to make a point), but we needed to do something. (USA Boxing) has a selected few and there’s no way to beat them, so what’s the point in trying? If we lose fairly, fine. But if we lose because of politics, that is something else.”

Gary Toney, then the president of USA Boxing, described the Salinas-orchestrated protest as “tragic.”

“As far as I’m concerned, they were given poor advice by their coach,” Toney said. “One of them probably would have advanced to the box-offs and would have had a chance to make the Olympic team. Why would anyone want to deny a kid that opportunity?”

Well, maybe because there is only so much benefit to slamming your head into on a brick wall before it dawns on you that it might be less painful to simply walk away.

“I thought Glenn beat the crap out of Viloria,” Dunkin recalled. “He beat him bad. He bloodied him, hurt him. That was just a terrible decision.

“And Nonito boxed the hell out of Viloria. But look where he wound up. I’m glad Viloria (who didn’t medal in Sydney) finally won a title (he claimed the IBF junior flyweight championship on an 11th-round stoppage of Ulises Solis on April 19 in Quezon City, the Philippines), but he’ll never be what Nonito is.”

Victims of the entrenched amateur boxing system – like Arthur Palac, a gangly southpaw from Michigan who jabbed Jeff Lacy silly at the 2000 Box-offs, only to lose a horrible computer decision – sometimes are so frustrated they walk away from the ring forever. By his own admission, Nonito Donaire also was on the verge of choosing life without boxing.

That he opted to stick around paid off in the long run, but his path to professional success hardly was without its early ruts and potholes. He was a little guy with no Olympic pedigree, and suitors for his and Glenn’s services did not exactly engage in a bidding war.

“I’m a purist,” Dunkin said. “When I see a guy who can really fight, I don’t care what weight he is, I fall in love with him. And Nonito can really fight.”

Nonito Donaire Sr., however, preferred Jackie Kallen’s pitch to Dunkin’s and his sons entered the pro ranks to the sound of Zzzzzzzzs, not cymbals. Nor would Top Rank founder Bob Arum back Dunkin’s play at first.

“When I first went to sell the brothers to Top Rank, I was told, `Well, if their name was Gomez or Lopez or Garcia …,” Dunkin said. “The implication was that Top Rank might have been interested had they been Mexican, but at that time there was no Filipino buzz at all.”

Which is to say, the Donaires entered the pro ranks before the world at large became aware of Manny Pacquiao and the global introduction of a fast-spreading condition known as “Pacmania.”

Pacquiao was still a seed that had yet to fully bloom when Nonito, then fighting under the promotional aegis of Gary Shaw, captured the IBF flyweight title on a fifth-round knockout of the favored Vic Darchinyan on July 7, 2007, in Bridgeport, Conn. The end came on as sweet a left hook as you’ll ever want to see, a short, compact parabola to the jaw that had Darchinyan going down like a submarine on a crash dive.

Who knew the jab-intensive teenager I first saw in Tampa packed that kind of pop?

“I have a complete collection of Alexis Arguello’s boxing videos, every one of his big fights,” Donaire said of his left-hooking role model. “That’s how I learned to throw a hook, by watching the way Alexis did it, while at the same time watching how he carried himself in and out of the ring. He was a true gentleman and that is how I try to behave at all times.”

Dunkin, by now Nonito’s manager, again offered the new champion to Top Rank, which took him on. Except that Arum and his minions didn’t quite realize what they had at first.

“After I brought the Donaires to Top Rank again, they were signed but they sat around for, like, 4½ months,” Dunkin said.

“At the press conference (to announce Nonito’s bout with Concepcion), Bob said, `When Cameron Dunkin brought me this guy, we knew right away he was going to be a star. We signed him immediately,’” Dunkin said. “I just stared. My blood started boiling. I brought Bob a world champion (ital) after (end ital) he knocked out Darchinyan. Gary Shaw is the one who built this kid up. But, you know, Bob has selective memory sometimes.”

Hey, you know what they say about all’s well that ends well. Pacquiao is the hottest growth property in boxing, and maybe the best fighter in any weight class. It’s now fashionable in boxing to be a Filipino or a Filipino-American. There is even a concerted effort to get that oldie-but-goodie, the deceased Bernard Docusen, onto the ballot for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Nonito Donaire doesn’t have to pretend to be Mexican, if indeed he ever did, to get the attention of his promoter.

“The last time I fought in the Philippines, against Raul Martinez, I didn’t expect so many people,” Nonito said. “There were 15,000 to 17,000 people who showed up. I was shocked by the amount of support that was given me.

“I always believed I would get my recognition. Even when I was supposed to be a steppingstone, taking fights against bigger guys or on short notice, I kept winning. A lot of people say I am where I am because I knocked out Darchinyan, but it was going to happen for me regardless. I truly believe that.”

Should he get past Concepcion – which is highly likely – Nonito figures to continue serving as Pacquiao’s wing man on a Filipino flight pattern that should take both ever higher. Dunkin already is anticipating big-money showdowns with Jorge Arce and WBO bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel.

“Bob says Nonito’s going to be the second coming of Pacquiao,” Dunkin said. “His popularity is scary. And as he keeps winning, it’s only going to get bigger and better.

“I think the best is still ahead for this kid. Look, I had Mark `Too Sharp’ Johnson, who was phenomenal. I put Nonito in a class with `Too Sharp,’ and that’s something I can’t say of most fighters in or around that weight class. But Nonito has a chance to be very special. That’s why I kept trying and trying and trying to sign him. It took years, but finally I got it done.”

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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