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Articles of 2009

Andrew Golota: The Quitter That Won't Quit

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The question that needs to be answered is, other than quitting in just about every one of his major fights, what has 41-year-old Andrew Golota 41-7-1 (33) done to justify getting another big fight? It will be announced shortly that Golota will be fighting cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek 38-1 (26) sometime in early October. This is in no way an admonishment of Adamek. Tomasz is looking for a big money fight and there aren't many out there for him currently. Therefore I don't blame him a bit for making some easy money and keeping his name in the public eye. Fighters fight and Adamek is doing just that. Hopefully he'll have a short night and get rid of Golota once and for all.

How laughable is it that the Adamek-Golota bout is being referred to as the Ali-Frazier of Poland, regarding hype and anticipation. Both Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier have more courage in their pinkie finger than Golota does in his entire 240 pound plus body. Not to mention that they're closer to being a real fighter than is Andrew Golota. Had Golota fought with the same tenacity and determination as either Laila or Jacqui, with his physical skill-set, he very well may have captured a piece of the heavyweight title instead of being remembered for being an elite fighter who is most notable for a string of DQs and No Mas.'

Most Identified by lack of character and heart

Golota's march to four title shots officially began in July of 1996 when he was DQ'd in the seventh round for hitting Riddick Bowe with several illegal low blows during the fight. The bizarre ending and the melee that ensued after the fight set the stage for the rematch. Five months later Golota was DQ'd again for repeated low blows against Bowe in the ninth round of their sequel.

Golota's comedown for losing two consecutive fights by disqualification was a shot at the WBC heavyweight title, held by Lennox Lewis. On October 4, 1997, Lewis made the easiest defense of his title reign, knocking Golota out at 1:35 of the first round. In what became a pattern of outlandish excuses after a poor showing, Golota blamed the fact that he was given a shot of lidocaine for a supposed knee injury before the fight as the reason why he lost. Looking back now it's obvious that wasn't anything close to the reason. It was just the case of Golota's heart and chin failing him again in a big spot.

After getting shellacked by Lewis, Golota rebounded by winning six straight fights over the next two years. On November 20, 1999, he fought Michael Grant in Atlantic City. Golota had the unbeaten Grant down twice and almost out in the first round. Grant got up and fought on and floored Golota in round ten. Golota was up before the count of four and appeared steady on his feet. When referee Randy Neumann asked him if he wanted to continue, he said “No” twice, forcing Neumann to stop the fight. At the time of his surrender, Golota had the fight won on two of the three judges' scorecards with only two rounds remaining.

Instead of being fined or suspended, Golota fought Mike Tyson 11 months later, earning a million dollar payday. On October 20, 2000, at the Palace in Auburn Hills Michigan, Tyson dropped Golota with a flush right hand to the jaw with seconds remaining in the first round. At the end of the round Golota whispered to trainer Al Certo to stop the fight, but Certo wouldn't and Golota made it through the second.

Before the bell sounded for round three, Golota got up from his stool arguing with Certo. When referee Frank Garza tried to calm him sending him back to his corner, Golota said, “Please stop this fight.” Left with no choice, Garza waved the fight off with Certo pleading to Golota, “You're going to disgrace yourself.” Golota left the ring before the decision was announced, being pelted with beer and popcorn by outraged fans.

In his dressing he apologized to his fans, saying his biggest disappointment was that Garza, an inexperienced referee, was allowing Tyson to headbutt repeatedly in the fight. This came from a fighter who bit Samson Pou'ha on the shoulder in one fight and headbutted Danell Nicholson in another.

Because it was the second time that Golota abruptly quit in the middle of a fight, the Michigan commission held his purse and launched an investigation. When nothing wrong or suspicious turned up, they released his earnings. Later the fight was ruled a no-contest as a result of Tyson failing a drug test, for marijuana.

The day after the Tyson fight, Golota was diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone and a herniated disk between the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck. If those injuries were in fact legitimate, why didn't he mention that he thought he was injured when he wanted the fight stopped? Who can say for sure that he wasn't injured before the fight, giving him a parachute to land if things got too tough in the ring? The next day Terry Foster of the Detroit News wrote, “If he suffered these injuries, they must have come in the parking lot where irate fans found him. All I see is Golota fights only when the mood hits him, and refuses to fight when the heat hits him.”

Golota didn't fight for 34 months after quitting against Tyson. In late 2003 he returned to the ring and stopped Brian Nix (18-10) and Terrence Lewis (32-13-1). After posting only his second win in three years over two unranked heavyweights, Golota signed a promotional contract with Don King in mid-March of 2004. On April 17th, Golota was rewarded for his consecutive victories over the unranked Nix and Lewis with a title fight against IBF champ Chris Byrd.

For his fight with Byrd, Golota weighed in at 237 1/2 pounds, the second lightest he'd been for a fight in nine years. Byrd not being a knockout puncher, Golota fought well. The fight went the distance and Byrd retained the title when the fight ended in a draw. The bout was close and really could've gone to either fighter by a point, but Byrd out-worked Golota over the final three rounds to legitimize him keeping the title.

Once again boxing's most decorated loser was compensated for not winning. Seven months after failing to take the IBF title from Chris Byrd, Golota challenged John Ruiz for the WBA title. In his fight against Ruiz, Golota started strong and put Ruiz down twice in the second round. Ruiz was deducted a point for hitting on the break in round four and was on the verge of losing his title to Golota with eight rounds remaining in the bout.

Luckily for Ruiz, Golota failed to push himself with the fight on the line just as he failed to dig down within himself against Byrd. From rounds six through 12, Ruiz forced the action, bulling Golota around the ring. As Ruiz was doing all he could to pull the fight out, Golota fought not to lose or be embarrassed. The fight was hard to score as most fights involving Ruiz usually are. However, Ruiz deserved the nod and won a unanimous decision to retain the WBA title. Six months after losing to Ruiz in May of 2005, Lamon Brewster made the 1:35 it took Lennox Lewis to knock out Golota look like a long night in that it only took him 52 seconds to do it in what was Golota's last title shot.

Since losing to Brewster in 2005, Golota has fought four times, going 3-1. He's stopped journeymen Jeremy Bates and Kevin McBride and won a unanimous decision over Mike Mollo (19-1). In his last fight, back in November of 2008, Golota left the ring after his fight with Ray Austin (25-4-4) the way he usually does when his opponent fights back, a loser. After getting dropped once and pushed down once in the first round, Golota quit on his stool claiming his arm was injured. His reward for quitting in his last bout is participating in the biggest fight in the history of his native country, Poland. I can't even begin to speak about who that says the most about, but it ain't good, that I know.

Andrew Golota has been given more undeserved opportunities and high profile fights than any fighter I can think of. In between 1997 through 2005 Golota was given four title shots over a span of 16 fights. And three of them in consecutive fights. He's been knocked out or stopped three times in one round. If that weren't so tragic it would almost be comical. When I think of four-round fighters getting up time and time again for a couple hundred dollars, seeing Golota quit in his major fights while being paid sometimes millions of dollars makes me ill just thinking about it.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.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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