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Articles of 2009

MUST READ! Borges Wants HBO, Golden Boy To Do The Right Thing

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It is neither fair nor the way it should be but facts are facts. HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg is the only sheriff in town.

That is neither his job nor his television network’s role but it has been thrust upon them both by a sport that proved once again Saturday night it is not only incapable of governing itself but has no intention of governing itself.

If boxing is to survive as anything more than a fading niche joke more akin to wrestling than to HBO’s signature monthly show “Real Sports,’’ HBO and Greenburg are the only thing left that can save it and they must do it in the only way the sport understands – by closing their checkbook to the people who continue to perpetrate the kind of fraud that was committed on HBO’s customers Saturday night.

HBO has for many years not only called itself, but considered itself, “the Heart and Soul of Boxing.’’ It is their motto. Now it has the chance to prove if it’s also how it does its business.

The firestorm resulting from the fistic robbery perpetrated upon Paulie Malignaggi last weekend in Houston by a consortium that included the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; Dickie Cole, who runs the combat sports end of that department; his son, referee Laurence Cole; Golden Boy Promotions, who handles the affairs of former lightweight champion Juan Diaz and used its power to get every advantage it legally could; and judges Gale Van Hoy (aka Public Enemy No. 1), David Sutherland and Raul Caiz, Sr. (Public Enemy No. 1a) has by now been well aired all over the internet (which by the way is one of the few places where boxing is still talked about because in traditional journalistic venues it was long ago abandoned as a fraud, a joke and a sad parody of what the great sport used to be and still can be when not self-immolating).

In short, Malignaggi agreed to go to Diaz’ hometown but in the weeks leading up to the fight laid out all the ways he would be prevented from winning, including for once, naming names.

“They’re trying to make it impossible for me to win,’’ he said. “They’re doing everything to raise Juan’s hand before we even fight.’’

When the night came every one of Malignaggi’s accusations were realized, the worst of them being the scorecard of a 75-year-old man who was either incompetent or dishonest because there are no other explanations for Van Hoy’s 118-110 scorecard. For that matter, same was true of Sutherland’s 116-112, which was only topped by his even worse 11 rounds to one scoring of a close, close fight between journeyman Ishe Smith and Golden Boy fighter Danny Jacobs on the undercard.

Caiz, accused of being a “gofer’’ for Golden Boy by Malignaggi with ample past scoring evidence to justify the charge, scored it 115-113 for Diaz. One could at least make that argument although, frankly, from this corner it seemed a clear 115-113 the other way in a fight that while competitive was one whose outcome was obvious to any unbiased observer with an understanding of what the word “boxing’’ means.

That’s what Malignaggi did masterfully despite being put into as small a ring as legally allowable by Golden Boy so as to make his job as difficult as possible and forced to fight at a weight 1 1/2 pounds below the normal super lightweight limit of 140. One can argue that as Diaz’s promoter Golden Boy was simply doing its job to aid its fighter but the rest of them did the same when their job was to protect BOTH fighters not just the one with the powerful promoter who lived down the block.

Diaz is a plodding, come forward fighter who is a crowd pleaser. Malignaggi is a guy with no power who survives on athletic skill, guile and a big heart. He is an artist painting landscapes no longer understood nor much appreciated by many who claim to be boxing fans but are really brawling fans.

This is not to suggest any of the perpetrators committed a criminal offense. There is no evidence money changed hands. What they were partner to was a moral outrage that more than anything else is why boxing now resides in the cesspool of sports. People long ago grew tired of the kinds of things that went on in two of the three televised fights – which is one-sided refereeing, long a Cole hallmark when a Texas fighter is involved and for which he was suspended in 2006 after the Association of Boxing Commissions filed a complaint against his work with the Texas Ethics Commission, and unfair judging.

Another example of this was a night spent partially standing in the locker room of Micky Ward a few years ago as he waited to fight James Leija, a popular Texas fighter, in Leija’s hometown of San Antonio.

Cole refereed that night as well and when he came in to give pre-fight instructions must have said a dozen times “I don’t want to get involved.’’ As he left, Ward smiled sadly at me as I said, “We know one thing. He’s going to get involved.’’

Ward clearly opened what would become a bad cut over Leija’s right eye in the first round with an uppercut. Ray Charles could have confirmed it. So would Helen Keller. Laurence Cole, however, declared it an accidental head butt.

At the end of five rounds Leija was now bleeding profusely. The fight was stopped and they went to the scorecards. Lo and behold, two judges had Lieja ahead. Both were from Texas. One, Duane Ford of Nevada, had Ward leading 48-47. One of the Texan Two Steppers, Ray Hawkins, had it for Leija, 48-47. The other had Leija by a ridiculously wide margin, 49-46, meaning he thought Ward won only one round. That judge was Gale Van Hoy.

Van Hoy and Caiz called the Rocky Juarez-Chris John fight a draw when most observers firmly believed John won. Cole refereed that night and spent most of his time manhandling John rather than doing his job. Who promotes Juarez? Golden Boy Promotions. Where is Juarez from? Texas. When does a coincidence become a trend?

A LONG TIME AGO.

Draw your own conclusions about Cole, Caiz and Van Hoy. The larger issue is everyone in boxing knows you don’t get a fair shake in Texas in a big fight if you aren’t from Texas. This has gone on for years and there is only one thing HBO can do about it.

Announce it will no longer broadcast fights in Texas without neutral, out-of-state judges and a neutral referee.

Announce it will pay a bit more than usual for a Diaz-Malignaggi rematch with neutral officials with the fighters’ working in a 50-50 co-promotion.

Announce it will continue to monitor closely these kind of situations and base its buying of fights as much on how things run as the fight they’re getting because they are tired of having their customers, who are disgusted HBO viewers like myself, ending a good night of boxing unhappy that they wasted their time staying up late to watch an event whose outcome was determined before anyone ever got to the arena.

Greenburg agreed about the ridiculous nature of Van Hoy’s card, which even Diaz’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya called abysmal, and admitted the sport’s constant mismanagement has put HBO in a difficult situation. Clint Eastwood was in the same position in “High Plains Drifter’’ when as “The Stranger’’ he moseyed into the fictional Lago, Az. and became the law after the townspeople had their own sheriff murdered when he caught them double dealing and then had the perpetrators locked up to keep them silent but now feared the consequences because the jail cells in Yuma were set to open and release the aggrieved contract killers.

A difficult and uncomfortable situation, you see, is not an excuse for inaction, especially when you’re the only sheriff left.

“I’m watching it again now,’’ Greenburg said from his Manhattan office of the Malginaggi-Diaz fight. “The first seven, eight rounds were dead even. That 118-110 was on another planet. The difficulty is Diaz is a big draw in Texas and the economics for a promoter are that he can make a lot more money there. Having said that, I wouldn’t think too many opponents would go to Texas to fight Juan Diaz again after this.

“You can’t say no fighter can box in his hometown. The sport needs those big crowds and the electricity that comes from a packed house. But these kinds of things are terrible for the sport.

“They have to stop but a TV network is in a difficult spot. We become the go to organization when things are not going well because there is no one like (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell or (NBA commissioner) David Stern looking out for the sport and reacting to these things.

“It puts a television network in a very strange position because in some ways we are the only ones who can put pressure on because we finance a lot of this stuff. It’s easy to say HBO should do something but we can’t start regulating state commissions. We can’t do the kind of things Goodell and Stern can do.’’

True… but what they can do is make clear if Diaz wants to fight on HBO again it will be in a rematch with Malignaggi.

True… but they can make clear they will not buy another fight in the state of Texas without neutral officials.

True… but they can make clear they will no longer allow their money to knowingly finance a fraud upon their customers, one which in this case Malignaggi announced to the world and then had happen to him.

Inadvertently, HBO broadcaster Max Kellerman indicted the sport he makes a handsome living talking about after the fight when he told his audience the problem was “the marketplace.’’ There was no sense of outrage in his voice. He basically saying, “Get over it. This is what boxing is. A fraud.’’

“Let me preface this by saying everyone deserves a fair shake and there’s no excuse for a fighter not getting a fair shake under any circumstances,” Kellerman said.

“However, the marketplace spoke tonight. Paulie Malignaggi, it’s not as though he couldn’t have cultivated an ethnic following in New York. He has, to some degree – an Italian fighting out of New York City. But given his style, and his lack of punching power, he has not been able to cultivate the kind of following that Juan Diaz has been able to here in Houston with a Mexican and a Mexican-American fight crowd that really appreciates – and just fight fans generally – that really appreciate his style of fighting. The fact that every Juan Diaz fight is always exciting and so for that reason, Juan Diaz winds up with the powerful promoter and the hometown decision…possibly, if you consider this a hometown decision. So even though every fighter always deserves a fair shake, I think here the marketplace spoke and Juan Diaz gets the nod.”

What? So if the Yankees play the Kansas City Royals “THE YANKEES GET THE NOD.’’ If the Giants play the Jacksonville Jaguars “THE GIANTS GET THE NOD.’’ If the Lakers play the Indiana Pacers “THE LAKERS GET THE NOD.’’ That is insanity. It’s also condoning a fraud upon his own viewers.

That comment was as absurd as Gale Van Hoy’s scorecard but far more damning. If that’s the way the broadcasters view it, how is the rest of the world supposed to look at it?

Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy CEO and as fair-minded and reasonable a man as there is in boxing, did the best he could to defend Diaz while conceding the larger issue – that Van Hoy’s card and Kellerman’s comments exposed an ugly side to a sport that regularly contributes to its own demise.

He said he felt Diaz won a close fight and that much of the problem may be an educational one for officials but he quickly added that one of two things needed to happen.

“If HBO is interested in buying the fight I have no problem with a rematch,’’ he said from Los Angeles. “If they can fight someone else for more money they’ll probably take it but I am personally interested in putting some effort into coming up with a number that would satisfy Paulie and Juan.

“I thought Juan won but I can understand the outrage. I know how outraged Oscar was after the Trinidad fight and one of the Mosley fights. We’ve been in their shoes. I don’t know what the solution is but I really don’t think it helps the sport.

“You see this kind of thing from time to time and you’re right, at the end of the day nothing happens. I don’t look at what happened as some big conspiracy. I think it was one bad (score) card but other sports have a structure to deal with that. In boxing that is not the case so you end up with gossip journalism and it creates negative publicity that hurts the sport.

“Paulie Malignaggi deserves one of two things – a rematch with neutral officials or another big, high-visibility fight. That I think he deserves and I give you my word I’ll help him in that regard.’’

A rematch with Golden Boy and DiBella Entertainment as co-equal, co-promoters with neutral officials not Texas officials, a normal size ring not a phone booth and the weight at the 140-pound super lightweight limit (if you’re a super lightweight you’re a super lightweight Juan) can only be made if HBO insists upon it. That would allow the fight to be brought back to Houston, where the largest live gate is likely and the most money made.

It would give both fighters a chance to prove who’s best, could set up a possible big-money trilogy if the second fight is as good as the first and would announced the arrival of a new sheriff in boxing’s version of Lago, Arizona – Ross Greenburg and HBO.

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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