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Articles of 2009

MORE MAX: Kellerman Explains Postfight Skirmish With Floyd



Mostly because of Floyd Mayweather's virtuosic performance, and partly because Juan Manuel Marquez was in over his head wearing a lead life jacket, Saturday's pay per view boxing contest featured less drama–faaar less drama–than an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. That's not to equate it with reality show dreck–Floyd's skills, we saw, are intact, and his layoff did nothing to lessen his light as the premier pugilist currently practicing. I thought we'd see at least some competitive rounds, if for no other reason that Floyd tends to take long portions of rounds of as he scouts his man and assesses weakness, but that was not to be. It was not until the post-fight postmortem, with Floyd talking to HBO's Max Kellerman, that we saw Mayweather truly tested, and in fact, tagged.

If you didn't see the bout then, or flipped off the tube before Mayweather vs. Kellerman, here's what went down.

Max started off in complimentary fashion, asking, “Better than that, how?” after Floyd said that he could've performed better in the scrap. Then things took a turn. No surprise, as Mayweather had almost guaranteed things wouldn't go smoothly with the HBO announce crew when during fight week he publicly blasted Larry Merchant and Manny Steward as being clueless about boxing and an Uncle Tom, respectively, and then chose to not participate in sit-downs with the team prior to the bout. Mayweather thanked one sponsor, Reebok and “all the sponsors that sponsored the fight,” and Kellerman then tried to curtail a plugfest.

“Let's not do any commercials,” he said. Floyd said he had to, because “that's seven figures.”

The dynamic had shifted, from tainted to toxic, but the interview was still salvageable. And Kellerman tried. He asked about Mayweather's purchase of a weight advantage, the 11th hour contract switcheroo which saw Mayweather refuse to weigh in at the pre-arranged 144 or under limit and instead set a 146 pound limit for himself, in exchange for a settlement to Marquez, for $600,000. Lord knows, the question needed to be asked, as fight fans were abuzz about the weight issue which popped up the day before the fight, when Mayweather stepped on the scale, weighed 146 pounds, and we all wondered about the regulations for the fight, wondered if what we'd been told about a 144 pound catchweight was BS. Floyd didn't think so. “I'm not here to talk about money,” the boxer said, 60 seconds after he talked about money. “What about weight?” Kellerman asked, re-phrasing the query. The fighter offered a bland “I'm happy with the victory” and a shoutout to the fans. Then Kellerman's patience, seemingly, wore thinner. “It seems that you perceive questions like that as being negative when in fact we just really want to know. It was a spectacular performance,” Max said, “and people are curious about the weight, you don't want to address it all?”

“I'm here to talk about my victory, that's in the past, I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things,” Floyd said, and Max answered, “I'll take that as a no.” This may have been Floyd's breaking point. Kellerman veered towards the sarcastic there, and in no way can I blame him for that show of frustration, considering the state of the Mayweather/HBO production team relationship. The sparring continued, and then escalated, when Shane Mosley came into the ring. He was part of one of the promotional parties, Golden Boy, and thus had a reason for being present, if not injecting himself so forcefully into the proceedings. Mosley came towards Mayweather, and Floyd waved him closer. Floyd said that he'd let his management team figure out if it made sense to make a fight with Mosley. Mosley asked for a shot, and then his boy Bernard Hopkins, also part of the Golden Boy crew, chimed in. All parties were now bunched together, and Kellerman looked a tad nervous. For good reason–who knew if Floyd's pal Triple H would go all WWE on Hopkins, or a Riddick Bowe possemember would club someone with a cell phone? Max tried to play peacemaker, and brokered a handshake between Floyd and Shane. Floyd was clearly miffed that his spotlight was being stolen and jawed at Mosley not to disrespect him. Max tried to change the subject. A good move, one that works when you have a screaming two year old amid a meltdown, or squawking pugilists jockeying for position on a money train down the line. “Manny Pacquiao, I thought that would get your attention..,” Max began, to get Floyd's gaze off Mosley and Hopkins. It worked, and why wouldn't it; that's why Floyd took the Marquez fight, to offer a contrast to Pacquiao, who was life and death with Marquez twice. Kellerman started to go into that school of thought, and brought up the selection of Marquez as a foe. But Mayweather, perhaps still flustered because Mosley and Hopkins were in his space, took the microphone from Kellerman. “I'm going to do the talking because you do too much talking,” Mayweather said, irked. Max, not willing to get into a tug o war with the fighter, threw it back to Lampley.

At the time, I was disappointed. Why'd Max do it? Here, finally, after 12 rounds of technical wizardry but a severe lack of risk-taking and drama, was the collision we'd been promised. Two titans were trading, and just like that, the plug was pulled.

I took Max to task at the time, chiding him for cancelling the compelling faceoff prematurely. But the next day I realized I hadn't considered all the angles. What it, for instance, a producer was talking in Max's ear, telling him to wrap it up, because of time constraints. So I reached out to the announcer, and got his recollection of the fight after the fight, and his analysis of where things went awry, and why.

In a phoner, Kellerman offered his take.

When Mosley came over, and then Hopkins started talking, was when “I felt it started to get out of control,” he told TSS.

HBO was ready for such an eventuality, as Kellerman and producers were aware that with Floyd's fightweek barbs and refusal to step on HBO's unofficial scale, the fighter was not feeling a great deal of fondness for Team HBO. “There was a sensitivity to it getting out of control in the ring,” he allowed.

Kellerman, in talking to me, was surprisingly self-critical of his handling of the interview. “Floyd's perception is 'This guy won't let me talk' and on replay I can see what he means,” he said. “It's not like he wasn't justified.”

But, Max said, once Mayweather took the mike from him, he felt he had no choice but to push the auto-eject button. “What am I supposed to do? The announcer has to at least have the mike.”

In a different time, under a different circumstance, he said, perhaps he'd try and pull the mike back. But not then, with a rumble threatening to explode. “But Floyd was agitated, and watching the tape (the day after) I see his point,”Kellerman said.

So, then. What did Kellerman, who frankly–and refreshingly–presents himself as a work in progress, take from this butting-of-heads? He said he'll tighten up in his interviewing, not lob yes and no questions, ask shorter queries and help the fighter feel respected, a wise element considering they've just engaged in life or death combat for 36 minutes.

I've been a fan of Mayweather postfight, always really. He's typically humble, and gentlemanly. But on this night, the fans deserved to get some questions answered. Hell, they still do. Floyd hasn't sufficiently explained why he wanted/needed to weigh two pounds over the agreed-upon catchweight. If I had laid a bet down on the fight two weeks ago, I think I deserved to know why he bought those two pound, and when he decided he was going to get the contract amended. I think Max is bending over backwards to see his culpability in this skirmish, and I think he's taking too much blame. Floyd was non responsive and slippery from the start, and Max was well within his bounds to be more aggressive in his questioning. Mayweather fumbled on his handling of his rib injury, and his purchase of a poundage advantage, not to mention those problems with the IRS he denied to the heavens existed, which we know now did indeed exist. Advisor Leonard Ellerbe in no uncertain terms denied, as did Mayweather, that the fighter and the Taxman were beefing. “Floyd Mayweather does not have a problem with the IRS,” Ellerbe told the AP in July. “He doesn't owe the IRS $6.1 million … I don't (care) what a lien says. When you have a problem with them, you ain't hard to find — ask Wesley Snipes. You go to jail, they come take your (stuff). He doesn't have a problem.” Mayweather himself was adhering to that story last week. No one has been able to pin Mayweather down on these unanswered situations, and Kellerman was in the mode of hard-nosed journalist. It would've been easier to gloss over the weight issue, or frame the question in a softball fashion so Floyd could smack it out of the park, and in this day and age, we see too many examples of broadcasters going this route. Kellerman didn't. And I would have liked to see more of it.

LAST WORD ON MAYWEATHER WIN In retrospect, should we all have made more of Floyd's dismantling of the a boxer that was regarded as the third-best pugilist on the planet? It may well be that Mayweather is of such rarified talent, that he is too skilled for his opposition, and thus he makes it all look too easy, causing critics to overlook his true worth. Roy Jones at his apex also made it look so easy, and removed any element of drama from his bouts, so that it was easy to dismiss the validity of his foes. Of course, we will know more about this Mayweather win as we assess Marquez in his next outing. We'll know then if some of the  holes in JMM's game that some saw widening in his February bout against Juan Diaz made it that much easier for Mayweather to have his way with the Mexican from bell to bell.

Now, it must be mentioned that with Floyd's track record of signing on against foes with notable deficiencies in their game, rather than the acknowledged best and brightest of the day, lobbying for him as an all-time bright light is that much harder. Why didn't he seek out Kostya Tszyu, and Miguel Cotto when they were at or near their peak? Sure enough, he did take on Jose Luis Castillo at his peak, in April 2002, Floyd-as-an-alltime-great boosters will say, and we know how that went. Floyd won an ultra-controversial decision. Why, though, didn't he take on Hatton before the Hitman's marksmanship skills slipped? If Floyd truly believes in his heart that he is all that, why wasn't he throwing the gauntlet into the 147 pound ring, and challenging a “bigger” man, Antonio Margarito, in the midst of his ascent? Floyd and his team remind us now and again that they see the sport as a business, that pride is immaterial, that bragging rights are the stuff of a journeyman, not an artiste. All well and good. But could he not have made the moolah and spoke to his desired legacy by gloving up against the more-feared Margarito (someone who might press him in the way Castillo did) instead of the game but limited Baldomir? The Argentine was fortunate to meet and beat a distracted Zab Judah and playing-out-the-string Arturo Gatti, and burnish his reputation more than his talent really deserved, so Floyd's choice of him as an opponent wasn't as universally and vehemently derided as perhaps it could have been.

To kick back into the “Floyd doesn't get maybe as much credit as he deserves” gear, even if he had called out Shane Mosley in say 2006, and downed Mosley, he quite likely would have handled “Sugar” in such a fashion that people would have decided Mosley had declined decidedly from his peak.  And if Floyd had set upon Paul Williams before Williams was caught on an off night against Carlos Quintana, if Floyd had dissected LTP, wouldn't the default reaction have been, “Williams ain't all that?”

Still, if Floyd had sought out and taken down several of those fighters, he could more plausibly make his claim to rightful inclusion into the “Sugar Rays” pantheon. There is still time for him to seek out foes who will help him build his case as a legend destined to be remembered 50-75-100 years from now. Fight Mosley, then the Pacman/Cotto winner, then Paul Williams, and then hop up to middleweight, and call out the most celebrated 160 pounder. In the next 18 months. It's doable…if he wants to actually work towards shoring up his rep re: his status all-time among the majority of fight fans. Floyd fanatics think moving to 160 is asking too much? Really? Of a man who insists he should be a pound for pound top fiver, or better? A guy who walks around at 160? A guy who does actually have a helluva chin, that he ever has to really use it,  and could handle a middleweight punch? But I suspect that because he fights in a manner which ensures that his opponent has less than a handful of chances when he is out of position, and hittable, Mayweather will continue to fight  drama-free bouts, twice a year, one-sided affairs which leave the loser looking less competent than they actually are.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva



Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010



As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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Articles of 2009

A Very Special New Year's Day Column



It has been just over four months since Nick Charles, the play-by-play announcer for Shobox: The New Generation, was diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer and forced to take a medical hiatus from the monthly show that has aired since 2001.

Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.

If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.

“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”

As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.

Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.

While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.

Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”

His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”

“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”

That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.

“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”

Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.

“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”

Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.

“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.

While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.

“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”

Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.

“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”

Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.

Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.

“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”

He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.

“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”

More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.

“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”

In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.

By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.

I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”

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