Connect with us

Articles of 2010

MEMORIES WITH MLADINICH: Doug DeWitt

Published

on

The first time that Doug DeWitt was offered a movie role was 1987. Mickey Rourke asked him if he’d appear in “Homeboy,” a sleeper of a boxing film that was written and produced by Rourke, who also had the starring role as cowboy/boxer Johnny Walker.

DeWitt declined the role because he was in the midst of his sterling boxing career, which saw him square off against such championship caliber opponents as Thomas Hearns, Nigel Benn, James Toney, Matthew Hilton, Sumbu Kalambay and Milton McCrory.

“At the time I had a one track mind, and it was strictly boxing,” said DeWitt. “I loved boxing so much, and I was so passionate about it. The part I turned down wound up going to Iran Barkley.”

After retiring from boxing with a 33-8-5 (19 KOS) record in December 1992, Dewitt set his sights on an acting career. He reached out to Rourke, who set him up with an acting teacher and also gave him a small role in the 1996 film “Bullet,” which Rourke also wrote and starred in. The role enabled DeWitt to get a coveted Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card.

DeWitt has put the same dedication and commitment into acting that he did to boxing. Over the years he has appeared in small roles on the stage, television and in a few films, often playing a gangster or a cop.

Beginning on Thursday, February 4, his skills will be showcased on the stage in “The Cutting Den,” the fifth play to be written and produced by former New York State Athletic Commission Chairman Ron Scott Stevens. It is directed by Richard Caliban, and will run from February 4-21 at the Soho Playhouse in downtown Manhattan.

The play is set in a Brooklyn barber shop/bookie parlor during the first week of the Major League baseball season. According to the press release, “When debts go unpaid, sparks fly until the shop burns red.”   “Rehearsals are coming along great,” said the 48-year-old DeWitt, who plays a character named Eddie Armstrong. “It’s a lot of work, but I really enjoy it. I don’t mind the huge commitment.”

Preparing for the play has made DeWitt’s already busy schedule even more hectic. On a normal day he is up before dawn conducting fitness classes for scores of white collar clients. He then spends several hours at rehearsal before conducting more evening fitness classes. By the time he gets home, it is often too late to dote on his beloved three-year-old son Douglas.

DeWitt makes no bones about the fact that his greatest desire is to be a movie actor. When he first started taking acting classes, he would have expected to be much further along in his thespian career, but insists that all of the rejection he has experienced will not dissuade him.

“Some people have suggested I quit because of all the rejection,” said DeWitt. “There is so much of it in this business. But I don’t see it that way. I know I have talent, and I have the look to be a middle-aged character actor.”

DeWitt said that he was a very handsome young man, but his looks “got destroyed by boxing.”  In the early years of his pugilistic career, he took the advice of “imbeciles” and had the cartilage removed from his nose so he could breathe more effectively. The nose subsequently collapsed, which gave him the look of a boxer who took a lot more punches than he gave.

“I would have run through a wall for my boxing career, so it sounded like a good idea at the time,” said DeWitt, whose mother was Italian and whose father was German-Dutch.

“But the operation was a total waste of time and money,” he continued. “When the nose collapsed, it made it look like I had been a punching bag. The reality is I didn’t get hit that much throughout my career. A lot of guys got hit 10 times more than I did. My nose was horrifying, but if I had been hit as much as the nose made it look, I’d be brain dead right now. We wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

DeWitt was a lot better fighter than his record might indicate. In 1986 he traveled to Detroit, the hometown of the legendary Thomas Hearns, where he lost a 12 round decision that DeWitt still says was very winnable.

“Everything was stacked against me when I fought Hearns,” explained DeWitt. “Not only was he a superstar, he was one of the most feared fighters in the world. When I watch the fight with the volume off, I can’t believe how close it was. At the end of the fight, I swear I didn’t have a mark on me and he was all busted up. I should have gone for the gusto and opened up the few times I had him pinned on the ropes.”

When DeWitt turned pro, at the age of 18 in 1980, it was a tough time to be a middleweight, even for one as talented as he was. Boxing was booming in Atlantic City, where DeWitt quickly became an ESPN staple. He was also the top attraction at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, which was near his hometown of Yonkers, New York.

DeWitt battled a who’s who of up-and comers, top prospects, contenders and future title challengers. He won the ESPN middleweight championship against the favored Mike Tinley in 1984.

Had he not lost a decision to Robbie Sims, the half-brother of middleweight king Marvin Hagler, in August 1985, he was guaranteed a title shot against the reigning champ.

“I let everyone down, including myself,” said DeWitt. “I just wasn’t focused. I had a lot of personal stuff going on.”

His 1987 fight with the late Tony “The Fighting Postman” Thornton, who later challenged Roy Jones Jr. for the light heavyweight title, was an ESPN classic. The fight was initially ruled a draw after 12 rounds of breathtaking action, but DeWitt emerged victorious after a thrilling 13 round tie-breaker.

At the end of 1988, he traveled to Monaco, where he was stopped in seven rounds by WBA champion Sumbu Kalambay. In his next fight, however, he won the vacant WBO middleweight title when he avenged the earlier loss to Robbie Sims. He won a decision despite the fact that cuts incurred in that fight resulted in him needing 45 stitches.

In the first defense of the world title, in January 1990, DeWitt scored a sensational eleventh round stoppage of Matthew Hilton on the undercard of the George Foreman-Gerry Cooney pay-per-view extravaganza in Atlantic City. He still considers that victory one of the highlights of his career.

In his next defense, DeWitt was stopped by Nigel Benn in the eighth round. After a two-year layoff, he fought three times in 1992, but retired for good after being stopped by James Toney, a fight he said he was ill-prepared for and admits taking only for the money.

“I was shot by that time,” said DeWitt. “He was at the top of his game. I was sleepwalking through that fight before (trainer) Victor Valle stopped it (after the sixth round). Had we fought earlier in my career, I think I could have beaten him.”

Shortly after leaving the ring for good, DeWitt started taking acting classes, quickly developing a passion for performing before a different type of audience. He loved the way he was able to express himself, and calls acting “a study of human behavior, not just the reading of words.”

He also tried his hand at standup comedy, doing 29 shows in one year at such New York institutions as Caroline’s and the Gotham Comedy Club.

“That is more nerve-wracking than acting or boxing,” said DeWitt. “You’re one person on the stage, with no help from anyone. You have a 10 minute slot, and you have to make people laugh.”

DeWitt is proud of the fact that in every one of his acts, which were made up mostly of one-liners, he made the audiences laugh.

“If I hadn’t been lazy, and put my heart into comedy the way I have with theater and film, I think I would have been successful,” he said. “But acting is my passion, so that’s where I have put all of my energies.”

DeWitt was asked if he was experiencing any butterflies in the days before the opening of “The Cutting Den.”

“Not at all,” he responded. “I’ve worked hard at this craft, so it’s not very intimidating. I’m well-prepared. All I have to do is walk on stage, not miss my cues, and say my lines. Traveling alone to Detroit, to fight a legend like Hearns in his hometown, that’s pressure. This is easy compared to that.”

“The Cutting Den” will run from February 4-21.  The Soho Playhouse is located at 15 Vandam Street, New York, NY 10013, phone 212-691-1555. Tickets range from $30 to $55 and can be purchased by visiting www.sohoplayhouse.com.

Also check out: www.thecuttingdenoffbroadway.com and www.dougdewittboxing.com.

For more information, contact Donald Tremblay at 718-664-3405 or by e-mail at: dtremblay@earthlink.net.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

Published

on

30

Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

Comment on this article

Continue Reading

Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

Published

on

UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

Comment on this article

Continue Reading

Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

Published

on

PacquiaoClottey_Booth_6

As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

Comment on this article

Continue Reading

Trending