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Articles of 2002

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN –

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As of June 10, Golden Johnson was a free man – free, that is, from a promotional contract with Arthur Pelullo's Banner Promotions.

But there was a price to pay.

And that price just so happened to be Johnson's NABF welterweight title.

Why is that? Good question – not just for us, but for lawmakers who would aspire to write legislation protecting fighters' interests, as well as the United States Attorney's office, the entity that not only has the real authority in enforcing the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and Professional Boxer Safety Act, but also this country's anti-trust laws.

It seems Johnson, a Texan who currently sports a 22-5-2 record, had contacted Pelullo on May 23, expressing his intention not to re-sign a new promotional deal or any promotional extensions with Banner Promotions, and by sheer coincidence, later that very same day, his manager, Michael Davis, received a fax from Sam Macias, chairman of the championship committee for the North American Boxing Federation, indicating that he would be stripped of his title if he did not make arrangements to fight the highest available contender within 15 days.

Problem is, Johnson had fought the highest rated contender – at least the highest one that was available, Chantel Stanicel – in his last defense, which was on March 15, and had tried to put together a fight with the NABF's #1, Hercules Kyvelos, but according to Davis, “He won't fight Golden”.

Pelullo was not bending over backwards to arrange for another title defense for Johnson UNLESS he signed a new promotional agreement. And Davis says he was contacted by ESPN's Russell Peltz, regarded by many to be Pelullo's “unofficial” matchmaker, in an attempt to persuade him to sign the promotional deal.

There was good reason, I suppose, for that. While Pelullo was waiting for his answer, Davis says Johnson had been penciled in to fight on June 28 (this Friday) on ESPN2, against Chicago's Germaine Sanders. It was not a “mandatory” defense against the highest-rated contender, but instead an “optional” defense, one that indeed would have been allowed by the NABF.

In fact, let's put it this way – this story is being written and posted on June 26. As of today, the NABF's “newsletter”, which is online at (

http://www.nabfnews.com/Pages/News/news1.html

), was trumpeting Johnson's fight against Sanders –

“Welterweight – 147# – June 28, 2002

Santa Ana Star Casino, Santa Ana, NM

Bobby Hitz – Banner Promotions, ESPN2

Golden Johnson (22-5-2, 16 KO’s), Witchita Falls, TX, will do battle with Germaine Sanders (21-1, 15 KO’s), Chicago, IL. Johnson starched Chantel Stanciel with a booming overhand right to the head in the eleventh round of a very close fight to win the NABF welterweight title in March 2002. Sanders has never had a fight outside of Illinois but he did win the Illinois State welterweight championship in June 2001.”

This would indeed bear out exactly what Davis claimed – that the organization was perfectly content to allow the fight to happen as an “optional” for Johnson. And Johnson was listed as champion in its June ratings.

I guess it would be fair to say that Johnson would have been allowed to make an optional defense, as long as it was Pelullo who was promoting the fight – and the fighter.

But he is not.

And despite the fact that Johnson was willing to take the bout with Sanders, he found himself without a title – or a fight – when he declined to extend his business relationship with Pelullo.

Indeed, according to a press release issued on June 19 by Banner Promotions, as well as information on the ESPN website, the fight that will take place on Friday night in New Mexico is NOT a title defense for Johnson against Sanders, but a bout for the VACANT North American Boxing Federation welterweight crown between Sanders and Teddy Reid.

Reid is currently listed as the #5 contender in the NABF ratings, while Sanders sits at #8.

Questions

: * Why now is the #5 contender being allowed to fight the #8 contender for a VACANT title?

* What happened to the consideration that's supposed to be given to the “highest available contender”?

* What happened to Kyvelos, who is #1, Jose Luis Cruz, at #2, Cory Spinks at #3, and Stanicel, who in fact moved up after his loss to Johnson, at #4?

* Why is Reid fighting for a “vacant” title at welterweight, despite having lost his last fight to Ben Tackie on January 25, in an NABF title fight at a lower weight level – 140 pounds?

* How did Reid suddenly move into the NABF's welterweight ratings, ahead of a lot of other fighters, into the convenient #5 slot, despite not winning a fight since the Tackie loss and not having fought in the welterweight division?

The answer to these questions is all too obvious – Teddy Reid just happens to be under a promotional contract to Banner Promotions and Arthur Pelullo.

More questions

: * While we're at it, what is Germaine Sanders, who has never fought outside the state of Illinois, who has never registered a victory against a significant foe, and whose first 13 pro opponents had an aggregate record of 52-151-9, doing rated #8 by the NABF and fighting for the vacant championship?

* And why wouldn't sixth-rated Manuel Gomez, seventh-ranked Kermit Cintron, or any of the aforementioned contenders rated above Reid, have a more plausible argument for being involved in a bout for the NABF's vacant title?

These answers are obvious as well – Sanders' services belong to Pelullo's new “promotional partner”, Bobby Hitz, which means Banner has “options” on Sanders.

Of course, the NABF's position would be that the higher-rated, more deserving fighters were “not available” to compete for the vacant belt.

Which leads me to another question – if the NABF is going to use that as their “explanation”, WHY WASN'T THAT SAME EXPLANATION GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOLDEN JOHNSON?

By now, you know the answer to THAT question – if Johnson was not going to be under contract with Arthur Pelullo and Banner Promotions, nothing he was going to say or do was going to matter.

It's interesting to note that Johnson went one week short of an entire year WITHOUT defending the title he won on March 22 of 2001, and despite being healthy enough to fight two NON-TITLE bouts in the interim, was not forced to relinquish his title, as long as he was contractually tied to Pelullo. This flew in the face of NABF rules, namely Section 6-a, “MANDATORY DEFENSES”, which specifies:

“Within six (6) months after winning the championship, each FEDERATION champion shall be required to defend against the highest available contender, and must make a mandatory defense every six months from the anniversary of his winning the championship.”

These are the ratings, as they are currently listed for June by the NABF:

Welterweight

Champion: Golden Johnson, TX

WBC Champion: Vernon Forrest, USA

1 Hercules Kyvelos, CAN

2 Jose Luis Cruz, MEX

3 Cory Spinks, MO

4 Chantel Stanciel, MO

5 Teddie Reid, DC

6 Manuel Gomez, MEX

7 Kermit Cintron, PA

8 Germaine Sanders, IL

9 Nick Acevedo, NY

10 Luther Smith, VA

11 Oba Carr, MI

12 Jimmy Lange, VA

13 Johnny Molnar, NY

14 Jeff Resto, NY

15 Ian McKillop, CAN

16 Jeffrey Hill, FL

So now Johnson finds himself having been stripped, after defending his crown just three months ago, against a fighter (Stanicel) who, at this moment, is rated ahead of BOTH contestants who will be battling for the vacant championship on Friday!!!

Nice.

It would appear that the most important NABF rules are the ones that are NOT written – namely, that fighters can be stripped not only for failure to defend a title, but for failure to renew a promotional deal with Banner Promotions. Could the evidence possibly suggest anything else?

If there's any other explanation, we haven't received one from Sam Macias, chairman of the NABF championship committee, or Claude Jackson, president of the organization, neither of whom responded to our inquiries seeking comment.

Not that any of their explanations would pass the giggle test.

But there's a little thing called the Professional Boxer Safety Act, which, in Section 16, requires not only that sanctioning organizations publish criteria for the rating of boxers and make that information available to the public, but that boxers be offered a thorough explanation of the process, as well as “the rationale or basis for its rating” in the event of a dispute. The same information is required to be sent to the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions.

According to a letter we received from Davis on June 9, “Johnson plans to contact the Texas State Attorney Generals Office, the ABC and senator John McCain to look into the case”.

Let's hope so. We'll see who's giggling then.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

Rick Folstad

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Walk the dog, stroll through the park, have a picnic at the lake.
There are safer things for IBF cruiserweight champ Vassily Jirov to do this month than defend his title against James “Lights Out” Toney.
Barbecue, play softball, fish, visit the zoo. Thank his lucky stars.
Jirov, who lives in California, won’t be fighting Toney on HBO on Jan. 25.
Something to do with his insides.
Ask Toney why Jirov pulled out of their fight and he’ll tell you it was Jirov’s heart that let him down, his backbone that went soft, not his banged-up ribs. Ask Toney and he’ll tell you about heartbreak and lies and revenge and fighting anybody in the universe if it means another title. Jirov claims he suffered the damage while sparring. Maybe. But it’s the fourth time Jirov has found a reason not to fight Toney. How many times you got to be told to go home before you realize the guy doesn’t want to come outside and play? How many times you got to be bit by the same dog before you realize it wants to be left alone? Jirov has more excuses than a politician caught with a hooker on his lap.
In his own eloquent way, Toney recently described how disappointed he was in the cancellation of their title fight on the undercard of the Vernon Forrest – Ricardo Mayorga welterweight title fight.
“The @#%$%*&#@,’’ Toney said after learning of the postponement on Christmas Eve. “Jirov can @&%$#% and then he can @%$#@#$. He’s nothing but a #$%#@#.’’ That said, it doesn’t brighten up the New Year in the Toney household.
“I’m done with it,’’ said Toney, sounding like a guy who finally gets tried of being stood up by the same girl.
As of Dec. 30, there was still no word of an opponent for Toney, though he’s still making regular trips to the gym.
Merry Christmas, James. Have a Happy New Year.
“Bah, humbug,’’ said Toney’s promoter Dan Goossen. “We didn’t have much of a Christmas. I got the news on Christmas Eve. But you just have to bounce back.’’ Funny thing about fighters. Some make excuses, some fight through them. You get the feeling Toney could have cracked five ribs and his right tibia and still climbed into the ring against Jirov.
It raises a lot of questions. What’s Jirov got against fighting? After a busy 2001, he hasn’t fought since last February. How do you hold a title after you’ve gone into retirement? Just who is this guy and why does he like to hide? Is there really a Vassily Jirov out there, or is he a creation of the IBF, a shadowy figure who won the title and decided it was too big a risk to keep defending it? The bottom line is, Toney may be left with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands if they don’t find him another fight, though he knew better than to mark the date on his calendar in ink. There are no promises in boxing. When dealing with a guy like Jirov, all bets are off. But Toney can still hope. The name O’Neil Bell – the WBC’s No. 1 challenger – has been knocked around, and Toney said he doesn’t care what contender or champion he knocks out on Jan. 25. “#@#$%$#,’’ Toney said.
You can say that again.

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Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions

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A new year is upon us, which means it's time for new years resolutions. Yeah, never mind that most resolutions are broken, oh, around the third week of January; everybody still makes them.

Here are my resolutions that I'd make for some of the luminaries in the sport of boxing.

* Floyd Mayweather: No more excuses. Anyone else sick of listening to 'the Pretty Boy' whine about what ailments he came into the fight with? Whether it's his fragile hands, a bum shoulder or his squabbles with his promoter Bob Arum, he always has an alibi. Hey Floyd, nobody cares, you get paid plenty to perform and those that buy tickets don't care that you might have a hangnail; they want nothing but the best effort out of you.

Mayweather reminds me of former Los Angeles Dodger slugger Mike Marshall, who's second home seemed to be the disabled list. The bottom line is this guy is lucky to be a boxer where he only has to perform once every 6 months- he simply couldn't handle the rigors of an NBA, NFL or baseball season. Ask any athlete if they are ever 100-percent healthy after the first day of training camp or spring training and they'll laugh at you.

Injuries and ailments are a part of the job, overcoming them is what makes a true professional. Mayweather still hasn't grasped that concept.

* Jim Gray: Respect. I guess this little weasel is whom Aretha Franklin was talking about in her song. Think about it, have you ever seen a guy be so disrespectful to fighters in post-fight interviews like this guy. Don't even mention HBO's Larry Merchant- he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions like a true journalist and he's consistent. Gray looks at boxing as a secondary gig and looks down on boxers in general.

Don't believe me? Just compare and contrast his softball interviews that he does for NBC and the hatchet jobs he does on Showtime.

* Max Kellerman: No more over-hyping New York boxers. Look, I get along and respect Max, but when you look up the term 'East Coast Bias' in Webster's, his picture may be used as the definition of it. From Zab Judah to James Butler and to Tokumbo Olajide, he'll have you enshrined in Canastota if you come out of the Big Apple.

What's worse are the excuses he'll come up with for his New Yorkers when they fall on their faces. Max is great for boxing but he's gotta realize New York hasn't been a player on the boxing scene for at least 20 years.

* Crocodile: A new catchphrase. You know Crocodile, right? He was Mike Tyson's hype-man for all these years…the guy with the menacing shades and the army fatigues who used to scream, “GUERILLA WARFARE” at the top of his lungs over and over again.

I've heard that enough and it's about as played out as 'Whoop, there it is' and it's time he came up with a new one. All the great ones can add to their repertoire.

* HBO: Admit they acknowledge the titles. Stop being the Hypocritical Boxing Organization and just stop saying that you don't recognize these organizations. The latest example of their double-talk? Well, for years they dogged John Ruiz and his WBA title, suddenly Roy Jones challenges Ruiz and HBO is hyping this up as some sort of historic challenge of a light heavyweight trying to capture a heavyweight title.
Yeah, the same title they had basically trashed for years.

* Joe Cortez: No more over-officiating. His line is that,' He's firm but he's fair'. I'd argue about that the last couple of years but my biggest gripe with him is that he seems to make himself waaaaay too visible during fights and gets too involved. Nobody is there to watch him and he should just let the fighters fight.
Too often I see these fights with Cortez lose their flow as Cortez continually interrupts the action with his admonishments and warnings. Joe, take a step back and let us watch what we came to see.

* Don Turner: Stop living off of Holyfield-Tyson I- If you ever talk to this guy, he'll talk as though he invented boxing. And his big coup was co-training Evander Holyfield against Mike Tyson. 'The Real Deal' upset Tyson and suddenly Turner was being hailed as the new Chappie Blackburn and he became a media darling.

My question is this, did he suddenly teach Holyfield how to fight 35 fights into his career? Also, I contend that my mother and I could work Holyfield's corner and he would whip Tyson everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. And ask yourself this, when was the last time he was in the winning corner for a big fight?

* Newspaper writers: Start crediting the Internet. Ok, this is a sore subject with me, but too many times I've seen stories from the major newspaper scribes who amazingly have stories that are eerily similar to stories that I've read on the internet (or that I've written myself) and use quotes that I got in one-on-one interviews and they don't attribute their sources- the internet.

When I take quotes or info from a story I make a point to give credit where it's due. Now, I just wish these guys would do the same.

* Roy Jones: no more hip-hop entrances. Roy, you're a magnificently gifted prizefighter, you can also play just a bit of hoops, but your rhyming skills are that of Shaquille O'Neal. In other words, you're doing street nursery rhymes not Nas.

Please, oh please, stop embarrassing yourself and the sport with your cheesy as nacho's attempt to become a hip-hop performer. His last entrance/performance reminded me of one of those really bad Sir-Mix-Alot videos of the early 90's.

* Panama Lewis: an exit out of the game. You remember Lewis right, the guy who gave Aaron Pryor the mysterious white bottle before the 14th round of his bout against Alexis Arguello, which seemed to give 'the Hawk' a sudden burst of energy that enabled Pryor to brutally KO Arguello. Afterwards, Pryor would skip out on his post-fight drug test.

Then there was the fight with Luis Resto, where he would tamper with his gloves between rounds, and bearing the brunt of this tomfoolery was Billy Collins who's faced was turned into a bloody mess. Collins, in the aftermath of this brutality committed suicide. For this, Lewis was banned permanently from working a corner. But that doesn't mean that he can't go into the gym and train fighters and even attend fights.

The bottom line is simple, this man has no place in the game of boxing and boxing shouldn't tolerate him in any way.

* Cedric Kushner: no more gimmicks. This guy has tried everything from the disastrous 'ThunderBox' to one-day $100,000 heavyweight tournaments- and all have failed miserably.

He can put on a boxing version of 'Survivor' or 'Real World' if he wants but the reality is, boxing fans want good fights and interesting fighters, nothing more, nothing less.

Stop with the shenanigans and stop with the junk.

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Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003

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Hey, we can all dream, right? Isn't it our God-given right as boxing fans to think about fights that should happen – but often times don't?

And not just fights that have the highest profile or the biggest names – because sometimes those fights, like Lewis vs. Tyson – are nothing more than high-profile mismatches. I'm talking about fights that are evenly matched between the game's best and are the most intriguing inside the ring.

Here are some fights I'd pay to see in the upcoming year; full well knowing that most of these fights are pipe dreams as the business end of the sport would bog these fights down quickly. But hey, we can dream right?

* Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera: Name me another fighter that has never won a world title belt that is better than Marquez? You can't and this guys been ducked and dodged long enough. On February 1st he takes on Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF featherweight title and it says here that he should face one of the game's best known 126-pounders, either Morales or Barrera. Marquez is a master boxer with great counter-punching skills and his hand-speed would give either one of his Mexican compatriots fits. There are some in the industry who have been saying for a while that Marquez is already the game's premiere featherweight; I'm not inclined to disagree that strongly.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: With Barrera, not good, as Ricardo Maldonado sees no real upside in this match-up and would most likely take an easier fight on HBO for about the same amount of money he could make facing Marquez.

With Morales, the logistics are much less complicated. Both of them are promoted by Bob Arum and there is some talk that they could face each other in May if a Morales-Barrera III isn't made.

* Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones: Not only because it's a match-up of two of the very premiere fighters in the world, but Hopkins needs to resume his career with some meaningful fights and Jones should be fighting guys like 'the Executioner' instead of participating in novelty acts like his proposed bout with John Ruiz.

And don't think for one minute that this would be a blowout. Jones couldn't blowout a green Hopkins in 1993 and won't be able to do it now. Hopkins, unlike most of Jones' opponents, isn't in total awe of Pensacola's finest.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not good, Sharon and Arafat will find a common ground regarding the Middle East before these two proud and stubborn men find one in contract negotiations.

* Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vernon Forrest: For fans of pure boxing and strategy this is a fight that can't be missed. Both men have strong jabs and match-up well physically. 'The Golden Boy' has the better left hook and 'The Viper' has a more effective right hand. Between these two well-schooled boxers you can expect a tense and tight boxing match with subtle momentum swings round by round.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: For 2003, not very good because it looks like Oscar will be fighting once in the upcoming year – a September rematch against Shane Mosley – and Bob Arum has stated that Forrest simply brings nothing to the table promotionally. This can be interpreted as another way of saying that he's not Latin, too dangerous or just another black fighter who can't sell a ticket. The bottom line seems to be that unless Forrest raises his profile in the upcoming years, De La Hoya will be facing guys that make economic sense.

* Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu: This would be a face off of the sport's premier lightweight against the game's best jr. welterweight. 'The Pretty Boy' would bring speed, quickness and boxing ability to the dance. While Tszyu would bring a decided edge in strength, size and punching power. They say styles make fights and you have two contrasting ones here.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not likely. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Vlad Wharton who promotes Tszyu, is seemingly deathly afraid to take any risks with Tszyu, who's basically his cash cow. Secondly, Mayweather got a reality check from his two bouts with Jose Luis Castillo, who at 135 pounds was able to muscle him throughout their 24 rounds they fought in 2002. And Tszyu is faster, sharper and just as strong as Castillo. I'm not sure Mayweather is in any rush to make the move up to 140-pounds.

* Lennox Lewis vs. Wladimir Klitschko: The industry is always better off when there is action in the heavyweight division. So why even mess around by having Lewis take on 'the other' Klitschko or knock out Tyson again; getting right in there with the man most pundits are claiming is the heir to his throne in Wlad Klitschko?

The time is now, Lewis is getting up there in age and really doesn't have that much left in his gas tank anyway and it would be prudent for him to face Klitschko now before he gets any better. Remember, that's the tact they took in facing Michael Grant when they did – but it has to be noted that Klitschko is much better than Grant.

Lewis would have the advantages in experience and savvy, but for one of the few times in his career he would be facing a disadvantage in size and perhaps power. The two best big men on the planet squaring off, what else could you ask for?

CHANCES OF HAPPENING: Actually pretty good, since Lewis himself has stated his plans to take on both Klitschkos in between his rematch with Tyson. But with Don King now making a full court press to garner the services of Lewis, who knows what direction he goes to now.

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