Connect with us

Featured Articles

Harold Lederman’s Distinctive Voice Has Been Stilled and Boxing is Poorer for It

Bernard Fernandez

Published

on

Harold Lederman

Not so very long ago, perpetually cheerful Harold Lederman, stricken with cancer and getting more and more ill every day, was asked if he could recall the last time he had gotten angry, as is sometimes the case with, you know, most normal people.

“Who knows?” the longtime “unofficial judge” of HBO Boxing responded in the same high-pitched, distinctive and enthusiastic voice that was just one of his distinguishing features. “There’s not enough time in life to get angry.”

There is, however, always time to be sad, and this is another of those occasions. Harold Lederman, boxing’s happiest proponent and one of its most sincerely nice ambassadors, was 79 when he passed away Saturday in hospice care in Rockland County, New York. His family was at his side, and it just stands to reason he left this life the way he lived it, as upbeat and positive as ever. Not even the ravaging disease that slowly and painfully moved him ever closer to the eternal 10-count that awaits everyone could strip him of his smile. And why should it have? Harold enjoyed the whole ride, and he was never more in his comfort zone than when he was at ringside, scoring fights as an official judge (he worked more than 100 world title bouts until his retirement in 1999) or an unofficial one for HBO, a labor of love that spanned from his hiring in 1986 to the premium-cable’s last fight telecast, on Dec. 8 of last year, over 1,000 fights in all. His worsening health prevented him from traveling toward the end, but he remained on the job off-site, determined to go the distance.

“It was one of the greatest privileges of my broadcasting career to work with Harold Lederman, whose unique humanity and lifelong love of boxing brought joy to the hearts of millions of fans, show after show after show,” Harold’s longtime broadcast partner, blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley, said in a prepared statement. “The world waited for his moments, they were thrilled by his insights, they gloried in imitating his voice. No one in the sport had more friends, because no one in the sport was more deserving of friends.

“As deeply saddened as I am by his passing, I am equally deeply joyful that he made it to the final bell on Dec. 8. Nothing was more important to the legacy of HBO Boxing, so in that we can take solace now that his scorecard is complete.”

Similar tributes poured in from Peter Nelson, executive vice president of HBO Sports, and one of Nelson’s predecessors at HBO, Lou DiBella, now a promoter. Even though the fight the beloved Lederman was waging was one he was destined to lose, that inevitability did not serve to soften the blow for his many admirers.

“I know Harold was suffering and I knew he was in hospice,” DiBella said. “Harold was truly one of a kind. He had no malice toward anyone in this world. No one loved boxing more than Harold Lederman. He was as loyal to boxing and to fighters as he was to his own family, and that was as loyal as can be.

“In a lot of ways, HBO Boxing is now dead, but nobody represented HBO Boxing better than Artie Curry (whose official title was manager of HBO Sports Talent Relations), may he rest in peace, and Harold Lederman. I’ve known Harold my whole 30 years in boxing. Any show that Harold could physically attend, when he was working in a pharmacy, he was there. Harold lived boxing, Harold loved boxing and Harold died boxing. He was one of a kind and there will never be another like him in boxing.”

That might be truer now than ever before. The Lederman brand of relentless optimism – about life, about boxing, about anything – was once shared by several marvelous individuals in the sport who had a special gift for making anyone who came into contact with them feel good. But one by one, those who shared Lederman’s passion for boxing, which also is populated by those with darker sides, have taken their leave. Legendary trainer Angelo Dundee was 90 when he passed away on Feb. 1, 2012; journalist and raconteur Bert Sugar was 75 when he died on March 25, 2012; Northern California promoter Don Chargin was 90 when he left us on Sept. 28, 2018, followed shortly thereafter by New York Times and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson, who was 88 when he passed on Oct. 4, 2018.

What all of the aforementioned shared, other than their professional acumen, was the ultimate tribute of being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lederman got his call to the hall in 2016, and during his four days in Canastota, N.Y., he seemed more like a little kid on Christmas morning who awakened to find every gift he ever wanted under the tree. Then again, Harold – his day job was as a pharmacist, but the Bronx native and Columbia University grad couldn’t possibly have been as satisfied filling prescriptions as he was chatting up fight fans – didn’t lack for validation in his other job, the one which made him famous. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 1997 and was twice honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America, receiving the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award in 2006 and the Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence in 2009.

Actually, Lederman made it a hat trick from the BWAA when, on May 11 of last year – ironically, exactly one year prior to his death – he received a special citation at the organization’s annual award dinner for being, well, Harold Lederman.

“Harold is the mayor at ringside of every fight he goes to,” Lampley said of his dear friend preceding that event. “Whether it’s in the United States or on foreign soil, Harold knows everybody and everybody knows Harold. He’s a global ambassador for boxing, and his enthusiasm for life is wonderful. Harold is ebullient about everything. He’s ebullient about what he ate for breakfast. That’s the glory of Harold.”

And if he wasn’t always crazy about breakfast, he likely wouldn’t have complained to his waiter in any case. My wife and I were privileged to be at the same table as Harold and his wife Eileen for the wedding of one of former BWAA president Jack Hirsch’s daughters. Harold’s unofficial scoring of the quality of the varied dessert items would have had any pastry chef beaming with pride.

“It’s unusual for someone who has been part of boxing for as long as Harold to maintain a wide-eyed enthusiasm for the sport,” another longtime broadcast partner, Larry Merchant, said prior to the BWAA awards dinner in 2018. “Harold has a wide-eyed enthusiasm for boxing that’s beyond compare. When we do a show at an arena away from the hotel we’re staying in, HBO arranges for a car to take us to the arena. Harold never goes with us. That’s because, without fail, he’s at the arena hours ahead of us, watching every preliminary fight, saying hello to every judge and shaking hands with virtually every fan in the arena.”

In addition to his wife Eileen, Harold Lederman is survived by daughters Julie and Iris. Julie followed in her father’s footsteps and also is a boxing judge who has drawn assignments to a number of big-time bouts.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

Looking at the Heavyweight Calendar (Odds Review)

Miguel Iturrate

Published

on

Joshua vs Ruiz

This past Saturday night saw Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title defense against Dominic Breazeale go down on Showtime. The fight lasted just 137 seconds as Wilder floored Breazeale with a cannonball of a right hand to end the night early.

With Wilder out of the way, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr is up next. They meet June 1st at Madison Square Garden. Two weeks later, on the 15th of June, ESPN+ will deliver Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz, so fight fans will get a look at all three members of the “Big Three” all in a month’s time.

Wilder’s erasure of Breazeale this past weekend sent a message to the rest of the division as well as giving him a highlight reel to show during upcoming negotiations. Wilder entered a strong -1000 favorite at the sportsbooks for this fight.

Check out our pre-fight review of the Wilder vs Breazeale odds right here at TSS –

http://tss.ib.tv/boxing/featured-articles/57588-wilder-vs-breazeale-odds-review

Looking forward, the odds posted for Joshua and Fury’s upcoming tussles are even less competitive. Let’s take a look at what the books are giving us as we await the two big Brits fighting in the USA.

Madison Square Garden – New York City – Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Andy Ruiz Jr +1500 Over 6½ +100

Anthony Joshua -3000 Under 6½ -130

Ruiz Jr is 32-1 overall with his lone loss coming at the hands of Joseph Parker in a failed WBO world title bid. That same WBO belt is now in the hands of Joshua as are the WBA and IBF belts.

Joshua was a big favorite over Jarrell Miller, his original opponent, who was denied a license in New York after testing positive for a buffet of steroids. Ruiz Jr took the fight with less than a full training camp, but you have to believe that he is going to come in highly motivated. Ruiz Jr has been caught at a different type of buffet, the all-you-can-eat kind, but even when in the best of shape his body type isn’t “poster boy material.” Miller was big and bulky as well, but he was a near 300 pounder whereas Ruiz Jr will come in between 250 and 260 pounds, which is right around Joshua’s size. Rather than slaying a 300-pound giant, he is facing a guy who is shorter and fatter than him, making it very hard for Joshua to look great on paper.

At +1500 will people bite on Ruiz Jr? He is more experienced than Miller and he is probably a better fighter overall and though he is facing a formidable champion, Joshua is not a finished product. Perhaps Joshua will be chasing an early finish, feeling the pressure of Wilder’s performance, and if so will he make a mistake that Ruiz can exploit? We are roughly 10 days from finding out.

MGM Grand Garden – Las Vegas, Nevada – Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Tom Schwarz +1800 Over 9½ -105

Tyson Fury -3600 Under 9½ -125

Tyson Fury closes out the run of top heavyweights with a very deliberately chosen showcase fight against Tom Schwarz. Schwarz is 24 years old and 24-0 but he is a fighter who has come up on the regional German scene and as the old boxing cliche goes, there are levels to this game.

Former contender David Haye mounted a 2016 comeback, booking fights against Mark De Mori (30-1-2) and Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0). It took Haye precisely 6:42 to dispose of both of them, and though Fury is a completely different beast than Haye, the level difference between he and Schwarz may be even as striking.

Wilder has gotten through his “challenge” and if Fury and Joshua also emerge as winners as expected, it will leave several open questions –

– Will Fury vs Wilder 2 happen first, or will Wilder vs Joshua go down first? Could Joshua and Fury meet and freeze Wilder out?

And….

– Will we see any of these fights take place in 2019?

If Joshua or Fury stumble, it will only add to the chaos in the heavyweight division. But if the professional oddsmakers know anything, it isn’t likely to happen.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Three Punch Combo: An Early Look at Inoue-Donaire and Under the Radar Fights

Matt Andrzejewski

Published

on

Inoue vs Donaire

THREE PUNCH COMBO — This past Saturday, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) punched his ticket to the bantamweight final in the World Boxing Super Series when he impressively knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight. The win sets up a showdown with veteran Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s) who punched his ticket to the final with an impressive knockout of Stephon Young last month.

As expected, Inoue has opened as a monstrous favorite in the betting markets. While this suggests a one-sided wipeout, I have some other thoughts.

Inoue is pound for pound one of, if not the, hardest puncher in the sport today and put that power on full display in his destruction of Rodriguez in the semi-finals. But having enormous power does not make him indestructible.

In watching that fight against Rodriguez, there were clearly flaws on display on the defensive side of Inoue’s game. For one, Inoue does not move his head at all and as such can be hit. Rodriguez landed several clean punches on Inoue in the first round. And Inoue frequently keeps his hands low looking to bait opponents into throwing to set up counter opportunities. It has worked so far but could be something he pays for down the road.

Donaire is a smart and skilled fighter and though he is 36, his last few fights have shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Moreover, he possesses one thunderous left hook and has always been at his best when fighting below 122. He has all the capabilities to expose Inoue’s flaws and a left hook that can alter the course of a fight as we have seen him doing plenty of times in the past.

Unlike a lot of people, I do not consider Donaire to be another layup for Inoue. There is real danger in this fight for Inoue if he does not make changes to his game. Donaire has starched big punching rising stars before and I would not discount his chances to expose the significant defensive flaws in Inoue’s game.

 Under The Radar Fight

Boxing returns to ESPN on Saturday with a card from Kissimmee, FL headlined by 130- pound champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 KO’s) who is making the second defense of his title against former US Olympian Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KO’s). While I think this should be an excellent fight, the co-feature, which is flying deep under the radar, should be even better.

In this fight, former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KO’s) makes his return to the ring after losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko in December to face Antonio Lozada (40-2-1, 34 KO’s). Given their respective styles, this fight at the very least will provide plenty of sustained action.

Appropriately nicknamed “The Sniper,” Pedraza at his best is a precision puncher. A boxer-puncher by trade, he uses subtle movement inside the ring to create angles that are used to land sharp power shots on his opposition. He is also a very good inside fighter and will shift around on the inside to once again set up just the right angle to land his power shots with maximum efficiency. But despite being a good inside fighter, Pedraza has a tendency to stay in the pocket a bit too long which leaves him open to getting hit.

Lozada is best known for his upset TKO win against one-time blue-chip prospect Felix Verdejo in March of 2018. However, he failed to build momentum off that win and is coming off a lackluster split draw his last time out to 12-7-1 journeyman Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez.

Lozada certainly does not have the technical proficiency of Pedraza. He is slow and plodding. But what he does bring to the table is relentless pressure combined with a high volume of punches. He will press forward, recklessly at times, winging punches consistently hoping to wear down his opposition through attrition.  As such, he tends to get hit a lot and can be involved in shootouts.

Cleary, Pedraza is the more skilled fighter, but given Lozada’s all-offensive mindset as well as Pedraza’s willingness to stay in the pocket, the leather is all but guaranteed to be flying from the opening bell. Neither are big punchers either so I suspect we see a fight that goes rounds providing many exciting exchanges and one that could certainly steal the show on Saturday.

Another Under The Radar Fight

Also on Saturday, Fox Sports 1 will televise a card from Biloxi, MS featuring a crossroads fight between former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO’s) and former US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO’s). But it is another 154-pound fight on the undercard that is receiving almost no coverage that I want to highlight. It pits Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KO’s) against Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KO’s).

Booker turned pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career and has kept up a fairly busy schedule. He is coming off a dominating 8-round unanimous decision over veteran Juan De Angel in January and now is taking a big jump up in his caliber of opposition in facing Omotoso.

Booker, a southpaw, likes to press forward behind a stinging right jab. He possesses elite level hand speed and likes to use that jab to set up quick power punching combinations. Booker is also an excellent counter puncher and possesses a very potent right hook coming from that southpaw stance. He will often hold his left low to bait his opponents into opening up to set up counter opportunities. However, he has also been clipped by his share of left hooks fighting in this manner and this is something he will need to tighten up against Omotoso. So just how will Booker respond to Omotoso’s pressure and heavy handed body attack? Depending on the answer, we will either see Booker step up to the next level or get exposed. And that’s what makes this fight so intriguing to me

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Serhii Bohachuk KOs Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez in Hollywood

David A. Avila

Published

on

in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk got his first taste of upper tier boxing from Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez and gave him his best Sunday punch to win by knockout.

Bohachuk (14-0, 14 KOs) showed the excited Hollywood crowd he’s more than ready for former world title challengers like Hernandez (34-11, 22 KOs) or maybe even the current contenders with an exuberant display of pressure fighting at the Avalon Theater.

The smiling Ukrainian fighter has been steadily attracting fans to the 360 Promotions fight cards.

Trained by Abel Sanchez, the lanky and pale Bohachuk – whose nickname “El Flaco” fits perfectly – always moved forward against Mexico City’s Hernandez who has made a reputation of being crafty despite the strength of competition. With Bohachuk constantly applying pressure the Mexican fighter used the first round to touch and feel his way around the Ukrainian bomber.

In the second round a sharp counter right floored Hernandez who quickly got up and resumed the contest. It looked like the end was near until Hernandez caught Bohachuk with a solid right cross. It was a warning shot well heeded by Bohachuk.

Both fighters exchanged vigorously in the third round with the Ukrainian fighter’s youth a definite advantage. Hernandez was able to display his fighting tools more effectively in the third round but could it be enough?

Bohachuk was clearly the heavier-handed fighter but was finding it difficult to connect solidly against the Mexican veteran. But in the fifth round Bohachuk lowered his gun sights and targeted the body with a left hook that dropped Hernandez.  The fight was stopped by referee Wayne Hedgepeth at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

A battle of super featherweights saw Rialto, California’s Adrian Corona (5-0) rally from behind to defeat Florida’s Canton Miller (3-3-1) by split decision after six rounds.

Corona had problems with Miller’s speed in the first two rounds and was unable to track the moving fighter’s direction. But in the third round Corona began to apply more aggressive measures against Miller and was especially effective with lead rights. The momentum changed quickly.

Miller switched from orthodox to southpaw and it served to pause Corona’s momentum, but he seldom scored with solid blows. Though Miller landed quick soft blows, Corona was landing with strong shots and convinced two of the three judges that he was the winner by 58-56 twice. A third judge saw Miller the victor by the same score 58-56.

“It’s not my job to judge the judges,” said Miller. “It’s my job to just fight.”

Corona was happy with the victory.

“I could have put the pressure on him a little more,” said Corona. “It was a very technical fight and he put on a great fight.”

Other Bouts

George Navarro (6-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Cesar Sustaita (3-5) with a perfect overhand right that disabled the senses and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 1:37 of the first round.

“I worked hard to prepare for this fight,” said Navarro.

A super bantamweight clash saw Humberto Rubalcava (10-1, 7 KOs) knock out Daniel Constantino (3-3-2) and win by knockout after a flurry of a dozen blows went unanswered. Referee Angel Mendez stopped the battering at 1:39 of the first round.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Trending