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No Charge for Champions at Brockton’s Shrine to Rocky and Marvelous Marvin

Jeffrey Freeman

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Rocky

An Italian joint is changing hands in the City of Champions, but this ain’t just any old restaurant, it’s the venerable George’s Cafe at 228 Belmont Street. At this famous Massachusetts eatery, established in 1937 by patriarch George Tartaglia, there are several decades worth of boxing history riveted to the walls in the form of photos, press clippings, and other signed memorabilia devoted to champions Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Each get their own shrine at George’s.

According to the Brockton Enterprise which reported the 2.4 million dollar transaction on Monday, January 7th, George’s will still be called George’s and will still serve the same classic menu items including veal parmigiana and pan style pizza. The seasoned waitstaff and kitchen employees will be retained, and most importantly to some people, the boxing stuff is staying put.

“They’re keeping all the photographs,” says 83-year-old Charlie Tartaglia of new group owner Hamilton Rodrigues’ nostalgic desire to buy more than just a hole in the wall for hungry people to eat. “They want it authentic. They want it Brockton,” Tartaglia told his hometown newspaper.

“But there is one thing I’m keeping,” Tartaglia told me. It’s a piece of authentic hand drawn boxing art, penned and signed by the greatest. “Muhammad Ali sat down with me in a booth,” he recalled. “And on a paper placemat he drew a boxing ring with two stick figures inside. He named them Ali and Frazier. He said, ‘I love Frazier, we made a lot of money together.’”

Why is Tartaglia selling his family owned and operated business? Having lost two of his children in the late 2000s and with his own health now failing, he knows the restaurant business is incredibly hard work. He’s not sure any of his eight grandchildren are up to the task of taking over.

Located exactly one mile from a massive twenty-two foot tall statue of Marciano on the grounds of nearby Brockton High School, George’s is a classy portal to the city’s rich boxing history. How would I describe it to somebody who’s never been there? Ever gone to Jimmy’s Corner in Times Square? It’s similar but much bigger with better food. It’s a lot like Graziano’s in Canastota, New York if the International Boxing Hall of Fame were situated in Brockton, Mass.

When they’re not serving Basilio sausage sandwiches to uninitiated locals, Graziano’s exists to honor the memory of Canastota’s two homegrown world champions Billy Backus and Carmen Basilio. The biggest difference between the two boxing themed restaurants is that Graziano’s has the IBHOF’s annual Induction Weekend festivities to help keep the business afloat.

There hasn’t been a world champion or even a very good contender from Brockton in a long time. It’s all about the Rocky statue now. It’s becoming quite a tourist attraction. A beautiful brick wall was recently constructed at its base, surrounding Marciano in a squared circle of red rocks that now includes a section commissioned in remembrance of Allie Colombo, Rocky’s trainer.

If you came to Brockton when ‘The Rock’ was unveiled in 2012 on the 60th anniversary of his 13th-round KO of Jersey Joe Walcott to win the title in Philadelphia, George’s was the go-to hot spot for those celebrating the life and times of boxing’s only undefeated heavyweight champion.

There was a fiesta in the boxing community that September 23rd with George’s walls of fame serving as inner sanctum. If you wanted to see a tipsy Larry Holmes singing his heart out into a silver spoon in praise of the 49-0 Marciano, George’s dimly lit dining room was the place to be.

I know because I was there. Holmes, a formerly fierce critic of Marciano’s accomplishments, acted as goodwill ambassador for boxing, earning respect and forgiveness from Brocktonians for his below the belt comments about Rocky.

As Holmes sipped red wine and dined on authentic Italian fare, all that hate melted away like so much pork fat. George’s is where Holmes made amends to the people he’d hurt with his words. All those memories are memorialized on the walls and in the stories told at the two bars.

Marciano, reigning heavyweight champion, was a regular customer during his time in Brockton though I know for a fact that he never had to pay for a meal. Rocky and his trainers used to analyze all his fights in the dining room over dinner: spaghetti and meatballs with orange soda.

When former heavyweight king Muhammad Ali came to the City of Champions in 1995, he famously visited George’s twice; dining with local politicians and meeting with eager fight fans hungry for his valuable autograph. Ali’s pilgrimage to the birthplace of the real Rocky remains one of the greatest events in Brockton sports history and a highlight of George’s VIP guest list.

Put it on your bucket list.

Nothing less than boxing royalty has passed through George’s doors and into their old world. You’ll love it. Newly elected boxing Hall of Famer Tony “Nardo” DeMarco, Vinny Pazienza, and Irish Micky Ward are just a few fighters from New England who’ve crossed the threshold.

One of the most interesting items on display inside is a boxing license application for Sugar Ray Robinson. It’s dated March 5, 1955. It’s signed by Robinson and features a note typed up by the Boston doctor who examined him with three images taken from Sugar Ray’s electrocardiogram.

Talk about the heart and soul of boxing.

Other notable guests at George’s include Willie Pep, Paul Pender, Kenny Norton, Riddick Bowe, James Toney, Emanuel Steward, Lou Duva, Don King, Teddy Atlas, Vito Antuofermo, Leon Spinks, and the late WBC President José Sulaimán who the Tartaglias credit for Rocky’s statue.

Without the WBC’s generous funding, there is no statue. “I’ve got a pizza named after José on the menu, double cheese and ham. He’s one of the nicest gentlemen I ever met,” says Tartaglia.

If Brockton ever gets around to erecting a tribute statue for its all-time great middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, rest assured the Marvelous One will make the long trip home from Italy where he’ll find George’s Cafe waiting for him—a time machine to his championship past.

Will that day ever come to pass?

The city doesn’t seem interested in paying for it and the WBC hasn’t offered to fund it. If Hagler wants a statue of his own, it sounds like he should consider paying for it himself. That’s what Tartaglia did when he recently put up a bronze plaque in honor of Hagler at Brockton’s Massasoit Community College. “Nobody ever did nothing for Marvin,” Charlie reminds me.

In a rapidly changing world where what’s old and white isn’t necessarily what’s loved anymore, George’s will remain an oasis of greatness devoted to the good old days of Brockton, Rocky and Marvin; the good old days of a proud city many no longer recognize. New owner Hamilton Rodrigues plans to modernize the establishment—but he promises not to change a thing.

“I’m not rocking the boat.”

I’ll raise a glass to that. Salud!

Boxing writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. He then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A new member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Tyson Fury Blasts Out Germany’s Tom Schwarz in Las Vegas

David A. Avila

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Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz

LAS VEGAS-In his first Las Vegas show Great Britain’s Tyson Fury showcased a neon light kind of performance with a second round knockout over Germany’s Tom Schwarz to retain the lineal heavyweight world championship on Saturday.

“I came to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hoped everyone enjoyed it,” Fury said.

Though facing an undefeated fighter like himself, Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) proved to Schwarz (24-1, 16 KOs) and the more than 9,000 fans at the MGM Grand there are elite levels in the prizefighting world with a quick, decisive knockout victory.

The heavyweight known as the “Gypsy King” had recently signed with Top Rank after giving a riveting and inspiring performance last December against WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. Both electrified the crowd in Los Angeles and around the world proving the heavyweight division is alive and well.

It had been decades since heavyweights had sparked interest outside of Europe. But Fury and Wilder’s performance proved exciting despite ending in a majority draw after 12 rounds.

On Saturday, Fury met Schwarz and in his first fight in Las Vegas and easily out-classed Schwarz with his ability to use distance, slip punches and basically hit the German fighter with ease, even as a southpaw.

“Key tonight was telling myself to use the jab, and slip to the side,” said Fury.

After a rather tepid first round Fury changed to a southpaw stance and invited Schwarz to try and hit him. In one flurry the German fired a six-punch combination and every blow was slipped by the smiling Fury. He then smoothly slipped around Schwarz and fired his own six punch combination and capped it with a right to the chin that dropped the German to his knees. Schwarz got up and was met with another dozen blows that forced referee Kenny Bayless to end the bludgeoning at 2:54 of the second round. Fury was declared the winner by technical knockout.

“I put on an extra 12 pounds. This time it was only a few months out of the ring and I’m back,” said Fury. “I came here a southpaw and I hoped everybody enjoyed it.”

When asked if a Wilder rematch was on tap Fury was effusive and declared that promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank assured it would be in September or October.

“I’ve never seen promoting like this,” said Fury. “God bless America.”

Once again the heavyweights seem to be the darling division with Fury, Wilder, Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua the leading heavyweights.

Mikaela

Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4 KOs) started slowly but once she figured out the awkward aggressiveness of Lizbeth Crespo (13-4, 3 KOs) she slipped into overdrive with the right cross and right uppercuts and rolled to victory by unanimous decision after 10 rounds. The former American Olympian retains the NABF super featherweight title.

For the first two rounds Crespo scored well with overhand rights and constant punching. Though Mayer scored with solid left jabs, she was countered by looping rights and lefts that caught the taller American fighter pulling out.

Adjustments were made and by the third round Mayer was staying close and using lethal right hands that boomed off Crespo’s head and body. After charging hard for two rounds those blows suddenly slowed down the Argentine’s attack.

Mayer took over after the third round and kept the momentum going with that lethal right and check left hook. Crespo tried but couldn’t solve the right of Mayer.

After 10 rounds the judges scored it 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 for Mayer.

“Crespo was a tough challenge, but I got through it and I’m ready to move on to bigger things,” said Mayer. “I am ready for a world title fight next. It’s time for the champions to step up and get in the ring with me.”

Other Bouts

Albert Bell (15-0, 5 KOs) proved a little too slick for Northern California’s Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12 KOs) and won the WBC Continental America’s super featherweight title by unanimous decision after 10 rounds. The scores were all 97-93 for Bell.

WBC International featherweight titlist Isaac Lowe (17-1-3, 6 KOs) won a boring unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Duarn Vue (14-2-2, 4 KOs) after 10 rounds. Lowe ran and ran some more with occasional pot shots but there were long stretches where it was more a track meet than a prize fight. It was like amateur boxing for 10 rounds. The scores were 98-92, 97-93 and 99-91 for Lowe.

Italian heavyweight Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (4-0, 4 KOs) showed off agility and power before knocking out Louisiana’s Keenan Hickman (6-4-1, 2 KOs). Vianello, who is trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, floored Hickman three times before the fight was stopped at 2:22 of the second round.

Germany’s Peter Kadiriv (4-0) had no problems with Houston’s southpaw heavyweight Juan Torres (3-2-1) and won every round with a steady lead right and occasional combinations. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Kadiriv.

Philadelphia’s Sonny Conto (3-0, 3 KOs) knocked out Youngstown, Ohio’s Daniel Infante (1-2) with an overhand right at 2:08 of the second round of their heavyweight confrontation. Conto had floored Infante earlier in the round with a seven-punch flurry.

Fight of the Night

In the final fight of the night super middleweights Cem Kelic (14-0, 9 KOs) and Martez McGregor (8-2, 6 KOs) electrified the small audience remaining in the crowd with a memorable slugfest.

Chicago’s McGregor started quick and floored Los Angeles-based Kelic in the first round with a right cross. That was only the beginning.

For the next seven rounds the two 168-pounders blasted each other with blows that would have taken out normal human beings. Both gave super human performances until Kelic connected with a left hook that staggered McGregor forcing referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight at 1:45 of the eighth and final round.

It was truly the best fight of the night.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Fast Results From Latvia: Mairis Briedis and the KO Doctor advance in the WBSS

Arne K. Lang

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Briedis vs Glowacki

The semifinal round of the Wold Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament played out today in Riga, Latvia, the hometown of Mairis Briedis who was matched against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki. Both fighters had only one blemish on their ledger and in both cases their lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

The fans left happily after Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) knocked out Glowacki (34-2) in the third frame. But it was messy fight that invites a lot of second-guessing and likely a challenge from the Glowacki camp.

After a feeling-out first round, Briedis cranked up the juice. An errant elbow landed behind Glowacki’s head, putting him on the canvas. For this discretion, Briedis was docked a point. A legitimate knockdown followed — Glowacki was hurt — and then another knockdown after the bell had sounded. The referee could not hear the bell in the din. It was a wild scene.

The fight was allowed to continue, but didn’t last much longer. Coming out for round three, Glowacki wasn’t right and Briedis pounced on him, scoring another knockdown, leading referee Robert Byrd to waive the fight off at the 27 second mark. It wasn’t Byrd’s finest hour.

The tournament organizers anticipated the complication of a draw and assigned extra judges to eliminate this possibility. They did not anticipate the complication of a “no-contest.” If the outcome isn’t overturned, Briedis, a former WBC cruiserweight champ, is the new WBO title-holder.

Dorticos-Tabiti

In the co-feature, Miami-based Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos, nicknamed the KO Doctor, lived up to his nickname with a smashing one punch knockout of previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti. The end for Tabiti came with no warning in round 10. An overhand right left him flat on his back, unconscious. Referee Eddie Claudio didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:33.

It was easy to build case for Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs). He was three inches taller than Tabiti, packed a harder punch, and had fought stronger opposition. But it was understood that Tabiti, now 17-1, had a more well-rounded game. Moreover, there were concerns about Dorticos’ defense and stamina.

Dorticos was ahead on the scorecards after nine frames. He rarely took a backward step and let his hands go more freely. And it didn’t help Tabiti’s cause that he was docked a point for holding in the sixth frame. Earlier in that round, an accidental clash of heads left Dorticos with a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician was called into the ring to examine it and let the bout continue.

With the victory, Dorticos became the IBF world cruiserweight champion and moved one step closer to acquiring the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy in what will be, win or lose, the most lucrative fight of his career.

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, CA

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Angel Ruiz

(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, CA – “Path to Glory” featured some of Southern California’s hottest prospects carving their image into the boxing world through the Thompson Boxing Promotions platform at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA Friday night.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Angel Ruiz (14-0, 11 KO) of Maywood, CA finished veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-13-1, 27 KO) from Los Mochis, Mexico with an impressive stoppage at 1:33 in the first round scheduled for eight.

At 21 years young, Ruiz (pictured) came into the night with four KO wins in his last four bouts and looking to continue his streak. A second-round body shot win over Gerald Avila (8-17-3) on May 10th and first round KO win against Roberto Almazan (8-9) just this year.

Ruiz was just getting started in the ring using his long distance and power punches to punish Zamudio.

Twenty seconds into the opening round, Ruiz’ mouthpiece went flying out and a timeout was called. Once the mouthpiece was placed back in, Ruiz administered a quick flurry of punches but with no exchange from Zamudio, referee Raul Caiz stepped in and stopped the main event fight.

After the fight interview Ruiz was asked about what he saw in the fight, “I see this guy. He wants to fight. He was trying to fight but I’m too hard. I got you.” Ruiz said. “I feel ready. I want to fight with the best.”

With 89 amateur bouts under his belt, although not signed with any promoters, Ruiz is verbally challenging Vergil Ortiz, “Vergil if you see this video, remember me”.

Brewart

In he co-main event, a six round junior middleweight bout, Richard “Cool Breeze” Brewart (6-0, 2 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a unanimous decision over Antonio “El Tigre” Duarte (2-1) of Tijuana, Mexico.

Brewart was coming into the fight looking like the faster, more technical fighter of the two. Duarte over-telegraphed all of his punches, allowing Brewart to use his overhand right and awesome agility to angle out of reach.

Even after Duarte checked Brewart on the chin with a strong punch, Brewart’s power punches always ended the rounds. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Brewart.

Other Bouts

A victorious unanimous decision at the end of a six-round toe-to- toe bantamweight fight was given to Mario “Mighty” Hernandez, (8-1-1, 3 KO) of Santa Cruz, CA over lefty Victor “Lobo” Trejo Garcia (16-11-1, 8 KO) from Mexico City, Mexico.

Continuous hard punches were exchanged from both brawlers starting at the bell of round one. Fans were excited after a flurry of punches and then a clear push from Hernandez sent Trejo to the floor at the end of round three, giving the crowd excitement for the coming rounds.

It deemed to be a bit of a challenge for both, as orthodox Hernandez managed to match southpaw Trejo’s overhand right punches with his own in response. After six rounds of continuous action two judges scored the bout 57-56 and one 59-54 for Hernandez.

In what would be an exciting and entertaining four-round heavyweight bout, Oscar Torrez (6-0, 3 KO) from Riverside, CA took on Allen Ruiz (0-2) of Ensenada, Mexico.

A surprising uppercut from Ruiz, in the beginning of round one, put Torrez on the canvas and every eye in the room were all fixated on both brawlers. The look in Torrez’ eyes were more calculated, as he was careful from then on.

Wild punches were being thrown from Ruiz without fear of repercussion, but then a quick liver shot from Torrez sent him to his knees. After a couple of seconds to adjust back into the bout, Ruiz was then checked again by left hook to the chin knocking out his mouthpiece. There were 20 seconds left in round two and the round ended with no mouthpiece.

Torrez showed he was stronger and the more technical fighter and finally ended the bout by KO with a right hook to Ruiz’s body at 1:08 in the third round.

Jose “Tito” Sanchez, a rising featherweight prospect with two knockouts in his first two fights and training under star trainer Joel Diaz, out of Indio, CA, took on veteran Pedro “Pedroito” Melo (17-20-2, 8 KO). Even with his low experience in the professional boxing world, Sanchez showed his maturity in the ring by controlling the fight when following Melo around the ring and landing clean left hooks and powerful body shots. After four rounds Sanchez won by 40-36 on all three cards.

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