Connect with us

Feature Articles

THE HAUSER CHRONICLES: Ernie Morales

Published

on

Will Walters sat on a chair in a backstage corridor at B.B. King’s Blues Club and Grill in New York. Three days earlier, the 34-year-old welterweight had flown to New York from California to serve as an opponent.

Walters had a 2-and-7 record as a professional fighter. In less than an hour, he’d enter the ring to face Peter Dobson, who was undefeated in four professional bouts.

There were eleven fights on the card, which meant that some fighters had been relegated to the corridor rather than sharing one of the small makeshift dressing rooms. It was hot and humid. The corridor had a concrete floor and cinderblock walls. There were no fans and little air circulation. Adding to the discomfort, a door alarm had been blaring for a half hour.

As Walters’ hands were being taped, a well-groomed 47-year-old man wearing a navy blue blazer, gray slacks, white shirt, and black tie (all perfectly pressed) watched intently.

Ernie Morales is an inspector for the New York State Athletic Commission. He’s 5-feet-9-inches tall, weighs 163 pounds, and over the years has completed fourteen New York City marathons with a best time of 3:42:42. “I’m not in boxing shape,” he says. “But I am in shape.”

Morales was born on the lower east side of Manhattan on August 2, 1967. “When I was growing up,” he recalls, “it was just my mother and me. She had me when she was nineteen years old, and I lived with her until I got married in 1992. I knew who my father was. My name is Ernest Morales III. But it wasn’t a strong relationship.”

Morales’s mother was a dental hygienist. “It was important to her that I grow up right,” he says. “And she put that belief in me. But the crack epidemic was in full bloom back then, and she went through several relationships where she got involved with intravenous drugs. She tried to keep it from me, but I knew. I made a promise to myself that I would never get caught in that cycle.”

When Morales was five years old, his mother enrolled him in the Boys Club of New York at 9th Street and Avenue A near Tompkins Square Park.

“I was in the gym a lot,” he says. “Then, when I was eight or nine, they opened a boxing program. I tried it, liked it, and stayed with it. I was an average fighter, nothing great. I had 74 amateur fights; won 50, lost 24, and had one knockout. That tells you I wasn’t much of a puncher. The knockout came at a small show in New Jersey. We got into an exchange, I was scoring pretty well, and the referee stopped it. I had a good jab and I could hit you with a solid straight right. The problem was, I might hurt you with the right but I didn’t have the power to finish.”

Morales reached the semi-finals of the New York City Golden Gloves twice. The first time was in the novice 118-pound division; the second, in the open division at 125 pounds. He was never counted out during his amateur years, but he was stopped three times.

“I didn’t have that much natural ability,” Ernie acknowledges. “But boxing was a great experience for me. It kept me away from the streets at a time in my life when a lot of the kids I was growing up with were getting in trouble. I learned about discipline and how to take care of my physical health. I don’t drink. I never did drugs. Boxing started me out right.”

Morales graduated from Chelsea Vocational High School in 1985. While in school, he ran cross-country and clocked a 4:32 mile.

And he had one professional fight. That came at age twenty-one against Rene Pellot (who was also making his pro debut) at Gleason’s Arena in Brooklyn on May 26, 1989. There’s a back story on that one.

“Pellot was well-conditioned and tough with a body like Adonis,” Ernie remembers. “A year or two before, there had been an amateur show when they wanted to match us and I chickened out. I wouldn’t fight him. When it was time to turn pro, Bruce Silverglade (who was promoting the card) gave my trainer, Juan Rivera, five names and said we could choose the opponent. Juan told me ‘you choose.’ Pellot’s name was on the list. I said to myself, ‘If I don’t face my fear now, I’ll never get past it.’ So I chose Pellot. He came right at me like I knew he would. And I got cut from a head butt in the second round. But I outboxed him and won a unanimous decision.”

Meanwhile, Morales had taken the New York City Police Department qualifying examination. “I’d known from the time I was twelve years old that I wanted to be a police officer,” he says.

In mid-1989, Morales was called for duty. Trainees at the Police Academy and in the period immediately after graduation are on probation. During that time, they cannot have outside employment. Professional boxing was considered outside employment. That marked the end of Ernie’s ring career.

New York State Athletic Commission inspectors work on a per diem basis and have a variety of “day jobs.” Morales has one of the NYSAC’s more interesting resumes.

His first assignment with the NYPD was in the 25th Precinct in Harlem, initially in community policing and then in plainclothes Anticrime. That was followed by a four-year stint as an undercover officer in the Manhattan North Narcotics unit.

“I was buying drugs in Washington Heights, which was the cocaine capital of America,” Ernie recalls. “There were times when I was nervous. But I brought the same mentality to it that I brought to boxing. If you lose that nervous edge, you’re going to get hurt.”

Morales was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and spent much of the next three years in the 47th Precinct in the Bronx on a plainclothes Anticrime detail. Then he was drafted into Internal Affairs (an independent unit that investigates alleged misconduct by police officers).

“I didn’t ask for that assignment,” Ernie says. “I was told that was what I was going to do next.”

After one year with Internal Affairs, Morales was promoted to lieutenant and sent to the 44th Precinct in the Bronx. In 2002, he was selected to attend a three-month advanced training program in law enforcement at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Then he was assigned to the Bronx narcotics unit as a supervising lieutenant, a role he filled for nine years. He was promoted to captain on October 31, 2011, and transferred to the 34th Precinct in Manhattan, where he served as executive officer (#2 in the chain of command behind the precinct’s ranking officer). A similar assignment in the 32nd Precinct in Harlem followed.

Then, on August 18, 2014, Morales was appointed to his present position: Commanding Officer of Transit District 12 in the Bronx. The district covers eight precincts and forty-two subway stations. “Over a half million people pass through those stations each day,” he notes. “We have to make sure they’re safe.”

In twenty-five years with the NYPD, Morales has never fired his gun in the line of duty. Fourteen of his years on the force have been devoted to fighting drugs.

“Every promotion I’ve gotten,” he says “has felt to me like winning a world title fight.”

Morales’s work as an inspector with the New York State Athletic Commission flowed naturally from his love of boxing.

“I used to go to shows from time to time,” Ernie recounts. “Then I met [former NYSAC chief inspector] Felix Figueroa, who told me about the commission and asked if I wanted to get involved. The idea appealed to me. I was at Madison Square Garden as a fan when Billy Collins fought Luis Resto [on June 18, 1983, the night that trainer Panama Lewis removed padding from Resto’s gloves in the dressing room prior to the fight]. That night, a man’s life was ruined because of a cheater.”

Morales was hired as an inspector on August 4, 2008. On fight night, he arrives at the venue two hours before the first bout. As a general rule, he’s assigned to monitor one or two fighters. In the dressing room, he introduces himself to each fighter that he has been assigned to cover and also to the fighter’s seconds. During the next few hours, he supervises the gathering of urine samples, wrapping of hands, and gloving up, in addition to making certain that myriad commission rules are followed.

“I try to keep a calm environment,” Morales says. “I explain the rules to the fighter and his seconds and tell them how they’re expected to conduct themselves. One of the commission’s responsibilities is to make sure that, within the rules, the playing field is as level as possible. My job as an inspector is to help implement that policy. If something doesn’t look right – a gauze pad, a medication, whatever it is – I don’t just say ‘no’ and give it back to them. I hold onto it until after the show and then decide with the chief inspector what to do with it.”

In performing his task, Morales is firm but non-confrontational. He does his best to treat every fighter equally, The fact that he’s bilingual is a plus.

When the fighter leaves for the ring, Morales goes with him. In the corner, he watches to ensure that adherence to the commission rules continues. Also, during the bout, he’s a link in the chain of safety for a fighter. A good inspector knows when to signal to the referee that a fighter might be laboring between rounds or to suggest to the ring doctor that the fighter needs a closer look.

“I find it all very rewarding,” Ernie says. “It’s service-oriented and allows me to remain part of the sport I love. Felix was my first mentor. The other person who taught me a lot was [current NYSAC chief inspector] George Ward. George has a lot of experience and he’s generous in sharing it. I learned a lot by watching how George does his job.”

“Iron Will” Walters vs. “Pistol Pete” Dobson wasn’t much of a fight. Walters holds his left hand low and, to make matters worse, brings it back slowly when he jabs. That made him a sitting duck for chopping right hands that Dobson landed throughout the contest. Referee Harvey Dock mercifully stopped the bout with Walters still on his feet at 1:33 of the third round.

Morales sat with Walters in the corridor afterward.

“It’s embarrassing,” the fighter said.

“Don’t say that,” Morales told him. “To step in the ring like you just did is never embarrassing. Very few people have the courage and skill to do what you did tonight.”

“Thanks for the kind words, man. I appreciate them.”

There were six more fights on the card. Dobson-Walters was now history.

“I’ve lived in a lot of places,” Walters said, ruminating on his life. “Moved around a lot when I was a kid. My last job was as a server in a restaurant. Right now, boxing is all I do, but it’s a dirty gig. I loved boxing when I was an amateur. The whole community of fight people seemed special to me. But the way they match people up in the pros; I understand it from a business point of view. But in a perfect world, I’d be more evenly matched.”

“Probably, I’ll have a few more fights. Then I’d like to do something else. My dream would be to be a fireman. Firemen are the real heroes, but those jobs are hard to get. Maybe I could be a paramedic or something like that where I’m helping people.”

Walters’ purse for fighting Dobson was three thousand dollars. He’d traveled alone to New York and picked up two corner men at the last minute. Richard Schwartz would get a hundred dollars for serving as chief second; cutman George Mitchell, twenty-five.

“I’m bummed out that things happened the way they did tonight,” Walters continued. “But that’s the story of my life. I always seem to come up short, even if it’s just by a little bit. I run marathons sometimes. My goal is to break three hours. My best time so far is three hours and twelve seconds. Think about that. If I’d run each mile a half second faster, I’d have broke three hours.”

“I wanted to go the distance tonight. That way, maybe my next fight would be eight rounds instead of six. They pay more for eight-round fights. But what happened happened. It would be cool if Dobson becomes a great fighter some day. Then I could say I fought him way back when.”

On that note, Walters’ mood brightened a bit.

“I like fighting in New York,” he said. “The pay is pretty good and they pay your medical expenses. If I need another MRI, I’ll try for another fight in New York. And I liked the inspector. He’s a nice guy. He knows what he’s doing and where the fighters are coming from.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – Thomas Hauser on Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

Feature Articles

AJ Needs to Look Good Against Povetkin, but the Russian Won’t be a Free Ride

Published

on

Golovkin broadcast

During the Canelo-Golovkin broadcast last weekend, it was mentioned that the two biggest star fighters in boxing were Canelo Alvarez and WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua. Canelo, the newly crowned middleweight champion, was in need of a signature win over a marque opponent to strengthen his claim and Joshua is in the same position heading into his title defense against former WBA title holder Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium Saturday night.

This time last year, being roughly two months out from his title defense against Carlos Takam, Joshua, 28, was the perceived alpha fighter in the heavyweight division. AJ had won all his fights by knockout and, other than a Wladimir Klitschko right hand that dropped him in the sixth round, looked as if he were a sure thing to be the future of the division. But then he looked average stopping Takam, a late replacement for Kubrat Pulev. Joshua cut Takam, dropped him in the fourth round and stopped him in the 10th, but the stoppage was a little bit of a quick hook in the eyes of most observers and it dulled the win.

Five months later Joshua fought undefeated WBO titlist Joseph Parker. Three weeks prior to this fight, Joshua rival and WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder, after nearly being stopped in the seventh round, knocked out the most avoided fighter in the division in Luis Ortiz to score the signature win of his career. So the pressure was on Joshua to win impressively.

Unknown to anyone, Parker showed up only interested in becoming the first fighter Joshua couldn’t stop. And AJ didn’t endear himself to any newly conformed fans when he fought with little urgency, content to win a lopsided decision. Relying almost exclusively on his jab, he made no real attempt to get Parker out of there. Compounding the shrinking perception of AJ, Takam, in his next bout, was beaten more definitively by Dereck Chisora than he was by Joshua.

When you take into account that Wilder scored an impressive KO in his last fight over the most formidable opponent he’s fought and Joshua only scored one knockdown in his last two fights combined, it’s easy to glean why Wilder has narrowed the gap regarding the public perception of them. What’s been missed about Joshua’s last two bouts, however, is that he was utterly dominant. It’s hard to find three rounds he lost of the 22 he was in the ring. But yet, the thing that is most remembered is that AJ didn’t look like the doctor of destruction that his physicality and ring record projected him as being.

When an elite fighter like Anthony Joshua is seen as being a knockout artist and then goes a few fights in a row without delivering a memorable KO, critics and fans begin to find things about their game that are suddenly alarming. And that’s why it’s imperative for Joshua not just to beat Povetkin; he must become the first fighter to stop him. That will get the attention of the right people and at the same time gain back some of the cachet he ceded to Wilder since March of this year.

According to The Ring magazine’s latest ratings…the top six heavyweights, in order, are Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker. So of those ranked 3-6, Povetkin is the only one who hasn’t yet faced Joshua or Wilder. Many well-known observers who cover boxing also see Povetkin 34-1 (24) as the third best fighter in the division. In fact, the new narrative regarding this fight is that Povetkin is really dangerous. With his power, extensive experience and toughness, he’s not an automatic win or free ride for AJ this weekend.

Yes, that’s what they’re saying before they get into the ring – so let’s remember that after the bout, because if Joshua 21-0 (20) looks impressive and stops Povetkin, we’ll more than likely hear how Povetkin was washed up, having turned 39 earlier this month and having lost to the best fighter he ever touched gloves with in Wladimir Klitschko. In one night, Povetkin will go from being a real test for Joshua to an old man who couldn’t beat anybody in the top 10. Conversely, if Povetkin goes the distance and is competitive with Joshua, then, in a knee-jerk reaction and overstatement, many will label AJ a fraud and a sure loser when he faces Wilder.

The reality is a stoppage win by Joshua will be impressive because Povetkin has never been close to being stopped. Even after going down four times against Klitschko he never looked as if he wanted out and Wladimir was a single shot bigger banger than Joshua is with either hand (with the difference being Joshua gets off more freely and puts his punches together in combination, opposed to Klitschko who force-fed his opponents one-twos. Also, Joshua is quicker handed than Klitschko and that should enable him to land some big shots in succession on the presumably attacking Povetkin).

Povetkin most likely needs to be inside against Joshua. There’s only two ways to do it, either by pressing AJ or moving away and timing him, and the method he chooses will illustrate just how much AJ’s power is or isn’t too much for him to chance moving in on. If Povetkin pulls a Parker and the fight goes the distance, Joshua shouldn’t be excoriated because it’s hard to stop a fighter who is only looking to survive. At the same time Joshua will have to let his hands go and fight with more urgency and passion than he showed against Parker, because if he doesn’t that will raise my red flag.

When Joshua crashed the top-10 heavyweight rankings I thought, having watched him closely, that he had the potential of former champ Lennox Lewis. That hasn’t changed, but I’m beginning to see Lewis as being more of a natural fighter and AJ as the better athlete. On paper it’s close when comparing them, but Lewis, especially under the late Emanuel Steward, kept improving whereas Joshua, after looking so good and well-rounded stopping Klitschko, seems to have plateaued.

Alexander Povetkin is AJ’s twenty-second bout. In Lennox Lewis’s twenty-second bout, he fought Donovan “Razor” Ruddock.

Ruddock (27-3-1) was a 6’3”, 231-pound, well-built fighter with power in his left hand but limited skills. Povetkin is 6’2” and weighed in at 229 for his last bout. Ruddock’s left-hook/uppercut was probably a bigger single shot than anything in Povetkin’s arsenal but that’s about the only check Razor gets in his column over Povetkin. The Russian fighter has a much higher boxing IQ than Ruddock and is the more technically sound fighter with better structure and form.

Lewis destroyed Ruddock in two rounds in what was the signature performance of his career at the time. Joshua has already delivered a signature performance, his stoppage of Klitschko after knocking him down three times, but critics and fans have short memories so Joshua needs to deliver another eye opening performance. As was the case for Ruddock when he fought Lewis, Povetkin looks made to order for AJ to look good against. However, Povetkin, unlike Ruddock before he confronted Lewis, has never been stopped and is known for his durability and ruggedness.

Joshua says he is motivated for Povetkin and isn’t looking past him. He says he fears losing, and I don’t need him to confirm he has a gigantic ego and cannot be happy about some of the pageantry and attention that Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury have stolen from him. As for Povetkin, this is no doubt his last title shot and he certainly knows this is the fight he needs to put everything together…which should translate into him coming to win which means he’s going to fight instead of hoping for pats on the back for showing up. And if Povetkin comes to fight, Joshua should get some great opportunities to shine and post another signature win.

This is the ideal fight and opponent for AJ to show just what he has and to stay on the same trajectory that Lennox Lewis did after stopping Razor Ruddock.

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Feature Articles

Avila Perspective, Chapter 15: Las Vegas Boxing Journal

Usually the world of boxing has two massive fight weekends, but this year it was down to one. All of that pent-up energy had to be released

Published

on

Usually the world of boxing has two massive fight weekends, but this year it was down to one. All of that pent-up energy had to be released and this past weekend, for Mexican Independence Day, it all came pouring out.

Las Vegas was my destination once again.

In the last four years the Nevada gambling capital has seen fewer and fewer boxing cards as other destinations like New York, Texas and California have gobbled up fight dates. What used to be almost a monthly journey has been whittled down to twice a year.

When it comes to staging a mega event, you just can’t beat Las Vegas. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez meeting Gennady “GGG” Golovkin for the second time definitely qualifies.

I was supposed to drive up Thursday morning with photographer Al Applerose but we could not coordinate our schedules. It was important to leave early to reach the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where the Golden Boy Promotions card featuring Maricela Cornejo versus Franchon Crews for a world title was being held. Starting time for the fight card was 2 p.m. because of ESPN.

By the time I checked into my hotel and drove over to the Hard Rock, it was already 3 p.m. Surprisingly, a decent crowd was there mostly to see Cornejo vs. Crews. ESPN televised the event and despite the early start time fans and celebrities were in the house.

It had been 14 years since that network had televised a female world championship bout. I remember because I saw that fight in 2004 and it was a doozy.

Finally, another female world title fight and it was great to see two female warriors finally get their day under the spotlight. After 10 rounds Crews won by majority decision and the green WBC belt was wrapped around her waist. Watching the joy on her face was priceless.

If you have followed me as a reader then you know female boxing has been a favorite passion. I truly believe it will rival male prizefighting one day, maybe soon. The world of MMA has proven it can be done as Ronda Rousey so emphatically showed.

Women prizefighters will get their day.

After the fight we headed to the Pink Taco mainly because they serve decent margaritas. I’m kind of a connoisseur of the drink. The first one I received was passable, but that second one was pretty good. Our group consisted of two reporters from Japan and Applerose, the photographer. Tacos and margaritas for everyone.

Friday

No fights were scheduled for Friday but the weigh-ins and press conferences were stacked together. I moved from my hotel and drove to Summerlin where a friend of mine has a place. He had invited me to stay and was insistent.

My friend is known as “Mr. Las Vegas.” It’s a name given to him the great Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas who now lives in Vegas. He gave him this nickname because no one knows Las Vegas like this guy (that I won’t name unless he gives approval). This 40-something year old gentleman was born and raised in the casino city and has been involved in boxing, MMA and personally knows the high rollers and political powers of the city and state.

Mr. Las Vegas invited me months ago but he’s always on the go and sometimes it slips his mind so I booked a room just in case. But, he was adamant about me staying with him and we go back a ways.

He’s also a big proponent of women’s boxing.

I headed back to the Strip to the MGM media center where a press conference for Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell was taking place. The media was in force. Easily 200 were already in the David Copperfield Theater at 10 a.m.

Maybe it was the free breakfast that enticed reporters and photographers to get up early. It was amazing to see so many media members on a Friday morning. It was a mad scramble.

The theater is fairly large and from a distance I could spot many friends and colleagues. During the face-off Liddell and Ortiz squared off and Oscar De La Hoya looked like a midget between the two. They will be fighting at the Inglewood Forum on Nov. 24. Golden Boy Promotions is the promoter for the pay-per-view event. It will be the third time the MMA stars clash.

So while Dana White delves into boxing, De La Hoya delves into MMA. Strange happenings.

Later that Friday a press conference for Yuri Gamboa was staged by the Cuban fighter himself at Gonzalez Gonzalez restaurant in the New York, New York Hotel and Casino.

Gamboa briefly had a contract with Golden Boy, and had been connected to Top Rank and Fifty Cent. The slick southpaw (is there any other kind of lefty?) seeks another chance to hit a jackpot in the boxing ring.

About two dozen reporters met at the Mexican restaurant eatery. Gamboa was busy speaking to each reporter one-by-one and helped by a small group of publicists including New York sharp Ed Keenan. Food and drinks were great.

Last year Gamboa was quite busy and had four prizefights. His lone loss was against Mexico’s extremely dangerous Robinson Castellanos who stopped the Cuban at the end of the seventh round in Las Vegas.

So far this year, no fights. It’s a primary reason he’s doing it himself on a risky pay-per-view show.

“I can’t depend on anyone else,” said Gamboa. “If I want to advance. I feel I should do it myself. I have experience and knowledge in professional boxing.”

Gamboa, 36, will fight Mexico’s Miguel Beltran on Nov. 20, in Miami, Florida. He will be the main event. The co-main event will be Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez meeting Jesse Rodriguez. If all goes well, the two former world champions will meet each other sometime next year.

“I still have goals to accomplish,” said Gamboa.

Super Lightweight Title Clash

While sitting around eating and drinking at the Mexican restaurant, the ESPN fight card featured Jose Carlos Ramirez and Antonio Orozco fighting for the WBC super lightweight world title. It was body puncher versus body puncher and that means fireworks.

Ramirez had not faced anyone who could match punch output with him until that Friday night. I expected Orozco to fire all his guns and that’s exactly what he did.

For 12 volatile rounds the two 140-pounders fought at 100 miles an hour and though Ramirez won the majority of the rounds according to the judges, each round in itself was a battle.

Orozco, 30, is a very mild-mannered gentleman outside the ropes, but inside he’s one of the most fierce body punchers in the business. He has fought for Golden Boy Promotions for a number of years and may have passed his peak two years ago.

Ramirez, 26, was making his second defense of the world title he won almost a year ago and fights under the Top Rank banner. Whenever these two promotion companies go against each other it’s like the Dodgers and the Giants. No mercy.

The titleholder Ramirez was fighting in front of the adopted hometown of Fresno and floored Orozco twice with body shots and head shots. You would have expected Orozco to wilt but every time he was dropped he came back with a ferocious attack.

It was a gripping fight to watch.

As I sat at the bar in the Mexican restaurant with photographer Applerose, we couldn’t help but admire the spirit that both fighters showed for 12 rounds. Crowds gathered around the bar to watch the final three or four rounds. A few had noticed us watching and stopped to see what had us glued to the television screen perched above the various liquors.

We had a few beers after that incredible title fight.

Ramirez won the fight and retained the world title but Orozco had won the hearts of everyone watching with his tremendous heart. Both fighters congratulated each other and showed sincere respect. If you haven’t seen it, watch the replay. You won’t be sorry.

Saturday

The schedule for Saturday started early with two press conferences staged in the morning.

WBC super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt and challenger Mickey Roman met with media at Wolfgang Puck at 12 noon to talk about their pending clash on HBO. It’s another meeting between a Top Rank affiliated fighter and Golden Boy affiliated fighter.

Can it match Ramirez-Orozco?

Berchelt is a heavy-hitting but skilled fighter from the Yucatan area. Roman is a hard-nosed heavy hitter from Juarez, Mexico. Its North versus South in this Mexican battle that takes place on Nov. 3 in El Paso, Texas.

This could be extremely explosive.

Immediately after the Top Rank press conference, and a few feet away, another media luncheon took place for interim WBC super lightweight titlist Regis Prograis.

Prograis, 29, is an interesting cat.

Raised in New Orleans and Houston, the extremely strong Prograis will participate in the World Boxing Super Series that begins in late October. He faces former lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan of England.

“I chose to fight Terry Flanagan because he’s a former world champion,” said Prograis whose last fight was a knockout win over Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco in New Orleans. “I’m trying to prove I’m the best. I don’t want an easy fight. It’s a waste of time.”

Of course he would love a match with current WBC titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez but he can wait.

“We’ll meet one day in the ring,” Prograis said.

The Rematch

After the pair of press luncheons we headed to the T-Mobile Arena for the Alvarez-Golovkin mega fight. It was an early 2 p.m. start so we missed a couple of early fights. I always try to watch every bout. It’s my duty as a reporter to cover all the fights that take place. Not just the headliners, but the afternoon press conferences held me up.

The best of the undercard saw Vergil Ortiz Jr. annihilate his former sparring partner Roberto Ortiz in two rounds.

Vergil Ortiz trains in Riverside, Calif. with Robert Garcia. He formerly was based in Indio, Calif. with Joel Diaz. Both trainers have excellent troops.

Ortiz, 20, has long limbs and fights long too. He’s buzzed through 11 straight opponents and kind of resembles late actor Jack Palance in the movie Shane. Vergil is a likeable guy who seems nothing like a feared monster in a boxing ring.

Golden Boy keeps stepping up the competition a notch and he keeps rendering them unconscious. The promoter doesn’t want to overstep the process with Ortiz so they are doing things de-li-cate-ly.

So far Ortiz has treated everyone who steps in the ring with him like fragile china. He touches them and they fall to pieces. Technically he is very sound. But the Golden Boy crew sees something very special in the kid from Dallas. He is one to watch.

Boycott?

After several fights including the main event that saw Alvarez win by majority decision, it’s important to note that the entire “ringside” media group was placed more than 50 yards away from the boxing ring. No one from the media had a sufficient view to analyze the fight that has been very disputed by fans and others.

But my question is: why did the promoters place the media a ridiculous 50 yards away?

Sadly, it’s a move that says to the media “we don’t need you.”

Maybe it’s time to organize.

Regis Prograis photo by Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Feature Articles

An Unofficial Judge Scored 9 Rounds for Canelo; Feel Free to Hoot and Holler

Published

on

auxiliary press

The auxiliary press section at the T-Mobile Arena is quite a distance from the boxing ring. I’ve been in auxiliary press sections before, but never one that was up so high. It was here that I found myself on Saturday night, peering down on the ring far below and like everyone else checking out the big screen between rounds for a closer look at key moments.

From this vantage point, the ring is both smaller and bigger. It’s bigger in the sense that it opens things up a bit. Your eyes see more space between the fighters and you are better able to judge which fighter is controlling the distance. Think of the picture from the overhead cam in a football game. Looking straight down, the playing field doesn’t look as congested. The holes that open for a North-South running back bursting into the secondary get wider and from this panorama you are better able to judge the work of the offensive line.

Having said that, this is really no place to adequately judge a boxing match, so I can be forgiven for scoring the fight 9-3 for Canelo. For what it’s worth, however, the fellow on my right had it the same. The fellow on my left had it somewhat tighter, but also scored it for Canelo. And for the record, neither of these guys were Hispanic so they weren’t blinded by tribal loyalty.

At the T-Mobile, when the main event ends, the scribes in the auxiliary press section are literally held hostage. They are prevented from going down to the post-fight press conference until the arena has thinned out.

This reporter couldn’t get his laptop to function properly and had no patience. I’m not comfortable working on my cellphone, so it was imperative that I get home in a jiff and be there when David Avila’s ringside report turned up in my e-mail. On a fight of this magnitude, the boss wants the bread-and-butter post-fight story up on the site in a hurry.

Aware of the hostage situation, and my own technological limitations, I had the foresight to scope out the arena for an escape route just in case I needed to get away fast. And so, before a hostage-taker could rope me in, I was off and running, scurrying down a little used staircase. I had my car parked in the right spot for a quick getaway, traffic was light, and I was home at my work desk in less than 30 minutes.

I didn’t wait around to hear the scores. To me it was a foregone conclusion that Canelo would have his hand raised. Heading home, I had the car radio tuned to an all-sports station. And when the scores came across the radio, I thought to myself, well, I was wrong and I was right. I thought GGG would win and I was wrong about that, but I was right, I thought to myself, that the judges would be disposed to give GGG the close rounds. In my mind, the scores (114-114 and 115-113 twice) gave GGG the best of it. Granted, several rounds were tough to score, but yet the fight wasn’t that close.

Au contraire !

To my amazement, the vast majority of those seated in the ringside press section scored the fight a draw or had it shaded toward Triple-G. In fact, according to one survey, which included those in the building and a select few watching at home or in a TV studio, only two of the 59 people that were polled had it for Canelo with 17 scoring it even. The most cantankerous of the GGG faction was ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas who apparently had it 117-112 and labeled the decision a robbery.

No I won’t defend my scoring. Let me see the fight on TV (and with the sound off, natch), and I’ll get back to you. But I’m still flabbergasted that my score was so out of whack with the consensus.

Odds and Ends

Although the fight was announced as a sellout, there were empty seats scattered around the arena. The announced attendance was 21,965, roughly 1,400 less than for the first encounter last September.

The first Canelo-GGG bout set the attendance record for an indoor fight in Nevada and came in third all-time in gate receipts, surpassed only by Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2015 and Mayweather-McGregor in August of last year. But that’s a distant third to the leader. The gross gate for Canelo-GGG I ($27,059,850) was far below Mayweather-Pacquiao which raked in an astounding $72,198,500.

Although there’s more money in circulation each year and more fat cats willing to pay an enormous sum to attend a mega-fight, I doubt the Mayweather-Pacquiao record for gate receipts will be broken any time soon.

The crowd, needless to say, was skewed heavily toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. And while it’s often said that members of this ethnic group are true fight fans, the reality is that when they come to Las Vegas they act just like the Anglo high rollers, which is to say that they arrive at a big fight fashionably late.

When the first of the four PPV fights started, the arena was not more than 15 percent full. When the semi-main started, the arena was perhaps one-third full, notwithstanding the fact that it was a title fight featuring a boxer from Tijuana.

The old outdoor fights at Caesars Palace were thick with celebrities who were acknowledged by the ring announcer. Saturday’s fight at the T-Mobile was something of a throwback. The roll call included movie stars Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Mark Wahlberg, comedians Dave Chappelle and Cedric the Entertainer, and sports personalities Lebron James, Charles Barkley, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Triple H – to name just a few.

Standing in the ring as GGG and Canelo made their way from their dressing rooms was a fashionably dressed woman wearing a dress that one would associate with a Latin country. I assumed she was there to sing the Mexican National Anthem. In my younger days, the Mexican National Anthem was sung so often at big fights in Las Vegas that I could eventually mouth the words.

But no, there was no National Anthem whatsoever, neither U.S., nor Mexican, nor Kazakhstani. I was told that they did do anthems before the first of the preliminary fights. This would have been about 3:00 in the afternoon when there were not more than a few hundred people in the joint.

Was this a reaction to the brouhaha set in motion by Colin Kaepernick? That’s a fair assumption.

Not only were the anthems missing, but so also was Michael Buffer, a fixture at HBO shows for decades. I’m told that he now works exclusively for Eddie Hearn. He’ll be back on the job this coming Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London.

Joe Martinez, Buffer’s replacement, did a solid job, as did referee Benjy Estevez who was working his first big fight in Nevada. Of course, Canelo and GGG made it easy for him. No matter your opinion of the scoring, I think we can all agree that these two great warriors engaged in a very clean fight.

By all accounts, this was a very good fight for the bookies. The expectation that there would be late Canelo money in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend wasn’t born out. At one establishment, the odds favoring GGG rose from 7/5 to 9/5 (minus-180) in the last few hours of betting. I’m told that it nicked above 2/1 at a few places offshore.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Trending