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Noted Boxing Buffs Name The Nicest Person They Have Met in Boxing

This time I asked more than two dozen noted boxing buffs to name the nicest person they had met in boxing. One could select a boxer, active or retired

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I’m back again with another survey. This time I asked more than two dozen noted boxing buffs to name the nicest person they had met in boxing. One could select a boxer, active or retired, but it didn’t have to be a boxer. It could be anyone associated with the sport, living or deceased (but not a family member and preferably not a close associate).

As in my previous surveys, I get to weigh in first. TSS mainstay Bernard Fernandez has been my cornerman for more times than I can remember. His set of values stands out in a business where values don’t seem to matter much and where the moral underbelly is often non-existent. The same can be said of Iceman John Scully whose yeoman efforts to help other boxers has been so great. Jim Lampley ties Iceman for second place. I have known Jim for many years and he has always been accessible, humble, reliable, and very candid. He is also one of the brightest people I know.

Here are the other selections. Some found it easy to choose; others found it difficult. Lee Samuels got several mentions. That’s him in the photo. The respondents are listed alphabetically.

JIM AMATO (historian, writer, and collector): Easy…Alexis Arguello. I met him in June of 1998 at the IBHOF. He was such a gentleman. I asked him if he thought Alfredo Escalera deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. His answer was a quick and emphatic YES!

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI (boxing writer): This is a tough one for me because it’s so difficult to single out one person, but what I saw Hall of Fame weekend in Canastota in 2017 spoke volumes about the character of Shawn Porter. With a line full of people, he spent a considerable amount of time interacting with everyone in line until the line literally cleared out to zero. And when I met him, he was as cordial and humble an individual as I have ever met, a boxer truly appreciative of all his fans.

DAVID AVILA (TSS West Coast Bureau Chief): I’ve been fortunate to come across several extremely nice and gracious boxers in my 30 years in the sport. Guys like Nonito Donaire, Shane Mosley, Tim Bradley and Paul Malignaggi come to mind, but the guy who truly stands out is Israel “El Magnifico” Vazquez. Once in Cancun a dozen of us were stranded at midnight. Not all of us could fit in a taxi. He offered to stay behind so I could fit in the taxi. I declined. I never forgot that act of kindness.

KEVIN BARRY (former Olympic medalist and trainer of WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker): Listen to the tapes of all those great fights over the last 40 years and the voice you will most likely hear is that of Col. Bob Sheridan who did the international feed. In my mind he’s the voice of boxing and I can vouch that he’s a lovely man. Also, Jimmy Lennon Jr’s nickname, “Classy,” certainly fits him. He’s the perfect gentleman.

JOE BRUNO (former NYC sportswriter and author of more than 45 crime-related books): The nicest person I ever met in boxing is boxing trainer/television boxing analyst Teddy Atlas. Teddy is a legitimate tough guy, but he’s a no-BS guy, and a straight shooter. That makes him a nice guy in my book. A close second was a tie between John F.X. Condon, President of Boxing at Madison Square Garden, and his PR man, Tommy Kenville.

STEVE CANTON (a Floridian, Steve has been involved in every aspect of boxing for more than 50 years): Contrary to public perception that boxing is a sport made up of “not so nice” guys, I find it very difficult to narrow the list down to only one. There’s Emanuel Steward, who I was friends with for over 40 years and Angelo Dundee, who used to say, “It cost nothing to be nice.” Juan LaPorte, Pinklon Thomas and Billy Joiner also come quickly to mind. My life is richer because of those friendships.

JILL DIAMOND (WBC/NABF supervisor and prominent voice in female boxing): Lee Samuels always makes me smile. He’s effective in his job, which isn’t easy, and does it with dignity. With me, he’d rather talk music than boxing (they’re almost the same) and it’s so much fun. I’ve never heard him gossip or say anything negative about anyone. What a pleasure to know this man. He’s simply so nice and yet effective in a business that can get nasty.

JACOB “STITCH” DURAN (cut man for Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward, and many others): One of the nice things about working with nice guy Wladimir Klitschko is that I got to hang out with Michael Buffer. Plus I also worked on two movies with him. He’s one of the most cordial people you will ever meet.

STEVE FARHOOD (writer, editor, broadcaster and 2017 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame): There are several colleagues at Showtime who are wonderful people, but I’ll go outside the box for this and go with James Brown, someone I’ve worked with only a handful of times. He is among the most recognizable and accomplished announcers in sports, but he seemingly has no ego, and he makes you feel as though you’re the most important person in his life. He is genuine, generous, and of course, tremendously talented. I don’t see him often, but from what I’ve heard from others, my opinion is widely, if not universally, held.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ (journalist; one of only eight lifetime members of the Boxing Writers Association of America): Nobody was sunshine and lollipops like the late Angelo Dundee. Being around the fight game’s happiest ambassador for even a minute had the effect of bringing a smile to the faces of even the most persistent grumps. Angelo would show up for the annual festivities of the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s induction weekend and make total strangers feel as if he was their best friend. “It don’t cost anything to be nice,” he’d always say, and he practiced what he preached. Oh, and he was a pretty good cornerman, too.

RICHARD FLAHERTY (elite referee, now retired, and active boxing judge): The late Johnny Wood was one of the best and most respected trainers in the Boston area during the 1950’s and 60’s. He watched over his fighters like they were his own sons. As a man, he was one of the nicest, most unassuming, well-liked individuals one could ever meet. Johnny was Boston born and raised, coming from the Roxbury neighborhood and was considered the best amateur boxer to ever come out of the city during the 1940’s. Johnny passed away over 15 years ago. His funeral service was a “who’s who” in Massachusetts boxing circles. He was elected posthumously to the Ring 4 Veteran Boxers Association Hall of Fame. R.I.P. my friend!!

JEFFREY FREEMAN (TSS New England correspondent; KO Digest founder):  The nicest person I’ve met in this sport is New England based boxing publicist Bob Trieger. Sometimes I call him Mister T., but I always call him Mister Nice Guy. I met Bob in press row several years ago and he’s been an invaluable resource to me ever since as an up-and-coming member of the boxing media. Mr. T is all business when it comes to good publicity for his clients (whose reputations he zealously protects), but he also finds the time to be friends with and mentor those of us lucky enough to know him and call him a friend. The nicest promoter I’ve met is Maine’s Bobby Russo and the nicest boxer I’ve gotten to know is Connecticut’s “Magic Man,” Marlon Starling.

LEE GROVES (author, journalist and CompuBox linchpin):  The first name that popped into my mind within the limits given here is Bernard Fernandez, an award-winning writer, and inductee in several Halls of Fame, and one of the really good guys in the sport. I first met him during one of my many visits to the IBHOF weekend, and though I saw him as a pseudo-celebrity, Bernard’s friendly demeanor immediately broke down the walls and, over time, created what has been a terrific friendship. As I became more experienced as a boxing writer he began seeing me as a peer, and on the Sunday mornings before the induction ceremony we made it a point to meet on the Hall of Fame grounds, purchase a couple of Basilio Sausage Sandwiches and chat at one of the back tables. At first, it was just a way to pass the hours before the ceremony, but it eventually morphed into what we call the “Basilio Sausage Sandwich Summit,” an event both of us look forward to every year. He is someone I hold in even higher regard than was the case when I first met him.

HENRY HASCUP (historian, collector, and long-time president of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame): Emile Griffith was always the life of the party. In all the events I have run that Emile came, he would go table to table talking to everyone, taking pictures with everyone, including every kid and old timer. He loved kids and it showed. People would come back from the IBHOF saying they had a great time and although they couldn’t get close to several old timers, there was one that would go overboard in greeting everyone. I would say, “let me guess; Emile Griffith!” They would say YES, how did you know? I would tell them because I know Emile. Michael Spinks is another who will stay and take pictures and sign for everyone as well.

JEFF JOWETT (boxing journalist): Tony Wolfe had approximately 35 pro fights in late ‘40s – early ‘50s, then became a referee and judge on the Pennsylvania commission. From the ‘70s on, Tony served in several capacities, including president of the Mid Atlantic Association of USA Boxing, which produced countless amateur and pro boxers on every level. For decades, until just a few years before the end of his life last year, Tony was dedicated 24/7 to the development of amateur boxing and giving kids a chance to box in a fair and organized safe competition. He never had a bad word, defused the most fractious situations with tact and charm, was kind and fair to everyone, and went out of his way to serve the sport without personal gain or ambition. R.I.P.

STUART KIRSCHENBAUM (former amateur boxer; co-founder of the National Association of Boxing Commissioners): The nicest person I ever met in all my years in boxing was Arthur Mercante Sr. I met Arthur in 1981 and remained friends with him until his death at the age of 90 in 2010. Not only was he a world class referee but he was a class act.  He refereed over 150 world championship fights but outside the ring is where he shined. He was my mentor. In his time, he was the best at his trade and still viewed by many as without peer. As I write this I can hear his Brockton accent and see him holding court wherever he went.

JIM LAMPLEY (2015 IBHOF inductee; centerpiece of the HBO broadcasting team): In a world in which I deal often with good guys Lee Samuels and Bill Caplan and others of their stripe it is brutally difficult to choose just one.  But Emanuel Steward was the closest friend I have had in adult life and the sweetest man I have ever known.  So if it can only be one, it can only be my lost brother. I love you Emanuel, and this tribute won’t be the last.

ARNE LANG (historian, author, editor-in-chief of The Sweet Science): I’ve known Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels for 30 years and never heard anyone speak a harsh word about him. Even those that left Top Rank with an axe to grind will tell you that Lee is a prince of a guy.

RON LIPTON (world class boxing referee, former fighter, boxing historian, retired police officer): The nicest person I ever met in boxing has to be Muhammad Ali. I met him at the Sonny Banks fight in 1962. We stayed friends and stayed in touch until he could not speak anymore from illness. I never bought my way into his friendship by writing books about him and paying him or creating a false and transparent image of friendship by generating more income for him. Ali could see through all that stuff and mentioned it often to me in private. We stayed friends for real as buddies and as boxers, me in Rubin Carter’s camp and Ali with Angelo. He was kind to everyone.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE (author, boxing writer, and barrister): Jose Torres was always helpful and generous to me when I spoke to him on the phone regarding my Dick Tiger biography and then when I met him in person in London. Incidentally, I have contributed a short essay on his boxing and writing career for the forthcoming Cambridge “Companion to Boxing” which should be published this year.

GORDON MARINO (philosophy professor, Wall Street Journal boxing writer, trainer): I have a draw between Angelo Dundee and George Foreman. Both of these giants of the ring did not use their celebrity status as a wall to keep people away. The poet Maya Angelou once said that you don’t remember what people say but you remember how they made you feel. I never came away from my talks with Angelo or George feeling as if they were doing me a favor. The trainer and the fighter who successfully worked together in George’s second career possessed the gift of a genuine love of people. Of course, Angelo’s charge and George’s nemesis and friend, Muhammad Ali, shared this same quality in abundance

ROBERT MLADINICH: (former NYPD police detective, author, and boxing writer): One who really stands out is heavyweight “Tiger” Ted Lowry, who twice went the distance with Rocky Marciano. As a black man who served as a paratrooper in the segregated U.S. Army during World War II, he observed German prisoners of war treated better than black American soldiers. As a pro fighter, he traversed the country fighting local heavyweights, often losing close decisions and being stopped only twice in well over 100 fights. He had no bitterness whatsoever about the many injustices he experienced in his life. He worked until he was 90 years old, his last job being a school bus monitor. He was grateful, gracious, classy, unique, charismatic and an inherently decent person. He was not only one of the nicest boxing people I’ve ever met, he was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever encountered.

EDDIE MUSTAFA MUHAMMAD (noted trainer; former WBA world light heavyweight champion): When I was getting ready to fight Marvin Johnson, Muhammad Ali extended his camp to me. I spent three months with Ali in Deer Lake and we became very close. You couldn’t ask for a better friend.

DANA ROSENBLATT (former world middleweight champion; inspirational speaker):

The nicest person I met in my years in boxing is Edwin Curet. Edwin was a junior middleweight when I was turning pro as a middleweight. We trained together at the World Gym in Somerville daily. I made my pro debut only because he was the main event on the same card in Maryland in 1992. Throughout the years I sparred with Edwin as he taught me what it meant to be in the gym with a slick, classy Puerto Rican boxer who could take a punch better than anyone I had ever seen. He sacrificed himself in the years that we trained together in a manner such that he made sure that I learned my craft even though it was at his expense. He made this sacrifice in a way akin to a mother sacrificing herself for her offspring.

LEE SAMUELS (Top Rank publicist): The nicest person is Scott Ghertner, the publicist for MGM Grand – a caring person who has helped gracefully in the biggest boxing events of our time. He is also a survivor in the recent Mandalay shooting  – he was working at the event when tragedy struck – a dear friend as well.

“ICEMAN” JOHN SCULLY (elite trainer; former world light heavyweight title challenger): I have met several especially nice guys in the sport of boxing but one who really stood out to me was Diego “Chico” Corrales. I met him in Las Vegas in 2005 not long after one of his great showings against Castillo and I approached him to tell him that I was training his old amateur teammate, Lawrence Clay-Bey. We talked for quite a while and I was almost shocked at how friendly he was.

Also, I was in New York City in 2007 for a fight and one night I saw Tito Trinidad in the lobby so I went over to meet him. He doesn’t speak very good English but we were able to communicate well enough with the help of his friend. At one point I had to leave to go to the gym and I actually felt bad having to tell him because I got the impression he would have stayed there and talked to me all day if I had wanted him to. Tito was as friendly and down to earth as any famous person I’ve ever met.

MIKE SILVER (renowned boxing historian; author): The great Ray Arcel is the nicest person I have met in boxing. A true gentleman of the old school. A class act all the way. Always approachable and very patient. He was far too good for the sport that made him famous.

CARYN A. TATE (boxing writer): I’ve met a lot of nice (and a few not so nice) people in the sport. The nicest, by and large, are the fighters. I think people might be surprised at how patient and kind most boxers are. But the nicest person I’ve met so far is Andre Ward. He’s very open and approachable, has a kind and generous spirit, and is very down-to-earth.

BRUCE TRAMPLER (Top Rank matchmaker; 2010 IBHOF inductee): So many very nice people in the fight game, in fact the great majority, and I’d hate to say who’s nicer. I certainly have to mention publicist Lee Samuels, trainer and bar owner Jimmy Glenn (of Jimmy’s Corner in NYC), and Big George Foreman.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS: (boxing writer, blogger and “Master of the Beltway”): For me, it would be Bert Randolph Sugar!  I met him for the first time during the very first world title bout I ever covered — the rematch between champion Simon Brown and Tyrone Trice.  He treated me like a friend from the moment I met him through all the times our paths crossed. The fact that he was also a native of the Washington, D.C. area helped as well.  I miss him to this day!

PETER WOOD: (boxing writer, author, and former boxer): It’s a four-way tie. The boxing world is full of crackpots but it’s also full of magnanimous people. Angelo Dundee, Emanuel Steward, Nick Charles, the first sports anchor for CNN in 1980, and Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s Gym.

Observations:

Of all the tributes, those of David Avila and Robert Mladinich especially resonated with me And Jim Lampley’s post about Emanuel Steward was, in a word, poignant.

Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels was mentioned four times. Angelo Dundee garnered three mentions while TSS’s Bernard Fernandez, Big George Foreman and Muhammad Ali each got two.

Now it’s your turn. Who’s the nicest person in boxing that you have met?

Ted Sares is one of the oldest power lifters in the world and is a four-time winner of the EPF’s Grand Master championship. He is now making a comeback after a severe injury. He also is a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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A native of Chicago, Ted resides in the White Mountain area of Northern New Hampshire with his wife Holly and dog Kater from which he manages a number of private investments. He has closely and passionately followed boxing for over 50 years and has written three related books including the very popular “Boxing is my Sanctuary.” He also has written a true crime book titled “Shattered” published by Tate Publishing. Ted, who is fiercely independent, has written for many different on-line boxing sites and publications and enjoys a strong international following. An elector for inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF), he is a member of Ring 4 (New England) and its Boxing Hall of Fame and also is an active member of Ring 10 (New York). Sares is also one of the oldest active powerlifters in the world, and continues to compete throughout North America under the auspices of several Powerlifting Federations. He is currently the two-time EPF Grand Master Nationals Champion.

Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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Canada & Usa

In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

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The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

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Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

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Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

– – – –

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

– – – –

In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

– – – –

The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

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Moonves

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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