Connect with us

Featured Articles

Death of Hall of Famer Gene Fullmer Lost in Media Frenzy of May-Pac Week



It is Mayweather-Pacquiao week, which overshadows everything else that might be happening in the world of boxing.

But maybe that shouldn’t be the case, at least not quite so absolutely. There should at least be a tiny window of light open amid all the May-Pac buzz to shine upon an 83-year-old former middleweight champion whose Hall of Fame career has been woefully overlooked, and not just since his 12-year professional career ended with a loss to Dick Tiger for the WBA and vacant WBC 160-pound titles on Aug. 10, 1963, in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Gene Fullmer, who died of natural causes late Monday night in his West Jordan, Utah, home, posted a 55-6-3 record, with 24 victories inside the distance, in those dozen years of inelegant success. Even though he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991, and had a raft of quality wins (against Sugar Ray Robinson, Paul Pender, Gil Turner, Peter Mueller, Ralph “Tiger” Jones, Spider Webb, Florentino Fernandez and Benny “Kid” Paret, among others) during one of the golden ages of the middleweight division, he is perhaps best known for the only knockout loss on his record, which came in the second of his four clashes with the incomparable Sugar Ray on May 1, 1957, in Chicago Stadium.

Defending the championship he had wrested from Robinson on a 15-round unanimous decision four months earlier, Fullmer was slightly ahead on points when the aging but still dangerous master of the prize ring unleashed what many have called the single most memorable punch in boxing history, a short left hook which put Fullmer down for the count in the fifth round.

That exquisite shot is a fixture on any video compilation of the greatest knockouts of all time, right up there with the crushing overhand right that Rocky Marciano landed to the chin of Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th round the night he captured the heavyweight title on Sept. 23, 1952, in Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium.

“In the fifth, I moved in with my left hand maybe six inches lower than it should have been and he slipped that left hook over the top and caught me right on the chin,” Fullmer recalled during the IBHOF’s induction weekend in 2008. “All at once the lights went out. I had never been knocked out. I had no idea what it felt like and I can’t tell you what it feels like even now.”

The fact that Fullmer, whose style was as smooth as sandpaper and as flashy as a lead pipe, was kayoed just that one time speaks volumes about how tough the Mormon mauler was. Here was a guy who was as easy to hit as a tin can targeted by a Navy SEAL sniper shooting in his back yard, but who had enough heart and will to carry the fight to anyone, and the awkwardly effective style to flummox even technically superior boxers.

In Robinson’s autobiography, “Sugar Ray: The Sugar Ray Robinson Story,” written in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson in 1970, the man many consider to be the finest all-around fighter ever to grace the sport recalled his first points defeat and subsequent knockout of Fullmer, against whom he was just 1-2-1 in their four meetings.

“Fullmer’s style bothered me,” Robinson said of that initial loss. “He had a barroom brawler’s style, which I hadn’t expected because Mormons don’t drink.”

But Robinson said he was better prepared for the rematch, and the additional time he put into analyzing Fullmer’s headlong rushes paid off.

“For the return with Fullmer, movies were necessary,” he related. “I needed to study his style. I needed to know all I could about him. Suddenly, watching the films one day, I saw what I had been hoping to find. He liked to throw a right hand to the body and when he did, his jaw was open for my left hook.

“I feinted a left hook, leaving my midsection open. You’ve got to let a fish see the bait before it’ll bite, and Fullmer bit. He let got his right hand, exposing his jaw. His jaw looked as big as any of the jaws on the Mount Rushmore monuments. Snapping a left hook with all my strength, I nailed him as he moved toward me, adding to the impact. His head snapped back and he went down as if I had hit him with an ax. At eight, he attempted to get up, but his legs wouldn’t work for him.”

It is indicative of how gentlemanly Fullmer was in his personal conduct that he and his manager-trainer, Marv Jenson, visited Robinson’s dressing room afterward to congratulate Sugar Ray and compliment him on the soon-to-become-legendary hook. Such gestures of sportsmanship are not as common as one might think, but this one was especially notable because Fullmer, truth be told, was none too fond of Robinson’s self-absorbed persona.

“If Robinson is guilty of any sin, it’s the sin of selfishness,” Fullmer said years afterward. “He appears to have very little time for anybody but himself. He has caused considerable inconvenience to almost everybody he has dealt with in boxing. With him, it’s me, me, me. His disregard for the other fellow is notorious.”

It might or might not be true that Fullmer, a Korean War veteran, was born to fight, but his father’s name was Tuff, so draw your own conclusions. The eldest of Tuff’s three sons to box (the others were Don, who twice challenged for the middleweight championship, and Jay, who, ironically, died on April 22 of this year and was laid to rest the day Gene died), Gene was eight when he was taken by his dad to the West Jordan Athletic Club to learn how to defend himself. He did not, as his later career demonstrated, dazzle his first and only coach, Jenson, with nimble footwork.

“But he had three things I could work on: strength, a good mind and fast reflexes,” Jenson said of the same elementary skill-set that made Marciano one of the most celebrated heavyweight champions ever.

So crude was Fullmer, who won his first 29 pro bouts, that, upon seeing him spar for the first time, venerable Madison Square Garden matchmaker Teddy Brenner advised Jenson to send him home to Utah to learn a trade in which it was less likely for him to get hurt, like, say welding. (Which is one of the jobs Fullmer held even after winning the middleweight belt.) But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and Fullmer’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach obviously worked for him.

As a child watching the “Gillette Calvalcade of Sports” on Friday nights with my father in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I saw Fullmer fight often enough to appreciate his toughness, but I was more of a Carmen Basilio fan. Both were blue-collar tradesmen, but Basilio had a name that rolled over the tongue liked recited poetry, as well as the ultimate fighter’s face and an undeniable flair for the dramatic. Fullmer had few if any refined flourishes, and one had to look hard to pick up on any small nuances that separated him from the barroom brawler Robinson had imagined him to be.

Now he is gone, and the pool of mourners who actually saw him in action, if only on fuzzy, black-and-white TV, is becoming increasingly shallow. Today’s fight fans are fixated on Mayweather-Pacquiao, and rightly so. The past is the past and even those disposed to peek over their shoulders aren’t always keen-eyed enough to see that far back.

But it says here that Gene Fullmer would have been no picnic for any current fighter in or near his weight class, including Mayweather and Pacquiao, because he had a steely determination that, while not prettied up with finesse, is at the core of what true champions are made of.


Featured Articles

Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.



Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading