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Articles of 2007

Memories With Maldinich: Guy Casale



Although onetime heavyweight prospect Guy “The Rock” Casale was being billed by his management as a Rocky Marciano reincarnate, few people gave him much of a chance to defeat Bobby Halpern when they squared off in the main event of a May 1978 show at Madison Square Garden.

A few months earlier, the 44-year-old Halpern, a rugged ex-convict who had just been sprung from prison after serving 17 years for robbery, kidnapping, assault and grand larceny, had been the subject of a nine-page feature story in Sports Illustrated.

Fans turned out in droves to see Halpern, who came into the Casale fight with a 9-3 (6 KOs) record. He had gone 2-1 in 1958, the year before he began serving time in some of New York State’s toughest prisons.

Since his release in 1976, he had amassed a record of 7-2 (6 KOs), with one of those losses coming by third round TKO to future heavyweight titlist Trevor Berbick.

“I was a tune-up for Halpern,” laughed Casale, who is now 52 and a detective with the Essex County Prosecutors Office in New Jersey.

“There was talk of him getting a fight with Larry Holmes if he got a few more wins. Nobody gave me a snowball’s chance in hell of beating him.”

Although Casale, who was then 23, had only started boxing three years earlier, he was undeterred by Halpern’s reputation as a tough guy, as well as the fact that the fight was elevated to main event status after Gerry Cooney, who was supposed to headline the show, withdrew with an injured hand.

At a press conference shortly before the fight, Halpern made fun of Casale’s first name. “He was saying he could never lose to a guy named Guy,” said Casale. “It sounded silly and stupid, but I knew then that I had his number. He was trying to get under my skin, but it just showed me he could be taken.”

Serving as an inspirational muse for Casale was heavyweight prospect Beau Williford, who to this day is one of the most positive forces of nature you will ever meet.

“Beau trained with me at the gym, and he kept telling me there was no way I was going to lose to this guy,” said Casale. “He’d tell me that Bobby was a criminal, and I was the guy on the white horse in the white suit.”

By fight time, Casale was a man on a mission who would not be deterred. “I remember telling my manager I was going to take his head off,” he said.

Instead, in the first round it was Halpern that nearly decapitated Casale with his vaunted right hand. “I take a pretty good punch, but I felt that punch to my toes,” Casale said. “I’ve never been hit so hard in my life.”

When he came back to his corner, Casale’s team, which consisted of manager Nick Baffi, trainer George Baffi, and cut man Chickie Ferrara, implored him to go to the body.

“My trainer reminded me that I could hit, too,” said Casale. “In the second round we knocked the bleep out of each other.”

Afterwards, George Baffi and Ferrara told him, “You got him. He looks like a guy walking up a hill.”

The third round began nearly as wildly as the second, but Casale was pulling ahead.

“Bobby was still swinging hard, but his punches didn’t have the oomph to them,” said Casale.

“He was telegraphing his punches, so I got up on my toes to lure him in. I saw him get ready to throw a right hand, so I threw my own. It didn’t travel more than six inches, and it knocked him out.”

“He was the toughest man I ever faced. The fight was a war, and I was glad when it was over.”

After two more victories and a draw, Casale squared off against Scott Frank for the New Jersey State heavyweight title in March 1979. To this day, he has few good things to say about Frank, who later challenged Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title.

“He was a very crass guy,” said Casale. “He had no diplomacy and was trying to use Muhammad Ali-type intimidation tactics that didn’t work. I could have put up with his bleep until he made it personal. He’d say things like they’d need dental record to identify me after the fight.”

What made that statement so troubling was the fact that Casale’s mother, Elena, was aghast over the fact that her son was a boxer. She had raised four children on her own, and couldn’t understand how two men could beat each other up for a living.

In the first round of the Frank fight, Casale blasted him with a right hand that sent Frank against the ropes. Instead of following up right away, he says, “I stopped to admire my work and he was saved by the bell.”

In the second round, Casale says he was intentionally thumbed by Frank. His eye blew up like a balloon, was completely closed by the third round, and the fight was stopped in the ninth.

Casale, who had been attending college, was unsure if he wanted to continue fighting. However, after taking a few months off he went to training camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

It was there that broke his shoulder in a bicycle accident. The injury required two separate operations. He didn’t begin training again until 1980, at Cus D’Amato’s camp in upstate New York. Casale soon rattled off four straight victories, all by knockout.

That set the stage for his fight against then undefeated Marvis Frazier, then5-0, on the undercard of the epic first encounter between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in Las Vegas in September 1981.

“It was a thrill for me to be considered good enough to be on that card,” said Casale. “I saw it as a major accomplishment, and I was very proud to be there.”

After being stopped in the fourth round, Casale was wise enough to reconsider his career choices. One of the biggest influences in his choosing to retire was the late, great trainer Eddie Futch.

Years earlier, when Casale was a relative novice, he would spar regularly with Duane Bobick. A 1972 Olympian, Bobick was trained by Futch and seemed destined for superstardom. But Casale used to give Bobick fits in the gym.

“Eddie was always so encouraging, telling me I had a great future ahead of me,” said Casale. “He couldn’t believe I could do what I did with Duane with my limited experience. After the Frazier fight, he told me that I was no longer the young man I was three years ago.”

As disillusioned as Casale was with boxing, he was equally unhappy with his management. Thinking he’d give boxing one last go, he continued on with a fellow named Rocky Napoli, who scheduled him to fight the aging Jerry Quarry in Albuquerque in 1981.

However, Casale sustained an injury in training and was force to pull out. That solidified Casale’s decision to call it a day. He could not forget Futch’s words, which had left an indelible impact on him.

“If I couldn’t be championship material, I wasn’t going to become a war horse, a tune-up for anyone.”

Casale decided to go back to school, and never fought again. His final ring ledger was 14-3-3 (7 KOs), with one no contest.

Like so many other boxing sagas, the fighting Casale did in the ring is just one highlight of a life that has been well-lived. Even though he grew up in a rough section of Newark, organized boxing was never at the forefront of is mind.

He was an adept street fighter who once asked a friend, an amateur boxing standout named Frankie Gabriel, for some pointers. Casale was 20 years old, and interested in boxing only as a means of self preservation.

Like so many others, the first time he set foot in a gym he was hooked. With very little training experience, he was scheduled to compete in the 1976 New York City Golden Gloves tournament.

A few days before the fight, Nick Baffi thought it was important for him to see his first real fight live. Casale admits to feeling sick when he saw a boxer get knocked unconscious.

Ironically, he knocked his very first opponent unconscious a few days later, lost his next fight, but then won eight straight. The following year he squared off against Mitch “Blood” Green in the finals of the 1977 Gloves.

“He was 6’5” and I was only 5’11’, but I was chasing him all night,” said Casale. “He had a big reputation, but I didn’t care about that.”

The fight wound up being stopped by referee Randy Sandy, but Casale says he did well in many subsequent sparring sessions with Green, and would have loved to have fought him as a pro.

Around this time, Casale had been attending St. Peter’s College in Jersey City where he majored in pre-med. After having immense difficulties with chemistry, however, he enrolled in another college where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Because his father was a “knockaround guy” who was never there for the family, Casale’s mother was the pillar of strength in the household. It troubled him that she was so adamantly against his boxing for a living, especially because he was bright and determined enough to pursue other options.

He believes that much of her consternation came from the fact that she had lost her first child just three days after being born. Casale, the oldest of her children, came along four years later.

“She would tell me, ‘I went through four years trying to have you, so why would you want to do this?’” he said. “Maybe I had to prove something to myself.”

Casale believes that his father, although absent, might have been an unwitting motivational force. “He fostered a tough guy image, so maybe I (subconsciously) wanted that to,” he explained. “What I did know was that I wanted to help my mother be more comfortable, and not have to work so hard for the rest of her life.”

To this day, Casale thinks of all the time his mother spent at home praying for his well-being.

As much as Casale’s mother hated boxing, she would still have much to be proud of when it came to her son.

He was smart enough to get out of boxing with his faculties intact, he steered clear of alcohol and drug abuse, earned a bachelor’s degree, and is a few classes short of a graduate degree in public administration.

The only reason he did not finish that degree is because he was accepted into law school, from which he graduated in 1994.  And the only reason he is not practicing law is because it would be a conflict of interest with the current law enforcement position he has held for nearly two decades.

Casale’s only regret is not putting his foot down when the Baffi’s tried to pass him off as the next Rocky Marciano. “That generated a following and sparked an interest, but the downside was that people didn’t come to see Guy Casale, they came to see the next Rocky Marciano,” he explained.

On November 8, Casale was inducted along with 12 others into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Joining him for the festivities were his fiancée, Janice Massaro, an assistant prosecutor, and his beloved daughters Nicole, 16, and Marissa, 13.

“It made me realize that I left a mark,” said Casale. “I realized just how good I really was. Two guys that I fought went on to fight Larry Holmes for the world title. If I had won those fights, that could have been me. Being inducted was my validation.”

Casale says that his daughters were “overwhelmed” by the event and that on that night he felt “bigger than life” in their eyes. “They told me how proud they were of me, that they’d seen the films but this really put everything in perspective for them,” he said.

One person who couldn’t help but take notice of Casale’s joy was Harry Hascup, the President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.

“He had a big smile on his face all night long,” said Hascup. “All he kept saying was thank you, thank you, this is my heavyweight championship.”


Articles of 2007

St-Pierre, Liddell, Clementi Win @ UFC 79



LAS VEGAS-A reinvented Georges St. Pierre proved he’s ready for the true Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title with a dominating win over Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell returned to the win column in his big showdown on Saturday.

St. Pierre took the final chapter in the trilogy with Hughes and now is the UFC interim champion at the 170-pound division.

Hughes just shook his head after tapping out before a sold out audience at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was called “Nemesis” and St. Pierre conquered his nemesis.

“Georges is just a better fighter,” said Hughes (43-6) who beat St. Pierre several years ago, but lost two years ago in a title match. “I just don’t know how much longer I got.”

St. Pierre (15-2) found Hughes using a left-handed stance to change up his attack, but the Canadian quickly adapted and used his quickness, skills and raw strength to take Hughes to the ground.

“If it wasn’t for my wrestling training I wouldn’t have been able to adjust,” said St. Pierre who had been preparing to represent Canada’s Olympic wrestling team.

Inside the Octagon the Canadian was never in danger. In fact, Hughes was the fighter teetering for the entire fight that ended in 4:54 of the second round.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Hughes, known for his wrestling skills, just couldn’t solve St. Pierre’s quickness. Every move the Illinois fighter attempted was squashed.

St. Pierre is now promised a fight against the current UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, who pulled out of the fight with Hughes because of injury.

“If I don’t get my belt back, I’m going to consider myself champion,” said St. Pierre filled in for Serra with less than a month of training.

After dominating the first round on top of Hughes, the second round was even worse as St. Pierre landed elbows and fists. Though the Illinois fighter escaped from underneath, he was quickly thrown down. Within seconds St. Pierre grabbed Hughes left arm and turned it into an inescapable arm bar.

Hughes screamed out: “I tap!”

St. Pierre now awaits Serra to recover from his back injury.

The semi-main event was no less intense.

The light heavyweight showdown between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Brazil’s Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was a three-round punch out between two famous sluggers. In the end Liddell’s sharper punches in the first and third round decided the fight despite a knockdown in the second scored by Silva.

Silva (31-8-1) dominated the second round for four minutes and 30 seconds but Liddell rallied and took the Brazilian to the ground. Two judges were somehow impressed by Liddell’s last 30 seconds and inexplicably gave him that round.

With both fighters huffing and puffing, and Silva with a bad cut over his right eye, Liddell seemed the stronger puncher and landed a back-handed fist and a right hand that stunned the former Pride FC fighter Silva. But he survived the round.

The judges scored it 29-28, 30-27 twice for Liddell who won his first bout after back-to-back losses.

“I knew it was a big fight for everybody and especially for me to get back on track,” said Liddell (21-5). “He had a lot more than I thought he had.”

Silva, who was making his first UFC appearance, was gracious in defeat.

“He won,” said Silva. “I gave my best.”

Temecula’s Rameau Sokoudjou fell short against Brazil’s undefeated Lyoto Machida (12-0) in their light heavyweight contest. The Cameroon native was unable to use his punching power with effectiveness against the karate-trained fighter. Then, unexpectedly, Machida landed a left hand that dropped Sokoudjou (4-2) and proceeded to gain an arm triangle that forced a submission at 4:20 of the second round.

“I’ve been working on my ground game,” said Machida who wants a world title match. “I beat the Alaska assassin, the African assassin, what other assassins are left?”

A heavyweight bout featured two Southern Californians eager to punch out. But San Diego’s Eddie “Manic Hispanic” Sanchez’s experience proved decisive in beating Temecula’s Soa Palelei (8-2) with uppercuts for three rounds. With his nose bleeding profusely and sustaining three consecutive uppercuts, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight at 3:24 of the third and final round for a technical knockout.

“He was out of gas,” said Sanchez (10-1). “He was always putting his head down.”


A grudge fight between two Louisiana fighters ended in a decisive submission victory by Rich Clementi of Slidell over the favored Melvin Guillard of New Orleans. A rear naked choke at 4:40 seconds of the first round forced Guillard, who had been predicting domination, to tap out. Though the fight was definitively over, Guillard attempted to assault Clementi but referee Herb Dean grabbed the fighter.

“He still didn’t learn his lesson,” said Clementi after Guillard attempted to rush him after the fight. “I validated what he’s known for six years, I’m the better man.”

James “The Sandman” Irvin (13-5-1) was nearly put to sleep by an illegal knee to the eye from Brazil’s newcomer Luis Cane (8-1) in the first round of a light heavyweight fight. Unable to continue, Irvin was declared the winner by disqualification at 1:51. Cane seemed unaware that UFC rules disallow knees to the head while the person is on the ground. Some mixed martial arts organizations allow it.

Former Ultimate Fighter participant Manny Gamburyan (6-3) quickly took his fight to the ground with former boxer Nate Mohr (6-5). Once on the ground the lightweight used his quickness to grab an ankle and twist. Mohr screamed to stop the fight at 1:31 of the first round.

“I’m so sorry for you man,” said Gamburyan who suspects he broke Mohr’s leg. “Nate’s a great guy.”

San Diego’s Dean Lister (10-5) scraped out a unanimous decision win over Bulgaria’s punch-crazy Jordan Rachev (16-2) in a middleweight bout. The judges scored it 29-28 for Lister.

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Articles of 2007

Pavlik Or 'Money': Fighter of the Year Is…



There’s nothing like the terror felt when you have a big black bear snarling and snorting and hunting you down, eager to stuff your tender head into his mouth, to make you run as fast as you’ve ever run.

Thanks, Dana White, aka the big black bear.

Thanks for waking up the semi-slumbering powers that be, and forcing them to acknowledge that boxing needed to step up its game, or be eaten alive, and shifted even further back in the sports world’s relevance race, in 2007.

With UFC threatening to snarf up those much lusted after PPV dollars, the suits went into overdrive, and worked smarter, and harder, to give fans compelling matchups.

They agreed to get along to get money, and they relegated the sanctioning bodies, with those moronic mandatories, and instead listened to you, the consumer, and booked the fights that made sense.

Nobody worked smarter or harder than the PR arms for HBO, and “Money” Mayweather, the artist formerly known as Pretty Boy Floyd. Through his appearance on the ABC reality dance competition “Dancing with the Stars,” and stubbornly effective marketing by HBO (24/7 before the De La Hoy and Hatton showdowns were masterful mini-movies which whet appetites of even non fight fans), “Money” emerged as a pay per view attraction who can take the baton as the premier earner from Oscar De La Hoya.

He transcended the sport, and boxing added another player to the mix of fighters that even non-fight fans in the US recognize the name of. Now there’s Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather…

Boxing, a sprawling mess of interests lacking a central organization that insures cohesiveness in marketing, and message, and mission, relies on a central figurehead to maintain its precarious perch in the mainstream sports information flow. Mayweather, a savvy marketer who has outgrown his periodic outbreaks of youthful indiscretions, is a superstar that fits our age to a T.

He knows exactly what buttons to push to keep his name in the papers-—or, more accurately today, on computer screens—and feeds us rabid presshounds of negativity and turmoil red meat, with his intra-familial beefs and 50 Cent-inspired rants proclaiming his peerlessness.

The only thing holding Mayweather back is his own talent, probably, as he owns too much of it. He blew out De La Hoya, and Hatton, and like Roy Jones in his heyday, he so dominates his opposition, that drama is missing from his fights. Most of us tune in to the sport to savor the drama that comes from one man reaching deep into the well of heart and guts to bring forth reserves even he didn’t know he possesses, and imposing his will on an opponent who had been imposing his will upon him. That sort of drama, as manufactured by the late Diego Corrales, is the variety that the sweet science can deliver like no other sport.

We saw it in excess in 2007, from my personal choice for 2007 Fighter of the Year, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik.

He dug into his well, after getting knocked to the floor in the second round of his tussle with middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, and refused to lose.

All of us could apply his tenacity in staying on his feet, and roaring back to topple Taylor with a furious flurry in the seventh round of their Sept. 29 battle, in our own lives. We all could identify with, and root for, the TSS Fighter of the Year.

One could argue that Mayweather, with ultra high profile wins over De La Hoya and Hatton, who did as much as anyone to keep the sport relevant in the last 12 months, deserves the TSS FOTY honor. As referenced before, maybe his superior level of talent has set the bar too high for us nitpickers. We may be prone to be too hesitant to bestow praise on Floyd, because he makes it look too easy. Sorry, Money, it’s possible you are being penalized for just being too damned good. You certainly are the runaway frontrunner for Fighter of the Decade…

Pavlik, we didn’t know how good he was coming in to this year. We knew how good his promoter, Bob Arum, thought he was. But we reserved judgment, unwilling to make too much of wins over Lenord Pierre and Bronco McKart. We became believers, to a point, when the Ohio native showed boxing skill and a closer’s mentality with his January win over Jose Luis Zertuche (KO8), and true believers with his dominant march over Edison Miranda (TKO7), the heavily hyped Colombian who was no match for the Youngstown hitter’s work rate in their May match.

But we still withheld a measure of respect before Pavlik met Taylor, the middleweight king, in Atlantic City. Maybe we had been burned by (not as great as we were led to believe) white hopes in the past, and were worried that hype and marketing were his greatest attributes as a boxer. The respect came pouring forth when he stayed on his trembling legs in the second round of his September scrap with Taylor, and intensified when he closed the show with a KO crack in the seventh.

The fighter has to be rewarded for staying the course, and not allowing himself to be knocked off the title path since turning pro in 2000, and progressing at a sometimes snailish pace, and sticking with his no-name trainer Jack Loew even though some experts urged him to trade Loew in for a flashier model, and battling frail hands, and getting pinched for slugging an off-duty cop in 2005.

Pavlik’s rise in 2007 came the old fashioned way, via training his tail off, and staying on message mentally, and rising to the occasion when the situation offered a softer, easier choice.

There was no mega marketing machine bombarding our short attention spans with a campaign to make Kelly Pavlik into the torchbearer for the sport in 2007.

But the 2007 leg of his march to prominence reaffirms the best of what the sport has to offer, and reminds us that with talents like Pavlik, the sweet science will never crumble into obsolescence.

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Articles of 2007

Resolution Time For Harold Sconiers



When Harold Sconiers of Tampa, Florida, looks in the mirror these days he doesn’t see the journeyman heavyweight with a 15-17-2 (10 KOs) record that most other people do.

What he sees is the dynamic, hard-hitting heavyweight who made it to the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials, and began his pro career with six straight knockouts and one decision victory.

Since being stopped in the first round by then undefeated Bermane Stiverne, who had won all nine of his fights by knockout, in February 2007, Sconiers has completely reassessed his life and career.

He has come to understand what transformed him from an exciting amateur and fledgling young pro with seemingly limitless future to a nominal heavyweight who had at one point lost 10 fights in a row.

Now aligned with a new manager, David Selwyn of New York, he plans on utilizing that newfound knowledge to embark on what he believes will be the comeback story of 2008.

“I always knew I had a lot of talent, but I never let that talent completely develop,” said the 31-year-old Sconiers, who has lost to such notables as Clifford Etienne, Maurice Harris, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, David Defiagbon, DaVarryl Williamson and Eric Kirkland.

“I had a lot of different problems, but my biggest problems were self doubt and self sabotage. I would do things to make sure I never rose above a certain level.”

During his intensive, exhaustive and brutally honest re-examination of himself, he chose to forego all of the negative aspects of his career and instead focus only on the positive. Through lots of reading and candid discussions with his former trainer Larry Berrien, he went about changing the mindset that made him so comfortable with losing.

The first thing he did was look at his complete record from a totally different perspective. Rather than just dwell on the losses, Sconiers lauded himself for beating six previously unbeaten or once beaten fighters. Among them was Ray Austin, who was 14-1 at the time and later challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight title.

He also fought Edward Escobedo, who was 12-1, to a draw, and lost a split decision to Ruddock, who has always been a formidable ring presence.

When he examined his 10 fight losing streak, he realized that his opponents had a combined record of 164-32-8. Of the 32 losses, Harris, who had revitalized his once dismal career in much the same way Sconiers hopes to, had incurred 10 of them.

And the always competitive Sherman Williams, accounted for another 10, which means eight other opponents had only 12 losses between them. Several were undefeated at the time they faced Sconiers.

“Losing to all of those guys gave the boxing world the perception that I was washed up and just didn’t care anymore,” said Sconiers. “I realized I had to change that perception, and the only way to change it was to change my old habits and my old ways of thinking, dissect everything I’d been doing wrong, and working really hard to establish a new belief system.”

Tapping deep into his own psyche, Sconiers came to realize that much of his lack of self worth was rooted in childhood issues. As a kid he had a passive personality, and both of his parents were college graduates who held what he calls high ranking positions in the corporate world.

He was bright enough to skip grades in school and he scored high on IQ tests. In no way was he destined to become a boxer. His parents had told him on many occasions that he would be well-suited as psychiatrist or attorney.

His life changed when his father held a Mike Tyson fight party at the family home. To say that Sconiers was mesmerized would be a gross understatement.

“I was instantly locked in,” said Sconiers. “I told myself that I have to do this.”

Sconiers ventured to the Frontline Outreach Gym in Orlando, where he met Antonio Tarver, who was roaring through the amateur ranks en route to the 1996 Olympics. Because Tarver was a few years older than Sconiers, he became a surrogate big brother to him. To this day, Sconiers has the utmost respect for Tarver as both a fighter and a friend.

During Sconiers’ amateur career, which consisted of 77 fights, of which he lost 9, his mother continuously reminded him that, in her opinion, “boxing was for dummies.”

Still, he managed to win a silver medal in the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where he beat eventual Olympic representative and future heavyweight title challenger Calvin Brock, as well as the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials. In that tournament he lost to Williamson and Lamon Brewster.

When his pro career began to get derailed, the young and immature Sconiers blamed everyone but himself for his shift in fortune.

“I thought the problem was outside me, and thought everyone was responsible but me,” he said. “I dumped Larry in order to self-manage myself. I left what had always kept me grounded. Some of the fights I lost I could or should have won. There’s no way I should have lost to Etienne, but all I did was show up. The Ruddock fight should have been mine.”

As Sconiers lost interest and motivation, he also began dabbling in drugs and alcohol. More times than not, he would take fights on short notice. Even if he had time to train, he never cared if his opponents were switched or where he was lacing them up. Resigned to the fact that he was just fighting for money, he didn’t train hard, if at all.

He’d also pick up a few dollars working as a sparring partner for the likes of Etienne, Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline, Larry Donald and Kirk Johnson, but the passion was gone. Many of those fighters, as well as their trainers, told Sconiers to snap out of his trance because he was a lot better fighter than he gave himself credit for.

While working with Etienne, the esteemed trainer Don Turner told Sconiers he could make him heavyweight champion of the world if only he’d “get his (stuff) together.”

Sconiers said he was at his personal abyss in mid-2003, when he was stopped by Kirkland, who was 16-1, in the first round in Vallejo, California.

“That was a real bad time for me,” he said. “I was up all night using drugs and alcohol and just didn’t care about anything.”

Although it would be nearly four more years before Sconiers embarked on his personal renaissance, when he looks back on his sordid past that is his most vivid memory. He has learned to use that memory to his advantage.

“A lot of people go down the same route I did and destroy themselves completely,” he said. “I was close to that point around the time of the Kirkland fight, but managed to survive another four years. It is so obvious to me now that I was trying to destroy myself.”

Sconiers is the first to concede that once you fall into the role of an opponent, it is hard to extricate yourself.

“A lot of guys go through this and fall by the wayside,” he said. “Look at Emanuel Burton (Augustus). He’s an immensely talented guy who’s good enough to be competitive and probably beat anyone. But he is in that opponent role, which is hard to snap out of.”

Having done lots of reading on positive thinking and overcoming psychological roadblocks, as well as completely revising his physical training regimen, Sconiers believes he has snapped out of it.

Besides the steadfast support of his beloved wife of six years, Jennifer, who just earned her master’s degree, he believes that his association with Selwyn is a pivotal component to the success he foresees for himself.

They plan on having a momentous and memorable 2008.

“Harold says he is going to be the Cinderella Man of 2008,” said Selwyn. “We plan on keeping a very busy schedule. History has shown that heavyweights are always just a few wins away from redemption. At his best, Harold is very good. It is undeniable that he was his own worst enemy in the past. Now he believes in himself, Larry believes in him, and I believe in him. I’m really looking forward to working with him so he can reach his full potential.”

“We plan on a busy schedule and a lot of upsets,” added Sconiers. “After my first couple of wins, people will probably say they were a fluke. I’m not quite the Cinderella Man and I’m not quite Rocky, but I am an underdog who can make it. Hope sells in boxing, and I plan on being one of the biggest stories of the new year.”

Manager Dave Selwyn can be contacted at: or 845-893-2829.

*photo courtesy Harold Sconiers

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