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Five Years Later – Ring Magazine All-Star Report Card Revisited (Part Two)

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photoPart two of this TSS special will focus on the second ten fighters listed in Gavin Evans’ Ring Magazine article from exactly five years ago this month, the 2007 All Star Report Card, an article intended to grade the very elite of the sport and forecast where their careers might be headed. Let’s continue to have a look at who those folks were then versus whom they turned out to be.

Shane Mosley was riding a renewed sense of vigor in his career. Having won “just one out of six between ’01 and ’05, Mosley [had] returned to form, with five straight victories – in increasingly impressive style.” The steak would stop at five that very year, when Mosley lost a spirited decision in November against the then-still-undefeated Miguel Cotto. Evans calls Mosley “one of the outstanding lightweights of the modern era – unbeaten at the weight” while also being fairly critical of his association with “the notorious Balco organization, a supplier of illegal, performance enhancing drugs to various athletes”. Of course, one of those athletes turned out to be Mosley, who subsequently confessed to taking PEDs before his 2003 fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Still, Mosley is most assuredly heading for the International Boxing Hall of Fame once he becomes eligible. Both then and now, Mosley is a “popular and highly respected figure” despite his inability to ever become as golden of a goose as his rival/brief business partner, Oscar De La Hoya. Mosley retired just this year after being winless in his last four fights, one of them a draw against Sergio Mora.

Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto was undefeated through twenty-nine professional fights in 2007. Evans notes Cotto as being a “heavy-handed boxer” who uses a “cool, unflustered approach, hits extremely hard with both hands, and is particularly potent with his body attack”. Cotto defeated Mosley later that same year, then followed his up with a stoppage of tough contender Alfonso Gomez. In late 2008, Cotto was defeated by fellow welterweight slugger Antonio Margarito in one of the most highly anticipated contests of the year. The bout has since been the subject of much debate, due to alleged foreign plaster-like material found in Margarito’s gloves in a 2009 fight against Shane Mosley. Whatever happened in the first Cotto-Margarito fight, it did seem to take a lot out of Cotto. He has never quite regained his status as possibly the scariest fighter in his division, but his TKO win over Margarito in the rematch, and a 2012 fight against Floyd Mayweather showed he can still be a dangerous competitor to anyone. Cotto lost the decision in the latter, but bloodied Mayweather’s nose in a rough-and-tumble bout few expected. Cotto is still a huge draw in a sport that demands tough, aggressive heroes, and a fight against undefeated Mexican prospect Saul “Canelo” Alvarez would be an enormous hit at the box office for both fighters.

There is only one Ricky Hatton, and in 2007 he was still undefeated and on top of the British boxing world. Hatton is noted for being “an extremely aggressive fighter who uses his strength and stamina to crowd opponents”. That style made him a star in his home country, but it also got him a lot of attention and respect in America, too. Perhaps even more endearing to boxing fans was Hatton’s well chronicled “inclination towards beer swilling and pie eating between fights”, something that earned him the affectionate nickname “Ricky Fatton”. At twenty-eight, Hatton was trending up towards the pound-for-pound elite, so he took the chance to confirm his status against fellow superstar Floyd Mayweather that December. It was an absolutely brilliant fight night atmosphere in Las Vegas, but Hatton’s throng traveling well-wishers couldn’t help him against vintage Mayweather. After stunning Mayweather early, the dominant fighter of his era settled down to take over the bout, ultimately ending it over Hatton by TKO 10. Hatton rebounded the next year with wins over Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi, but met his demise against Manny Pacquiao in 2009 in perhaps the most brutal knockout of the new millennium. Hatton retired soon after, but he’s poised to make a comeback this November after a three year hiatus, which has many fight fans excited to once again raucously cheer for the gregarious welterweight from Manchester.

Houston’s Juan Diaz “rose above the lightweight pack with his emphatic win over Acelino Freitas” to make the twenty-three-year-old the preeminent up-and-coming boxing “buzzsaw” on the list. Evans notes Diaz as the “premier Diaz” of the time, proving his mettle against some of the best lightweights in the world to create quite the separation between himself and the other notable lightweight fighters of the era with the same surname, IBF titlist Julio Diaz and WBC champion David Diaz. Diaz was a pre-law student at the University of Houston – Downtown, and perhaps had his sights set outside the boxing ring sooner than most of his contemporaries because of it. Diaz stayed undefeated until losing a split decision versus veteran contender Nate Campbell in 2008. His marketability remained, though, and Diaz used it to get a bout against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009. Diaz lost the thrilling contest by TKO 9, then lost two of his next three contests before calling it a career as a fighter and focusing on his outside-of-the-ring business exploits.

A young Amir Khan, then only twenty, was already “one of the biggest names in British boxing” in 2007. Still, boxing experts like Evans saw his potential demise just around the corner. Sure, Khan possessed all the intriguing qualities in 2007 that he does now. His “blistering quickness of foot and hand”, exceptional reflexes, and long-range punching prowess made him a sensational prospect. However, his flaws where equally as evident then as they are now, too. Evans notes Khan as a young competitor who “leaves himself open to counters” before going through all the early times in his career he had either been buzzed or down on the canvas. Khan was knocked out by slugger Breidis Prescott in 2008, lost a split decision to Lamont Peterson in 2011, and was knocked out again just this year by Danny Garcia. Khan has recently decided to spit with his trainer, Freddie Roach, in search for answers to questions perhaps his chin has already told.

No one could have foreseen what Manny Pacquiao was about to do five years ago. Evans notes the constant improvement of the impressive champion, who was then already considered elite. His “footwork and balance” improved considerably under trainer Freddie Roach, but Pacquiao began one of the more impressive runs in history for a man his size that very year seemingly out of nowhere. Pacquiao decisioned Mexican superstars Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez in succession before moving up to lightweight to snag the WBC lightweight title from David Diaz. Afterwards, he utterly destroyed Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto at welterweight, then continued his historically great run by picking up wins against Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley. Pacquiao never made his way to the ring against Mayweather, though, which is the fight everyone has wanted to see for what seems like years now, and he has now lost a disputed decision to Timothy Bradley. No one is sure how many fights the thirty-three-year-old Filipino sensation has left in him, but he’s due for a fourth fight against nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez this December. Assuming he wins that one, he’d likely consider a rematch against Bradley before Mayweather, so fight fans may always be left wondering who the greatest fighter of the era truly was.

Forever undefeated Edwin Valero was just a few years and five fights from his death in 2007. Valero, who won every prizefight he ever had by stoppage, was “one of the big hitters of world boxing.” His career was momentarily halted after a failed MRI brain scan in 2004, but he found fights outside of the United States (the NYSAC had banned him because of it) to keep his career on track. He earned the WBC lightweight title in 2009 and held it until his tragic demise. Valero committed suicide in 2010 by hanging himself with his own clothes in a jail cell as he awaited arraignment for the alleged murder of his own wife, Jennifer Viera. With his death, fight fans are left wondering not only how good he could have been inside of the ring, but also how much damage was truly done to him by the sport we love. Was his tragic end a result of his craft, or was he merely drawn to pugilism because of something already inside of him?

Perhaps surprisingly, people were still wondering what to do with Juan Manuel Marquez in 2007. Five years ago, Marquez had yet to face Pacquiao a second or third time. He was fresh off an important win over Marco Antonio Barrera but had yet to really solidify himself as the best lightweight in the world and a legit contender for top tier pound-for-pound status. Nonetheless, Marquez was praised for his “blend of sharp counterpunching, controlled power, head-shifting defensive prowess, and his defined sense of time and distance.” To put it another way, over these last few years Marquez has shown himself to be a master pugilist, a true technician. He’s been close enough in every Pacquiao fight to be seen the victor in the eyes of many, and he’s constantly challenged himself against the very best. Since his last loss, in 2006 to Chris John, Marquez has only lost three times, twice to Pacquiao and once to Floyd Mayweather. During that timeframe, he’s defeated numerous notables, including Rocky Juarez, Juan Diaz (twice) and Joel Casamayor.

It’s funny to see Chris John on the list. The Indonesian featherweight, who was also an amateur Wushu gold medalist in his home country, defeated Juan Manuel Marquez in 2006, but has never really cashed in on it despite his undefeated record remaining intact. Sure, he suffered a bogus draw against Rocky Juarez in 2009 in the latter’s hometown, but avenged it in Las Vegas later in the year. Since then, he’s remained a titlist who never seems to get a big break against a big money opponent. Is it because he’s too dangerous? Or is he being protected by his handlers? He’ll need solid opponents to establish any sort of lasting legacy (with U.S. fight fans at least), so securing bouts against the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa, Orlando Salido or Mikey Garcia is vitally necessary for the 33-year-old.

Finally, junior featherweight Rafael Marquez, younger brother of Juan Manuel Marquez, rounded out the list of twenty top fighters in the sport. Marquez had just scored a sensational win over Israel Vazquez in 2007. He’d go on to lose the next two to Vazquez in succession, then evened it up in 2010 with a third round knockout of his archrival in culmination of one of the greatest four fight series of the modern era (perhaps fittingly knotted up at two apiece). The fights took their toll on both fighters, though, and Marquez hasn’t quite excelled at the elite level since. He’s lost two of his last four, including an eighth round stoppage by hard-hitting Juan Manuel Lopez. Evans notes some significant talk at the time of the Marquez brothers “being the best boxing brothers in the sport’s history.” Indeed, they’d be on the very short list of siblings to discuss worthy of said honor, likely alongside the Klitschkos (Wladimir and Vitali) and the Spinks (Michael and Leon).

So there you have it, folks. Now, I can throw this old Ring Magazine in the recycling bin and (like you) go back to getting all my latest boxing news and information from The Sweet Science and The Boxing Channel.

You can email Kelsey McCarson at theboxingstop@yahoo.com, or follow him on twitter @TheRealKelseyMc.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 274: Yeritsyan vs Randall at Chumash Casino, Japan and More

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Violence of an organized nature begins in the rustic and peaceful surroundings of Santa Inez, California as welterweights Gor Yeritsyan and Quinton Randall headline a 360 Boxing Promotions card at Chumash Casino on Friday.

Hours later, three world championship fights erupt in Japan. And hours after that, super middleweights tangle in Florida.

All will be streamed.

Undefeated Yeritsyan (17-0, 14 KOs) meets Randall (13-1-1, 3 KOs) for the WBC Continental Americas title on Friday, Feb. 23, at Chumash Casino. UFC Fight Pass will stream the 360 Boxing Promotions card.

Others on the card include undefeated super lightweight Cain Sandoval (11-0, 11 KOs) meeting Javier Molina (22-5, 9 KOs) in a battle set for 10 rounds. It’s a stronger test for Sandoval who has blasted out every opponent. Molina is one of the fighting twin brothers who both were Olympians.

Javier was an Olympian in 2008 for the USA and Oscar Molina an Olympian for Mexico in 2012.

“I’ve been hearing about Cain for a while, but I know my skills and experience will give me the victory,” said Molina who fights out of Los Angeles.

Sandoval, 21, last November won by knockout in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“Javier is a very good veteran who has had many more fights than me, but he’s never felt my power before,” said Sandoval who fights out of Sacramento.

Chumash Casino is located near one of the old California missions and built by the Spaniards in 1804. You can see open land for miles with the next nearest town of Solvang a short driving distance away.

Over the decades I’ve seen some memorable fights including Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley’s wild victory over Manuel Garnica in 2007 and Seniesa “Super Bad’ Estrada’s pro debut win in 2011 against Maria Ruiz.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tokyo Hosts Three World Title Fights

It’s a triple-header in Tokyo for real fight lovers.

Early Saturday morning at 1 a.m. (Pacific Time) three world title matches headed by WBC bantamweight titlist Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) of Mexico defending against Japan’s Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) take place.

Santiago defeated legendary champion Nonito Donaire last July in Las Vegas in an upset. He also fought to a draw against Filipino slugger Jerwin Ancajas who is also on this card.

Nakatani is a big hitter and two-division world champion. He is very familiar with Mexican fighters and often trains in Southern California. I saw him in Maywood, California a year ago. He’s quite a fighter.

In the other co-main event WBA bantamweight titlist Takuma Inoue (18-1, 4 KOs) defends against former super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (34-3-2, 23 KOs) of the Philippines. Its speed against power.

A third co-main features WBO super flyweight titlist Kosei Tanaka (19-1, 11 KOs) defending against Mexico’s Christian Bacasegua (22-4-2, 9 KOs).

ESPN+ will stream the card live on Saturday.

Matchroom in Orlando

It’s a showcase for contenders.

Brooklyn native Edgar Berlanga (21-0, 16 KOs) “the Chosen One” meets United Kingdom’s Padraig “the Hammer” McCrory (18-0, 9 KOs) in the super middleweight main event on Saturday, Feb. 24. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card from Orlando, Florida.

Berlanga, of Puerto Rican descent, burst on the pro boxing scene by knocking out 16 consecutive foes. But ever since 2021 he has been unable to win by knockout. Five consecutive opponents went the distance.

Can Berlanga still punch?

Facing the Boricua slugger will be McCrory a 35-year-old from Northern Ireland who remains undefeated. To put it into perspective, the United Kingdom is filled with very good super middleweights and none have beaten McCrory so far.

Also on the card is Cuban Olympic gold medalist Andy Cruz (2-0) defending a regional lightweight title against Mexican southpaw Brayan Zamarripa (14-2, 9 KOs). Cruz has blistering speed and an aggressive style as a pro.

Other interesting fights feature bantamweight prospects Antonio Vargas (17-1) and Jonathan Rodriguez (17-1-1). Both can punch but each lost via knockout. Whose chin will prove sturdier in this clash?

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Gor Yeritsyan (17-0) vs Quinton Randall (13-1-1)

Sat. ESPN+ 1 a.m. Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5) vs Junto Nakatani (26-0).

Sat. DAZN 4 p.m. Edgar Berlanga (21-0) vs Padraig McCrory (18-0).

Photo: Tom Loeffler is flanked by Javier Molina and Cain Sandoval. Photo credit: Lina Baker

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Fighters from Tijuana are on a Roll; Can Alexandro Santiago Keep Up the Momentum?

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Fighters from Tijuana are on a Roll; Can Alexandro Santiago Keep Up the Momentum?

Last Thursday, a Golden Boy Promotions card in California produced an early entrant for Upset of the Year. In the main event, unsung Jesus “Ricky” Perez out-pointed former U.S. Olympian and former two-division title-holder Joseph “Jojo” Diaz.

Perez hails from Tijuana. Heading in, he had lost five of his last nine and had never won a match slated for more than eight rounds. He started fast and held on to win a split nod (ancient ringside judge Lou Moret awarded Perez nine of the 10 rounds).

The fast-growing, hardscrabble city of Tijuana, which sits at the northwest tip of the Baja peninsula, has produced a steady stream of good boxers over the years (Erik Morales, a Hall of Famer, and Antonio Margarito, a two-time world welterweight champion, come quickly to mind), but is currently enjoying arguably the best run in the city’s boxing history. And the distaff side is sharing in the prosperity. Flyweight Kenia Enriquez (28-1, 11 KOs) and her younger sister Tania Rodriguez (21-1, 10 KOs), a light flyweight, are knocking on the door of world title fights (Kenia holds an interim belt).

Last December, when pundits at the leading U.S. boxing websites brainstormed to come up with the 2023 Fight of the Year, two bouts stood out above all others: the Feb. 18 match between super bantamweights Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan and the June 10 super middleweight contest between Jaime Munguia and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

The Nery-Hovhannisyan match was a riveting, see-saw rumble that ended with Nery winning by TKO in the 11th round. Munguia scored a knockdown in the 12th to overcome Derevyanchenko, eking out a razor-thin but unanimous decision. Both victors have since added another “W” to their respective ledgers. Nery (35-1, 27 KOs) KOed Filipino veteran Froilan Saludar. Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) dominated and stopped England’s John Ryder.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Luis Nery and Jaime Munguia were both born and raised in Tijuana. And we will be hearing a lot more about them. Although unofficial, Nery has an agreement in place to fight superstar Naoya Inoue in Tokyo in May and, according to various reports, Munguia is now the frontrunner to be Canelo Alvarez’s next opponent.

The month after Munguia-Derevyanchenko, Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (pictured) scored his signature win and won the vacant WBC world bantamweight title with an upset of the great Filipino fighter Nonito Donaire. Santiago won a clear-cut decision on the card topped by the mega-fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence.

Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) has a formidable challenge for his first title defense which comes on Saturday in Tokyo. In the opposite corner will be undefeated Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) who is moving up in weight after winning world titles at 112 and 115. Nakatani can really crack as he showed with his brutal, one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

There are two other title fights on the card which will air in the U.S. on ESPN+. Needless to say, one will have to get out of bed early to catch all the action. The first bell is slated for 4 am ET, 1 pm PT.

Santiago will be a heavy underdog against his Japanese opponent who will have a 5-inch height advantage. However, if recent history is any guide, one should not be too quick to dismiss his chances.

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Who Murdered Peter Bufala? A ‘Whodunit’ with a Boxing Backdrop

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On Friday, Oct. 8, 1976, Peter Bufala returned home from work just as a new day was dawning. The Las Vegas baccarat dealer pulled his Cadillac into his circular driveway, exited his car, walked toward his front door, and was felled by two bullets from a 9 mm handgun, one entering his chest and the other his brain. A neighbor fetching his morning newspaper found him lying in a pool of blood on his front lawn. He was dead when the police arrived. He was 33 years old and left behind a wife and two young daughters.

A 12-year resident of the fast-growing southern Nevada gambling mecca, Bufala grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, a blue collar suburb of Philadelphia. He had come here to rekindle his boxing career.

A Middle Atlantic amateur featherweight champion, he had begun his pro career on a high note, winning a 4-round decision over a fellow novice on a show at New York’s St. Nicholas Arena that included Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who would go on to fight for the world middleweight title but would be best remembered for the many years he spent behind prison walls for his alleged involvement in a triple homicide.

Following his New York engagement, Bufala fought in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. As a pro, he never fought in his home state and there was a reason for it. In 1961, while undergoing a routine medical examination at an amateur show, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The Pennsylvania Boxing Commission rescinded his license. He subsequently underwent a series of tests at Temple University Medical Hospital and was given a clean bill of health, but the Pennsylvania authorities were unyielding and, bit by bit, in a day when news traveled slowly, other jurisdictions fell into line.

Nevada was the Wild West. The regulators there had looser standards and Bufala resumed his career on Sept. 2, 1964 at the Castaways, out-pointing his opponent in a 5-round match to improve his ledger to 7-3. The publicity man misspelled his name, adding an extra “f”, and he would remain Pete Buffala whenever his name appeared in the sports section of the local papers.

Fifty years ago, in 1964, approximately 165,000 people resided in all of sprawling Clark County, home to Las Vegas. The thought that Vegas would someday host a Formula 1 Grand Prix or a Super Bowl, two of the grandest sports spectacles in the world, was preposterous. The only local sport that ever made the national news wire was boxing.

The fulcrum was Bill Miller, a hot-headed boxing junkie from Elmira, New York, who owned a saloon on the Las Vegas Strip that he out-fitted with a boxing gym in the basement. Miller’s “Strip Fight of the Week,” which bounced from one little casino to another during a run that lasted well over a decade, bucked the national trend. Small fight clubs, with very few exceptions, had fallen by the wayside, a development triggered by the mass production of televisions.

Miller was hardly immune to all the little hassles that plague a grass-roots boxing promoter. Matches were constantly falling out. But he had several things working in his favor. As opportunities dried up elsewhere, journeymen boxers were drawn here by the promise of steady work. And although Miller couldn’t afford to pay enough to make boxing a full-time profession, good-paying jobs were plentiful in the construction and hospitality industries.

To be certain, there were also push factors. Chester, Pennsylvania, a shipbuilding hub during World War II, had fallen on hard times, plagued by unemployment and racial strife. Lowell, Massachusetts, a city known for its vibrant amateur boxing culture, was likewise hurting with row after row of textile factories sitting vacant. Lowell produced Eddie Andrews, a hard-hitting middleweight who would be the first fighter to make promoter Miller any significant money without having to take him on the road to a larger precinct or overseas.

Andrews supplemented his ring earnings dealing blackjack at Caesars Palace. For a time, Ralph Dupas was a co-worker. A former world title-holder at 154 pounds, Dupas settled in Las Vegas in the mid-1960s as his career was winding down and remained here until his encroaching dementia passed the tipping point and family members brought him home to his native New Orleans to live out his final days.

Returning to Peter Bufala, he worked his way up the ladder on Miller’s promotions, eventually topping the marquee for a fight with Johnny Brooks. They fought at the Hacienda, a grind joint at the south end of the Strip (where Mandalay Bay now sits) on April 13, 1965. Brooks was nothing special, but he was better than his 17-6-3 record. He would go on to last the distance in 10-round fights with future Hall of Famers Emile Griffith and Carlos Monzon.

Bufala was bloodied in the third round and knocked down in the fourth, but mounted a furious rally and at the end of the 10 rounds the judges could not pick a winner and the match went into the books as a draw. Working on the “5-point-must” system, the scores were 46-44 Bufala, 46-45 Brooks, and 46-46. (Trivia time: The 46-46 tally was turned in by ringside judge Harry Reid who would go on to become the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate. Nowadays, visitors flying in to Las Vegas arrive at Harry Reid International Airport.)

Had Bufala won the bout, his next fight would have been a 12-rounder against Reno’s Dave Patterson, the Nevada Lightweight Champion. But when he returned to the ring the following month, it was in a 6-rounder against an unsung fighter from Los Angeles named Davey White and, in a shocker, White blasted him out in the second round.

Bufala announced his retirement after this fight. It warranted scarcely a mention in the Las Vegas papers, but the folks back in Chester hadn’t forgotten him. “Pete Bufala Quits Boxing for Health,” read the bold headline on the sports page of the June 9, 1965 issue of the Delaware County Daily Times. The accompanying story said that Buffala, “Chester’s most promising professional fighter,” had emerged from his most recent bout with a blot clot in his neck and was troubled by chronic back problems. (Buffala would have one more fight before quitting the sport for good. He won his final fight, a 6-rounder, bringing his final record, per boxrec, to 16-5-2.)

Bufala never returned to Chester. He married a local girl and, in short order, was a father of three, two girls and a boy who tragically died at 16 months when he crawled into a plastic laundry bag and suffocated as his mother was distracted writing checks.

In December of 1973, the MGM Grand opened on the southeast corner of the busiest intersection on the Las Vegas Strip. This was the city’s original MGM Grand that would take the name Bally’s and was recently re-branded the Horseshoe. With 2,100 rooms, a 1,200-seat showroom and a jai alai fronton, the MGM Grand made its competitors look puny by comparison. Peter Bufala was there on opening night, dealing baccarat.

In terms of the money put at risk, baccarat is the crème-de-crème of card games. It attracts the whales, the high-rollers that leave the biggest tips. On a good night at a high-end establishment like the MGM Grand, it wasn’t uncommon for a dealer to rake in $500 in gratuities. Bufala worked the graveyard shift (likely 9 pm to 5 am; it varied by hotel), the most coveted shift for a dealer in a day when visitors to Las Vegas were more nocturnal than they are today.

One didn’t get to be a baccarat dealer in a ritzy joint by working his way up from the bottom. One had to know the right people. In the vernacular, one got juiced into the job. And the juicer might expect a kick-back.

One of the most influential people in Las Vegas was an outsider who tried to keep a low profile, Gaspare “Jasper” Speciale. A transplanted New York bookmaker, Speciale co-owned and managed the Tower of Pizza restaurant which sat a stone’s throw from the MGM Grand on the opposite side of the street. Speciale opened doors for dozens of people seeking employment in the hospitality industry. If one was new in town and needed work in a hurry, Jasper was the man to see.

Until the arrival in Las Vegas of the notorious Tony Spilotro, Speciale was the city’s premier private money lender. He would eventually serve four years in a federal prison for loan-sharking.

Whenever there was a murder in Las Vegas that had the earmarks of a mob hit, speculation always centered on Gaspare Speciale. It mattered not that he was active in his church and donated lavishly to local charities. Moreover, he had a warm spot in his heart for prizefighters. In the spacious backyard of his home, chockablock with mementos of his boyhood in New York City, there was a replica of Stillman’s Gym complete with a punching bag and rubbing tables.

Another theory, although one that acquired less currency, pointed the finger at Bufala’s father-in-law who was the beneficiary of Peter’s life insurance policy. The two were partners in a small sporting goods store where it was rumored that one could purchase an unregistered firearm.

On the day that Peter Bufala was assassinated, the story about it in the Las Vegas Sun, an afternoon paper, said that the former boxer had no bad habits – he didn’t drink, smoke, gamble or chase women — and that he was well-liked by everyone that knew him. But, said a police detective, “Someone wanted him dead and eventually we’re going to find out who that someone is and why.”

Forty-seven years after the fact, the who and the why remain as baffling as ever. If Peter Bufala were alive today, he would be 80 years old. This is a mystery that will likely never be solved.

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