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Johnny Bos: A Remembrance 1952 – 2013

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Johnny Bos, who died this weekend at his home in Forida, was a Runyonesque character.

Bos was a boxing guy. Other boxing insiders describe him as one of the most knowledgeable boxing people they ever met.

“He was my first mentor,” matchmaker Ron Katz told The Sweet Science on Sunday. “I was a kid doing shows in White Plains when he took me under his wing. Night after night, we were on the phone until the wee small hours of the morning, talking boxing.”

“Johnny was one of my teachers,” Lou DiBella said on hearing of Bos’s death. “There are matchmakers all over the world who were influenced by him. He loved boxing. He loved fighters. He was a brilliant hardcore blue-collar boxing guy. And he was incredibly generous with his knowledge.”

For years, Bos (seen in above photo, from 2009 Florida Boxing Hall of Fame induction) was an integral part of the New York fight scene. “The go-to guy for a lot of people,” Hall-of-Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler called him.

Then Johnny moved to Florida, but things didn’t work out in the “Sunshine State” so he returned to The Big Apple.

“The Wizard of Boz” (written in 1999) is republished below. I wrote it in a time of hope. Unfortunately, things turned sour for John in the new millennium. Nine years later, economics and health issues forced him back to Florida.

Johnny Bos might not be missed by a lot of people. But the people who miss him will miss him a lot.

*     *     *

The Wizard Of Bos

Go to a club fight. Look around the arena. You might see a large man with shaggy dirty-blond hair, six-feet-three-inches tall, 255 pounds (down from a previous high of 300), who bears a faint resemblance to Hulk Hogan. Engage him in conversation. If the man knows more about boxing than anyone you’ve ever encountered, there’s a chance it’s Johnny Bos.

Johnny Bos fits between the cracks of what everybody else does in boxing. He’s part matchmaker, part manager, part booking agent, and so on. “I manage the managers,” is how he describes what he does. Bos even had one amateur fight, which he won on a decision in 1971. But he doesn’t remember it very well because he was drunk at the time.

So what do boxing people think of Johnny Bos?

Boxing writer Michael Katz sums up for his brethren, when he says, “Johnny Bos is one of the best minds in boxing. There are very few guys around who know and love the game as much as he does. And he cares about the fighters. The only complaint I have is that he should be in a position of influence and authority instead of doing what he does today. I wouldn’t mind it if Johnny Bos ran the sport.”

“The Wizard of Bos” was born in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day in 1952. His father was a shipyard worker, who later worked as a doorman in the building where Barney Ross lived.

“My father was a big fight fan,” Bos says. “As far back as I can remember, I’d be sitting on his lap, watching the Friday Night Fights on television. That’s where my interest in boxing came from.”

Bos was kicked out of Fort Hamilton High School when he was in tenth grade. “I was bored all the time, so I never paid attention in class,” he acknowledges. “Nowadays, they’d probably call it ‘attention deficit disorder.’ And I was a frequent truant and an alcoholic.”

After leaving school, Bos worked as a stockboy at Ohrbach’s department store. Then, at age eighteen, he began an eight-year stint as a mail handler on the graveyard shift for the United States Postal Service.

“Meanwhile, I was hanging around boxing,” he remembers. ”I’d go to the gyms, Jack Dempsey’s restaurant, any place there were fighters. And I was writing for Flash. That started when I was fifteen. Bruce Trampler, Don Majeski, and I used to stand outside Madison Square Garden on fight nights and sell copies of Flash.”

In 1978, Bos left the post office to concentrate on boxing. “Managers and promoters had been calling me for years, asking questions about this fighter and that opponent, and I’d tell them everything I knew for free. Finally, I said to myself, ‘Don’t be a jerk. Everybody else in boxing gets paid for what they do. So should I.’”

Bos’s first paying gig was as matchmaker for a January 1978 Tiffany Promotions card on Long Island.

“Ronnie Harris was scheduled to fight Angel Ortiz in the main event,” he recalls. “The day of the show, there was a terrible snowstorm. Ronnie had trouble getting to the arena, and didn’t arrive until fifteen minutes before his fight.” One of the other matches Bos made that night was Austin Johnson against a novice heavyweight named Gerry Cooney.

“And then, it was like, all of a sudden, I was hot,” Bos reminisces. “Mike Jones and Dennis Rappaport began paying me to choose opponents for Cooney, Harris, and all their other fighters. Mickey Duff hired me for John Mugabe, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Lloyd Honeygan, and Frank Bruno. I was the matchmaker for Main Events in the 1980’s, when they had their greatest years. Evander Holyfield, Mark Breland, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Tyrell Biggs, Rocky Lockridge; I was there for all those guys. Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs hired me for Mike Tyson. I was doing everything for everyone; making matches, choosing opponents, recommending sparring partners. I even stopped drinking. I remember the date; November 17, 1986. My life was good; but I was an alcoholic. The way I was drinking, it wouldn’t have been long before I was dead. And I decided I’d rather live than die.”

“The best time of my life came in 1992,” Bos continues. “In the course of six weeks, I had four guys fight for world championships, and three of them won. Joey Gamache knocked out Chil-Sung Chun to win the WBA lightweight title. Tracy Harris Patterson knocked out Thierry Jacob in a WBC superbantamweight bout. And Tyrone Booze, who was a 30-to-1 underdog, stopped Derek Angol to win the WBO cruiserweight championship.”

That was the peak.

“But then,” Bos remembers, “everything fell apart. I wish I was as good a businessman as I am a matchmaker, but I’m not. I was never a ‘let’s have a written contract’ kind of guy. I always did business on a handshake. So the first thing that happened was, after Tracy won the title, I got screwed by Floyd Patterson. All he said to me was, now that Tracy was champion, he didn’t need me anymore. That was seven years of hard work down the drain. Then Michael Bentt, Darrin Allen, and some of the other promising fighters I was working with walked. My father died. And two months after that, my little brother died of AIDS. You take blows like that, and you lose your confidence. And to make matters worse, I’d moved to Florida, which was a mistake because it took me out of the mainstream. And in boxing, like every other other business, guys are more likely to screw you if they don’t see you face-to-face.”

By 1995, Bos was, to use his own words, “reduced to being a fringe guy in boxing. I was still a fan; I’ll always be a fan. But I wasn’t much of a factor in the business anymore. Then I decided to give it one more shot. I came back to New York; started doing my thing again; and you know the rest. Johnny Bos is now back.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Thomas Hauser on Sports: Remembering the Journey) will be published by the University of Arkansas Press later this month.

 

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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