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Malignaggi-Judah and the Subway Ride Home

Thomas Hauser

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Paulie Malignaggi would have been more appreciated in an era other than his own. Yeah, I know; he wouldn’t have beaten Henry Armstrong. But in an earlier era, he would have been honored by media and fans alike for the pride he takes in his craft, his willingness to go in tough, and doing the best he can with the tools he has.

I met Paulie several days before his pro debut in 2001. Since then, I’ve written tens of thousands of words about him. I’ve been in his dressing room in the hours before and after some of his biggest fights, wins and losses. We’ve talked and shared meals together away from the spotlight. I’ve always gotten an honest answer from him. There’s no slipping and sliding and avoiding the truth. We don’t agree on everything, but we listen to each other’s opinions with respect.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about Paulie meeting my then-85-year-old mother. The article quoted her as saying, “Paulie is adorable; a little cocky, but as cute as can be.”

The next time I saw Paulie, he told me, “Tell your mother I think she’s cute but a little cocky.”

On December 7th, Paulie fought Zab Judah at Barclays Center in a bout that was marketed as a fight to determine which man deserved to be called “the King of Brooklyn.”

Judah has been fighting professionally for half of his thirty-six years. Like Paulie, he has shown a willingness to go in tough en route to a 42-and-8 record with 29 knockouts. Paulie entered the bout with a 32-and-4 ledger.

Zab’s history suggests that he’s more effective and dangerous in the ring when he feels that his opponent can’t punch. Paulie has two knockouts in the past ten years.

I didn’t want to be at ringside for the fight.

I have no quarrel with Golden Boy Promotions for making the bout. It was a competitive match-up between two world-class boxers. I had no quarrel with either fighter. They treated each other with respect during the build-up to the bout rather than acting like confrontational idiots (which we see too often in boxing these days). I just didn’t want to be there.

In 2006, Paulie fought a prime Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. He was cut from a head butt in round one, knocked down in round two, suffered a fractured orbital bone, and still won four or five rounds depending on which judges’ scorecard one looked at. Paulie has permanent nerve damage in his face as a consequence of that fight.

I’ve been at ringside when two fighters were beaten to death, I won’t be overly dramatic and say that I had similar concerns for Paulie. I don’t go to fights expecting a tragedy. But I knew that Zab would hit Paulie in the head with the same certainty that I know a person who walks in the rain without an umbrella will get wet.

“Blood is not the scary part of boxing,” Hamilton Nolan has written. “Blood is an annoyance, a split lip, a split eyebrow, lending a vivid bit of color to a fight, but taking little physical toll. Far more scary is the thought of the unseen damage being inflicted inside one’s skull. Blood is cleaned up with a rag and some Vaseline and adrenaline and stitches and a scar. Brain damage is not cleaned up, ever.”

“How old is Paulie?” my mother asked me the day before Malignaggi-Judah.

“Thirty-three.”

“He’s smart; he’s good-looking. Isn’t there something else he can do to support himself?”

“He’s a commentator for Showtime and Fox Sports 1,”

“Then why is he risking his health like this?”

“For the money.”

“And what if he ends up like Muhammad?”

Professional obligation brought me to Barclays Center on December 7th. The annual meeting of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the kick-off press conference for the January 30, 2014, fight between Victor Ortiz and Luis Collazo were scheduled on-site for late that afternoon.

Ortiz’s last fight was a loss to Josesito Lopez that ended with Victor choosing not to continue after nine rounds despite the fact that he was ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards. That choice seemed eminently sensible since his jaw was dangerously and painfully broken.

At Barclays, several members of the media asked Victor if that made him a quitter. He handled the questions with grace. When the press conference ended, I went over and told him, “Anyone who says you’re a quitter, eff ‘em. You were the only one with enough sense to stop the fight that night.”

Paulie arrived at Barclays Center at 6:45. I wished him well. Then I left the arena and went home.

It’s a half-hour subway ride from Barclays to my apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan. The train was half-empty when I got on. I took a seat and was alone with my thoughts.

I met Paulie at the final pre-fight press conference for a July 7, 2001, HBO doubleheader. Paulie was slated for the non-televised undercard. He sat through the entire press conference and hardly said a word. He seemed shy.

The subway moved through Brooklyn toward Manhattan. A drunk got on at the Borough Hall stop, bottle in hand. When the train reached Clark Street, he started spewing racial epithets. Other passengers moved away from him toward safer areas of the car.

“Very few people in the media challenge you face-to-face,” Paulie told me once. “Most of them do it from behind the protection of their computer screen. It used to bother me when people in the media wrote negative things about me. I’d say to myself, ‘These guys are experts. Some of them have been writing about boxing since before I was born.’ Then I realized that a lot of the writers and even some of the network TV guys don’t know shit about boxing. All they do is criticize and shoot their mouth off.”

The drunk got off the subway at 14th Street.

“A fighter can always talk himself into fighting one more fight,” Paulie told me over pizza several days after his split-decision loss to Adrien Broner this past June. “I’m not stupid. I know that.”

I arrived home at 7:30 PM and turned on the television. Auburn was leading Missouri 59-42 in the closing minutes of the SEC championship game.

At eight o’clock, I switched to Showtime. There would be seven fights on Showtime and HBO over the next five hours. Sakio Bika vs. Anthony Dirrell was up first; then Erislandy Lara vs. Austin Trout. At 9:45, with Lara and Trout in snooze mode, I switched to HBO. Matthew Macklin looked like a fighter who has seen better days in outpointing an overmatched Lamar Russ. James Kirkland vs. Glenn Tapia was a great fight for two rounds and a brutal beatdown for four more. After Kirkland disposed of Tapia, I switched back to Showtime.

Malignaggi and Judah were in the ring.

The fight began.

Paulie controlled round one with his jab. He was the faster, busier fighter. In round two, he tripped over Zab’s leg while spinning away from a punch and his glove touched the canvas. Referee Mike Ortega mistakenly called it a knockdown. That error registered as a three-point swing on the judges’ scorecards (from a 10-9 round in Malignaggi’s favor to 10-8 for Judah).

In round three, an accidental clash of heads opened a small cut above Zab’s left eye and a more serious cut on Paulie’s left eyelid. Now one could envision the fight being stopped because of the cut, going to the judges’ scorecards after an abbreviated number of rounds, and Judah coming out on top because of the incorrectly-called knockdown.

But Paulie controlled the rest of the bout, working behind a stiff jab, straight right hands, and occasional hooks to the body. He put everything on the line and initiated the action throughout, while Zab fought with the purpose of a man in a sparring session.

Paulie was faster than Zab had thought he’d be. And perhaps another factor was at work. Zab has a good “boxing IQ.” It’s an edge that he brings into most of his fights. This was one of the few times that he’d been in the ring with a fighter who could outthink him.

Malignaggi gave Judah a boxing lesson. One could argue that he won every minute of every round. Certainly, he showed that he can still fight competitively at the elite level. The judges rewarded him with a unanimous decision.

I’d prefer it if Paulie stopped boxing and concentrated on his commentating career. But I know that he won’t. Now that he has beaten Judah, another big-money fight awaits him. It will be big-money because the opponent, whoever it is, will be a top-echelon fighter who’s skilled at inflicting pain and physical damage.

I’m glad Paulie won on December 7th. And I’m at peace with myself for choosing to not be at ringside to see it. Television cosmetizes the violence of boxing. And watching at home, one doesn’t feel the blood lust of the crowd.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Straight Writes and Jabs: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) has just been published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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Season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series Concludes on Saturday in Munich

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PRESS RELEASE: The hotly-anticipated World Boxing Super Series Season II Cruiserweight Final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos takes place behind-closed-doors in a film studio at Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich, Germany on Saturday, 26 September. On the line: The Muhammad Ali Trophy, IBF World Title, and vacant Ring Magazine 200 lbs belt.

The final will be shown live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.

“A final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy has proved to be something extraordinary. We have seen that it brings out the best in boxers which reflects the DNA of our tournament as to deliver and continue to deliver boxing at its very best to fans of the sport,” said Andreas Benz, CEO of Comosa, the event organizer.

“Plazamedia is a phenomenal solution, the studios are providing a controlled environment which is of huge benefit to us and the production team to keep everyone safe while also putting on a great show.

“At the same time, we have done everything to secure fair conditions for both teams, and to ensure they remain healthy and isolated until the action starts.”

Mairis Briedis, tournament No. 1 seed, qualified for the final through wins over Noel Mikaelian (UD) and Krzysztof Glowacki (TKO3), while Dorticos, No. 2 seed conquered Mateusz Masternak (UD) and Andrew Tabiti (KO10) to enter the 200 lbs decider.

“We are very happy about the announcement of the final,” said Latvia’s Mairis Briedis. “I love the fact that it will be in Munich as it reminds me of every time I went to train with the Klitschko brothers in Germany and the flights were always via Munich. Those are some great memories of the time spent with them there.”

Said Miami-based Cuban, Yuniel ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos, IBF World Cruiserweight Champion: “To all my fans worldwide, In Europe and especially in Munich, Germany: I am super happy the World Boxing Super Series final will take place in Munich, Germany, and I will see you all on Saturday, September 26th. The KO Doctor is back and ready to prescribe another dose of pain and take the Muhammad Ali Trophy back to Miami.”

Kalle Sauerland, Chief Boxing Officer of the WBSS, said: “On 26 September we will not only crown the best cruiserweight on the planet but also send a sign to the world that boxing is back with the first major transatlantic championship bout between the undisputed number one and two in their division.

The final is not only about honour and glory, but cementing a legacy. The winner will become a member of an exclusive ‘Ali Trophy Winner Club’ that includes Oleksandr Usyk, Callum Smith, Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor. It doesn’t get much bigger in boxing, and we expect Briedis and Dorticos to have an absolute barnstormer!”

The Muhammad Ali Trophy was created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

Let’s call this week the Big Build Up.

Back in the 1920s to the 1950s the City of Angels was known as the place where Humphrey Bogart lived and played characters out of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Books like the “Big Sleep” and “Lady in a Lake” were made into movies based in Los Angeles.

Well, here we are back where boxing thrives, people or not.

Los Angeles kicks off the big boxing week starting with a televised fight card that features home grown featherweight Vic Pasillas at the Microsoft Theater in the downtown area. Fox Sports 1 will televise the Premier Boxing Championship card on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Pasillas (15-0,8 KOs) faces Dominican fighter Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event at a fan-less event that begins a crowded week of boxing as we near the end of 2020.

“Coming out on top against Encarnación is going to catapult me into some big fights at featherweight. The division is wide open and I know with hard work I can take it over,” said Pasillas who is originally from Los Angeles. “This is by far the most important fight of my career. I’m coming with everything I got, because I know this is the turning point that will lead to bigger and better fights. I am ready to bring an exciting fight to the fans and get my hand raised in victory.”

Both Pasillas and Encarnacion are undefeated and unknown to most of the boxing world. A win changes everything especially when it’s difficult to even stage a boxing card.

Promoters are anxious to get their fighters in the ring by any means necessary.

On Thursday in Biloxi, Mississippi, super lightweight Michael Williams Jr. meets Thomas Miller in the headline attraction of a boxing card that will be streamed by UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday in southern Mexico, Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alejandro Davila (21-1-2, 8 KOs) in Merida, Yucatan. No word if it will be streamed. The super welterweight from Ukraine has a 17-fight knockout streak and has become a main attraction in Hollywood, California for 360 Promotions.

“Serhii has become one of the most talked about rising stars in boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, promoter of 360 Promotions. “Boxing fans are excited to see if he can continue his knockout streak against Alejandro Davila, the toughest opponent he’s faced. He’s been training very hard with Manny Robles for this fight and if victorious, we’re certain there will be bigger opportunities for him in the near future.”

These are all tasty appetizers for the big buffet coming on Saturday.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Saturday morning, especially if you live in the California area, ESPN+ will showcase the IBF, WBA super lightweight world title fight between champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) in London. It will be streamed live on Sept. 26, Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m PST.

This is an important match for Taylor (pictured on the left) who needs a win to nail down a unification clash with Jose Carlos Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist. If Scotland’s Taylor emerges victorious the super lightweight clash will be one of the top fights of the year.

And if that fight happens to take place, then that winner more than likely meets WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

But first things first. Taylor needs to defeat Thailand’s Khongsong on Saturday.

“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line,” said Taylor.

Charlos Pay-per-view

The Charlos brothers asked for it and they got it.

Long have the brothers from Houston, Texas asked for a pay-per-view fight card and it never seemed possible until now. The Charlos will headline a pay-per-view double-header on Saturday via Showtime.

Beginning at 4 p.m PT/ 7 p.m. ET the Showtime pay-per-view card begins with three top notch bouts:

WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (29-4) vs Ghana’s Duke Micah (24-0, 19 KOs).

WBA super bantamweight titlist Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs Damien Vazquez (15-1-1, 8 KOs).

WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) v Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs).

Charlo was not impressed with Derevyanchenko’s performances against Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin because both were losses. He expects to dominate.

Derevyanchenko says he’s ready for Charlo.

“Golovkin is a very different fighter than Charlo, but Jacobs is similar stylistically, so that’s something I’ll be used to,” said Derevyanchenko. “This training camp has been very similar to camps for my previous fights though. We just brought in different sparring partners for this one. We’re using fighters who can show us what Charlo will bring to the ring.”

After a 30-minute intermission the second half of the boxing card begins.

Former bantamweight world champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up in weight to face Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBC super bantamweight world title. Both fighters are from Mexico.

Former super bantamweight titlists Danny Roman (27-3-1) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3) meet in a 12-round bout.

In the grand finale WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) challenges IBF and WBA super welterweight titlist Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a fight for all three belts.

“We lions,” said Charlo.

It’s a very big week for boxing that begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday.

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The Return of Wednesday Boxing Evokes Memories of a Golden Era

Arne K. Lang

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There’s a Wednesday card on the boxing docket this week. The card, which features several undefeated up-and-comers of the sort usually found on Showtime’s developmental series, “ShoBox: The New Generation,” will play out at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and air on Fox Sports 1.

Not to be out-done, “ShoBox” is returning. The long-running series, which suspended operations in March in obeisance to COVID-19 restrictions, returns on Oct. 7 with a show emanating from Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino. The contestants in the main go of the four-fight card, Charles Conwell and Wendy Toussaint, have identical 12-0 records.

It just so happens that Oct. 7 is also a Wednesday. And these upcoming Wednesday shows transported this reporter back to his boyhood when boxing was a fixture on radio and television on Wednesday nights. The Wednesday series sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ran from 1950 to 1960, airing the first five years on CBS and then on ABC.

Fights were all over the TV dial during the 1950s, not that there was much competition. The Big Three — NBC, CBS, and ABC — ruled the airwaves with DuMont a very distant fourth and cable television well off into the future. (For a time, the short-lived DuMont network aired boxing shows on Mondays.)

When televisions first came out, they were a big-ticket item. In 1948, RCA’s cheapest model sold for $395. That’s the equivalent of $10,400 today. By 1954, the cost of the least expensive model had declined to $189 and it came in a bigger box, with a 17-inch screen compared with the 13-inch screen that was standard six years earlier.

With the cost of the coveted contraption beyond the means of many wage earners, saloonkeepers cashed in. Boxing fans flocked to the neighborhood tavern to get their boxing fix. The saloonkeeper could write off his television sets on his taxes as a business expense.

Those were the days, and I date myself, when every town had a TV repair shop and the repairman, like the family doctor, made house calls.

The Wednesday Night Fights were a spin-off of the Friday Night Fights on NBC. The matchmaker for both series (through 1958) was the International Boxing Club which was headquartered at Madison Square Garden. The president of the IBC was James D. Norris (who would come to be seen as a puppet for mobster Frankie Carbo, but that’s a story for another day).

James D. Norris inherited a vast fortune from his father, Canadian businessman James E. Norris. The elder Norris was a big wheel in the sport of hockey and had a financial interest in the arenas that housed NHL teams in Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis. He made these arenas available to his son and the Wednesday fight cards moved around, unlike the Friday fights which were pinned to Madison Square Garden.

Both series would eventually venture out at times into virgin territory, but the Wednesday series was the trailblazer. The first nationally televised boxing show from the West Coast was a Wednesday affair. Jimmy Carter defended his world lightweight title against LA fan favorite Art Aragon, the original Golden Boy, at the Olympic Auditorium on Nov. 14, 1951. Aragon had upset Carter in a non-title fight 11 weeks earlier, but Carter took him to school in the rematch, winning a lopsided decision.

The Friday boxing series, which took the name “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports,” would come to be more fondly remembered, but once the TV became a living room staple, which happened fast, the Wednesday series drew higher ratings. This was predictable as more folks stayed home on Wednesday nights than on Friday nights. And although the Friday series had a larger budget, some of the most important fights of the era were staged on Wednesdays.

One of the highlights of the 1951 season was Ezzard Charles’ world heavyweight title defense against Jersey Joe Walcott at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. It was Walcott’s fifth crack at the title and he was considered ancient at age 37, but he avenged his two previous losses to Charles with a thunderous one-punch knockout.

Carmen Basilio appeared in The Ring magazine Fight of the Year in five consecutive years (1955-1959). The first two — his second meeting with Tony DeMarco and his second meeting with Johnny Saxton – were televised on a Wednesday.

Although he would be quickly forgotten, the Wednesday series brought Bob Satterfield a cult following because of his unpredictability. He certainly left an impression on octogenarian boxing writer Ted Sares who recently named Satterfield his all-time favorite fighter.

To conjure up a portrait of Satterfield, think Deontay Wilder and then fix Wilder with a glass jaw. Satterfield, whose best weight was about 182 pounds, was a murderous puncher, but during his career he was stopped 13 times.

LA’s Clarence Henry and Pittsburgh’s Bob Baker were ranked #3 in the heavyweight division when they ventured to Chicago to tangle with Satterfield, Henry in 1952 and Baker the following year. Henry knocked out Satterfield in the opening round. Satterfield hit the canvas so hard, said a ringside reporter, the resin dust flew up.

The Satterfield-Baker fight would also end in the opening round. Baker out-weighed Satterfield by 34 pounds, but Satterfield flattened him. Later on, in a non-Wednesday fight, Satterfield knocked out Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the third round. Williams, 33-1 heading in, was the larger man by 25 pounds.

One bet on or against Bob Satterfield at one’s own peril.

The Wednesday Night Fights had a nice run before the series was cancelled and supplanted in its time slot by “The Naked City,” a critically acclaimed police drama series. Perhaps the return of boxing on Wednesdays augurs well for another mid-week boxing series, but we won’t hold our breath.

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Fast Results from the ‘Bubble’: Herring Retains His Title in a Messy Fight

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Title Fights on ESPN and FOX Burnish the Labor Day Weekend Boxing Menu

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