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WATCHING WILDER Heavyweight Punching Sensations & How They Fared

Frank Lotierzo

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With the upcoming WBC heavyweight title clash between title holder Bermane Stiverne 24-1-1 (21) and challenger Deontay Wilder 32-0 (32) beginning to garner a lot of attention, because of Wilder’s 100% KO ratio, I thought I’d take a look at some other hyped heavyweight punching sensations who made their pro debut in the late 1960s and later, excluding former undisputed champ George Foreman. I’m excluding Foreman because he turned out to be more than a once in a generation puncher. Foreman really was a once in a lifetime puncher, and perhaps the strongest and most powerful heavyweight of the 19th and 20th centuries. The list below is comprised of the fighters who were really, really hyped as being genuine life-takers. And with the exception of two, the others turned out to be the genuine article.

I didn’t include big punchers the likes of Jeff “Candy Slim” Merritt, Al “Blue” Lewis, Gerrie Coetzee, Mike Weaver, Bonecrusher Smith, Frank Bruno, Ray Mercer and Bert Cooper. And the reason for that is, despite all of them being legit with their power, they were never promoted and hyped to the extent that the fighters below were.

The 10 fighters listed below all received the media hysteria, and then some. This is the type of hype that Deontay Wilder is the benefactor of today.

Mac Foster: Made his pro debut on 11/28/66 and retired with a career record of 30-6 (30). Foster never fought for the title because the gatekeepers during the early 1970s were really tough and he stumbled in his biggest opportunity. At the zenith of Mac’s career he sported a record of 24-0 (24) and then was KO’d by Jerry Quarry in the sixth round in his first real test. Historically, Foster is remembered as being a pretty good puncher who didn’t bring much else to the ring. Definitely not the life-taker he was built up to be, but he was a good puncher among his contemporaries.

Earnie Shavers: Made his pro debut on 11/6/69 and retired with a career record of 74-14-1 (68). Shavers went on to fight for the heavyweight title twice, against Muhammad Ali in 1977 and Larry Holmes in 1979. Earnie hit Ali with some of the hardest shots he was ever caught with, and he was two seconds away from scoring a seventh round one-punch knockout over Holmes in their title bout. Historically, Shavers is considered to be one of the hardest two-handed punchers in boxing history. Both Ali and Holmes have said repeatedly that Shavers was the biggest puncher they ever fought. However, his stamina and delivery system were flawed and that held him back from becoming a great fighter.

Ron Lyle: Made his pro debut on 4/23/71 and retired with a career record of 43-7-1 (31). Like Foster and Shavers, Lyle lost to Quarry in his first high profile bout, the difference being Lyle lost by decision and wasn’t stopped. Lyle could hit with both hands and was a dangerous boxer-puncher, who could also fight inside. He fought for the title once and was stopped in the 11th round by Muhammad Ali. Lyle scored a sixth round knockout over Shavers, and in a pier-six brawl a year later had George Foreman down twice in their 1976 bout. In fact, no other fighter hurt Foreman during his career as badly as Lyle did before he was ultimately stopped by George. Lyle was a legitimate big puncher who could throw every punch in the book. He was fundamentally better than Shavers and had a better chin, but Earnie had the heavier hands.

Gerry Cooney: Made his pro debut on 2/15/77 and retired with a career record of 28-3 (24). Cooney was hyped as the boy-next-door white hope who could really punch. Cooney destroyed a washed up Ron Lyle and Ken Norton, both in one round. He was tall and had a debilitating left hook and was an underrated boxer. He gave Larry Holmes, when he was in his prime, a tough fight before running out of gas and taking too many punches, which led to his demise in the 13th round. Cooney for personal reasons outside of the ring never reached his potential as a fighter, but his power was legit and worthy of the hype it generated. This notion is something Larry Holmes has repeatedly endorsed over the last 30 years.

Mike Tyson: Made his pro debut on 3/6/85 and retired with a career record of 50-6 (44). Tyson was hyped and marketed better than any fighter in history. Mike was a rare blend of speed, power and accuracy. He used his short arms and stature to set up his finishing combinations and shots once inside. Tyson is the youngest fighter in history to win the heavyweight title, at age 20. His power and speed made him one of the most feared fighters of his era. He could hit with both hands, but unlike Foster and Shavers, he always delivered his power regardless of the opponent. Tyson lived up to the hype and was the real deal. He was much more than just a big puncher.

Tommy Morrison: Made his pro debut on 10/11/88 and retired with a career record of 48-3-1 (42). Morrison had a lot of hype behind him, like Cooney, and like Gerry, his Sunday punch was his left hook. Morrison scored some picturesque KOs on the way up and did capture the WBO heavyweight title. However, when he met the upper tier opponents of his era, his chin and stamina turned out to be a bigger liability than his power was an asset. Stand there and let him hit you, you’re in trouble. Like Cooney and Shavers he was easy to hit and seldom came back to win once he was hurt or in trouble. That said, his power was for real.. but he wasn’t a great fighter.

Lennox Lewis: Made his pro debut on 6/27/89 and retired with a career record of 41-2-1 (32). Lennox was a tall heavyweight who could box and punch. He could fight as the attacker or he could step back and counter. He had a terrific jab and uppercut and he could end the fight with a single right hand. Lennox fought a lot of big punchers during his era and never met a fighter he couldn’t beat. His power was for real and his delivery system was exceptional. Like Tyson, Lennox is considered one of the all-time greats, and it’s not just because he could punch. Historically, Lewis probably exceeded his expectations.

David Tua: Made his pro debut on 1/12/92 and retired with a career record of 52-5-2 (43). Tua scored one of the most frightening knockouts ever when he stopped future title holder John Ruiz in 19 seconds. Tua, had two handed power and possessed a cast iron chin. He was short and compact like Tyson. When it came to single shot knockout power, Tua was more dangerous and a bigger puncher than Tyson. However, he wasn’t as fast or accurate. In his only title shot he was dominated by Lennox Lewis and lost by decision. Sadly, he never got near enough to Lennox to catch him good and was easily out boxed by him. Tua is no doubt one of the biggest punchers in heavyweight history, but is seen historically as an under-achiever. His power was authentic and real, but he wasn’t a great fighter because of his poor delivery and accuracy.

Wladimir Klitschko: Made his pro debut on 11/16/96 and is currently 63-3 (53). Wladimir is still in the midst of his career. Due to his reach and size he most resembles Lewis. Klitschko has a great left hook and his right hand has fight-ending power. He doesn’t like to fight inside and isn’t that good at it. He is best fighting at mid range and outside. He enters the ring with trepidation because he was stopped during the first few years of his career. However, he has learned how to use his size and now fights big. He looks as if he can hold the title almost as long as he wants to, and he is most definitely the hardest punching heavyweight in the world today. As it stands right now, Wladimir Klitschko has lived up to the expectations that were placed upon him when he turned pro.

Samuel Peter: Turned pro on 6/2/01 and retired with a career record of 34-5 (27). Peter was hyped to be the next Tua, but as a puncher and fighter he was no Tua. Peter was a crude, wild swinging banger with no game plan and couldn’t box. He didn’t have the greatest chin, and for him to land cleanly, he needed his opponents to stand right in front of him and then dare him to hit them. Based on the early hype that surrounded him, he didn’t come close to matching the hype as a puncher or a fighter.

The 10 fighters above were really hyped on their way to the big-time and were billed as being once in a generation punchers. Most of them lived up to their expectations but never blossomed into being great fighters, with the exception of Lewis and Tyson. They didn’t flourish like that because of other shortcomings in their game, as some couldn’t box and therefore didn’t always deliver their power, and/or some lacked a great chin and the stamina needed at the highest level in professional boxing.

Now the boxing world awaits for Deontay Wilder to show if he’s the real deal and if his perfect record of scoring all knockouts in his 32 bouts is authentic, or if he is just a product of great maneuvering and match-making. One thing is for sure–all big punchers are susceptible to being hit. And Wilder has been chin checked during a few of his early fights and as an amateur. So we have questions about his durability and power, at least I do.

Down the road someone will do a list like this and Wilder’s name will be under Samuel Peter. Only then we’ll have the wisdom of time to find out if he was more Lennox Lewis or Samuel Peter. The only thing we know right now is….if you say you know, you really don’t, you’re just guessing. Most likely we’ll have a better idea as to whether Deontay Wilder is the genuine article on January 18, 2015.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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