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Federer and the Punch

Matt McGrain

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Once a year, I let tennis into my life.

I’m reluctant to do so. Wimbledon catches my attention for its entire duration but I don’t like the way competitors are feted for their “stamina” and “courage.” Yes, the levels of fitness they obtain are impressive, and yes it can be difficult to play on when losing, but these are well paid elite athletes in pursuit of cash money.

And nobody is punching them in the face while they submit to their cardio exam.

There is a video on YouTube on the legendary Rafael Nadal exalting “the heart of a warrior.” Overlap between tennis and boxing fans seems reasonably rare and I’d suggest that this is why such radical statements as this are allowed to be made; relative to other tennis players, it is very possible that Nadal does indeed have the heart of a warrior, but compare him to, say, Austin Trout and that claim becomes somewhat ridiculous. Compare him to someone like Israel Vazquez and such a claim becomes utterly bizarre.

Additionally, Nadal was meekly eliminated form Wimbledon early last week by a journeyman of such low ranking that it would have made Mike Tyson shudder. Still, the one-hundred and second ranked men’s tennis player, Dustin Brown, showed a lot of guts in picking up that win – but nothing like the heart James “Buster” Douglas displayed in knocking out the once-rampant Iron Mike.

Different sports – different levels of commitment and risk. Different men.

I was interested then in the questions raised by William Skidelsky in his new book about the great Roger Federer (perhaps the greatest tennis player in history) in his new book Federer and Me. Skidelsky freely admits to an obsession born of some seemingly clichéd self-psychoanalysis but the obsession bares fruit. Skidelsky’s insight into his subject is impractical and born of compulsion and so gets to the root of a matter that stirred within me some fistic interest, specifically his description of Federer’s backhand which he lauds as capable of reaching “any part of the court with every conceivable variation of height, spin and power; and he can do this from almost any position.” To a fairweather tennis fan such as myself that just sounds like tennis, but apparently this is not so. Apparently men’s tennis has retreated from the net, where the creative, exciting tennis of yesteryear was played, to the baseline at the rear of the court, where power dominates all. Thudding, booming hits swapped in rallies defined by endurance and hitting ability as much as technique. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Federer hits his backhand one-handed in pursuit of grace and touch, not power.

Angles; variation of height and power – the firm belief that placement can be more important than power. Skidelsky could be writing about a boxer, not a tennis player.

I want to take you back now to June of 1963. The #2 contender to the welterweight title held by Emile Griffith is twenty-two year old Cuban Jose Stable, two years away from the spirited but doomed shot at the title which would ruin him, and in his prime. Matching him at Madison Square Garden, New York, is Philadelphian and former #2 contender Charley Scott. Scott, once a promising prospect himself, now stands on the precipice of journeyman hell. Both men have much to lose.

Bell.

Federer’s technique is a matter of geometry. Rafael Nadal, his nemesis, deals in torque. Federer has spoken of his admiration for Nadal, of his respect for the Spaniard’s concentration, but equally has stressed that he could never play tennis in such a way. For Federer, Nadal’s mission is to make every point the same – Nadal wants to win by force. Federer gives the nod to Nadal’s overwhelming sense of self but admits that he would find such an approach boring. Federer wants variety. He wants surprise.

Scott and Stable meet ring centre. Stable gives ground a little but fights and when he comes dipping back to Scott the two bump heads to shoulder. Stable places his head under Scott’s chin and they both try to make room for punches without going wide in search of the tiny entrance behind one-another’s elbow – it’s a trap, you see. Something that is rarely mentioned when comparing old-school to new in boxing is this propensity of the referee to permit infighting, and as we shall see, more pertinently, for the boxers to do the same. Infighting was so much a part of the sport up to and including the sixties that it was not even remarked upon, generally, in commentary. It was as much a part of the boxing canon as out-fighting; there was literally no difference in how the two were perceived – a fighter need both to succeed.

Now, a fighter can be held to be a technician by the boxing public if he can throw a very good one-two from the outside. In the run up to his fight with Jennings this year, Bryan Graham, writing in The Guardian named Wladimir Klitschko definitive of the “Eastern European technicians”; Steve Bunce, the pre-eminent British boxing journalist, saw Klitschko “heavyweight’s finest technician”; some less pre-eminent members of the press have even begun to talk about “technician” as a style that Klitschko embodies.

Please understand, I am not saying that anyone who labels Klitschko a technician is wrong; I’m not interested in semantics but rather etymology and what it means for boxing. It is now reasonable to call Wladimir a technician but there is a time when you would have been laughed at for doing so. Draping yourself across your opponents back and leaning down when he gets close was no more legitimate in infighting in 1963 than drawing a knife after a knockdown is now.

Federer is described as “pre-modern” by Skidelsky. In boxing we prefer “old-school”. Either way, what it means is belonging to a different time. Just as Federer’s essence belongs to an era before graphite rackets drove big-hitting bomb-builders to the baseline, Stable and Scott belong to an era long before referees separated fighters that went head-to-head. Naturally, this had consequences for their boxing.

For one thing, the sixties were a time when to become a technician one needed more than a booming jab and footwork birthed specifically to control distance. A technician had to fight at all ranges. If a fighter spent an evening’s work trying to bore in he was no more – but also no less – a technician than the man who backed up all night and jab-jab-jabbed. Both were lacking. A technician was a man who had mastered jab-, mid- and close-range. The word had no other meaning.

In 1963, Scott and Stable have entered the third round. They have agreed now that the fight will be settled on the inside, and given that neither man is a knockout hitter, crisp, volume punching will decide the result. Scott has decided to spring Stable’s trap and punch wide to the body, Stable responds by quadrupling the uppercut to the mid-section, an astonishing technical achievement which requires poise, balance, and the co-operation of a referee willing to let the opponent do enough punching inside that such an advantage presents itself; that last point is important: that such an advantage presents itself.

Such an advantage is not presented to the modern day boxer. It’s a rare, rare night when a boxer can be inside long enough in rounds one and two that he can feel-out and deploy a plan for infighting success. Infighting has become an opportunity to out-muscle a fighter for a psychological edge, perhaps land one punch, perhaps two, before the referee breaks. In 1963 a fighter might spend twenty minutes of a thirty minute fight finding room for punches inside, if he boxed to a certain style. Consider, if you will, how much time a fighter will spend on such techniques in the gym if that is liable to be the case. Now, flip that coin. What if all a fighter has to do to avoid infighting is clinch?

It is common to hear people say that the clinch is “killing boxing”. The truth is both more terrible and less dramatic than that: clinching is modern boxing. Clinching, specifically, is the reason that a whole plethora of infighting skills have been eliminated from boxing’s toolbox. It is one of the great ironies of sporting history, I think, that after boxing became a staple of television’s diet, clinching was frowned upon due to it being seen as dull. This cultural shift trickled through to the ring where referees were encouraged to break as many clinches as possible meaning all a fighter short of in-fighting skills needed to do in order to end that action was clinch. This, in turn, led to an erosion of infighting capabilities in modern fighters because all that is needed to negate any close action is a clinch – and this, finally, results in a huge upturn in clinching.

Boxing, the snake that eats itself.

The last two lineal heavyweight champions of the world, the keepers of the flame of the culture of the sport, have resorted almost exclusively to clinching as an infighting defence. I am a huge admirer of both Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis; I don’t believe they have done anything other than what was absolutely right for them. All any opponent wants to do with Klitschko is come inside and rough him up in search of the KO. The idea that Klitschko should play Russian-roulette with anyone that breaches his jab when the clinch is available to him is absurd and while people are free to dislike him for it, criticising him for it is not reasonable.

Some version of this is what old-timers and classic apologists are trying to tell us when they say that boxers were “more skilled” in those days. Newsflash: they were. But this is not all it seems to be, nor what dismissive modernists presume it to be, nor, finally, what some old-school determinists insist it is. At the opening of the ninth round, Scott and Stable are surprisingly fresh, and although Stable is well ahead, Scott remains game. By the time they meet ring centre in that penultimate round Stable is sure of his own speed advantage, assured in his technical superiority and his eye for distance is in. He comes narrow but reaches all the way around for a right-hand lead to the kidney, and then a left hand gunned for Scott’s jaw that is caught on the gloves, another right to the body followed up by a left uppercut which glances across the dipping Scott’s scalp. Because Scott, too, was seeking out the inside where he has done his best work, and because the referee will allow them both to punch there, these punches were available for Stable; and so he has learned them.

This is not the case for their modern counterparts. The only time real fighting will take place inside is when the fighters decide to allow it. Before Ricky Hatton’s 2007 tilt at Floyd Mayweather his trainer Billy Graham was direct in asking that Hatton be allowed to fight on the inside. I understand why; his man’s whole strategy relied upon being able to get close and throw punches. The simple fact is, however, is that it is not in the referee’s gift to allow fighting on the inside. That gift lay with Mayweather, whose strategy for victory was to hit Hatton on the outside and nullify him inside. This, he did, by holding. Once Mayweather holds the referee is honour bound to separate them.

This fact is obscured by occasions when infighting takes place, as was the case in the first Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios war. Here, Alvarado allowed Rios inside, and allowed him to work, while waiting to reclaim distance and blast his man, giving the impression that the referee was “allowing them to work inside” in the parlance of American commentary; in fact, Alvarado was allowing Rios to work inside by neglecting to hold. He was punished for this tactical transgression.

The only ready solution to this infighting issue, should one be required, is for the referee to penalise a new generation of fighters who take holding for granted. This will result in physically and technically inferior fighters claiming wins on point deductions and disqualifications, at least in the short term; or will result in the bizarre sight, as in Lewis-Tyson, of a fighter leaning while holding his arms out wide to prove he is not holding. There is nothing harder in sports than enforcing a cultural change through a rule change (see the total inability of football’s governing body to eliminate diving in football [soccer] by penalising it).

Stable hit Scott with combination after combination on the inside in that ninth round at a point in the fight where Scott needed a knockout to win. If Scott elected to hold, Stable would have been allowed to fight out; meanwhile, if Stable had hit while holding, he would be in breach. So Scott fought on, tending to dip to his left, something Stable did too, but every now and again Stable hops out of their formation and in again to his right creating a whole new mess of geometry between the two. Next time you are watching a fight, or better yet sparring, take note, during a rare infighting exchange, of the enormous difference a small step to the left makes for both fighters. When they are head to head they seek the same punches dependent upon handedness, but with that single half step one fighter is looking for the left hook to the body, the other the right uppercut to the head. There are dozens of such variations. Now, perform the same exercise on the outside – both men still seek to jab.

Like Federer, Scott and Stable are seeking to land punches all over the court and for the most part there is no modern equivalent. Initiating a clinch is a legitimate skill in modern boxing, but it is not one that can be compared to the pulse of this whirling dervish of a contest. Scott has to try to get his head on Stable’s left shoulder opening up his right hand to the body when Stable uses his left; he wants to lock down Stable’s left with this tactic. Meanwhile Stable wants to quick-time Scott’s body when he is stepping in and snipes for the head while Scott is trying to find position. Even this singular version of the inside game is enthralling and fuelled by drill upon drill in the gym.

What this does not mean is that Scott and Stable are better fighters under their ruleset than modern fighters are under theirs. What it means is that fighters from the 1960s have, by necessity, a deeper skillset. Wladimir Klitschko is as brilliant at what he does as Jose Stable was at what he did – more brilliant, Klitschko has perfected, even defined a certain style where Stable was only a disciple of his – but he does less. That he can now be named a technician is the single harshest indictment of the shrinking pool of skills necessary to achieve greatness in boxing.

And so at last we return to tennis and the final analogy between this less demanding sport and the commitment that is boxing. Nadal is just as technically correct as Federer – more so, perhaps, given the specifics of the era, produced by graphite rackets – but Federer’s skilful backhander opens up a whole world of new and more varied techniques.

“Roger Federer,” writes Skidelsky, “made tennis beautiful again.” Whether or not it will be beautiful enough to see Federer to yet another Wimbledon title remains to be seen (he had qualified for the second round at the time of writing), but it’s unlikely we will ever see a return to the beauty of boxing as is it appears in the time of Stable and Scott. I don’t say that boxing was better then – fights like Segura-Marquez and Matthysse-Molina render that opinion invalid – but I do say it was deeper, richer.

I reach for it with the same sense of nostalgia with which Skidelsky reaches for Federer, nostalgia for a time I never knew.

Stable beat Scott by a unanimous decision. At the final bell they embraced, and walked the ring, arm in arm.

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Jan. 29, 1994: A Stunning Upset Animates the Debut of Boxing at the MGM Grand

Arne K. Lang

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Twenty-six years have elapsed since the first boxing card at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The inaugural show took place on Jan. 29, 1994, the eve of Super Bowl XXVII.

A little background: The MGM Grand opened on Dec. 17, 1993. With its 5,005 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the world. The MGM Grand Garden arena, effectively the municipal auditorium of the self-styled “City of Entertainment,” was christened on New Years Eve with a concert by Barbara Streisand. Twenty-nine days later, the bill of fare was an 11-fight boxing card promoted by Don King.

Looking back, seven of the participants – boxers Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Hector Camacho, Thomas Hearns, and Christy Martin and referees Richard Steele and Joe Cortez – would go on to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Hearns, who was nearing the end of his career, having grown into a cruiserweight, was matched soft, as was Christy Martin who was making her Las Vegas debut and was then looked upon as a sideshow novelty act. Two other notables, heavyweight Razor Ruddock and welterweight Meldrick Taylor, were likewise deployed in stay-busy fights. The undercards of Don King’s major promotions typically took this tack – big names in little fights.

Topping the bill were three world title fights. WBC 154-pound title-holder Simon Brown opposed Troy Waters. Trinidad defended his IBF welterweight title against Camacho. And in the grand finale, the great Chavez, who held a junior welterweight title, was matched against Frankie Randall.

Simon Brown had a more difficult time than expected against Troy Waters, a teak-tough Australian, but prevailed on a majority decision. Trinidad, at age 21 the younger man by 10 years, chased Camacho all over the ring en route to winning a unanimous decision. And Chavez….

The MGM Grand Garden was scaled to hold 15,200, but there were a lot of empty seats; the announced attendance was 12,777. One would have expected a sellout as Las Vegas is chock-full of revelers on a Super Bowl weekend, but there was an extenuating circumstance.

Twelve days before the fight, at 4:30 am on Jan. 17, Southern California was struck by an earthquake. Centered in the San Fernando Valley, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the Northridge Earthquake damaged buildings as far as 85 miles away. It buckled portions of some heavily-traveled freeways, forcing their closure and repairs were hindered by a scattered series of aftershocks that lasted the better part of two weeks.

Visitors from Southern California are the backbone of the Las Vegas tourism industry. Most arrive by car. The earthquake had the effect of reducing hotel occupancy as many Southern Californians cancelled their reservations and that assuredly spilled over into the fight, hurting attendance. But those that were there witnessed a memorable main event.

Frankie Randall, nicknamed the Surgeon, hailed from Morristown, Tennessee. He had an excellent record (48-2-1, 39 KOs), but Julio Cesar Chavez, who owned the most eye-catching record in boxing (officially 89-0-1), was so highly regarded that he was listed as a 17/1 favorite in the MGM sports book.

Randall started strong, an indication that he would be a hard nut to crack. But the middle rounds belonged to Chavez with his patented body attack. In round seven, one of those body punches strayed too low and Richard Steele deducted a point.

In round 11, Steele deducted another point for the same infraction and, worse for Chavez, he was knocked down for the first time in his career. It was a straight right hand that did the damage, a clean punch, and although Chavez was up at the count of “three,” it was a 10-8 round for Randall.

During the early rounds, shouts of “May-hee-co, May-hee-co” reverberated through the arena. Late in the fight, when one could sense that an upset was brewing, shouts of “USA, USA” punctuated the din.

The 11th round proved decisive. When the scores were read, the Mexican judge favored Chavez 114-113, but he was overruled by the Puerto Rican judge (114-113) and the Las Vegas judge (116-111). If not for those two points deducted by referee Richard Steele – the same referee who had controversially stopped Chavez’s fight with Meldrick Taylor with one second remaining on the clock in the final round – Julio Cesar Chavez would have retained his title — and his undefeated record — on a split decision.

Chavez did not take losing very well. He bellyached that he was robbed, an opinion that found few sympathizers. A fast rematch was arranged which took place at the MGM Grand on Cinco de Mayo weekend. In this fight, an accidental clash of heads late in round eight left Chavez with a bad gash on his forehead and the fight was stopped. By rule, it went to the scorecards where Chavez emerged the winner by split decision, a very controversial denouement (and a story for another day). There would be a rubber match in Mexico City when both gladiators were in their 40’s, a dull 10-round affair scored in favor of Chavez.

By the way, on the day following the debut of boxing at the MGM Grand, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at Atlanta. As Super Bowls go, this one didn’t attract all that much buzz. The same teams had met in the Super Bowl the previous year and Dallas had won by “35.”

By all indications, the forthcoming Super Bowl will be a doozy. Enjoy the game.

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Introducing Top Prospect Raeese Aleem, the Pride of Muskegon

Arne K. Lang

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At age 29, Raeese Aleem has yet to appear in a 10-round fight, but that will almost assuredly happen this year. The undefeated (15-0, 9 KOs) super bantamweight from Muskegon, Michigan, takes another step in that direction on Friday, Feb. 14, when he opposes San Antonio’s Adam Lopez (16-3-2) at Philadelphia in a bout that will air on “ShoBox,” the long-running SHOWTIME series that’s been a springboard for 81 fighters who went on to win world titles.

Aleem earned a black belt in karate before taking up boxing and becoming a four-time Michigan Golden Gloves champion. As an amateur, he and his coach Terry Markowski did a considerable amount of traveling between meets to find good sparring. Grand Rapids, an amateur boxing hotbed, was just down the road, but Detroit and Chicago were a good three hours away and on occasion they went on an even longer excursion into Ohio.

Aleem turned pro in 2011 and had his first 10 fights on the Midwest circuit, venturing as far north as Green Bay and as far south as Cincinnati. At the time, he worked in the produce department of Meijer’s, a regional rival of Walmart. His bosses, he notes, were generous in letting him juggle his work schedule around his boxing assignments.

For a boxer with designs on winning a world title, the Midwest circuit is like a bicycle with training wheels. Aleem had to shake free of it to see how far he could go. Besides, getting fights was getting tougher and tougher. There’s a 28-month gap in his pro timeline that includes all of 2013. He had several fights fall out during this frustrating quiescence.

If you’re an aspiring film actor, you go to Hollywood. If you’re an aspiring boxing champion, you go to Las Vegas. Not a week goes by without a young fellow turning up here to test his mettle in one of the many local gyms with the hope of attracting the eye of one of the major promotional firms.

“When I came to Las Vegas,” says Aleem who has a daughter back in Michigan, “I had no family here, no friends.” He was directed to Barry’s boxing gym, run by ex-boxer Pat Barry and his wife Dawn, retired Las Vegas police officers, and started training under their son-in-law Augie Sanchez. But Sanchez, the last man to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr (accomplished when they were amateurs), had other priorities. He is an assistant coach with Team USA which obligates him to spend a good deal of his time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Things started looking up for Aleem when he joined the Prince Ranch stable under the management of Greg Hannley. At the Prince Ranch Gym, where the head trainer is Bones Adams, he has sparred with such notables as Nonito Donaire and former WBO 122-pound champion Jessie Magdaleno.

Aleem doesn’t miss the weather in Muskegon, a lakefront city where sub-freezing temperatures are the norm in the dead of winter and snow is forecast for all of next week. But he still has one foot in his hometown, as evident by his unbroken bond with Terry Markowski. In an era when some boxers appear to change trainers as often as they change their underwear, Aleem has remained loyal to Markowski who has been in his corner for all of his pro fights and will be there again on Feb. 14.

Markowski, who teaches boxing at the Muskegon Rec Center, is a protégé of Muskegon’s most esteemed boxer, the late Kenny Lane. The epitome of a crafty southpaw, Lane, a lightweight and junior welterweight, was a three-time world title challenger during a 100-fight career that began in 1953.

The relationship between Raeese Aleem and Terry Markowski dates back to 2003 when Aleem resided in the nearby village of Ravenna, where Aleem’s father, the patriarch of a large blended family, planted Raeese and his siblings to get them away from the temptations of Muskegon which has several blighted areas. “It was a culture shock for me when I started going to school in Ravenna,” says Aleem, looking back, as none of his schoolmates looked like him.

This will be Aleem’s fifth fight in Pennsylvania where he has made four of his last five starts. The connecting thread is Reading, Pennsylvania gym operator-turned-promoter Marshall Kauffman who has been credited with keeping boxing vibrant in the Keystone State.

This being Aleem’s national television debut, it’s important that he make a good showing. His Las Vegas trainer Bones Adams, a former world champion in Aleem’s weight division, expects nothing less. “I’m confident he will be a world champion someday,” says Adams.

Photo credit: Mario Serrano / Prince Ranch Boxing

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A Bouquet for Danny Garcia in This Week’s Edition of HITS and MISSES

Kelsey McCarson

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Two-division champion Danny Garcia had the spotlight all to himself over the weekend in a stay-busy fight against Ivan Redkach on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader that had the odd privilege these days of not being counterprogrammed by a Top Rank show on ESPN or any other kind of boxing card on DAZN.

So Garcia, 31, from Philadelphia, had the chance to remind people how excellent a fighter he is in full force, which would help him greatly in his effort to secure an unlikely bout against WBA champ Manny Pacquiao or remain first in line to face WBC and IBF champ Errol Spence whenever the Texan recovers from the injuries he sustained in a car accident in October.

But did Garcia pull it off? Here’s the latest edition of HITS and MISSES.

HIT – Danny Garcia’s Pristine and Precise Technique 

The best parts about Garcia were on full display against Redkach. That was made easier by Redkach’s lack of anything that might have given Garcia any real problems, but nonetheless Garcia was able to show the lovely footwork and balanced countering ability that made him so formidable at junior welterweight. There’s just something special about seeing Garcia fight. The economy of his movement inside a boxing ring is something that is just plain different than just about any other world-class fighter in the world today. In a fight that most people probably would have preferred he just skipped, and one that didn’t turn out to be any different than everyone expected, at least Garcia’s beautiful boxing was on display.

MISS – Showtime Sparring Sessions

In addition to Garcia-Redkach, Showtime rounded out its tripleheader with undefeated junior featherweight Stephen Fulton taking on former Muay Thai fighter Arnold Khegai and former unified junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd taking on career welterweight Francisco Santana. While Fulton’s fight against Khegai seemed like a legitimate prizefight, there was something about the other two bouts that screamed sparring sessions. That was especially the case for Hurd’s bout. Not only was Hurd in there with a middling welterweight, but he also used the rounds of the fight to work on vastly different boxing techniques than what made him so popular in the first place. Showtime might not have the pull they once had with the people over at the PBC offices, but they for sure need to get more involved in vetting matchups if they hope to remain afloat within the competitive boxing landscape of today.

HIT – Stephon Fulton’s Title Chances at 122 Pounds

Fulton is a very solid boxer who digs to the body and has a fast, clean jab. Khegai was the perfect kind of opponent for the 25-year-old. He was very game and never stopped trying to win. Additionally, his background in Muay Thai offered some different looks to Fulton that should help him on his way toward world title contention. In the end, Fulton outworked Khegai to hand the tough 27-year-old the first loss of his career. Now let’s hope Fulton is off to bigger and better things such as challenging for a world title. He’s ready right now.

MISS – Andy Ruiz’s Continued Soap Opera

The best thing former unified champion Andy Ruiz could have done after blowing the rematch against Anthony Joshua in December is getting right back to work in the gym. What better way to show trainer Manny Robles that he was taking responsibility for his actions than to get right back to work with the same team he had just let down so badly? Instead, Ruiz fired Robles and is considering other trainers. That would make more sense if there had been some sort of tactical error in the fight. But Ruiz already admitted he simply didn’t train for arguably the biggest fight of his life, and that’s not anyone’s fault but his own.

HIT – Former Middleweight Titleholder Andy Lee’s Second Act

It appears former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee found his second act in life as a trainer, which makes a ton of sense if you followed Lee’s career under the tutelage of the late Emanuel Steward. Lee, 39, left Ireland after his amateur days to live with Steward in Detroit and train at Kronk. The two had a very close personal relationship and that experience ultimately helped Lee win the world title in 2014 two years after Steward’s passing. Now, Lee is passing on what he knows in the same way Steward did with him to other fighters. He trains and manages Irish upstart Paddy Donovan, is guiding Jason Quigley back to contention and even helped orchestrate distant cousin Tyson Fury bringing on Javan “SugarHill” Steward for the heavyweight’s upcoming rematch against Deontay Wilder.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

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