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The Blowout: Brief Encounters That Shocked and Amazed

Ted Sares



the blowout

Some might refer to it as a mugging, but a mugging takes a bit of planning and solid execution though the distinction between the two is a very fine one. It’s not a one-punch icing because that kind of end seldom happens early (Tua vs. Moorer being a notable exception). No, the blowout is an unmitigated assault launched at the opening bell as the perpetrator comes flying out of the chute motivated to end things quickly and decisively. The reaction of the crowd is one of shock and awe which is magnified if the man perpetrating the blowout is the underdog. Often the victim doesn’t even land a punch. And after possibly two or more knockdowns, the blowout is ended by a merciful referee.

Dee Collier vs. Tex Cobb (Oct. 29, 1985)

Denorvell “Dee” Collier fought out of California during the 80’s and finished with a modest record of 13-9. However, he was not one to be taken lightly. He had an iron chin and excellent power and a close inspection of his record reveals wins over some very tough opponents. Before his short career was over, Collier would twice defeat Mark Wills in bouts billed for the California heavyweight title, saddle Alex Garcia with his first defeat, ice – yes, ice – Monte Masters and go 10 hard rounds with a prime Buster Douglas.

Collier fought Tex Cobb at the Reseda Country Club in California. The iron-chinned Cobb had lost three straight, but he had failed to go the distance only once in his pro career, that coming in his second match with Michael Dokes, a bout stopped on cuts.  In fact, he had been knocked down only once in his career, that coming in his most recent fight against promising Eddie Gregg.

If the heavily favored Cobb could score an impressive win, he might be in line for title bout against the heavyweight champion, Michael Spinks, or at least back in the mix. Collier, whose record was then 7-4, was seen as nothing more than a club fighter and Cobb was expected to score a decisive, if not early win.

At any rate, once the bell rang, the 6’4” Collier immediately used Cobb as a punching bag. Cobb’s legendary iron chin turned to glass as he became a basketball, hitting the deck four times before the bout ended at the 2:41 mark of the first round.

This was an old fashioned Texas dry-gulch with the rugged Texan being the ambushee. Like many other victims of a blowout, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and never had a chance. Collier had done what Holmes, Shavers and Norton could not do in 33 combined rounds. Tex had his lunch eaten in Reseda and the guy who did the eating was a mugger named Dee Collier.

James “Bonecrusher” Smith vs. Tim Witherspoon (Dec. 12, 1986)

 “I knew his mind couldn’t be on the fight. He wasn’t thinking about me. My plan was to be all over him. He embarrassed me the last time and I wanted to pay him back. I did.” – James “Bonecrusher” Smith

In their rematch (Witherspoon won lopsidedly over 12 rounds in their first meeting), Bonecrusher, a last-minute sub, flew out of the chute at the opening bell and hurt Witherspoon with a right hand 10 seconds into the fight. Then Witherspoon walked into a solid left hook with about 90 seconds gone and was knocked almost through the ropes and down – for the first time in his career. He got up at the count of four on wobbly legs.

Smith never let up as he cautiously moved in, sensing the kill. He then sent Witherspoon down in a heap with another big right hand. Terrible Tim got up at five, spit out a tooth, root and all, and was in terrible shape as The Bonecrusher charged in. The staggering Witherspoon was met with a right hand that dropped him for the third time. Referee Luis Rivera immediately invoked the three-knockdown rule and waved the fight over at 2:12 of the opening round.

This one was a big upset which added to the shock value. Also noteworthy is that Witherspoon did not land a single punch as he was being blown away.

Iran Barkley vs. Darrin Van Horn (Jan. 10, 1992)

If you think Barkley was mad before the fight, wait until he sees how many people are taking part of his purse.”—Bob Arum, after his fighter, Iran Barkley, beat Darrin Van Horn

The “Schoolboy” met Iran “Blade” Barkley (27-7) at the Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden. This was Barkley’s turf, far away from the University of Kentucky campus where Van Horn was a part-time student. Van Horn, who held the IBF version of the world super middleweight title, was the favorite and his camp badly underestimated the Blade, who should not have been taken lightly under any circumstance

As the schoolboy entered the ring, you could see some confusion and maybe something else beginning to take hold on his face. He began to look like a deer caught in the headlights. The loud and raucous booing was not directed at his opponent this time; it was directly at him. He was the focus of derision. He was in the Blade’s house now and would be lucky to get out alive. The crowd smelled blood.

Meanwhile, the menacing-looking Barkley, wearing an old-school hooded robe, was pacing back and forth in his corner like a caged tiger, waiting for the bell to ring so he could launch what everybody expected to be an all-out bull rush. And that’s exactly what he did using a blitzkrieg attack.

The fight was almost anti-climactic as Barkley mauled the Schoolboy and dismantled him in less than two full rounds. Van Horn had come in with no game plan and ended up getting mugged in New York City (at a time when muggings in New York City were not all that unusual). After wobbling Darrin in the first round, Barkley decked the Kentuckian three times in the second before the slaughter was stopped 93 seconds into the round by referee Arthur Mercante Jr.

Dana Rosenblatt vs. Sean Fitzgerald ( Dec.10, 1993)

In a match between two fighters from Massachusetts — a match with more than a touch of old school ethnicity to it — “Dangerous” Dana Rosenblatt (16-0) met Sean “The Irish Express” Fitzgerald at Foxwoods. Fitzgerald was 18-1-2 with his only loss coming against Roberto Duran.

Team Fitzgerald was confident that the red-headed Irishman would beat the untested Rosenblatt. However, two minutes into the bout, Dana threw a 1-2 combination that sent Fitzgerald to the canvas, dazed and hurt. The fight ended 30 seconds later with Fitzgerald KOd following a Rosenblatt onslaught. This one was more shock and surprise than anything else as the Irish Express had been derailed.

Rosenblatt was somewhat of a specialist in blowout wins as Chad Parker and Howard Davis Jr, later found out. He finished with a superb record of 37-1-2

Lou Savarese vs. Buster Douglas (June 25, 1998)

This one was on a star-studded event at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. The date was June 25 and I was there. In fact, I recall that Julio Cesar Chavez (with a monster entourage) fought Ken Sigurani on the undercard—yes, I said “undercard.”

Big Lou Savarese, who won his first 36 professional starts, was coming off a win over overmatched Brett Lally but he had lost his two fights prior to that, getting outpointed by George Foreman and then savagely KOed by David Izon.

Buster opened up with his patented stiff jab and some sharp fast-handed combos; he seemed ready to rock and roll. In fact, most thought he would win this one. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he was dropped by a perfect Savarese right. The fans were up and shouting. Then another more malefic right put him down and this time he was visibly hurt. The end was near. After launching a fast and furious volley, Lou ended matters. How do you say “blowout”? The entire affair took just 2.34.

David Lemieux vs. Elvin Ayala (June 11, 2010)

Shock and awe was expected and shock and awe delivered as Lemieux dropped the game Ayala three times in the first round. It would be a precursor to many more Lemieux blitzkrieg wins.

Fast Forward (2019)

Last month, on Jan. 18, Pablo Cesar Cano shocked the boxing world by dropping Jorge Linares three times and scoring a first round TKO. Cano’s size and power at 140 pounds were too much for Linares, a title-holder in three lower weight classes, suggesting that he move back down to 135 pounds.

The first knockdown came just 15 seconds into the match when Cano landed a clubbing right. Then, with 84 seconds on the clock, the second came from another heavy right overhand. Cano then wisely switched to a vicious left hook to send Linares down again and prompting referee Ricky Gonzalez to perform a mercy stoppage.

The seven examples above are representative of a certain kind of fight; a blowout. Can you think of any others that might fit the criteria?

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and Strongman competitors and plans to compete in at least three events in 2019. He is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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Maxim Dadashev Dead at Age 28

Arne K. Lang




Junior welterweight boxer Maxim Dadashev passed away this morning (Tuesday, July 23) at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Prince George County, Maryland.  The news was confirmed by Dadashev’s trainer Buddy McGirt and his strength and conditioning coach Donatas Janusevicious.

Dadashev’s death was a result of injuries suffered in a fight four days earlier at the MGM casino-resort in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Dadashev’s match with Subriel Matias, scheduled for 12 rounds, was billed as a title eliminator with the victor first in line to face the winner of the upcoming match between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis. It was the chief undercard bout on a show headlined by fast rising lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez.

Dadashev, who entered the contest undefeated (13-0) was facing another undefeated fighter in Puerto Rico’s Matias, also 13-0 but against suspect opposition. As the fight wore on, it became increasingly more one-sided with Dadashev absorbing heavy punches to the body and head. After the 11th round, Dadashev was pulled from the fight by McGirt.

Dadashev protested McGirt’s decision. He wanted to continue the fight although it was evident that he had no chance of winning without a knockout. But he had trouble walking as he repaired to his dressing room and began vomiting violently once there. Placed on a stretcher, he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where he underwent a two-hour operation for a subdural hematoma. A portion of his skull was reportedly removed in an effort to reduce the swelling.

Federal privacy laws prevented the hospital from releasing any details without the consent of his next of kin. As Dadashev lay in the hospital in an induced coma, his wife flew to be by his side from their home in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Reportedly 281-20 as an amateur, Dadashev had fought exclusively in the United States since turning pro. Managed by Egis Klimas and promoted by Top Rank, he trained in Oxnard, California, along with stablemates Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

As expected, Buddy McGirt, who entered the International Hall of Fame this year, was devastated by the news. “He did everything right in training,” said McGirt, “no problems, no nothing….great, great guy. He was a trainer’s dream. If I had two more guys like him, I would need nobody else because he was truly dedicated to the sport.”

We here at TSS send our condolences to Dadashev’s family and loved ones.

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Good Night, Sweet Pea

Springs Toledo




Good Night, Sweet Pea

Bishop James E. Jones Jr.’s booming baritone was rising up through the rafters at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. He was preaching about hands—your neighbor’s hands, the hand in yours now, the Father’s hands into which Jesus commended his spirit from the cross. “Sweet Pea’s HANDS,” he shouted, “took him to places HIS EYES NEVER IMAGINED!”

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, the greatest pure boxer since Willie Pep, lay in repose at the foot of the stage, his hands crossed at his belt. His coffin was black. An Olympic flag was draped over it and boxing gloves carefully arranged on top. The few thousand who attended his Saturday morning memorial service came to mourn and to celebrate a perfect fighter, an imperfect man, and a community that has long-since learned to look up no matter what.

Mark Breland was there. He came down from New York to honor the captain of an Olympic boxing team that won nine gold medals in 1984. Long gone is the fresh-faced amateur smiling under a laurel wreath, but Breland remains reed thin. He stood at the podium in a gray suit with a powder blue shirt and was too overwhelmed with grief to say much. “We knew him differently,” he said.

Kathy Duva, now a promoter, then his publicist, was there too. “Pound-for-pound,” she said. “That’s how he signed his autographs.” And that’s exactly what he was: the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world from September 1993 through March 1996, despite performances that struck the unsophisticated as pusillanimous. “He simply chose not to engage in outright brutality,” Duva said. “It was so much more fun to tease and toy with his opponents.” Whitaker teased and toyed with everyone, including a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. who, she said, “could not lay a glove on him” even as he sparred with those hands of his behind his back in 1996. Whitaker brought laughter into the midst of danger because of his cosmic level of skill, and because it kept boredom at bay. Merely making world-class fighters miss wasn’t enough; so he’d dart behind them and as they looked around to see where he went, he’d tap them on the rear end. When Roger Mayweather was known as “Black Mamba” and feared for his right hand, Whitaker—fighting here at the Norfolk Scope—yanked his trunks down in the middle of the sixth round.

“An imp with gold teeth,” said one wit during his glory days, “floating around that blue canvas like a cloud,” added Duva.

No one could outbox him. It isn’t easy to settle firmly on a lightweight in history who could. But the product of Young Park, a housing project just east of the Scope, wasn’t raised to shrink from violence. As a child, his father wouldn’t tolerate tears when he was hurt by neighborhood bullies. He’d turn him around. “Go back,” he’d say. “Give them everything you got.” When he was eight, he and nine-year-old Mario Cuffee got into a street fight and Clyde Taylor, a mailman who moonlighted as the neighborhood’s recreation director, hustled over and grabbed both by the scruff of the neck. “Do your fighting in the gym,” he said, and with permission from the boys’ parents, restaged the fight in the ring, with boxing gloves that looked like balloons. Whitaker lost that one, but found a mentor who began the process of transforming an undersized project kid into a giant of boxing and boxing history. Whitaker credited Cuffee almost as much. “Come to think of it,” Cuffee told me Monday, “I beat him that first fight, though I gotta come clean, he got me back a few years later.” When Whitaker fought Greg Haugen at the Coliseum in 1989, Cuffee bought a ticket and made his way across the Hampton Roads Beltway through a blizzard to see Haugen lose every round. At the post-fight press conference, Cuffee was standing in the back, “in cognito.” Whitaker spotted him and told the story of their fateful childhood fight. “Thanks Mario,” he said. Haugen, his face scuffed and swollen, looked up. “Yeah,” he said. “Thanks Mario.”

In Detroit, while still an amateur, he was invited to spar with Hector Camacho just as Floyd Mayweather was later invited to spar with him. Camacho couldn’t land a glove on him either. “He got mad and started fighting dirty,” Whitaker told the Newport News. “He grabbed me behind the head, pulled it down, and hit me with an uppercut. Then I grabbed him and threw him to the canvas and we started wrestling and fell out of the ring.” Whitaker offered to take it outside. Camacho talked a lot but never went near him again.

In 1984, after the Duvas had convinced Whitaker to throw in with Main Events, they introduced him to trainer George Benton. Benton, who understood the science of belligerent invisibility like no one else, took what Taylor had begun and finished it. He taught him to stop running around the ring, to stand on a dime; to see the difference between wasting energy and ducking and slipping just enough to let punches graze your hair or flick your ear. Benton made sure he became, in his words, “harder to hit than the numbers,” and a master at punching around, between, over, and under what’s coming in. “When I talk he stands and listens like a private would a general,” he said in 1986. “Sweet Pea’s going to be one of the best fighters ever.”

Seven years later, Whitaker swaggered into the ring against Julio Cesar Chavez, then 87-0 and rated by The Ring as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Whitaker fought him on a dime—twisting, rolling, fast-stepping outside his lead foot, and punching around, between, over, and under whatever came in. He had a trick that kept working. He’d turn his right shoulder in to narrow himself and hide his left until the moment it clubbed Chavez on the side of the head. You could hear it land—“whump!”—and it landed all night. In the ninth round, he was outfighting Chavez on the inside—“whump, whump!”—which no one had ever done. Chavez was befuddled and —“whump!”—puffing up. And then, at the end, 59,000 witnessed one of boxing history’s most egregious heists. Two of the three judges called the fight a draw. That’s what we were told anyway. Josè Sulaimàn, WBC president, countryman of Chavez, and favorite stooge of Don King, was seen collecting the scorecards after every round that night.

It is a grandiose irony. Whitaker put an exclamation point on Benton’s prediction in two fights he didn’t win. The second one was nearly as bad as the first.

At 33, he faced a 24-year-old Oscar De La Hoya, then 23-0 and rated by The Ring as the second best pound-for-pound fighter behind Roy Jones Jr. Whitaker made him look like a golem and won that fight too despite an official loss that stinks to this day. “The world saw it,” he said afterward, and smiled anyway, gold teeth gleaming. “The people saw it.”

Bishop Jones saw it. He remembered him standing triumphantly on the ropes before the decision against him was announced. He remembered it well.

“What I loved most about Sweet Pea Whitaker,” he told the mourners at the Norfolk Scope,

“.…was when he KNEW he had won the fight he DIDN’T WAIT on the referee to hold up his hands. He didn’t WAIT on the THE JUDGES to tell him whether or not he had won the fight, but if you look on the back of your programs, there’s a SIGNATURE MOVE that the champ would always do when he knew he had WON THE FIGHT. Family! HE WOULD THROW UP BOTH HIS HANDS!”

With that, Jones stepped back from the podium and thrust both hands in the air. When the people saw that, they roared as one. But Jones was just getting started, the crescendo wasn’t reached, not yet. He stopped them short. “EXODUS CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, VERSE ELEVEN! Whenever Moses held up…” and stepping back again, struck the same pose, “…HIS HANDS the people always had the victory…if the champ could hold up his hands in the middle of his fight, then SURELY you and I ought to HOLD UP OUR HANDS!”

Mario Cuffee jumped to his feet and thrust both hands in the air. Thousands, dressed in their best on the hottest day yet this year, rose as one and thrust both hands in the air. Whitaker’s signature move, multiplied. It was a transcendent moment; the spirit of a man—a father, a brother, a friend, a neighbor—merging with the spirit of the city he loved.

Bishop Jones lowered his gaze to the black coffin at the center of it all. “SWEET PEA!” he thundered as if to wake him up, “That one is for you! You got the victory! CHAMP!”

I closed my eyes and somewhere, I know, Whitaker opened his.





Special thanks to Dr. James E. Jones Jr. senior pastor and founder of Greater Grace Church in Portsmouth, VA.

 Springs Toledo is the author of Smokestack Lightning: Harry Greb, 1919, now available in paperback.

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Mad Max and Manny

Ted Sares




The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” at the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and Pacquaio’s beloved Pinoy fans are going wild. It’s a BIG event, bigger even than many heavyweight title fights.


Meanwhile, Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev’s wife Elizabeth is flying from her home in St. Petersburg, Russia, to be with her husband at a hospital in Maryland. Dadashev was critically injured on Friday night while suffering an upset loss to heavy-handed Puerto Rican bomber Subriel Matias at another MGM property, the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Dadashev, 28, was 281-20 as an amateur, undefeated in 13 professional fights, and the IBF’s third-ranked junior welterweight, but Matias had his number and dominated throughout in a tough and grinding affair.

Capture 9

Maxim Dadashev

At the end of the 11th round, Buddy McGirt told his fighter, “I’m going to stop it, Max.” Dadashev protested. Maybe Max’s brain signaled no, maybe not. But his heart surely said “I’m not done.”

McGirt overruled him, a sage move, but unbeknownst to anyone the damage had been done and it was severe.

“He had one hell of a fight,” McGirt told the Washington Post. “Tough fight, tough fight; took a lot of tough body shots. I just think it was time to stop it. He was getting hit with too many shots. I said to him, ‘I’m stopping it.’ He said, ‘No, don’t.’”

The scores at the time of the stoppage were 109-100, 108-101 and 107-102 in favor of Matias. According to CompuBox, Matias out-landed Dadashev 319-157; 112 of Matias’ punches were body shots.

Max was stretchered out of the arena and rushed to UM Prince George’s Hospital where his skull was opened up to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding. The cavity reveals brain damage, and memories of Mago surface. The dreaded and familiar scenario then begins as he is put into an induced coma. Hopefully, the swelling goes down, the bleeding stops, and no blood clot appears as the later would make a terrible situation grave. In any event, Max will never box again. His well-publicized dream to win a world title will not be fulfilled.

In a post-fight interview, ESPN’s ringside analyst Tim Bradley said, “That’s a scary situation and every time you step foot in the ring you know that was always the talk that I would have with my wife. You know before I would step foot in the ring, I would sit her down, I would look at her and I would say, ‘Look at me, honey. Take a good look at me, open your eyes wide open because I might not come out the ring, for one, and I know I’m not coming out of the ring the same way that I came in.’”


Back to the big fight the following evening:

The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” as he enters the ring to battle Keith Thurman for still another championship as his worshipers are now virtually in a state of mass hysteria and begin singing and cheering loudly. The scene borders on the surreal.

Across the Pond

Earlier on Saturday, across the pond in London, heavyweight David Allen took a bad beating from 6’9” David Price and required oxygen. He also was stretchered out and sent to a hospital, adding to the angst. But he will be okay. According to his promoter, Eddie Hearn, Allen had a broken orbital bone and a damaged tongue, but brain scans suggested he was okay.

David Allen — “Very happy and proud of David Price. I will be okay, but the last 12 months or so my health has been deteriorating and I’m glad I hung on, took the chance, and made money. [I’m] now probably done.”

“Manny, Manny, Manny”

In Las Vegas, Manny has decked Thurman in the first round and the place is delirious. The crowd senses that this is his night although Thurman is not backing up. In the tenth, Pac almost puts “One Time” away after landing a devastating body punch.

Finally, the fight is over and Manny is declared the winner. The decibel count goes off the chart as the Pinoys sing “We Are The Champions.” Viewers hit the mute button. These are not fans as much as they are cultists. One wonders if those who are chanting even know that this has been a week where boxing exposed its grim side.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Master Class.

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