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Forty-six Boxing Notables Wax Nostalgic in the Latest TSS Survey

Ted Sares

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TSS Survey

Welcome to the second TSS Quarterly Survey of 2019. Our survey question this time was “If you could have a ringside seat to any boxing event in history, which fight would you choose?” There were many duplicate picks but also some unexpected choices. Enjoy.

BONES ADAMS — trainer, former WBA world super bantamweight champion: Ali vs. Foreman. Ali at his best.

RUSS ANBER — elite trainer, cornerman, and owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: The first fight that popped into my mind was the June 22, 1938 rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. Considering the outcome of the first fight, coupled with the social and political implications which surrounded the rematch, I would dare say that it was the most important fight in the history of boxing. What I wouldn’t have given to be there!

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI — TSS boxing writer: Harry Greb vs. Mickey Walker. They were two of the greatest ever fighting for the middleweight title. It was reportedly a classic give and take battle that featured plenty of sustained action as well as an incredible performance by Greb whom I consider to be the greatest fighter of all time.

DAVID AVILA — TSS West Coast Bureau Chief: I’d love to have been ringside for Jack Dempsey vs Gene Tunney and the long count in Chicago at a time when Al Capone ruled the city. That was a pretty emotional fight that people argued about for many decades. It was Jack Dempsey’s last fight and Gene Tunney fought only one more time.

TRACY CALLIS – eminent boxing historian: I’d love to be at ringside for the Tommy Ryan-Tommy West fight of March 4, 1901 in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the third time they had fought. This contest was not a boxing match as we know it, it was truly a fight. Blood, butting, other fouls, etc. Would love to be at ringside yes, but not too close for there was blood splattered everywhere. Ryan complained to the ref that West was butting. The ref told him to butt him back. They kept fighting.

STEVE CANTON — President of Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, author: The second Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling bout because of its importance and significance during World War II. The utter destruction of Schmeling and redemption by Joe Louis was unbelievable and I could only imagine the feelings of those in attendance. It was one for the ages.

JILL DIAMOND — International Secretary, WBC With the golden anniversary of Ali/Frazier I coming up March 8th, 2021, if I went back in time, could I wish for any other ticket? History! Glamour! Champions!

CHARLIE DWYER — former professional referee and member of U.S. Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame: Ali-Frazier I. In my estimation, it was the biggest mega fight ever.

STEVE FARHOOD — Showtime announcer, former editor of The Ring magazine and 2017 IBHOF inductee: That’s an easy one: The Rumble in the Jungle. Incredibly significant. Unique. Dramatic. And since I covered only the last two fights of Ali’s career, both of which were losses, I would like to have seen him win!

RICK FARRIS — President and founder at West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: I’d like to have sat ringside for the last Ike Williams-Beau Jack lightweight title bout. The one where Williams is battering the defenseless Beau Jack in the corner, then held Beau up by the throat and turning to the ref  said, “What do you want me to do, kill the man?”

BERNARD FERNANDEZ — TSS Mainstay and lifetime member of the BWAA: March 8, 1971, Madison Square Garden, Joe Frazier’s 15-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali in arguably the most-anticipated boxing match, and maybe even sport event, of all time. I was the young sports editor of a newspaper in south Louisiana  at the time, my days at ringside at major fights still a bit off in the future. But anyone who cared about boxing, and I did, wanted to be in the Garden in New York for this one.

If I am allowed two honorable mentions, I’d go with Roberto Duran UD15 Sugar Ray Leonard on June 20, 1980, in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and Aaron Pryor TKO 14 Alexis Arguello on Nov. 12, 1982, in Miami’s Orange Bowl. But, really, there are a lot more I could mention.

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“You know, you’re in here with the God tonight” – Ali

“If you are God, you’re in the wrong place tonight – Frazier

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 JEFFREY FREEMAN (aka KO Digest) — TSS boxing writer: Hagler-Hearns, brief enough? Eight minutes. I’ve got my popcorn and I’m ready to rumble.

RANDY GORDON — former head of the New York State Athletic Commission, SiriusXM radio host, and author of Glove Affair, his recently released memoir: I’d absolutely have to be in Havana, Cuba, on April 5, 1915, for the Jack Johnson-Jess Willard heavyweight title fight. I have to see for myself if Johnson took a plunge in the Havana heat, or was really beaten by the far-less-talented Willard.

LEE GROVES — writer, author and the wizard of CompuBox: The first fight that came to mind was the rematch against Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale at Chicago Stadium on July 16, 1947. That’s because the fight has been described as among the most thrilling in the history of the sport, yet the only footage is grainy, brief and shot from the crowd. Was this fight everything that it was portrayed? Being there would settle that question for me.

HENRY HASCUP — boxing historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: Harry Greb when he beat Gene Tunney. There is no film that we know of where Greb is actually in a boxing match so I would love to see how he beat one of the All-time Greats!

CHUCK HASSON — noted boxing historian and co-author of Philadelphia’s Boxing Heritage: I can’t help it. I would like to relive the time my dad took me to Atlantic City for my 17th birthday present to watch my idol Joey Giardello win the middleweight title with his career masterpiece beating Dick Tiger for the middleweight championship. The euphoria I experienced that night I would like to relive one more time. Nothing since in boxing has given me the pleasure of that night.

JACK HIRSCH — former President and now lifetime member of the BWAA: The Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries fight in Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910. It was arguably the most historical event in sports history. I would have been fascinated to see the attitudes of those at ringside.

KEVIN IOLE — Yahoo combat sports journalist: March 8, 1971, Ali-Frazier I. The biggest sporting event of my lifetime. Where else would I rather be?

MIGUEL ITURRATE — matchmaker, judge, promoter and TSS writer: The first Billy Papke fight with Stanley Ketchel in Milwaukee on June 4, 1908. The fight is well documented and there was a who’s who of athletes there, including Frank Gotch, the champion wrestler. Ketchel was defending his world middleweight title and the two would go on to fight three more times. But oh to be there for that first one….

STUART KIRSCHENBAUM — former head of the Michigan Boxing Commission: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, June 22, 1938. Boxing transcended the sport that evening and was on the world stage for the most important social and political ramifications. During my term as Boxing Commissioner in Michigan little did I know that my own life would become intertwined with the Brown Bomber. From meeting him ringside and time spent with him at a victory party following Hilmer Kenty from the Kronk Gym becoming the first world champion from Detroit since Joe Louis.  Later on, I would become the personal guardian for Joe’s widow Martha till her death and burial next to Joe in Arlington Cemetery. Joe’s best childhood friend Freddie Guinyard gave me the glove that Joe had given him …the glove that knocked out Schmeling.  On Guinyard’s wishes, along with the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, we donated that glove which proudly stands in a granite and plexiglass showcase in Detroit dubbed “The Glove That Floored Nazi Germany”. From Joe’s hand….to Max’s chin…to my home…to the City of Detroit…a proud journey indeed.

BRUCE KIELTY — matchmaker, historian: Ali vs Frazier #1. No explanation necessary.

JIM LAMPLEY — linchpin of the HBO Boxing announcing team for 31 years, 2015 IBHOF inductee: Louis vs Schmeling II. One of a tiny handful of famous sports events whose sociopolitical impacts rocked the world. First time ever a majority of white Americans rooted for a black man to beat a white man. Stands alone for me.

ARNE LANG — TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: I missed the first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. It happened at a time when I was out of the boxing loop. Several of my friends were ringside and they all say it was the greatest fight they ever saw. I regret that I missed it.

JIMMY LANGE — former boxer and promoter: In a close call with Ali-Frazier 1, I would choose Louis vs Schmeling 2. It was one of the most significant events in sports history. A black man carried the U.S. on his shoulders to keep his title from the envoy of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Max was undeserving of such a villainous tag. After everything Joe Louis did for this country, the government turned on him and he died with much less dignity than he should have.

RON LIPTON — former fighter, retired police officer, pro referee and inductee into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: I’d pick the one I missed but wanted to see very much–the shootout with Charlie “Devil” Green and Frankie DePaula where Charlie stopped Frankie in two in M.S.G.  I’d also liked to have been at ringside for Jose “Chegui” Torres v Charlie “Devil” Green. I was sitting near Green when they came and got him to fill in for Jimmy Ralston. That was something to see when he floored Torres and they had to drag Jose back to the corner, he came out next round and stopped Charlie. I wish I had been closer to ringside which I usually always was.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE – UK barrister, author and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing: I’d liked to have been seated alongside Clark Gable and Douglas Fairbanks in Yankee Stadium for the return match in 1938 between the “Brown Bomber”, Joe Louis, and the “Black Uhlan”, Max Schmeling. A truly historic night given Louis’ clinical and brutal revenge in a heavyweight title bout, as well as the significance of defeating the (unwilling) Nazi poster boy of Aryan racial supremacy.

SCOOP MALINOWSKI – writer, architect of Biofile: I’d go back and see the fight that was the most important of my childhood-one I saw on closed circuit TV at Totowa Ice World. This fight took over my life at age 14 and it turned out exactly as I hoped and wished. June 20, 1980, Montreal, Duran over Leonard.. It was Duran’s highest moment. And if I could go into the Ted Sares Time Machine, second stop would be Duran vs. Moore at MSG. I’d like to have sat next to Mike Tyson up in the nosebleed seats. He told me he was doing “Duran Duran Duran” chants. Unbelievable atmosphere that night. Third trip…Dempsey vs. Willard. Love Dempsey in that fight, and my hat would fit right in at ringside.

DAVID MARTINEZ – historian: James J. Corbett vs. Peter Jackson, May 21, 1891, San Francisco, CA. This was a most exhausting fight of wills to the end.  After 61 grueling rounds, the referee called this historic heavyweight bout to a halt – the decision officially ruled a draw!

ROBERT MLADINICH– former  fighter, writer, author: Dempsey-Willard. Outdoors on the 4th of July with Dempsey, the Mike Tyson of his time, fighting a giant. Can’t imagine a more exciting event.

ERNESTO MORALES (aka GINO FEBUS) — former fighter, writer: Louis vs Schmeling rematch to capture the fight and all the atmosphere leading up to it; the crowd, the buzz, the anticipation, ring walk, introduction… ALL! I’ve wondered about the political environment at the time: pro American, anti-Hitler/Nazi, anti-Negro, the KKK..and the Battle for World Boxing Supremacy! Along with the fears that Max would take the heavyweight crown to Germany and the horrifying thought of it NEVER returning!! Remember, Max had already KO’d Joe and even made it look somewhat easy. America had plenty to lose, especially Black America! But Joe pounding Max as he clung to the ropes and his trip to the canvas must’ve been awesome, a sight to forever behold. Don’t believe there was a complaint in the Stadium that night because it ended so quickly, only cheers and sighs of relief!! Wish I could have been there.

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“Louis measures him. Right to the body. Left up to the jaw and Schmeling is down. The count is 5, 5, 6, 7, 8…The fight is over on a technical knockout. Max Schmeling is beaten in the first round!” –William Broadwater (AFRO)

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CHRIS MORRIS — former boxer, writer: Hearns v Leonard 1. That epic fight hooked me on the sport. Our guy lost that night, but Hearns had an impact on me. So much so, my first son is named Santana Hearns.

JOSEPH PASQUALE — boxing judge: I’d go back again to my ringside seat 1979 MSG, NYC. Duran/Palomino and Weaver/Holmes. MSG Boxing at its best!  Not a judge then, just a fan. Still a fan.

RUSSELL PELTZ – venerable boxing promotor and 2004 IBHOF inductee: Johnson vs. Jeffries.

ADAM POLLACK—author, publisher, and boxing official: Any John L. Sullivan fight in the early 1880s because there is no film of him fighting, so we can’t know for sure exactly what he looked like in action in his prime other than via written accounts.

FREDERICK ROMANO — author and former ESPN researcher: While being at Ali-Frazier I or Dempsey-Firpo would be a thrill, I would use this one wish from the boxing Jeanie to experience something we have never seen- something not on film. Sullivan-Corbett, Johnson-Langford,  Greb’s victory over Tunney or  Zale-Graziano I,  would make me very happy. This morning I am in the mood for Johnson-Langford.

DANA ROSENBLATT — former world middleweight champion, commentator, inspirational speaker: Rosenblatt vs Pazienza 2. Far and away my favorite fight of all time.

LEE SAMUELSTop Rank publicist emeritus and 2019 IBHOF Inductee: That’s easy. Hagler vs Hearns in one of the most all out explosive battles of our time – think about that one every day.

TED SARES — TSS boxing writer: Louis vs Schmeling 2 because of the intense social and political backdrop. Close second is Christy Martin vs. Deirdre Gogarty (March 16, 1996). Blood and guts undercard war that stole the show from Tyson-Bruno and put women back on the boxing map.

 TOM SCHRECK — boxing judge: Do I have to pick one? 1. Ali v Frazier I, the enormity of the event would have been something to experience. It transcended boxing. 2. Hagler v Leonard, Sugar Ray’s performance was genius 3. Tunney v Dempsey I, brawn v brains.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY — manager, trainer, commentator, writer, historian, former boxer: I’m always torn between the first Ali-Frazier fight and the first Leonard – Hearns fight. For me those are my two biggest and the ones I would revel in being able to attend.

PETER SILKOV – boxing writer: There are so many to choose from, but my feeling at the moment would be Ali vs Foreman. Ali’s greatest night and the most extraordinary fight for the heavyweight title ever!

MIKE SILVER — author, writer, historian: A ringside seat to the Sullivan vs. Corbett fight. Huge historic importance. A seismic event for boxing’s future. And who isn’t curious to see the great John L. actually fighting!

ALAN SWYER — filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed El Boxeo: I chose the match in which welterweight Carmen Basilio won a split-decision over middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson. Though Robinson was to my mind the greatest fighter of all time, he was not at that point in his career at his best. Nonetheless, the battle — the fight of the year in 1957 — was the quintessential demonstration of will, stamina, endurance, and above all courage from two noble warriors.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS — the voice of “Boxing on the Beltway”: I‘d loved to have been ringside for Ali-Frazier 1 and to have witnessed all the hoopla and the cultural and social significance surrounding that bout. I was only seven years old when that bout took place.

BEAU WILLIFORD — former boxer, trainer and manager and the face of boxing in Louisiana: Joe Frazier v Jerry Quarry at Madison Square Garden!!!

PETER WOOD — writer, author, former fighter: The fight I would watch is a hideous spectacle–and not politically correct…It would be the battle-royal in which Tom Molineaux, a Virginian slave, fought other hapless slaves, in which to earn his freedom and ultimately a shot at the heavyweight title. (Editor’s note: What has been written about Tom Molineaux’s days in America — before he went off to England — lacks any sort of rigorous documentation and is perhaps best understood as folklore. The conventional wisdom regarding inter-plantation slave fights has also been challenged.)

BOB YALEN —  holder of numerous executive positions in the boxing broadcasting industry and currently President of MTK Global: There are so many to choose from with so many reasons…Corbett-Sullivan to see the birth of modern boxing, Dempsey-Willard to check Jack’s gloves, Tunney-Dempsey to time the long count, the list goes on…but I think I may choose the Willard-Johnson fight in Havana so I could finally put to rest what really happened at the end of the fight from my own perspective (and talk to everyone I could).

Observations: Like a boxing match, this one pitted the old vs the not-so-old. Ali vs. Frazier 1 and Louis vs. Schmeling 2 garnered the most mentions, but Dempsey, Tunney, Johnson and Sullivan also got their due, as did Hearns and Hagler. In the end, it came down to The Fight of the Century (1971) vs. the Louis -Schmeling rematch (1938).

One mild surprise was that only a few mentioned Harry Greb who has been hailed by far more than a few as being the best of the best. However, there is no live footage to back this up. Henry Hascup and Fred Romano mentioned Greb in this vein with both referring to Greb’s sole victory over Gene Tunney in 1922.

Ted Sares 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). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class and plans to compete in 2019.

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Mad Max and Manny

Ted Sares

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Mad-Max-and-Manny

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.

Max

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.’”

Manny

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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The Hauser Report: Caleb Plant is Making His Mark

Thomas Hauser

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The-Hauser-Report-Caleb-Plant-is-Making-His-Mark

The July 20 IBF 168-pound title fight between Caleb Plant and Mike Lee wasn’t expected to be competitive. But it was a coming out party for one of boxing’s more compelling personalities.

Plant was born and raised in Tennessee. As his ring career progressed, he moved to Henderson on the outskirts of Las Vegas to hone his craft. On January 13 of this year, he scored an upset decision victory over Jose Uzcategui to claim the IBF belt and bring his record to 18-0 with 10 KOs. Prior to that, his hardscrabble origins had been scarred by tragedy.

Plant grew up in a home where alcohol and drug abuse were common. His own daughter, Alia, was born with severe brain damage.

“She had zero motor skills,” Caleb recounted last year. “She couldn’t sit up. She couldn’t hold her head up. She couldn’t lift her arm. She couldn’t eat. She ate through a tube in her stomach. I didn’t know if she was gonna know who I was. I didn’t know if she knew that I loved her. She was never gonna stand and say ‘I love you, dad’ or ‘Merry Christmas, dad.’ She’s not gonna know what it’s like to have friends. But what if I could just give her a nice life, a life that I didn’t have. What if I could work so hard that I can give her a life and things that I never had as a kid. We won’t be able to have the relationship that I had with my dad. But I’ll give her my all, my best, no matter what. This is what I can try to give her. A roof over her head; food in her stomach even if it’s not through her mouth.”

In 2015, at nineteen months of age, Alia was in the hospital on life support for the fifth and final time in her young life. Plant’s words speak for themselves.

“The doctors were telling me, ‘Mr. Plant, your daughter is gonna pass away. That’s a tough conversation to have. She was slowly going down and down and down and down. I went to her. It was just me, and I said, ‘You know, this has been a long nineteen months, and I know you have to be tired. And if you are over this, then I’m okay with that. I’m not gonna be mad at you. I’m not gonna be disappointed in you. I’m not gonna be upset with you. If you’re tired of this and you’re done and you don’t want to do this anymore, then your daddy supports you. And I’m gonna be right here.’ And right after that conversation – a conversation that I had never had with her before because, every time before, it was ‘No, this is not gonna happen’ – she started going down. I said, ‘I want you guys to take this stuff off of her because I don’t want her to pass with these tubes down her throat and an EEG machine on her head and sticky and all that stuff.’ They took all that stuff out. They cleaned her off and washed her hair. They took everything out. I got to sit there with her. She took her last breath at 10:55. And I just sat with her there for a long while.”

Adding to the tragedy in Plant’s life, his mother was shot and killed by a police officer in March of this year. According to the Tennessee Bureau of investigation, Beth Plant was being taken to a hospital by ambulance when she became unruly and pulled a knife from her backpack. The driver pulled over to the side of the road and called for assistance from law enforcement. When a policeman arrived, Plant came toward him brandishing the knife and he shot her.

After Plant’s mother died, Caleb posted a message on Facebook that read, “Love you forever and always momma. You always said ‘work hard bubba’ and I did. I know that we spent a lot of time wishing the relationship we had was different but you was still my momma. We both wished we could start from scratch so we could go back and you could have a fresh start with me and Maddie. Regardless you was one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever come across. You had your demons but you’d give the shoes off your feet and your last dollar to someone who needed it less than you. I love you momma and I know you are up there with Alia now and her and grandma finally get to spend time together like we talked about way back. You are the first one out of all of us to see what Alia is really like so make the most of that and kiss her up and tell her that her daddy loves and misses her. I know in the end it’s your demons we always talked about that got the best of you. Maybe you always told me because you knew I’d understand because we shared some of the same ones.”

The saving grace in Plant’s life has been boxing.

“I’ve been boxing since I was nine years old,” Caleb says. “There ain’t never been a Plan B. Not to go to college. Not to get a nine-to-five. Not to get a job. Not to be in the NFL. Not any of that. All I’ve ever had is boxing. I’m from the metho-heroin capital of the U.S. where a mother will sell her child’s last toy for one Xanex. Where a mother will lock her son and her daughter in a room for hours, not taking care of them, just so she can be locked away in her room doing her own stuff. I’m from where the Bethesda Center gives out-of-date canned food to you because you ain’t got no food. There ain’t no Plan B.”

Elaborating on that theme during a July 1 media conference call, Plant declared, “Boxing has always been like a sanctuary for me. It’s been a place that I could go and be somebody. As a kid, I was somebody that nobody would want to be, living in a place where nobody would want to be in. When I got to go to the gym, then I got to be somebody that everybody wanted to be. Grown men looking up to me, oohing and ahhing. And once I got back out of those doors, I had to go back to being that kid that nobody wanted to be. So that became like an addiction for me, to want to be there, want to be in the gym.”

“Through everything that came and left in my life,” Plant continued. “Through all the things that I’ve lost, through all the things I’ve been deprived of or haven’t had, boxing has always stood by my side. Boxing has always been there for me through thick and thin. Boxing is like a woman. If you treat her right and you do good by her, then she’ll stand by you and she’ll do right by you. But she’s a jealous woman. And the difference between me and my opponent is, I haven’t glanced off of her. I haven’t endeavored into other things.”

Mike Lee comes from a world that Caleb Plant is unfamiliar with.

Lee went to high school at the Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois. Virtually all of Benet’s students go on to college. Lee spent a year at the University of Missouri before transferring to Notre Dame, where he graduated with a degree in finance. “I relax by watching CNBC,” he told writer Kieran Mulvaney several years ago. “And I like reading the Wall Street Journal.”

For most of Lee’s ring career, he was well marketed and well protected by Top Rank. At one point, he parlayed his Notre Dame pedigree into a much-commented-upon Subway commercial. Recently, he left Top Rank to campaign under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. Now 32 (five years older than Plant), he came into Saturday night’s fight with a 21-0 (11 KOs) record and had fought his entire career at light-heavyweight or a shade higher.

Plant’s opposition had been suspect prior to his victory over Uzcategui. Lee’s opposition had been worse. “The typical Mike Lee opponent,” one matchmaker observed, “has had ten fights and won all but nine of them.”

Kick-off press conferences are usually characterized by the lack of anything eloquent being said. The May 21 press conference for Plant-Lee was different. Lee spoke first, voicing the usual platitudes.

“Every single fight is different. I don’t really care what his other opponents have done in or out of the ring. It doesn’t matter. On fight night, the bell rings, it’s just me and him. The best man will win. I’ve been in so many press conferences where opponents either talk shit or they’re dismissive or they’re respectful. I’ve beat them all. This is an incredible opportunity and I will make the most of it. I’m going to shock a lot of people”

Then it was Plant’s turn.

“I’ve been boxing my whole life,” Caleb said. “No college degree for me. No high school sports. No acting gigs. No Subway commercials. Just boxing, day in and day out, rain, sleet, or snow. He may have a financial degree. But in boxing I have a Ph.D and that’s something he don’t know anything about. Something else I have a Ph.D in is being cold and being hungry and being deprived, coming from very rock bottom. That’s something he don’t know anything about. So if this guy ever thought for one second that I would let him mess this up for me and send me back there; unlike him, I have everything to lose. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. That’s something he don’t know anything about. So if he thinks he’s going to mess this up for me, he’s not half as educated as I thought he was.”

At times, the dialogue seemed to verge on class warfare. And it continued in that vein through fight week.

“There are zoo lions and there are jungle lions,” Plant said at the final pre-fight press conference two days before the bout. “The zoo lion will look at the jungle lion and think they’re the same thing. And from a distance they look the same. Until it’s time to eat or be eaten.”

“The trash talking goes back and forth,” Lee responded. “That’s as old as time. Nothing he’s saying is new. It’s all recycled stuff he’s heard on TV or heard in movies. It’s nothing new to me. It doesn’t even bother me. I laugh at it.”

Plant-Lee was broadcast live on Fox as a lead-in to the Pacquiao-Thurman pay-per-view card. Lee was a 15-to-1 underdog. The consensus was that he had as much chance of beating Plant in a boxing match as Yale would have of beating Notre Dame in football.

Nevada’s choice of 76-year-old referee Robert Byrd as third man in the ring was a bit of a surprise. Byrd was once a capable referee, but his performance in recent years has been erratic. The most egregious example of this was his mishandling of the June 15 World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight semi-final bout between Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki.

Byrd is past the point where he can move nimbly around the ring and was out of position for much of Briedis-Glowacki. His judgment was also faulty. In round two while the fighters were in a clinch, Glowacki hit Breidis in the back of the head with a rabbit punch. Briedis retaliated by flagrantly smashing an elbow into Glowacki’s face, driving the Pole to the canvas. In a post-fight in-the-ring interview on DAZN, Briedis acknowledged the foul, saying, “I did a little bit dirty.”

Glowacki, for his part, noted, “The elbow was really strong and clear to the chin. I did not know what happened. I do not remember a lot after that.”

Byrd deducted a point from Briedis but didn’t give Glowacki additional time to recover. Still hurt, Glowacki was knocked down fifteen seconds later by a two-punch combination that ended with a right hand to the back of the head. He rose. The bell rang to end the round. And Byrd didn’t hear it.

“The bell’s gone,” DAZN blow-by-blow commentator Jim Rosenthal shouted. “They’re carrying on. Come on, referee. I can hear it. Get in there.”

But Byrd allowed the action to continue. With people at ringside waving their arms and screaming at him that the round had ended, he allowed Briedis to batter Glowacki for another eight seconds until Mairis scored another knockdown.

“He’s gone down after the bell,” Rosenthal proclaimed. “What is occurring in there? What is occurring? That bell was ringing for ages. It’s farcical. He’s saying he couldn’t hear the bell. He must have been the only one in the arena.”

A badly damaged Glowacki was allowed out of his corner for round three but the fight was stopped twenty seconds later. In the same post-fight interview on DAZN, Briedis conceded that he’d heard the bell ending round two but kept punching.

As for Plant-Lee, the fight lived down to expectations. Lee tried to fight aggressively but didn’t have the tools to do it. Plant was the faster, stronger, tougher, better schooled fighter. He dropped Lee with a lead left hook late in round one, dug effectively to the body throughout, and put Lee on the canvas thrice more in the third stanza. After the final knockdown, Byrd stopped the mismatch. According to CompuBox, Lee landed just eight punches in the entire bout.

It will be interesting to see how Plant progresses from here, in and out of the ring. In that regard, it should be noted that writer Jeremy Herriges talked at length recently with Carman Jean Briscoe-Lee (Alia’s mother, who was once Caleb’s companion). Thereafter, Herriges wrote a thought-provoking article for NY Fights that calls portions of Plant’s narrative into question.

A Missing Part of the Caleb Plant Story 

 

Meanwhile, Caleb remains a work in progress.

“I’m not a grown man,” he said during a July 1 media conference call. “I’m a growing man. So I’m going to continue to become better in the ring. I’m going to continue to become a better man outside the ring. Thus far, I think I’ve done a good job of handling that responsibility. If I just continue to follow what I’ve done, I think I’ll be on the right path.”

Let’s see how the journey unfolds.

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – A Dangerous Journey: Another Year Inside Boxing  – will published this autumn by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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Manny Pacquiao Defies Father Time, Whips Thurman

David A. Avila

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Manny Pacquiao Defies Father Time, Whips Thurman

LAS VEGAS-Father time, hold on.

Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman with his electrifying speed in the first round then managed to keep the lead and defeat Keith Thurman by split decision and retain the WBA welterweight world title Saturday. It was one exciting firefight.

Pacquiao showed the young guns he still has bullets left in the chamber.

The pride of the Philippines, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) also showed he still has star attraction and startling speed in front of the crowd of 14,356 at the MGM Grand. And he still has enough in the gas tank to defeat a young powerhouse like 30-year-old Thurman.

But it was razor close.

Pacman jumped to the lead in the first round with a sizzling combination capped by a lightning right hook that floored a surprised Thurman. The Florida fighter smiled while getting up.

“He caught me when I was moving back,” said Thurman. “After that knockdown it was just a numbers game.”

For the first five rounds Pacquiao bedazzled Thurman and the fans with his jitterbug style that has confused dozens of opponents in more than 20 years as a professional. But once he slowed down, Thurman began connecting and connecting.

Thurman had never tasted defeat and used a body attack to slow down the rushes by Pacquiao. It proved effective and from rounds six through nine the taller Thurman was connecting on a slower moving Pacquiao.

Just when it looked like Thurman was about to take over with body shots and rights in the 10th round, Pacquiao stopped the onslaught and unleashed a multiple-punch rally including a powerful left to the body that buckled Thurman who was visibly pained by the body blow. Somehow he hung on as Pacquiao unfurled a barrage of blows in search of the killing blow he once knew so well. Thurman survived.

“I felt like I was grabbing some momentum back. I felt like I needed to possibly get a knockdown,” Thurman said. “But definitely I was obviously hurt in that round.  I tried to push him to his limit and he came up on top.”

Pacquiao was able to carry over the momentum to the 11th round by targeting Thurman’s weakened body. But at 30 years old the Floridians recovery time was quick and he was able to stave off Pacquiao’s attacks with well-placed right counters.

In the final round Thurman kept pressure on the shorter Pacquiao who seemed a little tired and careful about getting caught with Thurman’s sharp right counters. The fight ended without serious further altercations.

Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman while judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham tabbed it 115-112 for Pacquiao who retains the WBA welterweight title by split decision.

Once again the record-making eight-division world champion Pacquiao defied the ageing process with a victory over another younger world champion. If naysayers felt retirement was overdue he proved once again that he is one of the wonders of prizefighting.

“He’s a good fighter, he’s strong,” said Pacquiao. “We did it for the fans. I’m sure they were happy tonight. Even though it was close he’s not an easy opponent, he’s strong.”

Thurman was gracious in defeat.

“I knew it was close,” said Thurman. “This is a beautiful night for boxing. Manny Pacquiao is a great, great champion. I wish I had a little bit more as he was getting tired, but it was a great night for boxing.”

“This guy is a fighter,” said Pacquiao. “I think I can rank this like a (Antonio) Margarito fight, an Oscar De La Hoya fight, a Juan Manuel Marquez fight and Marco Antonio Barrera fight. You saw what we did in the ring, it’s the first time I encountered an opponent like Keith Thurman. Keith hits like Margarito. I think because he was too big for me and heavy handed.”

Caleb Plant

IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant had predicted Mike Lee was not a true challenge and then proved it with three rounds of domination to win by technical knockout in the third round.

Plant floored a hyper Lee in the first round with a left hook but the Chicago fighter shook it off. The second round was better for Lee who managed to land some blows against the speedy Plant but still lost the round. Worse things were in store for Lee.

Las Vegas-based Plant opened the third round with two quick jabs and rifled a right cross missile that dropped Lee with a thud. The former Notre Dame football player got up enthusiastically ready for more and Plant obliged with a check left hook and down went Lee again. Luckily for Lee, referee Robert Byrd missed the knockdown and called it a slip. Lee couldn’t get up right away but managed to gather himself. When the fight resumed Plant zipped a right cross and down went Lee hard. Referee Byrd stopped the fight without a count though Lee angrily disagreed with the stoppage.

Plant was deemed the winner by technical knockout at 1:29 of the third round to retain the IBF super middleweight world title. It was his first title defense since winning it earlier this year in Los Angeles against Jose Uzcategui.

“I’ve been telling you it’s not going 12,” said Plant. “I take my hat off to Mike, it takes a true man to go in the ring.”

The Tennessee native said he’s ready for anyone whether it’s a super middleweight or light heavyweight.

“I ain’t hard to get ahold of, just come to Las Vegas,” said Plant.

Nery KOs Payano

In a tough battle between southpaw sluggers for the WBC Silver bantamweight title Mexico’s Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) finally solved Dominican’s Jose Carlos Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) by directing his big blows to the body to win by knockout in the ninth round. It was Nery’s 11th consecutive knockout win.

“He had a complicated style but I adapted by the sixth round and went to the body and focused on that,” said Nery who lives and trains in Tijuana, Mexico.

After back and forth blows for nine rounds Nery caught Payano with a crackling left to the body and down went Payano for more than five minutes. The Dominican was counted out by referee Vic Drakulich at 1:43 of the ninth round.

Ugas wins Ugly

If not for a point deducted Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs) would have won every round over Texas fighter Omar Figueroa (28-1-1, 19 KOs) but he had to settle for winning by unanimous decision in winning the eliminator for the WBC welterweight title.

It was an ugly fight.

The first round looked good for Ugas who nailed Figueroa with a wicked overhand right. Figueroa was saved from hitting the floor by the ropes and the referee wisely called it a knockdown. But after that, darkness and frustration set in as Figueroa hugged his way inside and Ugas showed he did not how to fight at close distance. Instead of fighting he held and held until referee Russell Mora took a point away in the fifth round.

Figueroa’s charges inside were ineffective for 11 rounds as both were unable to allow a fight to break out. After 12 rounds all three judges scored it the same 119-107 for Ugas. It was Figueroa’s first loss as a pro.

Lipinets

Former super lightweight world titlist Sergey Lipinets faced last-minute replacement Javar Inson, a southpaw, and knocked out the Filipino fighter with a counter left hook in the second round. It was advice that his new trainer Joe Goossen had directed him to do.

“(Joe Goossen) is an exceptional trainer. He just wanted me to make sure I block his punches with my elbows and just counter,” said Lipinets.

During a exchange of blows Lipinets countered with a left hook that Inson did not see and was dropped for a knockdown. Referee Jay Nady looked at his eyes and stopped the fight at 57 seconds of the second round for a technical knockout win for Lipinets.

“You never know what to expect because you train for one style and get another. He was looking for it. A great fighter executes what he expects,” said Goossen.

Other Bouts

Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) out-punched Turkey’s Ali Eren Demirezen (11-1,10 KOs) over 10 rounds to surprisingly win by unanimous decision instead of by knockout. Both heavyweights entered the ring with prodigious knockout records but neither was able to knock the other down. Two judges scored it 99-91 and a third 97-93 for Ajagba.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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