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Anton Raadik — Seconds Away

Ted Sares

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Raadik

 

WIKIPEDIA states that Anton “The Rampaging Estonian” Raadik was the most famous Estonia-born middleweight boxer of the 1940’s and 1950’s, but how many Estonian boxers could there have been back in the day or at any time for that matter?

Whatever the case, after a successful amateur career (he reportedly won 118 of 130 amateur fights) and after some early bouts in Europe, he moved to the multi-ethnic confines of Chicago where he gained great popularity among the Estonians and others from northern European countries.

The Estonian, who was a stalker and boxer/puncher (especially to the body), fought during a time when boxers treated their work as a craft. They did not resort to fancy trunks, music introductions, theatrics, pyrotechnics, manufactured anger at weigh-ins, large entourages, or inane belt waving. Main event boxers, wearing long unmarked robes, nodded modestly to the crowd when introduced in the manner of the great Joe Louis. They were serious- looking men with equally serious cornermen ready to do their job.

New York City’s Joey LaMotta was 32-2-2 when Anton (11-3) beat him at Wrigley Field in Chicago in 1946. Anton was very active that year, having fought 12 times, but Joey had fought an incredible 28 times in 1945 alone amassing a record of 26-1-1. It was a nice scalp for Raadik, but brother Jake LaMotta (61-10-3) proved to be a tougher nut to crack as Raadik lost a UD just three months later in the vast Chicago Stadium. He bounced back with a stoppage win over popular Anton Christoforidis in 1947, again at the Chicago Stadium, and the legendary “Christo the Fisto” (the first Greek to become a world boxing champion) retired afterwards. Still another great win on Raadik’s resume.

As a testament to Raadik’s popularity, he was the main attraction on most of the shows on which he fought and it was not uncommon for thousands of fans to attend a Raadik bout.

The next two fights were losses at the hands of Georgie Abrams and Al Hostak, two very high profile boxers, but “The Rampaging Estonian” avenged the Abrams defeat by savagely stopping Georgie in 1948 at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. Like Christoforidis, Abrams retired after the loss.

Cerdan vs. Raadik (1947)

This was Anton’s career-defining fight. No one expected the tough-as-nails Estonian to give the great Marcel Cerdan (101-2 at the time) much trouble and those expectations were met as the “Casablanca Clouter” had his way for the first nine rounds, easily out-boxing Raadik. But then a shocking turn of events occurred as Cerdan began to tire in the 10th and Raadik, sensing his chance, raged after Cerdan as he lived up to his own nickname. Here is what eloquent Mike Casey had to say about this fight in a 2013 article for Boxing.com titled “Play it Again Sam, The Magic of Marcel Cerdan”:

“…, every great fighter has a few bad nights and Marcel most certainly had one of his in his next outing. It wasn’t bad at all for the first nine rounds against the rugged and dangerous Anton Raadik, memorably described by one reporter as a ‘rampaging Estonian.’ Raadik did indeed rage, but Marcel raged more to carry a comfortable points lead into the tenth and final round at the Chicago Stadium.

“Then the gods gripped hold of the rug under Cerdan’s feet and gave it an almighty tug. Raadik began to catch Marcel with head punches. Repeatedly so. Worryingly so. Cerdan’s American trainer, Lew Burson, must have felt his stomach bouncing off his shoes. It had to happen and it did. A right from Raadik knocked Cerdan down and very nearly through the ropes. Marcel jumped up right away but couldn’t get out of the firing line as his hunter surged forward, firing a combination of punches. Cerdan was driven around the ring and decked again for a count of four. Raadik saw his chance of glory and moved in to grab it with both hands. Backtracking into a trap of his own making, Cerdan was corralled in a neutral corner as Anton let rip with all he had. A left-right combination caused Marcel to bounce off the ropes and fall for the third time.

“A less rugged fighter would probably have gone under at that point, but the Frenchman was back on his feet after a “five” count. The bell sounded to end the fight and a dazed Cerdan trudged back to his corner. Manager Lew Burson cradled him in his arms and cried on his shoulder…..”

On September 21, 1948, Cerdan would snatch the world middleweight title from Tony Zale in Jersey City, but his path to that glorious moment would have been arguably blocked had his fight with Anton Raadik lasted just a few more seconds.

Bell vs. Raadik (1948)

Going into this one, Raadik by now had fought the likes of Rhode Island’s great Ralph Zannelli (81-33-7 at the time), Abrams (twice), Christoforidis, Jake and Joey LaMotta, Carl “Bobo” Olson, Steve Belloise (90-11), Danny Nardico, Harry “Kid” Matthews (twice), Sonny Horne (twice), and Robert Villemain.

His opponent, slick Tommy Bell, fought from 1942-1951. His resume included a who’s who of fighters: California Jackie Wilson (twice), Sugar Ray Robinson (twice), Jake LaMotta (three times), Al Hostak, Steve Belloise, Fritzie Zivic (157-65-9 for an astounding total of 231 fights), and Cecil Hudson. The combined won-lost record of Tommy opposition was astounding.

These were two tough hombres.

Bell, who had lost a split decision to Kid Gavilan in his most recent bout, was a slight favorite. During this brutally humid Chicago night at Marigold Gardens amidst the smell of cheap cigars and expensive perfume, cash was changing hands at a fast pace.  As the boxers emerged from their dressing rooms, the raucous fans were up and howling. This writer was one of them as he was witnessing his first live fight.

From the opening, Raadik began stalking Bell but couldn’t catch him. Tommy kept Raadik off of him with neat jabs, a slick defense, and good foot movement . But just as the fans became restless and began to boo, the Estonian unleashed a series of loud, crunching body shots that slowed Bell down. Raadik jumped on Tommy in the ninth again, attacking viciously to the body. Then Anton, a fighter with a solid ring IQ, went upstairs when Bell’s arms sagged and fired a series of malicious blows to Bell’s head that forced Tommy to one knee. When a bleeding Bell got up, he fell backward into the ropes and it was over.

When Raadik winked at this writer from the ring as his hand was being raised in victory, a chill went down the boy’s spine. He was hooked and has been feeding his now 70-year addiction ever since.

Tommy Bell would go on to close his career with a 53-29- 3 slate, losing 12 of his last 15, mostly on points. His last fight was a six-round TKO loss to Pierre Langlois in Paris.

Raadik boxed until 1952, losing far more than he won while fighting such top-level opponents as Carl “Bobo” Olson, Robert Villemain, and Harry (Kid) Matthews. Losing 13 of his final 15 — his last to rugged Garth Panter in Boise, Idaho by 10-round UD– Anton finished with a deceptive record of 37-25-1.

Anton Raadik passed away in Chicago in 1999 at the age of 82.

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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Boxing Odds and Ends: Ramirez-Postol, Taylor-Serrano and More

Arne K. Lang

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It takes a strong constitution to be a boxing promoter because things always go wrong. The only law that governs boxing is Murphy’s Law.

Carl Frampton’s first fight under the Top Rank banner was slated for Aug. 10 of last year in Philadelphia. With the fight five days away, Frampton suffered a freak injury while sitting in a hotel lobby. A boy playing behind a curtain knocked over a seven-foot pillar which fell on Frampton’s left hand, fracturing it.

This was the second time that a Frampton fight was knocked out by a freak injury. Two years earlier, a homecoming fight in Belfast had to be scrapped when Frampton’s opponent, Andres Gutierrez, slipped in the shower in his hotel on the eve of the battle and suffered severe facial injuries.

The latest bout to fall out because of an odd development is Jose Ramirez’s Feb. 2 WBC/WBO lightweight title defense against Viktor Postol at a Chinese golf resort south of Hong Kong. The event fell victim to the coronavirus, more exactly the fear it has instilled.

The virus, which produces flu-like symptoms that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, apparently originated at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan where live animals are sold. The numbers vary with each new story, but according to one account there have been 444 confirmed cases in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, and 653 cases worldwide including two in the United States, a man in his 30’s living near Seattle and a Chicago woman in her 60’s.

The fear of a pandemic (an epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads across multiple geographic regions of the world) has led to some drastic measures. The Chinese government has reportedly put 12 cities on lockdown, blocking traffic in and out. At many airports, visitors arriving from China are being screened. There are now thermal cameras than can record a person’s body temperature remotely.

Jose Ramirez (pictured with his promoter Bob Arum) was scheduled to leave for China yesterday (Jan. 23) but was intercepted. Viktor Postol is already there and apparently stranded until an outgoing flight can be arranged.

The Ramirez-Postol fight was to air on ESPN. No make-up date has been set.

– – –

British promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s close to finalizing a fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Hearn says the fight will take place in the U.S. in April. It figures that Madison Square Garden is the frontrunner.

If the fight comes off on schedule, this will be the biggest women’s fight in history!

That’s because the odds attached to the fight figure to be in the “pick-‘em” range and that guarantees that boxing writers and others in the boxing community will be surveyed to get their picks – about which there figures to be considerable disagreement – and that will greatly enhance the pre-fight buzz.

Taylor, 33, last fought in November in Manchester, England, advancing her record to 15-0 (6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christina Linardatou, a fighter from Greece via the Dominican Republic. It was Taylor’s first fight at 140 after previously unifying the lightweight title with a hard-fought decision over Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.

Amanda Serrano, a 31-year-old southpaw, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, has won titles in five weight divisions. She last fought as a featherweight, turning away gritty Heather Hardy, but has competed as high as 140. Boasting a 37-1-1 record, she’s won 23 straight, 18 by stoppage, 10 in the opening round

What sets women boxers apart from their male counterparts is that the women have a significantly lower knockout ratio. Amanda Serrano is the glaring exception.

Despite a less eye-catching record, Taylor has arguably fought the stiffer competition considering her extensive amateur background. As a pro, her victims include Cindy Serrano, Amanda’s older sister by six years. Taylor whitewashed her in a match at Boston Garden, prompting the elder Serrano sister to call it a career.

– – –

The most bizarre (non)story to appear in a boxing web site this week involved former unified heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. A man representing Bowe, identified as Eli Karabell, was frustrated because Eddie Hearn wasn’t returning his calls. Karabell had offered Hearn the right of first refusal on Bowe’s next fight.

Bowe, now 51 years old, last fought in a boxing ring in 2008 when he returned to the sport after a three-and-half year absence for an 8-round bout in Germany. In 2013, he appeared in a kickboxing fight in Thailand where he was stopped in the second round after being knocked down five times by leg kicks.

“Will there be another chapter to write for Bowe?” concluded the author of this piece.

Egads, let’s hope not.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Although a lot of disinformation comes out of the mouths of boxing promoters, Bob Arum was apparently serious when he broached the idea of a two-fight series between Terence Crawford and Conor McGregor, the first fight to be conducted under MMA rules and the second under boxing rules.

Crawford is amenable. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself,” he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “…I haven’t been in that (wrestling) environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.”

Crawford, 32, last wrestled in middle school so he would certainly need a refresher course. However, he would have a better chance of defeating Conor McGregor in an MMA match than McGregor would have of defeating him in a boxing match. So, if Arum’s proposed two-fight series ever comes off, the tailpiece may be unnecessary.

– – –

As first reported by ESPN’s Steve Kim, Andy Ruiz Jr. has dumped trainer Manny Robles. According to Kim’s report, Ruiz’s father informed Robles of the decision and said it was Al Haymon’s idea.

Andy Ruiz appears to be one of those people that can gain weight just looking at food. He weighed 297 ½ pounds for his pro debut at age 19, carried 268 pounds for his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, and ballooned up to 283 ½ for the rematch after leading reporters to believe that he had actually slimmed down for the sequel.

Ruiz, noted Kim, went from a feel-good story to a cautionary tale in just six months.

– – –

Who ya’ gonna believe?

A certain disreputable web site, bragging that it had an exclusive, told its readers that Canelo Alvarez had settled on Billy Joe Saunders as his next opponent and that they would meet on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. The next day, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a far more trustworthy source, reported that Ryota Murata had emerged as the frontrunner and that negotiations were underway to stage the fight in Japan.

Perhaps it makes sense for Canelo to promote his brand in a new market. However, if he fights Murata, who holds a WBA belt, he would reportedly be dropping back to 160 and at age 29 he appears to have outgrown the weight class.

Stay tuned.

– – –

If Caleb Plant were an NBA player, his name would be Kevin Love. Plant, who recently married FOX/PBC reporter Jordan Hardy, is the only U.S.-born, non-Hispanic white person among the various champions in the 17 weight divisions.

Plant, who hails from tiny Ashland City, Tenn. (23 miles from Nashville) defends his IBF super middleweight title on Feb. 15 at Nashville’s 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena. In the opposite corner will be Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz who will be making his U.S. debut.

The 24-year-old Feigenbutz, who turned pro at age 16, has won 10 straight and 30 of his last 31. He represents a big step up in class from Plant’s last opponent, Mike Lee, who was in way over his head.

– – –

A sad note from South Africa: Five days after the death of trailblazer Peter Mathebula, his widow, Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Peter Mathebula’s funeral, originally set for Saturday, has been pushed back until Tuesday and will now be a joint funeral.

Mathebula, who won the WBA world flyweight title in 1980, basically died a pauper, having sold all of  his boxing memorabilia to keep his head above water. His heirs had reached out to the government for assistance in defraying the costs of his burial.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 82: Jason Quigley Returns to SoCal and More

David A. Avila

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Southern California prizefighting heats up with Jason Quigley headlining a fight card in Orange County and then, two days later, another fight card takes place in the heart of Los Angeles.

Ireland’s Quigley (17-1, 13 KOs) faces Mexico’s Fernando Marin (16-4-3, 12 KOs) on Thursday Jan. 23, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions fight card live.

Quigley, 28, seeks to reclaim territory lost when he suffered a defeat last July against Tureano Johnson. Ironically, Marin would lose 10 days later in Hollywood to super welterweight contender Serhii Bohachuk.

For several years Quigley had trained in Southern California but decided to change trainers and location. He moved to Great Britain and still prepares near his native country but primarily fights in the U.S.

At one time Quigley clamored for a match against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but now finds himself trying to prove he belongs in the upper tier of the middleweight division. It’s loaded with talent.

Also on the same fight card will be popular North Hollywood super welterweight Ferdinand Kerobyan who was headed to contender status when he ran into Blair “the Flair” Cobbs. At the time Cobbs was an unknown quantity but no longer.

Kerobyan (13-1, 8 KOs) meets Azael Cosio (21-8-2) in an eight-round clash in the semi-main event at OC Hangar. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Red Boxing International

On Saturday Jan. 27, Red Boxing International hosts its first boxing card of the year at Leonardo’s Night Club located at 6617 Wilson Ave. L.A. 90001. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Super welterweight Bryan Flores (13-1, 6 KOs) meets Brandon Baue (15-17) in the main event  in the first event of the year for the ambitious promotion company. For the past two years Flores fought primarily in Tijuana, Mexico where he racked up six wins. Now he’s back on Southern California soil.

Another match features lightweights Angel Israel Rodriguez (5-0) facing off against Braulio Avila (3-6) in a six-round fight.

Rodriguez fights out of Pico Rivera, Calif. but recently fought in Costa Rica where he won by first round knockout in November. He will be fighting Avila who just fought two weeks ago at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.

It’s a long fight card with 11 bouts on the schedule.

JRock and Rosario

Boxing fans received another lesson on never underestimating a ranked contender regardless of the name recognition.

Jeison Rosario knocked out Julian “J Rock” Williams who was making the first defense of the WBA and IBF super welterweight world titles he won last year in my selection as “Fight of the Year.”

Rosario walked in with little recognition and was thought to be a soggy piece of bread for Williams. The long armed Dominican fighter walloped Williams in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia. It was yet another warning for fans to understand that anyone who steps in the boxing ring ranked as a contender can do the unthinkable. In this case Rosario knocked out the champion in five rounds.

Many felt Williams was far too skilled, especially on the inside where he showcased those skills last May against former titlist Jarret Hurd. It was a remarkable display of the art of inside fighting. But against Rosario, he never got a chance to exhibit those skills.

The loaded super welterweight division has another dangerous champion in Rosario.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. 6 p.m. DAZN – Jason Quigley (17-1) vs Fernando Marin (16-4-3).

Sat. 6 p.m. Showtime – Danny Garcia (35-2) vs Ivan Redkach (23-4-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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