Connect with us

Featured Articles

Best Moments from the 2019 IBHOF Induction Ceremony

Arne K. Lang




The capstone of the annual Hall of Fame Weekend at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, a four-day event, is the ceremony for the new inductees. Eight new members were formally ushered into the Hall this year and the acceptance speeches of the seven living honorees were captured on YouTube.

Boxers (Modern Era)

James “Buddy” McGirt

Known for his high ring IQ, McGirt won world titles at 140 and 147 pounds and finished his career with a record of 73-6-1 (48 KOs). Five years after his final fight he was named Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, largely for his work with Arturo Gatti. As a trainer he has been associated with 11 world champions including Gatti, Vernon Forrest, Sergey Kovalev, and Antonio Tarver, the latter of whom was seated on the dais.

McGirt was the main event of sorts as he had the privilege of speaking last. A loud round of applause greeted him as he took the podium.

At times McGirt had difficulty keeping his composure as he was overwhelmed by the moment, especially when he reflected on the influence of his late mother, but of all the inductees he injected the most humor into his acceptance speech. He said that 30 years ago to this very day he had his first date with his wife who was there to share the moment with him. “I went from making out in a parking lot in Seacaucas, New Jersey, to making out at the Boxing Hall of Fame,” he quipped. “A woman who stays with a boxer even 30 days deserves a medal,” he added.

Donald Curry

The Lone Star Cobra was 34-6 (25 KOs). His heyday was brief but spectacular. “At the pinnacle of his career, Curry was as skilled as any fighter I ever saw in any weight division,” said the noted boxing historian Frank Lotierzo.

Reportedly 400-4 as amateur, Curry’s signature win was a brutal second round KO of Milton McCrory on June 12, 1985, at Caesars Palace. With that win he became the unified welterweight champion.

“I really don’t have words for this, but eventually they will come,” Curry reportedly said when informed that he had made the Hall after a lengthy wait. But the words never did come. He spent less than a minute at the podium but did manage to thank his longtime trainer Paul Reyes. His speech was thick.

Julian Jackson

A world title holder at 154 and 160 pounds, The Hawk was one of the hardest punchers of all time. He finished 55-6 with 49 knockouts in a 17-year career that began in 1981. He continues to work in boxing as a trainer and coach in his native Virgin Islands.

Jackson was accompanied to Canastota by many members of his large extended family and by a good-sized delegation of government officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands where he is a national hero.

Jackson compensated for Donald Curry’s brevity, as it were, with the longest speech of the afternoon. An ordained minister of an evangelical persuasion, his speech had two parts, the second part a sermon that he had undoubtedly delivered before, an inspirational talk that gave the ceremony the feel of a tent revival meeting. The gist was that a man must be willing to take risks, putting his trust in God for whom all things are possible. Promoter Don King was among those that Jackson thanked.

Boxer (Old-Timer)

Tony DeMarco

Born Leonardo Liotta in Boston’s North End, DeMarco (58-12-1, 33 KOs) won the world welterweight title on April 1, 1955, with a 14th round stoppage of Johnny Saxton. Before the year was out, he had two toe-to-toe wars with Carmen Basilio sandwiched around a first round stoppage of talented Chico Vejar. His second fight with Basilio was named Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine.

DeMarco was introduced by Al Valenti, the grandson of Hall of Fame promoter Anthony “Rip” Valenti. He noted that unlike other Boston sports heroes such as Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, and Larry Bird, DeMarco, the son of Sicilian immigrants, was actually born and raised in Boston which enhanced the affection the locals felt for him. DeMarco, noted Valenti, often walked back and forth to his engagements at Boston Garden where he fought 26 times. He was a true icon in Boston’s Italian-American community, said Valenti, who noted that there is a street named for DeMarco and a statue of him in Boston.

DeMarco, who worked as a security guard at the Massachusetts Statehouse after leaving the sport, spoke briefly. Now 87 years old, he seemed to be in very good shape for a man of his vintage. His wife was there and he made certain to have her stand up and take a bow.


Guy Jutras

Montreal’s Jutras, who turned 87 (some say 88) in March, is a boxing lifer who has been involved in all facets of boxing including a 31-year career as a ringside judge during which he judged dozens of world championship fights involving many of the brightest stars in the sport.

In a rather curious speech, Jutras noted that there were a lot of unsavory characters in boxing at one time and credited the IBHOF, founded in 1989, for helping clean up the situation. “Some sources recognize that boxing (today) is one of the cleanest sports on earth,” said Jutras, a comment that drew a round of applause.

Lee Samuels

Known as one of the good guys in boxing, Samuels joined Top Rank as a publicist in 1983 after his paper, the Philadelphia Bulletin, went belly-up and he is still associated with Bob Arum’s organization today.

Samuels reflected that he first became captivated by boxing after listening to Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) fight Doug Jones on the radio. He was hired by Arum to assist in promoting a series of ESPN Thursday Night fights. Several years later he spent three months with Marvin Hagler at Hagler’s training camp in Palm Springs where Hagler prepared for his date with Sugar Ray Leonard. He then performed the same role for Donald Curry. It pleased Samuels greatly that both Hagler and Curry were on the dais with him.

Samuels thanked all of his Top Rank colleagues, acknowledged his late mentor, legendary publicist Irving Rudd, and gave a shout out to MGM Grand publicist Scott Ghertner, a frequent collaborator.

Don Elbaum

One of the last of the Runyonesque characters in boxing, Elbaum, who won’t reveal his age, promoted his first fight at age 17 and is as frisky as ever now that he’s in his eighties. He is thought to have participated in more than a thousand fights (mostly club fights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey) as a promoter, co-promoter, and/or matchmaker.

Elbaum related that he was first drawn into boxing at age seven when an uncle took him to a show in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Willie Pep was in the main event and he couldn’t take his eyes off him. “He made beautiful music,” said Elbaum, whose mother was a concert pianist.

In 1963, Elbaum, who grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, took Erie’s Johnny Bizzarro to Manila to fight unified junior lightweight champion Flash Elorde. Bizzarro lost but went the full 15 against a fighter that Elbaum said was better than Manny Pacquiao.

Elbaum noted that he has known Teddy Atlas for 30 years and said “it’s a shame and a disgrace and an embarrassment to the fans that Teddy is not back on the air.” This drew a hearty round of applause.


Teddy Atlas

Atlas, who needs no introduction, was recognized as an “observer,” a category set aside for “journalists, photographers, artists, and screenwriters.” Perhaps equally well known as a trainer, he coached Michael Moorer and Timothy Bradley, among others, to world titles, and currently works with lineal light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk. As a TV commentator he has covered the last five Olympiads. In addition, the Staten Island resident is a noted philanthropist.

The classy Atlas noted that 300 or so volunteers help make Hall of Fame Weekend in Canastota a special occasion and he started by acknowledging their efforts. Many of Atlas’s behind-the-scenes TV colleagues made the trek to Canastota to support him and he thanked them.

As would be true of Buddy McGirt, Atlas choked up when he acknowledged his wife and children. His work, he noted, often kept him away at special moments in their lives such as graduations, birthdays, and even one Christmas, and he expressed his gratitude that their bond was never ruptured.

Mario Rivera Martino

Martino died in 2017 at age 93 and was inducted posthumously. A U.S. Army veteran who spent his formative years in New York City, Martino returned to his native Puerto Rico where he lived the last six decades of his life, working as a boxing correspondent and ultimately serving as the President of the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

Pacquiao vs. Thurman: A Case Study on Two Types of Atrophy

Kelsey McCarson




Manny Pacquiao’s historic welterweight showdown against WBA titleholder Keith Thurman on July 20 is a case study on two types of atrophy which can negatively influence a professional fighter’s career.

One happens because of age; the other due to inactivity.

Pacquiao is 40 now. Eventually, what happens in every fighter’s life is the same thing that will happen to Pacquiao and relatively soon, whether against Thurman or sometime later. Pacquiao’s body will just stop working, at least in comparison to how it did before, and while the fighter can keep working hard at the gym, the return he receives will slowly diminish until all of a sudden Pacquiao can no longer compete with the best.

That same kind of thing happens to everyone in life, but it’s more apparent in boxing because instead of not being able to do something mundane anymore like easily bend over to pick up the keys you just dropped, the consequence is a black eye, a bloody nose and a view of the lights hanging above the boxing ring that you never really wanted to see (and probably won’t remember).

It’s strange then that Pacquiao is slightly favored by bookmakers over a talented and undefeated world champion ten years his junior in what’s easily the most important fight of that champion’s career.

While few fighters in boxing history have achieved as much as Pacquiao has over the course of his 24-year career, fewer still have been able to consistently defeat quality opponents at Pacquiao’s advanced age.

And can we just let that sink in for a second? Pacquaio’s prizefighting career has spanned almost a quarter-century!

Sure, Pacquiao has still looked pretty elite in recent outings. But after stopping Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 and scoring a dominant decision win over Adrien Broner in January 2019, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll finally hit the wall against the younger and naturally larger Thurman.

Thurman, 30, from Clearwater, Florida, is undefeated through 29 professional fights and, at first glance, he appears to be sitting on the right side of a crossroads fight. But a closer inspection of the situation reveals that might not actually be the case. Because where Pacquiao might be fighting a losing battle against age, Thurman has most definitely been losing a winnable battle against inactivity.

Here’s what happens all too often in boxing (whether it’s happening at the present to Thurman or not). A fighter puts in years and years of work only to stop doing all the things he did to get there once he reaches a comfortable position in the sport, usually a world title or two, numerous TV appearances and a boatload of money.

It’s conceivable that what is going on with Thurman right now is exactly that. Because even in somehow managing to maintain his title status with the WBA, Thurman hasn’t really been what most would consider an active fighter over the past few years.

In fact, the last time Thurman fought more than twice in a year was all the way back in 2012. The enigmatic champion only fought once each in 2016 and 2017, was out of boxing all of 2018 and didn’t appear to be the fighter he was before that long break earlier this year in his majority decision win over Josesito Lopez.

To be fair to the fighter, Thurman did suffer an elbow injury which required surgery after his title unifying split-decision win against Danny Garcia in March 2017. He also suffered a deep bone bruise to his left hand which led to the cancellation of a 2018 return bout against an opponent that was somewhat suspiciously never named.

To be even more fair to Thurman, at least in regards to this particular fight, Pacquiao hasn’t really been all that active in recent years either. But Pacquiao has 70 professional prizefights on his ledger, is ten years older than Thurman and has won world titles in eight different divisions.

It seems more reasonable that Pacquiao would be more selective about his fights these days, especially when you consider he was already a sure-fire Hall of Famer over a decade ago. Thurman, on the other hand, hasn’t even yet proved to be the best welterweight signed by Al Haymon, much less in the whole shebang.

Regardless, it’s a bit troubling that Thurman is seemingly unaware of how prolonged inactivity can negatively impact a fighter’s career. According to Thurman, in fact, he basically trained for his last fight on a spin bike at L.A. Fitness, and that was the reason, at least in Thurman’s mind, that Lopez was so competitive against him six months ago.

Obviously, Thurman knows he can’t do the same thing against Pacquiao. But the thing about not using a skill or a gift for a prolonged period of time is that it tends to recede in a person even while that person remains unaware. It’s entirely possible that Thurman has lost the best parts of his fighting ability and doesn’t even know it yet.

No one can ever really predict these types of things, but it will be interesting to see how things play out. If Pacquiao is suddenly old and frail, it won’t really matter how little Thurman has trained over the last couple of years. But if Pacquiao is anything like the fighter we saw against Broner and Matthysse, and Thurman comes into the fight looking like he did against Lopez, there’s no telling how bad things could get for the younger fighter.

All this to say that the only way to combat atrophy, whether it’s the inevitable kind that comes with getting older or the preventable kind that comes with not using something, is by staying active and engaged. As it stands at the present, it seems clear from the outside looking in that one fighter, Pacquiao, has done all he can do to be at his very best on Saturday night in Las Vegas, while the other, Thurman, has needlessly rolled the dice.

Use it or lose it. That’s what people say, but only when they’re still young enough to pick up their keys.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

3 Punch Combo: Scoping Out Teofimo vs Nakatani, Ajagba vs Demirezen and More

Matt Andrzejewski




THREE PUNCH COMBO — Boxing on ESPN+ returns this Friday with a card from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD headlined by the fast-rising lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11 KO’s). Lopez will be facing the undefeated Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12 KO’s) of Japan in a final IBF eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for champion Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KO’s). While Lopez is a known commodity to most boxing fans, the same cannot be said of Nakatani. So just who is this unheralded fighter from Japan and does he pose any threat to Lopez?

Nakatani, 30, turned pro in 2011 after an amateur career that by most accounts consisted of somewhere between 50 and 60 bouts. As a pro, he has never fought more than three times a year and never outside of Japan, but by managing to stay undefeated he has crept into the Top 15 rankings of three of the four major sanctioning bodies in the lightweight division.

Looking closer Nakatani’s resume, the overall level of his competition is highly questionable.  Probably his best win was in his eighth pro fight when he won a 12-round unanimous decision against Ricky Sismundo. Sismundo has sprung some surprises in the past and as a matter of fact gave undefeated rising contender Maxim Dadashev a scare earlier this year, but this is the same Ricky Sismundo who was defeated by Ruslan Madiyev last week in California, bringing his record to 35-14-3.

Other than Sismundo, the names on Nakatani’s resume are hardly recognizable.

Nakatani, an orthodox fighter, is tall for the lightweight division standing nearly six feet in height. As such, he likes to work behind the left jab. However, that jab is not very sharp or powerful, but used as more of a range finder and to set up his right hand. Sometimes he will follow the right with a left hook but his primary offense is the left jab followed by the right.

Nakatani is not that athletic or quick inside the ring. His hand speed is below average for the division. He is also not a powerful or heavy handed puncher. The knockouts are more from his level of competition than anything else.

Here are a few other notes on Nakatani based on my observations: He does not like to fight on the inside and will initiate clinches when his opponent closes the distance. And he has a habit of trying to avoid punches with his legs, often times pulling straight back with his hands down. He has gotten clipped quite a few times but fortunately for him those fighters that have done so have not possessed big punching power.

I actually do think Nakatani is the strongest opponent for Lopez to date. That being said, however, I do not think he will give Lopez much trouble. Teofimo may get frustrated some by Nakatani’s constant clinching on the inside, and he may get hit with a few range finding jabs, but expect another Lopez knockout here sometime in the first half of the fight.

Under The Radar Fight

The attention of the boxing world this week is going to be focused on the big welterweight pay-per-view title fight between Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s) and Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s). Also on the show is an intriguing heavyweight fight that is falling deep under the radar between a pair of 2016 Olympians in Efe Ajagba (10-0, 9 KO’s) and Ali Eren Demirezen (11-0, 10 KO’s).

Ajagba, 25, represented his native country of Nigeria in the Super Heavyweight division of the 2016 Olympics where he lost to Ivan Dychko in the quarterfinals. Since turning pro, he has really turned heads, building a reputation as a fearsome puncher.

Ajagba is a big imposing heavyweight. He stands 6’5” tall and possesses a massive 85-inch reach. Best described as an aggressive boxer puncher, he will press the action, often times behind a very stiff and powerful left jab from the orthodox stance. Very athletic for a man his size, he possesses above average hand speed for the heavyweight division. His best trait is his power; he possesses legitimate one punch knockout power in both fists. The natural tools are all there for Ajagba to potentially one day be a dominant force in the division.

But there are things Ajagba needs to work on, namely his defense. Right now, he lacks any sort of head movement and often poses in front of his opponents after punching them to admire his work. He hasn’t paid yet for his lack of attention to defense but that may change as his competition rises.

Demirezen, 29, represented Turkey in the Super Heavyweight division of the 2016 Olympics where he lost to Filip Hrgovic in his opening fight. Since turning pro he hasn’t had much fanfare, but has amassed quite an impressive early pro record while fighting mostly in Germany.

Though he may not have the imposing physique of Ajagba, Demirezen possesses some solid skills as well as some surprising athleticism. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to call him a poor man’s version of Andy Ruiz Jr.

Demirezen will look to apply pressure behind the left jab and work combinations with his quick hands behind that jab. He does not really possess one-punch power but is heavy handed and his punches can take a cumulative effect on his opponents. His best punch is a quick left hook to the body that he often lands with precision.

If physiques won a boxing match, this would be no contest. But as we saw with Joshua-Ruiz, physiques don’t always win. Ajagba will be favored and rightfully so, but Demirezen can fight. This is an interesting fight between two undefeated heavyweight prospects who were recent Olympians and one that I am very much looking forward to on Saturday.

Prospect Watch – Luis Arcon

 There is a lot that gets me excited about the future of the sport. Not only is the sport being broadcast like it never has before but we have many good prospects who are beaming with talent. So many good prospects, as a matter of fact, that some very talented young fighters are falling a bit under the radar. One such fighter is junior welterweight Luis Arcon who moved to 8-0 with 8 knockouts this past Friday with a third-round knockout of Mario Lozano.

Like many of today’s top prospects, Arcon has a strong amateur pedigree. His amateur background includes representing his native country of Venezuela in the 2016 Olympics.

Arcon, 27, turned pro in March of 2018 in Mexico. So far he has breezed through his competition though it must be noted that he hasn’t faced the toughest of challenges. But he has looked very good so far in his early pro career and has been flashing some incredible talent.

Fighting from the orthodox stance, Arcon likes to work behind a well-timed and very powerful left jab. His footwork is excellent and he often positions himself at the right angles to land combinations behind that jab. He possesses very fast hands and can often fire off a volley of power shots before his opponent can react.

And then there is the power. Perhaps this is what stands out most when watching Arcon on video. Granted, as noted earlier, the competition has not been the stiffest, but he has displayed devastating knockout power in both fists. His best punch is the left hook to the body which often has a paralyzing effect on his opposition.

With his amateur background, Arcon is ready to take the next step in his career. His game is polished and he possesses massive power in both of his hands. He belongs on all top prospect lists and has a bright future in this sport.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

R.I.P. Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker, One of the All-Time Greats

Arne K. Lang




Tributes are pouring in for Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker who was killed last night (Sunday, July14) after being struck by a car while walking across a busy intersection in Virginia Beach, Virginia. An Olympic gold medalist who won six world titles in four weight classes,  Whitaker was a defensive wizard. At his peak he was considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. In 2002, The Ring magazine named him the 10th best boxer of the last 80 years.

Whitaker, who turned 55 in January, turned pro in 1984 at Madison Square Garden on a show that included five of his U.S. Olympic teammates – Evander Holyfield, Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Tyrell Biggs, and Virgil Hill.

As a pro, Whitaker was managed by Main Events, a Duva family company, and did most of his training in Philadelphia under the watchful eye of George Benton. In his 17th pro fight, Pernell ventured to Paris to challenge WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Ramirez who was 100-6 going in. Whitaker came up short on the scorecards, losing a split decision.

This ranked among the worst decisions in boxing history. Whitaker’s chief second Lou Duva accused WBC president Jose Sulaiman of fixing the fight so as not to spoil an all-Mexico showdown between Ramirez and Julio Cesar Chavez.

Two fights later, Whitaker won his first title, taking the IBF lightweight belt from Greg Haugen. Pernell won all 12 rounds on two of the cards. He added the WBC belt in a rematch with Jose Luis Ramirez, winning a wide decision, and added the WBA belt with a first-round stoppage of Puerto Rico’s Juan Nazario in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Between his first fight with Ramirez and his April 4, 1997 encounter with Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas, Whitaker was undefeated, a span of almost 10 years consisting of 26 fights. During this run he won world titles at 140 and 154 pounds before dropping back to welterweight for four successful title defenses.

There was one “blemish” late in this 26-fight run, a draw at the San Antonio Alamodome with Julio Cesar Chavez. This was also controversial. The post-fight report by William Nack was the cover story in Sports Illustrated. The headline was “Robbed!”

Sweet Pea lost a unanimous decision to De La Hoya that most ringsiders thought was a lot closer than what was reflected by the scorecards (DLH won by margins of 4, 6, and 6 points). A poll of 26 ringside reporters by the Las Vegas Review Journal revealed that 14 scored it for Whitaker with one having it a draw.

Six months after his bout with De La Hoya, Whitaker opposed Andrey Pestryaev at Foxwood’s Resort in Connecticut. He won a unanimous decision but wasn’t himself. A post-fight urine test revealed the presence of cocaine. That dictated a six-month suspension during which he failed a random drug test. He wouldn’t step back into the ring until Feb. 20, 1999, when he opposed IBF welterweight champion Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden.

This would the first fight in Whitaker’s remarkable career that he lost without controversy. Trinidad broke Pernell’s jaw during the bout and retained his title with a clear-cut unanimous decision.

Whitaker retired, but launched a comeback 26 months later with a fight in Lake Tahoe against Mexican journeyman Carlos Bojorquez. In this fight, Whitaker suffered a fractured clavicle in the second round. He soldiered on, but 27 seconds into the fourth, seeing that Whitaker was a one-armed fighter in considerable pain, referee Joe Cortez pulled the plug. This would be the final fight of his career. He left with a record of 40-4-1 and 1 “NC” (the Pestryaev contest).

Less than 48 hours later, back home in Norfolk, Virginia, Whitaker was rushed to the hospital with an apparent overdose. His girlfriend called 911 after finding him having a seizure on the floor of the bathroom, his body covered in sweat.

Sweet Pea, who worked as a boxing and personal trainer in retirement, appeared to have it all together back in June of 2007 when he was formally inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. His emotional speech was the highlight of the induction ceremony. But in 2014 he was back in the news again when he was forced to evict his 73-year-old mother from the home she had occupied for 30 years. He said that he could no longer afford to maintain the home which he had always kept in his name. The United Press wire story said that Whitaker had squandered millions on drugs and legal expenses.

The man that struck Whitaker with his vehicle remained on the scene. Preliminary reports indicate that the driver was not impaired in any way. We here at The Sweet Science extend our condolences to Whitaker’s family and loved ones.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading