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For Whom the Bell Tolled: 2019 Boxing Obituaries PART TWO

Arne K. Lang

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The second half of 2019 was mottled by a particularly sorrowful July during which two fighters died from ring injuries suffered in fights staged one day apart. We pay tribute to them here in our annual year-end obituary page and toast the memory of other boxing personalities that left us this year. This is a continuation of Part One which covered January through May.

June 1 – J.T. ROSS – A World War II combat veteran, Ross, a tall middleweight, crammed 47 fights into a pro career that consumed less than five full years. He fought almost exclusively in central and northern California, but had his farewell fight in Madison Square Garden where he was stopped by Eugene “Silent” Hairston, reducing his final record to 41-5-2. At age 94 in Gilroy, CA.

June 8 – BILLY JOINER – He won the 1962 National Golden Gloves and AAU tournaments as a light heavyweight before turning pro under the management of George Gainford who also handled Sugar Ray Robinson. A small heavyweight, Joiner was only 12-13-3 as a pro, but he was matched tough, opposing Sonny Liston twice, Larry Holmes, and Oscar Bonavena in what would be Bonavena’s final fight. At age 81 in Springdale, OH.

June 22 – WILLIE MONROE – “Willie the Worm,” who turned pro at the Blue Horizon, stood tall in an era when Philadelphia was a hornet’s next of talented middleweights. In 1976 he outpointed Marvin Hagler and although Hagler would avenge that loss twice, Monroe would remain the only man to defeat Marvelous Marvin non-controversially. He finished 40-10-1 (26 KOs). At age 73 from complications of Alzheimer’s in the Philadelphia suburb of Sicklerville, NJ.

June 22 – EARL LARGE – The New Mexico featherweight was a regional attraction in the southwest and in Northern Mexico during a 12-year career in which he was 39-17-2. Before turning pro, Large, whose nickname was Soul Brother, was a national AAU and national Golden Gloves champion. At age 72 in Clovis, New Mexico.

July 14 – PERNELL WHITAKER – “Sweet Pea” breezed through the lightweight competition at the 1984 LA Olympics and went on to win world titles in four weight classes. One of the greatest defensive fighters in the annals of the sport, the crafty southpaw was 40-1-1 through his first 42 fights with both blemishes assailed as rip-offs. He was 55 when he was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking across a busy intersection in Virginia Beach, VA.

July 23 – MAXIM DADASHEV – A stablemate of Vasyl Lomachenko, Dadashev faced fellow unbeaten Subriel Matias at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Maryland on July 19 in a match billed for a 140-pound title eliminator. After 11 rounds, Dadashev insisted that he wanted to keep going but was overruled by his trainer Buddy McGirt who pulled him out. He left the arena in an ambulance and died four days later following emergency brain surgery. Laid to rest in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia, Dadashev was 28.

July 25 – HUGO ALFREDO SANTILLAN – The Argentine lightweight battled Uruguay’s Eduardo Abreu to a 10-round draw on July 20. As he was awaiting the decision, he passed out in the ring, fell into a coma, and died three days later at a hospital in Buenos Aires. A former South American super featherweight champion, Santillan (19-6-2) was 23 years old.

July 31 – BEAU WILLIFORD – A heavyweight, Williford didn’t go far as fighter, but became an important cog in the boxing apparatus — amateur and pro — from his base in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he ran the Ragin Cajun Boxing Club. He promoted dozens of small-budget shows up and down the Gulf Coast and into Oklahoma and was one of the most well-liked people in the industry. At age 69 (some say 72) in Lafayette.

Aug. 3 – JEAN CLAUDE BOUTTIER – A major celebrity in France during his boxing heyday, Bouttier compiled a record of 64-7-1 (43 KOs) during a 10-year career that began in 1965. He went 27 rounds with Carlos Monzon in two futile stabs at Monzon’s world middleweight title. In retirement, Bouttier worked as a movie actor and TV sports commentator. At age 74 in Gourney-sur-Marne, France.

Aug. 16 – JOSE NAPOLES – They said Napoles was as smooth as butter, hence his nickname, Mantequilla. He left Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power and came to the fore in Mexico City. Napoles was 15-2 in world welterweight title fights during an era when there were only two reputable sanctioning bodies. He finished his career with a mark of 81-7 (54 KOs) and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the inaugural class of 1990. At age 79 (or thereabouts) in Mexico City from complications of diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Aug. 24 – ARTHUR RAMALHO – He was called the patriarch of pugilism in Lowell, Massachusetts, a town with a rich boxing tradition. Ramalho’s West End Gym, which he opened in 1973, spawned numerous New England Golden Gloves champions and was featured in the movie “The Fighter,” wherein Mark Wahlberg portrayed Lowell boxing legend Micky Ward. At age 84 of lung cancer.

Oct. 9 – PADDY GRAHAM – Belfast’s Graham was 33-19-1 over the course of a 10-year career that began in 1953. A lightweight who matured into a welterweight, Graham’s opponents included Willie Toweel and future world title challenger Ted Wight. At age 87 of kidney failure in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Oct. 11 – ELOY PEREZ – Born in Mexico, Perez came to the U.S. as a toddler and grew up in largely rural Thurston County in the state of Washington. He suffered his lone defeat in what would be his final pro fight when he was stopped in the fourth round by defending WBO 130-pound champion Adrien Broner, finishing 23-1-2. Following a series of legal problems, he was deported to Mexico, dying in Tijuana at age 32. Some say a suicide and others say he was murdered.

Oct. 16 – PATRICK DAY – A 2012 U.S. Olympic Team alternate, Day suffered a traumatic head injury during the 10th round of a 10-round fight in Chicago with 2016 Olympian Charles Conwell and died four days later without regaining consciousness. Raised in a comfortable middle class home in Freeport, New York (his father was a physician), the extremely well-liked Day was 27 years old at the time of his passing.

patrick

Patrick Day

Oct. 30 – DON FRASER – “Dandy Don,” who entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005, was a major cog on the Southern California boxing scene for parts of eight decades during which he wore many hats, e.g., publicist, matchmaker, promoter. At age 92 of a sudden brain aneurism at his home in Toluca Lake, CA.

Nov. 9 – DWIGHT RITCHIE – An indigenous Australian from the state of Victoria, nicknamed the Fighting Cowboy, he collapsed after absorbing a body punch in a routine sparring session with Jack Brubaker and could not be revived. He finished 19-2 after coming up short vs Tim Tszyu in a ballyhooed fight for Australian 154-pound supremacy. Ritchie was 27.

Nov. 9 – ALAN RODRIGUES – After purchasing the Silver Nugget, a small North Las Vegas casino, Rodrigues converted the basement into a boxing pavilion and juiced up the club scene with shows featuring local talent such as a past-his-prime Roger Mayweather. He would later serve time in a federal correctional institution for telemarketing scams. At age 60 in Henderson, NV.

Nov. 13 – JAMES J. BEATTIE – The six-foot-nine Beattie, whose middle name was actually William, attracted a lot of buzz early in his career but a second loss to James J. Woody sent his stock plummeting. He finished with a mark of 40-10 (32 KOs) that included losses to world title challengers Buster Mathis, Leroy Jones, and Gopher State rival Scott LeDoux. Beattie portrayed Jess Willard in the movie “The Great White Hope.” At age 77 in New Brighton, Minnesota.

Dec. 17 – SAOUL MAMBY – Mamby, who grew up in the Bronx and served a tour of duty in Viet Nam, won the WBC super lightweight title in 1979 in Korea and successfully defended it five times, but would be best remembered as the greyest of boxing’s greybeards, having had his last pro fight at age 61. In a career that spanned five decades, Mamby was routinely matched tough, opposing 12 former or future world champions while building a record of 45-34-6. At age 72. Details are vague.

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Tyson and Jones Box to an Unofficial Draw in a Predictable Stinker

Arne K. Lang

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, an American institution, went belly-up in 2017, but a different kind of circus played to an empty house at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight. The main attraction wasn’t Jumbo the elephant but Iron Mike Tyson in his first ring appearance in 15 years. In the opposite corner was Roy Jones Jr, who at age 51 was the younger man by three years.

Tyson vs. Jones was the main piece of a 4-hour boxing and music festival live-streamed in the U.S. on the TysononTriller.com app at a list price of $49.95. This was the first live event on “Triller” which allows people to create their own music videos and was designed as a rival to China-owned TikTok, one of the biggest recent success stories in the internet world.

The California State Athletic Commission, which sanctioned the match, insisted that Tyson vs. Jones would be an exhibition. They would fight 8 two-minute rounds with 12-ounce gloves and if there were a knockdown, the referee would not give a count and the bout would or would not continue at his discretion. The rounds would not be scored and no winner would be named.

Of course, the promoter chafed at these restraints and did his best to create the impression that this was a legitimate prizefight. Retired boxers Vinny Pazienza, Chad Dawson, and Christy Martin were lassoed to serve as judges, scoring the fight from a remote location, and the WBC commissioned an honorary belt to present to the winner.

The advance hype was enormous. A clickbait-obsessed media lapped it up including photoshop-enhanced images of Mike Tyson’s physique.

In the second round, Tyson landed a double left hook and that was the only indelible moment in the match. By the third round, both looked and sounded tired and by the sixth round Jones was thoroughly gassed out and took to clinching to make it to the final bell.

For the record, the scores were 79-73 for Tyson (Martin), 80-76 for Jones (Pazienza), and 76-76 (Dawson). On the internet, the clear consensus was that Tyson had the best of it.

Mike Tyson, 50-6, 2 NC (44 KOs) last fought in June of 2005 when he was stopped by third-rater Kevin McBride. Roy Jones (66-9, 47 KOs) was active as recently as 2018 and won his last four, but against hand-picked opponents including a boxer making his pro debut. His last fight of significance came in 2011 when he was brutally KOed by Dennis Lebedev in Moscow.

Jones, who weighed 210 ½ tonight, weighed 157 when he made his pro debut in 1989. In his prime, he was pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, but that was back in the previous century.

Both fighters were reportedly guaranteed $1 million with Tyson’s take potentially reaching $10 million if certain financial targets were met.

Other Bouts

YouTube sensation Jake Paul, who we reluctantly concede has more than a modicum of talent in the fisticuffing department, knocked out Nate Robinson in the second round and it was a clean knockout with Robinson knocked out cold. The 36-year-old Robinson, the former NBA point guard who was a three-time slam dunk champion during his 11-year NBA career, is a well-rounded athlete, good enough to start as a cornerback in football during his freshman year at the University of Washington, but his athleticism didn’t translate to the squared circle as he looked like a common bar brawler.

Former two-division belt-holder Badou Jack (22-3-4), who said he appeared on the card as a favor to his friend Mike Tyson, was a clear-cut winner over hard-trying but out-classed Blake McKernan in an 8-round cruiserweight match.

At age 37, Jack’s career is winding down. He tipped the scales at 188 ¾, 14 pounds more than in his previous engagement vs. Jean Pascal. McKernan, a natural cruiserweight from Sacramento, was undefeated coming in (13-0), but was in over his head against Jack, a former Olympian and veteran of seven world title fights.

In a good action fight, Worcester, Massachusetts lightweight Jamaine Ortiz, a carpenter by trade, improved to 14-0 (8) with a seventh-round stoppage of Sulaiman Segawa (13-3-1), a Maryland-based Ugandan.

In the first bout on the program, Fort Worth featherweight Edward Vazquez improved to 9-0 (1) with an 8-round split decision over Jamaine Ortiz stablemate Irvin Gonzalez (14-3).

Heavyweight Juiseppe “Joe” Cusumano improved to 19-3 (17) with a sixth-round stoppage of late sub Gregory Corbin (15-4). It was the fourth straight loss for the 40-year-old Corbin who came in at a beefy 291 ¾ pounds.

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Fast Results from London: Joe Joyce Stops Daniel Dubois in the 10th

Arne K. Lang

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The historic Church House which sits in the shadow of Westminster Abbey was the site of tonight’s clash in London between unbeaten heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce. The bout lacked the gloss of a world title fight, but didn’t need it. The oft-postponed match, originally slated for the 02 Arena in London on April 11 with promoter Frank Warren anticipating a sellout, was fairly hyped as the most anticipated fight since Fury-Wilder II which was the last big fight before the coronavirus clampdown.

Dubois, 15-0 with 14 KOs heading in, was a consensus 7/2 favorite in man-to-man betting, He was younger, faster and punched harder, but ultimately it would be his “O” that had to go. Joe Joyce, an inch taller at six-foot-six and 15 pounds heavier at 259, emerged victorious with a 10th-round stoppage in what was a good back-and-forth fight with a divided opinion as to who had the edge through the completed rounds.

Joyce really didn’t do much but throw a jab, but he landed that jab consistently and it was a hard, thudding jab that caused Dubois’s left eye to start swelling during the mid-rounds of the fight. The damaged eye eventually shut and when Joyce reached it with another hard jab in the 10th, Dubois surrendered by taking a knee. The presumption was that he had suffered a broken orbital bone.

The 35-year-old Joyce, nicknamed Juggernaut, is of Scotch-Irish and Nigerian descent. He lost by split decision to Tony Yoka in the semifinals of the 2016 Olympics and had to settle for a silver medal. Prior to turning pro, he was 12-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing with his lone defeat coming at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk. With today’s career-defining win, he upped his pro ledger to 12-0 (11).

Other Bouts

Top-rated WBC super lightweight contender Jack Catterall (26-0) won a predictably one-sided 10-round triumph over 33-year-old Tunisian Abderrazak Houya (14-3). Catterall scored two knockdowns en route to winning by a 99-90 score. This was a stay-busy fight for the Lancashire man who was the mandatory challenger for title-holder Jose Carlos Ramirez and accepted step-aside money with the promise that he would meet the winner of the unification fight between Ramirez and Josh Taylor which is expected to come off in February.

The lead-in fight was a 10-round contest in the super welterweight division between 21-year-old Hamzah Sheeraz and 33-year-old Guido Nicolas Pitto. The fight was monotonous until Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KOs) kicked it into a higher career in the final stanza and brought about the stoppage. Pitto, from Spain by way of Argentina, declined to 26-8-2. The official time was 1:11 of round 10.

In an 8-round cruiserweight bout, Jack Massey improved to 17-1 (8) with a 79-74 referee’s decision over Mohammad Ali Farid (16-2-1). Massey was making his first start since losing a close 12-round decision to Richard Raikporhe in December of 2019 for the vacant BBBofC title. The well-traveled, one-dimensional Farid had scored 16 knockouts in his previous 18 fights while answering the bell for only 33 rounds.

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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