Connect with us

Featured Articles

Has the U.S. Lost its Presence in Boxing? Part One of a New Survey

Published

on

Has-the-U.S.-Lost-its-Presence-in-Boxing?-Part-One-of-a-New-Survey

More than 50 boxing notables shared their thoughts in our latest TSS survey. They came from all walks of boxing – former fighters, officials, writers, publicists, commentators, and especially boxing historians. We are listing the respondents alphabetically. PART ONE goes “A” through “L.”

I sincerely thank our respondents for their participation, particularly in these very difficult times.

JIMBO AMATO-author, writer, historian and memorabilia collector: From 175 pounds and up the Americans have faded on the international scene. From 168 down they are well represented. There are many potential big money fights there to made at the international level. This could be a very exciting year for boxing fans if the promoters could get these bouts put together.

RUSS ANBER-elite cornerman, trainer, owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: We need to define “major player in professional boxing” and the US still remains the land of opportunity as it pertains to the big fights and big events. The closest rival is the UK but if it doesn’t involve a UK fighter; they don’t have the same interest. The US is still a major player except there are now more players. The World Boxing Super Series is an example.  If you are talking about fighters, the answer is an unequivocal YES. Whether on the amateur or professional scene, the US and many western countries have lost their dominance as a result of the tide of professionals now making their way into the game from the former Soviet Bloc. The amateur game is a glaring example as it becomes a look into the future of what is to come. The US once the most powerful amateur nation in the world has had little success internationally compared to the reign of terror they once had. Two decades ago a top ten in any weight class was filled with  Americans. Those numbers have gone down as Eastern fighters have emerged. From the Klitschkos, to Loma, Usyk, Golovkin, Beterbiev, Bivol, etc. All these great fighters have come from countries that didn’t even turn pro a short time ago.

MATT ANDRZJEWSKI-TSS boxing writer: The US has definitely not lost its presence as a major player in boxing. The biggest fights, such as Fury-Wilder II, still mostly take place in the US and there is plenty of activity on a weekly basis in US based shows. The sport is more than alive and well in the United States.

DAVID AVILA-TSS West Coast Bureau Chief:  Absolutely not. Without being nationalistic, boxing is thriving more than ever before. Fighters come to the U.S. to make more money and have a bigger presence. Anywhere else is a small pond compared to the U.S. A big example remains the California area  remains the Southern California area that boasts more than 100 boxing gyms. Fighters from every part of the world are found in these gyms and get here any way they can. These are facts. Canelo moved from Mexico to the US and makes more money than almost every athlete in the world save baseball player Mike Trout and a few others.

BOB BENOIT-referee, judge, former fighter, and retired Massachusetts State Trooper: Yes, the USA has lost its dominance in World Boxing, thanks to the lack of promotion of pro and amateur boxing. Amateur boxing is run by those who don’t know the difference between a left jab and a right cross.

BRIAN “THE BIZZ” BIZZACK-historian, moderator of “Bizzy On Boxing”: Sadly, I believe this is true. The reasons are many: The collapse of the amateur system, the lack of quality trainers nowadays, the modern-day emergence of professional basketball and football as our primary sports of interest, and last but perhaps not least — the proliferation of sanctioning bodies and ‘world titles’ over the last few decades. This has alienated and confused the more casual mainstream sports fan, and for the young boy or man that once dreamed of capturing a singular WORLD crown (like Louis, Robinson, Marciano, Ali, and many others) what true “glory” is there… in capturing one of four, or god forbid seven or eight???

STEVE CANTON-the face of boxing in Florida: Most definitely. There are no good old-school trainers today who know how to properly train the tried and proven techniques. They are constantly trying to invent new ways and, as a result, we have fighters who can’t really fight. Today, it is two guys standing in front of each other banging away. It is “my turn, your turn” since they don’t know what else to do. When one throws punches the other waits until he is done and then it is their turn to throw punches. Fighters fight so infrequently, there are too many meaningless belts, the best don’t fight the best, too much PED use and cheating in the sport and on and on and on. Meanwhile, around the world fighters are busy, fighting frequently and building big fan bases. I still don’t see much in the way of better technique; I just see more activity which provides more opportunity to fighters in other countries.

ANTHONY CARDINALE-boxing manager, advisor, and nationally prominent defense attorney: I disagree. While many great fighters are coming out of Eastern Europe and Great Britain, we have many more top ten fighters in every weight class from the USA, and many more scheduled professional bouts. That said, one of the problems I see going forward is the practical demise of our amateur boxing programs here. Too many kids are opting to go pro instead of keeping in top international amateur competition which will only help them in the future.

GUY CASALE-former boxer, retired detective: I agree. The U.S. boxers don’t train or have the mindset of the boxers of years ago. Unlike their counterparts, U.S. fighters lack the hunger/drive!

MONTE COXformer boxer, historian: The number of participants in the U.S has greatly declined over the years. Circa 1920 there were 20 boxing shows a week in New York City alone, that’s more than a thousand shows just in the Big Apple. There were less than 600 boxing shows in the entire U.S for the year 2017, the last year I have stats for. A decline in participants means a decline in performance. So yes, boxing has declined.

JILL DIAMOND-WBC International Secretary; WBC Cares Chair: I don’t think there’s any one player or presence anymore. It’s a global sport and the different internet platforms have reinforced that. Having said that, some of the great talent and promoters are from the USA, and Vegas still draws record crowds.

CHARLIE DWYER-former fighter, professional referee, member of US Marines Boxing Hall of Fame: US dominance in boxing diminished since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Once the Eastern European fighters were allowed turn pro and leave their countries, the face of professional boxing changed worldwide.

                                                *********************

“Today’s fighters have trainers, assistant trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, spiritual advisors, massage therapists, matchmakers, booking agents, promoters, co-promoters, publicists, cutmen, “better training methods,” and assorted hangers-on and… are tired after a few rounds. Yesterday’s fighters had a trainer and promoter….and they went 15 rounds non-stop. The future is not what it used to be.” — Steve Canton

*********************

RICK FARRIS-former Boxer and President of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: I agree that America has lost its place in both professional & amateur boxing. The last American male to win an Olympic Gold Medal was Andre Ward, who was an exceptional pro & amateur champion. He was the last, and I do not expect better in the future. If not for America being so weak in boxing, Eastern Europe would not be getting any notice, as they are not better than they were, just have less competition. I see little future for America in boxing, except for our females who have carried the torch alone.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ- TSS mainstay, lifetime member of the BWAA and 2020 IBHOF inductee: The United States’ domination of basketball ended, in a way, with the great success of the 1992 “Dream Team.” The world observed, and the world wanted its own Michael Jordan. Now the tide is turning in other international sports, including boxing and tennis. The rest of the planet wants what we have, or had, while the USA dares to think it can become a world power in soccer on a par with Europe and South America. A big reason for the lack of depth in boxing: quality big men, who might have become heavyweights, channeling their energies into football and basketball.

JERRY FITCH-writer, author, and historian: I do think boxing is not a major player in the US anymore, certainly not anywhere near what so many have enjoyed earlier, even 25-30 years ago. I feel boxing started going downhill when more and more alphabet groups were added. Then more weight classes were added. And whether anyone agrees or not I feel young kids nowadays could care less about boxing. Those with athletic ability turn to basketball or football. We have a hard time in Cleveland getting anywhere near 100 kids to enter the Golden Gloves. In the 1950s sometimes 100 kids entered from one gym locally. And there are not nearly enough quality trainers these days.

JEFFREY FREEMAN-(aka KO DIGEST); TSS writer: As evidenced by their deranged, degenerate reaction to Fury-Wilder 2 (on the internet and beyond) it is obvious to me that American fans and media can no longer handle heavyweight championship boxing in America. They make a mockery of it. The sport and its participants are much better served by the British fans and by the British business model for big time professional boxing.

RICK GAGNE-historian: The U.S. isn’t the powerhouse that it was, but we still have more champions than any other country. We never were kings of the little men. Our amateur program has devolved far more than the pros.

CLARENCE GEORGE-writer and historian: The U.S. is still a major player, though perhaps not as major as it once was. A significant change is the location of heavyweight championship fights. But this phenomenon predates Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. II by several decades. Think of Joe Frazier vs. George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 22, 1973; Foreman vs. Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 26, 1974; Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, that October 30; and Ali vs. Frazier in Quezon City, the Philippines, on October 1, 1975. Harrumph — all those bouts should have taken place at Madison Square Garden.

LEE GROVESwriter, author, researcher and CompuBox punch counter: I don’t think the U.S. has lost its presence as a major player but it is sharing the stage with more players. Fighters outside of the U.S. still see value in being seen — and being marketed — in America (see Tyson Fury) but boxing has become an even more global sport thanks to the Internet. To me, the more the merrier. As long as boxing grows, it’s all good.

HENRY HASCUP- boxing historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: Up until the late 1960’s the three most popular sports in the US were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Now boxing is way down the list because we have so many other sports that are played or we watch on TV. I believe the fighters are much more popular in some other countries as US major sports stars are in other sports! However, in 2019 the US had a total of 603 shows, which is still more than any other country.

CHUCK HASSON-historian and writer: For over a century U.S. boxing was the pinnacle of world boxing. But in recent years, with the influx of top Eastern European boxers helping to infuse huge interest throughout the continent and terrific fighters from Britain, Ireland, Germany, it has made for a golden age of European boxing. After being behind the U.S. for so long, it’s nice to see them stepping out from under our shadow. But I am hopeful we can take back the mantle soon.

DANNY HOWARD-boxing writer: Boxing is a global sport and the decline of a strong American presence among competitors was only really a talking point for the heavyweight division. This isn’t anything new. The biggest fights in the world still happen in America. Americans aren’t exactly flocking to support their homegrown heroes, they just want blood and guts like every other fight fan, regardless of what language they speak or where they come from.

BRUCE KIELTYbooking agent; boxing historian: There is no question that US boxing continues a long slide downhill. Amateur boxing is on life-support in most areas. Today’s millennials find MMA far more violent and entertaining and perfect for those with minute attention spans. MMA has been successfully marketed as a blood sport and doesn’t have the number of corrupt sanctioning bodies that are such a drag on boxing. Also, boxing during periods of high employment is seen as an unnecessary low-paying and dangerous pursuit.

*********************

“They ought to cut this junk-throwing at boxing. The mollycoddles  and pinheads  never gave it a square deal.”  – John L. Sullivan

*********************

STUART KIRSCHENBAUM-Boxing Commissioner Emeritus, State of Michigan: I agree the US has lost its presence. Once the King of Sports, it’s food chain…young amateur boxers, have virtually dried up. As a way out of ethnic ghettos there are easier ways to success, some not legal. The sport is homeless in the sense that public recreation centers and privately owned gyms with boxing programs are too costly to maintain and liability is too rampart. Regular local boxing shows are rare with the disappearance of promoters willing to risk financial loss and contracted professionals with no venues to develop their careers. Newspapers and TV news have done away with boxing writers. You can never see the top boxers on TV unless you skip paying for your prostate medication and subsidize some temporary millionaire via your cable bill. The average sports fan is clueless who the major boxing champions are.

JIM LAMPLEY-legendary anchor of the HBO broadcasting team; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Obviously it is premature and exaggerated to suggest the US is not a “major player” in boxing or in any other form of entertainment. The audience here is too big for that. Is the nation’s position in the talent pool diminishing?? Maybe, but that has mostly to do with the growth of talent development in other countries. Pacquaio and Mayweather demonstrated the economic pyramid is no longer controlled by heavyweights exclusively, so now the whole planet wants to get on board. It’s the natural momentum of globalism, and it cannot be wished away.

ARNE LANG-TSS editor in chief, author, historian: There are actually three questions here depending on how one chooses to define “lost its presence.” Forgetting Saudi Arabia for the moment, the richest fights are still held on U.S. soil. All foreign pros dream about fighting in the U.S. From a skillfulness standpoint, however, the former Soviet bloc countries have vaulted ahead of us, notably in the four weight divisions from 160 to 200. How do I feel about it? I’m indifferent, but it would be nice to see the USA Olympic team recapture some of its lost glory.

RON LIPTON-former fighter, current pro referee, boxing historian and writer, member of the New Jersey and New York Boxing Hall of Fame and retired police officer: The U.S. has not lost its presence as a major player in professional boxing. The allure to defending your championship in the magic atmosphere of Madison Square Garden will never lose its prestige and luster. The boxing history there is written in stone and has an electricity that you feel and take with you after each major fight show. The fight fans that come to so many venues throughout the U.S. with so many wonderful locales radiating boxing excitement, keep the U.S. at the forefront of boxing excitement on planet earth.  I have respect for all the fan loyalty in other countries and what it means to all the boxing fans therein, yet we here in the U.S. feel the same way.

Coming Next: PART TWO (M-W) plus observations.

Photo: Ukrainian stablemates Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Share The Sweet Science experience!

Featured Articles

Avila Perspective, Chap. 288: Jake Paul and Amanda

Published

on

Avila-Perspective-Chap-288-Jake-Paul-and-Amanda

No Texas this time.

Jake Paul and Amanda Serrano take their show to Florida with a new interesting cast of fighters after heavyweight legend Mike Tyson was forced to withdraw.

Paul (9-1, 6 KOs) faces bare knuckle champion Mike “King of Violence” Perry (6-0, 3 KOs) in a cruiserweight match on Saturday July 20, at Amalie Arena in Tampa. The Most Valuable Promotions event will be shown on PPV.COM and also on DAZN pay-per-view.

“I love to take risks. He’s a dangerous man,” Paul said. “Really this came about because he has a crazy fan base.”

Also, in a dangerous match, Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KOs) faces potent knockout puncher Stevie Morgan (14-1, 13 KOs) in the super lightweight class.

Both Paul and Serrano are taking risks.

It’s another interesting match devised by Paul who has a knack for piquing the interest of fight fans one way or another. This time he chose bare knuckle titlist Perry who also has loads of experience in MMA including more than a dozen UFC fights.

Perry is the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship titlist and no stranger to boxing, jujitsu or MMA. He’s known for knockout power in both hands, little defense, but a very strong chin.

“I’m doing it for me, for the fans, for BKFC, for MMA but mainly for me. I believe in myself,” said Perry at the press conference. “I’m a brawling boxing mug.”

Paul chose Perry mainly because he feels MMA or bare knuckle fighters cannot defeat him.

“You’re going to see what I do to their best fighter. This guy has no skills,” said Paul about BKFC or UFC fighters.  “You saw what I did to Nate Diaz.”

In the female fight, Serrano chose Morgan who has a large fan base in Tampa. The hometown fighter believes this is a perfect match for them both.

“I’m not being disrespectful. I’m just stating facts. Amanda has a fighting style that best suits me,” said Morgan who is slightly taller.

Serrano was dead-eyed serious about the fight and Morgan’s comments.

“I don’t pay attention to that. That doesn’t pay my bills. You’ll see Saturday night,” said Serrano. “I don’t look past any opponent.”

Several other interesting bouts are on tap including another boxer versus MMA as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. faces Uriah Hall in a cruiserweight bout. Undefeated lightweights Ashton Sylve and Lucas Bahdi are set for 10 rounds. And female super middleweight contender Shadasia Green meets Natasha Spence in an eight-round fight.

According to Most Valuable Promotions the previously scheduled fights between Paul and Tyson and Serrano versus Katie Taylor will take place in November.

Prelims begin at 4 p.m.

Golden Boy at Fantasy Springs

Hard-hitting welterweights Alexis Rocha (24-2, 16 KOs) and Santiago Dominguez (27-0, 20 KOs) head the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. on Friday, July 19. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

Santa Ana’s Rocha has faced the better-quality opposition, but Mexico’s Dominguez remains undefeated despite almost stumbling in his first fight in California last March.

Will Rocha’s experience be too much for Dominguez who won a split decision in his last fight?

Also on the card will be a number of undefeated prospects including Bryan Lua, Jorge Chavez and Grant Flores.

Nakatani

Three-division world champion Junto Nakatani (27-0, 20 KOs) defends the WBC bantamweight title against Vincent Astrolabio (19-4, 24 KOs) on Saturday, July 20, at Tokyo, Japan. ESPN+ will stream the Teiken Promotions card.

Nakatani, 26, is considered by many to be the next best Japanese fighter to Naoya Inoue. Many also consider Nakatani among the best dozen pound for pound fighters in the world.

The southpaw slugger is familiar to Southern California boxing. He trains with noted trainer Rudy Hernandez who has developed him into one of the best and most feared fighters below featherweight.

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 6 p.m. Alexis Rocha (24-2) vs Santiago Dominguez (27-0)

Sat. ESPN+ 2 a.m. Junto Nakatani (27-0) vs Vincent Astrolabio (19-4).

Sat. PPV.COM and DAZN ppv 6 p.m. Jake Paul (9-1) vs Mike Perry (6-0); Amanda Serrano (46-2-1) vs Stevie Morgan (14-1).

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Share The Sweet Science experience!
Continue Reading

Featured Articles

The Mirage Goes Dark and Another Storied Venue for Boxing Bites the Dust

Published

on

The-Mirage-Goes-Dark-and-Another-Storied-Venue-for-Boxing-Bites-the-Dust

Life comes at you fast. It seems like only yesterday that I stood in a crowd of rubberneckers gawking at the artificial volcano that fronted the spanking new Mirage Hotel and Casino. After sundown, it erupted every 15 minutes, sending fireballs into the sky accompanied by a soundtrack of actual eruptions as the air was perfumed with the scent of a pina colada. In those days, late November of 1989 and beyond, the artificial volcano was Southern Nevada’s #1 tourist attraction, supplanting Hoover Dam. (The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign at the south end of the Strip hadn’t yet become a magnet for hordes of camera-toting tourists.)

I didn’t come to the 3,044-room Polynesian-themed resort to see the volcano. I came there to see the centerpiece of the grand opening festivities, a prizefight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, the third meeting between the two gladiators. The Mirage had actually opened for business two weeks earlier, but it was a soft opening, as they say in the trade. The boxing event on Thursday, Dec. 7, 1989, was the cherry on the cake, a spectacle in every sense of the word. Celebrities were chaperoned to their ringside seats on a red carpet, mirroring the Oscars, and a mesmerizing fireworks display, better than New Years Eve, lit up the sky in the interlude between the last preliminary bout and the main event.

Leonard-Duran III was the first of 13 boxing shows at the Mirage, the last of which was staged in 1995. Thirteen isn’t many, but they included some of the biggest fights of the era, five of which – the first five – were staged under the stars in makeshift arenas built specifically for boxing. And now, with the closure of the Mirage today (July 17), another place that housed historic prizefights has dissipated into the dustbin of history.

The accoutrements were more memorable than the fight. Roberto Duran had turned back the clock in his most recent bout, unseating middleweight title-holder Iran Barkley at the Atlantic City Convention Center, but against Sugar Ray he looked older than his 38 years. Leonard was content to out-box Duran and won nearly every round. The final chapter of the Four Kings round-robin (Leonard, Duran, Marvin Hagler, and Tommy Hearns) was a dud.

Two months after the Leonard-Duran rubber match, fringe contender James “Buster” Douglas shocked the world with a 10th-round stoppage of Mike Tyson.

Tyson-Douglas was in faraway Tokyo, but the Mirage became a sidebar to the story of the fight when mischievous Jimmy Vaccaro, who ran the Mirage Race and Sports Book, just for the fun of it posted odds on the match. That gave the Mirage a monopoly as it would be the only property in the bookmaking universe to take bets on the outcome of the fight.

The betting line bounced around a little bit and at one point the odds favoring Mike Tyson stood at 42/1. This price would come to be etched in stone. “42 to 1” became the title of an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary.

It wasn’t lost on Mirage founder and chairman Steve Wynn that Buster Douglas would be the perfect poster boy for a gambling establishment. After all, Buster was the Joe Blow that knocked out Superman and won the big jackpot. Wynn’s attorneys succeeded in extricating Douglas from the clutches of Don King and he was matched against Evander Holyfield, a former cruiserweight champion who was 24-0 with the last six wins coming as a heavyweight.

Worldwide, Douglas vs. Holyfield was a much bigger attraction than Leonard-Duran III. The Mirage reportedly credentialed 1,200 members of the media, many from overseas.

In the days leading up to the fight, there were rumors that Buster Douglas had been lax in his training. Those rumors were confirmed when Douglas weighed-in at 246 pounds, 14 ½ pounds more than he had carried for Mike Tyson.

Counting the intermissions between rounds, the fight lasted a shade over nine minutes. In the third frame, Buster missed with an uppercut and Holyfield countered with an overhand right that landed on the temple. Buster fell to the canvas and made no attempt to rise as referee Mills Lane tolled the 10-count. As he lay there, picking at his nose, the scene was reminiscent of the famous photo of Jack Johnson lying on his back with his right arm shading his eyes from the sun at the conclusion of his 1915 fight with Jess Willard, a match that would always beg the question of whether Johnson was faking it.

Steve Wynn, who could be charming but was a perfectionist with a volatile temper, was livid. On the streets of Las Vegas, there was talk that Wynn had Douglas and his crew evicted from their hotel rooms even before the arena was locked down. If it were true that Buster Douglas was given the bum’s rush like some deadbeat inhabitant of a fleabag hotel, he would have been the first millionaire to experience this indignity. His purse was reportedly $24 million with $19.9 million guaranteed (roughly $40 million in today’s dollars).

Wynn partnered with promoter Bob Arum for the Leonard-Duran fight. For Douglas-Holyfield, he decided to go it alone, eliminating the middleman. By his reckoning, he had people on staff who were quite capable of getting all the moving parts to mesh into a coherent whole. But manufacturing a megafight is a complicated undertaking and Wynn would discover that he had over-reached. Plus, he had soured on boxing after two stinkers.

History would show that Steve Wynn would never again commit a large amount of money to host a prizefight. But this didn’t mark the end of boxing at the Mirage as Wynn owed Don King some dates as part of the out-of-court settlement that freed Buster Douglas from King’s grasp and a handful of promoters with lesser clout (e.g., Kathy Duva, Cedric Kushner, Dan Goossen) would anchor an occasional show there in a four-wall arrangement.

Don King’s first two Mirage promotions pit Mike Tyson against Razor Ruddock. Tyson stopped Ruddock in the seventh round on March 18, 1991. The stoppage by referee Richard Steele, which struck many as premature, sparked a wild melee in the ring between the opposing handlers. The sequel in June went the distance. Tyson copped the decision. Take away the three points that Ruddock was docked for low blows and Tyson still would have won.

King also promoted the last of the outdoor shows at the Mirage, a September 14, 1991 card topped by Julio Cesar Chavez’s super lightweight title defense against Lonnie Smith. In hindsight, this event was historically important.

Although Chavez was a massive favorite and the weather was oppressively hot, the Mexican Independence Day weekend fight attracted a larger-than-expected turnout of mostly Mexican tourists with deep pockets. In future years, many big fights in Las Vegas would be noosed to a Mexican holiday weekend. Chavez vs Smith was the ice-breaker.

In addition to Leonard, Duran, Holyfield, Tyson, and Chavez, future Hall of Famers Riddick Bowe, Jeff Fenech, Azumah Nelson, Buddy McGirt, and Michael Carbajal appeared at the Mirage. “Big Daddy” Bowe never headlined a show at the Mirage but had three fights here preceding his memorable trilogy with Evander Holyfield.

Steve Wynn divested his interest in the Mirage in 2000 and the property became part of the MGM consortium. In December of 2021, the property was purchased by the Hard Rock organization whose parent company, as it were, is the Seminole Indian tribe of Florida. The transition from the Mirage to the Hard Rock is expected to take almost three years. When the renovation is finished, the property will have a new hotel tower shaped like a giant guitar. The guitar, the symbol of the Hard Rock brand, couldn’t hold the volcano’s jockstrap, but it is what it is in the city that constantly reinvents itself.

Back when the Mirage opened, the charismatic Steve Wynn was the most admired man in town. An innovator and a true visionary, Wynn melded the sensibilities of Walt Disney and Bugsy Siegel and changed the face of the Las Vegas Strip. Wynn still has a large footprint in Las Vegas reflected in two look-alike five star hotel-casinos, the Wynn and the Encore, but, incredibly, he is now persona non grata in the city that once worshiped him. His fall from grace is not a proper subject for this website. Suffice it to say that Wynn, now 82, was quite the philanderer in his younger days and his recklessness caught up with him.

Yes, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since that magical night almost 35 years ago when Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran formally christened the newest and brightest jewel on the Las Vegas landscape. Those were the days, my friend, and for some of us it seemed like only yesterday.

A recognized authority on the history of prizefighting and the history of American sports gambling, TSS editor-in-chief Arne K. Lang is the author of five books including “Prizefighting: An American History,” released by McFarland in 2008 and re-released in a paperback edition in 2020.

To comment on this story in the Forum CLICK HERE

 

 

Share The Sweet Science experience!
Continue Reading

Featured Articles

A Conversation with Legendary Phoenix Boxing Writer Norm Frauenheim

Published

on

A-Conversation-with-Legendary-Phoenix-Boxing-Writer-Norm Frauenheim

It seems all along that Norm Frauenheim was destined to become a boxing writer.

Two critical elements were at play that led the 75-year-old scribe to that profession.

“I was always interested in boxing, even as a kid,” said Frauenheim who spent 31 years with the Arizona Republic beginning in 1977. “I’m an Army brat. I was born in January 1949 on a base, Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, a city I didn’t really see until I hit the NBA road covering the [Phoenix] Suns for more than a decade starting in 1979-80.”

Frauenheim, a longtime correspondent for The Ring magazine who writes for various boxing sites such as boxingscene.com and 15rounds.com, added more background: “One of the many places I lived was Schofield Barracks on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu from 1962 to 1966,” he continued. “I delivered The Stars & Stripes to troops with the 25th Infantry Division, which was headed to Vietnam, along with my dad.

“Anyway, boxing and Schofield have long been linked, mostly because of a novel and film, ‘From Here to Eternity’ (the James Jones novel starring Frank Sinatra on the big screen). The troops were still boxing, outdoors, at the barracks along my newspaper route. I was 13 to 17 years old. I’d stop, watch and get interested. I’ve been interested ever since.”

Frauenheim added: “From there, my father and family shipped to Fort Sheridan, then a base north of Chicago where I spent one year and graduated from high school “Then my dad went back to Vietnam and I went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville (1967 through 1971) and graduated with a major in history. I was also a competitive swimmer, pre-Title IX.

“Competitive swimming is also at the roots of my sportswriting career. I was frustrated that Vanderbilt’s student newspaper didn’t cover us. I offered to do it. The newspaper agreed. I don’t swim as well as I used to. I look at a surfboard and look at the waves I used to take on and wondered what in the hell I was doing. It’s a lot safer to be at ringside.”

After a more than five-decade stint covering boxing, Frauenheim is glad that the manly sport is still around but with more outside competition.

“It’s surely not the [Muhammad] Ali era. It’s not the Golden 80s, either. It’s a fractured business in a world with more and more options for sports fans. MMA is just one example,” he said. “Boxing is not dying. It has been declared dead, ad nauseam. I read the inevitable obits and think of an old line: Boxing has climbed out of more coffins than Count Dracula.

“Still, the sport has been pushed to the fringe of public interest. But it’s been there before. Resiliency is one of its strongest qualities. It’ll be around, always reinventing itself.”

In some respects, boxing, like the other sports, has always been dependent on rivalries like the NBA’s Celtics versus Lakers, which drives the public’s interest and storylines.

“[Larry] Bird-Magic [Johnson] was basketball’s Ali-[Joe] Frazier,” Frauenheim says. “It transformed the league, setting the stage for Michael Jordan. It can happen again, in boxing or any other sport.”

Boxing is still the same but with tweaks here and there.

“When I started, championship bouts were 15 rounds instead of 12,” said Frauenheim who began his journalism career in 1970 at the Tallahassee Democrat and worked at the Jacksonville Journal before being lured in Phoenix. “There were morning weigh-ins instead of the day-before promotional show. There was also a lot more media. A big fight in Vegas meant all of the big media people were there. The last time that happened was Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, a fight that failed to meet expectations and I think eroded much of the big media’s appetite for more,” continued Frauenheim whose byline has appeared in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Mexican legend Saul Alvarez is still a major draw, but there are others on the horizon who are ready to step in and take over like the undefeated super middleweight David Benavidez.

“The clock is ticking on Canelo’s career, and I think he knows it. At this point, it’s about risk-reward. The 27-year-old Benavidez is too big a risk. Canelo, I think, looks at Benavidez and thinks he’ll beat him. I don’t think he would,” Frauenheim noted. “Benavidez is too big, has a mean streak and possesses a rare extra gear. He gets stronger in the late rounds.

“Even if Canelo wins, there’s a pretty good chance that Benavidez hurts him. There’s still a chance Canelo-Benavidez happens. But I think it’ll take some Saudi [Arabian] money.”

Boxers stand alone in the ring, literally and figuratively, but have a small supporting crew.

This makes them unique compared to baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

“Boxers are different from any other athlete I’ve ever covered. It’s why, I guess, boxing has been called a writer’s sport. There are plenty of NFL and NBA players who have grown up on the so-called mean streets,” Frauenheim said. “But they have teammates. They don’t make that long, lonely walk from the dressing room to the ring.”

Stripped naked, boxers are an open book, according to Frauenheim.

“They can be hard to deal with while training and cutting weight. But after a fight, no athlete in my experience is more forthcoming,” he said. “Win or lose, they just walked through harm’s way in front of people. In my experience, that’s when they want to talk.”

Selecting a career highlight or highlights isn’t easy for Frauenheim, but he tried.

“There are so many. I was there for the great Sugar Ray Leonard victory over Thomas Hearns [1981], a welterweight classic,” he recalled. “A personal favorite was Michael Carbajal’s comeback from two knockdowns for a KO of Humberto Gonzalez in 1993, perhaps the best fight in the history of the lightest weight class. I was also there for the crazy, including Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield’s “Bite Fight” and the “Fan Man” landing in the ring like the 82nd Airborne Division midway through a Riddick Bowe-Holyfield fight behind Vegas’ Caesars Palace.”

Three boxers set the tone and backdrop for Frauenheim’s illustrious tenure as a writer.

“Roberto Duran is the greatest lightweight ever. His lifestyle sometimes got the best of him. That was evident in his infamous ‘No Mas’ welterweight loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in New Orleans,” he said of that November 1980 bout. “He told me that he took the rematch, on short notice, because of the money. “Women-women-women, eating-eating-eating, drinking-drinking-drinking,” he told me in an interview of what he had been doing before Leonard’s people approached him for an immediate rematch of his Montreal victory. But take a look at Duran’s victory in Montreal [June 1980]. Watch it again. On that night, there’s never been a better fighter than Duran.”

Frauenheim added another titan to that short list: “Leonard, who is the last real Sugar,” he said, and ended with the only eight-weight division king. “Manny Pacquiao, an amazing story about a starving kid off impoverished Filipino streets. He was a terrific fighter, blessed with speed, power and instinct. Add to that a shy personality unchanged by all the money and celebrity. He is an example of what can still happen in boxing. He’s the face of the game’s resiliency.”

That’s quite a trio, and they’re the best of the best that Frauenheim’s seen and covered from ringside.

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Share The Sweet Science experience!
Continue Reading
Advertisement
The-Hauser-Report-Ryan-Garcia-and-the-New-York-State-Athletic-Commission
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

The Hauser Report: Ryan Garcia and the New York State Athletic Commission

Middleweight-Title-Fight-Cancelled-Super-Wekterweight-Sizzler-Announced-by-Golden-Boy
Featured Articles6 days ago

Middleweight Title Fight Canceled; Super Welterweight Sizzler Announced by Golden Boy

Rodriguez-vs-Estrada-A-Closer-Look-at-Saturday's-Dream-Match-Up -in-Phoenix
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Rodriguez vs. Estrada: A Closer Look at Saturday’s Dream Match-up in Phoenix 

Angelo-Leo's-Homecoming-Fight-in-Albuquerque-was-Fermented-on-ProBox
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Angelo Leo’s Homecoming Fight in Albuquerque was Fermented on ProBox

Will-Eumor-Marcial-be-the-First-Filipino-Boxer-to-win-an-Olympic-Gold-Medal?
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Will Eumir Marcial be the First Filipino Boxer to Win an Olympic Gold Medal?

A-Pearl-from-the-Boxing-Vault-Fritzie-Zivnic-Will-See-You-Now
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

A Pearl from the Boxing Vault: Fritzie Zivic Will See You Now 

Results-from-Las-Vegas-where-Rafael-Espinoza-Reyained-his-WBO-Belt-in-Grand-Style
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Results from Las Vegas where Rafael Espinoza Retained his WBO Title in Grand Style

Jesse-'Bam'-Rodriguez-is-the-Boss-at-115,but-Don't Sleep-on-Ioka-vs-Martinez
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez is the Boss at 115, but Don’t Sleep on Ioka vs Martinez

Shakur-Improves-ro-22-0-and-Christmas-Comes-Early-for-Conceicao-in-Newark
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Shakur Improves to 22-0 and Christmas Comes Early for Conceicao in Newark

Results-and-Recaps-from-Philly-where-Boots-Ennis-Stomped-Out-David-Avanesyan
Featured Articles5 days ago

Results and Recaps from Philly where ‘Boots’ Ennis Stomped Out David Avanesyan

Trevor-McCumby-Fell-Off-the-Map-and-Now-He's-Back-with-a-Big-Fight-on-the-Horizon
Featured Articles1 week ago

Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

Results-and-Recaps-where Teofimo-Lopez-Outlcassed Steve
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Results & Recaps from Miami where Teofimo Lopez Out-Classed Steve Claggett

Jesse-Rodriguez-KOs-Juan-Francisco-Estrada-Before-a-Roaring-Crowd-in-Phoenix
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Jesse Rodriguez KOs Juan Francisco Estrada Before a Roaring Crowd in Phoenix

Denny-and-Crocker-Win-in-Birmingham-Catterall-vs-Prograis-a-Go-for-Aug-24
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Denny and Crocker Win in Birmingham: Catterall vs Prograis a Go for Aug. 24

fulghum
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Kalkreuth and Fulghum Score Uninspired Wins over Late Subs at Fantasy Springs

Lamont-Roach-TKOs-Teak-Tough-Feargal-NcCrory-in-a-Homecoming-Title-Defense
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Lamont Roach TKOs Teak-Tough Feargal McCrory in a Homecoming Title Defense

U.S.-Olympic-Gold-Medalist-Fidel-La-Barna-Was-a-Phenom-After-a-Rocky-Start
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Fidel La Barba Was a Phenom After a Rocky Start

Avila-Perspective-Chap-287-Boxing-Wars-on-Tap-in-Philadelphia-and-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 287: Boxing Wars on Tap in Philadelphia and Las Vegas

Shane-Mosley-Jr-Turns-Away-Daniel-Jacobs-in-the-Co-Feature-to-Masvidal-Diaz
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Shane Mosley Jr Turns Away Daniel Jacobs in the Co-Feature to Masvidal-Diaz

Fernando-Martinez-Ratches-Up-the-Heat-in-the-Hot-Super-Flyweight-Division
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fernando Martinez Ratches Up the Heat in the Hot Super Flyweight Division

Avila-Perspective-Chap-288-Jake-Paul-and-Amanda
Featured Articles8 hours ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 288: Jake Paul and Amanda

The-Mirage-Goes-Dark-and-Another-Storied-Venue-for-Boxing-Bites-the-Dust
Featured Articles1 day ago

The Mirage Goes Dark and Another Storied Venue for Boxing Bites the Dust

A-Conversation-with-Legendary-Phoenix-Boxing-Writer-Norm Frauenheim
Featured Articles2 days ago

A Conversation with Legendary Phoenix Boxing Writer Norm Frauenheim

Aaron-McKenna-and-Kieran-Conway-Victorious-in-Osaka
Featured Articles4 days ago

Aaron McKenna and Kieron Conway Victorious in Osaka

Results-and-Recaps-from-Philly-where-Boots-Ennis-Stomped-Out-David-Avanesyan
Featured Articles5 days ago

Results and Recaps from Philly where ‘Boots’ Ennis Stomped Out David Avanesyan

Muratalla-Nips-Farmer-and-Segawa-Upsets-Villa-on-a-Top-Rank-Card-in-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles5 days ago

Muratalla Nips Farmer and Segawa Upsets Villa on a Top Rank Card in Las Vegas

Chocolate 560x590
Featured Articles6 days ago

‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez Delights the Home Folks: TKOs Barrera in 10

Middleweight-Title-Fight-Cancelled-Super-Wekterweight-Sizzler-Announced-by-Golden-Boy
Featured Articles6 days ago

Middleweight Title Fight Canceled; Super Welterweight Sizzler Announced by Golden Boy

Avila-Perspective-Chap-287-Boxing-Wars-on-Tap-in-Philadelphia-and-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 287: Boxing Wars on Tap in Philadelphia and Las Vegas

Trevor-McCumby-Fell-Off-the-Map-and-Now-He's-Back-with-a-Big-Fight-on-the-Horizon
Featured Articles1 week ago

Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

Fernando-Martinez-Ratches-Up-the-Heat-in-the-Hot-Super-Flyweight-Division
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fernando Martinez Ratches Up the Heat in the Hot Super Flyweight Division

Shane-Mosley-Jr-Turns-Away-Daniel-Jacobs-in-the-Co-Feature-to-Masvidal-Diaz
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Shane Mosley Jr Turns Away Daniel Jacobs in the Co-Feature to Masvidal-Diaz

Shakur-Improves-ro-22-0-and-Christmas-Comes-Early-for-Conceicao-in-Newark
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Shakur Improves to 22-0 and Christmas Comes Early for Conceicao in Newark

Results-and-Recaps-from-Ontario-Where-William-Zepeda-KOed-Giovanni-Cabrera
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Results and Recaps from Ontario Where William Zepeda KOed Giovanni Cabrera

Chalk-Up-Another-Quickie-for-the-Romford-Bull-Wipes-Out-Alen-Babic-in-36-Seconds
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Chalk Up Another Quickie for the ‘Romford Bull’: Wipes Out Alen Babic in 36 Seconds

Angelo-Leo's-Homecoming-Fight-in-Albuquerque-was-Fermented-on-ProBox
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Angelo Leo’s Homecoming Fight in Albuquerque was Fermented on ProBox

Jesse-'Bam'-Rodriguez-is-the-Boss-at-115,but-Don't Sleep-on-Ioka-vs-Martinez
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez is the Boss at 115, but Don’t Sleep on Ioka vs Martinez

U.S.-Olympic-Gold-Medalist-Fidel-La-Barna-Was-a-Phenom-After-a-Rocky-Start
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Fidel La Barba Was a Phenom After a Rocky Start

Jesse-Rodriguez-KOs-Juan-Francisco-Estrada-Before-a-Roaring-Crowd-in-Phoenix
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Jesse Rodriguez KOs Juan Francisco Estrada Before a Roaring Crowd in Phoenix

Results-and-Recaps-where Teofimo-Lopez-Outlcassed Steve
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Results & Recaps from Miami where Teofimo Lopez Out-Classed Steve Claggett

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement