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Ending a Boxing Career the Right Way: The Bookend Battalion

Ted Sares

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Most boxing careers reflect a variation of a bell-shaped curve. The downward slope on the right-hand side indicates the decline of the fighter in question. Sometimes, when a fighter is at the top of his game—like Larry Holmes, for example– the peak flattens and doesn’t spiral down. And often, a fighter might make a successful final run but lose his last career bout like Tony Bellew who won 10 straight before being waxed by Oleksandr Usyk. Lonnie Smith won 14 straight against horrible competition before stepping up and losing to Disobelys Hurtado in his last tiff. These somewhat predictable patterns are part of what makes up boxing.

The number of fighters who begin and finish on the upswing are much fewer. Here are a few:

Tony Alongi (1959-1967)

This under-the-radar and tough heavyweight was a fixture at the Auditorium in Miami Beach during the 60s and was 28-0 before being upset by Rudolfo Diaz in 1962. Tony lost again in1963—this time to Billy Daniels and then went on a final tear going 11-0-4. The draws were to George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry (twice), and Bill McMurray. Tony bookended his admirable career nicely to finish 40-2-4.

Eder Jofre (1957-1976)

One fighter who epitomized perfect bookends was the legendary Brazilian “O Galo Do Ouro” (aka “Golden Bantam”) Eder Jofre who ended his magnificent career with a 72-2-4 record. During a two-year period in the mid-60s, Jofre lost twice to Fighting Harrada and drew with one Manny Elias. He was 47-0-3 coming into the first Harrada affair and 25-2-1 thereafter. The Golden Bantam was one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of all time

Bobby Chacon (1972-1988)

Known as “The Schoolboy,” Bobby was 19-0 before being stopped by the legendary Ruben Olivares. After losing to Cornelius Boza-Edwards in a 1981 thriller, Chacon ended his illustrious run going 14-1 against strong opposition. His overall 59-7-1 record landed him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF).

“Tex” Cobb (1977-1993)

Randall “Tex” Cobb finished his career with a 42-7-1 mark facing off with some tough hombres along the way including Earnie Shavers, Ken Norton, Michael Dokes (twice), Larry Holmes, Buster Douglas, and Eddie Gregg He lost four between 1964 and 1985, but he won his first 17—all but one by stoppage.

After being taken apart by unheralded Collier in 1986, Tex closed out his colorful career by going18-0-1-1 including a win over a faded Leon Spinks in 1988. The other wins were over limited opposition but wins are wins.

Mickey Goodwin (1977-1994)

This left-hook artist out of Kronk was 33-1-1 when he suffered a monster stoppage upset in 1985 at the hands of Darryl “The Atomic Dog” Spain (6-6 at the time). The late and beloved Goodwin — sometimes known as ”Sneaky Pea” — then reeled off seven straight to close out at 40-2-1.

“It’s a shame that Mickey’s name will never carry the same weight as Tommy Hearns. But once upon a time, they were literally equals. I remember it well.” Karl Ziomek

Steve Collins (1986-1997)

The “Celtic Warrior” started fast winning 16 in a row before losing to Mike McCallum in 1960. He lost two more in 1992 but then, fighting mostly out of his native Ireland, he finished by winning 15 including nods over Chris Eubank (twice) and Nigel Benn (twice). Given his record of 36-3 and the off-the-wall level of his opposition, it’s a mystery why he is not in the IBHOF.

Billy Costello (1979-1999)

This Kingston, NY native was victorious in his first 30 outings before being shocked and destroyed by Lonnie Smith in 1985. Alexis Arguello would then stop Billy six months later. Costello regrouped and won his final eight including big one against Juan LaPorte in 1999 bringing his final slate to 40-2.

Jorge Paez (1984-2003)

“El Maromero” had an old school record of 79-14-5 and after his last career loss in 1999 to Jose Luis Castillo, he launched an undefeated streak of 18. Prior to his first defeat on U.S. soil to Tony Lopez, he had gone 35-2-3. “The Clown” won in streaks and was very underrated.

Fabrice Tiozzo (1988-2006)

In a 48-2 career, this outstanding French light heavy lost only two bouts –both to Virgil Hill. One in 1993, the other in 2000. He was 25-0 coming into the first fight, and finished his slate at 23-1 for almost perfect bookends. He also fought extremely tough competition which begs the question of why he isn’t in the IBHOF.

Rodney Toney (1992-2007)

“The Punisher,” a boxer-puncher type, hit the pros running and went 19-0-2 before being derailed by slick Quincy Taylor in 1995. After dropping three between 1996-1997, he bookended his career nicely by going undefeated in his final eight.

Michael Moorer (1988-2008)

Moorer finished with a possibly Hall of Fame-beckoning record of 52-4-1. He won his first 35 matches against solid opposition but came a cropper against Big George Foreman in 1994. After being embarrassed in 30 seconds by David Tua in 2002, “Double M” went 9-1 including a rousing upset stoppage over Vassiliy Jirov in 2004.

Herbie Hide (1989-2010)

“The Dancing Destroyer” lost four by stoppage between 1995 and 2004 and then retired. Hide had won his first 25—most by KO. He then returned to action in 2006 and proceeded to run off 14 straight wins to finish with a fine 49-4 record—one that was well bookended.

Vitali Klitschko (1996-2012)

“Dr. Ironfist” was 27-0 when he lost his first one in a major upset to Chris Byrd in 2000. Upon losing to Lennox Lewis in a bloodbath in 2003, the Doctor clubbed and bludgeoned his way to several big wins before retiring in 2004. In October 2008, Klitschko made one of the most remarkable comebacks in boxing history when he TKOd a prime Sam Peter (30-1). He then won nine more against stiff opposition to finish with a Hall of Fame record of 45-2 and a KO percentage of 87.23%

Jermain Taylor (2001-2014)

The highly touted Taylor started his boxing career 27-0-1 before losing back-to-back fights to Kelly Pavlik in 2007 and 2008. He was then savaged by Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham in 2009 during the Super Six Tourney and took two years off to regain his health before returning to the ring to beat Jessie Nicklow in 2011. By then, he was badly damaged goods, but he still managed to win four more and in his very last fight and against all odds, he beat Sam Soliman (44-11) to win the IBF World Middleweight Title after which he lapsed back into serious outside-the-ring issues.

“The downward spiral of a former champion is one of the hardest things to witness, especially when it is a former Olympian and undisputed middleweight champion.” Jules Philippe-Auguste

Shannon Briggs (1992-2016)

“The Cannon” got out of the gate fast winning his first 25 before getting damaged by Darrol “Doin’ Damage” Wilson in 1996. In 2010, in Hamburg, Germany, he was damaged for real (and hospitalized) by Vitali Klitschko. He stayed away from boxing until 2014 when he launched his final winning streak of nine. It came against less-than-compelling opposition, but did give him a fine final mark of 60-6-1.

There are others with similarly interesting records to peruse but they didn’t make the cut. Johnny “The Entertainer” Nelson came close as he finished with an undefeated streak of 21 but his start was abysmal. Bash Ali finished with 20 wins but again his start left something to be desired.  Willie de Wit (20-1-1) came close and so did Oleg Maskaev and Sung Kil Moon.

“Canelo” is a work in progress with 42-0-1 in the front and 10-1-1 in the rear.

There are others. Can you name some?

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Avila Perspective, Chap: 157: Tank Davis and Rollie Romero in LA and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap: 157: Tank Davis and Rollie Romero in LA and More

LOS ANGELES-One champ sells out Atlanta, the other fights out of Las Vegas, so I guess they will meet in the peace-loving neutral site of Los Angeles.

Gervonta “Tank” Davis holds the WBA lightweight title and the no-neck destroyer from Maryland who sells out in the city of Atlanta has agreed to fight in L.A.

Rollie Romero the number one brutish contender for the WBA title and native to the casino capital has also agreed to transplant this title match.

Tickets sales opened today.

Davis (25-0, 24 KOs) will defend the WBA lightweight belt against Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) on Dec. 5, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Showtime pay-per-view will televise the match that many predict will not hear the final bell.

One more thing, these guys absolutely do not like each other.

“We were supposed to spar in 2018 and he didn’t show up to the gym. He did that twice because he knew he was getting beat,” said Romero on his reason for having a beef with Davis. “He’s got such a big head, it’s going to be hard to miss it. He gets touched up by every opponent he faces. Leo Santa Cruz was beating him up and (Mario) Barrios was getting to him too.”

Davis said he does not care about words.

“He’s been talking for a long time. He’s trying to sell a fight, but I’m going to show him that he’s a chump on December 5,” said Davis. “I’m not here to talk, I’m here to fight. I don’t take this personally. To me, this isn’t a beef, this is business.”

Both expect a knockout, nothing less.

Even their promoter Floyd Mayweather agrees with that assessment.

“I don’t see this fight going the distance. Two undefeated knockout artists. Two champions,” said Mayweather.

Thompson Boxing Open for Fans

Fans return to the Inland Empire area this Friday, Oct. 22, with Thompson Boxing Promotions staging a fight card featuring undefeated super bantamweights at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California.

The main event pits Northern California’s Eros Correa (10-0, 7 KOs) against Japan’s Katsuma Akitsugi (6-0). It can be seen on the Thompson Boxing Promotions page on Facebook.com.

“Thompson Boxing has had a lot of great fighters ascend to bigtime fights and I want to follow in their footsteps,” said Akitsugi who trains in Southern California. “They do a lot of shows in the L.A.-area, and they have helped my career a ton. I’m looking forward to putting on a great fight for the fans.”

It’s been almost two years since fans in the Inland Empire (the I.E. as locals call it) were able to attend a boxing card live. It’s significant because outside of Fantasy Springs Casino, on one occasion, people could not see boxing in-person.

Roughly there are about 15 boxing gyms in the I.E. including Joel Diaz and Antonio Diaz’s gym in Indio, the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, Abel Sanchez’s gym in Big Bear Lake, and the Henry Ramirez boxing gym in Riverside. Those are powerhouse gyms.

Ramirez has one of his fighters Anthony Chavez on the Thompson Boxing card this Friday.

The Inland Empire just may be the center of the boxing universe. This is not an exaggeration. One of the best discoverers of talent in the area has been Thompson Boxing which brought the boxing world numerous stars like Timothy Bradley Jr. Mauricio Herrera and Josesito Lopez.

Who will they bring next?

Tickets can be purchased by calling Thompson Boxing at (714) 935-0900 or at their web site ThompsonBoxing.com

Proof of vaccination is necessary or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

Shakur

A battle for the WBO super featherweight title sees champion Jamel Herring (23-2) defending against former WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) who has moved up in weight. It takes place on Saturday, Oct. 23, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. ESPN will televise.

Herring, a former U.S. Marine and 2012 Olympian, has height and reach and toughness. Will it be enough against the speed of Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist? The Marine has improved with every fight.

Stevenson has an abundance of speed and ability to fight outside. But when it comes to fighting inside, he would rather hold. Will he be allowed to hold?

Last week in San Diego

Speaking of featherweights, the new WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) defeated Joet Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) by decision in San Diego last Friday.

It was one of the best fights of the year.

Navarrete and Gonzalez traded blows nonstop for 12 rounds with neither willing to give an inch. The 2,000 fans were riveted by the action.

It was Gonzalez second attempt for the WBO title. The first was against Shakur Stevenson a year ago. Tremendous heart shown by the Glendora, California prizefighter.

Navarrete has height and reach and could very easily move up to the super featherweight division. It would not be a surprise to hear he does move up.

Fights to Watch

Fri. ESPN+ 4 p.m. Oscar Rivas (27-1) vs Ryan Rozicki (13-0).

Fri. Telemundo 11:59 p.m. Jose Soto (15-0) vs Ganigan Lopez (36-11).

Sat. FITE.TV 3 p.m. Harold Calderon (25-0) vs Luis Florez (25-21); Rosalinda Rodriguez (12-0) vs Edina Kiss (15-15).

Sat. ESPN 6 p.m. Jamel Herring (23-2) vs Shakur Stevenson (16-0).

Photo credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

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‘Hotlanta’ Has Suddenly Become a Professional Boxing Hotspot

Arne K. Lang

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‘Hotlanta’ Has Suddenly Become a Professional Boxing Hotspot

This coming Saturday, Oct. 23, Top Rank will stage an important fight at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, home of the city’s NBA franchise. Shakur Stevenson challenges WBO 130-pound world title-holder Jamel Herring in a battle of former Olympians.

Saturday’s card will be the eighteenth boxing card in Atlanta this year. At least four more shows will be staged here before the year is out. On the pro boxing front, only Southern California has been busier. There have been more shows in Atlanta than in Las Vegas this year and only 10 shows in all of New York thus far in all of 2021.

True, most of the Atlanta shows have been low-budget affairs; club cards that attracted no mention in the national press. But the city’s NFL stadium housed the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren freak fight in April and Gervonta “Tank” Davis headlined a pay-per-view show at the State Farm Arena against Mario Barrios in June.

It’s a fair guess that Atlanta would not have been on Top Rank’s radar screen if not for Davis. His fight with Barrios reportedly attracted a paid crowd of 16,570, an uncommonly large turnout by today’s standards. Eighteen months earlier, in his first appearance in Atlanta where he is a part-time resident, “Tank” drew 14,129 to the State Farm Arena for a far less compelling match with Yuriorkis Gamboa. That bout took place three days after Christmas, historically a dead zone for a boxing promoter.

The Davis-Gamboa fight with a vacant 130-pound belt at stake was Atlanta’ first world title fight since the 1998 match between Evander Holyfield and Vaughn Bean, a drought of 21 years.

Holyfield, who grew up in a public housing complex in Atlanta, had two prior title fights in the city where he was raised. In 1991, he defended his heavyweight title here against late sub Bert Cooper. Five years earlier, Evander wrested the WBA junior heavyweight (190 pound) title from Dwight Muhammad Qawi in an Atlanta ring.

The most important fight in Atlanta as measured by international news coverage was the Oct. 26, 1970 match between Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry. This was Ali’s first fight in 43 months, having lost the prime of his career to a suspension for draft evasion. The crowd of 5,000 at the city’s old municipal auditorium included 600 members of the press. (Ali chopped Quarry to pieces in a fight that was stopped after three rounds.)

The spearhead of the promotion was Atlanta attorney Leroy Johnson, the only African-American member of Georgia’s State Senate. He and Atlanta’s Jewish mayor overcame the opposition of Georgia’s segregationist governor Lester Maddox who declared Oct. 26, 1970 a day of mourning. Maddox’s arms were tied because Georgia had no state boxing commission beholden to the Governor. Each municipality was free to set its own course.

The 1970 fight, the first of two between Ali and Quarry, came to be seen as a watershed moment in the history of the “New South.” Twenty-six years later, Ali returned to Atlanta to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games, one of the most indelible moments in TV history.

Of all the boxers born and raised in Georgia, none competed before more eyewitnesses than Beau Jack, a two-time world lightweight champion in the 1940s who appeared in a record 21 main events at Madison Square Garden.

Beau Jack had his first two fights in Augusta where he had a shoeshine stand in the clubhouse of the famous golf course, and two of his final three fights there, but fought only once in Atlanta, that coming very late in his career when his pull was diminished. On his road to Gotham’s famous sock palace, the Augusta native spent a considerable time living and fighting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where, unlike Atlanta, there was no opposition to interracial matches.

Beau Jack’s lone appearance in Atlanta came on July 17, 1950. His fight with Bobby Timpson, a journeyman from Youngstown Ohio, was one of only two pro boxing events in Atlanta in that calendar year. The sport had been moribund in that city for the better part of the previous three decades.

To find a period when boxing activity in Atlanta was as robust as it has been lately, one has to go back 100 years. In those giddy days in the immediate aftermath of World War I when boxing was bursting out all over, a former streetcar conductor named Walker Miller (everyone called him Walk) turned Atlanta into a boxing hotspot on par with the region’s other major cities, Memphis and New Orleans, where the sport at the local level was also flourishing.

W.L. “Young” Stribling, perhaps the greatest regional attraction in boxing history, made his pro debut in 1921 at age 16 on a Miller-promoted show in Atlanta. Walk Miller would eventually become Stribling’s co-manager, maneuvering him into matches with several of the era’s top heavyweights, but achieved his greatest success with Theodore Flowers who worked as a porter in Miller’s gym before becoming the first man of color to win the world middleweight title.

deacon

The son of a Georgia sharecropper who was introduced to boxing while working in a Philadelphia shipyard, “Tiger” Flowers, nicknamed the Georgia Deacon, developed a following that crossed racial lines. His two bouts in Madison Square Garden with Harry Greb and his bout in Chicago with Mickey Walker were big money-makers. As he was advancing with Walk Miller at his side, the club scene in Atlanta withered.

Like many boxing promoters, Miller was a jack-of-all-trades. He was a gym operator, a trainer, a manager, a promoter, and a booking agent. The closest thing to him in today’s Atlanta is Terri Moss. A former pro boxer, Moss, 55, is the CEO and head trainer of the Buckhead Fight Club which has been keeping the sport alive in the Peach State with a series of low-budget promotions.

Imagine that. Walk Miller’s spiritual heir is a woman. Miller and his cronies would have never seen that coming.

The bout between the 24-year-old Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) and the 34-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) and a co-feature will air on ESPN and ESPN Deportes starting at 10:30 p.m. EST. The undercard will air on ESPN+.

There are nine fights scheduled on Saturday’s Top Rank show including appearances by up-and-comers Evan Holyfield, Evander Holyfield’s son, and Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali.

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Late-Bloomer Jersey Joe Walcott Goes the Distance Again With Statue in Camden

Bernard Fernandez

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It may not always be apparent to those with untrained eyes, but there is genuine art in boxing for those who understand the beauty and majesty of a perfectly timed left hook. Just such a masterful moment of the sweet science was authored by Jersey Joe Walcott on July 18, 1951, in the seventh round of his fifth and likely final shot at the heavyweight championship he had been clawing and scratching his way toward since he turned pro at 16 in 1930.

Again a longshot against the great Ezzard Charles, against whom he already was 0-2 in title bouts, a frozen moment in time that fateful night at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field transformed Walcott from a symbol of his sport’s relentless but mostly unrewarded grinders to instant-legend status. At 37, he not only had become the oldest man to that point ever to win boxing’s most prestigious prize (a distinction he would hold for 43 years, until 45-year-old George Foreman dethroned WBA/IBF champ Michael Moorer on another incredible, bolt-from-the-blue knockout, on Nov. 5, 1994, in Las Vegas), but the patron saint of fighters with iron wills and vision quests they would see through to completion or die trying.

In a story that appeared on this site on July 16, 2018, I ranked Walcott’s blasting of Charles No. 1 on my personal list of all-time one-punch knockouts, which I described thusly:

Entering the seventh round, Walcott led the scoring, in rounds, by 5-1, 4-1-1 and 3-3. Moving forward while rocking side to side, the 9-1 underdog dipped to his left and exploded upward with a thunderous left hook that caught Charles flush on the jaw. The semi-conscious champion pitched forward onto his face.

It is difficult to encapsulate the full scope of such a historically significant and aesthetically flawless a punch into any inanimate object, like a statue, but sculptor Carl LeVotch perhaps came as close as is humanly possible with his eight-foot bronze of Walcott, which was unveiled this past Saturday during a celebratory day of festivities in Camden, N.J., the hometown of the beloved fighter whose real name was Arnold Cream. The unveiling took place along the Camden waterfront, at the Wiggins Park Promenade, following a 3½-mile parade that featured marching bands and other attractions.

For medical reasons I was unable to attend an event I had very much been looking forward to, but the spirit of the occasion – and the 20-year march from concept to completion for those who wanted the Walcott/Cream statue to be more than just another item on someone’s wish list – closely mirrored the ring career of an inspirational figure who fueled the imaginations of so many attendees. Chief among those is Vincent Cream, 61, the grandson of Jersey Joe who spearheaded the drawn-out efforts to raise the $185,000 required to fund the project, which is still not entirely paid for.

“It was an overwhelming moment,” Vincent Cream told Boxing Writers Association of America president Joseph Santoliquito, who covered the event for another media outlet. “Everyone who never met my grandfather met him today.

“No one ever dies. He’s here with us. When I look at his statue, and you see who’s gathered here – white, black, old, young, everyone coming together – his timelessness has come. To persevere for 23 years, it represents who my grandfather was as a man and his fortitude as a person. When you have a dream, it’s important to set goals between the dream and the achievement. Every time I brought up the idea of a statue, people would tell me, `Good luck with that.’ That was 10 years ago. We achieved it, a little at a time – like my grandfather.”

LeVotch, with whom I have long been acquainted, has nearly as long a track record in his boxing-related field as did Walcott, who took his ring nom de guerre in tribute to Joe “The Barbados Demon” Walcott, a welterweight champion whose career ended in 1911. The original fighting Walcott was a hero to young Arnold Cream’s father, Joseph Cream, who came to New Jersey from the British Virgin Islands. I first met LeVotch for a story I did on him that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News editions of July 2, 2003, when he took me through the process of his creation of a 17-inch cold-cast bronze statuette he called The Spirit of Boxing, reproductions of which are owned by any number of boxing notables. His goal, he told me, was to create something more meaningful than the statue of the fictional heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa that was used as a movie prop for 1982’s Rocky III.

“It doesn’t move me,” LeVotch said. “A true piece of art is capable of moving the man on the street. It is an instrument to inspire. It’s been that way since antiquity. I have a great affinity for Rodin (that would be Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor, not Rodan, the Japanese movie monster). His The Thinker is a sacrament, if you will, of an inner grace.

“I’m one of those guys who believe boxing is a metaphor for life. I also think of it as an art form. Those who do it well are, in their own way, artists.”

In addition to his sculpted improvements of several awards the BWAA presents as its annual dinner, LeVotch’s other life-sized commemoration of a boxing life, that of former middleweight champion Joey Giardello (real name: Carmine Tilelli), was unveiled on May 21, 2011, in Giardelli’s old South Philadelphia neighborhood. Like Walcott, Giardelli – father of four sons, one of whom was born with Down Syndrome – was more than just a fighter, something LeVotch sought to convey through his art.

“I saw Joey not only as a terrific fighter, but as a father who cared deeply for his disabled son,” Carl told me a decade ago. “How do you convey all these different sides of a man in coagulated metal? My challenge was to capture the essence of the man as well as a physical likeness.”

Brought to tears by LeVotch’s artistic interpretation of who her husband was and what he represented in meaningful ways that extended beyond the ring, Rosalie Tilelli said, “I’m overwhelmed. I call Carl LeVotch my Michelangelo.”

Jersey Joe Walcott was demonstrably statue-worthy even if he hadn’t moved on from boxing to a full and rich later phase of his life in which he served as the first African-American elected sheriff of Camden County, serving from 1971 to ’74, and chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board until 1984. His wife, Riletta Cream, also was committed to public service as a city educator and county freeholder from 1994 to 2011.

But it is Walcott the boxer who set records inside the ropes that almost certainly will never be matched, much less surpassed. Fighting in an era when there was just one heavyweight champion, not a bunch of alphabet title-holders, he fought eight times for boxing’s grandest prize, going 2-6 with two losses apiece to Joe Louis and Charles before he broke through against Charles with that museum-quality left hook in Pittsburgh. Five of those title bouts, incredibly, were in succession. There are more than a few historians who believe Jersey Joe should have won on points in his first go at Louis, in which he floored the “Brown Bomber” in the first and fourth rounds. No wonder Walcott’s most ardent fans, even those in his own family, were hesitant to risk seeing him come up short again when he again squared off against Charles in the home stadium of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I was 12 when my dad won the heavyweight title and there he is, so real,” Ruth Cream, now 82, told Santoliquito at the unveiling. “I remember that night like it happened clearly. I was the only one downstairs at our house with reporters in our living room watching the fight on TV. Everyone else was upstairs in bed because they didn’t want to watch it.

insert

“After my father won, I remember running up the stairs to tell my family, `Daddy won!’”

After a successful defense on points against familiar foe Charles, Walcott, well ahead on points through 12 of the scheduled 15 rounds, was dethroned by Rocky Marciano on a 13th-round knockout on Sept. 23, 1952, in Philadelphia. He fought just once more, this time being stopped in one round by Marciano, before hanging up his gloves with a 51-18-2 (32) record. He was part of the 1990 charter class of inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Camden officials are hoping their hometown hero’s statue becomes something of a tourist attraction, as is the case with the Rocky statue at the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and the 12-foot Joe Frazier statue, created by sculptor Stephen Layne and located outside the Xfinity Live! bar/restaurant in the South Philly sports complex. As splendid as it is, the Giardello statue draws fewer eyes given its location in a less-bustling and attraction-loaded neighborhood.

But in a metropolitan area where bronze tributes to sports stars of the four local professional franchises (Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers) are fairly commonplace, the statues of Frazier, Giardello, Walcott and, yes, Stallone are at least a signal that boxing, for so long Philadelphia’s fifth pro sport and a veritable cradle of champions, is recognizing a part of its past that is worthy of being preserved and treasured.

Editor’s Note: Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Vol. 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, arrives this fall. The book can be ordered through Amazon.com, in hard or soft cover, and other book-selling websites and outlets.

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