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Ending a Boxing Career the Right Way: The Bookend Battalion

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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

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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Haney-Garcia Redux with the Focus on Harvey Dock

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Saturday’s skirmish between Ryan Garcia and WBC super lightweight champion Devin Haney was a messy affair, and yet a hugely entertaining fight fused with great drama. In the aftermath, Garcia and Haney were celebrated – the former for fooling all the experts and the latter for his gallant performance in a losing effort – but there were only brickbats for the third man in the ring, referee Harvey Dock.

Devin Haney was plainly ahead heading into the seventh frame when there was a sudden turnabout when Garcia put him on the canvas with his vaunted left hook. Moments later, Dock deducted a point from Garcia for a late punch coming out of a break. The deduction forced a temporary cease-fire that gave Haney a few precious seconds to regain his faculties. Before the round was over, Haney was on the deck twice more but these were ruled slips.

The deduction, which effectively negated the knockdown, struck many as too heavy-handed as Dock hadn’t previously issued a warning for this infraction. Moreover, many thought he could have taken a point away from Haney for excessive clinching. As for Haney’s second and third trips to the canvas in round seven, they struck this reporter – watching at home – as borderline, sufficient to give referee Dock the benefit of the doubt.

In a post-fight interview, Ryan Garcia faulted the referee for denying him the satisfaction of a TKO. “At the end of the day, Harvey Dock, I think he was tripping,” said Garcia. “He could have stopped that fight.”

Those that played the rounds proposition, placing their coin on the “under,” undoubtedly felt the same way.

The internet lit up with comments assailing Dock’s competence and/or his character. Some of the ponderings were whimsical, but they were swamped by the scurrilous screeching of dolts who find a conspiracy under every rock.

Stephen A. Smith, reputedly America’s highest-paid TV sports personality, was among those that felt a need to weigh-in: “This referee is absolutely terrible….Unreal! Horrible officiating,” tweeted Stephen A whose primary area of expertise is basketball.

Harvey Dock

Dock fought as an amateur and had one professional fight, winning a four-round decision over a fellow novice on a show at a non-gaming resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He says that as an amateur he was merely average, but he was better than that, a New Jersey and regional amateur champion in 1993 and 1994 while a student New Jersey’s Essex County Community College where he majored in journalism.

A passionate fan of Sugar Ray Leonard, he started officiating amateur fights in 1998 and six years later, at age 32, had his first documented action at the professional level, working low-level cards in New Jersey. The top boxing referees, to a far greater extent than the top judges, had long apprenticeships, having worked their way up from the boonies and Dock is no exception.

Per boxrec, Haney vs Garcia was Harvey Dock’s 364th assignment in the pros and his forty-second world title fight. Some of those title fights were title in name only, they weren’t even main events, but, bit by bit, more lucrative offerings started coming his way.

On May 13, 2023, Dock worked his first fights in Nevada, a 4-rounder and then a 12-rounder on a card at the Cosmopolitan topped by the 140-pound title fight between Rolly Romero and Ismael Barroso. It was the first time that this reporter got to watch Dock in the flesh.

Ironically (in hindsight), the card would be remembered for the actions of a referee, in this case Tony Weeks who handled the main event. Barroso was winning the fight on all three cards when Weeks stepped in and waived it off in the ninth round after Romero cornered Barroso against the ropes and let loose a barrage of punches, none of which landed cleanly. Few “premature stoppages” were ever as garishly, nay ghoulishly, premature.

With all the brickbats raining down on Weeks, I felt a need to tamp down the noise by diverting attention away from Tony Weeks and toward Harvey Dock and took to the TSS Forum to share my thoughts. Referencing the 12-rounder, a robust junior welterweight affair between Batyr Akhmedov and Kenneth Sims Jr, I noted that Dock’s Las Vegas debut went smoothly. He glided effortlessly around the ring, making him inconspicuous, the mark of a good referee. (This post ran on May 15, two days after the fight.)

Folks at the Nevada State Athletic Commission were also paying attention. Dock was back in Las Vegas the following week to referee the lightweight title fight between Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko and before the year was out, he would be tabbed to referee the biggest non-heavyweight fight of the year, the July 29 match in Las Vegas between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

The Haney-Garcia fight wasn’t Harvey Dock’s best hour, I’ll concede that, but a closer look at his full body of work informs us that he is an outstanding referee.

While the Haney-Garcia bout was in progress, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman threw everyone a curve ball, tweeting on “X” that Devin Haney would keep his title if he lost the fight. Everyone, including the TV commentators, was under the impression that the title would become vacant in the event that Haney lost.

Sulaiman cited the precedent of Corrales-Castillo II.

FYI: The Corrales-Castillo rematch, originally scheduled for June 3, 2005 and aborted on the day prior when Castillo failed to make weight, finally came off on Oct. 8 of that year, notwithstanding the fact that Castillo failed to make weight once again, scaling three-and-a-half pounds above the lightweight limit. He knocked out Corrales in the fourth round with a left hook that Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole, alluding to the movie “Blazing Saddles,” described as Mongo-esque (translation: the punch would have knocked out a horse). After initially insisting on a rubber match, which had scant chance of happening, WBC president Jose Sulaiman, Mauricio’s late father, ruled that Corrales could keep his title.

Whether or not you agree with Mauricio Sulaiman’s rationale, the timing of his announcement was certainly awkward.

Haney’s mandatory is Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (42-3, 15 KOs), a cutie best known for his 2021 upset of Mikey Garcia. A bout between Haney and Martin has the earmarks of a dull fight.

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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