Connect with us

Featured Articles

Rest in Peace, Curtis Cokes

Matt McGrain

Published

on

Rest-in-Peace-Curtis-Cokes

Curtis Cokes was born in 1937 into a world of segregation, competing with his seven siblings for the attention of his parents, dreaming of baseball.  There is even a story, reported in the Dallas Observer that Curtis nearly made it, that he missed out on a career as a professional baseball player by a narrow margin, returned, from Florida to Texas, and somehow found himself a fighter.

Curtis had no amateur career, although he appears to have been put through his paces in a local YMCA as a teenager.  For a black man in Texas in the 1940s making amateur contests was, according to Curtis himself, challenging, so he cut out the middle-man and turned professional, first lacing up for pay aged twenty.

“I just picked it up watching fights on TV,” he told the Cyber Boxing Zone in 2013.  “I picked up and copied everything I saw. I would even tie my boxing shoes the way I saw Ezzard Charles do it.”

Just like he saw Ezzard Charles do it.  He would be welterweight world champion within a decade.

Watching Curtis box, you can see the Charles influence.  He had the same deceptive languid, looseness to his technique, a sense that he was rested when he was anything but, a pleasing fluidity to his work that makes a fighter look natural.  My favourite of his readily available filmed performances was his fifth round knockout of Willie Ludick in what was his fourth title defence; the attempted counter-uppercut he throws at forty seconds of the first round is a mirror of the punches Ezzard Charles threw at a befuddled Pat Valentino all those years earlier and just like Charles did to Valentino, Cokes steadily broke Ludick into pieces, technically outclassing, then thrashing him.  The orthodox right hand was the classic version of the killing punch.

This was a punch he perfected under the tutelage of Robert Smith, alias Cornbread, a fighter who learned his trade in smokehouses and carnivals before a black champion could even be named a common theme, a fighter who learned the importance of not being hit and not being hurt by the punches with which he was hit, something he imparted to young Curtis while he was styling that right hand.

That right hand and his unerring, shuttering left were what would bring him the welterweight championship but what most fascinates about Curtis’s career is that the man against whom he turned professional, Manuel Gonzalez, was also the man with whom he would contest that title, eight years and five fights spanning their rivalry.  Curtis won four of them and on the final, fateful night when Curtis would etch his name on the same historical page as Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard, he won unequivocally, splattering his nemesis with a heavy right hand in the twelfth for a four and then a standing eight count.  Curtis followed up but he had to wait for the decision to lift the gold.  This was typical of his approach.  He was a professional.

Cokes

Cokes circa 1965

There was some static surrounding the contest which had been one-sided and less than electric and which was the result of a tournament that had excluded some of the era’s top contenders.  For Curtis, though, the main objection was the absence of Cornbread in his corner.

“I don’t know what I would have done without him,” he said of his mentor, postfight, “he always said I’d win the title.  Too bad he couldn’t see it.  He’s dead.  He was with me anyway.”

Curtis though, was very much alive, and he would go on to defend his title on five separate occasions, all the way through until 1969 when the great Jose Napoles found him.

Before he had even come to the title, however, Curtis had rendered himself immortal in a series of fights with the great Cuban, Luis Rodriguez.  Rodriguez, who is famed now as much as anything for his series of fights with the great Emile Griffith, was arguably unbeaten in those contests but he couldn’t live with Curtis.  The two met in three titanic contests in the sixties and Curtis emerged with the best of it, finally stopping the Cuban in the fifteenth round of their third contest.

“I beat him pretty bad,” Curtis said of their first fight, “I had him down and earned me a PHD.”

Curtis lost the second fight but had his opponent’s number by the time of their third fight, slowing him down with a body attack and taking away his legs, much to the chagrin of Angelo Dundee who was training Rodriguez.  This superstar pairing meant nothing to Curtis who “turned tiger” in the fourteenth round and “resumed the assault in the fifteenth” (Associated Press) prompting the superstar trainer’s signal of surrender on behalf of his superstar charge.

Curtis was never a superstar.  He was underrated then, starting as an underdog, and he’s underrated now, often appearing below Rodriguez on modern-day welterweight all-time great lists, if he appears on them at all.

He flirted with stardom himself upon retirement though, appearing in the superb fistic movie “Fat City”, playing his non-fistic part with the same understated excellence with which he fought his fistic career before returning to Dallas and opening a boxing gym with an eye on keeping kids off the streets and out of trouble.

“I started out wanting to be world champion and I accomplished that,” he told Mike Silver in 2014. “I’m in the Hall of Fame. I retired from boxing because it was time for me to go. Nobody took advantage of me. Before I became a pro I attended college for two years. I had a good education. I knew how to take care of myself. I knew how to count my money too. I didn’t need a manager to count my money to me. I counted out my money to him.”

The rare glory in that should not be underestimated.

His death of natural causes this Friday at the age of eight-two has been predictably under-reported.  I suspect it may not have displeased him.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

David A. Avila

Published

on

Berchelt-TKOs-Valenzuela-in-Mexico-City

Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt hammered his way to a decisive knockout victory over fellow Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in a non-title light fight on Saturday.

After nearly nine months off, WBC super featherweight titlist Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) unraveled a withering body attack including numerous low blows but Valenzuela remained upright in front of a sparse TV studio audience until he could take it no longer.

Berchelt used a seven-punch combination to knock the senses out of the very tough Valenzuela who hails from Sinaloa. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight with Valenzuela leaning against the ropes with a dazed look.

The champion from Cancun used a triple left hook in the first round to floor Valenzuela and it looked like the fight would not last more than two rounds. But Valenzuela, a sturdy veteran, bored into Berchelt to keep him off balance and was able to stop the momentum.

It did not last.

A vicious attack to the body sapped the energy from Valenzuela who has fought many elite fighters in the past, but none like Berchelt. He was able to batter the veteran round after round.

Valenzuela sought to reverse the momentum with some combinations of his own. Berchelt opened up with some combinations from the outside and cracked his foe with some skull-numbing blows that clearly affected Valenzuela’s senses. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the sixth round to give the win to Berchelt by knockout.

The victory opens the door to a potential clash with featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico who has a fight of his own planned next month. Both champions are promoted by Top Rank.

Other Bouts       

Omar Aguilar (18-0, 17 KOs) bushwacked veteran Dante Jardon (32-7, 23 KOs) within a minute of the first round to win by technical knockout. A barrage of blows by Ensenada’s Aguilar opened up the fight and a four-punch combination forced the referee to stop the super lightweight fight with Mexico City’s Jardon against the ropes.

A battle between super bantamweights saw the taller Alan Picasso (14-1) out-hustle Florentino Perez (14-6-2) in an eight round clash between Mexican fighters. Mexico City’s Picasso fought effectively inside against the shorter Perez of Monterrey and was able to maintain a consistent pace. Neither fighter approved the use of a jab but Picasso was more effective inside with body shots and uppercuts and dominated the last half of the fight.  The six judges scored in favor of Picasso.

The WBC instituted the extra judges as a means of tabulating score cards efficiently. Three judges scored from the television studios and another three judges scored from the USA. It was the second time WBC judges officiated remotely and all six scorecards were official.

Photo credit: Zanfer Promotions

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Big-Baby-Miller-Roberto Duran-and-More

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller just can’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar. It was announced today (Saturday, June 27) that the jumbo-sized heavyweight from Brooklyn tested positive for a banned substance, forcing him out of a July 9 fight at the MGM Grand “Bubble” against Jerry Forrest. The story was broken by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic who breaks more hard news stories than any other boxing writer.

Miller, needless to say is a repeat offender. He failed three different PED tests in a span of three days for three different banned substances leading into his planned June 2019 match at Madison Square Garden with WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That cost him the fight and a reported $5 million-plus payday. Andy Ruiz filled the void and scored an historic upset.

When the first test came back positive, Miller wailed that he was the victim of a faulty test. “My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and will fight this with everything we have,” he said in a prepared statement. He later changed his tune. “I messed up,” he said.

In a story that appeared on these pages, Thomas Hauser noted that Big Baby had a history of PED use dating to 2014. In that year, he was slapped with a nine-month suspension by the California Athletic Commission following a kickboxing event in Los Angeles.

Counting this latest revelation, it’s five strikes for Big Baby. He’s taking quite a roasting right now on social media. Some of the harshest criticism is coming from his fellow boxers.

Assuming that Top Rank can’t find a replacement for Miller, this is another tough break for Jerry Forrest, a 32-year-old southpaw from Virginia with a 26-3 (20) record. Forrest was scheduled to fight hot prospect Filip Hrgovic on April 17 on a card at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a show swept away by the coronavirus outbreak. Forrest has been matched very soft throughout his career, but he acquitted himself well in his lone previous TV appearance, losing a split decision to undefeated Jermaine Franklin on “Showtime: The New Generation.” The decision was controversial.

There’s talk now that Carlos Takam is angling to replace Big Baby. The French-Cameroonian, a former world title challenger who turns 40 in December, was billed out of Henderson, Nevada, in his last ring appearance that saw him winning a unanimous decision over fellow greybeard Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.

—-

When it comes to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”), there’s no sport quite like boxing. Just ask Bob Arum. The most mouth-watering matchup in his ESPN “summer series” fell out this week when Eleider Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury in training, forcing a postponement of his July 16 date with Joe Smith Jr. The match between Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) would have been a 12-rounder with the winner guaranteed a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, a diadem that Alvarez previously owned.

Joe Smith Jr, a Long Island construction worker once dismissed as nothing more than a club fighter, won legions of new fans in his last start, a one-sided (to everyone except one myopic judge) win over Jesse Hart in Atlantic City.

Cancelled matches have become a recurrent theme in ESPN’s semi-weekly boxing series. The very first card in the series lost what shaped up as its most competitive fight when Mikaela Mayer tested positive for COVID-19, scuttling her bout with Helen Joseph. In subsequent weeks, the manager of Mikkel Les Pierre tested positive for COVID-19 as did WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Those bad test results forced the postponement of two main events. Then earlier this week, hot lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno was lopped off Tuesday’s card after feeling sick after coming in overweight at the previous day’s weigh-in.

The undercards of the Tuesday/Thursday ESPN fights have left something to be desired, but that’s understandable. As Bob Arum noted in a conversation with veteran boxing scribe Keith Idec, Top Rank’s matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman have had a hard time fleshing out the cards because with so many gyms closed there’s a shortage of boxers who are in shape to fight on short notice. Then there are the COVID-19 travel restrictions and (something Arum did not acknowledge) budgetary restrictions more severe than an ordinary Top Rank card. Most of the undercard fighters have come from neighboring states such as Utah, saving Top Rank the cost of air fare. Fighters from faraway places, with some exceptions, were already training in Las Vegas.

Kudos to the entire Top Rank staff for keeping boxing alive during these challenging times.

It’s old news now, but Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, 69, tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Panama City with a viral infection. There’s been no update on his condition but his son Robin Duran wrote on Instagram that his father is not having any symptoms beyond those associated with a common cold. We will update you when new details become available.

Duran’s hospitalization came just a few days after the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in what would say was Duran’s finest hour. They met on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Duran won a unanimous decision. Converting the “10-point must” system into rounds, Duran prevailed by scores of 3-2-10, 6-5-4, and 6-4-5. As Yogi would have said, you could look it up.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Jason-Moloney-TKOs-Baez

Top Rank was back inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight for chapter six of their semi-weekly ESPN summer series. Jason Moloney, one-half of Australia’s Moloney twins, accomplished what his brother Andrew Moloney was unable to accomplish in this ring on Tuesday night, adding a “W” to his ledger and looking good doing it. It came at the expense of Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez.

It was Jason Moloney’s second start on U.S. soil after coming up just a tad short in a bid for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Orlando in October of 2018. Against Baez, he fought a smart tactical fight, blunting the Mexican’s superior reach by fighting him at close quarters. Baez fought from the third round on with a cut over his right eye and then suffered a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By then the fight was becoming increasingly one-sided and Baez’s corner did not let him come out for round eight.

Jason Moloney improved to 21-1 with his 18th knockout. Leonardo Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Maloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to withdraw with a detached retina, slumped to 18-3.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Abraham Nova advanced to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow but won no new fans with a lackadaisical performance. Nova, born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in Albany, NY, showed little but his jab through the first seven rounds until hurting Sparrow with a big right hand in the eighth. The judges had it 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91.

Sparrow (10-2), whose lone previous loss was by disqualification, was making his first start in 15 months. He was slated to fight Ryan Garcia in Los Angeles last Sept. 14 but never made it to the weigh-in after being arrested by U.S. marshals on a charge of threatening a woman with a gun after she threw his clothes out the window…

Other Bouts

In an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rican southpaw Orlando Gonzalez advanced to 15-0 with a unanimous decision over Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (15-3). The scores were 76-74 and 77-73 twice.

Gonzalez wasn’t particularly impressive although he did score two knockdowns. He decked Porozo near the end of round two with a left hook following a straight left and decked him again near the end of round seven with a left uppercut to the body.

In a rather ho-hum fight, welterweight Vlad Panin improved to 8-1 with 6-round majority decision over San Antonio’s 36-year-old Benjamin Whitaker (13-4). Panin, a Belarusian who grew up in Las Vegas and earned a BA in English from UCLA, has a good back story but seemingly a limited upside in the fight game.

In an entertaining 6-round welterweight clash, Filipino campaigner Reymond Yanon improved to 11-5-1 with a split decision (59-55, 58-56, 56-58) over Clay Burns. A 33-year-old ex-Marine from Fort Worth, Burns declined to 9-8-2.

The opener, a heavyweight bout slated for six rounds, matched two Phoenix-based fighters in a rematch. Kingsley Ibeh, a former standout defensive lineman for the Washburn College Ichabods, avenged his lone defeat and improved to 4-1 with a fourth-round stoppage of Waldo Cortes (5-3). Ibeh, who at 286 had a 39-pound weight advantage, softened Cortes up with a series of uppercuts and Cortes was on his way down when he was tagged with a glancing left hand. He got to his feet, but referee Vic Drakulich waived it off. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading
Advertisement
R.I.P.-Pete-Rademacher-Olumpic-Champ-Fought-Floyd-Patterson-in-his-Pro-Debut
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

R.I.P. Pete Rademacher: Olympic Champ; Fought Floyd Patterson in his Pro Debut

Imagining-Famous-People-as-Prizefighters-Check-Out-Our-Latest-TSS-Survey
Featured Articles5 days ago

Imagining Famous People as Prizefighters: Check Out Our Latest TSS Survey

Postscript-to-a-Bad-Night-in-Vegas
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Postscript to a Bad Night in Vegas

Rest-in-Peace-Curtis-Cokes
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Rest in Peace, Curtis Cokes

Avila-Perspective-Chap-97-No-Reporters-in-Age-of-Pendemonium
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 97: No Reporters in Age of Pandemonium

Fury-vs-Joshua-in-2021-It's-a-Big-Can-of-Worms
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fury vs. Joshua in 2021: It’s a Big Can of Worms

Top-Rank-Confirms-the-Lineup-for-their-First-Two-June-Shows
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

It’s Official: Top Rank Confirms the Lineups for their First Two June Shows

Berchelt-TKOs-Valenzuela-in-Mexico-City
Featured Articles21 hours ago

Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Plania-Upsets-Greer-Santillan-Nips-DeMarco
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Plania Upsets Greer; Santillan Nips DeMarco

Gabriel-Flores-Who-Attracted-a-Stupendous-Wager-Moves-into-the-Main-Event
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Gabriel Flores, Who Attracted a Stupendous Wager, Moves into the Main Event

Top-Rank-is-Marching-Boxing-Back-to-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Top Rank is Marching Boxing Back to Las Vegas

As-Expected-Navarrete-Steamrolls-Lopez-in-their-Studio-Fight-in-Mexico-City
Featured Articles1 week ago

As Expected, Navarrete Steamrolls Lopez in their Studio Fight in Mexico City

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Big-Baby-Miller-Roberto Duran-and-More
Featured Articles1 day ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Fast-Results-from-Las-Vegas-Shakur-Stevenson-Collapses-Caraballo-with-a-Body-Punch
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Fast Results from Las Vegas: Shakur Collapses Caraballo with a Body Punch

R-I-P-William-Gildea-1939-2020
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

R.I.P. William Gildea (1939-2020)

Fast-Results-from-The-Bubble-Magdaleno-Tops-Vicente-in-a-Messy-Fight
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from The Bubble: Magdaleno Tops Vicente in a Messy Fight

The-Top-Ten-Light-Welterweights-of-the-Decade-2010-2019
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

The Top Ten Light-Welterweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Jck-Kid-Berg-This-Is-The-One
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Jack ‘Kid’ Berg: This Is The Guy

It's-Hall-of-Fame-Week-in-Canastota-Another-Week-That-Could-Have-Been
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Franco-Upends-Moloney-Wins-WBA-Title
Featured Articles5 days ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Franco Upends Moloney; Wins WBA Belt

Berchelt-TKOs-Valenzuela-in-Mexico-City
Featured Articles21 hours ago

Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Big-Baby-Miller-Roberto Duran-and-More
Featured Articles1 day ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Jason-Moloney-TKOs-Baez
Featured Articles3 days ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Imagining-Famous-People-as-Prizefighters-Check-Out-Our-Latest-TSS-Survey
Featured Articles5 days ago

Imagining Famous People as Prizefighters: Check Out Our Latest TSS Survey

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Franco-Upends-Moloney-Wins-WBA-Title
Featured Articles5 days ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Franco Upends Moloney; Wins WBA Belt

As-Expected-Navarrete-Steamrolls-Lopez-in-their-Studio-Fight-in-Mexico-City
Featured Articles1 week ago

As Expected, Navarrete Steamrolls Lopez in their Studio Fight in Mexico City

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Flores-Blanks-Ruiz-Collard-Mauls-Kaminsky
Featured Articles1 week ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Flores Blanks Ruiz; Collard Mauls Kaminsky

Gabriel-Flores-Who-Attracted-a-Stupendous-Wager-Moves-into-the-Main-Event
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Gabriel Flores, Who Attracted a Stupendous Wager, Moves into the Main Event

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Plania-Upsets-Greer-Santillan-Nips-DeMarco
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Plania Upsets Greer; Santillan Nips DeMarco

R-I-P-William-Gildea-1939-2020
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

R.I.P. William Gildea (1939-2020)

Fury-vs-Joshua-in-2021-It's-a-Big-Can-of-Worms
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fury vs. Joshua in 2021: It’s a Big Can of Worms

Avila-Perspective-Chap-97-No-Reporters-in-Age-of-Pendemonium
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 97: No Reporters in Age of Pandemonium

Fast-Results-from-The-Bubble-Magdaleno-Tops-Vicente-in-a-Messy-Fight
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from The Bubble: Magdaleno Tops Vicente in a Messy Fight

Fast-Results-from-Las-Vegas-Shakur-Stevenson-Collapses-Caraballo-with-a-Body-Punch
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Fast Results from Las Vegas: Shakur Collapses Caraballo with a Body Punch

It's-Hall-of-Fame-Week-in-Canastota-Another-Week-That-Could-Have-Been
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

R.I.P.-Pete-Rademacher-Olumpic-Champ-Fought-Floyd-Patterson-in-his-Pro-Debut
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

R.I.P. Pete Rademacher: Olympic Champ; Fought Floyd Patterson in his Pro Debut

Top-Rank-is-Marching-Boxing-Back-to-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Top Rank is Marching Boxing Back to Las Vegas

Postscript-to-a-Bad-Night-in-Vegas
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Postscript to a Bad Night in Vegas

The-Top-Ten-Light-Welterweights-of-the-Decade-2010-2019
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

The Top Ten Light-Welterweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Top-Rank-Confirms-the-Lineup-for-their-First-Two-June-Shows
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

It’s Official: Top Rank Confirms the Lineups for their First Two June Shows

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement