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Will The Pandemic Hurt Boxing in the Long Term?: A Blockbuster TSS Survey

Ted Sares

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The question for our final survey of 2020: What long-range effects, if any, will the Pandemic have on Boxing as a business and/or as a sport? Participation was robust. We received 50 responses. The respondents are listed in alphabetical order.

Jim Amato — author, writer, historian, collector: The fans don’t seem to be as “into it” as they were before the pandemic hit. This can change though in the next six to twelve months. Promoters and matchmakers need to put together some mega battles. There are several waiting to be made. The boxers HAVE to be willing to take on their best opponent. The fans are getting restless with “build-up” contests. It’s time to s–t or get off the pot for everyone involved.

Russ Anber — elite trainer, cornerman, and owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: Boxing, or the business thereof, will ultimately reflect whatever is happening in the world and in other sports and businesses. A new set of rules has been imposed on the world, and as a species and a sport, boxing and its participants will adapt to the new world order.

Matt Andrzejewski –TSS writer: Short term there has been an impact. Boxing gyms closing and the essential elimination of club shows in the US are examples. But long term this sport is resilient and there will be no major impact. Just look at the recent Horn-Tszyu card in Australia. There is still plenty of demand worldwide for the sport and once fans are allowed in, you will see them come rushing back to fill arenas.

David Avila — TSS West Coast Bureau Chief: Those who consider boxing gyms a second home now realize how easy it can be taken away.

Jeff Bumpus writer; former professional boxer: I truly believe the results will be completely negligible. When the pandemic subsides, business will resume as it used to be. There were no real advantages or points of light to be taken from this period. Crowds are missed.

Steve Canton — voice of boxing in Florida: I don’t think the pandemic will have any long-range effect. It definitely has a short-term effect on both the sport and business of boxing. Fighters are not able to train and compete with the gyms being closed or limited and few shows being promoted with no (or few) spectators. There will be a time lapse before things are back to the way it was. We need gyms open, fighters (both amateur and professional) fighting, and shows being promoted in order to develop the “next generation” of stars. Eventually we will get there.

Anthony M. Cardinale, Esq. — fight manager: One good thing about the pandemic’s effect on the sport is to give the fighters, their managers, and hangers-on a better appreciation of the economics of the business of boxing. One critical revenue stream, site fees/ ticket sales, were stricken off the list and allowed the other side of the promotion to appreciate that you can only pay what is reasonable. As for the sport part, it has been interesting to see how little the crowd has to do with performance. Indeed, it let everyone watching know that the fighters are so focused that they do not hear the crowd, period. Finally, the lack of raucous crowd response to fan favorites, even when they miss, was taken out of the judging equation. I have always thought that the judges should have noise cancelling devices in order to better judge the bout; even on an subconscious level, crowd reaction plays too much into the judging.

Guy Casale — former professional boxer:  It’s similar to that of other sports! Until we’re out of the woods and better ways are perfected to treat this virus.

Michael Culbert — retired professional boxer; former Massachusetts state champion: It will have no effect; things will get back to normal.

Jill Diamond WBC International Secretary and “WBC Cares” Chair: Boxing will always exist. And, when the Pandemic hit, boxing was on an upward curve. I believe that unless the promoters and the platforms find a common ground, we may never find that momentum again. Other combat sports don’t suffer from this business model and will eclipse boxing; especially when so many homebound people hunger for sports. They need and deserve the best of the best. Unless we give that to them, we will probably be KO’d. Of course, the ones who are most vulnerable are our athletes. Let’s unite and do better.

Rick Farris — president and founder of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: As far as I am concerned, the boxing I loved died long ago. I only write about the sport I love, and it no longer exists. So, through the WCBHOF, I am able to live in the past. The art of boxing no longer exists

Bernard Fernandez — TSS mainstay, lifetime member of the BWAA, 2020 IBHOF Inductee: They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. The lack of live boxing, or even boxing before small, socially-distanced turnouts, might ignite a firestorm of interest once the sport is fully opened to fans not required to wear masks or to treat the person next to him as if he had a communicable disease, which might well have been the case. But little or no live boxing might have the opposite effect, and remind fans that life did and can go on without unfettered access to the pugilistic arts. Only time will tell which way the pendulum swings.

Sue Fox — legendary female boxer; founder/president of WBAN™ and IWBHF: In the long run boxing will continue to suffer for an unknown time. The smaller promoters do not have the advantage of television networks, etc. to help with their indoor events. I am wondering how boxing events behind closed doors will, in the “big picture,” be able to sustain itself?

Jeffrey Freeman — (aka KO Digest), TSS writer: With this week’s surprise announcement that President Trump and his wife now have the China Virus, I don’t know what to think about the future of anything anymore. What I do know is that the free world (and America in particular) is under communist attack and that professional sports are being weaponized against us in the name of social justice. It’s not as bad in boxing as in some other sports (not yet anyway) but it’s only a matter of time until the forces of destruction turn their attention to boxing as “the most racist” of all sports, pitting poor black fighters against other poor black fighters for the entertainment of white spectators.

Clarence George -writer and historian: The effects will be inevitable, but insignificant. After all, how much more marginalized can boxing get?

Randy Gordon-former head of the New York State Athletic Commission; former editor of The Ring magazine; host of SiriusXM Radio’s “At the Fights, Inc”: The Pandemic which has decimated many businesses throughout the world, is sure to leave a long, ugly scar for many years. Boxing, along with MMA, led the sports world back into competition, albeit on a smaller scale and behind closed doors. No fans in attendance obviously affects the paychecks of all involved. Throughout history. the world has recovered from all types of disasters. It will recover from this one. Only time will tell how long it takes.  However, the way boxing has come roaring back in the second half of 2020, my guess is that COVID-19 will not leave any long-term effects on the “Sweet Science.”

Lee Groves author, writer and the wizard of CompuBox: I believe that boxing has dealt with this virus better than most sports, and thus I believe that it will once again prove its resilience. That said, the environment has changed; more champions are engaging in non-title fights and some fighters are adopting an accelerated schedule, perhaps because they are generating smaller purses for fighting less risky opponents. The recent Charlo PPV, priced at $74.95 and going up against the NBA conference final and UFC 253, generated better than expected numbers, so that’s a good sign.

Henry Hascup — boxing historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: The big-time fighters and promoters will come back. But I believe the small-time promoters and gyms will get hurt so bad that they may never recover. Some of these gym owners don’t have the means to stay open without some support. This will not only hurt the club fighters and the amateur program, but it will also hurt the people that work in the corners and at the gyms as well. The Veteran Boxing Organizations have also been hurt.

Chuck Hasson — historian, author: Without fan attendance, the whole atmosphere becomes dull (even to televiewers) and gradually without the excitement and noise from the attendees, interest might dwindle. Hope not.

Kevin Iole — award-winning journalist; covers MMA and boxing for Yahoo Sports: The scary thing that promoters are going to face is that fans have discovered that they can live without the fights. They’ve found other things to do during the crisis. So, I think the long-term result is that promoters will be more fan-centric, pricing tickets better and making fights the fans want to see far more quickly than in the past.

Mark Kram Jr. — noted author and writer: What should happen? All boxing events should be suspended pending the arrival of a reliable vaccine. What will happen? Business as usual

Arne Lang TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: As soon as the fans are allowed back in the arenas with no social distancing, there will be a flood of important fights like we haven’t seen before. Will the fans return in the same numbers? I don’t know. But I know that other sports have alienated many of their patrons during these troubling months (which isn’t a value judgment; merely a fact) and boxing — by comparison — has not. So, if there is a drop-off in attendance, I would not expect it to be as severe as with the NBA and NFL.

Jimmy Lange — former fighter and promoter: I don’t believe the Pandemic, once it’s over, will affect the sport itself. The business will be affected as the rest of the country is. Clearly, the bottom line in boxing is ”asses in seats”…until we can open up as a country, across the board, life will not be the same for ANY business.

Ron Lipton — member of NJ and NY Boxing Halls of Fame, former fighter, retired police officer, writer, pro referee: The Pandemic has already had the most destructive long range effect on boxing as a sport and business. I refereed at the last professional boxing show in New York doing the Co-Main event at the Barclays Center on March 7, 2020 with heavyweight Efe Ajagba. Since that date there has been no professional boxing event in New York State.  Everyone that loves Boxing wants to see it come back to the loyal boxing fans of New York with a venue adhering to all the protocol that the “Bubble” does in Las Vegas, Connecticut and elsewhere.

Robert Mladinich –– former fighter, author, writer, actor: Boxing was struggling in the U.S. even before the pandemic. Charging $75 for the PPV fight with the Charlo brothers during an economic downturn was idiotic. The nation is gripped by cynicism, pessimism, and world weariness. Boxing needs someone to make them feel positive and inspired. If ever there was a time to broadcast fights on free TV, it is now. I hope there is someone who can bring boxing back in the U.S. but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

Don Majewski — matchmaker, historian; affiliated with RING 8 and the NYSBHOF:  If you are not one of the big four — Top Rank, PBC, Matchroom or Golden Boy — you will not able to subsidize cards as you will not be able to sell tickets to full capacity–nor make deals with casinos as they will not get the TV exposure. Neither will they be able to have enough live gate attendance to justify paying a site fee. The prohibitive costs of the additional Covid tests and insurance will cripple smaller promoters. It will have a profound effect on younger boxers starting out who are not established amateur stars or Olympians subsidized by huge bonuses. And we have to induce fans to throw caution to the wind and return to arenas to attend bouts. The best solution is for promoters to be more proactive with streaming options and for major, privately owned arenas – ala Barclays Center and MSG and Resorts or Turning Star — to open their own boxing promotional entities and subsidize cards until we return to a semblance of normalcy.

Adeyinka Makinde U.K. barrister, author and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing: There will be a short to medium term effect that will be hurtful. The economic downturn of national economies will hit the pockets of fans who will not have their previous level of disposable income. And, of course, the limitations on public gatherings may endure even after the worst of the pandemic if the present modifications become ‘the new normal’. Boxing will have to adapt to survive long-term, and promoters need to think of ways to surmount this. They may want to tap into the strategies utilized by the UFC which has continued to stage events throughout the present crisis.

Scoop Malinowski — boxing writer, author, Mr. “Biofile”: I’m very concerned for boxing’s future. Boxing in America has been struggling and the virus factor will do further damage. There are no American stars who generate big box office and there are few super fights to spark a new golden era. Spence vs. Crawford, Fury vs. AJ must be made and they must deliver. Loma vs. Lopez can be the spark boxing so desperately needs.

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…Where does an aspiring pro fighter get their experience and, just as importantly, a pay-day? Is it possible that in the short-to-medium run, streaming of events will be the new model?… Harry Otty

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Paul Magno– writer, author, official: I’m going to be realistic–boxing will probably not learn a damn thing from this. I mean, that’s just what history tells us. The hope, however, is that the fans’ sluggish return and general post-layoff ambivalence will finally open eyes as to how much they’ve done to turn off a very loyal base. Maybe it’ll sound off an alarm about the current rotten, growth-poisoning business model. Maybe it’ll spark an effort towards exposing more people to the sport and cooperating more, knocking down some of the business obstacles to give fans the fights they want to see. I’m hoping against hope that the fans not rushing back to the sport after the COVID layoff will encourage change.

David Martinez — historian, writer: It is possible with no live fan base in attendance that the average fans will vanish as quickly as a Houdini act, with only the true loyalist to remain. Until we are “completely” free of this virus will boxing or any other sport be the way it was? My involvement in the sport of boxing goes back to 1961, so I have no intention of abandoning what has been embedded in my veins for almost 60 years. May God grant us wisdom and good health for all the human race.

Ernest Morales (aka Geno Febus) — former fighter, writer: The sport will continue to suffer economically having no live gate. The lack/shortage of quality fights has caused fans to lose interest. Promoters are desperately trying to squeeze the fans to pay MORE for LESS. Fighters will be forced to take fights they have been avoiding and accepting less money. Time for less posturing.

Diego Morilla – Argentine boxing correspondent; editor with the “The Ring en Español”: The effects will be felt for many years to come. During what we assume will be an 18-month situation in which travel restrictions, lockdowns and other limitations have seriously affected the economy in general, boxing felt the effect like no other sport. True, the individual nature of the sport made it easier for combatants to return to action, since you need to test a lower number of people for boxing than for any team sport. But the international character of the competition was almost completely lost since entire countries have endured a complete shutdown that will keep many fighters away from the ring and/or a significant level of competition for more than a year.

Harry Otty — (aka “Boxscribe”); historian: It seems like the gradual decline of boxing is following a long-established path. First, the arrival of TV negatively impacts small hall shows – the very places an apprentice would learn their trade – then the TV companies are looking for big-selling events for advertising etc, then for PPV with a decent headliner. From lots of small events, to fewer small events, then to smaller crowds, and now – thanks to social distancing – no crowds. Where does an aspiring pro fighter get their experience and, just as importantly, a payday? Training and sparring under these circumstances is also an issue. Just as with every professional sport, boxing without a crowd sucks; even if you get to ‘virtually ‘ attend. It is difficult to get excited by these events. On the horizon (Dec. 11) we have Joseph Parker vs Junior Fa – it will be good to see a big, well-attended boxing event again – hopefully the rest of the world will not be too far behind.

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 …That huge gap in level of activity and competition, combined with the psychological damage brought on by uncertainty and the overall feeling of “unfairness” of how things have played out, will prove to be a terrible combination in the near future, and in the long range it may reshape the entire boxing industry, with fighters resettling to boxing hotspots around the world just to avoid being left out in case of another event of this nature (a trend that has already started)…. -Diego Morilla

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Luis Pabon — elite referee: Covid has affected small promoters because without an audience it is not cost-effective to promote boxing. All of the boxers on the rise are affected accordingly. Others who are greatly impacted are the foreign officials like referees and judges…nobody talks about us…How long can the big promotors endure without a public? Will we get PPV to recover profits?

Russell Peltz — semi-retired promoter, manager; 2004 IBHOF Inductee: It is hurting the small promoters the most, the ones who fill the cupboards for the bigger promoters. They struggled without television and now they cannot operate without ticket sales. I see how the bigger promoters are using fighters they never would have used under normal circumstances because the talent pool has shrunk. Fighters have taken jobs and are not in the gym. I had one foot out the door before it started. It must be karma because 2020 was the first year since I began in 1969 that I did not take out a promoter’s license, only a manager’s license. I feel terrible for promoters who rely on ticket sales, especially Michelle Rosado (Raging Babe), one of the hardest-working promoters around today. She had to close down her sold out (SRO) March 27 card in Philly. Who knows when she will be able to resume? I feel terrible for the four- and six-round kids who lack financial backing. The only fights they can get now are against amateur monsters turning pro or undefeated blue-chip prospects.

Ross Puritty — former boxer (conqueror of Wladimir Klitschko): Short term it has been great for boxing because people don’t have much else to do but watch sports. It has reignited interest.

Dennis Rappaport-former promotor and manager: Short term the pandemic is extremely difficult and challenging for boxing. However, long term I don’t see any adverse effect as long as they ultimately eliminate it.

John Raspanti lead writer/editor for MaxBoxing; author: I don’t believe Covid-19 will have any long-term effects on boxing. For reference I look to is baseball, basketball and football. All have rebounded reasonably well. Football’s ratings are solid. As terrible as this crisis is, sports are very important and a necessary escape for our nation. Boxing will be fine.

Fred Romano – boxing historian, author, and former HBO Boxing consultant: As with other sports the pandemic is allowing people ample time to realize that they can survive without their regular dose. This is particularly troubling for boxing which was already struggling with creating interest in second-tier bouts. I believe the flagship bouts will bounce back in 2021 with respectable interest. As always, the sport will wade its way through the troubled waters with the a crop of stars ultimately emerging.

Dana Rosenblatt — former world middleweight title-holder: The “Vid” will not have any affect on the sport of boxing whether it be in the US or anywhere else in the world. The last time I checked, the oldest professions known to mankind are prostitution and fighting for money.

“Iceman” John Scully — manager, trainer, commentator, writer, historian: I think of all the kids who may have started boxing somewhere at a gym in this world over the last several months who now may never enter a gym after all. Kind of crazy but the next Sugar Ray Leonard or Roy Jones could have walked into a gym and in 10 years from now could have been a great fighter and a major star. The Butterfly Effect.

Mike Silver — author of The Night the Referee Hit Back: Since a live audience was no longer a priority before the virus, it will not be a priority when it finally goes away. Studio boxing was predicted a long time ago, but who knew it would take a pandemic to make it the rule rather than the exception? But unless the sport can develop new stars, promote attractive matches (don’t hold your breath waiting for Crawford vs. Spence) and have one champion per weight class it will never expand its fan base

Alan Swyer — filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed “El Boxeo”: I’d like to think that boxing will come back stronger than ever, but I doubt it. While boxers, trainers, and cutmen go without paychecks, the public’s interest wanes.  Meanwhile, Canelo fights legal battles, the excitement brewing in the heavyweight division fades, and what do we get in the meantime? Rumors of Tyson and Oscar returning, plus Manny facing McGregor. Those are the contemporary equivalents of Jesse Owens running against a race horse. We need better!

Ted Sares — TSS boxing writer: The pandemic is forcing Boxing to engage in too many sideshows and that can only hurt. The key is whether bubbles—the Eddie Hearn type– will be enough to hold the interest until a vaccine is discovered. If the pandemic lasts more than 9 months, the prognosis for boxing will be less than positive.

Rich Torsney — former fighter, boxing official:  I think it’s huge. Small time and mid-level promoters can’t finance shows without a live gate. Without feeder shows I don’t see how a boxer can be built to learn the craft. Even once the pandemic subsides, I believe there will be a shift in the public’s attitude in attending large gatherings of all types, not only boxing. And even a subtle shift will register big with promoters of club shows who are always on the edge regarding covering costs. Also, I’ve watched a few pretty good shows promoted by the big players in places like the MGM Bubble. My take on them is that the matchmaking aspects become even more critical. Without a live audience to add emotion, the participants must really come to fight or the channel will be turned. Action fighters may get the nod over stylists. I’m worried for the sport. Without a feeder program; amateur shows, club shows and mid-level shows, how does a boxer grow?

Bruce Trampler-Top Rank matchmaker; 2010 IBHOF inductee: Because promoters can’t sell tickets and most promoters don’t have TV backing, there is a huge drop-off in number of fight cards around the country and the world. Because there are hardly any shows, most fighters aren’t even in the gym. Why train when there is nothing to get ready for?  Best comparison is to Hollywood. Because film production is shut down, actors aren’t acting and directors aren’t directing. Theater owners have no films to show so nobody’s going to the movies.  At Top Rank, we’re fortunate that ESPN has given us X number of telecasts a year, but what about the dozens of other promoters who can’t afford to run shows without ticket sales?

Bob Triegerboxing and MMA writer; sports public relations consultant: Boxing will lose fans who either have found other ways to spend their time or have gotten into other sports. And I think we will lose some promoters who aren’t backed by TV or streaming deals, and club shows will be more rare, which will harm fighters’ development in the long run.

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…in the long run, boxing suffers greatly.  Fans find other areas of interest.  Fighters get a year or two older, amateurs can’t develop on USA Boxing cards, trainers and boxers stop going to the gym, and the sport gets set back several years which it can’t afford.  I don’t know if 2021 Olympics happen in Tokyo yet, but wait till you see how weak our 2024 team will be. — Bruce Trampler

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Peter Woodauthor, writer and former fighter: Just like Broadway theater, boxing will make it’s comeback—boxing is all about comebacks. Besides, boxing is theater—theater with blood. People can’t stay away

Gary “Digital” Williams — the voice of “Boxing on the Beltway”: I think there will be a lengthy transition while the sport tries to figure out where it’s going. My concern is how do they bring back the fans to the arenas? That will be the longest transition. That will definitely take some time.

Observations: 

There appears to be a split between those who believe boxing will survive despite the pandemic and those who believe it will suffer a serious setback.

Some think a live audience is necessary; others don’t.

Many acknowledged that small gyms are definitely in danger; in fact, the entire underbelly of boxing has been severely impacted. In this connection, Harry Otty asks a key question: “Where does an aspiring pro fighter get their experience and, just as importantly, a pay-day?”

Where do you stand? How do you think the pandemic will impact boxing going forward?

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com or on Facebook

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A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon

Arne K. Lang

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Book Review by Thomas Hauser — Carlos Monzon was born into extreme poverty in Argentina on August 7, 1942. He was mean, violent, surly, brutal, arrogant, occasionally charming, handsome with a smoldering sensuality, and remorseless. His life was marked by street fighting, drunken behavior, domestic violence, and more than forty arrests. In the midst of it all, he found boxing.

Monzon’s story is told by Don Stradley in A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon. It’s the latest in a series of short books from Hamilcar Publications published under the imprint Hamilcar Noir that deal with boxers whose lives were marked and often terminated by violent crime. Told in 128 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace.

Monzon had one hundred professional fights in a career that began in 1962. He reigned as middleweight champion from 1970 until his retirement in 1977 and was honored as the 1972 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America. All told, he compiled an 87-3-9 (59 KOs) record with 1 no contest. The three losses came during the first two years of his career when he was a novice.

Monzon was a big, strong, tough fighter with a good chin and a basic skill set: stand tall, throw a sharp jab, and follow with a hard right behind it. Mark Kram described him as “a perfectly shaped middleweight, tall with long arms and with style running through every sinew up to his dramatic Belmondo face.”

By contrast, British boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge described Monzon as having “little ring grace” and added “he clubs as if wearing a Roman cestus on his fist.”

Those who question Monzon’s greatness point to the fact that the best of the fighters he beat were past their prime (e.g. Nino Benvenuti) or past their prime and naturally smaller men (e.g. Emile Griffith and Jose Napoles). Monzon was also held to a draw by Benny Briscoe before besting Briscoe on a close decision in a rematch. And he only narrowly defeated Rodrigo Valdez in the last two fights of his ring career.

But as Stradley writes, “A strange thing happened to Monzon in retirement. He became a better fighter. The boxer who had often been dismissed as a classless thug was now revered as an all-time great. During the next decade when lists were made of the top middleweights or of great championship reigns, Monzon’s name would always be near the top.”

How good was Monzon?

Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler says that he would have been competitive with any middleweight in any era. More significantly, in 2007, I had a conversation with Bernard Hopkins in which I asked Bernard to speculate as to how he would have fared in the ring against Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, and Monzon. Hopkins’ answer is instructive:

“Sugar Ray Robinson at 147 pounds was close to perfect,” Bernard said. “But at middleweight, he was beatable. I would have fought Ray Robinson in close and not given him room to do his thing. He’d make me pay a physical price. But at middleweight, I think I’d wear him down and win. Me and Marvin Hagler would have been a war. We’d both be in the hospital afterward with straws in our mouth. We’d destroy each other. My game-plan would be, rough him up, box, rough him up, box. You wouldn’t use judges for that fight. You’d go by the doctors’ reports. Carlos Monzon? I could lose that fight. Monzon was tall, rangy, did everything right. I see myself losing that fight more than winning it.”

Stradley’s recounting of Monzon’s ring career is largely pro forma. The more compelling portions of the book lie in the portrait he paints of Monzon’s personal life.

Monzon had virtually no formal education and was close to illiterate. At age 19, he married 15-year-old Mercedes Beatriz Garcia. The newly-wed couple lived with her family in a two-room shack where they slept on a mattress on the floor.

“In many ways,” Stradley writes, “Monzon was the typical wife abuser. He was obsessed with control; he had an evil temper; he drank too much.” In 1973, Mercedes shot her husband in the arm and shoulder after a quarrel between them.

Monzon’s pattern of physically abusing women, assaulting people in public, reckless driving, and other anti-social acts was a constant in his life before, during, and after his championship reign. But as his fame grew, so did his following.

“Monzon,” Stradley notes, “didn’t look like other fighters of the day. He was photographed to look like a stylish Latin pop star, usually in a long leather coat, with plenty of gold jewelry. Argentina’s El Grafico [a popular magazine] treated Monzon like a model, featuring him in regular photo spreads.”

In 1974, while married to Mercedes, Monzon met Susana Gimenez (a popular actress and talk show host). Soon, they were involved in a torrid affair that lasted for four years. At one point, Mercedes complained to her husband about Susana and he punched her in the face, breaking the superciliary arch above her eye. Monzon was arrested and avoided a prison term by pleading temporary insanity. A divorce followed.

Susana’s film credits included adult-oriented comedies. In Stradley’s words, “Monzon had abandoned the mother of his children for a slutty clown. It didn’t help that her sartorial sense ran towards pink denim.”

Even so, Stradley recounts, “Monzon and Susana were now the most photographed twosome in Argentina. Journalist Alfredo Serra estimated they appeared on more than three hundred magazine covers, describing the pair as combining ‘the strength, beauty, fame and glamour of the world in a single couple.'”

During his championship reign, Monzon parleyed his fame as a fighter into several film roles. Then he retired; his relationship with Susana ended; and he met Alicia Muniz Calatayud.

Alicia had worked as a model and belly dancer in addition to once managing a hair salon. She and Monzon married in Miami because his divorce from Mercedes wasn’t recognized under Argentine law. They lived together from May 1979 through August 1986 and again during a brief reconciliation in 1987. On several occasions, Alicia filed complaints with the police alleging that Monzon had beaten her.

By 1988, Stradley writes, “Monzon was still famous but no longer important. Most of the time he was drunk.”

On February 14, 1988, during a weekend they were spending together, Monzon murdered his estranged wife.

“Here’s what probably happened,” Stradley posits. “When Alicia came for the weekend, she reminded him that he was late with his monthly payments [for child support]. They returned from their night out, a night where they’d been unfriendly to each other and a witness had seen Monzon hitting Alicia. At some point before 6 a.m., she said something that made the dynamite in his head go off.”

Monzon told conflicting stories after Alicia’s death, all of which centered on the claim that she’d accidentally fallen over a balcony railing during an argument between them. Then an autopsy report revealed that Alicia had been strangled to death.

“Medical examiners,” Stradley recounts, “estimated thirty-five pounds of pressure or more had been applied to Alicia’s throat. Strangling only requires eleven pounds. They estimated it had been done with a two-fingered grip, probably thumb and forefinger in a kind of one-handed death clamp. It takes only twenty seconds or so to strangle someone into unconsciousness. The damage to Alicia’s throat would take much longer. It wasn’t done by accident or in the heat of the moment. It took a few minutes of full-on rage. Alicia had been strangled long after she had passed out. It’s also rare that a strangling victim has visible marks on the neck or throat. The imprints on Alicia were clear and deep, as if someone had tried to squeeze her head off at the neck. He dumped her body over the balcony to make it look like she’d fallen.”

Monzon was charged with murder. The trial was broadcast live on radio throughout Argentina. Monzon testified that he and Alicia had argued about money and admitted that he had slapped her. “I have hit women on other occasions and nothing happened to any of them,” he told the court. “I hit all of my women except one. My mother.”

A three-judge panel found Monzon guilty of murder. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison with the possibility of time off for good behavior.

By 1993, Monzon was allowed to spend daytime hours and weekends outside of prison. On Sunday, January 8, 1995, after attending a barbeque, he was behind the wheel of a car, probably drunk and definitely speeding.

“By the rules of his furlough agreement,” Stradley writes, “he had to be back at the Las Flores prison by 8 p.m. He didn’t want to risk being late. He only had a short time left to serve on his sentence and didn’t want any infractions on his record. So he drove fast. He’d always been a terrible driver. Being in prison hadn’t made him any better at it.”

While speeding back to the prison, Monzon lost control of the vehicle which turned over multiple times, killing him instantly. Two other passengers also died in the accident. He was 52 years old.

After Monzon’s death, his body lay in state at City Hall in his hometown of Santa Fe. An estimated ten thousand people filed past it. Twenty thousand more lined the route to the Municipal Cemetery while six thousand mourners waited at the cemetery entrance.

Argentine president Carlos Menem told the nation. “Remember Carlos Monzon as a champion, not as a man jailed for murder.” But Argentinian journalist and political commentator Bernardo Neustadt took a contrary view, declaring, “We are a macho society that idolizes a man who beats or violates a woman; a macho society that taught Monzon to dress up, to speak a bit better, but didn’t teach him to think; a macho society that wasn’t horrified when Monzon said he beat all his women.”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.

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Lipinets and Clayton Battle to a Draw at the Mohegan Sun

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight’s PBC show at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino, billed as a “Showtime Special Edition,” was to feature Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in the main event. That match-up would have pit fighters born in neighboring countries in Central Asia, the first major fight of its kind on American soil, but Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov had visa problems and a Canadian filled the breach.

Custio Clayton, whose 18-0 record was suspect because he had done all his fighting in Eastern Canada, proved to be more than just a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old ex-Olympian from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia held Lipinets (now 16-1-1) to a draw and the general feeling was that he had done just enough to edge it out. Don Trella scored the 12-round welterweight bout for him (115-113), but Trella’s counterparts Glen Feldman and Tom Schreck both had it even at 114 apiece.

Conspicuously bigger than Lipinets – to the eyes if not on the scale – Clayton did his best work in the late rounds. Lipinets, briefly the IBF world 140-pound title-holder (he lost the belt to Mikey Garcia; no shame there) is something of a one-dimensional fighter and as the rounds wore on he connected with fewer punches on the more multi-dimensional Canadian.

In theory, the winner would have been in line for a match with Errol Spence.

Martinez-Marrero

Prior to tonight, Sacramento junior lightweight Xavier Martinez had never fought beyond the eighth round and tonight it appeared that he wouldn’t see the ninth. He was on the deck twice in round eight and nearly didn’t make it to the bell. But he lasted the full 12 to win a well-earned unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero

Marrero, a 31-year-old southpaw from Santo Domingo, DR, was well behind on the scorecards when he caught Martinez with a big right hook shortly after the start of the eighth round. He pressed his advantage and knocked him down again with a flurry of punches. But Martinez recuperated and prevailed on scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 114-112 to keep his undefeated record intact, advancing to 16-0.

This was quite a departure from Martinez’s previous bout when he knocked out his opponent in 21 seconds. Marrero (24-5) lost for the fourth time in his last five outings. The match was billed as a WBA 130-pound title eliminator.

Matias-Hawkins

The TV opener was a 10-round junior lightweight contest between Malik Hawkins and Subriel Matias. Hawkins, a former National Golden Gloves champion from the same Baltimore gym that produced Gervonta Davis, came in undefeated (18-0). Puerto Rico’s Matias, who opened his career with 15 straight knockouts, was looking to rebound from his first defeat, having lost a 10-round decision to Petros Ananyan on the Wilder-Fury II undercard.

Matias’s bout with Ananyan was his first start since his match will ill-fated Maxim Dadashev. The Dadashev tragedy may have preyed on his mind, but according to his promoter Juan Orengo, he was lax in his training for Ananyan. Whatever the case, Matias rebounded from that defeat tonight, saddling Hawkins with his first pro loss.

Matias forged ahead in the sixth, knocking Hawkins to his knees and then pursuing him around the ring to apply the finisher. Hawkins survived the onslaught but had no argument when he was pulled out by the ring physician before the next frame.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Juan Francisco Estrada KOs Carlos Cuadras; Chocolatito Wins Too

David A. Avila

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WBC super flyweight world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada led a triumvirate of world title fights with a sizzling knockout victory over Mexican rival Carlos Cuadras to retain the world title and set up a future clash with former foe Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who won his bout in the co-feature.

In front of a small Mexico City crowd Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) proved he could defeat Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) again and did it emphatically to retain his title by knockout. There was no squabbling about scorecards in this clash like their first encounter in 2017 that ended with Estrada by decision.

It did not begin well for Estrada who endured Cuadras imposing his strength and speed behind a very strong left jab in the first three rounds. And then a sneaky right uppercut followed by a left hook sent Estrada down for the count in the third round.

But that only proved to be a spark for the fighter known as “El Gallo.”

Estrada realized he was falling behind, especially after the knockdown. Instead of counter-punching, the boxer from Sonora, Mexico began moving forward and became an aggressor. The dynamics of the fight changed suddenly.

Cuadras was hurt by a body shot in the sixth round and spent most of his time looking to avoid more contact. Estrada was in full control.

Despite the change in momentum no round was easy for either Mexican pugilist. Both exchanged freely always looking to end the fight with a big blow. Though each were hurt at times, neither showed signs of relenting.

From the eighth through the 10th round Cuadras seemed to find a second wind, or maybe it was desperation. The Mexico City native known as “Principe” fought possessed and managed to swing the momentum back toward his way for maybe two of those rounds.

In the 11th round both exchanged blows and Estrada connected with a left and right and down went Cuadras. The former world champion got up and was then floored with a counter right cross. He got up again a little shaky and Estrada attacked with a four-punch combination that forced referee Lupe Garcia to stop the fight for a technical knockout at 2:22 of the round.

Estrada retained the WBC super flyweight world title and will now meet Chocolatito.

Chocolatito

Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) proved that an opponent like Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (25-3) can be faster, taller, longer and younger but the Nicaraguan will find a way to beat you. He did that with a convincing unanimous decision win after 12 rounds to retain the WBA super flyweight world title.

Chocolatito will now probably meet Juan Francisco Estrada for a long-expected rematch. In their first encounter back in 2012, the Nicaraguan won by decision in Los Angeles.

Chocolatito looked dominant in his ability to deflect the speedy combinations by the young Mexican fighter Gonzalez. Nothing worked against the Nicaraguan who skillfully manipulated his way through barrage after barrage and connected inside with body shots and uppercuts.

It was a masterful performance.

JC Martinez

Mexico City’s Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) was defending his WBC flyweight world title against Moises Calleros (33-10-1) a virtual bantamweight weighing more than 7 pounds over the 112-pound flyweight limit. Even the extra weight could not help him.

In the first round, Martinez exploded with a blistering three-punch combination the sent Calleros to the floor dazed and confused. He beat the count and survived the round.

The second round wasn’t too kind for Calleros who became the punching bag for the quick-fisted Martinez who opened up with a nine-punch salvo that forced the referee Cesar Castanon to end the slaughter at 2:42 of the second round.

Other Bouts

Diego Pacheco (10-0, 8 KOs) used his height and reach to score a knockout with a snapping right uppercut to the chin of Mexico’s Juan Mendez (12-3-2) in a super middleweight fight. The end came at 2:02 of the second round with Mexican referee Rafael Saldana stopping the fight at the perfect moment.

Austin “Ammo” Williams (6-0, 5 KOs) powered through Esau Herrera (19-12-1) with body shots and combination punches to win by knockout in a middleweight battle. The end came at 1:36 of the fifth round.

Otha Jones III (5-0-1, 2 KOs) and Mexico City fighter Kevin Montiel (6-0-1) fought to a split draw after six rounds in a super featherweight clash. Both fighters started quickly with Jones having good rounds in the middle portion of the six-round fight, but he tired and allowed Montiel to rally from behind. The scores were split with 58-56 for Jones, 58-56 for Montiel and 57-57.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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