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The Hauser Report: Filmmaker Eric Drath and More

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Eric Drath is a very good filmmaker. The release of Macho: The Hector Camacho Story on Showtime this month demonstrates that yet again.

Drath (pictured) was born and raised in New York and interned at ABC News while attending college at Columbia. He moved to Atlanta after graduation to work for CNN. Next came a stint at a start-up network called Fox News Channel. The irony of that pairing is not lost on him. Then the sweet science entered his life.

“I wasn’t a big boxing fan,” Drath says. “But in the late-nineties, a friend invited me to go with him to some fights at Yonkers Raceway in the Bronx. We got there. There was a boxing ring and, around it, a world I’d never known. I said to myself, ‘This is so cool. I want to know more about this.'”

The promoter that night was Joe DeGuardia. In due course, Drath left Fox News to do publicity work for DeGuardia’s promotional company.

“That,” Eric recalls, “was when I learned that doing PR for a boxing promoter was, ‘Go get the van, pick up some fighters at the airport, take them to the athletic commission to get licensed, make sure they have their physicals, and send out a press release.”

Eventually, Drath started a company called RingLink which got video clips from promoters and charged the promoters a fee to transmit the clips by satellite to TV stations. Then he got a manager’s license and represented a few fringe fighters. After that, he founded a company called Live Star Entertainment that created satellite media tours for the music industry and produced TV fights for various promoters. Most notably, Live Star produced close to fifty Broadway Boxing shows for DiBella Entertainment between 2008 and 2016.

Meanwhile, Drath had begun the process of carving out a niche for himself as a documentary filmmaker. Over the years, he has worked on subjects as diverse as Theodore Bikel and Pete Rose. But it began with boxing.

In 2006, Drath met Luis Resto at the Morris Park Boxing Gym in the Bronx. Resto (a former journeyman fighter) had been a key player in one of boxing’s ugliest scandals. On June 16, 1983, he fought Billy Collins (an undefeated 21-year-old prospect) at Madison Square Garden. Before the bout, Panama Lewis (Resto’s trainer) removed some of the padding from his fighter’s gloves. Collins suffered permanent eye damage during the bout, was unable to fight again, and died in a car crash nine months later. Resto and Lewis were imprisoned for their wrongdoing. Lewis was widely seen as the more culpable of the two.

“I liked Resto’s story,” Drath recounts. “Nobody else thought it was a good idea. But I scraped together some money, put together a rough cut, and gave it to a friend who gave it to a friend while they were standing together on the sideline during their daughters’ high school lacrosse game.”

The second parent standing on the sideline was Rick Bernstein (then the executive producer for HBO Sports).

“After that, I got a phone call,” Drath remembers. “HBO made its own sports documentaries back then. But they liked it; they bought it; and they made some changes.”

Assault in the Ring aired on HBO in 2008 and won an Emmy for Outstanding Sports Documentary. Drath was credited as its co-writer, director, and narrator. Then he pitched a documentary about Renee Richards to the network. But HBO passed on the project so he sold it to ESPN which televised the documentary after it premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival in 2011. Once again, Drath was the co-writer, director, and narrator.

Two more boxing projects for ESPN followed: No Mas (2013), which focused on the second fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, and Robbed (2014), which told the tale of Ali-Norton III against the backdrop of violence occasioned by a New York City police job action.

That brings us to Macho: The Hector Camacho Story.

Macho

Initially, Drath conceived of Macho as an investigative report about Camacho’s murder in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Hector, who was involved with cocaine for most of his life, was shot four times on November 20, 2012, and removed from life support four days later. He was fifty years old when he died.

Then Macho evolved into a more complete biographical documentary with an emphasis on Camacho’s ring career. The film would have been stronger with more exposition of what it meant – and still means – to be part of the underclass in Spanish Harlem where Camacho was raised and remains an icon. But it’s put together well and has the advantage of a charismatic main character who lights up the screen when he’s on camera.

Eric directed and narrated Macho. The film’s most compelling moments deal with its subject’s post-boxing life and include poignant footage of an unrecognizably fat Camacho as he neared age fifty.

Drath is one of the few directors who has made documentaries for HBO, Showtime, and ESPN. That leads to the question of how the experiences compared with one another.

“HBO was a tight organization that didn’t want outside interference,” Drath recalls. “They bought the film and in essense said, ‘Okay, kid; you can stand outside the edit room while we finish it, and we’ll show you what we’re doing from time to time.’ Showtime is the antithesis of that. They gave me notes but they also gave me the latitude to make the film I wanted to make. I loved the process. ESPN was somewhere in between. But it was an honor to work with all three of them.”

And which of his documentaries does Drath like the most?

“I don’t have a favorite,” he answers, “I love the human element in documentaries. Each one I’ve been fortunate to make so far marks a different period of my life. And each one has that human element.”

*     *     *

Adam Pollack is an Iowa attorney who has written biographies of the early gloved heavyweight champions from John L. Sullivan through Jack Johnson. Now he has chosen to skip Jess Willard and go straight to Jack Dempsey with Part One of a projected two-volume work published by Win by KO Publications.

Jack Dempsey: The Making of a Champion follows the familiar Pollack formula of relying heavily on contemporaneous newspaper accounts and other primary sources. It’s 559 pages long and chronicles Dempsey’s life through his 1919 conquest of Jess Willard to claim the heavyweight throne. In terms of content, it’s the most detailed of the Dempsey biographies to date.

Today’s interconnected digital world enables research to be conducted more thoroughly and more quickly than ever before. That’s particularly important for Pollack who relies heavily on documents that are a century old in reconstructing the lives of his subjects. He also benefits from a community of boxing historians and fans who forward information to him.

“Writing these books is a passion for me,” Adam says. “I spend some time on them every day. Right now, I’m having a lot of fun working on Part Two of Dempsey. Once he became champion, things really took off – for Dempsey and for boxing. There’s Dempsey-Firpo, Dempsey-Carpentier, the Dempsey-Tunney fights. But my real job is as a criminal defense attorney. That’s how I pay the bills.”

That leaves open the question of whether Pollack will ever go back and forge the missing link in his chain of books by writing a biography of Willard.

“I can’t say never,” Pollack answers. “But at this point, I don’t see myself doing Willard. These books take an enormous amount of time and effort, and I have to balance that against my personal interest in the fighter. Willard had two fights of historic importance – when he beat Jack Johnson and when he lost to Dempsey. I’ve written about these fights in depth in my Johnson and Dempsey books. And Arly Allen did a pretty good job in his biography of Willard. Maybe someday I’ll change my mind. But right now, I’m at peace with not writing a Willard book.”

*     *     *

A lot of players are losing a lot of money in boxing these days. FITE is one company that’s turning a profit.

FITE is a video-streaming and ordering platform with 2.6 million registered users. It has streamed more than 3,500 events during the past five years and was a key player in the financial success of the November 28 exhibition featuring Mike Tyson and Roy Jones. When FOX Pay-Per-View began having technological issues with the December 5 fight between Errol Spence and Danny Garcia, the promotion decided that sharing a larger pie would be preferable to keeping a small pie all for itself and turned to FITE.

FITE will work with any content provider as long as the content meets its standards. It knows who the fight fans are and how to reach them. It’s user friendly and has avoided many of the technological problems that plague similar services.

Many fans (including this one) look askance at an economic model that puts boxing’s biggest fights on pay-per-view. But where it’s available, FITE is a reliable way to order events – large and small – for those who want to.

*     *     *

WBC-IBF 147-pound champion Errol Spence raised his record to 27-0 (21 KOs) with a dominant 12-round performance against Danny Garcia on Saturday night. There were questions before the fight as to whether Spence had fully recovered from injuries sustained in an October 10, 2019, automobile accident. But one had to assume that a less formidable comeback opponent would have been chosen had there been doubts in Errol’s camp about his health or what a punch from Garcia might do to the bone and tissue structure beneath his face.

Garcia (now 36-3, 21 KOs) is a tough out. But at the highest levels of competition, he’s an out. Spence gave Danny next to nothing to work with and had enough hurt on his punches to keep Garcia from challenging his narrative for the flow of the fight. Errol’s jab was effective as an offensive weapon and defensive shield. Danny’s left hook – normally the most potent punch in his arsenal – seemed to have been packed in mothballs for the night.

The judges favored Spence by a 117-111, 116-112, 116-112 margin (which was kind to Garcia, who is now 0-and-3 in fights against Spence, Keith Thurman, and Shawn Porter).

If there’s a criticism of Spence’s performance on Saturday night, it’s that (as was the case when he fought Mikey Garcia twenty months ago) he never put the pedal to the metal in an effort to finish with a knockout.

There are two prospective fights for Spence that matter now. The first would be a 147-pound title unification bout against WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford. The second would be a move up to 154 pounds to challenge Jermell Charlo for supremacy in the junior-middleweight ranks. Ray Leonard sought out challenges like that.

Photo credit: Zoom / Doug Doyle

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Staredown: Another Year in Boxing– was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Thomas Hauser is the author of 52 books. In 2005, he was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America, which bestowed the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism upon him. He was the first Internet writer ever to receive that award. In 2019, Hauser was chosen for boxing's highest honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lennox Lewis has observed, “A hundred years from now, if people want to learn about boxing in this era, they’ll read Thomas Hauser.”

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 274: Yeritsyan vs Randall at Chumash Casino, Japan and More

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Violence of an organized nature begins in the rustic and peaceful surroundings of Santa Inez, California as welterweights Gor Yeritsyan and Quinton Randall headline a 360 Boxing Promotions card at Chumash Casino on Friday.

Hours later, three world championship fights erupt in Japan. And hours after that, super middleweights tangle in Florida.

All will be streamed.

Undefeated Yeritsyan (17-0, 14 KOs) meets Randall (13-1-1, 3 KOs) for the WBC Continental Americas title on Friday, Feb. 23, at Chumash Casino. UFC Fight Pass will stream the 360 Boxing Promotions card.

Others on the card include undefeated super lightweight Cain Sandoval (11-0, 11 KOs) meeting Javier Molina (22-5, 9 KOs) in a battle set for 10 rounds. It’s a stronger test for Sandoval who has blasted out every opponent. Molina is one of the fighting twin brothers who both were Olympians.

Javier was an Olympian in 2008 for the USA and Oscar Molina an Olympian for Mexico in 2012.

“I’ve been hearing about Cain for a while, but I know my skills and experience will give me the victory,” said Molina who fights out of Los Angeles.

Sandoval, 21, last November won by knockout in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“Javier is a very good veteran who has had many more fights than me, but he’s never felt my power before,” said Sandoval who fights out of Sacramento.

Chumash Casino is located near one of the old California missions and built by the Spaniards in 1804. You can see open land for miles with the next nearest town of Solvang a short driving distance away.

Over the decades I’ve seen some memorable fights including Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley’s wild victory over Manuel Garnica in 2007 and Seniesa “Super Bad’ Estrada’s pro debut win in 2011 against Maria Ruiz.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tokyo Hosts Three World Title Fights

It’s a triple-header in Tokyo for real fight lovers.

Early Saturday morning at 1 a.m. (Pacific Time) three world title matches headed by WBC bantamweight titlist Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) of Mexico defending against Japan’s Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) take place.

Santiago defeated legendary champion Nonito Donaire last July in Las Vegas in an upset. He also fought to a draw against Filipino slugger Jerwin Ancajas who is also on this card.

Nakatani is a big hitter and two-division world champion. He is very familiar with Mexican fighters and often trains in Southern California. I saw him in Maywood, California a year ago. He’s quite a fighter.

In the other co-main event WBA bantamweight titlist Takuma Inoue (18-1, 4 KOs) defends against former super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (34-3-2, 23 KOs) of the Philippines. Its speed against power.

A third co-main features WBO super flyweight titlist Kosei Tanaka (19-1, 11 KOs) defending against Mexico’s Christian Bacasegua (22-4-2, 9 KOs).

ESPN+ will stream the card live on Saturday.

Matchroom in Orlando

It’s a showcase for contenders.

Brooklyn native Edgar Berlanga (21-0, 16 KOs) “the Chosen One” meets United Kingdom’s Padraig “the Hammer” McCrory (18-0, 9 KOs) in the super middleweight main event on Saturday, Feb. 24. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card from Orlando, Florida.

Berlanga, of Puerto Rican descent, burst on the pro boxing scene by knocking out 16 consecutive foes. But ever since 2021 he has been unable to win by knockout. Five consecutive opponents went the distance.

Can Berlanga still punch?

Facing the Boricua slugger will be McCrory a 35-year-old from Northern Ireland who remains undefeated. To put it into perspective, the United Kingdom is filled with very good super middleweights and none have beaten McCrory so far.

Also on the card is Cuban Olympic gold medalist Andy Cruz (2-0) defending a regional lightweight title against Mexican southpaw Brayan Zamarripa (14-2, 9 KOs). Cruz has blistering speed and an aggressive style as a pro.

Other interesting fights feature bantamweight prospects Antonio Vargas (17-1) and Jonathan Rodriguez (17-1-1). Both can punch but each lost via knockout. Whose chin will prove sturdier in this clash?

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Gor Yeritsyan (17-0) vs Quinton Randall (13-1-1)

Sat. ESPN+ 1 a.m. Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5) vs Junto Nakatani (26-0).

Sat. DAZN 4 p.m. Edgar Berlanga (21-0) vs Padraig McCrory (18-0).

Photo: Tom Loeffler is flanked by Javier Molina and Cain Sandoval. Photo credit: Lina Baker

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Fighters from Tijuana are on a Roll; Can Alexandro Santiago Keep Up the Momentum?

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Fighters from Tijuana are on a Roll; Can Alexandro Santiago Keep Up the Momentum?

Last Thursday, a Golden Boy Promotions card in California produced an early entrant for Upset of the Year. In the main event, unsung Jesus “Ricky” Perez out-pointed former U.S. Olympian and former two-division title-holder Joseph “Jojo” Diaz.

Perez hails from Tijuana. Heading in, he had lost five of his last nine and had never won a match slated for more than eight rounds. He started fast and held on to win a split nod (ancient ringside judge Lou Moret awarded Perez nine of the 10 rounds).

The fast-growing, hardscrabble city of Tijuana, which sits at the northwest tip of the Baja peninsula, has produced a steady stream of good boxers over the years (Erik Morales, a Hall of Famer, and Antonio Margarito, a two-time world welterweight champion, come quickly to mind), but is currently enjoying arguably the best run in the city’s boxing history. And the distaff side is sharing in the prosperity. Flyweight Kenia Enriquez (28-1, 11 KOs) and her younger sister Tania Rodriguez (21-1, 10 KOs), a light flyweight, are knocking on the door of world title fights (Kenia holds an interim belt).

Last December, when pundits at the leading U.S. boxing websites brainstormed to come up with the 2023 Fight of the Year, two bouts stood out above all others: the Feb. 18 match between super bantamweights Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan and the June 10 super middleweight contest between Jaime Munguia and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

The Nery-Hovhannisyan match was a riveting, see-saw rumble that ended with Nery winning by TKO in the 11th round. Munguia scored a knockdown in the 12th to overcome Derevyanchenko, eking out a razor-thin but unanimous decision. Both victors have since added another “W” to their respective ledgers. Nery (35-1, 27 KOs) KOed Filipino veteran Froilan Saludar. Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) dominated and stopped England’s John Ryder.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Luis Nery and Jaime Munguia were both born and raised in Tijuana. And we will be hearing a lot more about them. Although unofficial, Nery has an agreement in place to fight superstar Naoya Inoue in Tokyo in May and, according to various reports, Munguia is now the frontrunner to be Canelo Alvarez’s next opponent.

The month after Munguia-Derevyanchenko, Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (pictured) scored his signature win and won the vacant WBC world bantamweight title with an upset of the great Filipino fighter Nonito Donaire. Santiago won a clear-cut decision on the card topped by the mega-fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence.

Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) has a formidable challenge for his first title defense which comes on Saturday in Tokyo. In the opposite corner will be undefeated Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) who is moving up in weight after winning world titles at 112 and 115. Nakatani can really crack as he showed with his brutal, one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

There are two other title fights on the card which will air in the U.S. on ESPN+. Needless to say, one will have to get out of bed early to catch all the action. The first bell is slated for 4 am ET, 1 pm PT.

Santiago will be a heavy underdog against his Japanese opponent who will have a 5-inch height advantage. However, if recent history is any guide, one should not be too quick to dismiss his chances.

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Who Murdered Peter Bufala? A ‘Whodunit’ with a Boxing Backdrop

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On Friday, Oct. 8, 1976, Peter Bufala returned home from work just as a new day was dawning. The Las Vegas baccarat dealer pulled his Cadillac into his circular driveway, exited his car, walked toward his front door, and was felled by two bullets from a 9 mm handgun, one entering his chest and the other his brain. A neighbor fetching his morning newspaper found him lying in a pool of blood on his front lawn. He was dead when the police arrived. He was 33 years old and left behind a wife and two young daughters.

A 12-year resident of the fast-growing southern Nevada gambling mecca, Bufala grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, a blue collar suburb of Philadelphia. He had come here to rekindle his boxing career.

A Middle Atlantic amateur featherweight champion, he had begun his pro career on a high note, winning a 4-round decision over a fellow novice on a show at New York’s St. Nicholas Arena that included Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who would go on to fight for the world middleweight title but would be best remembered for the many years he spent behind prison walls for his alleged involvement in a triple homicide.

Following his New York engagement, Bufala fought in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. As a pro, he never fought in his home state and there was a reason for it. In 1961, while undergoing a routine medical examination at an amateur show, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The Pennsylvania Boxing Commission rescinded his license. He subsequently underwent a series of tests at Temple University Medical Hospital and was given a clean bill of health, but the Pennsylvania authorities were unyielding and, bit by bit, in a day when news traveled slowly, other jurisdictions fell into line.

Nevada was the Wild West. The regulators there had looser standards and Bufala resumed his career on Sept. 2, 1964 at the Castaways, out-pointing his opponent in a 5-round match to improve his ledger to 7-3. The publicity man misspelled his name, adding an extra “f”, and he would remain Pete Buffala whenever his name appeared in the sports section of the local papers.

Fifty years ago, in 1964, approximately 165,000 people resided in all of sprawling Clark County, home to Las Vegas. The thought that Vegas would someday host a Formula 1 Grand Prix or a Super Bowl, two of the grandest sports spectacles in the world, was preposterous. The only local sport that ever made the national news wire was boxing.

The fulcrum was Bill Miller, a hot-headed boxing junkie from Elmira, New York, who owned a saloon on the Las Vegas Strip that he out-fitted with a boxing gym in the basement. Miller’s “Strip Fight of the Week,” which bounced from one little casino to another during a run that lasted well over a decade, bucked the national trend. Small fight clubs, with very few exceptions, had fallen by the wayside, a development triggered by the mass production of televisions.

Miller was hardly immune to all the little hassles that plague a grass-roots boxing promoter. Matches were constantly falling out. But he had several things working in his favor. As opportunities dried up elsewhere, journeymen boxers were drawn here by the promise of steady work. And although Miller couldn’t afford to pay enough to make boxing a full-time profession, good-paying jobs were plentiful in the construction and hospitality industries.

To be certain, there were also push factors. Chester, Pennsylvania, a shipbuilding hub during World War II, had fallen on hard times, plagued by unemployment and racial strife. Lowell, Massachusetts, a city known for its vibrant amateur boxing culture, was likewise hurting with row after row of textile factories sitting vacant. Lowell produced Eddie Andrews, a hard-hitting middleweight who would be the first fighter to make promoter Miller any significant money without having to take him on the road to a larger precinct or overseas.

Andrews supplemented his ring earnings dealing blackjack at Caesars Palace. For a time, Ralph Dupas was a co-worker. A former world title-holder at 154 pounds, Dupas settled in Las Vegas in the mid-1960s as his career was winding down and remained here until his encroaching dementia passed the tipping point and family members brought him home to his native New Orleans to live out his final days.

Returning to Peter Bufala, he worked his way up the ladder on Miller’s promotions, eventually topping the marquee for a fight with Johnny Brooks. They fought at the Hacienda, a grind joint at the south end of the Strip (where Mandalay Bay now sits) on April 13, 1965. Brooks was nothing special, but he was better than his 17-6-3 record. He would go on to last the distance in 10-round fights with future Hall of Famers Emile Griffith and Carlos Monzon.

Bufala was bloodied in the third round and knocked down in the fourth, but mounted a furious rally and at the end of the 10 rounds the judges could not pick a winner and the match went into the books as a draw. Working on the “5-point-must” system, the scores were 46-44 Bufala, 46-45 Brooks, and 46-46. (Trivia time: The 46-46 tally was turned in by ringside judge Harry Reid who would go on to become the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate. Nowadays, visitors flying in to Las Vegas arrive at Harry Reid International Airport.)

Had Bufala won the bout, his next fight would have been a 12-rounder against Reno’s Dave Patterson, the Nevada Lightweight Champion. But when he returned to the ring the following month, it was in a 6-rounder against an unsung fighter from Los Angeles named Davey White and, in a shocker, White blasted him out in the second round.

Bufala announced his retirement after this fight. It warranted scarcely a mention in the Las Vegas papers, but the folks back in Chester hadn’t forgotten him. “Pete Bufala Quits Boxing for Health,” read the bold headline on the sports page of the June 9, 1965 issue of the Delaware County Daily Times. The accompanying story said that Buffala, “Chester’s most promising professional fighter,” had emerged from his most recent bout with a blot clot in his neck and was troubled by chronic back problems. (Buffala would have one more fight before quitting the sport for good. He won his final fight, a 6-rounder, bringing his final record, per boxrec, to 16-5-2.)

Bufala never returned to Chester. He married a local girl and, in short order, was a father of three, two girls and a boy who tragically died at 16 months when he crawled into a plastic laundry bag and suffocated as his mother was distracted writing checks.

In December of 1973, the MGM Grand opened on the southeast corner of the busiest intersection on the Las Vegas Strip. This was the city’s original MGM Grand that would take the name Bally’s and was recently re-branded the Horseshoe. With 2,100 rooms, a 1,200-seat showroom and a jai alai fronton, the MGM Grand made its competitors look puny by comparison. Peter Bufala was there on opening night, dealing baccarat.

In terms of the money put at risk, baccarat is the crème-de-crème of card games. It attracts the whales, the high-rollers that leave the biggest tips. On a good night at a high-end establishment like the MGM Grand, it wasn’t uncommon for a dealer to rake in $500 in gratuities. Bufala worked the graveyard shift (likely 9 pm to 5 am; it varied by hotel), the most coveted shift for a dealer in a day when visitors to Las Vegas were more nocturnal than they are today.

One didn’t get to be a baccarat dealer in a ritzy joint by working his way up from the bottom. One had to know the right people. In the vernacular, one got juiced into the job. And the juicer might expect a kick-back.

One of the most influential people in Las Vegas was an outsider who tried to keep a low profile, Gaspare “Jasper” Speciale. A transplanted New York bookmaker, Speciale co-owned and managed the Tower of Pizza restaurant which sat a stone’s throw from the MGM Grand on the opposite side of the street. Speciale opened doors for dozens of people seeking employment in the hospitality industry. If one was new in town and needed work in a hurry, Jasper was the man to see.

Until the arrival in Las Vegas of the notorious Tony Spilotro, Speciale was the city’s premier private money lender. He would eventually serve four years in a federal prison for loan-sharking.

Whenever there was a murder in Las Vegas that had the earmarks of a mob hit, speculation always centered on Gaspare Speciale. It mattered not that he was active in his church and donated lavishly to local charities. Moreover, he had a warm spot in his heart for prizefighters. In the spacious backyard of his home, chockablock with mementos of his boyhood in New York City, there was a replica of Stillman’s Gym complete with a punching bag and rubbing tables.

Another theory, although one that acquired less currency, pointed the finger at Bufala’s father-in-law who was the beneficiary of Peter’s life insurance policy. The two were partners in a small sporting goods store where it was rumored that one could purchase an unregistered firearm.

On the day that Peter Bufala was assassinated, the story about it in the Las Vegas Sun, an afternoon paper, said that the former boxer had no bad habits – he didn’t drink, smoke, gamble or chase women — and that he was well-liked by everyone that knew him. But, said a police detective, “Someone wanted him dead and eventually we’re going to find out who that someone is and why.”

Forty-seven years after the fact, the who and the why remain as baffling as ever. If Peter Bufala were alive today, he would be 80 years old. This is a mystery that will likely never be solved.

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