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The Hauser Report: Literary Notes and Other Nuggets

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“More than anyone else,” Kenneth Bridgham writes, “John Morrissey personified the links between sports, gambling, high finance, politics, and crime in nineteenth-century America.”

That’s the theme of Bridgham’s new book – The Life and Crimes of John Morrissey  – published by Win by KO Publications.

Morrissey was born in Ireland in 1831 and, as a young boy, came to the United States with his parents. He was a thug and a drunk who made his mark as a bare-knuckle prizefighter. Then he became a gaming house owner and was Involved with thoroughbred horseracing at the highest levels. He was, Bridgham writes, “the first true Irish mob boss in American history.”

In 1866, backed by New York’s corrupt and powerful Tammany Hall political machine, Morrisey ran for Congress. His criminal record at the time included four indictments for assault with intent to kill and three for burglary. Despite his past transgressions, he was elected.

Morrissey was an ineffectual Congressman, largely disinterested in and incapable of performing the job properly. After serving two terms, he had a falling out with his Tammany Hall backers and left the House of Representatives. He subsequently served for three years in the New York State legislature after being elected as an anti-Tammany-Hall candidate.

He died in 1878 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the “pioneer” category in 1996.

Bridgham recounts Morrissey’s transformation from violent thug to mob boss to a millionaire businessman who “doubtless attained a significant portion of his wealth through means that were illegal.” The book is thoroughly researched and gives readers a feel for the squalid underside of life in New York as well as bare-knuckle prizefighting in the mid-19th century.

But as Bridgham acknowledges, many of the nineteenth-century tales regarding Morrissey’s life are allegorical. Thus, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. And Bridgham’s writing style is a bit heavy.

Despite the book’s entertaining storyline, The Life and Crimes of John Morrissey reads slowly at times and never quite catches fire. Still, it’s an interesting window onto a bygone era.

*     *     *

Question: What do Leslie Odom Jr (who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the Broadway production of Hamilton), Michael Imperioli (who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos), and Seanie Monaghan (29-3, 17 KOs) have in common?

Answer: They each have roles in the Amazon biopic One Night in Miami that centers on the hours after Cassius Clay knocked out Sonny Liston in Miami Beach to claim the heavyweight championship of the world.

Monaghan retired from boxing in 2019 and works nights as the supervisor on a construction project. During the past year, he has helped home school his children (Seanie Jr, age 9, and Maria, age 6) during the day because their school was closed as a consequence of the coronavirus.

Monaghan was cast in the film as Henry Cooper after Gerry Cooney recommended him to Hollywood veteran Robert Sale.

“They filmed my scene in New Orleans in February right before the coronavirus hit,” Seanie recounts. “I was down there for a week, and it was pretty cool. The first few days, I worked with the stunt coordinator going through the routine. I shared a dressing room with Michael Imperioli and told myself not to annoy him. But he was very nice. And in my free time, I walked around New Orleans to see what it was like.”

“Filming the scene where Cooper knocks Clay down was bizarre,” Seanie recalls. “At first, I was throwing punches that for a boxer would be correct. And they kept saying, ‘Throw them wider so it looks good on camera.’ It was the opposite of everything I’d been drilled on for years. Also, I can throw a punch and miss by an inch. But the actor who played Cassius Clay was getting nervous, so they told me to miss by a foot. Throw wide and miss by a foot. So that’s what I did, and they’d say, ‘That’s great, Seanie. That looks great.'”

Will there be more acting in Monaghan’s future?

“The stunt coordinator and Robert Sale said they’d like to use me again,” Seanie reports. “They even suggested that I move to Los Angeles so I could train actors to box and get more parts. But I’m a Long Island guy. That’s where my life is now.”

One Night in Miami focuses on the relationship between Cassius Clay, football great Jim Brown, soul singer Sam Cooke, and Malcolm X.

“I’m reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” Seanie says. “It’s a special book. I didn’t read as much as I should have when I was young, but I read a lot now. ”

*     *     *

Over the years, several feature films about boxing have been entitled Knockout. Recently, I watched the 1941 film of that name.

The plot is typical for its era. Middleweight contender Johnny Rocket (played by Arthur Kennedy) decides to quit boxing and begin a new life with his soon-to-be bride, Angela Grinnelli (Olympe Bradna). Johnny’s plan is to become an instructor at a gym and eventually open up a health spa of his own. But his unscrupulous manager, Harry Trego (Anthony Quinn), doesn’t want to lose the money that Johnny generates. So, he arranges to have Johnny fired from his new job and makes it impossible for him to find employment elsewhere. With Angela now pregnant, Johnny is desperate for money and returns to the ring. Back in action, he catches the eye of socialite Gloria Van Ness (Virginia Field), whose father owns a major newspaper and has assigned his daughter to write about boxing as a lark.

“Maybe I’ll write a story about you one of these days,” Gloria tells Johnny.

“Well, maybe I’ll give you an interview one of these days,” Johnny counters.

Eventually, a love rectangle develops. The evil Gloria seduces Johnny as her boy toy. Angela, who still loves Johnny, leaves him because of his philandering and is pursued by the gentlemanly Tom Rossi (Cornel Wilde) who has a crush on her.

Meanwhile, Johnny gets greedier and more insufferable with each ring victory. Finally, he decides to manage himself, at which point Trego arranges for a “chemically prepared mouthpiece” to do Johnny in. Incapacitated as a consequence of being drugged, Johnny is knocked out. Worse, because of his poor performance, he’s accused of taking a dive and barred from fighting by the state athletic commission. At that point, Gloria Van Ness loses interest in him.

Thereafter, Johnny fights under assumed names in small arenas across the country, getting knocked out for short money. Eventually, he suffers a brain bleed and is told that his fighting career is over.

“I guess I’ve been a fool,” Johnny tells Angela after she pays his hospital bill despite their being separated.

But Tom Rossi (remember him?) isn’t about to abandon his pursuit of Angela. He confronts Johnny and tells him, “I’ve thought about it a lot. And I figured, if you ever came back, we’d better have it out. You had your chance with Angela and you threw it away. You haven’t any right to ask for another. All you’ve ever given her is a lot of grief and tears. She trusted you and believed in you, and you let her down. The one decent thing you can do now is get out of her life completely so she can have a little happiness. The only feeling she has left for you is pity.”

Johnny decides that Tom is right and takes one more fight, knowing that doctors have told him that one more punch could kill him. Angela finds out about it, rushes to the arena, and throws a towel into the ring to stop the fight as Johnny is being brutalized. Johnny and Angela are happily reunited, and he takes a job working at a camp for children.

If that all sounds corny; well, it is.

The fight scenes in Knockout are cartoonish. The actors who portray the fighters don’t look like fighters. And their boxing technique makes Logan Paul look like Andre Ward. The film is mindless entertainment. But there are times when it’s fun.

*     *     *

Total Olympics by Jeremy Fuchs (Workman Publishing) is short on boxing. But there’s one piece of trivia that might be of interest to fans of the sweet science.

In 1920, a Yale college student named Eddie Eagan won an Olympic gold medal in boxing in the light-heavyweight division. Four years later, he sought to medal again – this time as a heavyweight – but lost in the first round of competition. Thereafter, Eagan hung up his gloves and embarked upon a career as a lawyer. But his competitive fire remained strong. So strong that he took up bobsledding and won a gold medal at the 1932 Winter Olympics as a member of the United States four-man bobsledding team. He later served (from 1945 through 1951) as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission.

To this day, Eagan is the only Olympian to win a gold medal at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

*     *     *

And a non-boxing literary note . . .

With fewer good fights to watch these days and no press conferences or other boxing-related events to attend, I’ve been reading more lately.

I love books. At last count, I had roughly 4,500 on floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in my apartment. It’s a nice collection and a passageway to the wisdom of the ages.

Some of my books are valuable. There’s a nine-volume set printed in 1802 that has all of William Shakespeare’s plays. Each volume is 27-by-13 inches in size and illustrated with extraordinary engravings. The great majority of my books are of little monetary worth. But the collection as a whole has enormous sentimental value to me.

Several shelves in my library are devoted to young adult classics, many in editions published in the early twentieth century by Charles Scribner’s Sons with illustrations by N.C. Wyeth. These books have a special feel. Their heavy paper, large type, exquisite art, and yellowing pages draw a reader back in time.

Recently, I took Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson off the shelf and began to read.

Stevenson was born in Scotland in 1850. Treasure Island is his most famous work. It appeared in installments in a magazine called Young Folks in 1881 and 1882 and was published in book form one year later. “It was to be a story for boys,” Stevenson later explained. “No need of psychology or fine writing.”

Treasure Island shaped the image of pirates for generations of young readers. It’s a wonderful page-turner and an easy read. There’s lots of drama with pitched battles, a map telling the location of buried treasure, and sayings that have become part of the vernacular (“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum”).

Jim Hawkins – in his mid-teens at the time the events in question occur – is the story’s narrator. He’s joined by characters like Dr. Livesey, John Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Ben Gunn, and – most memorably – Long John Silver.

Silver is the tale’s primary antagonist and one of the most treacherous, manipulative, greedy, cunning, clever, opportunistic, deceitful, charismatic characters in young adult literature. Sort of like Don King.

Treasure Island carries with it the imprimatur of the ages and is a gateway to earlier times. Stevenson left the date of the adventure open, but indications are that the tale he recounts is set in the late-1700s. The book itself, though written in the early 1880s, was immensely popular with boys through the first half of the twentieth century.

I remember being seven or eight years old and my father reading Treasure Island to me – one chapter at a time – when he put me to bed at night. It was a way of linking his childhood to my own.

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Staredown: Another Year Inside 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, he was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Rest In Peace Eder Jofre

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“I just thrill at that boy’s performance. He is a marvel of boxing perfection. There is nothing he cannot do.” – Barney Ross.

Between 1957 when he turned professional and 1965 when Fighting Harada caught up with him, Eder Jofre was 46-0-3. He reached heights that so few fighters have reached that you could probably name them without straining. He passed away this morning in Sau Paulo, Brazil, from pneumonia aged eighty-six. He had been hospitalised since March.

To say that his was a life well lived is an understatement.

Jofre was born in Sau Paulo in 1936, a decade that reflected this one in that it was a time of great political upheaval in his beloved Brazil, the thirties seeing the end of the Brazilian Republic, a communist uprising, a fascist uprising, and iterations of new constitutions peeled off like playing cards. It seemed to be sport, not politics that drove Jofre’s people though and his father had tried a fair hand at amateur boxing, later joining his brother to become a coach. The stars aligned and a fistic immortal rose from Brazil’s political ruins.

“At a young age,” wrote Chris Smith, author of the definitive Jofre biography Brazil’s First Boxing Champion, “[his father] put the gloves on Eder and started teaching him techniques and punching patterns…it wasn’t long before little Eder was jumping rope with the professionals.”

By the time he was seven years old, he was training like an amateur boxer and soberly asking his father’s permission to thrash school bullies. By the age of sixteen he was fighting as an amateur and in 1956 he was a part of the Brazilian Olympic team that travelled to Melbourne, Australia where he was eliminated before the medals by Chilean Claudio Barrientos – who would be stopped in eight rounds by Jofre when they met up again in the professional ranks.

Those professional ranks beckoned him a few months after his Olympic failure, the same time at which he decided to become a vegetarian, something he remained committed to until his death.  Early results were good. While Jofre was troubled by a tiny handful of South American draws, a local phenomenon that called for a wider separation of the fighters that was generally called for in the rest of the world, “O Galo De Ouro” as he would soon come to be known had set upon the road that would culminate in one of the finest runs in bantamweight and boxing history.

Another foible of the South American boxing landscape of the 1950s and 1960s was that in the unlikely event that you were able to free yourself from the massed banditry of the local toughs, you would often have to meet with ranked opposition before you were even allowed to contest for regional titles. Imagine the horror this notion would inflict upon the rather spoiled fighters of today, fighters who often achieve world championships without having to meet with the best.

For his part, Jofre ran up against the Filipino Leo Espinosa in June of 1959. Espinosa, a former flyweight, had extended the immortal Pascual Perez the full fifteen in 1956, even picking up a few rounds, before conquering a man who would soon be a fine champion in his own right, Pone Kingpetch, in 1957. He had a pedigree in excess of Jofre who had boxed just twenty-five contests.  Jofre admitted to his father before this fight that he was afraid, and his father suggested they cancel.

“No.  That’s the way it is.  Afraid or not, I am fighting.”

Such was his life.

It was not just Jofre’s career which was in its infancy but also the boxing in Brazil – Espinosa seems to have been only the second world-class fighter to visit the country and so as Eder went, so did boxing in Brazil. Jofre did not let his countrymen down. In the fifth he dropped the visiting Filipino with a gorgeous left hook – there is a famous photograph of Jofre bouncing, looking away from his fallen foe, his feet not touching the ground, frozen with both feet an inch above the canvas, floating. Espinosa got his disorganised legs under him and although he remained cool as Jofre’s battle-fever and inexperience showed, there was little likelihood of his winning after suffering such a blow. Jofre had graduated in a ten-round decision.

This set him loose on the trail of the South American Bantamweight title, a far more worthy, storied championship than it is today and held by the world-ranked Argentine Ernesto Miranda. For those who are not aware, Argentina-Brazil is as great a sporting rivalry as exists and his series with Miranda was the key rivalry of the first half of Jofre’s career. The two had met twice in 1957, registering a pair of draws before their respective careers diverged, and now they were to settle matters for the title. Their third fight, in February of 1960, was a strange affair in which Eder fought aggressively but was made to miss by Miranda, who never looked like winning but who boxed carefully enough to undermine Jofre’s offence.

This lack of aggression makes Miranda’s behaviour prior to their fourth encounter a few months later even stranger. Miranda behaved like a man fueled by hate, even stooping so low as to send insulting letters to Jofre’s wife and family. One must be wary of projecting on to great historical figures in unpicking their motives but here it seems to me is a key moment for Jofre. His bad intentions seem to me to have been unlocked by Miranda, not just in the fourth and final fight of their rivalry but for all time. Not even world-class opposition would be safe after this night.

It was not that Jofre was more aggressive than in their third fight, but rather he seems to have been more controlled. He missed less, countered more and made a backfoot fight impossible for Miranda.  They waged war with not a moment’s doubt as to the outcome. It was Jofre in three. After destroying his rival in the ring, Jofre the man found it within himself to forgive Miranda for some obscene pre-fight behaviour and even take him into his confidences.

It was inevitable now that Jofre would receive a shot at the title although for the privilege, Jofre had to travel to Los Angeles where he dominated and stopped the overmatched Eloy Sanchez in November of 1960. A brief and disturbing brush with the Italian Mafia aside, the championship fight went off without a hitch. Jofre cheerly named the bantamweight title a wedding gift for his wife-to-be.

In 1961 Jofre was matched with the world-class Italian Piero Rollo. Rollo had been beaten before, but never stopped by punches – so brutally did Jofre handle him that he was unable to answer the bell for the tenth. It was a sensational display of total dominance.

“I am never in a hurry,” Jofre explained, that control again.

“He is the best bantam in the world,” offered a barely recognisable Rollo.

I submit that Jofre was by this point already technically complete. When he met Johnny Caldwell the following year – Caldwell, too, made the awful mistake of making his contest with Jofre personal – he was as beautifully balanced as it is possible for a fighter to be, almost never out of punching position, delivering on boxing’s manual on shot after shot while also riffing on the classics. His uppercut, especially, was a thing of genuine beauty; Jofre could make space for that punch almost anywhere and throw it from unusual ranges and angles, making of it then a feint that certainly tied Caldwell in knots. An unbeaten Northern Irishman, it is hard to exaggerate just how tough this man was, but Jofre beat him so badly as to see him rescued by his distressed manager in the tenth.

The title picture, which had become confused by the retirement of Jose Becerra, was now clear – it was Jofre. Indisputably the world’s number one bantamweight, he would remain so for the first half of the 1960s, dismissing Herman Marquez, Kat Aoki, and, against the man most likely to rule if Jofre had never been born, he repeated his 1960 knockout of Jose Medel, this time in just six rounds. In 1964 he turned in his last great winning performance against Bernardo Caraballo, one of the most underrated bantamweights of all and the most underrated bantamweight of the era. Caraballo, out of Colombia, passed away himself earlier this year, and just as Jofre led the charge for boxing in Brazil, so did Caraballo in his country.

In the 1960s, in their primes, they duke it out ring-centre for control, both stylists, both big for the weight, both hungry for personal and national glory. This, I suspect, is not a fight any 118lb man could win against Jofre and soon enough Caraballo is moving away square, disorganised, harassed.  He succumbed in seven.

Jofre spans the eras. When he won his titles he was boxing for the old incarnations, the NYSAC, the NBA, by the time he lost them, he was defending the WBC and WBA championships, certainty ebbed even as his greatness flowed. The wonderful Fighting Harada was the man who came for him, by then tight at the weight and giving up a clear style advantage to his Japanese foe, Jofre was still able to make the rematch razor-thin after dropping a clear decision in the first fight. More glory awaited at featherweight in something of a second career, but Jofre’s best was behind him. He finally hung them up in 1976 during Muhammad Ali’s second reign; when he turned professional, Rocky Marciano had just retired.

This is a very short version of a very great ring-career. What is not posited here is his personal life. Eder’s was rich. He was happily married to Cidinha for more than fifty years; he had a close relationship with his children, who travelled with him, not least in his twilight years when Jofre revisited the site of his title-winning fight with Eloy Sanchez. He lived a life any one of us could be proud of after boxing, working in politics and Brazilian civil service, continuing to make friends right up until the very end.

I spoke to author Chris Smith about his enduring memory of Jofre, with whom he worked closely on their recently published book.

“A year ago, I had the pleasure of hosting him and his two kids and I asked him a few times “how are you feeling champ?” And he’d always respond “very, very happy.”  He told me he was the happiest person in the world.”

Beat that.

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Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Returns plus Local Philly Fight News

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Still coming out of a global pandemic which suspended the 2020 ceremony and forced a limited version of the celebratory weekend last year, 2022 marks not only a return to normalcy for the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBHOF), but it gives a chance for fans to get the full interactive experience. This year, for the first time, all of the weekend’s festivities including the Induction Ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 9, will take place at one location, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

“This year we are really excited about the new things we have to offer fans, while we continue to deliver the type of access we’ve become known for,” states ACBHOF founder Ray McCline. “We want fans to understand that this weekend [second weekend of October] is going to be our home from now on. Working with Hard Rock has been special, and they’ve helped us with a lot of the logistics to really blend what they do [music entertainment] with the sports world and our event.” After listening to McCline passionately speaking about his goal to bring the sports legends and legendary fights back to life for the proud resort city that has a special role in boxing history, a sense of relief can be heard from McCline regarding the past obstacles the ACBHOF has dealt with.

“So far each of the past weekends have had their hiccups, those things happen when you’re hosting such a large event with so many moving pieces. This partnership allows for fans to come to one main site and stay immersed in all things boxing and music for the whole weekend,” says McCline. From the opening V.I.P. party on Friday night to the memorabilia show that will feature interactive displays with some of the sport’s legends teaching boxing basics, McCline wants the Hall of Fame Weekend to be known as the weekend when both fans and legendary boxers mingle in an up-close and personal way.

This year’s class includes Lennox Lewis, James Toney, Frank Fletcher, Kathy Duva (promoter), Kevin Rooney Sr. (trainer), and Pat Lynch (manager). Except for the V.I.P. party that starts the weekend and the Induction Ceremony that closes out the weekend, every other event is free and open to the public, notes McCline.

Some tickets remain for the kick-off party and ceremony. Fans interested in attending can visit ACBHOF for all the details.

____

Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions is presenting a show tonight (Saturday, Oct. 1) at Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena featuring bantamweight standout Christian Carto (19-1, 13 KOs) taking on his toughest test since his return. He battles Argentina’s Hector Sosa (14-1, 8 KOs) the former South American super bantamweight champion. Carto is always in fan-friendly fights and with a victory over Sosa can reemerge as a potential world championship challenger soon.

Light heavyweight Atif Oberlton (6-0, 5 KOs) returns to action in the co-feature. Oberlton was an accomplished amateur and many local boxing observers are dubbing the Philadelphian a future world champion.

Next weekend, on Friday night October 7th, several staples in Philadelphia boxing return to the Xcite Event Center at Parx Casino in Bensalem. Joe Hand Promotions and Joey “Tank” Dawejko (22-10-4, 13 KOs) are teaming up with Hall of Fame promoter Russell Peltz for a night of action featuring some of the best local talent.

Dawejko, a long-time fringe heavyweight contender from the Tacony section of the city fought off any talk of retirement on Sept. 1 when he scored a fourth-round stoppage over Mike Marshall (6-3-1, 4 KOs). Dawejko was back in the ring for the first time in seven months after deciding to make one final push towards heavyweight glory.

Dawejko takes on veteran Terrell Jamal Woods (28-53-9, 20 KOs) of Forrest City, AR, in a scheduled eight-round bout. Prior to his victory over Marshall, Dawejko contemplated hanging up his gloves in favor of the roofing business that he established this year. However, after a lengthy conversation with promoter Russell Peltz, the two agreed to team up again for one last run in the sport. At just 32 years old, Dawejko has had a fruitful career and not just from a financial standpoint. He has competed all over the world and has never turned down an opportunity at a big fight, or to join top contenders and champions in their training camps.

Many of Dawejko’s major career opportunities were taken at the last minute. This last push by him is about finally reaching for the one thing missing from his professional career, a gold belt that he can display that signifies that he was at one point one of the best heavyweights on the planet. Against Marshall he displayed fast hands and pin-point accuracy and his fight against Woods on Oct. 7 should be no different in terms of action and his progression.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 205: Zurdo Ramirez and More SoCal Fight Talk

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Southern California gyms are heating up even more than usual with major prize fights on the horizon in October.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez greeted media in downtown Los Angeles recently to chat about his upcoming light heavyweight world championship challenge against WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol in Dubai.

Usually, downtown L.A. is busy with walking and driving traffic, but things are not completely back to normal says the security officer at the Golden Boy Promotions headquarters. The pandemic is still in effect to a small degree.

Mexico’s Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs) signed to meet Russia’s Bivol (20-0,11 KOs) on Nov. 5, at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It’s a battle of undefeated light heavyweights and round two of Mexico versus Russia.

It was a mere five months ago that Bivol hung a loss over Mexico’s number one fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Now he meets Ramirez who is several inches taller than Canelo.

Ramirez (pictured with Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez) trains in Los Angeles and signed with Golden Boy primarily for one reason: he wanted a crack at stardom and to fight a world champion with clout. Enter Bivol who slapped Alvarez around for 12 rounds. Neither fighter was ever in danger of going down. Bivol won by unanimous decision.

Many say Bivol was too big for Alvarez, but I think Canelo simply has slipped a little in terms of preparing properly. I call it the “silk pajama syndrome.”

It’s hard to get up at 5 a.m. and train when you sleep in silk pajamas. Ever since Alvarez began hanging out with the yacht club guys and playing golf on a regular basis, he’s lost that hunger. If you’re a prizefighter, hunger is everything.

Canelo admits he plays golf almost every day including during his training periods. He’s also been seen attending Del Mar Racetrack to watch the ponies. Upper crust kind of stuff.

Ramirez, on the other hand, though he doesn’t appear like the usual Mexican roughneck, has a certain schoolboy kind of look. No one would ever guess he comes from a rough Sinaloa upbringing.

Even his manner of talk has a gentle charm.

‘I feel happy and excited to fight for the title with Dmitry Bivol,” said Ramirez inside the Golden Boy headquarters. “I’m ready to show in this fight what I can really do. I’m ready for whatever he brings to the ring.”

Both Bivol and Ramirez have sparred before.

“We didn’t do a lot of sparring,” said Ramirez, adding that it was enough to surmise what to expect when they meet in November.

Another who sparred Ramirez is former two-time super middleweight titlist David Benavidez. Both sparred recently and when asked who was better, Ramirez leaned toward Benavidez.

Interesting.

Zurdo and Benavidez also want a crack at Canelo the Golden Fleece of boxing. But the red head from Guadalajara has balked.

Though Benavidez and Ramirez are very good and capable of giving Canelo a struggle, neither has made a mark on sales. It’s one thing to be undefeated; it’s an entirely different thing to attract fans on television or sell tickets.

If Ramirez beats Bivol he is on the right path. If Benavidez, a very strong fighter, can attract a big name to enter the prize ring with him, then he too can entice Canelo to a showdown.

Jojo and Zepeda in San Diego

Another who appeared in Golden Boy headquarters were lightweight contenders Jojo Diaz and William Zepeda set to clash at the end of October in San Diego.

Diaz, a former American Olympian and two division world champion, last fought in December 2021 against Devin Haney before Haney became undisputed lightweight world champion. Diaz did far better than George Kambosos did against Haney.

The former featherweight and super featherweight world titlist showed moving up in weight was not a problem. And though he lost to Haney, he competed at a high level and landed solidly far more often than the Aussie did.

“When I looked at the tape I saw I could have done more,” said Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs) about his loss to Haney.

Now, the South El Monte fighter has a Mexican fighter streaking toward the top in Zepeda.

Mexico City’s Zepeda (26-0, 23 KOs) burst on the American scene two years ago during the height of the pandemic and soundly defeated two ranked American fighters in Roberto Ramirez and Hector Tanajara. Add two more knockout wins since then and the hard-hitting southpaw has blazed a path to the top.

Now its lefty versus lefty at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego on Saturday Oct. 29. Tickets are now on sale.

“I’m facing a very talented young fighter,” said Zepeda, 26. “It can be a good victory to beat a former world champion.”

Diaz, 29, expects and desires only hard fights.

“This fight represents everything. I’m coming off a defeat to Devin Haney,” said Diaz. “I’ve got a big set of balls and love to fight the best.”

It’s a Golden Boy Promotions card and will also feature the return of welterweight contender Alexis Rocha.

Commerce Casino

Six undefeated prospects are set to perform on Saturday Oct. 1, at Commerce Casino in the City of Commerce, California. The boxing card is staged by Elite Promotions and Red Boxing and partnering with nonprofit Breast Cancer Angles from Los Alamitos, Calif. to support their cause.

Situated near East Los Angeles, the casino has recently become a popular location for local club shows. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Expected to perform on the fight card are Brandon Mendoza, Cristopher Rios, and William King. For more information contact: redboxinginternational@gmail.com.

Premier Boxing Champions

Super welterweight contenders Sebastian Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs) and Mexico’s Carlos Ocampo (34-1, 22 KOs) meet on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Dignity Sports Park Complex in Carson, Calif. Showtime will televise the interim WBC super welterweight title fight.

Known as the “Towering Inferno” because of his 6’5” height, Fundora lives and trains in Southern California and defeated world title challenger Erikson Lubin by technical knockout last April in Las Vegas. He’s trained by Ben Lira.

Tickets are on sale for the card that also features Dominican fighter Carlos Adames who upset Sergiy Derevyanchenko last December by majority decision. Adames meets Mexico’s Juan Macias Montiel who battled Jermall Charlo 12 rounds and lost by decision for the WBC middleweight title.

SoCal note

Riverside’s veteran trainer Willy Silva contacted us to mention his nephew Sebastian Estrada (4-0, 4 KOs) faces undefeated Fidel Samano Lopez (5-0, 4 KOs) in a battle of undefeated super lightweights on Saturday in San Luis Rio, Mexico. It’s the main event.

Silva has trained many former top contenders such as Mauricio Herrera, Carlos Bojorquez, and Jose Reynoso the nephew of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s first trainer Jose “Chepo” Reynoso.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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