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Every Joe Gans Lightweight Title Fight – Part 6: Charley Sieger and Gus Gardner

Matt McGrain

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Where did you get this fellow? – Joe Gans, November 14 1902.

I have embarked upon some difficult projects over the past thirteen years writing about boxing but nothing as challenging as this. Joe Gans was popular in his own time but sourcing information about him is difficult. He was, after all, a sportsman and not a president and he stopped boxing well over a hundred years ago.

Fortunately, Sergei Yurchenko has done a great deal of good work in the area of making understanding Joe Gans less difficult. Sergei isn’t my writing partner in any traditional sense and English is not even his first language, but I am very happy to say that there is no Russian anywhere who knows more about Joe Gans than he. It might be that there is nobody of any nationality than knows more about Joe Gans than he.

If I have questions, he has been able to answer them, and then I have done my best to bring those answers to you. Any failure to do so is mine and not his. So, give his website a click here; this is a site aimed directly at boxing obsessives with an interest in the history, and if you are reading part six of this series, you are that.

So let me take you back once more, this time to Autumn of 1902. Theodore Roosevelt had just become the first American President to ride in a car; Mount Pelée again erupts in Martinique, killing a thousand people; the first ever science-fiction film was released to stunned audiences in Paris, France; and Joe Gans took a month off.

When he returned to the ring it was to defend his title against contender Charley “The Iron Man” Sieger. Prior to October of 1902, Sieger would have been a fighter with no right to occupy a ring holding Joe Gans for any reason other than to provide sparring, but on the third of that month, Sieger beat out a fading George McFadden over twenty rounds and in Baltimore no less, where Gans still made his base. McFadden, perhaps still reeling from the three-round pasting he received at the hands of Gans, started so slowly as to cede the first five rounds and clawing the deficit back was clearly beyond him. Repeatedly slashes to the neck and upper torso left McFadden’s skin red-raw and although Sieger lacked power, he appeared quick-handed and accurate.

More than this he was at that time known for durability and although McFadden made the occasional impression upon him with uppercuts and right hands, he was never turned away.

Sieger stated his intention at the outset to make a match with Joe Gans should he beat McFadden and although Buddy King, a lightweight who was making waves out in Denver seemed to be in the frame, it was soon clear that it would be Sieger. McFadden tried to insert himself into the conversation with talk of a bad training camp and the poor climate disagreeing with him, but his time as a contender was over.

Gans began his training in Baltimore with Herman Miller and Raymond Coates, arriving at the gym in fair shape, impressing when he performed before an audience in the Eureka Athletic Club and finished his training in Leiperville, Pennsylvania where no less a figure than Young Peter Jackson arrived to provide serious opposition in sparring. No detailed account of their spars seems to have survived, such occurrences commonplace to those who witnessed them, such nonchalance almost beyond belief to those with an interest in such things now – suffice to say there was as much skill and guile on display in those spars as would be present in most fight-rings for the first half of the twentieth century. Jackson would meet the immortal Joe Walcott twice after these spars and lost neither contest.

Gans believed he would win, according to The Baltimore Sun, “but as usual, he did not boast.”  Sieger, meanwhile, was training in Baltimore’s Maryland Gym aided by several fighters including featherweight Tommy Daly. “[He] is working hard,” reported The Baltimore American, “as he realizes that this is the chance of his life.”

Sieger has the appearance, now, of an unsatisfactory defence, but this was not so in the moment.  New Yorkers began hunting tickets, some of them through the Broadway Athletic Club, which took notice. A short piece in The Baltimore Morning Herald described Sieger’s status in New York that of a valid contender. He was regarded in New York as “the coming lightweight champion”. New York letters began to arrive in Baltimore seeking odds. Sieger was himself was reportedly confident, although early in fight week he spoke only of “lasting the distance” a target that he perhaps felt might afford him opportunities to score the knockout blow as the fight came down the straight.

This was arguably valid strategy and a notion explored by too few Gans opponents at this time.  A strange tussle at the halfway point of his first fight with Frank Erne had seen Gans quit; he had been stopped very late in a twenty-five-round contest with McFadden; Gans certainly had his successes over the longer distance, but he had two longform draws, too. Extending him may have seemed a reasonable strategic choice in late 1902.

Gans appeared ready when he arrived in Baltimore from his camp in Leiperville on the very day of the contest. Sieger met him at three that afternoon for the weigh-in where they both hit the 133lb mark whereupon Sieger decamped for the Germania Maennerchor Hall where he set out to survive for the distance of twenty rounds with the new championship edition of Joe Gans.

It was a fool’s errand; but such was the bravery and determination with which he set himself forth to achieve the unachievable that he emerged with his reputation enhanced. “In Sieger’s dictionary,” reported The Baltimore American, “there is not written the word quit.” The same paper noted that for Gans, Sieger represented little more than “an animated punching bag.”

Gans did take the first two rounds to feel Sieger out but in the third he let loose with a violent attack and in essence, he never let up. “These blows seemed to take all the steam out of Sieger,” according to The New York Evening World, “for he weakened fast after that and was merely a punching ball for Gans.”

Keep in mind Sieger’s defeat of McFadden, just five weeks before.

“In the fourth round,” continued The American, “Gans made Seiger’s mouth bleed, and the hemorrhage [sic] was profuse for the balance of the fight, giving the scene that lurid glare of blood that adds to the aspect of the terrible.”

After the fourth, the fight took on the character of a mere slaughter as Gans battered Sieger around the ring mercilessly upon learning what would be the key characteristic of the fight: Sieger could not hurt him. He was gamely throwing punches but even the ones that breached the Gans defence did no harm. Gans was able to go about his work with a bloodless cool that is rarely seen in the prize ring, sure in his invincibility, able to bring forward his killing offence earlier than may otherwise have been the case. Keeping track of the knockdowns is not possible as the frequency with which Sieger was dropped confused eyewitnesses. Even Gans was astonished by Sieger’s performance, turning to Sieger’s manager Billy Roche and asking, “where did you get this fellow?”

“Gans sent his opponent to the mat a dozen times, landed over two-score of terrific right-hand blows on the jaw, yet Sieger always came to his feet ready and eager for the fray,” reported The Baltimore Morning Herald. “In fact, Gans became disgusted with himself several times. Once, when a right-hand hook on the jaw failed to send Sieger down, he scrutinized his glove as if to see if something was the matter.”

Gans set out showing a preference for the short left-hook that had got work done for him in so many fights but soon he added a long, lashing right-hand, his usual fondness for bodywork departed. In the tenth, Gans sent Sieger to the canvas three times and in the eleventh, the Kansas City Star counted “fourteen right swings on Sieger’s jaw.” The brutality of the assault almost beggared belief but Sieger, to his enormous credit, managed to mount some offence in the twelfth and thirteenth, for all that he was soundly beaten in both. Gans finally put him out of his misery in the fourteenth.

“His face smeared with blood,” testified The American, “trembling with faintness and yet the very personification of brute courage and pluck” Sieger finally found himself crawling upon his hands and knees, “feebly waving his arms and trying desperately to stagger to his feet to meet that awful mauling that Gans was giving him.”

Sieger’s corner belatedly threw up the sponge, protecting their charge from himself. Gans, as impressed as he had been during his short time as champion, “rushed” to Sieger’s corner and named him the gamest man he had ever met. Storied referee Charley White named Sieger the gamest fighter he had ever seen; a series of men with neither the courage nor the sufferance to draw the best from Gans had been supplanted by a challenger with neither the power nor the skill to compete, but the heart and the jaw and the sheer bloody-mindedness to force Gans to work.

Gans mercilessness impressed, but in truth Sieger’s gameness impressed more and as it was so shall it ever be. More than anything, his astonishing effort was a foil for Joe’s next title defence.

Game, too, was his next non-title opponent, Howard Wilson, who pulled himself repeatedly from the canvas before being rescued by his seconds in the third, just one month later. On New Year’s Eve Gans met Sieger again, over ten rounds and for the most part left him alone until the final third of the fight when he tried once more to put him away and failed, Sieger as determined in December as he had been a few weeks before. Gans had to settle for a draw, as agreed in the event of Sieger reaching the end. He leaves our story now; it is fitting that he does so having heard the final bell he had dreamed of, even if it was not in his one and only title-fight.

The very next day, in an arrangement we can scarcely believe in more modern times, Joe Gans was scheduled for a second fight, this one over the longer distance of twenty rounds against one Gus Gardner. Gardner, you may remember, was guilty of fighting scared in a confusion of a fight for which he weighed in at 138lbs. Fearful, and a failure in that he was blasted out in five, six round wins over the likes of Erne and McFadden helped keep him in position for a title shot against a Gans, who was bound to be at least slightly fatigued after ten rounds of tough sparring the day before. The draw, the dollar was everything in this era. If Gans could spin some quick cash matching a fighter who was chanceless in his ring, he would unashamedly take it, and somewhere there were trainers, managers and seconds who believed Gardner could somehow get the job done.

He could not get the job done.

“Gardner,” reported The New York World, “resorted to almost every foul trick he knew, except biting.” The Philadelphia man fought with no more bravery than he had in 1902, less, if that was possible. Gans, who was aided in his corner by Herford and by old foe Jack McCue, was clinched by Gardner “at every opportunity” and drew repeated warnings from the referee. By the eighth he was throwing himself to the canvas to avoid punishment. In the eleventh, having three times driven his knee into the lightweight champion, Gardner perpetrated upon Gans what can only be described as a rugby tackle, seizing him around the waist and throwing him forcibly to the floor. The thoroughly disgusted referee immediately awarded the fight to Gans.

“Cool and self-contained as an oyster the lightweight champion defended his title with the masterly skill of a champion ring general,” summarised the Baltimore Morning Herald. “There was no round of his battle with Gardner, in which Gans took the lesser honors, although he did not get strongly under way till after the fourth round…during the last four rounds Gardner took the count five times and landed barely a blow.”

Despite this miserable showing, Gardner was actually given an ovation as the tenth round ended and the eleventh began. Gardner was overwhelmingly expected to capitulate before the tenth was over and despite the fact that he tripped, pushed, grabbed and ran from Gans without trying to mount any offence, he was admired for making the eleventh. He was, at least, hissed and booed by the sixteen hundred in attendance as his clear plan to get himself disqualified once the eleventh was sighted was revealed.

Such were the trials and travails of the lightweight champion as 1903 dawned. In November of the previous year, Frank Erne had finally been eliminated by Jimmy Britt and all talk of a third fight between he and Gans was forestalled. Britt, meanwhile, in a strange and perverse twist, named himself the first “White Lightweight Champion.”

This was troublesome for Gans. First, Britt had stated publicly that he would not break the colour line under any circumstances, that he would not find occasion to match a fighter of African descent regardless of which title he might hold. This meant that he had a top contender who was not only actively avoiding him but who was also naming himself “champion.” Gans would have been only too aware that America of the early 1900s might find Britt the more palatable of the two champions, resulting in dollars being siphoned away from Gans and towards Britt as the two staged “defences.”  As modern fans beguiled by as many as six champions in each division, we can sympathise.

In a wider sense though, Gans was on the rise-and-rise. Terry McGovern, with whom Gans had created so much confusion in 1900, was on the slide and for company at the very top of the fistic tree, Gans had only James J Jeffries, the rampant heavyweight champion who was approaching the peak of his powers and had eliminated pound-for-pound Mount Rushmore candidate Bob Fitzsimmons; the wonderful middleweight champion Tommy Ryan, who had suffered but one loss in the past six years, and that by disqualification; and The Barbados Demon Joe Walcott, who had started to lose but only to much larger men.

It was Gans though who stood atop what had been the best division at the end of the nineteenth century. While James Jeffries was every bit as imperious as Gans, he showed but a sliver of the skill the lightweight champion commanded, little of the defensive genius or gliding grace and while Jeffries was a superb general in the sense that he was able to impress himself and his fight upon almost any opponent, he did not have Joe’s brilliance in strategy.

My fondness for Gans may be causing me to call it early and those arguing for Jeffries or Ryan will get no strong opposition from me, but my guess is that in the same way Pernell Whitaker was considered pound-for-pound number one in 1993 and Roy Jones was considered pound-for-pound number one in 1996, Gans should be considered pound-for-pound number one in 1903. His genius in talent and thought gets him over the line.

Soon, welterweight and certain proof of his pound-for-pound credentials would call him, but for the moment Joe Gans remained a lightweight.

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Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

David A. Avila

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SAN DIEGO-WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete won by unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in a slugfest that had fans cheering nonstop on Friday night. Fans were mesmerized by the savagery.

More than 2,000 fans saw Mexico City’s Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) and Southern California’s Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) bounce brutal shots off each other for 12 successive rounds at Pechanga Sports Arena.

Both Navarrete and Gonzalez were about equal in height with the champion maybe a slight taller, but not by much. As soon as the first bell rang the two featherweights opened up in furious fashion.

Gonzalez was making his second attempt to grab a world title. His first attempt fell short a year ago. He was eager to atone for the defeat by clobbering Navarrete. Body shots were the weapon of choice.

The Mexican fighter Navarrete was accustomed to battling shorter fighters, this time the two were equal in size and in fury. Blows were flying in bunches and by the third round Gonzalez suffered a cut on his right cheek.

At several points Navarrete would connect with a solid blow and eagerly seek to finish the fight. Each time it happened Gonzalez would fight back even more furiously and beat back the champions attacks.

Gonzalez also connected with big shots and moved in for the kill only find Navarrete take a stand and fire back. Neither was able to truly gain a significant edge. After 12 rounds of nonstop action the decision was given to the judges. One scored it 118-110, two others saw it 116-112 all for Navarrete.

Fans were pleased by the decision and even more pleased by the breath-taking action they had witnessed.

Welterweights

Local fighter Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Tijuana’s Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The two southpaws were evenly matched.

San Diego’s Santillan was able to outwork Ruiz in almost every round. Though Ruiz has heavy hands he was not able to hurt Santillan even with uppercuts. It was clear very early in the fight that Santillan was the more technical and busier of the two. No knockdowns were scored.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 100-90 for Santillan and a third saw it 99-91.

Other Results

Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) battered and knocked down fellow Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2) in the last round of an 8-round super lightweight bout, but could not score the knockout win.

Delgado, a Mexican Olympian, was the quicker and stronger fighter yet discovered Garcia Mendez has a solid chin. All three judges scored it 80-71 for Delgado.

Puerto Rico’s Henry Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) defeated Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6) by decision after eight rounds in a lightweight match.

Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) soundly defeated Darryl Jones (4-3-1) by decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Jones was tough.

Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd Diaz (3-0) knocked down Tucson’s Jose Ramirez (1-1) in the first round but was unable to end the fight early. Diaz won by decision.

Heavyweight Antonio Mireles (1-0) knocked out Demonte Randle (2-2) at 2:07 of the first round.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank for Getty Images

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Book Review

Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Thomas Hauser

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Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Russell Peltz has been promoting fights for fifty years and is as much a part of the fabric of Philadelphia boxing as Philly gym wars and Philly fighters. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 and deservedly so. Now Peltz has written a memoir entitled Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye that chronicles his many years in the sweet science.

Peltz started in boxing before it was, in his words, “bastardized by the alphabet groups” and at a time when “world titles still meant something.”

“I fell in love with boxing when I was twelve,” he writes, “saw my first live fight at fourteen, decided to make it my life, and never looked back.” He promoted his first fight card in 1969 at age 22.

Peltz came of age in boxing at a time when promoters – particularly small promoters – survived or died based on the live gate. Peltz Boxing Promotions had long runs at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia and both Harrah’s Marina and the Sands  in Atlantic City. His journey through the sweet science included a seven-year stint as director of boxing for The Spectrum in Philadelphia. At the turn of the century, he was a matchmaker for ESPN.

Along the way, Peltz’s office in Philadelphia was fire-bombed. He was robbed at gunpoint while selling tickets in his office for a fight card at the Blue Horizon and threatened in creative ways more times than one might imagine. He once had a fight fall out when one of the fighters was arrested on the day of the weigh-in. No wonder he quotes promoter Marty Kramer, who declared, “The only thing I wish on my worst enemy is that he becomes a small-club boxing promoter.”

Now Peltz has put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard. “The internet is often a misinformation highway,” he writes. “I want to set the record straight as to what actually went on in boxing in the Philadelphia area since the late-1960s. I’m tired of reading tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram accounts from people who were not around and have no idea what went on but write like they do.”

Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye is filled with characters (inside and outside the ring) who give boxing its texture. As Peltz acknowledges, his own judgment was sometimes faulty. Russell once turned down the opportunity to promote Marvin Hagler on a long-term basis. There are countless anecdotes about shady referees, bad judging, and other injustices. Middleweight Bennie Briscoe figures prominently in the story, as do other Philadelphia fighters like Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, and Matthew Franklin (later Matthew Saad Muhammad). Perhaps the best fight Peltz ever promoted  was the 1977 classic when Franklin knocked out Marvin Johnson in the twelfth round.

There’s humor. After Larry Holmes pitched a shutout against Randall “Tex” Cobb in 1982, Cobb proclaimed, “Larry never beat me. He just won the first fifteen rounds.”

And there are poignant notes. Writing about Tanzanian-born Rogers Mtagwa (who boxed out of Philadelphia), Peltz recalls, “He couldn’t pass an eye exam because he didn’t understand the alphabet.”

Remembering the Blue Horizon, Peltz fondly recounts, “”The Blue Horizon was a fight fan’s nirvana. The ring was 15-feet-9-inches squared inside the ropes. No fighter came to the Blue Horizon to pad his record. Fans wanted good fights, not slaughters of second-raters.”

That ethos was personified by future bantamweight champion Jeff Chandler who, after knocking out an obviously inept opponent, told Peltz, “Don’t ever embarrass me like that again in front of my fans.”

Thereafter, whenever a manager asked Peltz to put his fighter in soft to “get me six wins in a row,” Russell thought of Chandler. “I enjoyed promoting fights more than promoting fighters,” he writes. “If I was interested in promoting fighters, I would have been a manager.”

That brings us to Peltz the writer.

The first thing to be said here is that this is a book for boxing junkies, not the casual fan. Peltz is detail-oriented. But do readers really need to know what tickets prices were for the April 6, 1976, fight between Bennie Briscoe and Eugene Hart? The book tends to get bogged down in details. And after a while, the fights and fighters blur together in the telling.

It brings to mind the relationship between Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw. The noted playwright and heavyweight great developed a genuine friendship. But Shaw’s fondness for Tunney stopped short of uncritical admiration. In 1932, the former champion authored his autobiography (A Man Must Fight) and proudly presented a copy to his intellectual mentor. Shaw read the book and responded with a letter that read in part, “Just as one prayer meeting is very like another, one fight is very like another. At a certain point, I wanted to skip to Dempsey.”

Reading Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye, at a certain point I wanted to skip to Hagler.

There’s also one jarring note. Peltz recounts how, when Mike Jones fought Randall Bailey for the vacant IBF welterweight title in Las Vegas in 2012, Peltz bet five hundred dollars against Jones (his own fighter) at the MGM Sports Book and collected two thousand dollars when Bailey (trailing badly on the judges’ scorecards) knocked Jones out in the eleventh round.

“It was a tradition from my days with Bennie Briscoe,” Russell explains. “I’d bet against my fighter, hoping to lose the bet and win the fight.”

I think Russell Peltz is honest. I mean that sincerely. And I think he was rooting for Mike Jones to beat Randall Bailey. But I don’t think that promoters should bet on fights involving their own fighters. And it’s worse if they bet against their own fighters. Regardless of the motivation, it looks bad. Or phrased differently: Suppose Don King had bet on Buster Douglas to beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo?

Philadelphia was once a great fight town. in 1926, the first fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney drew 120,000 fans to Sesquicentennial Stadium. Twenty-six years later, Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott at same site (renamed Municipal Stadium) to claim the heavyweight throne.

Peltz takes pride in saying, “I was part of Philadelphia’s last golden age of boxing.”

An important part.

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – was 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. In 2019, he was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 156: A World Title Fight in San Diego and More

David A. Avila

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World championship prizefighting returns to San Diego.

Though the port city serves as a base for US Marines, US Navy and other fighting organizations, boxing has rarely held events in its city limits. But it’s no stranger.

WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) defends against L.A. native Joet Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs) on Friday night at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Calif. ESPN+ will stream the Top Rank card.

One reason boxing events are rare in San Diego lies in the simple reason it’s located a mere 20 miles from Tijuana, Mexico. It is cheaper to stage boxing shows across the border and common to see up to five shows taking place simultaneously.

A world champion like Navarrete wants to be compensated in world championship style and that means fighting on American soil.

Navarrete, 26, hails from Mexico City and has beaten back-to-back featherweight contenders from the USA in Christopher Diaz and Ruben Villa. Before that, he upset Isaac Dogboe to win the super bantamweight world title before making weight forced him to move up a division. He’s a fighting machine.

“I think this is going to be a tough fight. He is a tough opponent,” said Navarrete.

Gonzalez, 28, was raised in a fighting family and has previously fought for a world title but was unsuccessful against Shakur Stevenson. The Los Angeles native had an extensive amateur career and as a professional he’s steadily adapted to the professional style. This is his shot at the world title.

“Navarrete has a style that’s very unique, very hard to figure out, and that’s why he’s a champion,” said Gonzalez. “I’m planning on leaving Friday night with that belt.”

In a semi-main event local fighter Giovani Santillan (27-0, 15 KOs) meets Angel Ruiz (17-1, 12 KOs) in a clash between southpaw welterweights set for 10 rounds. Both fought numerous times on Thompson Boxing Promotion cards in Southern California.

Santillan has fought as the main event on many occasions and provided upsets in nationally televised events.

“It’s very special for me to be fighting here in San Diego. I grew up close by here. To all my family and friends that are coming, expect the best version of me. I’m coming with everything,” said Santillan.

Ruiz also has fought on nationally televised events and upset a fighter or two. Southpaw versus southpaw can be puzzling. It usually comes down to who has the better right hook.

“He’s a great fighter. I’m a great fighter, too,” said Ruiz.

Doors open at 5 p.m.

Mikey Garcia Returns

It’s been almost two years since Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) last fought. He returns on Saturday, Oct. 16, to face Sandor Martin (38-2, 13 KOs) a slick fighting southpaw from Barcelona, Spain. Their super lightweight bout takes place in Fresno, Calif. at the Chukchansi Park. DAZN will show the fight.

Garcia has been one of the boxing masters and has captured world titles in four weight divisions. Very few can match his wisdom inside a prize ring. The last time he fought was on February 2020 when he defeated Jessie Vargas in a welterweight clash.

Now Garcia is back down to super lightweight. He had hoped to entice Manny Pacquiao for a big money fight, but the Filipino superstar chose another.

Martin has never fought on American soil and has only ventured out of Spain twice. He’s a big question mark when it comes to ability. Can he match skills with Garcia who has won world titles as a featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight?

We shall see.

The co-main event features WBO light flyweight titlist Elwin Soto (19-1, 13 KOs) of Mexico defending against Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez (24-3-1, 14 KOs). As most of you know, anytime Mexico fights Puerto Rico anything can happen.

Heavyweight Examination

Tyson Fury’s victory over Deontay Wilder proved to be the best of the trilogy that began three years ago in Los Angeles. Anytime you see multiple knockdowns it exemplifies the fight game to its core. It’s a battle of wills and the best man wins.

Only once before had two larger heavyweights exchanged blows when seven-footer Nicolai Valuev and Jameel McCline battled in 2008. But that heavyweight match was held at Switzerland and only seen in Europe. And there was another fight between NBA size power forwards in Los Angeles that was equally exciting when Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko clashed in the Staples Center on June 2003. It turned out to be Lewis’s farewell fight and a classic.

Wilder and Fury put on another classic.

The 1990s seemed to be the last decade where heavyweight rumbles regularly took place. You had Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield torching each other with massive blows and skill to match. There was Lennox Lewis, of course, and his gentleman killer ways. And, of course, there was still Mike Tyson whose best decade was the 1980s, yet was the heavyweight with the biggest following.

In this age of social media driven world of entertainment, Fury and Wilder did participate in a lot of seemingly useless drivel. But once inside the ropes, they delivered like FedEx truck drivers on the clock.

Those old enough to remember recall the three battles between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Nothing tops their three clashes, especially the “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975. If you get a chance, take a look at that savagery. Though no knockdowns were scored, it was that mesh of skill and intensity for nearly 15 rounds that mesmerized sports fans and made both fighters legends for all time.

This past Saturday, Fury and Wilder reminded sports fans that heavyweight splendor still exists. And that no other sport comes down to the basic man-versus-man in a boxing ring. The biggest and baddest slugged it out and the winner was Fury.

Boxing is the ultimate sport.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Lester Martinez (8-0) vs Raiko Santana (8-2).

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Santiago Dominguez (24-0) vs Jesus Antonio Rubio (13-4-1).

Fri. ESPN+ 6 p.m. Emanuel Navarrete (34-1) vs Joet Gonzalez (24-1); Giovani Santillan (27-0) vs Angel Ruiz (17-1).

Fri. Telemundo 11:59 p.m. Axel Aragon (14-4-1) vs Armando Torres (26-19).

Sat. DAZN 11 a.m. Hughie Fury (25-3) vs Christian Hammer (26-7); Savannah Marshall (10-0) vs Lolita Muzeya (16-0).

Sat. DAZN 2 p.m. Mikey Garcia (40-1) vs Sandor Martin (38-2).

Sat. FITE.TV 3 p.m. Cletus Seldin vs William Silva

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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