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Every Joe Gans Lightweight Title Fight – Part 7: Steve Crosby

Matt McGrain

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Color ought not to cut any figure in the ring so long as a man is willing to do his best.  – Joe Gans

 As 1903 got underway, Joe Gans showed the type of restlessness that only manifests itself in true pound-for-pound greats. The lightweight champion decided to pursue Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, who had recently scored a victory over future heavyweight champion of the world Marvin Hart, very nearly knocking him out. Gans proposed that in order to take the winner’s share of the purse he would only have to survive the distance but assured the press that he would seek to knock the bigger man out.

At first, from O’Brien, silence, then he cried off with an injured hand although he was well enough to be matched in late February and throughout March, including against Joe Choynski who had recently knocked out Jack Johnson. Joe Gans had been ducked by a man mixing it with elite heavyweights.

Frank Erne made some noises over a trilogy fight but did not back himself to the extent of placing a $1,000 side bet on the line, as Al Herford insisted. Herford, manager and general mouthpiece for Gans, insisted loudly that Joe would meet the “white lightweight champion” Jimmy Britt over twenty rounds and that in order to be named the world champion, all Britt had to do was hear the final bell.

“When I became a pugilist,” Britt responded, “I made a resolution not to meet colored men and I don’t intend to go back on it now.”

Gans was insistent.

“Britt has been saying that he could beat me and all that sort of thing…I am willing to make any concession he may desire. I am willing to let him name the date, weight, place of meeting and conditions as well as the percentage into which the purse will be split.”

From a champion, these are astonishing remarks.

This left a frustrated Gans without a big money fight. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, there was always a serious contender to the lightweight crown to be repulsed. Gans, for his part, certainly was not about to draw any colour line.

Steve Crosby was a member of an African-American murderer’s row that duked it out for the role of foremost black lightweight contender through the late 1800s. He and Gans were no stranger to one another. They met for the first time in 1898, the winner to find himself in line for a shot at the era’s top fighters – the top white fighters. Gans controlled the fight with a flash of what would be his primed generalship, boxing left-handed and at distance, pumping his jab into Crosby’s gut. The Kentuckian was sickened by these shots and his seconds spared him the knockout blow, pulling him after six. The two fought a tame short-form fight in 1899 but for the main, Gans probably believed he had finished with Crosby, only for his rival to go eighteen fights unbeaten to force a third fight between the two.

This third fight, fought over twenty rounds, was key to their series and to Crosby’s plans for resisting Gans. Essentially, this involved his fighting like he was in a shorter fight, throwing caution windward and punches with it, trying to outland Gans in the early stages. This, he did but only with moderate success; Gans blocked, countered and chipped away at his opponent who by the tenth had begun a grim vigil of his own faculties, hanging on to Gans for dear life, trying to clinch his way to the final bell. Essentially Crosby was one of the last to take advantage of Joe’s one-time weakness, his inability to put away fighters bent only upon survival. Why this mattered so much more in 1901 than it does in 2021 is illustrated by this third fight. Crosby split the early part of the fight with Gans by modern eyes, but from the perspective of a good judge in this era, Crosby was amply rewarded for “forcing the fight.” When he erupted in the nineteenth and twentieth rounds in a savage attempt to rest the “colored” lightweight championship from Gans, Crosby probably had not won a round since the eighth or ninth, but the referee and sole arbiter was impressed enough to render a draw; Crosby had earned a rematch.

“Crosby showed,” noted a Washington newspaper in previewing that rematch “that he belonged in the first class of fighters.”

Gans won this fourth fight, fetching Crosby up against the ropes and shipping punishment into him when the police interfered to stop the prize-fight, not an uncommon occurrence at this time. In control at the time of the stoppage, Gans had been forced to wrest the fight from Crosby once again as he staged a repeat of his early attack. The result then, was unsatisfying. Crosby was not the first choice for a Gans defence, nor a second, nor a third, but he was a natural choice. As was his first defence against Elbows McFadden, Crosby represented unfinished business.

Gans arrived in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a whole week before the fight, unusual for him, and set straight to work. In this matter, Gans demonstrated a respect he did not replicate in his preparations for George McFadden, for example, illustrative perhaps of his sense that Crosby, in his heart and strength, might represent a potential banana-skin. Herford did not share this trepidation and loudly pursued wagers of $4,000 at odds and even money that Gans would dispose of Crosby within twelve rounds.

Crosby had already been in town for a month, and in fact had boxed a pair of slow draws with the former Gans victim Kid Ash in Hot Springs while waiting for the champion to arrive. These fights were only interesting in how uninteresting they were. Crosby, who might have expected to test himself in the early going for his presumed Gans strategy, instead clinched from the first, and throughout, before finishing each fight in a blazing attack.

Previews concentrated on Crosby’s innate toughness and proven bravery in the ring, some reports perhaps continuing to aim barbs at Gans in naming Crosby “without doubt the toughest colored lightweight in the business.” He was not expected to beat Gans, but the papers, like the champion, expected a good show from the challenger.

Both men hit their mark upon the scales at 3pm and around six hours later made their way to a ring stuffed with intrigue.

The referee was none other than Tommy Ryan. Gans would share the ring with the middleweight champion and perhaps the only man in the world that could rival him for skill. Seconding Crosby was a figure from Joe’s future, the most significant foe from the second half of his title reign, Oscar Nielsen, ring name “Battling Nelson.” Even the timekeeper was a person of interest, superfan and professional gambler “Honest” John Kelly responsible for sounding the gong. Before the largest crowd ever assembled at Hot Springs Athletic Club, Crosby greeted the gong with a clinch.

Despite having had some success against Gans early in two fights, his whole outlook had changed.  Whether he was intimidated, whether he felt something he didn’t like in the first exchanges or whether his dramatic change of strategy was part of some bold plan to stop Gans late, Crosby was warned by Ryan as early as the second round. Gans, who had begun with a certain caution, perhaps expecting the traditional rush from Crosby, stuck his left in his challenger’s face repeatedly but waited; when it became apparent that there would be no rush, but rather a persistent commitment to single right hands, Gans began to impose himself.

Crosby “seemed afraid to mix it up” according to the St. Louis Republic, the Richmond Times Dispatch adding that his “hugging tactics” were what “saved him from early defeat” although the audience joined Tommy Ryan in loudly objecting. There is something a little unfair about this. Crosby did not deliver on an early attack, and his constant clinching obviously frustrated the crowd, but he crossed the ring to meet Gans at every bell. He did not run; but upon closing the distance he did everything he could to avoid being hit, at the expense of his own offence.

“In the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds,” reported the Daily Northwestern, “Gans did most of the fighting, Crosby continually clinching and hugging in a manner that disgusted the spectators.”

I will spare the reader a detailed description of what occurred in these turgid rounds, but I suspect that Gans was more than satisfied with what transpired. There was none of the hot fighting seen in their earlier contests and he was being allowed to chip away at Crosby’s resistance at almost no cost to himself. Crosby was gifting the type of control that Gans often had to fight for, though he had learned to consistently achieve it.

In the seventh, Crosby’s clinching failed as Gans went to work on him as he tried to close and clinch, Gans risking more for a higher return against an opponent who had been punished. In the eighth, Gans stepped in with a long left uppercut, using Crosby’s own momentum against him, driving him not just off his feet, but through the ropes, “a distance of some four feet” as observed by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“The blow was hard enough to have defeated the average heavyweight,” continued the paper, “but Steve quickly arose, vaulted over the ropes, and rushed Gans to his corner.”

The Courier-Journal was perhaps alone in admiring Crosby’s performance so completely, and in fact it led them to name him “outside of Gans” no less than the “toughest proposition in the lightweight division.” This is quite a claim. Still, they found column inches too to describe Joe’s brilliant footwork and consistent control of distance which prevented the development of whatever plan Crosby and his people had concocted. After being ditched to the auditorium floor in the eighth, Crosby’s shot at the title was essentially over.

The Gans jabs “were too much for Crosby, and [he] began to show signs of weakening in the ninth round” according to the New York Evening World, while the St. Louis Republic went a little farther; for them, Crosby was now looking for a way out. That seems spurious; if Crosby wanted to quit, there were ample opportunities in the eleventh. Gans, as he so often looked to do once his opponent was under control, feinted with the left and looked for the right. Crosby bought the feint and kissed the right, dropped clean, but he fought his way to his feet rather than sit out the count.

The Evening World: “[Crosby] got up and was sent down again by a similar blow. Crosby was weak, but at the count of nine managed to stagger to his feet. Gans nailed him again on the jaw with his right and he went to the floor in a heap.”

Still, Crosby would not quit but as he wrestled with the count, and with himself, his corner tossed up the sponge. There is some disagreement as to whether or not Ryan “accepted” the corner’s instructions and that he had rather ignored it and waved for the two to fight on as Crosby tottered to his feet. This does make some sense, as Ryan was involved in some of the most vicious encounters in ring history, but either way, Crosby never made it out of the eleventh. Gans had successfully defended his title once more, tricking, trapping and out-fighting Crosby on the inside, the only man up until that point who had stopped the heart-fuelled Crosby with punches.

Gans returned to Baltimore, where local papers reported him “unscratched” and a little piqued that he had taken so long to stop Crosby. Gans had not appreciated Crosby’s clinching. Herford, pleased to have won his bet that the fight would be settled before the end of the twelfth but put out that he had been able to lay only hundreds rather than thousands, went east to prepare the way for Joe’s next match, a non-title fight with two-time victim Jack Bennett, a talented fighter with a soft chin. Gans blasted Bennett out in five on this occasion.

But the same old problem persisted. Gans could not make big fights. Spike Robson made noises but could not deliver in the ring; he was eliminated from contention not once but several times. Yet again, the prospect of a third fight with Frank Erne emerged, but to no end. After dusting Australian welterweight Tom Tracey, Gans made it clear that he was bound for the division above where perhaps the big fights could be made. Even at the higher poundage, expectations were that Gans would dominate the opposition, a task that “ought not to be particularly hard” for him according to The Republic.

After crushing the popular Willie Fitzgerald in ten – more about this fight next time – and a hapless Buddy King in July, Gans went quiet for three months, something that had not happened since his 1899 knockout by Elbows McFadden. There was talk of a trip to England, talk of a bout with Willie Lewis, or welterweight Martin Duffy; instead there was nothing. It seemed Jimmy Britt might finally dare to break the colour line, but only if the champion Joe Gans would agree to make 133lbs at ringside.

When Gans returned it was in an old-fashioned barn-burning tour, six fights in fifty days, all but one over a short distance. Results were poor. These were six-round, no-contest results and in truth, were of little import insofar as Gans wasn’t knocked out; but when he lost over fifteen rounds to a teenager named Sam Langford, it was clear that Gans had over-reached. This was not a close fight: Langford, arguably the greatest fighter in history in full bloom, was then barely a novice. He out-thought and out-fought Gans, a disturbing way for a great general to lose.

But what was Gans doing fighting Langford just hours and three-hundred miles after he had fought no less a figure than Dave Holly? This was 1903; the schedule that saw him fight in Philadelphia on the seventh of December and Boston on the eight was an absurdity. Gans, the ultimate professional, seemed to have contracted a dose of cowboy. Unchallenged as a lightweight since he crushed Erne in one, he sought challenges perhaps no man could have met. Carrying a stomach injury to the ring against Langford and finding himself soundly beaten, when Gans took to the ring to defend his title just thirty-five days later he seemed something he had not been since the 1800s.

Vulnerable.

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Arne K. Lang

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Boxers from the United States were collectively 6-1 during the first four days of competition at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The only boxer that failed to advance was women’s featherweight Yarisel Ramirez. A late addition to the U.S. squad and the youngest member of the 10-person team, the 21-year-old Ramirez, born in Cuba and raised in Las Vegas, lost a unanimous decision to Croatia’s Nikolina Cacic.

Middleweight Troy Isley (Alexandria, Virginia) turned away the well-seasoned Belarussian Vitali Bandarenka in his first bout, but came up short in his second, losing a split decision to Russia’s Gleb Bakshi, the #2 seed. Likewise, Ginny Fuchs (Houston, TX) won her first bout, but couldn’t get past the second hurdle. The 33-year-old LSU grad was defeated by veteran Bulgarian campaigner Stoyka Krasteva.

Middleweight Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, NC) saw her first action on Wednesday and was eliminated by Russia’s Zemfira Magomedaliev who prevailed on a split decision. Cincinnati featherweight Duke Ragan, who overcame France’s Samuel Kristohurry in his first bout, was more fortunate. Ragan got over the second hump with a unanimous decision over Kazakhstan’s Serik Temirzhanov. That sets up a date on Sunday with Northern Ireland’s well-regarded Kurt Walker. The winner is assured of at least a bronze medal.

Toledo welterweight Oshae Jones scored a split decision over Mexico’s Brienda Cruz and now faces Maria Moronta of the Dominican Republic. The match goes tomorrow (Friday, July 30) with a scheduled start time of 5:03 am EST. Lynn, Massachusetts lightweight Rashida Ellis, who like Jones is a member of a prominent boxing family, makes her Olympic debut tomorrow and she’s matched tough. Her opponent, Caroline Dubois, who sports a 36-2 record, is the sister of the fearsome British heavyweight Daniel Dubois.

With two wins under his belt, 22-year-old Cleveland welterweight Delante “Tiger” Johnson is the most advanced member of the U.S. team, but one suspects that he is living on borrowed time. He vaulted into the quarterfinals with wins over Argentina’s Brian Arregui and Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov, winning both by split decision. Up next for Johnson is Cuba’s 303-fight veteran Roniel Iglesias, a two-time Olympian who won gold at the 2012 Games in London.

Norfolk, Virginia lightweight Keyshawn Davis, the most ballyhooed member of the U.S. team, won his opening round bout against Enrico La Cruz of the Netherlands and is now set to renew acquaintances with Sofiane Oumiha of France who he defeated in a 2019 tournament in Russia. Oumiha defeated Teofimo Lopez and former IBF world flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng en route to a berth in the finals at the 2016 Olympiad in Rio.

Super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr (Tulare, CA) was the only male boxer in the U.S. contingent to be seeded. The team’s captain, Torrez was given the #3 seed in a division with a clear-cut favorite in Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov.

Torrez rolled into the quarterfinals with a one-sided decision over Algeria’s Chaouib Bouloudinats. He now faces Dainier Pero, a 21-year-old Cuban who was awarded a split decision over Torrez at a 2019 tournament in Lima, Peru. The last U.S. super heavyweight to medal was Riddick Bowe who settled for silver after being stopped by Lennox Lewis at Seoul in 1988.

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The Agony of Defeat

Ted Sares

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The Agony of Defeat

Bad decisions are as much a part of boxing as enswell, but reactions from the losers vary widely.

The look on Roberto Duran’s face wasn’t agony, but it was something pretty close when the judges ruled against him in his 1996 bout with Hector Camacho. The crowd booed when the scores were announced: 115-113, 116-113, and an unbelievable 117-111, all for the “Macho” man. In the eyes of many, the well-conditioned Duran had controlled the fight since round five.

When George Foreman was robbed in his 1997 fight with Shannon Briggs, he simply left the ring and retired while the crowd screamed Bull****! Bull****! Bull****!

The same happened when Dave Tiberi was robbed in his infamous 1992 fight with James Toney at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Tiberi simply walked away in disgust and never boxed again. Widely considered one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history, this one prompted a federal investigation. Donald Trump’s disgust was such that he reportedly banned boxing in all of his casinos for six months.

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“To be able to fight the number one person in the world [Toney], during his heyday, and in my heart of hearts, knowing that I did everything I had to do to be able to win the world championship, I’m at peace.” — Dave Tiberi

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Toney himself got a taste of it in the first of his two fights with Samuel Peter. Visibly and pleasantly surprised by the result. Peter literally ran to his dressing room to celebrate, while Toney stood in his corner seemingly in shock with his hands on the ropes and his face looking down in disbelief at the SD loss. He would never be quite the same.

Paul Williams “win” over Erislandy Lara was such a rank decision that all three judges were suspended. Similar to Dave Tiberi, Lara did not make a big fuss though his boxing stock went up.

This writer scored the 2007 fight between Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Joel Casamayor 119-109 in favor of Santa Cruz and many sitting at ringside had it the same way. When the bell rang ending the fight, Casamayor was lifted up as the anticipated winner. “I thought ‘Oh Oh,’ said Jim Lampley, “the crowd seems a little nonplussed that someone would lift Casamayor as if he won.”

In fact, the crowd booed loudly in disbelief when the decision by the relatively inexperienced judges went in favor of Casamayor. Frank Lombardi and Ron McNair scored it 114-113 for the Cuban while Tony Paolillo scored it 114-113 for Santa Cruz. Again, cries of Bull**** Bull**** Bull**** rained down.

“Just when you think you have seen everything– every bizarre decision — something like this happens,” said Lampley. Harold Lederman chimed in: “That’s a tough decision to explain. It was dreadful. I wish I had a stronger word.” Max Kellerman added, “That’s just not a bad decision; that’s an outright robbery.”

However, they all witnessed it again when Tim Bradley “beat “Manny Pacquiao in 2012. That one should be expunged.

Tapia vs Ayala

 In 1999, in his 49th professional fight, Johnny Tapia suffered his first loss, losing a decision and the WBA title to Paulie Ayala in The Ring magazine’s “Fight of the Year.” Later that year, the tightly wound Tapia attempted suicide and required hospitalization.

 The following year, Ayala defeated Tapia again in another wild and hellacious fight. Early on, Tapia wobbled Ayala after which the two traded bombs. Johnny appeared to be in control but he was taking his share of Ayala ‘s incoming and sharp blows. After twelve rounds, Tapia was lifted up by his cornermen and had no doubt (in his mind) that he had won. But when Ayala was once again declared the winner by unanimous decision, Tapia became enraged and a look of pure agony appeared on his face. That look said it all; it was indelible. And it might well have been the precursor to more demonic issues down the line.

“We all have our demons…But Johnny had them to an extent that’s almost impossible to believe. He was fighting addiction. He was fighting mental illness. He spent years in jail…”  Lou DiBella

For the losers, this was all about the pain of knowing—correctly or not— that you won but realizing you hadn’t.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Top 12 New England Boxing Ratings as of July 2021

Jeffrey Freeman

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For the sake of these regionalized rankings, the New England region officially consists of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. And I know I don’t have to remind TSS readers that the glory days of Willie Pep and world title fights at the old Boston Garden are over.

It’s now 2021.

New England boxing boasts only one current world champion to crow about and no top contenders to get too excited about. The championship run of New Haven’s Chad Dawson and the championship aspirations of Worcester’s Edwin Rodriquez are presently a thing of the past.

What we have here now are mostly youngish prospects and a few potential contenders with a mix of would-be Micky Ward types scattered throughout. What follows are the twelve best and most accomplished New England boxers in all weight classes from the above mentioned states.

Top 12 New England Ratings:

1. Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, Providence, Rhode Island: The current WBO middleweight champion was recently made to look like a fool after crashing a Canelo Alvarez post-fight presser to declare his fandom and be accused of fighting “no body man” by a smirking Alvarez.

The 33-year-old Andrade is 30-0 (18) and desperate for a payday! Since winning the vacant WBO 160- pound strap in 2018 at the Boston Garden with a boring decision over Walter Kautondokwa, Andrade has beaten four B-level boxers, stopping only one of them with some help from the referee. Eddie Hearn is a good promoter but even he can’t make us like Boo-Boo.

2. Rashidi Ellis, Lynn Massachusetts: The speedy younger brother of Akeem, “Speedy” Rashidi is 23-0 (14) at welterweight and is rated #23 at 147 by BoxRec. Ellis, 28, went pro in Boston in 2013 and fought there three more times before taking his act on the road, fighting frequently in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Ellis has not fought since a 12-round unanimous decision over undefeated Alexis Rocha in 2020. The win earned Speedy Rashidi a minor title.

Promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, Ellis’ win over Rocha came as a surprise as Rocha was an undefeated GBP prospect beaten by Ellis in his own California backyard.

3. Mark DeLuca, Whitman, Massachusetts: At 33, the “Bazooka” is the most battle-hardened fighter on this list at 27-2 with 15 knockouts. DeLuca avenged the first loss of his career, decisioning Walter Wright at the Boston Garden in 2018. In 2020, he travelled to Sheffield, U.K. for a Matchroom match-up with Kell Brook. DeLuca was knocked out in 7 one-sided rounds.

Despite the setback, DeLuca stayed active in 2020 with two wins late in the year. DeLuca went to Tijuana last February to pick up a win and he’s scheduled to face Charles Conwell in Cleveland next month. Conwell, 15-0 with 11 knockouts, fatally defeated Patrick Day in 2019.

4. Ronald Ellis, Lynn, Massachusetts: AKA Akeem, this 31-year-old super middleweight has been a professional since 2011. In that ten year period, Ellis battled his way up to big fight opportunities, winning some, losing some—and drawing in others. Ellis dropped a Showtime televised decision to DeAndre Ware in 2019 before rebounding that same year to decision Immanuwel Aleem in Brooklyn, NY. Ellis will fight anywhere and he always comes to win.

In 2020, Ellis got a win over veteran Matt Korobov when the Russian broke his ankle and was unable to continue in the bout at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT. Ellis was then stopped last March in 11 rounds by David Benavidez at the same venue. Ellis is now 18-2-2 with 12 knockouts.

The Ellis brothers’ younger sister Rashida is boxing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Team USA at 60 kg. With a 45-16 record in 61 bouts, the 26-year-old is determined to win a Gold medal.

5. “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams, Hartford, Connecticut: This 23-year-old welterweight is signed to DiBella Entertainment and is managed by Jackie Kallen. At 16-0-1 with 7 knockouts, Williams broke his pandemic-induced inactivity last January at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with a 10-round unanimous decision over undefeated (15-0) Yeis Gabriel Solano on Showtime.

In his final bout of 2019, before missing all of 2020, Williams was held to an 8-round draw in Brooklyn by a southpaw spoiler named Tre’Sean Wiggins. A recent automobile accident resulted in a broken wrist, thus “Marvelous” Mykquan will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

6. Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, Rhode Island: Once a highly touted local prospect, the professional reality of Toka Khan, 29, is clear. At 28-3, this southpaw featherweight has been knocked out by a nobody and beaten by decision twice when he stepped up to world level.

In 2020, Khan was beaten by Shakur Stevenson in Las Vegas, losing every round on all cards. In 2018, he was outclassed at the Boston Garden by British world title challenger Kid Galahad.

7. Kendrick Ball Jr., Worcester, Massachusetts: The now 28-year-old super middleweight mostly flew under the radar while fighting for Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) on Mr. B’s Twin River, Rhode Island undercards. After a win here, a draw there, and a loss there later, the tall Ball (6’ 2”) won twice in 2020 (and in 2019) before decisioning veteran Bryan Vera last April in Derry, New Hampshire on a Granite Chin promoted show.

Ball, 16-1-2 (11) is scheduled to main event the CES card scheduled for August 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts at the recently reopened MGM casino venue in the western part of the state.

8. Greg Vendetti, Stoneham, Massachusetts: The Murphys Boxing promoted “Villain” Vendetti (now 31) is a come-forward fighter who earned his chops on the local scene before stepping up and into the international fray with mixed results. A 2018 win over Yoshihiro Kamegai in California was followed by a devastating second-round knockout loss to Michel Soro in France.

Vendetti regrouped with a pair of local decision wins in 2019 before going back to California for a 2020 shot at Erislandy Lara’s two junior middleweight titles. Vendetti, now 22-4-1 (12), dropped a wide 12-round unanimous decision to the very defensively oriented Cuban freedom fighter.

9. Cassius Chaney, New London, Connecticut: This 34-year-old super-sized heavyweight got a late start in boxing in 2015 after relocating from Baltimore to Connecticut and switching sports. At six foot six, Chaney played basketball in college. In boxing, Chaney is undefeated at 20-0 with 14 KOs and he is Greg Page huge! His afro is even bigger. According to his bio on the Main Events website, Chaney boasts an 85-inch reach and was named after Cassius Clay. With a degree in sports management, he’s a stinker and a thinker! Still, despite being named after the GOAT, this Cassius is still in 8-rounders and hasn’t fought anyone expected to challenge him.

Chaney won four times in 2019, twice in 2020 and he is scheduled to fight on the Rivera Promotions show (New England’s Future VII) on August 14 at the Worcester Palladium.

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10. Richard “Popeye” Rivera, Hartford, Connecticut: The most charismatic fighter on this list, Rivera is a free-swinging cruiserweight who gladly plays the part of Popeye The Sailor Man, bringing a pipe to the ring and singing the trademarked “Toot Toot” jingle. After blasting out “Vermont Bully” Kevin Cobbs in 2018, Rivera has been extremely active, winning four more times that year, seven more times in 2019 and twice in 2020. Rivera won another stay-busy fight last February in Orlando, Florida, a first-round knockout of some Mexican punching bag.

At 19-0 with 14 knockouts, Rivera is back in action on next month’s (August 14) RPE promoted show in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Palladium where he made his pro debut back in 2017.

11. Jamaine Ortiz, Worcester, Massachusetts: This Jimmy Burchfield promoted lightweight is 14-0-1 (8). Last April, he showed great promise on a Top Rank promoted show in Florida, drawing in 8 with undefeated (14-0-2) TR prospect Joseph Adorno. Many ringsiders felt that Ortiz, 25, deserved to get the win and that Adorno was fortunate to keep his unbeaten record.

12. Irvin Gonzalez, Worcester, Massachusetts: Now 14-3 with 11 knockouts, the losses are starting to pile up for this once highly regarded featherweight prospect. Before losing his “0” by knockout in 2019 to journeyman Elijah Pierce at Foxwoods Casino, there was talk of Gonzalez being signed by Evander Holyfield’s upstart promotional company. Three months later, Gonzalez lost again at Foxwoods, this time a wide 10-round decision loss to Toka Khan.

Gonzalez also lost his most recent fight, an 8-round split decision loss to Texas tough-guy Edward Vazquez in Los Angeles on a Jimmy Burchfield promoted show in November of 2020.

Irvin is still only 25, he can build back better.

KO’s Honorable Mentions: Chris Traietti (cruiserweight, Quincy, MA), Ryan Kielczweski (lightweight, Quincy, MA) and Brandon “The Cannon” Berry (welterweight, West Forks, Maine).

The 35-year-old Traietti is more promoter than active fighter these days but he still laces up the gloves on his own Granite Chin Promotions shows and he sports a 30-4 (24) record. He was beaten by Lowell’s Joey McCreedy, Worcester’s Edwin Rodriguez and by Mike Lee in Chicago.

Known as the “Polish Prince” in the ring, Kielczweski turned pro in 2008 and racked up a 22-0 record before his first decision loss in 2015 to Danny Aquino. Momentum killing decision losses to Miquel Flores, Frank De Alba, Tommy Coyle, and Gabriel Flores have stalled his career at 35.

All of which brings us to Maine’s Brandon Berry. A short little welterweight with no reach and little in the way of technique, Berry gets by on pure heart. The 33-year-old is now 22-5-2 (15) and has both fought and promoted himself to 9 straight victories since a pair of losses in 2018.

Berry now fights for the memory of best friend Joel Bishop, a fellow boxer who died on Berry’s wedding night in 2017. Berry has overcome personal tragedy, humiliating losses in the ring and a shoulder injury requiring surgery to carve out a respectable professional boxing career.

*** As noted above there are a few New England shows scheduled that local live fans should know about. Next Saturday night on July 31, Vertex Promotions has a club show scheduled in Dedham, MA featuring several novice local pros in action. Then on August 7 in Springfield, MA, CES is putting on a show at the MGM Springfield with Kendrick Ball Jr. in the main event.

Promoter Jose Antonio Rivera (the former WBA junior middleweight champion) is then back at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on August 14 with “New England’s Future VII” featuring the return of the popular “Popeye” Rivera. And on August 28 in Derry, NH, Chris Traietti’s Granite Chin promotions returns for what Chris calls an “invitational elite class boxing tournament.”

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words. Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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