Connect with us

Featured Articles

Imagining Famous People as Prizefighters: Check Out Our Latest TSS Survey

Ted Sares

Published

on

Imagining-Famous-People-as-Prizefighters-Check-Out-Our-Latest-TSS-Survey

In our latest quarterly survey, we asked our respondents this question: “What famous person — living or dead — could have been a successful boxer AND WHY?” The person picked could be a statesman, gangster, movie or TV star, business tycoon, or whatever, just so long as he or she was famous. More than 30 boxing notables weighed in with a selection. As is our custom, we have listed the respondents in alphabetical order.

JAMES AMATO-collector, author, writer, historian: For me it is Charles Bronson. You could see from his build he was dedicated to training. He also seemed to have that essential “killer instinct.” I think he would have been a rough customer. Honorable mentions to Robert DeNiro and Ryan O’Neal.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI-TSS writer: LeBron James. He is arguably the greatest athlete of our generation and could have succeeded at any sport he desired. If he had solely focused on boxing, who knows, there may never have been a Klitschko era in the heavyweight division.

DAVID AVILA-TSS West Coast Bureau Chief: I’d go with Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. He seemed to relish the boxing game and recently trained and managed a fighter. As a player he was quick on the trigger and just a pretty good athlete.

BOB BENOIT-referee, judge, former fighter, founder of MA State Trooper Boxing Team: Robert DeNiro. I base my opinion on his hard work in training for the movie that showcased the life of Jake LaMotta. He worked his balls off to fill the part.

TRACY CALLIS-eminent boxing historian: I don’t know how well Sean Hannity, radio and TV talk show host, would do as a boxer, but he sure talks a lot about his MMA training and what he would do in certain circumstances (i.e., he would do such and such, wouldn’t take this, wouldn’t take that, etc.). It would be interesting to see what he really could do.

ANTHONY M. CARDINALE Esq.-famous defense attorney, boxing manager, advisor: I can think of only one guy, John Gotti. I was told by Tommy Gallagher, one of boxing’s good guys and a colorful character, that he would have been a great boxer but for that accident when he was a teenager that caused an injury to the toes on one foot that forced him to stop. He and Gotti grew up together in the same hardscrabble neighborhood in New York.

GUY CASALE-former fighter, retired detective: I believe Paul Newman would have been a successful boxer! His portrayal of Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” captured Rocky’s exact style. Moreover, Newman also demonstrated his athletic ability in other movies like “Slap Shot” where he portrayed a hockey player.

JILL DIAMOND-International Secretary, WBC: James Brown: Godfather of Soul. Hungry, agile, charismatic. Papa’s got a brand new bag!

BERNARD FERNANDEZTSS mainstay, lifetime Member of the BWAA, 2020 IBHOF inductee: I’ve always thought that tennis great Jimmy Connors played his sport like an Arturo Gatti-type fighter. He was pugnacious and played each point as if his life depended on it. I liked the way he hit the ball hard and flat, going for winners instead of playing a patient long game, waiting for his opponent to make an error. I could also go with tough-guy actor Stacey Keach who portrayed a worn-out fighter in “Fat City.” It helps that I thought he threw punches with correct form.

JERRY FITCH-writer, author, historian: Size and strength does not often translate to boxing skills. Few of those big tough guys could take a punch or had the coordination to succeed as a boxer. But one athlete that stood an excellent chance was former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Brown was a freak with a rare mixture of strength, speed, balance and toughness. The fact he never missed a game is testament to his toughness. During his career the opponents game plan always focused on Jim. He was gang tackled, punched, kicked, called names, had his eyes gouged and yet nobody ever really stopped him. Although most of his stats have long been surpassed (he only played nine years), his 5.2 average per carry and 104.3 yards per game numbers still rule. At Syracuse he earned ten varsity letters in football, lacrosse, track and field, and basketball. He is often called the greatest lacrosse player ever. Many call him the greatest athlete ever. He may very well have been –with the proper training — a very good boxer. I wouldn’t have bet against him.

JEFFREY FREEMAN-TSS writer: Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Charo would’ve been a great fighter because he is a great fighter. The nearly seven-foot-tall defenseman is a feared enforcer ready to drop the gloves and battle on a moment’s notice. And “Z” deals out all that fear and intimidation while balancing on a sheet of ice. I can recall hearing that some of the Detroit Red Wings used to train boxing at KRONK gym. If Zdeno Chara had some formal training he’d surely beat Deontay Wilder.

CLARENCE GEORGE-boxing writer, historian: Matinée idol Errol Flynn athletically leaps to mind. He was a natural, as is made clear by the way he moves about the ring in his portrayal of Gentleman Jim Corbett in “Gentleman Jim” (1942). Mushy Callahan helped prepare him for the role, true, but Flynn had been a gifted boxer going back to at least his young manhood.

LEE GROVES-writer, author and man behind CompuBox: The first name that came to mind was Michael Jordan. At 6-feet-6 inches, he would have fit in nicely with today’s super-sized heavyweights and he boasted that enviable blend of elite athletic talent, a ferocious pursuit of perfection, a matchless mean streak and the ability to rise to the most pressurized situations. He would not have tolerated anything but the very best, either from himself or from those around him.

HENRY HASCUP-historian; President of the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame: Pele. He had everything a boxer needed. His endurance was outstanding, his footwork was second to none, his head movement was out of this world and I would bet his hands were as well!

DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUMformer head of the Michigan Boxing Commission: Hockey is the only professional sport other than boxing in which fighting is allowed. In the 1980’s and 90’s Detroit Red Wings player Bob Probert was legendary for his fights. In fact, VHS tapes of collections of his best fights were best sellers. In boxing fighters take caution to tape their hands and must wear gloves…more so to protect their hands rather than the opponent’s face. In hockey when they fight they drop their gloves and hit anything they can including the hard helmet. I guess not much different than Hearns did hitting Hagler’s hard head. Probert being the most feared enforcer in hockey sought the help of legendary boxing trainer Emanuel Steward at the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit…just a stone’s throw from the Joe Louis Arena. Emanuel had the reputation of training others other than boxers…such as actor Wesley Snipes and rapper Marshall Mathers better known as Eminem. Probert was a constant fixture at Kronk and learned the finer points of boxing from the great Emanuel Steward. Probert truly could have made the transition in Steward’s opinion and who to better know than Emanuel.

JIM LAMPLEY-linchpin of the HBO Boxing announcing team; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Mikhail Baryshnikov, universally hailed in his world as one of history’s greatest dancers, probably could have been a successful boxer. He had the self-assurance and the awareness to become a star in multiple cultures. He had athletic grace and fiercely practiced hand and foot skills. And most likely he had hardship early and the insatiable drive that often proceeds from that. Even if he had no power at all, Baryshnikov would win fights simply by being Baryshnikov.

ARNE LANG-TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: Fiorello LaGuardia, the three-term mayor of New York City (1934-1945) was a feisty little SOB. He certainly had the temperament to be a prizefighter. As the son of an Italian immigrant father and a Jewish mother, he would have undoubtedly been a big draw and he would have fed off the audience, ramping up his game. Plus, he had a name that rolled off the tongue and a cool nickname, and me – being an erstwhile club show ring announcer – would have loved to go back in time and get to introduce him: Fighting out of the blue corner, Fee-or-Ellll-O the Little Flowerrrrrr (pause) La Guardia.

RON LIPTON-NY and NJ Boxing Halls of Fame, writer, former fighter, retired police officer, pro referee: It would have to be Charles Bronson who maintained his physique and athleticism as displayed at age 54 in “Hard Times.” Jimmy Cagney also excelled in boxing and judo and would have made a decent fighter. Honorable mention would be Burt Lancaster who once punched former pro fighter Jack Palance so hard in the stomach he threw up. This happened on the set of “The Professionals” after Palance punched Lancaster in the arm. The gangster John “Sonny” Franzese, the TV actor powerful Leo Gordon as a 200lb cruiserweight, and politician Teddy Roosevelt come to mind as well.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE-author, UK barrister, contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Boxing: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation. Putin, a practitioner of the sport of judo, has a combination of ruggedness and the calculating mind of a chess player, the raw attributes required for an involvement in any form of combat sports including boxing.

DAVID MARTINEZboxing historian / dmboxing.com: Here are three candidates: Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, and Ryan O’Neal. But the question requires one, so it’s Ryan O’Neal. He was an outstanding amateur and competed in two Los Angeles Golden Gloves tournaments.  He had his own pro fighter, top welterweight Hedgemon Lewis. He was outstanding in the movie “The Main Event” with Barbra Streisand. With 100 percent focus and proper training, he would rise in boxing. I have seen short fight footage of him, a southpaw with promise and ring generalship.

ROBERT MLADINICH-former fighter, writer, author, actor, producer, retired detective, private investigator: Don’t laugh but my answer is Woody Allen. Check him out on You Tube boxing a kangaroo on an old variety show. He’s quick on his feet, has fast hands, and can throw a good punch. I see him as an effective but dull distance fighter. Also, Daniel Day-Lewis. He can do anything well if he puts his mind to it. He was sensational in “The Boxer.”

ERNEST MORALES (aka GINO FEBUS)-former fighter, writer, historian: There’s something about Harvey Keitel that suggests he could have been a Mickey Ward type. His gutsy demeaner and stone-cold piercing looks in movies such as “Cop Land” and “The Irishman”, for example, and his interviews.

 JOE PASQUALE-elite boxing judge: Ryan O’Neal in shape. Great power in either hand, great chin and quick reflexes

CLIFF ROLD-managing editor of Boxing Scene, writer, historian: Allen Iverson has the sort of athleticism, footwork, physical grit and explosiveness that probably would have translated well into boxing. He was generally good at every sport he tried.

FRED ROMANO-author, historian, and former ESPN researcher: Billy Martin, former player and manager of the New York Yankees. He was scrappy, as they used to say. Also had a big chip on his shoulder. I think he would come to fight, not dance. Might have made an entertaining lightweight or welterweight if he could cultivate discipline to match his intensity.

DANA ROSENBLATT-former world middleweight champion, commentator: If Dolph Lundgren counts as a famous person, then my vote goes to him. Not only did he have the physicality to potentially become a professional boxer, his intelligence is off the charts. Last time I checked, smarts means a lot as far as who wins in the ring. Read up on this guy. Lundgren may not be the most famous actor at the moment, however nobody can say “Ivan Drago who?” that was born before 1975. Great athlete and even greater mind.

TED SARES-TSS writer, historian: Charles Buchinsky, aka Bronson, grew up in a hardscrabble coal mining region of Pennsylvania amidst extreme poverty, was the 11th of 15 children, and later was a decorated combat veteran of World War Two. Film critic Stephen Hunter said that “Bronson ‘oozed male life-force, stoic toughness, capability, strength.’ and “always projected the charisma of ambiguity…” this background and an extraordinary and well-honed physique would have given him a solid platform for boxing. Serena Williams would be my next choice.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY-manager, trainer, commentator, writer, historian, former light heavyweight world title challenger: I’ve never been one to believe that anyone could be a great boxer just because they were great in some other endeavor. Someone will see a great football player with speed and athleticism and take that to mean that they could also have been a great boxer. But there are too many intangibles. You could take the greatest athlete on Earth who is fearless on a football field or a basketball court but he gets in a boxing ring, gets his nose broken sparring, and never comes back. This is not for everybody. And you will never know until you actually get in there under extreme conditions if you can succeed. In many, many cases the most successful boxers are not the ones that those around him thought would be before they got in there.

ALAN SWYER- film producer, historian, director of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: The music world’s gain was the boxing community’s loss when James Brown’s amateur ring career was cut short because of a leg injury. But given his moves on-stage, his explosiveness, and his remarkable stamina, I can’t see how anyone in his weight class could have stood up to him.

RICK TORSNEY-boxing official, former fighter:  Charles Bronson. Born in a PA coal mining town, the eleventh of fifteen siblings. His father died when Charles was ten and he went to work in the mines where he earned one dollar per ton of coal mined. His family was so poor that they sometimes had no food and he had to wear his sisters’ clothes. He worked in the mines until WWII when he joined the Army Air Force, where he served as a aerial gunner on a B29 Superfortress. He flew 25 mission over Japanese occupied Islands and he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat. Throughout the history of the sport, hungry fighters have been the best fighters. Bronson looked the part of a boxer and literally fought for his life during the war.

BOB TREIGER-writer, historian: Herschel Walker. This may be cheating because he did some MMA fighting. Walker had that rare combination of speed and power to go with his incredible athleticism and explosiveness. I don’t think he was ever less than 100-percent in great shape. Walker had to be disciplined as well. All that adds up to a successful boxer. If he’s not eligible because he did some MMA fighting, I’ll go with actor Charles Bronson because he was a tough SOB.

PETER WOOD- writer, author, former fighter:

Every mornin’ at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said hi to Big John

{Big Bad John died prematurely.)

Now, they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man
Big John

A bit like Sonny Liston

OBSERVATIONS: Charles Bronson (pictured in a still from the movie “Hard Times”) led the pack with SIX mentions. Ryan O’Neal came in second with multiple mentions.

If I had to pick one that stands out, it would be Henry Hascup’s selection of Pele, though Jim Lampley’s choice of Mikhail Baryshnikov is intriguing as is Adeyinka Makinde’s selection of Vladimir Putin.

Iceman John Scully took a contrary perspective and makes a solid case.

Thanks to all.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

The Top Ten Super Bantamweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Matt McGrain

Published

on

The-Top-Ten=Super-Bantamweights-of-the-Decade-2010-2019

It has been interesting to see how transient fighters are when they inhabit the smaller divisions. Up at cruiserweight, fighters spent on average 50% of the decade in their division to earn their spot among the top ten; here at 122lbs it is nearer 30%.

This results in a list of fighters with less purchase on the list, generally. Occasionally though, even at the smaller weights, a fighter will rack up a list of serious victories in a short space of time and hit the heights – and the divisional stalwart is also not unheard of. Here, one of each of these type towers over the rest of the decadal division but the numbers ten through three kick up a lot of interesting fights, and some very interesting fighters.

In accounting for these fighters, the term “one hit wonder” is used liberally. Here I am not seeking to denigrate either the fighter or his wider opposition; it merely denotes a fighter who has one win of real significance which is often accounted for in some detail.

This is another symptom of a generation of fighters happy to put on a mere four pounds to visit the next division up for their next big test.

10 – Rico Ramos

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 16-6 Ranked For: 18% of the decade

The tenth slot was a shootout between Kiko Martinez, who did a little more at the weight, and Rico Ramos, who did a little less, but who was defeated at the poundage only by Guillermo Rigondeaux; Martinez, meanwhile, was thrashed twice by Carl Frampton and once by Scott Quigg. The Scott Quigg tilts me towards Ramos, whose purple patch of 7-1 gets him over the line.

The jewel in his super-bantamweight crown for the period January 2010 until December 2019 was his come-from-behind knockout victory over Akifumi Shimoda, one of the top contenders of 2010 and 2011. Shimoda himself has a claim to the number ten spot based primarily upon his superb victory over Ryol Li Lee, but Ramos eliminated him when they clashed in Atlantic City in July of 2011.

Ramos, an American of Puerto Rican descent, had been boxing since he was eight years old but seemingly had no answer to the Shimoda jab which was opening up other opportunities for the Japanese; Ramos, circling to his right at the beginning of the seventh, brought Shimoda onto a left hand, but it was unheeded and Shimoda continued to boss the real-estate and find a home for his bodypunches. A right hand from Rico seemed to gather his attention though and having landed yet another left Rico finally had his man rooted to the spot, and circling, he landed a left hand as beautiful as any thrown in the 122lb decade. Shimoda was up at nine but immediately took a second header to the canvas.

Ramos was chased from the division by Rigondeaux, as noted, but certainly there is no shame there.

09 – Rey Vargas

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 34-0 Ranked For: 42% of the decade

Rey Vargas has traced an old-fashioned career arc, occupying a spot at super-bantamweight since 2015 and slowly creeping his way up the ranks to inhabit the number one spot, without, really, meeting anyone to justify that ranking. Sometimes longevity is its own reward.

His highest-ranking victim was Tomoki Kameda, and it showed when they met in July of last year; Tomoki had real success early and took a handy lead out of the first third of the fight. Vargas though is a freakishly tall superbantam at near 5’11 and he has the reach to match. From the fifth on, he deployed a controlling jab birthed by a pedigree amateur career that has been augmented by some serious professional experience. The double-uppercut right hand he landed in that round set him apart; the cards may have been a little wide but clearly Vargas was the right man.

He was the right man too five months previously when he was faced with another tough assignment in Franklin Manzanilla. Manzanilla, out of Venezuela, had scored an impressive victory over Julio Ceja in just four rounds in his previous fight and set some problems for Vargas with his rushes and fouling. Vargas found himself with cuts over both brows from “accidental” head-clashes as early as the eighth and Manzanilla had two points docked for hitting on the break and pushing. But Vargas showed some of his best boxing, dominating at distance with the jab and outlanding Manzanilla with fluid combination punching when they met at mid-range.

Vargas has a little more depth than these two fights – Azat Hovhannisyan and Ronny Rios have both made waves since he beat them – but they remain his fistic cornerstones, and despite some impressive boxing this makes him borderline for inclusion. His paper record and longevity in the ratings at 122lbs has seen me favour him over one-hit wonders like Jeffrey Mathebula and Akifumi Shimoda.

08 – Isaac Dogboe

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 21-2 Ranked For: 18% of the decade

Isaac Dogboe’s pressure appeared functional rather than thrilling before his big step up against Jessie Magdaleno in 2018. Magdaleno had been inactive but had also defeated no less a figure than Nonito Donaire in 2016 and was heavily favoured.

In the first round Dogboe was dropped while pressing Magdaleno too hard and he lost the third too, to a gorgeous Magdaleno counter left. But all the while his pressure was beginning to look a little more than workmanlike. He was adept at keeping Magdaleno moving and again and again Dogboe, out of London via Ghana, would fetch his man up against the ropes and let go. Still very much in touch on the scorecards after four, Magdaleno was being aggressively outgeneralled and was steadily losing touch with the fight. His solution was to come out at the opening of the fifth and attack; Dogboe promptly dropped him with a single left hook.

Dogboe so dominated Magdelano that night that the favourite found himself in need of a knockout by the ninth. The then world’s number one super-bantamweight showed no sign he might achieve it and in fact slipped further and further from his technical best, eventually reduced to sagging on the ropes and beckoning Dogboe in. It was a sorry sight and one the referee interrupted in the eleventh after Dogboe perpetrated the second knockdown of the round over his withering opponent.

It was an impressive and rather unexpected performance, albeit against an opponent who seemed to struggle a little with rust after a year out of the sport and it set Dogboe up as the world’s number one super-bantamweight.

Dogboe never added to his 122lb legacy though; his own nemesis was lurking in the wings.

07 – Emanuel Navarrete

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 31-1 Ranked For: 26% of the decade

Like Dogboe, Emanuel Navarrete fought the usual learning fights, stepped up to take on some journeymen and was then launched right into the deep end to face off with the world’s number one super-bantam. Dogboe-Navarrete was a fascinating contest in that it pitted a Johnny-come-lately against an even more recently arrived contender. Dogboe, as the man with the pedigree opponent on his ledger, was favoured.

Navarrete, who is tall with a reach that seems planetary, allowed Dogboe inside to do his work. It felt wrong and even dangerous until Navarrete landed a triple left hook, up and down, on the inside, to win the second round. From here he controlled the fight, impressive and dominant in out-fighting the smaller pressure fighter whose nightmare had come to visit him in the ring: a fighter he could not push back but rather who was pushing him back. The ninth through twelfth were a parade, the bigger man marching down the smaller pressure fighter in what amounts to the most disheartening position a pugilist of any kind can find himself.

Unfortunately for Dogboe he had a rematch clause. Navarrete, who now knew how Dogboe moved, thought and fought, beat him mercilessly in that rematch. The fight becomes difficult to watch around the eighth; Dogboe’s corner, brave to the near last, finally pulled him as he was blasted to the canvas in the twelfth and final round.

It seemed to me that something special had emerged in that fight, but the truth is we don’t yet know. Navarrete has fallen afoul of the ABC strap he wears in defending against underqualified challengers whose selection for their “title shot” is based upon matters other than fistic. So, the jury remains out on Navarrete, who nevertheless was impressive enough in his twin maulings of Dogboe to comfortably make the list.

06 – Jessie Magdaleno

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 27-1 Ranked For: 22% of the decade

Here, we meet the last of the one-hit-wonders on the list but Magdaleno possesses the finest of all of them: Nonito Donaire. Donaire, it is true, had had some of the glitter removed by Guillermo Rigondeaux, but in November of 2016 he remained the top contender to the legitimate title he had once held. Then Magdaleno came calling.

What most impressed me was Donaire’s near abandonment of his left hook. It was oft repeated that he had one of the “best left hooks in the sport” and if Bernard Hopkins had established the removal of such a potent weapon much ink would have been spent on his exaltation. Magdaleno was less fashionable and has remained so, but it was a wonderful technical achievement. Moving unhurriedly, seeking for single shots, he countered beautifully throughout with the right jab and right hook of his own, taking every opportunity to strike without – shades of Hopkins again – ever over-extending himself. The result was Donaire sheathing his own hook in obedience of the rule that you don’t hook with a hooker, while Magdaleno freely threw his own; to the body, especially, he was prestigious.

Donaire went to the straight right and a fascinating tussle ensued, summed up perfectly in the ninth where Donaire hurt Magdaleno on the ropes, only for Magdaleno to charge him and dominate the remainder of the round, putting him out of sight on the cards; Donaire closed with real strength as Magdaleno’s energy waned.

But the decision clearly belonged to Magdaleno.

It was not too long after this that Magdaleno ran into Dogboe. The reasonable question would be, if Dogboe beat Magdaleno how does Magdaleno come to be ranked above him here? It’s a fair question. The mathematics, for me, says that Magdelano’s defeat of Donaire is more impressive than Dogboe’s defeat of a rusty Magdaleno; I accept that this is arguable but balk at Magdaleno as low as eight given his wonderful performance against Donaire.

05 – Toshiaki Nishioka

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 4-1 Ranked For: 19% of the decade

Toshiaki Nishioka was the number one super-bantamweight coming into the decade and remained so until he was removed by the sumptuous power-punching of Nonito Donaire (and an over-excited referee).

How you feel about his overall standing here will depend upon how you feel about Rafael Marquez and his standing in October of 2011. Having lost three of his last six, including two of those wars with Israel Vazquez, Rafael was ostensibly on the slide, but the fight itself shows a fighter that, while no longer at his withering best, remained stoic and technically brilliant, very much a fighter that had to be mastered.

This, Nishioka did. To this day he maintains that Rafael is his most skilled opponent and he boxed with great care to control him, refusing to contest the inside and avoiding any over-commitment with the jab. Meanwhile he drilled Marquez with his trailing left, a wonderful punch that he throws with as much variety as anyone this century. Flying it quickly to the body was his stock in trade in the early going but he began to risk a wilder, wider, harder punch when he realised how wary Rafael had become. Rafael had success, not least in the second half of the eighth round where it seemed he might actually assume control of the fight, but Nishioka out-fought and out-worked the former lineal champion in the tenth and eleventh to put the decision to bed. It was a deeply impressive performance that cemented his status as the first number one super-bantam of the decade.

Nishioka’s other wins do little other than demonstrate his superiority over the field, especially his October 2010 contest with Rendall Munroe. Munroe brought guts but little else as the fight turned into something of a parade down the stretch; still, re-watching it was worth it for the feinted straight and uppercut through the middle that Nishioka used to tilt Munroe’s head back in the third.

Placing him at number five is a borderline call, but Nishioka was a clearer number one than anyone running eight through six. I am happy that should see him placed above, rather than below, the one-hit wonders.

04 – Leo Santa Cruz

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 24-1-1 Ranked For: 27% of the decade

Leo Santa Cruz departed 122lbs in 2015 with his undefeated record intact having made his impact on the first half of the super-bantamweight decade. His meaningful arrival at the poundage, the equivalent of a Mack truck pulling up inside a jewellery store, came in August of 2013 against Victor Terrazas. Terrazas, a tough, dangerous fighter was unsupported by the type of chin that would have made him genuinely world class. Nevertheless, the world’s number two contender was a serious proposition for Santa Cruz, and was coming off a nerveless, brutal battle with Cristian Mijares which he won by the narrowest of margins.

Terrazas started aggressively as Santa Cruz brought pressure, all high guard and work-rate. But, as we saw while looking at featherweight, Santa Cruz is much more than that. His punch selection is excellent, his sense for the backfoot superb for a front-foot fighter, his jab is thudding and accurate but he can box squarely enough – weight generally over his back leg, when he does so – to lead with the right without courting disaster. Terrazas was complimented during fight commentary for “making this an inside fight” – but an inside fight suits Santa Cruz just fine. He has reach and the technique to use it but is comfortable trying to land punches behind the elbows.

The two fought on even terms until they didn’t, when towards the end of the second Santa Cruz, tougher and better, opened up while the two stood head to head at the ropes. Terrazas emerged wounded and in the third, emerged giving ground. Dropped twice, he seemed broken in part by the psychological pressure, although it was the consistent, severe punching that did the damage.

Santa Cruz’s number two win was over Mijares, undoubtedly damaged goods, but still ranked. Santa Cruz couldn’t stop him, but what he did was in many ways worse: in a fight as different as that with Terrazas as could be imagined, he thrashed Mijares and rendered him a fistic irrelevance.

Santa Cruz was a very dangerous super-bantamweight.

03 – Carl Frampton

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 24-2 Ranked For: 35% of the decade

Carl Frampton slotted in right behind Santa Cruz at featherweight, but here he nips in just ahead of his great rival. A clash at 122lbs would have been helpful though – there is very little to separate them.

What does separate them is the additional work Frampton did at the very top of the division. He met no fewer than three top five contenders during his time fighting as Guillermo Rigondeaux’s understudy – the Cuban was champion throughout Frampton’s stay at the poundage – and soundly defeated all of them.

First up was Kiko Martinez, who Frampton had already defeated in a European title tussle but met again in 2014. Frampton, who probably entered his peak that night, couldn’t put the more experienced Martinez away as he had in their first fight but he did dominate almost completely with a healthy mix of jabs and bodyshots. Chris Avalos, who failed miserably when he moved up to featherweight but was a serious super-bantamweight, visited Frampton’s Belfast stronghold in 2015.  This was Frampton’s finest performance at the weight, his right hand excellent, despite the scruffy squabbling in the second his dominance near-complete.

Frampton’s final fight at 122lbs showed the toll weight-making was taking upon him. He was dominant over the first six against a reticent Scott Quigg, even breaking his jaw in the fourth, but the Englishman came on in the second half of the fight which was, in the end, very close.

Santa Cruz was more impressive in the victories he did have at 122lbs but it was Frampton, in the end, who scored the more numerous and more impressive victories.

02 – Nonito Donaire

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 18-5 Ranked For: 25% of the decade

The decade 2010-2019 produced two legitimate super-bantamweight champions and it is fitting that these two lead the pack. Nor is it close – there is so much clear blue water between Nonito Donaire at #2 and Carl Frampton at #3 that they may as well be on different lists.

Donaire stepped up to 122lbs in 2012 and immediately tackled a divisional strapholder, the number eight contender, Wilfredo Vazquez; after taking a decision form him over the twelve, it was Jeffrey Mathebula, the number six contender who towered over Donaire but nevertheless gave up a similar decision. This second fight is crucial because against both he and Vazquez it is possible to see Donaire over-reaching, under-boxing, pushing far too hard for the knockout which he openly demanded of himself in the press. In the tenth round of his fight with Mathebula, Donaire was so completely out-boxed that in the eleventh and twelfth he limited himself to his more direct sphere of influence and in doing so dominated Mathebula completely, cracking one of his teeth in the process. You could almost hear the penny drop.

I consider that Donaire found himself at 122lbs that night and the result was Donaire’s 118lb form suddenly materialising in the super-bantamweight division. His next fight was against no less a figure than Toshiaki Nishioka, the most accomplished fighter in the division, a meeting between the two best super-bantams in the world and so the beginning of a new lineage at the weight. Donaire was the absolute pinnacle of cool as far as his inherent aggression would allow; he won every round and devastated Nishioka in the ninth round of a non-competitive rout propelled by his right hand rather than left hook. When he butchered Jorge Arce two months later, in December of 2012, he had completed the single best unbroken run of the decade at 122lbs and one of the better runs at any weight.

This being boxing, the end of that run was just around the corner.

01 – Guillermo Rigondeaux

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 15-1 Ranked For: 92% of the decade

Donaire met with Cuban amateur legend Guillermo Rigondeaux in April of 2013 in a huge fight between the two best super-bantamweights in the world. It was also as one-sided as any top tier match of the decade as Rigondeaux, in absolute control for ten of the twelve rounds, picked Donaire’s wings off in a study of lethal economy.

Rigondeaux breaks rhythm. A combination of feints, very astute defensive dips and slips and single power-punches make establishment of offense against him agonising. Donaire, a fluid fighter who counter-pressures his opponents to the canvas, was particularly afflicted by the Rigondeaux malaise.  Rigondeaux threw infrequently; still he out-landed Donaire in every round but one.

The Cuban spent the years in which Donaire was tying together his superb 122lb run emerging from the pack and was just 6-0 when he tangled with number five contender Ricardo Cordoba. Rigondeaux dominated with ease until Cordoba snapped his head back with a jab, flashing him.  Rigondeaux responded in away entirely unacceptable to the American fight fraternity: he ran away.

Rigondeaux took a split decision and learned his final lesson: professional fighting in America calls for more fighting than amateur boxing does anywhere. Rico Ramos, then still unbeaten at 20-0, was the man to bear the brunt of this newly learned lesson as he was blasted to the canvas in the first round and tormented through the sixth when a body punch – and the better part of valour – kept him on the canvas.

So Rigondeaux was primed when he stepped into the ring with Donaire, for all that he was professionally inexperienced. Donaire was made to understand it and the litany of excuses he laid out after the fight – his shoulder was bad, he didn’t study his opponent, his was distracted by his wife’s pregnancy – could not disguise his out-and-out inferiority to Rigondeaux.

The argument as to who would be the decadal number one at 122lbs ended there, but there is more to recommend Rigondeaux as one of the longest serving lineal champions in boxing. In a division that sees fleeting commitment, even by its most prominent fighters, Rigondeaux’s devotion to super-bantamweight has been unusual.

He never became the superstar his management wanted to make him – too technical, too careful, too defensive – but there is no questioning his status as the best of the decade.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Remembering “Doin’ Damage”

Ted Sares

Published

on

Remembering-Doin'-Damage

On June 3, 1997, Darroll “Doin’ Damage” Wilson met Courage “No Limit” Tshabalala at Philadelphia’s legendary Blue Horizon where no seat was a bad seat. The fight was a true Philly Classic, one of the most exciting fights of the year. The result was a surprise, but not as surprising as the upset that Darroll Wilson pulled off in March of the previous year when he fought the much bigger Shannon Briggs at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Wilson vs. Briggs

Brooklynite Shannon Briggs (25-0) had achieved a reputation for being a guy who ended his fights early, as in first-round KO’s, but on this occasion, things kind of reversed themselves, as the gutsy Wilson (15-0-2 going in) survived a furious first round and then used his superior skills to shockingly take out “The Cannon” with a sharp left hook two rounds later.

Wilson, who lived close to Atlantic City in Mays Landing, N.J., had done considerable damage to his opponents until he met David Tua (24-0) in Miami and was KOd in the last second of an otherwise even first round by the streaking “Tuaman.” But losing to the short but super-powerful Tua was no disgrace. In fact, for Darroll, the best was yet to come.

 After beating limited Ron McCarthy, Darroll met the highly-touted Tshabalala (20-1). “Courage” had previously been shocked by Brian “Bam Bam” Scott (21-3) in the late Scott’s career definer in 1996, shattering the myth of the South African’s extraordinary power and alleged 72-1 amateur record (with 71 knockouts). Scott won using a fast and sharp combo, stopping him in the second round. Most of the 270-pound native of Kansas’s opponents had losing records which further amplified the shock factor– though Courage’s level of opposition was equally suspect.

Wilson vs Tshabalala (June 1997)

After Ed Darian Derian announced the fighters, the bell rang and Courage quickly decked Wilson with a power jab and then dictated matters for the rest of the round as he went on the stalk. The second round was uneventful until the last 15 seconds when Tshabalala opened up with a number of power shots. Wilson answered, but his answer came after the bell for which he received a firm warning.

Late in the third round, Wilson was hit clean by a perfect Courage right cross. He went down hard, got up, and then fell back down on Queer Street. Just as Referee Rudy Battle was about to signal the end of the fight, the round ended and Wilson was allowed to continue. Lou Duva, Courage’s manager, protested the call in his usual hyper/hysterical fashion but to no avail. Lou’s signature protests had acquired the feel of the little boy who cried wolf too often and this one was no exception.

Tshabalala came out fast in the next round trying to put away a still stunned Wilson, but the muscular Darroll did what he did against Briggs and, weathering the fierce storm, began to connect with his own shots. Both men went at it full-tilt boogie until the South African, exposing a stamina issue, finally went down, spit out his mouthpiece, and was counted out. He had nothing left. The Blue Horizon went bonkers.

Tshabalala had now participated in one of the upsets of the year and one of the most exciting fights of the year. Though a loser in both, he was nevertheless on everybody’s radar.

Bert Cooper (September 2002)

Darroll would go on to win some and lose some but against the very best opposition including David Izon, Frankie Swindell, Mike Rouse, Tim Witherspoon, Ray Mercer, and Oliver McCall. He ended his career in 2006 with a 27-10-2 slate and– before he took three years off–he scored another big win by stopping Bert Cooper (36-21) at the Blue Horizon in 2002. After this loss, Bert himself would take an eight-year hiatus from boxing, but for all practical purposes, he was done. (Cooper was a tragic figure with a deceptive record—a quintessentially sad boxing story– and the ups and downs of his life beg for a telling.)

As for Darroll Wilson, he always gave his best and on at least three occasions, he did some remarkable damage.

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

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Leo Upends Williams as Boxing Returns to ‘Showtime’

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

Leo-Upends-Williams-as-Boxing-Returns-to-Showtime

Showtime Boxing kicked off their late summer/fall season tonight with a three-fight card behind closed doors at the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, CT. Tonight’s show is the first of nine live boxing events that the cable TV giant announced on July 22. The season will run through Dec. 12 with the concluding match a WBC bantamweight title bout between defending title-holder Nordine Oubaali and ageless showstopper Nonito Donaire.

Unfortunately for Showtime, there was a COVID-19 complication right out of the box. Philadelphia bantamweight Stephen Fulton, who would have been the “A” side in tonight’s main event, tested positive on Wednesday, forcing some shuffling. Tramaine Williams was bumped up from the co-feature to challenge Angelo Leo for the WBO world super bantamweight title vacated by Emanuel Navarette.

Angelo Leo hadn’t prepared for a southpaw and it took him a bit find his groove, but he found it and won a fairly lopsided decision over a previously undefeated opponent who was fighting in his home state. The scores were 117-111 and 118-110 twice.

Leo, 26, worked the body well and had more fuel in his tank as the bout progressed into the late rounds. In winning, Leo became the first world title-holder from Albuquerque since Johnny Tapia. Promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s “Money Team”, he advanced his record to 20-0. It was the first pro loss for New Haven’s Williams who fell to 19-1.

It figures that Leo will make his first defense against Stephen Fulton.

Other Bouts

In another 122-pound match that was also penciled in for 12 rounds, Ra’eese Aleem thoroughly outclassed late sub Marcus Bates en route to a 10th round stoppage. This was their second meeting and Bates, who entered the contest 11-1-1, was looking to avenge his lone defeat. In their initial go in Philadelphia in April of 2018, Aleem won comfortably on the scorecards. Bates recently explained that loss away by saying that he believed that someone tampered with his water bottle, giving Aleem an advantage.

Aleem, 30, steadily broke Bates down. The referee halted the one-sided match when Bates, who appeared to have sprained his right wrist, turned his back on Aleem after absorbing a hard left hook. Aleem, the pride of Muskegon, Michigan, improved to 17-0 with his 12th knockout.

In the opener, a light heavyweight match slated for 10 rounds, Houston’s Joseph George (11-0, 7 KOs) landed a bombshell of a left uppercut in the ninth frame to put away Marcos Escudero (10-2) who was well ahead on the scorecards when lightning struck.

This was a rematch. When they fought last November on ShoBox, Escudero outworked George, but George landed the crisper punches and prevailed on a split decision. Escudero, who is from Argentina but had his early pro fights in Florida, outworked George again (George likes to fight with his back against the ropes, a strategy he needs to reconsider) but as they say, it only takes one punch in this business, and Joseph George, who is managed by NFL all-pro tackle Trent Williams, brought the howitzer.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Joshua-Franco's-Journey-from-San-Antonio-to-World-Champ
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Joshua Franco’s Journey from San Antonio to World Champ

Vergil-Ortiz-Jt-Continues-KO-Streak-at-Fantasy-Springs
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Continues KO Streak at Fantasy Springs

What-is-the-True-Mark-of-Greatness-on-Boxing?
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

What is the True Mark of Greatness in Boxing?

Avila-Perspective-Chap-99-Reopening-in-California
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 99: Re-Opening in California

Remembering-Doin'-Damage
Featured Articles2 days ago

Remembering “Doin’ Damage”

Sunday-Boxing-by-Thompson-Boxing-Ruben-Torres-and-More-on-$6-PPV
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Sunday Boxing by Thompson Boxing: Ruben Torres and More on $6 PPV

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Takam-UD-10-Forrest-Castro-Dismantles-Juarez
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Takam UD 10 Forrest; Castro Dismantles Juarez

Michael-Dutchover-Wins-in-Corona-on-the-Thompson-Boxing-Card
Featured Articles1 week ago

Michael Dutchover Wins in Corona on the Thompson Boxing Card

Charlo-Brothers-in-World-Title-Defenses-in-Unique-PPV-Twin-Bill-in-September
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Charlo Brothers in World Title Defenses in Unique PPV Twin Bill in September

Re-Visiting-the-Fury-Klitschko-Fight-A-TSS-Classic
Featured Articles6 days ago

Re-Visiting The Fury – Klitschko Fight: A TSS Classic

Ted-Cheeseman-Outpoints-Sam-Eggington-in-a-Backyard-Beauty
Featured Articles4 days ago

Ted Cheeseman Outpoints Sam Eggington in a Backyard Beauty

Fast-Results-from-the-UK-Michael-Wallisch-is-Easy-Meat-for-Joe-Joyce
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from the UK: Michael Wallisch is Easy Meat for Joe Joyce

Leo-Upends-Williams-as-Boxing-Returns-to-Showtime
Featured Articles3 days ago

Leo Upends Williams as Boxing Returns to ‘Showtime’

Brother-Naazim's-Remarkable-Life-is-Now-a-Wrap
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Brother Naazim’s Remarkable Life is Now a Wrap

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-A-Virtuoso-Performance-by-Mikaela-Mayer
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: A Virtuoso Performance by Mikaela Mayer

Beware-Fearless-Freddie
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Beware Fearless Freddie

Avila-Perspective-Chap-99-Errol-Spence-and-More
Featured Articles4 days ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 99: Errol Spence and More

Live-Boxing-at-the-Drive-In-Theater-A-Ringside-Report
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Live Boxing at the Drive-In Theater: A “Ringside” Report

Iran-Barkley-and-Junior-Jones-After-the-Bell-the-Real-Fight-Began
Featured Articles1 week ago

Iran Barkley and Junior Jones: After the Final Bell, the Real Fight Began

Fireworks-at-the-Bubble-Valdez-TKOs-Velez-KO-Machine-Berlanga-Keeps-on-Rolling
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fireworks at the Bubble: Valdez TKOs Velez; KO Machine Berlanga Keeps on Rolling

The-Top-Ten=Super-Bantamweights-of-the-Decade-2010-2019
Featured Articles19 hours ago

The Top Ten Super Bantamweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Remembering-Doin'-Damage
Featured Articles2 days ago

Remembering “Doin’ Damage”

Leo-Upends-Williams-as-Boxing-Returns-to-Showtime
Featured Articles3 days ago

Leo Upends Williams as Boxing Returns to ‘Showtime’

Ted-Cheeseman-Outpoints-Sam-Eggington-in-a-Backyard-Beauty
Featured Articles4 days ago

Ted Cheeseman Outpoints Sam Eggington in a Backyard Beauty

Avila-Perspective-Chap-99-Errol-Spence-and-More
Featured Articles4 days ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 99: Errol Spence and More

Re-Visiting-the-Fury-Klitschko-Fight-A-TSS-Classic
Featured Articles6 days ago

Re-Visiting The Fury – Klitschko Fight: A TSS Classic

Iran-Barkley-and-Junior-Jones-After-the-Bell-the-Real-Fight-Began
Featured Articles1 week ago

Iran Barkley and Junior Jones: After the Final Bell, the Real Fight Began

Michael-Dutchover-Wins-in-Corona-on-the-Thompson-Boxing-Card
Featured Articles1 week ago

Michael Dutchover Wins in Corona on the Thompson Boxing Card

Fast-Results-from-the-UK-Michael-Wallisch-is-Easy-Meat-for-Joe-Joyce
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from the UK: Michael Wallisch is Easy Meat for Joe Joyce

Sunday-Boxing-by-Thompson-Boxing-Ruben-Torres-and-More-on-$6-PPV
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Sunday Boxing by Thompson Boxing: Ruben Torres and More on $6 PPV

Vergil-Ortiz-Jt-Continues-KO-Streak-at-Fantasy-Springs
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Continues KO Streak at Fantasy Springs

Brother-Naazim's-Remarkable-Life-is-Now-a-Wrap
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Brother Naazim’s Remarkable Life is Now a Wrap

The-Top-Ten-Featherweights-of-the-Decade-2010-2019
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

The Top Ten Featherweights of the Decade 2010-2019

Charlo-Brothers-in-World-Title-Defenses-in-Unique-PPV-Twin-Bill-in-September
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Charlo Brothers in World Title Defenses in Unique PPV Twin Bill in September

Fireworks-at-the-Bubble-Valdez-TKOs-Velez-KO-Machine-Berlanga-Keeps-on-Rolling
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fireworks at the Bubble: Valdez TKOs Velez; KO Machine Berlanga Keeps on Rolling

Beware-Fearless-Freddie
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Beware Fearless Freddie

Heavyweight-Hopeful-Agit-Kabayel-Wins-as-Expected-in-Magdeburg
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Heavyweight Hopeful Agit Kabayel Wins as Expected in Magdeburg

Avila-Perspective-Chap-99-Reopening-in-California
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 99: Re-Opening in California

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-Resurgent-Verdejo-Blasts-Out-Madera
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: Resurgent Verdejo Blasts Out Madera

Fast-Results-from-the-Bubble-A-Virtuoso-Performance-by-Mikaela-Mayer
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Fast Results from the Bubble: A Virtuoso Performance by Mikaela Mayer

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement