Saturday, September 16, 2017

On This Day: Marvin Hart Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Marvin Hart ‘The Fighting Kentuckian’ is perhaps the heavyweight division's most underrated champion, a man who came to boxing late in life (23) and still managed to get to the top of the heavyweight division. Hart was born on September 16, 1876, in Fern Creek, Kentucky. Hart began his boxing career in 1899, aged 23, and during his career fought top men such as Tommy West, Dan Creedon, Kid Carter, Jack Root, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Jack Bonner, George Gardner, Joe Choynski, Gus Ruhlin, Jack Johnson, Tommy Burns, Peter Maher, Jack Twin Sullivan, and Mike Schreck.

Hart's best result was his controversial 20 rounds point's victory over Jack Johnson, on March 28, 1905.

When Jim Jeffries announced his retirement from the ring as undefeated champion, he selected Hart and Jack Root, to fight for the vacant World heavyweight title. The fight took place on July 3, 1905, and Hart won on a 12th round knockout.

In his first defence of his world title on February 23, 1906, Hart faced Tommy Burns, and was out-pointed over 20 rounds, losing his title in the process.

Hart continued to fight until 1910, retiring after being stopped by Carl Morris in 3 rounds, on December 20, 1910, Marvin Hart’s final record reads (28-7-4, 20koes).

After retirement, Hart would spend the rest of his life on his farm in Barnstown Pike. He spent his days raising chickens, farming, and being a referee. He also operated a tavern in Louisville, Kentucky. Suffering from an enlarged liver and high blood pressure, Marvin Hart died on September 17, 1931, at the age of 55 years old. 

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

On This Day: Lou Brouillard Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Lou Brouillard was a very strong and durable fighter, short and powerful, with a good punch. He won world titles at two weights, yet is often overlooked in comparison to other champions. Born Lucien Pierre Brouillard, on May 23, 1911, at Saint Eugene, Quebec, Canada. And began his professional career in 1928.

During his career, Brouillard faced top names such as, Eddie Desautels, Baby Joe Gans, Al Mello, Paul Pirrone, Young Jack Thompson, Bucky Lawless, Jackie Fields, George Manolian, Jimmy McLarnin, Sammy Slaughter, Mickey Walker, Ben Jeby, Adolf Heuser, Vince Dundee, Tony Shucco, Bob Olin, Al Gainer, Babe Marino, Young Corbett III, Al Mcoy, Marcel Thil, Gustave Roth, Fred Apostoli, Teddy Yaosz, Tiger Roy Williams, Dick Maloney, Tiger Jack Fox, Gus Lesnevich, Ray Miller, Anton Christoforidis, Georgie Abrams, and Lloyd Marshall.

Brouillard won the NBA world welterweight championship on October 23, 1931, when he out-pointed Young Jack Thompson over 15 rounds. He lost the title on January, 28, 1932, when he was out-pointed over 10 rounds by Jackie Fields.

After losing the World welterweight title, Brouillard moved up to the middleweight division, and on August 9, 1933, he won the NYSAC world middleweight championship by knocking out Ben Jeby in the 7th round. Brouillard held this title for two months, being beaten on points by Vince Dundee.

Brouillard would have two shots at regaining the World middleweight championship, both, against Marcel Thil, for the IBU world middleweight title. The pair first fought in a non-title fight on November 25, 1935, with Thil winning on points after 12 rounds. Two months later, the two met for Thil's IBU world title, and Thil was declared a winner on a foul in the 4th round.

They fought again on February 15, 1937, with the IBU world middleweight title on the line, and this time Thil was given the victory via a 6th round disqualification amid controversial scenes. Thil had seemingly been dropped by a blow to the jaw, yet Thil stayed on one knee clutching his stomach as he was counted out by the referee. After counting Thil out, the ref then consulted with the judges and stated that Thil had been fouled. Therefore, was the winner on a disqualification.

Brouillard continued to fight until 1940, still mixing it at the top level until the end, although he lost his last 4 fights. He retired after dropping a 10-round decision to Henry Chmielewski.

Lou Brouillard retired with a final record of (100-31-2, 57koes). He was only stopped once during his whole career.

Up until his retirement in 1970, he work in a steel shipyard, operating a crane and rigger. Brouillard, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died on September 14, 1984, at the age of 73.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Boxing Glove Big Fight Preview: Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez... A Date With Destiny

By Peter Silkov

Now that the pantomime is over between you know who, and what’s his name, the smoke has finally cleared a little bit to reveal the most eagerly anticipated middleweight fight since Hagler vs Hearns back in 1985. Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33koes) and Saul Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34koes) meet next week, September 16, at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, in a clash that has been at least three years in the making.

The various controversies, whispers, and disagreements, which have blocked this fight from happening, up until now, including Canelo’s infamous ‘I am not a true middleweight yet!’ claim, are all well known enough not to have to go into again. Now that the match is finally here, what do we really have before us? Is it a real ‘superfight’ or something a little bit different, more along the lines of a good business deal?

One look at both men's records, and fighting styles, tells us that this should be a well matched encounter that could produce something special. Both men have primarily aggressive fighting styles, but are also sound technically.

The build up to this match has been respectful from both sides, which is refreshing, and has added to the almost old school feel of this showdown. This is the kind of showdown between top fighters that used to happen regularly in boxing, but now is generally put off, especially in the heavier divisions, save for the occasional ‘superfight.'

If there is a worry, a person with a jaded eye might point out that the pair have been almost too respectful in this build-up and that talk of an upcoming ‘trilogy’ between the pair has been rather odd and ill-timed.

It's hard to think of any of boxing's famous ‘trilogies’ that have been ‘pre-planned', and the very action of arranging a trilogy in advance may lead won to wonder just how much planning has gone into the actual fights themselves.

Yet, one hopes that this slightly cynical fear will not be supported by what is finally witnessed on September 16. Come fight night, we are hoping to see both men giving 100% for victory, and for one of them to be awarded with a fair victory free from controversy. This is what boxing desperately needs, from a fight that it has been crying out for over these past two years.

Trilogy or not, this is a career defining fight for both men. For Canelo, it is a chance for him to finally show that he is more than just a good fighter who has been built up into something more by the media and Golden Boy promotions. Gennady Golovin meanwhile, needs this victory in order to finally underline the claims of greatness that have been surrounding him.

Photo: Metro.Uk
At the age of 35 years old, GGG has dominated the 160-pound division against anyone willing to get into the ring with him for the past 7 years, and over the course of 17 title defences. Despite this impressive resume, Golovkin has yet to find that defining fight, that defining defence, in which he has been called to show himself at his very best under pressure. In much the same way as 80s middleweight king, Marvin Hagler, struggled to find a meaningful fight before his contests with Duran, Hearns, and Mugubi.

Against Canelo, Golovkin will, for the first time, be facing an opponent whom a large amount of people believe has a chance to beat him.

If GGG beats Canelo, then his detractors will find it difficult to seriously ask ‘who has Golovkin beaten?’ GGG has already beaten the best at 160 pounds, aside from the three men that have constantly avoided him; former WBC champion Miguel Cotto, WBO champ Billy Joe Saunders, and up until now, Saul Canelo Alvarez. Indeed, it is worth remembering that Canelo gave up the WBC championship, rather than accept a fight with Golovkin earlier this year.

Looking at both men’s careers, while it can be acknowledged that Canelo has beaten the higher profile fighters compared to Golovkin, it must also be said that Canelo has been moved along very cleverly, and faced far more ‘soft targets’ than is often admitted. Since losing widely to Floyd Mayweather Jr. 4 years ago, Canelo has faced the limited and shop worn James Kirkland, Alfredo Angulo, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the vastly out-weighed and over-matched, Amir Khan, and the largely unproven at world level Liam Smith. Canelo’s best victories in the past 4 years have come against the slippery Erislandy Lara, (a fight in which many observers felt that Canelo was lucky to escape with a victory) and against Miguel Cotto. Against Cotto, although Canelo took victory and won the WBC world middleweight title in the process, it was not a devastating performance by Canelo and again, there were those who believed that the veteran Cotto had done enough to claim victory.

Photo: RingTV
The common thead throughout Canelo’s career is that he has never impressed quite as much as has been expected of him. Even in his last fight last May, against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., in a fight so one-sided that it resembled a bad sparring session. Canelo, for all his perceived strength and power, was unable to floor Chavez Jr. even once, let alone stop him. Canelo looked devastating against Amir Khan, yet even against the over-matched Liam Smith, Canelo struggled at times to impress.

Canelo’s strength has always been his size advantage over his opponents on fight night. It is well known that he goes up to 180 pounds at least, by fight night. Technically he is a sound fighter with a good chin, but he is also one-paced, and lacks flexibility in the ring. Mayweather, Lara and even Khan, showed how Canelo can be out-boxed, and dominated by the jab. Is this a strategy, which Golovkin might try against Alvarez?

Golovkin is usually thought of as an all-action slugger with a knockout punch in either hand, yet he has shown in the past that he is also a very shrewd technical boxer when he wants. Against David Lemieux in 2015, instead of going toe-to-toe with the big-punching Canadian, GGG chose to clinically take him apart with a technical display that GGG has not shown since.

Against such a physically strong fighter as Alvarez, who looks to have a sound chin, Golovkin may well need to call upon his finer boxing skills, just as he did when he took on Lemieux.

The worry for GGG’s supporters might be that at 35, the Kazakhstan fighting machine is beginning to feel the wear and tear of 18 world title fights, and father time. Certainly GGG’s last outing, six months ago against Daniel Jacobs, which saw the champion taken the full 12 rounds for the first time in his career, was his most unimpressive performance since he first won his world titles. There were those who felt that he was lucky to leave the ring still with his titles.

Photo: Boxing News
Golovkin has since said himself that it is the Jacobs fight that helped finally make his match with Canelo. Was it just an off night for GGG or was it a clear indication of a decay in his pugilistic skills. It should also be remembered that in his previous fight against England’s Kell Brook, Golovkin looked slow and sloppy at times with an almost non-existent defence, before finally stopping Brook in the 5th round.

Are these performances indications of decline, or simply a symptom of GGG’s growing boredom at being unable to gain the big fights that he has wanted for so long.

In fact, it might also be argued that perhaps GGG has purposely ‘held back’ in recent defences, in an effort to make himself look more match friendly to Canelo Alvarez.

It is clear that GGG has not been the precise fighting machine he was against Lemieux, for at least his last two fights.

Here lies the crucial part of this upcoming contest. If Golovkin can find the form that he showed 2 or 3 years ago, then he should have a clear technical edge  over Canelo. At his best, Golovkin is a much more versatile boxer than Canelo.

Canelo’s main attributes are his physical strength, and his comparative youth compared to GGG. At 27, Canelo Alvarez is at his physical peak while Golovkin at 35, as discussed earlier, is most likely past his peak.

This all goes together to make their fight that much closer. While Golovkin might have been a clear favourite 2 years ago, now he is not.

This match up could play out in two distinct ways. On the one hand, we could see both going toe-to-toe in an all out brawl, to test each other's durability and resolve, alternatively, we could see a much more technical fight, even perhaps a bit of a chess match between the two men. GGG will look to use his jab and wear down Canelo over the distance. If Alvarez has shown a weakness, other than his one-dimensional fighting style, it is his tendency to tire in the later rounds of fights. However in order to tire Canelo, GGG will have to work at a high pace himself, higher than he did against Jacobs in his last fight.

Can Golovkin operate at a high pace himself over 12 rounds, a distance, which Canelo is used to travelling in comparison.

Barring any scoring controversies, this fight is likely to be won by the fighter who can set the higher pace. Yet, Golovkin's best chance of victory may well come inside the distance. If the fight goes the full 12 rounds, (and is a competitive affair, as it is most likely to be) then it is hard not to envisage the Las Vegas Judges favouring Golden Boy’s favourite son. We have seen Canelo gain decisions over Lara and Trout, which were questionable and who can forget the judge who made his fight with Mayweather Jr. a draw!

Despite his popularity with the fans, Golovkin will most definitely be the ‘outsider’ in this fight, and one needs only to look at the recent two Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev contests to see what can happen when you are fighting a favoured fighter in Las Vegas. Golovkin will have to go into this fight with the mindset that he will need either a stoppage or a completely dominant performance over the distance in order to claim victory.

The feeling at The Boxing Glove is that Golovkin either wins this match inside the distance after wearing Alvarez down, or else he is looking at losing perhaps controversially on points. One doesn’t like to be a cynic, but after watching recent big fights, especially in Vegas, it is hard not to be. Vegas has a habit of siding with the house fighter.

Let’s hope that I am wrong and that we see a great fight, followed by a just result free from controversy. That would really make Saturday's fight something special.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Boxing Glove Big Fight Review: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Defeats Roman Gonzalez: A Bitter-Sweet Night At The Stub Hub

Photo: Yahoo Sports
By Peter Silkov

Sometimes boxing promises big things, but fails to deliver. Last night’s 115 pound triple header at the Stub Hub Centre, California, promised much with its three main contests featuring five of the best 115-pounders in the world getting it on. In the end, it did not disappoint. Fighting in front of a raucous and excited crowd, the bill was a testament to how boxing's lighter warriors often provide the sports heaviest action. Yet it was a bitter sweet affair, as the shocking defeat of former pound-for-pound number one, Roman Gonzalez, indicated that the man who has done so much to generate interest in the sport's lightest divisions over the past 10 years, may not be able to reap the benefits of the public's new found awareness.

Last night was supposed to be the scene of Roman’s revenge over Rungvisai, after a bloody and controversial defeat six months ago, which had cost him his WBC world super-flyweight title. It had also shorn Roman of his unbeaten record, which included 80 amateur fights unbeaten, and his status as the pound-for-pound number one in the world. In an era where world titles are seemingly won at a drop of a hat, and weight divisions jumped after a few extra milkshakes, Roman Gonzalez was a throwback to the times when a champion stayed at his division and asserted his dominance before moving up. Don’t confuse Roman Gonzalez’s multiple world titles with Adrien Broner's tiny haul. There was nothing contrived about Gonzalez’s world title victories at four weights over the course of nine years. This was not a big man boiling down to a weight that he should never be fighting at either. Gonzalez has always been a genuine small fighter. This is not a featherweight posing as a flyweight.

First meeting with Rungvisai
Unfortunately, last night the indications were that ,Gonzalez’s pugilistic honesty had come face-to-face with the harsh reality of boxing, and left him flat on his back, a beaten man. As had been feared since he first moved up and out-pointed Carlos Cuadras last September, to capture the WBC world super-flyweight title, and become one of the few fighters to win world titles at 4 different weights, it was a weight too far for ‘Chocolatito.’ Despite the victory over Cuadras, ‘Chocolatito’ had been given one of the hardest fights of his career, and shipped an unusual amount of punishment, which left him battered and bloody at the end, while Cuadras was relatively unmarked. The clues then were that giving away such a significant amount of natural weight, to the likes of Caudras, was going to be a major difficulty for Gonzalez.

Any thoughts that Gonzalez (46-2, 38koes) would find things easier as he settled into the higher weight were dispelled six months ago when he was dethroned by Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40koes). Although the decision itself seemed to be unjust, and the new champion had been guilty of some flagrant use of the head, the fact remained that once again ‘Chocolatito’ did not look himself. He once more lacked his usual speed and sharpness, and took far more punishment than was usually the case for him.

Last night was supposed to be the night that ‘Chocolatito’ returned to his best, and prove that he was still boxing’s pound-for-pound, number one.

Alas boxing is indeed a cruel endeavour, and perversely it often seems to be its cruellest to those who have graced it the best. The rematch between Gonzalez and Rungvisai was not so much a rematch, as it was a demolition. ‘Chocolatito’ never seemed to be himself, from the pre-fight screening of his being gloved up in his dressing room, to the fight itself, this fighter, who usually entered the ring with the relaxed air that only the greats can carry, seemed tense and troubled.

As he was (before their first fight six months ago), Gonzalez looked highly emotional during the ring introductions, and it was disturbing to see him in such a state just as he was about to go into action. It is well known that Gonzalez has been deeply affected by the sudden death of his trainer, Arnulfo Obando, last November. One can only wonder how much that loss has contributed to ‘Chocolatito’s’ sudden decline.

Photo: AP
When the action began, it was clear from the beginning that this was not the ‘Chocolatito’ whom we have come to admire so much for the best part of the last decade. He seemed hesitant, uncomfortable, and agonisingly slow of both hand and foot, while the defending champion quickly took the initiative, and with it, the first round. There was again a clash of heads between the two, as in the first fight, and although no damage was done, it only added to Gonzalez’s visible discomfort. Things were much the same in the second round, as Gonzalez barrelled forwards, and attempted to take the play away from Rungvisai, but it was the defending champion who was connecting with the more punches as Gonzalez looked to be having trouble getting his punches off, and when he did land his blows lacked their usual spark of power.

The third was a better round for Gonzalez as he showed some brief glimpses of his former form, turning up the pace, and going toe-to- toe with Rungvisai. Yet ‘Chocolatito’ seemed to be forcing himself into the fire, and while his punches seemed to just be bouncing off Rungvisai, and the champion's own blows looked much heavier. The punches seemed to be having a much more telling affect, as they visibly moved Gonzalez when they landed.

It was revealed in the 4th round how effective Rungvisai’s punches were, and it was revealed in the 4th round, when after the two continued as they had left off in the 3rd, a right hook to the chin dropped ‘Chocolatito’ heavily. Although he bravely beat the count, the writing was on the wall. Rungvisai showed no mercy as he landed another vicious hook, to drop ‘Chocolatito’ once more, this time flat on his back, where he made no attempt to beat the count.

The sudden destruction of Gonzalez was met with a shocked silence from the pro-Gonzalez crowd. It was painful to see Gonzalez beaten in such a manner. He went out on his shield, just as all great champions tend to do, yet, it is always disturbing to see a great fighter suddenly become mortal, seemingly overnight.

Photo: Orange County Register
While Rungvisai seems on the verge of some exciting and hopefully lucrative showdowns, the plain truth is that they will not carry the same attraction now that they would have had Gonzalez regained his throne. Gonzalez now needs to take a long look at where he goes from here, and whether or not he should carry on fighting. The indications are that the rise in weight, coupled by the loss of his trainer and mentor, plus the rigours of a decade at the top, have all taken a toll upon ‘Chocolatito.’ How much of this decline is reversible only time will tell. At the age of 30, Gonzalez may be able to recoup after a long rest and regain some of his old brilliance, and a move back down to his more natural weight of flyweight could help him achieve this.

However after he has done so much already during his career, does Gonzalez still have the fire and right mental attitude to retrace his steps at 112 pounds, and rebuild his career almost from scratch. More importantly, does his body still have the reserves to allow him to achieve such a return. If he never fights again, Gonzalez can be proud of his achievements inside of the ring. His mixture of technical brilliance and his all-action fighting style brought attention to weight divisions that are usually disregarded by the general boxing public. Perhaps, just as importantly as his achievements inside the ring, Gonzalez has always carried himself with grace and honour outside the ring. Much the same way as his mentor, and idol, Alexis Arguello did during his illustrious boxing career. ‘Chocolatito’ will not be defined by his two defeats to Rungvisai, but rather everything that went before, when he proved himself over the course of a decade to be one of boxing’s all time greats.

The undercard of Rungvisai vs Gonzalez 2, featured two outstanding performances by Juan Francisco Estrada and Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue, who both won their respective contests, and announced themselves to the wider boxing public at the same time.

Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25koes) has been one of boxing's best kept secrets since 2012, when he went the distance with a then peak, Roman Gonzalez, for Gonzalez’s World light-flyweight title, losing a close decision after giving ‘Chocolatito’ the toughest fight of his career up to that point. Estrada then moved up to flyweight, and reigned impressively as WBA and WBO world flyweight champion, for over two years almost unnoticed. Now however, after this triple 115-pounder bill, Estrada’s time might be coming, and at the age of 27, he looks to be at his peak and ready to take full advantage of this new exposure.

Estrada out-pointed another ex-foe of Gonzalez, Carlos Caudras (36-2-1, 27koes) in what was undoubtedly the fight of the night. Both men were so well matched that the action ebbed and flowed throughout the 12 rounds. Yet, the ultimate difference was that Estrada was the more accurate and solid puncher, even if at times he seemed to be outworked by the faster hands of the shifty Cuadras.

Photo: Mickey Bonilla
If there was any doubt about the winner, Estrada underlined his general edge over Cuadras with a knockdown in the 10th round. It was to prove the decisive moment of the contest, as Estrada emerged the points winner by scores of 113-114, three times. Estrada was only awarded the fight after Cuadras was originally announced as the winner, amid some rather chaotic, and surreal scenes. Cuadras, to his credit, took the loss of what at first seemed to be a victory with good grace and this match was close enough to merit a rematch between the two in the future. Cuadras showed that he still has much to offer the 115 division himself.

Estrada is now the mandatory challenger for Rungvisai, and would enter that contest with a clear edge. Although he has moved up in weight himself, Estrada has the frame to carry the extra weight and unlike Gonzalez, he seems to have taken his punch up with him. His mixture of power and technical boxing ability should prove to be too much for the powerful, but less skilled, Rungvisai, when they meet, but it should be another exciting, all action contest and Rungvisai is unlikely to give up his title easily.

While Estrada was cementing a shot at the WBC title Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12koes) impressed with his first appearance in America, as he gave a ‘Monstrous’ display in retaining his WBO world super-flyweight title, with a 6th round stoppage of Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9koes).

At only 24 years of age, and despite having just 14 professional contests, Inoue has already nine world title fights to his credit, and is a two weight world champion. Against Nieves, Inoue lived up to his nickname of ‘Monster’ as he dominated the brave yet outgunned challenger, with an impressive display of both power and technique. Inoue is very heavy handed, and strong at the weight, but he is also very technically adept as well. Nieves tried to fight back in the early rounds, but by the 4th he was just trying to survive. When his corner pulled him out after the 6th round it was a wise decision.

Inoue is already a big star in Japan, and the signs are that he could become much bigger yet worldwide. With future showdowns with Rungvisai, Estrada or perhaps Cuadras, a possibility for the future, the profile of one of boxing’s lightest divisions could yet continue to rise in popularity.

All in all, it was a great night for the boxing connoisseur, despite the sadness of Gonzalez’s defeat, and showed that for all its flaws, the sport still has some rich veins of gold to mine, if one knows where to look.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

On This Day: Jem Carney Remembered

Jem Carney was an extremely tough and strong fighter for his weight. He was one of the toughest lightweights to come out of England, and although he did not have many recorded contests, he proved himself one of the best fighters in the world during his relatively short career. Carney fought both with gloves and bare-knuckled, but preferred bare-knuckles. Born in Birmingham, West Midlands, on November 5, 1856, Carney had his first recorded contest in 1879.

On October 11, 1881 Carney beat Jimmy Highland in 43 rounds, after a battle which lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. Highland was so badly injured that he died 4 days later of his injuries and on February 15, 1882, Carney was charged with manslaughter, and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for Highland’s death.

 After a period of inactivity following his imprisonment, Carney returned to competitive fighting in 1884, and on December 20, 1884, he won the British Lightweight championship when he knocked out Young Jacob Hyams in the 45th round of a grueling battle. Carney then went to America and boxed a series of exhibitions, as well as taking part in two competitive contests, both of which he won. 

Eventually, Carney’s reputation grew, and a fight was set up a with the American lightweight champion Jack McAuliffe, with the winner to be recognized as the Lightweight champion of the world. The fight took place in a stable behind the Atlantic Hotel on Revere Beach on November 16, 1887, with both men wearing gloves, and was one of the most grueling contests of its time, eventually being stopped after 74 rounds, and a reported 4 hours , and 58 minutes. The match was called off by the referee, due to both fighters being exhausted, and members of the crowd repeatedly breaking into the ring. Although the official verdict was a draw, both men claimed that they were the rightful winners, but eyewitnesses of the battle said that at the time of the stoppage Carney held the upper hand in the fight.

After this fight ,Carney had one more competitive contest, losing to Dick Burge on May 25, 1891, in a fight for Carney’s British lightweight title. Carney was declared the loser on a foul in the 11th round and never fought again competitively.

When Carney no longer boxed competitively, he became a bodyguard to millionaire George Alexander Baird.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

On This Day: Leach Cross Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Leach Cross was an outstanding fighter, a tough and gutsy slugger, whose fighting style made him a huge hit with the fans. Known as ‘The Fighting Dentist’ Cross did not need to box for the money as he came from a comfortable family life and founded a successful private dental business. In an era where the lightweight division was overflowing with talented fighters of all styles, Cross fought most of the top names in the division, and proved himself to be one of the best lightweights of his time, and one of the best fighters to never fight for the world title.

Cross was born Louis Charles E Wallach on February 12, 1886, in New York, New York.

The Fighting Dentist’ began his professional career in 1905, and fought top names such as Sammy Smith, Young .Loughrey, Mike Glover, Dick Hyland, Harlem Tommy Murphy, Packey Mcfarland, Young Erne, Knockout Ko Brown, Mexico joe Rivers. Bud Anderson, Willie Richie, Charlie White, Joe Shugrue, Ad Wolgast, Gene Delmont, and Johnny Dundee.

Cross fought from 1905 to 1921, but never managed to secure a shot at the world title. Yet, he made a lot of money both in, and out of the ring, with his ring earnings, and his successful dental business, He was able to build his own apartment complex and also a gym, both of which he ran himself. Cross also worked as a very respected referee.

Leach Cross’s record was 33-10-4, 21 koes while his newspaper record (due to the fact that many of his fights came under the ‘No Decision’ rules of the time) was 56-28-13.

Leach Cross died on Sept 7, 1957, aged 71.

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On This Day Bobby Chacon Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Of all sportsmen, it is the boxer who seems to live most precariously on the edge, often both in and out of the ring. Inside the ring, they take part in what is the most basic activity known to man; using their fists to hit the opponent standing in front of them. Everyone who knows even a little about boxing understands that there is so much more to it than just what meets the eye. It is about mental strength, spirit, and courage. It is about having the ability to put yourself on the line, and face down the kind of fears and thoughts of self preservation which keep the average man from ever stepping foot competitively between the ropes. Many fighters seem to live the same way out of the ring that they do inside it, wrapped up in a cloak of danger and drama.

This is one of the many attractions of the boxer. These are men who do not generally live their lives quietly or safely as the rest of us do. Perhaps here we have the reason why so many boxers have been the subject of biographies, and why Hollywood has always been so fascinated with the boxer in film, from “The Champ,” to the “Rocky” films.  Yet, despite all of the action that takes place inside the ring, it is the life outside of the ropes, real every day life without gloves on, which often proves to be far more dramatic and traumatic, than anything Sylvester Stallone has dreamt up for his famed ‘Rocky’ movies. Bobby Chacon lived a kind of life that was straight out of a Stallone or Martin Scorsese film; a roller coaster ride of more ups and downs than one person should be expected too deal with and remain in one piece.

Like many that later find their way into boxing, Chacon grew up amid domestic strife. His father left when Bobby was very young, and by the time he was a teenager he was involved in a street gang and finding himself drawn into numerous street fights and petty clashes with the police. As his life descended into the chaos of the street, Chacon met Valerie, the person who would have a profound influence upon the rest of his life, an influence both hugely positive, yet, ultimately tragic. Valerie would become Bobby’s wife and a guiding light that would lead him from the street onto a path which would take him onto glory and stardom. It was Valerie who told the street fighting Chacon that he should take his fighting inclinations to a boxing gym where they could be of more legal use.  Bobby obeyed and a short, but successful amateur career ensured. He was a natural, and like all such fighters, the amateurs couldn’t satisfy his ability for long. Bobby turned professional in April of 1972, at the age of twenty-one, picking up the nickname “Schoolboy” due to his youth, and baby faced features. Despite those youthful features, and a ready smile, Chacon could fight.
Photo: The Fight City
The early 1970s were a time when boxing was enjoying a spectacular boom of both popularity and talent that seemed to have started with the rise of Muhammad Ali in the early 60s and slowly spread throughout every weight division within the sport.  Boxing was booming, but while it was a great time to be part of it all, it was also one of the toughest; there were few easy rides to the top. Young talented prospects had to fight it out amongst themselves. Success only came from hard work, and hard fights. Bobby Chacon certainly had no easy ride. His first professional opponent, Jose Antonio Rosa, was unbeaten in seven fights, and Bobby knocked him out in the 5th round.  Within four months and 11 fights, Bobby was already a main event fighter.

As a boxer, Bobby had it all, along with his youthful good looks, and charismatic personality outside of the ring. Inside the ring, Chacon had a mixture of angelic boxing skills, coupled with a devilish offence. Bobby was the perfect boxer-fighter, mixing speed, technique and power, and an inclination to go toe-to-toe even when he could have played it safe and rely more on his boxing skills. Unsurprisingly, the fans loved him from the beginning. In the 1970s, the West Coast was a hot bed of activity for the lighter weight divisions, and Chacon was another talented addition to a pool, which was literally over flowing with gifted and exciting fighters.

By early 1973, after barely a year in the professional ranks, Chacon had broken into the worlds top ten, with wins over top contenders Arturo Pineda, Frankie Crawford, and former world champion Chucho Castillo.  The Schoolboy was a sensation, but on June 23, 1973, he suffered his first professional set back when he was stopped after 9 rounds by former World bantamweight champion Ruben Olivares. Looking back today it seems incredible that Chacon could be put into the same ring with the already legendary Olivares, who had a record of 71-3-1, with 63 knockouts, after only nineteen fights, and one year as a professional. Although Olivares had left his best days behind him in the bantamweight division, against Chacon, he proved that he was still a very formidable fighter at featherweight. Yet, Chacon gave the Mexican idol all he could handle for much of the contest, which turned out to be an epic toe-to-toe classic, the kind of war that would become a habit for Chacon, and a defining feature of his career. In the end, Olivares’ extra strength and experience proved to be the difference, and The Schoolboy was pulled out of the fight after the 9th round, by his trainer/manager Joe Ponce.

Back in the days when a fighter was expected to fight his way into title contention, Chacon’s loss to Olivares was a setback rather than a disaster. He bounced back almost immediately, more experienced and a little wiser, and with his trademark grin intact. Over the next nine months, Bobby put together four wins, stopping Jorge Oscar Ramos in 10 rounds, knocking out Jose Luis Martin Del Campo in 9, then halting Ramos again, this time in 5 rounds, before stopping Genzo Kursosawa in the 9th.

On May 24, 1974, Chacon came face to face between the ropes with another rising star of the featherweight division, Danny “Little Red” Lopez. It was no surprise that the red headed Lopez with his Irish-American Indian descent, and Chacon, with his part Mexican heritage, would go together so well in the ring. This was the type of fight that would probably take years in the making today, but back in the 1970s, clashes like this were the accepted rite of passage for rising young contenders and budding future champions. Lopez entered the ring with an unbeaten record of 23-0, with 22 of his victories by knockout. If anything he had an even better punch than Chacon. For once, the fight lived up to all of the hype, with the fighters treating the Los Angeles crowd to one of the classics of the decade, as both men stood toe-to-toe  and traded bombs from the start. It was an electric spectacle as each man displayed his spirit and talent, in a clash that was the fistic equivalent of two young rock guitarists dueling against one another on stage. The fight ebbed and flowed, but in a performance, which in hindsight has to be seen as one of the most outstanding of his career, Chacon’s extra speed and skill gave him a crucial edge over Lopez, wearing him down, and finally overwhelming him in the 9th round. This was a night where Bobby put it all together, and displayed the kind of defensive skills and boxing technique, that few today realize he had before the all out slugging, ‘Rocky’ incarnation of his later career.

Four months later, Chacon was a world champion, knocking out the big-punching Alfredo Marcano in the 9th round, for the vacant WBC world featherweight championship, in front of his adoring fans at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium.

Chacon was still only 22 years of age and had the boxing world at his feet. Even in the ultra competitive and talent laden 126-pound division, he looked a sure bet to be world champion for some time. The glow of greatness seemed to be shining upon him. Yet, it is a well known irony in boxing, that for all the trials and tribulations involved with a fighter making his way to the top, it is far harder for him to stay there once the summit has been reached. Aside from all of the hungry contenders eager to pull a champion back down to earth, there are also the out of the ring factors that often come into play when a fighter finds fame and fortune; namely, the hangers on, the late nights, the fast cars, and the faster women. Soon after winning his world title, Bobby began partying with the same enthusiasm and energy that he usually displayed inside the ring. In the midst of a gathering whirlwind of fame and success, Bobby fired Joe Ponce, the man who had guided him in the ring since his amateur days. Like so many others before and after him, Chacon was quickly losing touch with what had taken The Schoolboy to the top in the first place.
Photo: Boxing Hall of Fame

Six months after winning his world title, Chacon made his first defence on March 1, 1975, knocking out Jesus Estrada in the 2nd round. For a young champion driving ever faster in the fast lane, it was coming all too easy for Chacon at this point, but the big crash was looming. On June 20, three months after the Estrada defence, Chacon put his title on the line against his old adversary, and the only man to beat him so far in his career, Ruben Olivares.  Olivares had already won and lost the WBA version of the world featherweight title, since the pairs first encounter, and despite being a party animal himself, was still a very dangerous fighter.

Given his shot at Chacon’s WBC championship, Olivares came in as fit as he could be, while for Chacon, the party was about to end. One week before the fight The Schoolboy was 15 pounds overweight. Although he made the weight on the day of the fight, Chacon was pale and drawn, and having seen the champions condition, a confident Olivares predicted a knockout in one or two rounds. Chacon was stopped in the second round, after being floored twice; his weight weakened body defenceless.   Almost in a blink of an eye the world title was gone. As Chacon would later say himself “I had it all and I threw it all away."

Photo: Ring Magazine
After the big party came the long hangover, and like most hangovers it lasted longer than the party that preceded it. Bobby’s hangover would last for the rest of his career.  No longer a world champion, and with his reputation stained, Chacon fell almost immediately into boxing’s version of the twilight zone, fighting journeymen and rising contenders for a fraction of the money he had commanded prior to losing his title. Worse still, having moved up to the junior-lightweight division, he turned up for these fights under-trained and under-motivated. On December 7, 1975, Chacon was out-pointed by the then unknown Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, in the first of what would be four brutal wars between the two men.  Limon was a raw, face-first, south paw, with a big punch, who was seemingly impervious to either punishment or pain, and he and Bobby would share a fistic feud of almost unmatched pugilistic savagery.

At just 24 years of age The Schoolboy was already being written off as a ‘has been’ by many observers; another of boxing’s burn out cases. The fans still loved to see him fight, that would never change, but the talent that had once flowed in such an exciting manner had been reduced to a splutter. Now, when Chacon went toe-to-toe it was not simply due to his innate love of a slugfest, but because his legs could no longer carry him like they used to do, and his reflexes were no longer as fast or as sharp. Now he was having wars against fighters that just a little while before, he would have handled with ease.

Two months following the Limon defeat, Chacon was floored twice, and bloodied badly by journeyman David Sotelo. Despite gaining the decision, in his dressing room after the fight, a battered Chacon was begged by his wife Valerie to retire. It would be the first of many such scenes between Bobby and his wife. With a terrible irony, the person who had first inspired Bobby to take up boxing, couldn’t bare to see him fight anymore, especially now with his talent faded, and the fights getting harder and harder.

He managed to stay out of the ring for nine months after the Sotelo fight, but Chacon was back at the end of 1976 with two wins. By now, Chacon was filled with the pain of unfulfilled potential, but his drive to recapture what he had lost was torn between his wife’s pleas for him to retire, and his ongoing penchant for the fast lane.

Ironically, in late 1976, Chacon’s old rival Danny Lopez had won the WBC world featherweight championship, and would remain champion until 1980.  His career had become a telling contrast to that of the man who had beat him just a few years before.

In 1977, Chacon made a concerted effort to get back where he had once been, fighting six times, he won all but one, including a belated point’s victory over Ruben Olivares, himself now an ex-world champion struggling to stay in contention.  However the year ended with Chacon losing a split point's decision to Arturo Leon, and Bobby’s resurgence was halted.

After losing to Leon in November 1977, Chacon took six months out, then fought just three times in 1978, winning them all, but getting no closer to a chance at gaining a world title shot.

Two more wins in 1979 came, along with a controversial 7th round technical draw with Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, in what was the pair’s second fight. This match served to make the pair’s rivalry more bitter than ever after the fight was ended in the 7th due to a severe cut on Limon, caused by an accidental head butt.  The controversy fanned the flames of a mutual animosity.

Then on November 16, 1979, Chacon was granted a shot at Alexis Arguello’s WBC world Junior lightweight championship. Showing glimpses of his former brilliance, Chacon started brightly and took a point’s lead over the first five rounds. Then in 6th, an Arguello punch opened up a two inch gash in the corner of Chacon’s right eye, and in the 7th, Arguello took control of the fight, as the bloody and tiring Chacon was forced to take a count. Between rounds the doctor stopped the fight, and with it, Chacon’s chance of fistic redemption seemed to have gone forever.

Four months later, on March 21, 1980, Chacon met Bazooka Limon for the third time, in what turned out to be their most ferocious fight so far. Although he emerged from the brutal clash a points’ winner after ten rounds, Chacon had looked sluggish and out of sorts, and had shipped a tremendous amount of punishment. The decision was close and controversial, and at the end of the fight Chacon was battered and bloody, with his eyes swollen and cut. It was a look that he would wear with increasing regularity throughout the remainder of his career.

After the third Limon battle, Chacon stayed away from the ring for 10 months, but the temptation to recapture unfulfilled potential is irresistible, as is the urge to hear the roar of the crowds once again. Despite Valerie’s pleas, Bobby couldn’t keep away, boxing was all he knew. So he returned again, with two wins in early 1981, and was given a shot at Cornelius Boza-Edward’s WBC world junior lightweight championship (Alexis Arguello having vacated the title and moved up to win the lightweight championship.)

Edwards was a big-punching southpaw, who had captured the title from Chacon’s old nemesis, Rafael Bazooka Limon, after a brutal slugfest. Boza-Edwards had been born in Uganda, and brought up in England, but had found his boxing home in America, where his own inclination for fistic warfare had gained him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” amongst the American media.

With Boza-Edwards, the younger and fresher fighter, Chacon went into their clash a clear underdog. Yet, seeing an unexpected chance of world championship glory within his grasp once more, Bobby shocked the so-called experts, who considered him washed up, rolled back the years, and gave Edwards a savage war. The two men stood face-to-face for much of the fight, breathing in each others breaths, and exchanging physical punishment with an almost maniacal glee. Bobby gave as good as he got for the first 10 rounds, and even looked at times like he might turn back the clock completely and pull off an upset win. It was a fight straight out of Rocky.

Chacon still had a vestige of the silky skills that had taken him to the top almost a decade earlier, the jab, the left hook, and that right hand. Bobby showed, in flashes against Boza, the fighter he had once been not so long before. However, from the 10th round onwards, Boza-Edwards youth and conditioning saw him take control of the match. By the 13th round Chacon was bloodied and tired and taking a beating, while Boza rained punches upon him in an effort to stop him. Though he was dazed and spent, Chacon refused to go down, and continued to try and fight back.

Photo: Cyberboxing Zone
When Chacon’s corner stopped the contest after the 13th round, it looked to be the end, not only of the fight, but also of The School Boy’s career. He had given it one more shot and gone down to a defeat that was glorious in all its gory violence. Chacon had lost like a warrior. Surely he would hang up his gloves for good and retreat to a quieter life with Valerie and the kids. However, never one to take the easy road, Bobby didn’t want the song to end yet. The battle with Boza had awakened something inside Chacon. Amid all of the heavy blows, the blood and the bruises, he too had felt those flashes of past brilliance; the echoes of his lost youth and past glory. Chacon felt that if he had been better prepared physically he would have had a good shot at beating Boza-Edwards in their fight.

Six months after losing to Boza-Edwards, Chacon stopped Augustin Rivera in 6 rounds. He had reunited with Joe Ponce and at 30 years of age was talking about fighting regularly again in a final drive for one more title shot. It was too much for Valerie. Just when she had thought it was coming to an end, Bobby was starting up all over again, fighting every other month, often against men who had still been in school when he was a world champion. 

During the build up to his fight with Salvadore Ugalde, on March 16, 1982, Valerie begged Bobby not to go through with the match. As always, Bobby was torn, he loved his wife and family, but the pull of the ring was undeniable and unavoidable, and as deeply embedded within him as his love for his family. On the day of the fight Valerie took a loaded rifle, put it to her head, and pulled the trigger. That same night, Chacon stopped Ugalde in the 3rd round and then wept uncontrollably in the arms of his cornermen.

In a life already laden with irony, Valerie’s suicide left Bobby with far more reasons to carry on boxing, rather than stop. In many ways, Boxing was all that he had left. He was no longer torn. Her death also pushed Bobby straight back into the spotlight; he was no longer just another ex-champion chasing the shadows of the past, but a main player in a modern tragedy. 

Chacon scored two more wins, stopping Rosendo Ramirez in 8 rounds and out-pointing Arturo Leon over 10. Then on December 11, 1982, he faced Rafael Bazooka Limon for the fourth time and this time with Limon’s WBC world junior lightweight championship the prize for victory. In the months previously, Cornelius Boza-Edwards had lost the WBC title in an upset to Rolando Navarrete, who had then been beaten by Bazooka Limon.  Sylvester Stallone could not have dreamed up a better plot. Now Bobby was to have his final shot at glory and redemption, against the man who had become his arch rival over the past half dozen years.

With an almost hysterical Sacramento crowd looking on, Chacon and Limon waged a fight that almost defies description for the drama and intensity, and non-stop action that it produced. Both fighters seemed to reach deep into their own souls in a way that only boxers can sometimes achieve. While at times it seemed as if the vociferous crowd was powering both men on, at other moments it looked as if each man had become oblivious to everything surrounding them, save for the man standing in front of him in the ring. Both boxers seemed to give and receive an amount of punishment that was almost surreal. The fight had no fairy tale beginning for Chacon, as the usually slow-starting Limon begun well, landing his southpaw jab and his left hooks upon The Schoolboy with alarming ease. Chacon was floored in the 3rd round, albeit briefly, as the omens seemed to point against a victory for the aging “Schoolboy.” However, as the fight progressed, despite all of the punches he was landing upon his challenger, Chacon kept coming at Limon. As the fight passed its halfway point it was Chacon who was growing stronger, while Limon was beginning to wear the look of someone asking himself why the man in front of him is still standing.

Photo: The Fight City
Even when he was knocked down again in the 10th round, Chacon didn’t retreat, if anything, the knockdown seemed to make him even stronger and more determined. Both fighters were bruised and bloody now, but it was Chacon who looked to be gaining strength, as Limon’s attacks seemed to be growing tired and desperate. After fighting evenly through the 11th and 12 rounds, Chacon miraculously rallied over the last three rounds, as Limon began to slow under the weight of exhaustion.

Bobby was a man inspired, fighting like someone who refused to be beaten. In the 15th and final round, two overhand rights by Chacon floored Limon, and although Bazooka beat the count and made it to the round’s end, the fight had been sealed. The point’s verdict for Chacon was 142-141, 141-140 and 143-141. 

Chacon was world champion again after almost a decade in the wilderness and the fight was voted Fight of the year for 1982 by the Ring magazine. It was one of the final fights set for fifteen rounds, and one of the best examples of what a 15 round title fight could produce.

Despite his wonderful victory, and the plaudits that came his way in its aftermath, Chacon’s success was bitter sweet. He had made it back to the top, like he had wanted, but he had lost Valerie along the way.

Unfortunately, Chacon’s second reign as world champion was soon mired in controversy when he fell into dispute with promoter Don King over a proposed defence against rising star Hector “Macho” Comacho. King claimed he had a signed contract for Chacon to put his title on the line against Comacho, but Chacon denied the validity of the contract and when offered more money to defend against old foe Cornelius Boza-Edwards, took the Edwards’ fight instead.  Chacon defended his world title against Edwards on May 15, 1983.

It was almost two years since the pair had first met in the ring, and with Chacon now two years older and coming off the incredible war with Limon, few gave the aging champion much chance of retaining his title against the younger and seemingly stronger Boza-Edwards. Incredibly, Chacon once again dug deep into his inner reserves and produced a performance that seemed to transcend his physical limitations. The fight itself was another savage and bloody affair, one where the two fighter’s ability to punish each other and withstand punishment themselves, becomes something peculiarly artistic, like a brutal and bloody ballet.

Chacon floored Boza in the first and second rounds, but was floored himself in the 3rd round.  By the half way mark, Bobby was badly cut over both eyes and spending much of his time on the ropes, absorbing Boza-Edwards heavy, slashing punches.  Every time it seemed that Chacon was about to be overwhelmed by his challenger, he would fight back, and shake Boza with punches of his own. The champion also had to survive a number of inspections by the ring doctor of his severely lacerated eyes. Somehow the fight was allowed to carry on, and as it traveled into the late rounds, just as he had against Bazooka Limon, Bobby began to wear down Boza-Edwards. The 12th and final round was like something straight from a Rocky film, as a swollen and bloody Chacon floored the tiring Boza-Edwards, having the challenger rubber legged and exhausted by the finish.

Chacon retained his title with a point’s victory of 115-113, 115-112 and 117-111.  It was another seemingly miraculous performance from Chacon, in a fight that was voted fight of the year for 1983 by the Ring magazine, making Chacon one of the few boxers to win ‘fights of the year’ in two consecutive years.  Yet, Bobby’s triumph was soon taken away from him when the WBC sided with Don King in his contractual dispute with Chacon. On June 27, barely five weeks after his victory over Boza-Edwards, Chacon was stripped of his WBC world junior lightweight title for his failure to defend it against Hector ‘Macho’ Comacho. Despite the fact that Boza-Edwards had been rated the WBC’s number one contender, when Chacon defended against him, while Comacho had been ranked at number three. The WBC or any other boxing organization has seldom let logic or fairness stand in the way of its political or financial interests.
Shorn of his world title once again, Chacon was advised to retire by those close to him, but the cheers of the crowd are always a hard habit to break, and perhaps the greater the cheers have been, the harder it becomes to walk away for the final time.

Photo: Journal Review
Eight months after the Boza-Edwards epic, Chacon moved up to the lightweight division and on January 14, 1984, challenged Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini for the WBA world lightweight championship. From some angles this match looked to be a ‘dream fight’ with two of the game’s most popular and exciting fighters squaring off against each other in a fight that was destined to be ‘fan friendly.’ However, from the first bell it was plain that Mancini was far too young and strong for the sluggish looking Chacon, who suddenly betrayed every one of his 32 years. The action took place mostly in a corner, with Chacon pinned against the ropes, and while both men were firing punches at one another, Chacon’s seemed to be simply bouncing off Mancini, while Mancini’s shots were rocking the challenger to his toes. By the third round, Chacon was already battered and bloodied around the eyes, and taking repetitive blows to the head, and referee Richard Steele who had worked Chacon’s last fight with Boza-Edwards had seen enough; stepping between the boxers, and ending the fight.

The Mancini fight was the end of the big time for Chacon, and should have been the final time he entered the ring, but like so many others, Bobby couldn’t say no to the call of the ring. Chacon wasn’t fighting for world titles anymore; he was just fighting for the sake of fighting.

Photo: Boxrec
He had remarried, but he would never get over Valerie, and the marriage ended in acrimony. Perhaps in the end, the ring was the only place where Bobby felt safe. Over the next four years Chacon would fight seven more times, and despite his faded skills and advancing years, would win all of his fights. Incredibly, amongst those seven wins, he was able to post victories against Carlton Sparrow, Arturo Frias, Freddie Roach, and Rafael Solis. Despite the fact that his legs and balance were just about gone, and his reflexes were just a memory, Bobby retained the instincts of a fighter right up to the end. That and his heart, and an amazing will to win.
After stopping the fancied Rafael Solis in 5 rounds on October 4, 1985, Chacon seemed to slur his words in his post fight interview. There would be just two more fights in the ring. On June 23, 1987, in his first fight in over 18 months, Chacon was floored 3 times in the first two rounds before fighting back to stop Martin Guevara in the 3rd round. Twelve months later, Chacon swung and shuffled to a ten round point’s win over Bobby Jones. It was finally the end. The heart was still willing, but the body was no longer there.

The Boxing world lost Bobby 'School Boy' Chacon, one of its very special warriors on September 7, 2016, after suffering a fall at the nursing facility where he had lived. He had been suffering dementia for a number of years. It was the price he paid for a boxing career, which experienced more highs and lows than seemed possible. While he was loved by boxing fans for his all-action fights, he was also loved by them because of his personable character outside of the ring. Yet, despite a ready smile, Chacon suffered several tragedies in his life, including the death by suicide of his first wife Valerie and murder of his son. But, Bobby remained one of boxing's most beloved and approachable ex-champions, even as his health declined steadily over the years after being diagnosed with pugilistic dementia, the dark hangover of all the many ring wars for which he became so famous. He has also seen his finances dwindle away into nothing.

Bobby Chacon’s life was a bittersweet tale of incredible achievements against the odds, alongside the tragic consequences of those same achievements. Sometimes it is hard to justify one’s fascination with boxing, when even the best of this hard and unforgiving pursuit winds up with the physical cost of their profession.

Perhaps Bobby was not born to live a safe nine-to-five life, wrapped in the cotton wool of the mundane and mediocre. Without boxing, the chances are that Chacon would have come to harm one way or another much earlier in life. Due to his boxing career, Bobby carved out a formidable legend that will linger for as long as boxing itself does.

Today, Bobby Chacon is still beloved by the boxing public, a fighter whom embodied all that was dramatic and exciting within the game. His life and fighting career remain both darker and more spectacular than any film script yet to be created by a Stallone or Scorsese. Most importantly for his fans, Bobby Chacon was real, a fantastic fighter, with incredible gifts, but also a human being, with human failings.

Bobby Chacon lived a life full of triumph and tragedy, and through it all, displayed a courage and heart which far outweighed his diminutive frame. In a world of so many, Bobby Chacon is one of the comparative few to make his mark in something during his life. Perhaps in the end that should be enough.

Watch: Bobby Chacon Vs. Alfredo Marcano

Watch: Bobby Chacon Vs. Rafael Limon 4

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 (revised and first published in August 28, 2014)