Monday, September 30, 2013

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and the Fixers & Schemers of Boxing

By Peter Silkov

 (photo from

 Barely two weeks ago, Floyd Mayweather posted a victory for the sweet science, over a much younger and larger opponent, who was also aided by astonishing powers of rehydraytion. It was a victory of skill over bulk, old school weight making (actually weighing the weight of your division on the night of the fight) over the wonderful benefits of re-hydrating 10 to 20 plus pounds, in the 24 hours following the weigh-in.
Floyd scored his victory, despite one of the judges seemingly suffering an optical illusion during the proceedings, and ’seeing’ the fight as a draw. At the end of the night, this lone judge’s visual deficiencies was a minor blip, and after a few days of well-deserved criticism, boxing fans were able to laugh off this blip as just one of those funny things that pops up now and then in boxing. In the end, justice was served, the right man won, and the sweet science smelled good again.

Or was it?

It says a lot about the state of the sport, that in the run-up to Mayweather vs. Alvarez, the worry for some was not if Mayweather could beat Alvarez, but rather whether the judges would see the same fight as everyone else witnessed. Any notions that these worries were unfounded, or perhaps a little neurotic, were given their answer in C.J Ross’s now infamous drawn card. Thank goodness, her two fellow judges brought their correct glasses with them that night.

Flip forward two weeks later and we have the spectacle of  Julio Cesar Chavez Jr 47-1-1(32kos), (spawn of the legendary father, and born with a golden boxing glove in his mouth), hands raised high, and basking in the stinky glory of his point’s victory over Brian Vera 23-7(14kos), seemingly oblivious to the rotten smell swirling all around him.       

It seems on Saturday night, at The Stubhub Centre,  in Carson, California, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was just about the only person who didn’t sense something strong and unpleasant in the air, while others certainly smelt it, but didn’t care. However, the vast majority of the spectators, many of whom had entered the arena as Chavez fans, cared, as did Brian Vera and his corner. The crowd made their feelings known by greeting Chavez’s exhibition of victory with a modest smattering of applause, that was quickly drowned out by indignant boos, and then a stony silence.

Chavez Jr. had been judged the winner of a fight, which only his most die hard fans, could truly see him as emerging from victorious. It is often said that scoring boxing is a subjective business, this is true to an extent, but there is a firm basis for scoring a fight and judging who is winning a particular contest. It is generally agreed that the fighter landing the most punches on his opponent, will be seen as holding the upper hand in the fight, in addition to this, a fighter who is dictating the pace of a fight and forcing the action, can also be said to be in control of the fight; therefore winning the contest in question. On Saturday night, it was Brian Vera who landed, repeatedly, and round after round; the more punches, dictated the pace, and despite a huge visible disparity in size, forced the action.  Chavez Jr., for all his advantages in size, was the one continually on the back foot, and often so sparing with his punches, that at times, he resembled a sleepwalker.    
The fight followed a similar pattern throughout its ten rounds. Brian Vera bustled forward with a surprisingly effective jab, forcing Chavez to give ground, and when he had got in close, Vera would open up with combinations to the head and body.  Chavez Jr., despite his huge size advantage (although both boxers supposedly weighed a comparable 171 for Vera to 172.5 for Chavez Jr at the weighin the day before) chose to backup from Vera’s aggressive attacks. Chavez Jr. alternated from moving round the ring, to standing flat-footed, and stationary in front of Vera, but seldom used his jab, even when boxing on the retreat. In fact, Chavez Jr. seldom threw punches at all. When he did throw some shots, it was clear and hardly surprising, that they carried more weight than Vera’s punches. Rounds should not be won by a handful of heavy punches, opposed to a much larger number of lighter punches. It was as if Vera’s shots were being blocked by Chavez, whose defense, when he wasn’t on the retreat, was as lax as his offence. When Chavez was on the backfoot, Vera had little difficulty in tracking him down and closing the gap, to once again, land more punches. Besides a fairly close opening round, which saw Chavez Jr. land some good body shots, and two better stanza’s in the 3rd and 6th rounds, where he edged the action with his heavier punches, Chavez Jr seemed to be clearly outworked and outboxed in every other round.  Even when Chavez Jr connected with his bigger punches, Vera would come right back at him with his aggressive flurries.

At times, Vera responded to Chavez’s rare attacks with a broad smile, and aside from a moment in the sixth round, never seemed seriously troubled by Chavez’s superior power.  If there was room for doubt over the verdict, Vera seemed to dispel this with a strong finish in the final three rounds, which saw him get busier and more aggressive, while Chavez was now complaining to the referee about some perceived fouls, and looking distinctly sorry for himself. After the contest, Chavez accused Vera of constant head-butts, yet it was Chavez’s own penchant of lowering his own head towards Vera’s that was responsible for most of the bumping that occurred, which actually wasn’t that much at all.

Vera is what is known as a tough fighter, with a busy, energetic, and occasionally rough style, but he is by no means a dirty fighter, fought a clean, and honest fight against Chavez Jr.

How ironic that Chavez, who broke so many of boxing’s supposedly cardinal rules in the run up to this fight, should then attempt to hide behind the rule book when the fight turns out to be far tougher than he had wished.

Chavez’s battered mug, was much more due to Vera’s constant punching, rather than head butts or any other rough stuff.

At the final bell, Vera and his corner were ecstatic, while Chavez Jr, and his corner were muted and downcast. After quickly berating the referee for some perceived injustice, Chavez Jr. went to his corner with all the vigour of a man who wanted to be somewhere else at that moment. The face of Chavez’s father Julio Sr., said it all, wearing a mixture of bemusement, anxiety and disappointment all over it.

Meanwhile in Vera’s corner they celebrated.

Then something happened. Moments before the verdict was announced, members of Chavez’s corner started celebrating, and giving whoops of joy. Then came the point’s verdicts. It soon became suddenly clear that the night’s three judges had studied at the same school of judging as C.J. Ross.

Carla Caiz had it 96-94, Marty Denkin 97-93, and then Gwen Adair (who definitely deserves the C.J. Ross judge of the month award) had it a wonderful 98-92. 
Looking at the judging of these three blind mice it is as if they were at three different fights. The only thing that their judging has in common is that neither of them saw Chavez losing. It seemed to be something that neither judge wanted to see either.

Carla Caiz’s card is curious; as it shows that, she gave the first four rounds to Vera, and then on realising her mistake, gave the remaining six rounds to Chavez. Marty Denkin, by contrast, gave Chavez everything, save the third, eighth, and ninth rounds. Finally, Gwen Adair’s card is a masterpiece of scoring, through Bob Arum tinted glasses, but at least she had the decency to grant Vera rounds eight and nine, presumably, as a consolation prize.

This verdict is not the greatest robbery ever committed in boxing, unfortunately, it is not even the biggest robbery of this year, or even this month (that prize must go to Burns vs. Beltran).  However, this only shows the depths of the problem. This is not a one- off, it is a pernicious disease, which is infecting boxing, from top-to-toe, and threatening to poison the remaining magic held within the sweet science. Is it any wonder that many view boxing now as a place where the fixers and schemers decide who will win and who will lose, before anyone has even stepped into the ring.

We often here about the bad old days when boxing was in the hands of cartels and ruled by the mafia, but is it any cleaner now?  Have the mob bosses of old, simply been replaced by the world boxing bodies, TV networks, and the promoters?
How much longer can boxing afford to steal victories from some of its hardest working fighters, and treat its fans like fools?

As it is, the effects of how boxing is managed by the people that run it can be seen by the fact that it is no longer a mainstream sport. The greed that has led to multiple world champions, at every weight, has chipped away steadily at its reputation and appeal. A decision, like the one given on Saturday night for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., is just another blow and another chip, into boxing’s evermore battered visage.

Perhaps a good illustration of the way things work in boxing these days can be found in the contrasting treatment given to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Guillermo Rigondeaux. In Chavez, we have a fighter who is basically an over protected slob, who seems to be incapable of staying in shape, and who treats the advise of those around him with a mixture of boredom and contempt. On the other, we have a fighter who is blessed with an abundance of talent, is a dedicated professional, who has made huge sacrifices in order to pursue his dream of becoming a great boxer. So, which boxer, out of these two men, was described by their promoter as being a ‘boring fighter’ who makes HBO executives ‘throw up’ when Arum mentions his name? Yes, Rigondeaux!  The oh so ‘boring’ WBO and WBA world super-bantamweight champion, who in April schooled Arum’s favourite, Nonito Donaire, and hasn’t been able to get a fight since.
Ironically, Saturday’s farcical decision for Chavez Jr., took the attention away from the saga of Junior’s ever-increasing weight limit. First, it was 165, then 168, and then 173, until, finally, it seemed that Chavez was going to be able to turn up, and weigh in at whatever weight he wanted. In the end, Chavez weighed in at a suspiciously ‘light’ 172.5, while Vera scaled in at just a pound lighter, so we were told.  In the ring, the difference in size between the two was almost shocking; it really did look like a middleweight fighting a light heavyweight. The fact that it was the much smaller man, who seemed to have ‘won’ the fight, says a lot for both men. Indeed, Vera exposed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for what he is, both in and out of the ring. The truth is, that Chavez’s ‘talent’ is a myth, aside from the advantage in size that he usually holds over his opponents, Chavez is a mundanely talented fighter, who is too lazy to even make the most of the modest ability which he possesses.

Vera would like a rematch against Chavez Jr., but the chances of that happening are miniscule, Chavez Jr. will not want to risk ‘losing’ to the smaller man twice.

After the fight, and between declarations of how he was always in control of the fight, and would have knocked out Vera if he hadn’t hurt his right hand in the fifth round, Chavez stated his intention of going down to 168 pounds to fight for a world title.

Of course, as luck would have it, the WBC have a nice little ‘world’ title fight waiting for Chavez, should he manage to get his hulking body back down to 168 pounds, having sensitively taken the crown away from Andre Ward, and awarded it to the winner of Sakio Bika vs. Marco Antonio Periban. The veteran Bika won on points, after a rugged fight, which at times, seemed as if it was being fought in slow motion.
The WBC may as well call a press conference and award the title and WBC belt to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., there and then, rather than go through with the charade of ’fighting’ for the title. The ever so likely outcome is that Chavez will win, even if he loses.

The saddest part of all this was watching the joy and exaltation of Vera’s corner, especially Vera and his trainer Ronnie Shields, crumple up into shock and disbelief
after the decision was announced. Even Ronnie Sheilds, a former world title contender, and a trainer with over thirty years in the business behind him, found this fight a bitter pill to swallow.

So it goes on, the crowd will boo the decision and some scribes will wring their hands at the injustice of it all, but the fixers and schemers who run the game will rub their sweaty hands together, and plan their next move. They’ve been getting away with it for so long because they are the ones who make up the rules, and it’s very easy to do what you like when you are making up your own rules.

Therefore, one man’s dream sparkles for a moment, then flickers and dies. We watch it fade away before us, and then wonder whose dream it will be next time. Chances are we wont have long to wait.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Boxing Fans Treated To an Exciting Show at the Camden Centre

By Peter Silkov

London boxing fans were treated to another entertaining boxing show last night (Friday 27 September) with Mickey Helliet’s ’Too Fast, Too furious’ card, at the Camden Centre, Kings Cross, in London. This is about the fifth show to be staged by Helliet at the Camden Centre this year, and the venue is fast becoming a favourite for the fans. The ’Too Fast, Too Furious’ card did not disappoint, as a full house noisily enjoyed a well-matched undercard, which culminated in a thrilling main event.    

The top of the bill attraction was a clash between Elliott Matthews 9-0-1(6kos) and Gary Boulden 7-11-2, for the vacant Southern Area middleweight championship. It was a match, which promised fireworks, pitting the rising Elliott against the battle- hardened Boulden, who despite his recent losing record, is always tough to beat. 
Boulden also had the added incentive of having held this title for six months in 2011 before losing it to the current British champion, Billy Joe Saunders. 

Elliott made a good start to the fight in the first round, coming forward behind his southpaw jab, and mixing in some good lefts, which had Boulden under pressure, and attempting to counter on the retreat. In the second round, Boulden stood his ground more and tried to drag Elliott into a toe-to-toe encounter with some good punches of his own. Elliott retained control of the action with his superior power and accuracy, as he continued to land his jab and fire lefts to the head and body, in what was already becoming a lively fight. Boulden was down early in the second from what seemed to be a loss of balance rather than a genuine knockdown.

The pace continued to heat up in the 3rd, as Boulden targeted the body, and looked to get inside; the result was a number of good exchanges from the pair. Halfway through the round, Boulden opened up a cut over the left eye of Matthews, and the sight of the cut seemed to galvanize both boxers, and the round ended with them fighting toe-to- toe.

Boulden had one of his best rounds of the fight in the 4th, as Elliott seemed to be bothered by his cut left eye. Elliott was still coming forward, but seemed preoccupied with shielding the injured eye, while Boulden was now outworking him with two-fisted barrages, which had worsened the cut by the rounds end.

By the 5th round Boulden had made the fight the kind of slugfest that he wanted it to be, and there were some great exchanges between the two, as Elliott looked to land his big punches, while Boulden countered well. At this point, Elliott, perhaps worried about the severity of his cut left eye, seemed to be looking for a big punch to end matters, rather than working off the jab as he had done earlier on in the bout.  Towards the end of the round, as the two were engaged in a frenetic exchange, a cut was opened over Elliott’s right eye.

Boulden started the 6th round fast, as he forced Elliott back with a busy attack, which targeted Elliott’s damaged eyes. Elliott responded with some hard shots of his own, and while Boulden was throwing the more punches, Elliott’s punches were carried the more power.   
Elliott’s corner did well to get the cuts under control and by the 7th round, the left eye had more or less stopped bleeding, while the right eye was kept under control, and didn’t pose a problem, as the fight progressed into the later rounds. With the cuts under control, Elliott seemed to regain his composure in the 7th round and begun to utilize his southpaw jab once more, and caught Boulden flush with some heavy shots to the head, from both hands. Boulden showed his admirable toughness by continuing to fire back himself, but the upper hand in the action had clearly swung back to Elliott. 

In the 8th round, Elliott controlled the action with his jab, knocking Boulden’s head back with it, as Boulden now struggled to get inside as he had earlier. Boulden was now cut and marked over the right eye, and seemed to be feeling the pace for the first time in the fight, with Elliott looking the fresher of the two.

Both men wore the marks of battle, as they came out for the 9th round, with Elliott’s right eye now swollen, but he kept control of the action again with his jab, which was solid and accurate. Boulden looked tired, as he tried to force his way inside, but continued to bravely throw punches at Elliott, despite being picked off by Elliott’s jabs and left hooks.

The 10th and final round proved to be the most exciting round of the fight, as Boulden showed amazing heart and stamina, by putting everything into a last ditch effort to stop Elliott. He literally threw himself at Elliott, with a terrific two-handed attack, forcing Elliott to give ground and cover up. One or two shots by Boulden seemed to momentarily shake Elliott, but Elliott came back with some tremendous punches of his own to hurt Boulden. The crowd was on their feet, as the two engaged in a tremendous toe-to- toe exchange, which ended in more drama, when a clash of heads caused a cut to open in Elliott’s hairline. With blood suddenly pouring down his face, the fight was stopped momentarily for the doctor to have a look at it. Thankfully, the fight was allowed to continue and the two carried on where they had left off, exchanging punches toe-to-toe until the bell ending the fight. At the end, both boxers were given a rousing ovation by the raucous crowd. This fight was the kind of back and forth thriller that the southern area titles have long been famous for in boxing. 

Referee Marcus Mcdonnell made Elliott Matthews the winner and champion by the score of 97-to-94. Although Matthews was a worthy winner, by virtue of his heavier and more accurate punching, Boulden had once again showed that you can’t judge a fighter simply by his win and loss record. This was such an outstanding fight that noone would complain if there was a rematch. Gary Boulden definitely deserves one.
There was a slightly bizarre situation after the verdict was read out, when it was announced that there wasn’t a belt at hand  to award the new champion, but most of the spectators were too excited by the spectacle they had just had the pleasure to witness to let this disappointment bother them too much. 
Hopefully, Matthews might be given his belt in the ring at the next Camden Centre show which is set for October 25th.

The ‘Too Fast, Too Furious’ show started off with five entertaining and sometimes controversial undercard fights.

One of the night’s biggest attractions, alongside the main event title fight, was the professional debut of Dempsey Fury 1-0, cousin of former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Fury faced Mark Till 0-1 who was also having his first professional outing. Fighting at super-middleweight, the pair made a lively start to their scheduled 4-rounder, with Till showing a decent jab, but Fury out landing him with his own, and showing more power in his shots. Fury was very impressive in the first round with some nice moves and a cross-armed defense almost reminiscent of James Toney. He jabbed well and opened up with both hands, landing both, to  the head and the body, leaving Till to try and fend him off with the jab, as he tried to whether the storm. The fight changed in the 2nd round as Fury, after being in control in the opener, seemed winded, and Till perhaps sensing this, came at Fury with a two- handed assault of his own, which had Fury on the ropes. Fury still landed some good jabs, but his work was only sporadic and his defense was falling apart.

The 3rd round saw Till outworking Fury, who was having trouble lifting up his arms.  Fury landed punches carried more weight, but his work was too little, as Till landed some good shots while the two engaged in some good exchanges. The round, though close, seemed to be one clearly for Till.

The 4th and final round saw Till with a clear upper hand, as Fury seemed to find it hard to throw a punch. With a large contingent of supporters in the audience, Fury tried to muster up some attack, but once again he was clearly out-worked, and out- punched by Till, who seemed inspired, and looked to have done more than enough to bring off a upset win. 

When Fury was duly declared the winner, the result pleased the audience, but seemed to be very harsh upon Mark Till, to be quite blunt; he was robbed of what should have been a very good debut victory that would have made his name. Dempsey Fury showed enough in the 1st round of this fight to indicate that he is a genuine talent, but he needs to seriously look at his conditioning if he is to have any meaningful future in the professional arena. 

Another outstanding fight of the night was light-middleweights Nathan Weise 8-4-2 (2kos) and Faheem Khan 5-1-2, who engaged in a contest that ebbed and flowed through out its six rounds. The contest was a good mix of styles, with southpaw Khan stalking and looking to land heavy punches, while Weise has a nice boxing style, which features a very good left jab. 

The 1st round, Khan came forward and poked out his southpaw jab, but looking to land the left hand, while Weise boxed nice behind his left hand, bringing in an occasional right hand too.

Weise started the 2nd round as he had the opener, spearing Khan with his jab, as Khan stalked and both men showed some good feints while they looked for openings. Just past the midway period of the round, Khan landed a big left hand, and Weise went down heavily. Weise got to his feet at nine, but was clearly hurt, and found himself under heavy attack from khan for the remainder of the round. 

The 3rd and 4th rounds saw Khan pretty much in control, as Weise concentrated on defense, and tried to fend off Khans attacks. Khan came forward, landing his heavy looking left hooks and uppercuts, but Weise showed both grit and guile to come through these attacks, while Khan made his assaults a little too wild in his enthusiasm to end matters.

Weise had recovered his composure enough by the 5th round to get his boxing back together and start landing his jab again, and making it difficult for Khan to land his heavy shots. Weise mixed his jabs up with some good right hands too; Khan didn’t help his cause by concentring almost entirely on his left hand, rather than varying his work a little or attempting to use his southpaw jab.

The 6th and final round was a close one, with Weise trying to keep his distance from the oncoming Khan, and pot shotting him with jabs and right hands, while Khan landed some good shots, but spent too long looking for the knockout punch.

At the end, Khan was a worthy winner, with the second round knockdown proving to be the crucial difference between the two men.  Like the main event, this is another fight that would make a good rematch.

In a flyweight tussle that opened the evening, the promising Bradley Watson 7-0(2kos) got off to a slow start against Bulgarian Stefan Slavchev 3-8 (1ko) before upping the pace in the second, and stopping the Bulgarian with a tremendous body attack in the 3rd round.

Lightweights Ben Day 5-0-1(1ko) and Paul Haines 0-9-1 engaged in a lively four rounder, and Haines looked to be unlucky not to come out with what would have been the first victory of his career so far. Although the rounds were close, Haines seemed to be landing far more shots on Day, who seemed troubled by Haines’ aggressive and busy style. In the end, though Haines had to be content with a draw verdict, rather than a win, which would have been the upset of the night.

In his 2nd outing as a professional, Tony Milch 2-0 outscored the slippery Bheki Moyo 0-61 over four rounds. Despite his losing record, Moyo is a wily boxer, and managed to keep himself out of trouble, even while being comprehensively out-boxed by Milch.

Judging by the full house, this was another successful show for Mickey Helliet’s Hellraiser Promotions, and a further indication that the boxing scene in London is far from dead. At a time when the main TV channels seemed to have turned their backs on the sport, shows like this are keeping boxing alive in the UK.  

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and watch fight;

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ken Norton, One Of The Greats of Boxing’s Golden Age Passes At 70

By Peter Silkov

Ken Norton, who has died at the age of 70, was one of the outstanding figures at a time when Heavyweight boxing ruled the world of sports in the 1970s. It was a time that saw the heavyweight division at its most talented and exciting, and Norton was one of the best of this time, alongside the legendary Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes and, of course, Muhammad Ali.

Indeed, there is a good argument for saying that Ken Norton gave Ali more trouble in their three fights, than anyone else, including Joe Frazier. While Ali’s fights with Frazier were wars of attrition, Norton, with his idiosyncratic crossed armed defence, (similar to that used by the legendary Archie Moore) posed Ali with a far more technical problems. Norton crablike style meant that he was able to nullify Ali’s most potent weapon, his jab, leaving Ali needing to be at his most versatile and resourceful in all three of their fights. A trilogy which immortalized Norton in Heavyweight history.

Born in Jacksonville Illinois, 9th July 1943, Ken Norton made a comparatively late start to boxing, picking up the gloves for the first time while he was in the Marines after being an outstanding athlete and football player while at high school. After being turned down for a place in the 1967 Pan American games, due to his unique style Norton turned professional that same year at the age of 24. Standing six foot three, Norton was an imposing heavyweight, with a speed and athleticism that belied his muscular size. In addition to his style which so many of his opponents found problematic, Norton also possessed a great jab of his own and underrated power.

From late 1967 to 1973 Norton suffered just one defeat in thirty contests, and was rising steadily up the rankings, but was still basically an unknown when he entered the ring on 31st March 1973 to face the former world champion Muhammad Ali for the NABF Heavyweight title. The ensuring upset, which saw Norton defeat Ali on points after 12 gruelling rounds, and breaking ‘The Greatest’s’ jaw in the process, made headlines worldwide, and turned an unknown fighter into a star. Seven months later the two met for the second time, and this time Ali got his revenge, but the fight was another hotly contested classic, with the split decision win for Ali, proving that Norton’s earlier victory was no fluke.

Despite losing the Ali rematch, Norton was granted a world title shot against the then seemingly invincible George Foreman, and was stopped in the 2nd round after being floored three times. This defeat, like his later losses to Earnie Shavers and Gerry Cooney showed that Norton’s style left him vulnerable when pushed back by big punchers. These defeats have hurt Norton’s legacy somewhat in the years since his retirement, with the perception of him lacking durability. However it is worth remembering that Foreman and Shavers were two of the hardest punching heavyweights in the history of the division.

After the Foreman defeat Norton built up a string of victories, which included a impressive 5th round win over Jerry Quarry, before facing Muhammad Ali for the 3rd time on September 28th 1976, this time with the world championship on the line.

After what turned out to be the pairs least exciting, but most controversial clash, Ali retained his world championship on a narrow but unanimous points decision, after outfoxing Norton with his ’rope-a-dope’ strategy. Norton wept at the verdict, believing he had won.

Throughout his boxing career Norton was a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, and he bounced back from the Ali defeat with a win over the ultra slippery Jimmy Young, on 5th November 1977 in a fight billed as a WBC world title fight eliminator.

On March 18th 1978 Norton was declared ‘World champion’ by the WBC, after newly crowned world champion Leon Spinks, having beaten Muhammad Ali in February, decided to grant ’The Greatest’ a rematch, rather than face the WBC’s number one contender Norton.

Norton made the first defence of his ’world title’ on June 9th 1978 against an unbeaten young contender named Larry Holmes, who had modelled his style on Muhammad Ali. The two men took part in what is considered by many as one of the greatest heavyweight title fights ever, culminating in probably the single most frenetic last round of a heavyweight title fight ever seen, with both men stood toe to toe, pummelling each other. After 15 rounds Holmes was judged the winner via split decision, and Norton was left with the ironic record of being the only heavyweight champion never to have won a world title fight. A cruel label for such an outstanding fighter. Holmes would later prove himself to be one of the great champions.

Norton’s career went into decline after the Holmes fight, he was koed in the 1st round by the huge punching Earnie Shavers, in March 1979 and then held to a draw by Scott Ledoux that same year. After over a year of inactivity, Norton looked a faded force when he narrowly outpointed Randall ’Tex’ Cobb in late 1980, and six months later a brutal 1st round stoppage loss to Gerry Cooney signalled the end of Norton’s career.
After retiring from the ring Ken Norton was still in demand, and took part in a number of films in addition to becoming a popular boxing commentator during the early and mid 1980s.

Norton had emerged from his boxing career fit and eloquent, so it was a cruel quirk of fate when he was left clinging to life after a severe car crash in 1986. Doctors doubted that he would survive, let alone walk or talk again. But with the fighting spirit and positive thinking which had served him so well during his boxing career, Norton survived and made a remarkable recovery, although he was left with impaired speech and movement from his injuries.

In the years since the 70s and 80s the boxing fans fascination with the ’golden era’ of heavyweight boxing has grown and grown, just as interest in the modern day division has diminished. Norton was a frequent guest at boxing memorabilia shows and was always happy to talk to fans about his boxing career. After being part of such a talented era, his own ability is often underrated. Had Ken Norton been part of a less talented division, it is highly likely that he would have been the dominant heavyweight of his era. As it was Norton was one of the best, in a golden era which is unlikely ever to be repeated.

Here are a few videos of the late great Ken Norton:

 Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Roman Gonzalez: The Little Champion Searching For Recognition

By Peter Silkov

There is a wise saying, which states that the best things come in small packages. This belief however has often been overlooked in boxing, where traditionally bigger has always been seen as better. Hence the enormous popularity historically of the Heavyweight division. In comparison to the big men, boxing’s smaller fighters, in the lower weight divisions, have always had to fight that bit harder for recognition. Especially those in the divisions below Featherweight.  

The irony is that these divisions often produce some of the most exciting contests that the sport has to offer, but are too often ignored by the mainstream, at least in part due to the fact that these lower divisions are mainly populated by Latin and Asian boxers.

While in recent years the general popularity of the Lightweight, Welterweight and Middleweight divisions has overtaken the interest of the heavyweight class, fighters in boxing’s lowest divisions still struggle to gain the wider acclaim that their larger contemporaries take for granted.

Roman Gonzalez (35-0, 29kos) is a prime example of an outstanding fighter whose size has conspired to marginalize his profile. At 26 years of age the unbeaten ’El Chocolatito’ is already a two weight world champion, with ten successful world title fights behind him. Gonzalez’s problem is that his world titles have come from boxing’s lightest divisions, Minimum-weight (105 pounds) and Light-Flyweight (108 pounds). ’El Chocolatito’ won his first world title when he captured the WBA world minimum-weight title by stopping the talented Yataka Niidain the 4th round on September 15th 2008. Then after four defences, Gonzalez moved up a weight, and captured the WBA world light-flyweight title with a points victory over the rugged Manuel Vargas on 19th March 2011.

Having made four successful defences of his WBA light-flyweight championship, Gonzalez now finds himself struggling to find decent opposition. ’El Chocolatito’ is a smooth and well balanced boxer-puncher, whose formidable reputation is scaring away prospective opposition, as possible challengers for his title look elsewhere to try and win a world championship. Gonzalez last defended his World title in November last year, when he out-pointed Juan Francisco Estrada, after a furious contest. Ironically since their fight, the very talented Estrada has gone on to win the WBO and WBA World flyweight championship, by beating the highly touted Brian Viloria, and has already made a successful first defence. In addition to this, Estrada has enjoyed a higher profile in his World Flyweight title fights, due to them both taking place on Bob Arums recent China promotions. The fact that Estrada is looking more and more like a special talent in his own right, underlines the ability of Gonzalez.

‘El Chocolatito’ meanwhile, has fought only once so far this year, a 5th round stoppage defeat of Ronald Barrera in a May non title fight. Gonzalez has spent much of this year chasing a fight with the popular and undefeated Kazuto Ioka, who was made the WBA ’regular’ world champion late last year, while Gonzalez was elevated to ’super champion’ (in another prime example of the ’world boxing bodies’ devaluing the whole concept of world champions and world championships!). But with no showdown with Ioka forthcoming, Gonzalez has instead turned his attention to the flyweight division.

On Saturday 21st September, Gonzalez will face fringe contender Francisco Rodriguez Jr, (11-1, 9kos) at the Crown Plaza, Managua, Nicaragua, in a non title fight at Flyweight. This fight is seen as a tune up for Gonzalez for a possible November challenge of Juan Carlos Reveco, for the WBA world flyweight title.
Not much is known about Rodriguez Jr, beyond that he is a typical tough Mexican fighter, who can be expected to give his all against ’El Chocolatito’, but barring a huge lapse in focus or concentration, he is unlikely to upset Gonzalez’s plans for an assault upon the flyweight division.

At 26 years of age Gonzalez is seen by many as the best boxer to come out of Nicaragua since the great Alexis Arguello. While fighting as an amateur, Gonzalez spent some time being trained by the legendary Arguello, and some of ’The Thin Man’s” magic seems to have rubbed off upon ‘El Chocolatito‘. He is a very well schooled boxer technically, with dynamite power in both hands, and very exciting to watch. Indeed, it is hard to see Gonzalez not becoming a big hit with the wider boxing audience, if he was just given the proper exposure.

Moving up to the more traditional flyweight division will give Gonzalez greater opportunities to find the big fights and higher profile which has eluded him at light-flyweight. There are a number of interesting possible fights for Gonzalez at 112 pounds, including a possible rematch with his former challenger Juan Francisco Estrada and a clash with the former WBO and WBA world flyweight champion Brian ‘The Hawaiian punch’ Viloria. The potential rematch with Estrada especially, has a feel of a mini classic about it.

But first Gonzalez has to negotiate Francisco Rodriguez Jr this Saturday, and tune ups can be funny things sometimes, especially if a fighter is looking too far into the future and not close enough at the present. The chances are though that Gonzalez will score an impressive stoppage win within the first 3 rounds and signal that the world’s most feared light-flyweight has begun his invasion of the flyweight division.

 Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Monday, September 16, 2013

Floyd Mayweather Proves That He Is Still The One

By Peter Silkov

Many had wondered whether this was to be the night when the torch of the world’s number one fighter, pound for pound, was to be passed; whether by fair means or foul, from Floyd May weather (45-0, 26kos), to Saul ’Canelo’ Alvarez (42-1-1, 30kos).

Alvarez told us that this was his time. Oscar De La Hoya told us this was Alvarez’s time (and that he had given ’Canelo’ the blueprint with which to beat Mayweather). Floyd was fighting someone far younger and stronger than him, who already had a fan base to rival his own. Some begun to think of it as fate, that Floyd was about to lose his crown. Fate, and a little bit more perhaps, as the biggest powerbrokers in boxing were rumoured to be rubbing their hands at the prospect of Saul Alvarez unseating ’Money Mayweather’ from atop of the boxing world. Saul with his 40,000 ready-made Mexican fans. It was meant to be… it seemed.
However, we shouldn’t have worried. Floyd Mayweather last night showed the meaning behind the saying ’skills pay the bills’ when he treated the record breaking audience and Saul ’Canelo’ Alvarez to a boxing master class, and unified the WBC and WBA World light-middleweight titles in the process.

Yet, this was not Mayweather simply laying on the ropes and being content to counter himself to victory as he did against Gurrerro earlier this year. Against Alvarez, Mayweather was at his most positive and aggressive since the Ricky Hatton fight, perhaps aware that he needed to win rounds clearly and decisively against the popular challenger in front of him.

Floyd was on the front foot from the start, scoring with his jab early, as Alvarez, usually known for his aggression, boxed on the retreat, and looked to counter.

As the fight unfolded, it became clear that Alvarez was attempting to beat Mayweather by using Oscar De La Hoya’s self-proclaimed ‘blueprint’ for beating ‘Pretty Boy’. Oscar’s belief is that the key to victory over Mayweather is to out-jab him on the outside, with jabs to the head and body, and then smother Floyd’s famed counters with combinations.

This is obviously no easy task, and the small fact that De La Hoya was himself well- beaten by Mayweather in their showdown in 2007 (despite the fight going to a split decision!,) isn’t exactly a glowing reference for his ‘blueprint’.

As it is, Alvarez has a good jab himself, but he was never going to beat Mayweather on a jab-based strategy. This was Mayweather’s show from beginning to end, as he dominated with his own sharp jabs, which landed with increasing regularity, and potency as the fight progressed. Alvarez‘s jabs were mostly taken on Mayweather’s gloves, or shoulder, or avoided altogether. With Floyd’s replies lightning fast and accurate. Mixing his jabs with potent-looking right hooks, and later in the fight, some beautiful uppercuts. Alvarez kept his guard high and tight, and at times it was only this that saved him from being completely overwhelmed by the quicksilver boxing artist in front of him.

Floyd made good use of the ring, with the nimble footwork of a boxer ten years younger. Indeed, by the end of this fight, it would be the 23-year-old Alvarez, rather than the 36-year-old Mayweather, who would be looking heavy legged.

Yet, despite using good movement, Mayweather spent long periods stood in front of Alvarez, like a teacher taunting a pupil, as he dodged or Alvarez’s punches, then landed his own replies. On the few occasions that the Mexican did land a solid shot or two, Mayweather would fire back with added spite in his shots.
Mayweather is often cited as not having a ’punch,’ but along with his speed of hand, he has enough power in his punches to dissuade his opponents from simply attempting to walk through his shots in their efforts to beat him.

Alvarez found himself hitting thin air for much of the night, even with his tormenter just inches away from him, and when he did try to open up with his combinations, Alvarez found himself picked apart, until he retreated back into his high-guarded shell.

The difference in physical size between the pair was clear to see, but size and strength, even when allied with good technique, is no match for the mixture of speed and skills that Mayweather brings to every fight. At times, it looked as if Floyd could have stopped Alvarez if he had really tried, but whether it is out of concern for his hands, or a simple apathy to gaining stoppages, Floyd seemed happy to let this go the distance.
Floyd’s performance was artistic in its execution, at 36, it seems hard to pick any visible sign of decay or decline in his fighting makeup. Indeed, it could be said that Floyd is still at his physical peak and reunited now with his father, is a better boxer than ever.

Yes, we worried about something strange happening on this night, and there was a little scare when the judge’s scorecards were read out, and a certain C.J Ross saw the fight as 114-114; a draw. Luckily, the other judges saw it 117-111 and 116-112, but one has to wonder, what might have happened if Floyd had not have taken such a proactive role in this fight, and fought with an unusual aggression for him. Clearly, he had felt the need to display his dominance throughout this fight, and not trust the judges to give him close rounds.

There will be excuses now, with some citing that Alvarez was too inexperienced, too young, or just simply not good enough, but the fact remains that Mayweather took on a fighter picked by many to be the next star of boxing, and schooled him with a lesson in boxing at its sweetest. As for anyone who may cite the ’catch-weight’ aspect of this fight having any bearing on the result, Alvarez outweighed Mayweather on the night by 15 pounds, if we are to have truly ’fair’ fights with no catch weights, then let us have fighters weighing the same on fight-night, not 24 hours before fight night. After all this is why weight divisions were introduced in the first place.

People will debate how Mayweather stands in boxing history, in comparison to boxing immortals, such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran. But, few would convincingly dispute that Mayweather is the outstanding boxer of his generation, and that within the general scope of his fighting weight, there seems no one capable of beating him, including Manny Pacquiao.

Prior to the Mayweather performance, the crowd were treated to an exciting clash between Danny Garcia (27-0, 16kos) and Lucas Matthysse (34-3, 32kos), in a unification battle for the fighter’s WBA and WBC world light-welterweight titles. The big hitting Matthysse entered the ring as a huge favourite, not only to win, but also to win early with one of his thunderous punches. However, from the start, Garcia showed the ring skill which many did not believe he possessed. He worked off the jab, while pot-shotting with the right hand. Matthysse came forward constantly, but in echoes of Floyd Mayweather’s later performance, Garcia either dodged or blocked most of the shots, and showed a sturdy chin to take the one, which got through without flinching.

The early rounds were close with Matthysse showing the more power, but Garcia edging the rounds with his superior boxing skill, and punch variety. Too often Matthysse seemed to be waiting to land the knockout punch, which had made him such a favourite to win this fight. Again, this contest was to be a case of ’skills paying the bills’.

Skills along with a healthy dose of durability and a decent right hand too.
By the middle rounds, Garcia’s jab had closed Matthysse’s right eye, and he had gained a dominant hold on the fight. With Matthysse having trouble seeing on the right side, Garcia opened up even more, with heavy right hands and left hooks, but Matthysse continued to come forward, almost blindly, and land some good shots to Garcia’s body.

It was perhaps this body attack that was behind Garcia fading in the 10th round, when he was hurt badly for the first time in the fight and it looked at if Matthysse might be able to gain the stoppage, that he seemingly now needed in order to gain victory.

Garcia once again showed his fighting heart by coming back in the 11th round to floor Matthysse for the first time in his career, with a combination to the head and body. The knockdown regained Garcia’s hold on the fight, and even though he lost a point in the last round for a low blow, his victory was already sealed by then.
The fight ended with a flourish, as both men went toe to toe, for the final 30 seconds.

With this victory, Garcia has shown that he is more than just a durable slugger from Philadelphia who can box a bit. He is a genuine champion, who has established himself as the number one fighter at light welterweight, and at age 26, seems to be still improving.

He may now also find himself offered a shot at Floyd Mayweather himself.

 Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and watch fight;

Friday, September 13, 2013

Will Floyd Mayweather Jr. Still Be Sitting Pretty After This Weekend?

By Peter Silkov

When Floyd Mayweather Jr. 44-0(26kos) enters the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday, he will be facing the biggest challenge of his illustrious career so far, both physically and metaphorically. In Saul ‘Canelo’ Avarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs), the world’s number one boxer, pound-for-pound, will be squaring off against a man thirteen years his junior, who will also be out-weighing him by at least 15 pounds by fight night.
Mayweather, in his 17-year career has faced opponents of all types, and despite the accusations of cherry picking leveled at him by some, he has fought the best opponents available to him, at every weight division. Except, of course that one super-fight with a certain Mr. Pacquiao, which may or may not finally happen one day, before everyone gets too old. However, Mayweather has never faced an opponent with such a size advantage, who also has an age advantage as well.

While it may seem to be clutching at straws to talk about Mayweather aging, the fact is that ‘Money’ is now 36 years old, an age where bad things can happen to a fighter suddenly overnight. In the build up to this match there has been some talk about Mayweather having been floored in sparring for the first time ever. It may be just idle propaganda, or else there could be some truth in the rumour. Such incidents in training can be the first sign that a fighter is slipping.

This is just the sixth fight that Mayweather has had since he stopped Ricky Hatton in Dec 2007. Mayweather’s sparing activity has been caused by a mixture of out of the ring domestic problems (including a three-month jail stint last year) and Floyd’s need to allow his notoriously fragile hands time to rest between fights. There is a fine line between a boxer preserving himself by fighting infrequently, and a boxer deteriorating due to lack of action. Although Mayweather seems to have mastered walking this particular line, the longer his career continues, the harder it will be as he ages.

At first glance, Mayweather has not shown any discernible signs of decay in the five fights since the Hatton contest. However it is worth noting that Floyd has used the ropes a little more in his recent fights with Cotto and Guerrero, rather than using more of the ring as he did in earlier fights. This slight change in style can be an indication of a boxer ’saving’ his aging legs.

One of the reasons behind Floyd taking this fight with Alvaraez is the mixed reception that he got after beating Gurrerro in May this year. Despite dominating Gurrerro with a perfect display of counter-punching and defense, there were those in the audience that night who made it verbally clear that they expected more for their money. The fans want to see drama and action, they want to see Mayweather put under pressure by a fighter who has a chance of beating him.

Judged on pure skills and boxing ability, Mayweather vs. Alvarez is a no-brainer; Mayweather is in a wholly different league when it comes down to pure boxing skills. But there is more to this fight than simple boxing skills, there is the size and age differential between the two boxers, both of which could bear fruit for Alvarez.

Although there is only an one-inch height difference between Mayweather and Alvarez, with Mayweather standing five-feet eight and Alvarez at five-feet nine, but a look at the two men, head to head, discloses that both boxers have very different builds. Mayweather has a much more slender build, while Alvarez is very stocky, and heavily muscled for a light-middle, looking far more like a middleweight or even a super-middleweight, which, in reality…he is.

Alvarez’s size advantage cannot be over looked. Despite this fight, rather disappointingly, having a catch weight clause, (which means that Alvarez needs to come in at 152 rather than the usual accepted 154 weight limit), by fight night Alvarez will have rehydrated to as much as 168 pounds or more. Mayweather will find himself facing the biggest opponent of his career on Saturday.

Alvarez also has more going for him than just his size; he has some good skills, and is seasoned beyond his years, having turned professional at the tender age of 15, almost eight years ago. Although his skills are not comparable to Floyd’s, Canelo is a better technical boxer than many give him credit for being, just how good exactly, we will get to find out on Saturday. Much of what happens in this fight depends upon how well Alvarez is able to use his advantages of size and youth.

It is worth noting that Alvarez has been groomed for this moment almost from the very beginning of his career, when those around him first realised the potential gold mine that this redheaded Mexican could become with a little nurturing. Aside from his fistic ability, Alvarez is the first opponent that Mayweather has faced with a popularity which rivals his own, since his fight with Oscar De La Hoya.
Like Oscar De La Hoya before him, (who is of course now his promoter!) Alvarez has a crossover appeal, which spreads far beyond just the Mexican fans.

There are those in the boxing elite who may be desperate for Alvarez to become the new superstar of boxing. With Floyd’s career closer to its end, than it is to its beginning, a 23-year-old who can regularly pull in crowds of 40,000, no matter who he fights, is just what the doctor ordered for many of the power brokers in boxing. While Floyd is still undisputedly the number one boxer in the world, the search is already on for his successor, and there will be those who would like to see a passing of the torch on Saturday, from Floyd to Alvarez. The upper echelons of boxing can be a slippery business at the best of times, and sometimes certain people seem to get their way, despite all logic pointing to the contrary.

Is it just a coincidence, or perhaps a bad omen for Mayweather, that he is facing Alvarez almost 20 years to the day since Pernell Whitaker defended his WBC World Welterweight title against the already legendary Julio Cesar Chavez on 10th September 1993. Whitaker is a sadly overlooked boxer today, whose overall boxing technique and defensive skills rival those wielded today by Mayweather. On that night, against Mexican idol Chavez, ’Sweet Pea’ gave a master class of the sweet science, and seemed to have done more than enough to become the first man to defeat the still unbeaten Chavez. However, the three judges saw things differently, and instead of celebrating the crowning moment of his career, Whitaker found himself lucky to be heading home still with his title after the fight was ruled a draw.

Pernell was not so lucky some three years later when he defended the same WBC World Welterweight title against a twenty-four year old Oscar De la Hoya, and despite seemingly out boxing ‘The Golden Boy,’ in addition to flooring, and landing the more punches, ‘Sweet Pea’ was shorn of his title. Indeed, according to the judges on the night, the fight wasn’t even close.
Floyd Mayweather would do well to look at these two results and heed a warning that should come through to him from these past fights.

While Alvarez has not yet shown himself to be on a level comparable to either Julio Cesar Chavez, or Oscar de la Hoya, his advantage in size may well make up for the talent deficit. The truth is, that with the crowd, and probably the judges on his side on Saturday, Alvarez may well win rounds on aggression, even if his punches are being slipped or blocked by Mayweather. This is a fight where Mayweather needs to dominate in order to be sure of victory. He needs a performance similar to the ones he produced against Ricky Hatton and Victor Ortiz, rather than a performance akin to how he was against Miguel Cotto or even his last fight against Robert Guerrero.

The main danger for Floyd in this fight is if he relies on his countering and defensive skills and is not offensive enough, he could find himself losing rounds, which he shouldn’t be losing.

There will be those who will say that a controversial draw, or win for Alvarez would be a profitable result for everyone, as with few other star opponents on the horizon (aside from a certain Manny Pacquiao!) a rematch or even possible trilogy with Alvarez would be a huge money-spinner for all.

However, Floyd enjoys being number one far too much to ever be dragged into such thoughts. He will want to win and win well. We can only hope that if he does so that the judges will score fairly and appropriately.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Former World Heavyweight Champion Tommy Morrison Dies At Age Forty-Four

By Peter Silkov

There have been many tragic stories involving boxers in recent years, but few are as dark as that of Tommy Morrison, the former WBO World Heavyweight champion, who died on Sunday night, September 1st, in a Nebraska Hospital.
He was just forty four years of age.
Tommy Morrison’s story is an almost stereotypical tale of of the handsome young boxer with a big punch who finds fame and fortune with his fists, and at one point has the world at his feet, but then has it all taken away from him in one savage sweep.

When Tommy Morrison co-starred in Rocky V with Sylvester Stallone in 1990 he was a 21 year old undefeated Heavyweight prospect with a record of 19-0 (17koes) who was mowing down his opposition in a manner that made some call him a ‘white Mike Tyson’. The fact that Morrison claimed to be a grand nephew of John Wayne (hence his nickname ‘The Duke’) didn’t hurt his marketability at all.
After taking part in Rocky V Morrison’s own life and career continued to become the stuff of movies, only unlike Rocky V in reality Tommy really would become heavyweight champion of the world, albeit after some ups and downs along the way.

On 8th Oct 1991 still unbeaten in 28 fights, Tommy challenged Ray Mercer for the WBO World Heavyweight Championship, and after bombarding the iron chinned Mercer for four rounds ran out of gas and was cornered and bludgeoned to unconsciousness in one of the most savage knockouts ever witnessed in modern times.

To his credit Morrison came right back from a defeat that many thought at the time to be career threatening, and despite the loss he was as popular as ever. After a run of eight victories, including exciting wars with Joe Hipp and Carl Williams, both of which displayed his flaws, but also his heart and power, and why he was so popular with the fans.
At the age of twenty four on 7th June 1993, Morrison took on the legendary George Foreman for the then- vacant WBO World heavyweight title.

In what was undoubtedly the best technical performance of his career, in front of a star-studded Las Vegas crowd, Morrison boxed to a plan, and out-jabbed and out-boxed the still formidable Foreman. It was a performance which revealed that Morrison wasn’t simply the one-dimensional slugger that he was regarded as and that there was perhaps at the age of twenty four, hope for much more.
The fighter with the film-star resume had one corner of the greatest title in sports, and seemed to have a golden future both in and out of the ring. But this is perhaps where things started to go terribly wrong for ’The Duke’. Still a very young man, Morrison began to live the kind of debauched life outside the ring normally reserved for Rock stars. His womanizing became legendary, as did his rumoured use of alcohol and other substances.

After an easy touch first defence of his title against Tim Tomashek, and just four months after his victory over Foreman, ’The Duke’ was dropped three times and stopped in the 1st round by Michael Bentt, losing both his title and a huge payday with Lennox Lewis in the process.
Morrison again came back, running up some rebuilding victories before beating Razor Ruddock in a thrilling shootout on 10th June 1995, that saw both men hurt and floored, before Morrison prevailed with a 6th round stoppage.

Four months later, the win over Ruddock gained ’The Duke’ a belated shot at Lennox Lewis, for the IBC World heavyweight title. But this time there was to be no fairytale victory for Morrison as he was floored four times and stopped in the 6th round by Lewis.
Although he was now viewed by some as being damaged goods, Morrison was still only twenty seven, with the looks and fighting style which would keep the crowds coming to see him, a new comeback was mapped out and a contract reportedly worth 38 million dollars, for three fights signed. Then on February 1996, while preparing for his first step of fistic rehabilitation, a fight against Arthur Weathers in Las Vegas, Morrison tested HIV positive. After a second test came back positive as well, Morrison called a press conference and announced his retirement from boxing and with courageous honesty blamed his reckless lifestyle and bad choices for his predicament.

Morrison had one fight in Tokyo in November 1996, saying before it that HIV could not be passed on in the ring. He stopped Marcus Rhode in two rounds and then retired again.
Facing the end of his career at the age of twenty seven must have been bad enough, but Morrison also had to contend with losing his whole life as he had known it outside the ring. In one moment he had gone from being an idol to a pariah. Years later Morrison would recall how friends and even family turned their backs on him, both metaphorically and literally. The prejudice and stigmatization must have been hard to bear for a man who had become used to being a star who had been feted and admired by everyone around him. Even his home town of Oklahoma took down the sign that they had erected on the outskirts, proclaiming Morrison as their famous son.

Perhaps with reality turning out so harsh, its not surprising that denial could be seen as a way out.
After a string of drink and drug related scrapes with the law Tommy Morrison announced a come back to boxing in 2007 and declared that he was HIV clear and had been a victim of a false positive test.
Armed with some dubious certificates that seemingly gave him the all clear, Morrison beat John Castle in two rounds on 22nd Feb 2007 in West Virginia, then a year later stopped Matt Weishaar in 3 rounds. But the comeback petered out when Morrison was asked to undergo more thorough tests to prove his HIV status.
Morrison was now talking about plots to get him out of boxing being behind his supposed positive tests and of a worldwide conspiracy regarding HIV.

Morrison continued to train until fairly recently and proclaim that he would be heavyweight champion once more if he was only given the opportunity to restart his career again.
In 2011 he married his wife Trish, who supported her husband in his claims that he was not suffering form HIV, even though his appearance began to visibly decline with each public appearance.
Morrison’s health took a turn for the worse about 18 months ago, when it is rumoured that he had pectoral implants removed after they became infected. After their removal, complications arose and according to his wife ‘The Duke’ contracted the Miller-Fisher variant of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system and can result in paralysis and respiratory failure.
Over the past few months the rumours of Tommy Morrison being close to death have grown, along with the variously dark theories over his symptoms and the causes of them. Ironically for someone who was so isolated after his positive diagnosis seventeen years ago, Tommy Morrison’s final days were talked about and analysed world wide.

Now he is gone there are those willing to judge him for the various mistakes he made throughout his life. But few would disagree that Tommy Morrison paid a very high price for a life lived recklessly.
Tommy Morrison was not a great fighter, but he was a big-hitting crowd pleaser whose fighting skills were probably never fully realized. His final career record was 48-3-1(42kos). Unfortunately, he will now be remembered for the tragedy rather than the triumphs of his life. Another story of wasted talent and too much too soon.

In one final irony, Morrison died on the 90th anniversary of the birth of Rocky Marciano.

 Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Requiem for a Heavyweight… Danny Williams Loses Again

 By Peter Silkov

Danny Williams lost again last Friday, August 23rd, at the Pationarul Dunarea, in Romania, when Marcin Rekowski from Poland stopped him in the 4th round. Rekowski, to be fair, was unbeaten in nine contests, with eight stoppages; he is also thirty-five years old and totally unremarkable. About 10 years ago he would probably have made a decent sparring partner for Williams, but last Friday he made ’The Brixton Bomber’ look like the sparring partner. Unremarkable though he is, Rekowski made Williams stagger with just about every solid punch that he landed. There’s nothing much too really say about the fight itself, if you could really call it that, a fight.

Williams was in a state of survival mode almost from the beginning, his main focus seemed to be to try to block the slow punches coming his way that his reflexes no longer allow him to avoid. Williams started to look like a Friday drunk by the third round, as the Polish fighter’s punches had him staggering round the ring, and eventually going down to the canvas in a disorganized heap. Through it all, Williams had a bemused, almost hurt expression on his face, as if he hadn’t been expecting this at all.  It was the expression of a man who has been let down by his body.

 The end came in the 4th round, with Williams taking an unanswered fusillade of shots in the corner, and vainly trying to defend himself, but not punching back. Finally, the referee had seen enough and belatedly waved an end to the sad spectacle, but was it the end or will it just continue to go on and on.

Danny Williams has now lost twelve of his last sixteen fights, stretching back to late 2008, but the problem with Danny now is not whether he wins or loses, but that he is still fighting at all. William’s boxing career is now in that twilight world of the shot fighter, a fighter who is removed from relevance, and is basically a ghost of the past even though he is still boxing.

It is now been five years since Williams was a relevant fighter in the heavyweight division. As the time has passed and the losses have mounted up, ’The Brixton Bomber’ has become to resemble more and more the fading heavyweight boxer played by Anthony Quinn in ‘Requiem for a heavyweight’.  

Like Quinn’s Character, Danny Williams was at one time a top-rated contender for the World Heavyweight Championship title; what’s more, he actually fought for that championship, on a one-sided and brutal night, against Vitali Klitschko. Anyone who saw Williams challenge Klitschko would never question the Brixton man’s heart, but then most people who had followed ’    The Brixton Bomber’s’ career up to then already knew that Danny Williams had a huge heart. Despite even in his prime, being an erratic, and a paradoxical fighter.

Danny Williams was once a young heavyweight with a huge talent, a talent that arguably, he never had the self-belief to truly harness into its full potential. Outside the ring, Danny Williams has always come across as a stereotypical gentle giant, and yet, underneath the surface, Williams became known as a boxing enigma. He started his career by showing that he had the size, the power, and athleticism to become a major player in the talent starved heavyweight division. It would also become clear as his career progressed that the Brixton man struggled with the demons of self-doubt regularly, and on more than one occasion admitted a dislike for boxing, a sport that he had been persuaded to take up as a youngster by his father.

This ambiguous relationship with boxing would manifest itself by giving Williams’ career a fitful and somewhat wayward nature. One fluctuating aspect of Williams’ boxing career has been his weight, which has varied variously, and increasingly, as his career has progressed.

Williams was unbeaten in fifteen contests when he fought Julius Francis for the British heavyweight title on April 4th 1999, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Even though he was the favourite to win, Williams ‘froze’ and found himself out-boxed and out-hustled, and handed his first defeat.

As would be a pattern throughout his career, Williams bounced back from his defeat to win the Commonwealth Heavyweight title by beating Harry Senior on points on December  18th1999.  Then on Oct 21st, 2000, Danny won the British Heavyweight championship with a performance, which proved that despite his inconsistent temperament, he did indeed possess the heart of a warrior. In a fight that will not be forgotten anytime soon, by those who witnessed it that night, Williams knocked out Mark Potter in the 6th round, while fighting one armed after dislocating his right arm in the 3rd round. ‘The Brixton Bombers’ display of heart and determination in this contest made him a firm favourite with the fans, and marked the beginning of his period of dominance of the domestic Heavyweight scene.   

Over the next two years, ‘The Brixton Bomber’ built up a trail of defenses of his British and Commonwealth titles, and brought the domestic heavyweights some much-needed exposure. Then on Febuary 8th 2003, Williams travelled to Germany to challenge the unbeaten Sanin Samil Sam for the European title, and looked low on conditioning and confidence, as he was floored three times, in crashing to a 6th round stoppage defeat.                                                                   

After coming back from the Samil Sam disappointment with two successful defenses of his Commonwealth and British titles, Williams produced another enigmatic performance on Jan 24th, 2004, and lost his British and Commonwealth titles, when he allowed himself to be out-pointed by Michael Sprott, whom he had already beaten in two previous fights.

Shorn of his titles and with his prospects seemingly on the wane, ‘The Brixton Bombers’ boxing career was to take one of its most unexpected and dramatic turns.
On July 30th 2004, at Louisville Kentucky, Williams took on the legendary ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Brought in as a stepping stone for yet another Tyson comeback, ‘The Brixton Bomber’ withstood an almost vintage early bombardment from the former world champion, but instead of folding, fought back, and in the 4th round pummelled a tiring Tyson to the canvas for the full count.

Danny’s victory over Tyson took his profile to another level, especially at home, for a while he became a celebrity, garnering as much publicity as if he had actually won the world championship itself.

Five heady months after beating Tyson, ‘The Brixton Bomber’ was given the chance to do just that, win the World Heavyweight Championship, when he faced Vitali Klitschko, for his WBC World title. However, Williams’ title shot in the gaudy arena that is Las Vegas, turned out to be poisoned chalice, as he seemed to freeze on his biggest of nights, and found himself taking a spiteful pounding from a peak Vitali Klitschko. Danny was floored four times and showed courage beyond the call of duty, as he repeatedly got up, only to take more punishment. Williams’ predicament was not helped by his chaotic corner, and the end finally came when the fight was mercifully  stopped in the 8th round.

This would be both the high point and low point of Williams career. He earned praise for his immense courage, but for the first time, there were some voices calling for him to consider retirement in the face of such a punishing defeat.

Although Williams came back to regain his Commonwealth and British titles with wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, he looked unimpressive in doing so, as if his previous ambiguity with boxing had grown into an overwhelming dislike. He looked like someone who would rather be somewhere else.

Losses to Harrison and Skelton in rematches in 2006 seemed to bear out the fact that Danny Williams no longer wanted to be inside a boxing ring. The spark and desire seemed to have deserted him. Once an entertaining fighter to watch, Williams’ fights were becoming exercises in long mauls, not helped by his increasing weight, which seemed only to heighten ‘The Brixton Bombers’ loss of speed and activity inside the ring.

Then once again, Williams dragged his career back on track on March 2nd, 2007, when he got himself down to his lightest weight in years at 228 pounds, and regained the British Heavyweight championship, by knocking out Scott Gammer in nine rounds.
It was a performance that left some believing that Williams had sorted out his demons and still had much to offer.  These hopes were quashed almost from their start though, as Williams talked about retirement directly after the fight, saying that he wished to end his career on a high.

However, ‘The Brixton Bomber’ ultimately decided against retirement after the Gammer victory, with hindsight though, it would probably have been the best time for Williams to retire, because his career has been in an ever deepening decline ever since. The Gammer fight would be the last time that Williams approached anything like his peak form.

Over the next twenty months, Williams ran up a string of wins over middling opposition, including a defense of his British title against John Mcdermott, but despite the wins, Williams seemed to be struggling in every fight.

The writing was on the wall on November 8th, 2008, when ‘The Brixton Bomber’ was stopped by the tough, but limited, Albert Sosnowski in 8 rounds, his punch resistance seeming more and more suspect.

Retirement is hard for fighters at any time of their career, ever more so when they still hold a title of some description. Williams was still the British champion at this point, and followed the defeat by Sosnowski by successfully defending the British title again on May 2nd, 2009, winning a controversial decision, after a 12 round struggle with John Mcdermott.

Five months later, Williams was floored and out pointed in 3rds by novice Carl Barker, in the first round of the popular Prizefighter tournament.  

By now, Danny was saying that he was a shot fighter, and in the build up to his May 15th, 2010 British title defense against the unbeaten Dereck Chisora, he talked about retirement and becoming a bodyguard.  It was no surprise when Chisora made short, but brutal work of Williams, taking his British championship by flooring him twice, and stopping him in the 2nd round. After the fight, to the relief of his many fans, Williams duly announced his retirement.

It should have ended there, and in a way, it did, because the Danny Williams entering the ring today is not the Danny Williams who beat Mark Potter and Mike Tyson, or who lost to Vitali Klitshko. He is not even the Danny Williams who out-pointed John
Mcdermott twice at the end of his last British championship reign.

Following his defeat by Dereck Chisora, ‘The Brixton Bomber’ stayed in retirement for ten months, before reappearing in Germany and winning two fights against very limited opposition. In his next fight on June 25th, 2011, Williams stepped in with undefeated prospect, Manuel Charr, and was stopped in seven rounds.

There followed a six rounds points win over former Cruiserweight world champion Alfred Cole, in Sweden; Cole was now forty-seven years old and having his first fight for two years. On December 2nd, 2011, Williams travelled to Spain and faced another ‘prospect’ in Leif Larsen, and was stopped in the 2nd round, after being floored three times.

After a nine month lay off, it started again. Since the Larsen defeat, Williams has lost seven fights in a row, being stopped three times and floored at least six times. It is interesting and a little disturbing that all Williams fights have taken place in variously obscure rings throughout Europe and Eastern Europe, for it is very unlikely that he would be granted a license at this point by the British Boxing Board of Control.
So Danny fights in various places throughout Europe, whose various commissions are not as ‘fussy’ as the British Boxing Board of Control.

There is a tragic irony in a fighter who talked so often about his mixed feelings for the sport, continuing to fight on long after he should walk away. Boxing is littered with stories of fighters who fought on past the time when their legs and punch resistance had long since gone. One more story to the collection will not make much difference, but it doesn’t make it any less sad.

It must be hard to walk away from the only occupation that you have known all your adult life, while still a relatively young man. How easy is it for an ex-boxer to find decent employment outside of boxing? While, a now retired Mike Tyson, can make a living out of telling stories about the highs and lows of his incredible life and career, many of his former opponents are all but forgotten to the public in general.
Some of Danny’s recent fights in Europe have been built up with promotional boasts about him being the man who beat Mike Tyson.  But that fighter is long gone.

Danny fights now in a kind of surreal underworld of boxing, being used to pad the records of young prospects, in makeshift rings set up in variously obscure locations.

Some would think he must be fighting for the money, but would it really be that much at this point? It must be more than just the money; it must be about holding on to something more than simply money.

When boxers retire, they are giving up part of their mortal life, in essence, a part of them dies, their athletic selves, and with it, perhaps many of the hopes, and dreams that they have held for most of their lives.

Should we then really be so surprised that a boxer will find it so hard to walk away?

With every fight now, Danny Williams promises it will be his last. He seems to be a man torn. It must be hard to stay away when the phone keeps ringing and there are more young heavyweights scattered around Europe needing to pad their records with a name, especially a name that once beat Mike Tyson.

Boxing is littered with the stories of fighters who fought on too long and paid a heavy price with their health later on. The punchy ex-fighter is a stereotype, but he is a reality too, often because of promoters and matchmakers who ring him up with offers for fights, when all he should be doing is watching at ringside.

Every time Danny Williams promises to retire now, there are many who hope he will finally be able to walk away. There are many who are tired of seeing Danny getting beaten and hurt, but then who are we to tell a man how to make a living in this world.

Danny Williams is scheduled to fight again on October 5th, 2013 in Germany.

Watch the classic Tyson Vs. Williams fight:

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