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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On the Edge

By Ted Sares


Buddy McGirt once said, "I remember my fight with him like it was yesterday, He came up to me before the fight and asked for my autograph. He was wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, had a chew of tobacco in his mouth and a cup in his hand. He definitely could have been someone to look out for. He had an awkward style, but he could sure fight."

Buddy could have added that he shared something with the likes of Danny "Little Red" Lopez, Bobby Chacon, Saad Mohammed, Jaime Garza,Tito Trinidad and Arturo Gatti. He had that knack......that special flair for the dramatic.....of coming back from the brink of defeat to take his opponent out in breathtaking fashion. Only a fool would ever count him out. With a no-defense, full-offense brawling style, he would take take several blows to land one of his heavy handed straight rights. Hanging tough, he would suddenly and dramatically turn the tables at the end. Once he had his opponent hurt, he would close things out decisively.

He had emerged seemingly out of nowhere as one of the fight game's most exciting, tough-as-nails welterweights and the fans came to love him both as a fighter and as a young man with an obvious big heart, full of personality and promise. He was the quintessential blood and guts warrior who, like the aforementioned fighters, always seemed to grab victory from the throes of defeat. His come from behind victories over Anthony Stephens, Adrian Stone, and, in his final fight, Nick Rupa, won him not only the USBA welterweight title, but a hugh fan following throughout the boxing world and the ESPN circuit. Possible big fights were on the horizon and names like Tito Trinidad and Yori Boy Campas were being mentioned. In boxing parlance, he was a hot property. Hell, He was Gatti before Gatti.


He was also a loving son and was from a close knit family, but from another perspective, he lived his life the way he wanted to........freely and on the edge..........the wild and dangerous side, but as his boxing success increased, his personal life seemed to be stabilizing at least somewhat. Though, as his brother related, "settling down and going to work wasn't part of his life. He had several jobs, he was one of the best roofers in the County, but that just didn't appeal to him." By some accounts, he was also allegedly robbing drug dealers, an activity that can have the most serious of repercussions. Allegedly, he would do this in a dangerous, crime ridden area of his town known as "The Bottoms."


He became a professional boxer at age 21 on July 13, 1987 against Billy Pryor whom he knocked out in the third round in Mobile, Alabama. He knocked out his next four opponents. After these bouts, he was a bit inconsistent, though extremely exciting, winning some and losing to rugged Canadian Stephane Ouellett, and then to Eric Holland in a televised slugfest from Philadelphia in August 1994 featuring savage back-and-forth exchanges. Curiously, Holland, a bright prospect at the time, would never be the same after this brutal bout. Things changed for the better on January 4, 1994, when he fought tough Buddy McGirt in Florida. Even though he lost a ten round decision, he gained respect from those who witnessed the fight, but more importantly, he gained self-confidence knowing he could hang tough with somebody as capable as McGirt. I recall the look on Buddy's face toward the end of that fight and it was one of extreme caution and fear as he was being stalked until the final bell. I sensed something........here was someone to keep an eye on.

Things exploded quiet literally on October 26, 1994 when he fought Anthony Stephens for the USBA Welterweight Title. The fight was televised on ESPN. In a previous bout, Stephens had knocked Felix Trinidad off his feet before before being ko'd by Tito. Coming from behind, he savaged Stephens, knocking him down an astounding five times before the fight was mercifully halted in the twelfth and last round. Becoming the new USBA champion, he was now looking ahead to better fights and bigger paydays.

His next fight on April 7, 1995 against a streaking prospect from the UK named Adrian "The Predator" Stone reinforced his growing reputation for the dramatic. The undefeated Stone was the favorite, and in the early goings, he lived up to his billing giving him a solid beating. But he kept his cool, regrouped and suddenly, like a lightening bolt, took command winning by a sensational knockout in round ten. As is my wont, I was up and screaming at the end, hardly believing the sudden turn of events. One thing was now certain; he had become one of my very favorite fighters. I had found my Bobby Chacon and Saad Muhammad all wrapped into one fighter

After quickly disposing of Kenny Lewis, he then faced capable veteran Nick Rupa on July 7, 1995 in what would turn out to be his last fight. True to form, he was losing the fight, but suddenly turned the tables and ko' d Rupa in round seven.... and he did it in front of his proud family. It was Rupa's first stoppage loss and he too would never be the same fighter. I could hardly wait for his next fight.

It would never come. Sadly, seventeen days after the Rupa fight, my favorite fighter was missing. Between July 24 and August 11, 1995, boxing had lost one of its grittiest warriors, but his parents, three younger brothers, wife and child, lost
far more. His truck was found on the railroad tracks outside of town where some speculated a "fierce battle" had taken place. Days later, his body was found in a swamp.The autopsy revealed he had received a blunt trauma to the head, but not one that would have resulted in his death. More than ten years later, the circumstances surrounding his death remain the subject of much speculation and have been detailed by far better writers than I and I'll leave that part of the unfinished and highly complex tragedy to them.* Suffice to say the pathos, intrigue and cross currents are the stuff of movies and best sellers.

One account I came across indicated that after he was found in the swamps, his body was loaded onto the back of a train engine and taken home to Mobile, Alabama as the sun was setting in the distant western sky. If so, then the man for whom he was named, the Outlaw Jesse James, must surely have been smiling down on the Outlaw Jesse James Hughes who lived like he fought...........on the edge.

"Boxing has become America's tragic theater." Joyce Carol Oates


*See: "Ten Years Later: Death of Jesse James Hughes Remains a Mystery" by Sean Newman, May 10, 2005.

Ted Sares is a syndicate writer who can be reached at [email protected]
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The First One

The First One

By Ted Sares


Maybe you can remember the first professional fight you saw and what impact it had on you. Though I had a pretty good idea about what my first one was and where I saw it, I nevertheless consulted with my older sisters and did some serious research. Here is the result.

Marigold Gardens Outdoor Arena on the North side of Chicago was a smoke filled place on June 6, 1948.....boxing being a bastion of political incorrectness and all. Of course, none of that idiocy existed back then. The smell of beer, cheap cigars and Italian sausage sandwiches mixed with an occasional whiff of perfume and sweat made it a comfortable setting for this 11 year old. I guess my dad, "Big John" as he was known, thought it was time I witnessed a professional fight. God knows he had to break up way too many street fights in which I was engaged so maybe he was working an agenda (another word that thankfully was unknown back then). We both had seen plenty of amateur fights at Rock-Ola Stadium near our home on the Northwest side or at Parichy Stadium in the western suburbs, but the atmosphere here was very different. While there were men of different ages in the seats (and some very pretty women), most of them seemed to be in their late 20's or early 30's and had a "devil may care" a kind of aura about them. I later determined this was due to there having fought in The Second World War which, of course, ended in 1945. In my young eyes, there were real men.....men like my late brother who served from 42 through 45.

Well, we had great seats...right up near ringside. And the featured fighters were two very tough hombres, Anton Raadik, out of Chicago by way of Estonia and 26-8 at the time, vs Tommy Bell, 44-16-3 and out of Youngstown, Ohio. Raadik, a great favorite among ethnic Chicago fans, fought from 1940-1952. Opponents included Marcel Cerdan (whom he knocked down 3 times in losing a highly controversial decision), Jake LaMotta, Joey LaMotta, Carl 'Bobo' Olson, Sonny Horne, Georgie Abrams, Steve Belloise, Danny Nardico, Harry 'Kid' Matthews, and Robert Villemain to name a few.

Two months before this 10 round fight, Bell, who fought from1942-1951, had lost a split decision to the great Kid Gavilan. His resume included a "whose who" of great fighters, California Jackie Wilson (twice), Sugar Ray Robinson (twice), Jake LaMotta (3 times), Steve Belloise, Fritzie Zivic (157-65-9 for an astounding total of 231), Maxie Berger, Cecil Hudson. If one added up the combined won-lost record of his opposition, it would have been staggering.

Based on his level of opposition, Bell was a slight favorite and I noticed the frenzy of betting that was going on. It added to the building excitement as the boxers came out to a cheering audience....the sound was almost gutteral. No music, no long trunks, no posturing or theatrics, no entourages or somebody waiving an inane belt. Just grim and serious looking pros with their trainers and cut men ready to get it on in the stiffing humidity of a hot Chicago night. By the time the fighters were in the ring, the fans were howling, some in Estonian, some in Chicagoan, some in a strange sounding combination.

The fighters were introduced and each modestly nodded to the crowd in the manner of the great Joe Louis. They were given their instructions, went back to their corners and the bell rang. From the beginning, it was Raadik stalking Bell all over the place but never really catching him. As the rounds went by, Bell kept the incoming Anton off of him with neat jabs a slick defense and good foot movement (and the fans began to boo), but finally in the eighth Anton landed some serious body shots that made a "whump" sound. In the ninth he caught the favorite on the ropes and attacked viciously to the body. When Bell dropped his hands, it gave Raadik the opportunity he was waiting for and he launched a series of deadly shots to Bell's head that brought him down to one knee bleeding. When he got up, he fell backwards into the ropes and the fight was halted. The tough-as-nails Estonian-Chicagoan had won by TKO in the ninth and the hometown fans were up and roaring as was my dad. Money was being exchanged in plain sight and drinks were toasted. Right there and then I caught the fever of this great sport and when Raadik winked at me from the ring as his hand was raised in victory, a chill went down my spine. Hey, this was no poetic rite of passage; this was plain old manly stuff and I was in it......hook, line and sinker.

Tommy Bell, a real road warrior, would go on to close his career with 53 wins (32 ko's) 29 losses and 3 draws. He would lose 12 of his last 15, mostly on points. His last was a 6 round TKO loss to the great Pierre Langlois in Paris. Raadik, another boxer who would fight anywhere in the world, would finish with 37 wins (26 ko's) 25 losses and I draw. He would lose 13 of his last 15....his last to rugged Garth Panter in Boise by 10 round UD. Two very tough middleweights who got me started on something I have since followed, participated in, bet on, handicapped, researched and now write about.

As my dad and I headed for a pizza, I asked when we could see our next fight and he said something about Rainbow Arena. We would later see Raadik fight again at the Chicago Stadium. I had found a whole new world and could only imagine what awaited.

Later, I would come to know names like Chuck Speiser, Bert Whitehurst, Tony Janiro, Beau Jack. Gene Burton, Chuck Davey, Chico Vejar, Ike Williams, the great Johnny Bratton (one of Chicago's most popular fighters ever), Verne Patterson, Anton Christoforidis, Bob Satterfield, Marciano, LaMotta, Graziano, Louis, Charles, Durando, Johnny Saxton, Gene "Silent Hairston (a favorite on Gillette's Friday night fights), Bobby *****, Charley Fusari, Livio Minelli, Gary's Tony Zalinski aka Zale, Luigi Valentini, Laverne Roach (whom I saw be fatally injured in the ring), Holly Mims, Georgie Small, Enrico Bertolo, and many lesser known guys who often fought in the Chicago area. This was my indoctrination period and these were some of the fighters who indoctrinated me.Today, this is sometimes referred to as "old school stuff." For me, it was neither better nor worse than watching a competitive bout today. It was what it was.......and it was joyous just as it is today. As an aside, in high school I heard about a tough tall fighter at Farragut High across town named Ernie Terrell, two years my junior, and often wondered why we never fought each other in the amateurs. As it turned out, I'm glad we didn't.

"Let the other guy have whatever he wants before the fight. Once the bell rings he's gonna be disappointed anyway." George Foreman relating boxing advice he received from Archie Moore on posturing before a fight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
to AUCTIONEER

No. Thinking about it, though. I need to go down to Phiily and spend some time with the guys down there. Then, I'll have my grist for the mill.I have written a bunch of essays that have been widely published and I am gradually putting them on this Forum. Thank you for asking. Regards. Ted:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hearns vs De La Hoya: The Breakdown and the Analysis



Hearns vs De La Hoya: The Breakdown and the Result

By Ted Sares

The Tommy Hearns, 28-0, and Oscar De La Hoya, 23-0, fight for the WBA Welterweight Title is scheduled for January 3, 1981 at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas. The referee for the 15 round fight will be Davey Pearl and judges named for the bout are Octavio Meyran, Mike Jacobs and Guy Jutras.
After defeating Pernell Whitaker for the WBC Welterweight Title, De La Hoya has his mind set on winning another big one. His target, Tommy "The Hit Man" Hearns, who destroyed Pepino Cuevas with his booming right hand power to win the WBA Welterweight Title title. Now, less than 3 years removed from his amateur career, the undefeated Hearns puts his sterling record on the line against the Golden Boy. Oscar, always the shrewd businessman, wants to consolidate both titles before Tommy meets Sugar Ray Leonard with whom he is on a collision course. Both fighters are approaching the top of their game and no fight in recent history has created as much excitement. Let's break it down.

1) Amateur record: During his amateur boxing career, De La Hoya's record was an outstanding 223-5 with 163 knockouts. He was a Gold Medal winner at the the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. Aaron Pryor (204-16) overcame a serious size advantage to defeat Thomas Hearns (155-8) on points for the 1976 lightweight Golden Gloves title. Of course, being a great amateur does not guarantee success in the pros. Exceptional amateurs like Jesse Benavides (320-20), Mark Breland (110-1, and he defeated the one man who beat him in the amateurs in the pros), Adolpho Washington (200-30), Orlin Norris (341-10), and Paul Vaden (317-10) had solid, but really great, pro careers. This is one is a wash though De La Hoya has had to withstand more pressure.

2) Best Weapon: Uniquely built with a unusually broad back and extremely long arms, Hearns has exceptional punching power. "The Motor City Cobra" keeps his left hand down low to allow for quicker delivery of his Kronk-style flicker jabs that can do rapier like damage and set up his killer rights. Indeed, it is his right hand delivered with sledgehammer power that is his signature punch. Oscar, "the Golden Boy" De La Hoya maintains excellent overall ring generalship using a good jab to set up his right which now packs far more pop than in recent years. However, a lethal left hook remains his signature punch. Both men are decisive closer's. Nod to Hearns because of his booming right hand.

4) Boxing Ability: Hearns, 6' 1, is at his best using his incredible reach advantage (78" vs Oscar's 73") to outbox opponents or using his long jabs to patiently set up his sledgehammer right that can halt anyone in their tracks. Oscar, 5' 10½, knows his craft inside and out. He is a combination boxer-puncher. Both men can improvise moving to a fall back strategy if necessary.

3) Chins: Both men are undefeated and neither has really been tested chin-wise, but rumors persist that Hearns has been knocked down by more than one sparring partner. Based purely on supposition, the nod here goes to the "Golden Boy," but if hit flush by a Hearns right, it may not really matter.
4) Experience and Level of Opposition:Oscar has fought such notables as Julio Cesar Chavez, Jesse James Leija, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, John John Molina, Genaro Hernandez, Jeff Mayweather (in just his 5th fight) and, positioning him for this bout, Pernell Whitaker. Thus far, he never seems to duck a hard fight. Hearns has duked with Bruce Curry, Bruce Finch, Harold Weston, Clyde Gray, Eddie Gazo and, of course, Pepino Cuevas. Experience level is about the same. More imposing, however, is that Hearns has won 26 of his 28 fights by stoppage (Hearns' KO percentage is 93% to Oscar's 87%). However, the combined won-lost record of Oscar's opposition far exceeds that of Tommy's. The nod here goes to De La Hoya and decisively so.

5) Management: Hearns is trained by Emanuel Steward from Detroit's Kronk Gym. Oscar has just hired Floyd Mayweather, Sr. and seems to have issues with many of his trainers. The comfort level is in Tommy's favor, but both trainers know their stuff.

6) Intangibles: De La Hoya is building his career not only on his boxing accomplishments, but also on his popularity with the media. His good looks and rags-to-riches life story are making him one of the public's best known boxers. Until recently, Hearns' handlers have kept him in Detroit for most of his fights while Oscar has been accustomed to fighting in different states including Nevada. De La Hoya maintains a certain quality that's hard to describe....he has an angel's face, but once he is in the ring, he turns into a killer. As well, there are questions about Tommy's stamina if taken to the late rounds and Oscar hopes to answer them. Neither fighter cuts so that should not be an issue. The intangibles are ever-so-slightly in favor of Oscar.

By fight time, the crowd and betting world is in a frenzy the likes of which has not been seen in years.The anticiaption meter is about to hit 100. Finally it's fight time. After inrtoductions by Michael Buffer and instructions by Davey Pearl, the fighters are ready to see who walks away with the both welter crowns.

Based on their styles and the above analysis, this is how I see the result unfolding: As the bell rings, Hearns, carrying his left hand low, begins to jab and tries to invite an exchange from the Golden Boy but Oscar is having none of it. All of a sudden, a Hearns' right cross lands semi-flush and Oscar hits the deck. He gets up shaking his head just as the bell rings ending round one. Hearns comes out bombing in the second looking to end matters but finds Oscar has fully recovered between rounds. Keeping Tommy off him with great footwork and strategic clinches, he lands an occasional punishing hook to Hearn's body. Hearns’ jab continues to land often and De La Hoya's eyes get puffy through the next several rounds, but Tommy's punches gradually begin to lose power as Oscar's relentless body attack, increasingly administered during frequent and draining clinches, takes it toll, one vicious hook after another.The hugh crowd senses a change in momentum and is up and roaring. Oscar now target Tommy's body with pin point shots and Hearns is showing signs of wilting.

Though many suspected he had a shaky chin, they did not expect this fight to be decided down below. Hearns manages to catch De La Hoya with a straight right in the 12th and his fans begin to chant, "Tommy Tommy Tommy," but Oscar works through it and lands a big left hook of his own which sends the discouraged Hearns into the ropes. Tommy looks confused and his lack of rounds and tough competiion begins to show up. Oscar now begins to stalk Hearns and the crowd senses it's only a matter of time. Everyone is up and screaming at full throttle. Tommy is prime to go. Oscar head feints Tommy out of position and hits him flush with a short hook. Hearns drops like he was shot, but somehow manages to get up and look at his corner for help. The Golden Boy wastes no time in closing the action as he cracks Tommy with another left hook, this time wider and more lethal, which drops him like a log. He is counted out with no time left in the 12th round. Oscar De La Hoya now owns both belts.

After the fight, Sugar Ray Leonard calls out the exhausted but jubilant Oscar at ringside saying that their's is a fight written in destiny.The Golden Boy smiles and nods his head in the affirmative. He says why not? Let's do it; heck, just two savvy businessmen making a deal.

"One of the things that bothers me most, ... Is that very few people really understand what it means to be a fighter. I hate it when I hear someone say, 'That fighter doesn't have guts.' I hate that; it really ticks me off. I don't care if you're a world champion six times over or a four-round fighter who just got knocked out in thirty seconds of your first professional fight. To step inside that ring, you have to have guts.” Oscar De La Hoya

Ted Sares is a sydicated writer who can be reached at [email protected]




 
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