Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Big Fight Preview: Vasyl Lomachenko Vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux





By Peter Silkov

When Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11koes) takes on Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7koes) next week (December 9) at New York’s Madison Square Garden, it will be a throwback fight to the days of the 1980s, when the highly-tuned,and technically gifted, champions of that era regularly faced off against each other in matches, which are now part of the sport's rich history.

For raw technical brilliance, it is difficult to find any other active boxers who can compare with either Lomachenko or Rigondeaux. Both men had superb amateur careers, culminating in each man winning two Olympic Games Gold medals each. This is the first time in boxing history that two boxers, both with two Olympic Gold Medals each, have met as professionals for a world championship. Both men have unbelievable amateur records, with Rigondeaux’s reported to be 463-12, and Lomachenko’s amateur record said to be 396-1. The fact that both men are also southpaws, adds yet another twist to this pugilistic duel.

We have to go back perhaps to the first Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran match in 1980, (for Leonard’s WBC world welterweight title) to find a comparable match up in regards to seeing two such technically gifted warriors toeing the line against each other. Indeed there are parallels between the two matches. Lomachenko has been hailed by many as the Sugar Ray Leonard of his generation, and like Leonard, the Ukrainian mixes a heavy dose of flashiness with his boxing speed, and skills.

Meanwhile, Rigondeaux, while outwardly a very different animal to Roberto Duran, is stepping up two divisions to meet Lomachenko, just as Duran did against Leonard, and like Duran was against Leonard, Rigondeaux goes into this match on Saturday night, despite all his ability, the firm underdog.

It’s not difficult to see why ‘The Jackal’ is the underdog. When he challenges Lomachenko for the WBO Junior-lightweight championship, he will be stepping up two weight classes, from his usual super-bantamweight division home. A jump of eight pounds might not sound much to the average man on the street, but when you are in the lighter divisions, eight pounds is indeed a lot of weight to suddenly travel, especially when it is to meet an opponent as highly gifted as Vasyl Lomachenko.

Unlike many champions today, Rigondeaux does not lose, and then gain a significant amount of weight between the weigh in and fight night. He is a small looking super-bantamweight, who has often been outsized by his opponents.

In addition to the size difference, ‘Hi-Tech’ Lomachenko is the younger man by eight years. In a contest that both men are so evenly matched, with regards to boxing ability, such advantages, like those held by Lomachenko over Rigondeaux, could rightfully be seen as a the telling factor between them.

Undeniably it is these advantages that have led Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum, to take the match with Rigondeaux. Arum and Rigo have a well known enmity for each other, which can be traced back to when Rigondeaux beat one of Arum’s ‘golden eggs’ Nonito Donaire, back in 2013. Rigondeaux didn’t just beat Donaire, he out-boxed and out-fought him in a manner that made him look foolish at times.

Arum big plans for Donaire were well and truly dashed by his defeat to Rigondeaux, and although he promoted both men, he was incensed by the result, and went on to denigrate Rigondeaux a number of times publicly in a manner that was quite extraordinary, when taking into account the fact that Rigondeaux was supposedly Arum's fighter, as well as Donaire.

In the run up to this showdown, Arum has still been talking about Rigondeaux ‘stinking out’ the place. It seems Arum no longer appreciates the finer points of the sweet science, and has grown too lazy to promote such boxers.

It's no exaggeration to say that ever since he beat Donaire in 2013, Rigondeaux has been effectively blackl
isted, and has become the most avoided boxer in the sport. Incredibly, it says a lot about the state of the sport when an outstanding world champion, perhaps the best pound-for-pound of his era, is left scrabbling for fights, as his possible opponents and top contenders choose to meet other champions and each other, rather than him. The way in which his world titles were stripped from him, handed out to Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, so that they could have their own little private party with themselves (and what a thriller that turned out to be!!) speaks for itself.

In the six fights that he has managed to have since beating Donaire in 2013, Rigondeaux has found the kind of big matches, which his skills deserve, impossible to make. Until now that is. On December 9th, Rigondeaux has the chance to display his rare ability in a manner denied him since he beat Nonito Donaire. The irony that he will be doing it against a Bob Arum fighter is unlikely to be lost on him.

Undoubtedly Arum sees this contest as very winnable for Lomachenko, and one which will provide the Ukranian with an outstanding name upon his record, and provide Arum himself with perhaps a little bit of revenge, for what Rigondeaux did to one of his favourite fighters (Donaire) back in 2013.

The most intriguing question here is whether Arum has made a miscalculation, just as he did on that night of April 13th 2013, when he let ‘The Jackal’ loose on Nonito Donaire? Rigondeaux was supposed to be a good name on Donaire’s record that night, but it didn’t turn out that way.

One aspect of this fight, which should not be ignored, is Rigondeaux’s own willingness to take the fight, despite the weight disparity. In fact, Rigondeaux has done much to make the match with a marvelously inventive twitter campaign.

The Jackal’ has shown a calm confidence throughout the build up to this showdown, and regarding the weight difference, he said in a recent interview: ‘The most deadly poisons come in the smallest containers’.

Lomachenko has been brimming with confidence in the lead up to this fight, as would be expected, but there is something deeply impressive in quiet confidence of Rigondeaux. He knows that this is his night to show what he can do for the first time since the Donaire contest. This is a fight that will define his career, a victory should see him crowned as the number one boxer pound-for-pound in the world, defeat on the other hand. may well see him swept under the carpet for good.

Head-to-head, these two men match up like fire and ice. While they are both tremendously talented and well-schooled, they are very contrasting boxers. Lomachenko is a total extrovert in the ring, who likes to blatantly play with his opponents. Rigondeaux, on the other hand, is one of the coolest boxer you will see in the ring, who dismantles his opponents with a silky brilliance that the untrained eye can fail to appreciate.

Lomachenko generally throws more punches, while Rigondeaux makes every punch he throws count. Rigondeaux, who usually dominates the pace of his fights, is likely to find the high work rate that Lomachenko can set, to be one of the most daunting challenges of this match. On the other hand, the Ukrainian will find himself up against probably the best defensive boxer in boxing today. How will he react if his punches are not connecting.

Much depends upon how both men approach this fight. Will Rigondeaux stick to his usual counter-punching style, or will he be more aggressive and offensive minded against Lomachenko? All indications seem to be that Rigondeaux will stick to his usual counter-punching style and it will be down to Lomachenko to decide whether he is going to try an offensive approach against ‘The Jackal’ or whether he is going to box him. This could end up being a chess match that only the purists will truly appreciate. However, if Rigo, or more likely Lomachenko, decides to take some risks, and strike out on the offence, then we could see some real fireworks.

The most likely outcome of this fight is a brilliant chess match with some occasional fireworks thrown in. Both men have dangerous punches, but it is Rigondeaux who is the biggest one punch hitter of the two. This has been illustrated by the fact that he has broken the jaw and cheekbones of 2 of his last 3 opponents, and has ended several of his fight with single punches. Lomachenko may not want to try the kind of tricks against Rigondeaux that he has been performing against his recent opponents, as one slip could end up with him knocked out.

Rigondeaux himself has been down a few times in his career, but never visibly hurt. If Lomachenko tries to score a knockout over Rigondeaux he may just find himself falling into ‘The Jackal’s trap.

Both men have great footwork, with Lomachenko’s being the more flamboyant and extrovert, while Rigondeaux often glides around the canvas without seemingly moving his legs.

The person who wins this boxing match will be the man who is able to best nullify the other. Will ‘The Jackal’ be able to deal with the high pace and speed of Lomachenko, will size and age be a factor?. How will Lomachenko deal with a boxer of Rigo’s speed and defensive abilities?

Lomachenko’s only defeat as a professional came in his second professional match when he was out-hustled and out-muscled by Orlando Salido. Will Rigondeaux opt for a drastic change of style against Lomachenko, and look to smother and out-work the Ukrainian.

However the night goes, one hopes that we get to see a fair decision if it goes all the way, as so far 2017 has been a year of bad decisions in boxing.

Logic points to a Lomachenko victory on points. He looks to be too big and too young, with these advantages giving him an unassailable edge for victory, and yet, greatness can sometimes break the sharpest of edges. There is something just a bit extra special about Guillermo Rigondeaux, beyond his mere ability in the ring. Perhaps it is his hunger, to make up for lost time and to strike back against those in boxing who have wronged him in recent years. The more this writer thinks about it the more he feels drawn towards a Rigondeaux victory against all the odds. This is the moment he has waited for and I believe that on December 9 we will see ‘The Jackal’ unleashed like never before. Watch out Bob!


 
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Boxing History: On This Day: Jackie Graves Remembered






By Peter Silkov

 
Jackie Graves, nicknamed ‘The Austin Atom’ was a hard-hitting southpaw, featherweight, who mixed it with some of the best 126-pounders of the 1940s and 50s. Graves was born, John Thomas Graves, on September 12, 1922, in Austin, Minnesota. Following an amateur career, which saw him win a number of titles, Graves turned professional at the age of 22 in 1944. Graves hard-punching, all-action style made him a big hit with the fans.

During his professional career, Graves fought name fighters such as, Harry Jeffra, Charlie Riley, Luis Castillo, Tony Olivera, Jose Gonzalez, Victor Flores, Charley Cabey Lewis, Jackie Wilson, Jackie Callura, Lefty Lachance, Jimmy Joyce, Clint Miller, Spider Armstrong, Harry Lasane, Harold Dade, Willie Cheatum, Manny Ortega, Bobby Bell, Humberto Sierra, Teddy Davis, Glen Flanagan, Ernesto Aguilar, and Manuel Ortiz,

During the late 40s, Graves was ranked highly in the world by “The Ring” magazine, yet was never able to secure a shot at the World featherweight title. The closest Graves came to a world title chance was when he fought the World featherweight champion, Willie Pep, on July 25, 1946, in a non-title fight. This is the fight in which Pep is said to have won a round (the 3rd) without throwing a punch, but just by dodging Graves' punches, but this was proven false by several sources who were at the fight.

Various accounts of this fight say that both Pep, and Graves, were on the floor. Graves put up a brave display, but was eventually stopped in the 8th round.

In an interview with Jake Wegner, Graves spoke of his greatest memory of his career.“They all were great. But my fight with the Featherweight Champion of the world, Willie Pep. Regardless of the outcome, that was my greatest moment of my career. I just wish I could do it all over again-all of it. I used to joke with Willie that his name is Pep, and he has a lot of pep. (laughs) Lordi, that man never ran out of gas. He was great.”

Graves fought on until 1956, with his last fight being a 3rd round knock out defeat to Glen Flanagan on March 22, 1956. Graves' final record was (82-11-2, 48koes).

Jackie Graves died on November 15, 2005, after a long bout with Alzheimer's Disease. 



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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Boxing History: On This Day: Pat Ford Remembered




By Peter Silkov


 
Pat Ford was a clever and strong featherweight, with a rangy style that made full use of his height of 5' feet 10” inches. Born, Patrick Forde, on December 17, 1955, in Georgetown, Guyana, Ford turned professional in 1976. He would become known as one of Guyana's greatest fighters of all-time.

Ford quickly moved up the world rankings, winning the Guyanese featherweight title on February 4, 1978, by out-pointing Tony Greene over 15 rounds. On May 20, 1979, he added the WBC Fecarbox Featherweight title by out-pointing Enrique Solis over 12 rounds. Then on August 1, 1980, Ford won the Commonwealth featherweight title, by stopping Eddie Ndukwu in 8 rounds.

On September 13, 1980, Ford challenged Salvador Sanchez for the WBC world featherweight title, and gave the great Sanchez one of his toughest fights, before being defeated by a close point's decision after 15 rounds.

Five months later, Ford challenged Eusebio Pedrosa for the WBA world featherweight championship, and was knocked out in the 13th round, after another tough fight. After the fight, Ford said he had difficulties making the weight in the build up to the bout.

After his brave challenges for the world title, against two all time greats, Ford’s form dipped and he lost his next two fights, losing over 10 rounds on points to David Brown on April 17, 1982. One month later he was stopped in 3 rounds by Isidro Perez.

Ford stayed out of the ring for 3 years, then returned and had three fights from 1985 to 1987, winning all three, but then retired from the ring, with a final record of (19-4, 12koes).

After his retirement from fighting, Ford, who by how had moved permanently to America, became a trainer at the renowned Gleasons Gym in Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York, where he was highly respected for his knowledge and his humble demeanor.

Pat Ford died on November 13, 2011, aged 55 years old, after suffering a heart attack as a result of complications arising from diabetes. 



Salvador Sanchez Vs. Pat Ford fight:






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Friday, November 10, 2017

Boxing History: On This Day: Charley Goldman Remembered



By Peter Silkov




Charley Goldman was a very clever and tough bantamweight boxer, born Israel Goldman on December 21, 1888, in Warsaw, Poland ( some sources say born in Russia on December 22, 1887.) He later moved with his family to New York, where he started boxing professionally in 1904. Goldman fought notable fighters including Joe Wagner, Benny Kaufman, Paddy Callahan, George Kitson, Young Britt, Phil McGovern, Knockout Brown, Young Ziringer, Patsy Brannigan, Frankie Burns, Tommy Houck, Charlie Harvey, Frankie Burns, George ‘Ko’ Chaney, Kid Williams, Johnny Coulon, Johnny Solzberg, and Abe Friedman.

Although Goldman has 137 verified fights on his record, it is known that he had many more fights during his career.

After his retirement from boxing in 1918, Goldman became a boxing trainer, and would become known as one of the best trainers in the business. His most notable success as a trainer was his moulding Rocky Marciano into the World heavyweight champion. Other world champions whom he trained included Lou Ambers, Joe Archibald, Kid Gavilan, Al McCoy, Carlos Ortiz, Marty Servo, Jersey Joe Walcott (1930 to 1934) and Fritzie Zivic. Goldman also worked with top contenders Rory Calhoun, Walter Cartier, Arturo Godoy, Johnny Risko, Cesar Brion, Tony Alongi and Oscar Bonavena.

Charley Goldman died on November 11, 1968, at the age of 80-years old. In 1992, Goldman was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. 




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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Boxing History: On This Day: Jack Bodell Remembered



By Peter Silkov 


Jack Bodell was a tough and strong heavyweight fighter, with an unorthodox brawling style which, along with his southpaw stance, made him a difficult opponent for just about anyone. Bodell had a lot of heart, and despite being labelled by some as ‘weak chinned,’ most of his inside the distance defeats were caused by stoppages due to cuts.

Bodell was born on August 11, 1940, in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. As an amateur, he won the ABA light-heavyweight championship in 1961, before turning professional in 1962.

During his career, Bodell fought an array of top heavyweight names, including, Joe Erskine, Hubert Hilton, Billy Daniels, Thad Spencer, Ray Patterson, Henry Cooper, Johnny Prescott, Brian London, Billy Walker, Jack O’Halloran, Manuel Ramos, Jery Quarry, Joe Bugner, Jose Manuel Urtain, and Danny McAlinden.

Bodell challenged Henry Cooper for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles on June 13, 1967, but was stopped in the 2nd round. Following this defeat, Bodell had an eleven fight winning streak, and then on October 13, 1969, he won the vacant British heavyweight championship, by out-pointing Carl Gizzi over 15 rounds.

Five months after beating Gizzi, Bodell defended his British title against Henry Cooper and was beaten on points. Cooper also defended his Commonwealth title in this fight.

On September 27, 1971, Bodell scored the best victory of his career when he out-pointed Joe Bugner over 15 rounds, to win the British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. Bodell’s non-stop brawling style and aggression had just been too much for Bugner. However, this victory was followed by three defeats for Bodell. On November 16, 1971, he was knocked out in the 1st round by Jerry Quarry. Just once month later Bodell defended his
European heavyweight title, and was stopped in the 2nd round by Jose Manuel Urtain. Six months later on June 27, 1972, Bodell lost his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles, when he was knocked out in the 2nd round by Danny McAlinden. This was Bodell’s final fight, and he retired with a final record of (58-13, 31koes).
After retirement, Bodell would open the Tile Hill chip shop in Conventry during the 80s. Upon opening it, he invited Muhammad Ali to come down and visit, and Ali accepted the invitation. He was met with a warm greeting. Unfortunately, Bodell would fight a long battle with dementia and died on November 9, 2016, at the age of 76 years old.


Jack Bodell Vs. Joe Bugner




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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Boxing History: On This Day, George Chip Remembered



By Peter Silkov



George Chip was a tough, hard-hitting middleweight, who during his career, mixed it up with the best middles of the 1910s. Born Jurgis Chipulonis on August 25, 1888, in Madison, Pennsylvania, Chip started his working life after he was taken out of school in the third grade and became a water boy in the coal mines in Scranton, PA. In 1909 he turned to boxing to make his living and moved to New Castle with his family to begin training with Jimmy Dime, his manager. Dime also trained George's brother, Joe, who was also a professional boxer.

During his career, Chip fought big names such as, Jack Dillon, Leo Houck, George ‘Ko’ Brown, Jeff Smith, Willie ‘Ko’ Brennan, Frank Klaus, Gus Christie, Jimmy Clabby, Al McCoy, Harry Greb, Young Ahearn, Les Darcy, Art Magirl, Tommy Gibbons, Eddie McGooty, and Mike Gibbons.

Chip won the World middleweight title on October 11, 1913, when he stopped
Frank Klaus in the 6th round. He reigned as champion until April 7, 1914, when he stepped in for his brother, Joe, who had broke his hand, to fight Al McCoy. Chip thought it was going to be an easy bout, but he was stopped in the 1st round by Al McCoy. In a rematch with McCoy on January 20, 1916, Chip would win the fight, but it was a non-title bout.

George Chip would again compete for the World middleweight title on July , 1921, when he met Mike Gibbons in Youngstown, Ohio, and lost by newspaper decision. After Gibbons came back from the armed services, he gave Chip a rematch in Terre Haute, Indiana, on June 11, 1919, and Chip once again was clearly defeated by Gibbons.

Chip continued to box until 1922. His final opponent was Frankie Maguire. Who he beat on points in 8 rounds. Chip's final record was (42-17-4, 36 koes). He also had about 90 no-decision contests.

After retirement, Chip would work as a referee and trainer. He owned and managed a billiards hall in the 1920s, but was closed down due to alleged gambling activities. During the Great Depression he was employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Penn Power, as a watchman, in 1937.

While crossing a highway in New Castle, a 73-year old George was hit by a car and suffered two broken legs and neck on November 4, 1960. He would die two days later in New Castle, Pennsylvania hospital. 



Les Darcy vs George Chip











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Monday, October 30, 2017

On This Day: Mike "Twin" Sullivan Remembered





By Peter Silkov

 

Mike ‘Twin’ Sullivan was a clever boxer who fought many of the top fighters from lightweight to middleweight, of the 1900s and early 1910s. The twin of Jack Sullivan, who was a formidable fighter in his own right, Mike, was born on September 23, 1878, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and began his paid fighting career in 1901.


Throughout his career, Mike fought name fighters such as George ‘Elbows’ Mcfadden, Jack Blackburn, Joe Gans, Rube Smith, Harry Lewis, Honey Mellody, Jimmy Gardner, Dick Fitzpatrick, Belfield Walcott, Jimmy Clabby, Paddy Lavin, Dixie Kid, Young Loughrey, Jack Dillon, Stanley Ketchel, and Kid Henry.

On April 23, 1907, Sullivan out-pointed Billy ‘Honey’ Mellody over 20 rounds, to win recognition by the California State, as the World welterweight champion.

Sullivan gave up his welterweight title in late 1908, and thereafter, fought as a middleweight. His final contest was in 1914, when he was knocked out in 4 rounds by Roddy Macdonald.

Mike ‘Twin’ Sullivan’s final record was (35-7-14, 18koes).

Mike Sullivan died on October 31, 1937, aged 59.




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