LAS VEGAS —
Manny Pacquiao never saw it coming. He never saw the punch that snapped his head
back Saturday and dropped him to the canvas and left him sprawled there
momentarily, face down, while his wife sobbed uncontrollably and the packed
crowd at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena rose to its feet in shock.
With that, a rivalry known for its lack of a definitive triumph suddenly had the
most definitive ending of them all.
Juan Manuel Marquez threw both arms skyward, as blood dripped from his nose.
Bedlam ensued all around him, but Marquez said little. His face said it all.
His face summarized four fights between two men, two scored in favor of
Pacquiao, another one a draw. His face summarized the release of nearly a decade
of frustration. For the moment that Marquez waited for and obsessed over, for
the moment he set the record straight.
“I threw the perfect punch,” he said.
It happened in the sixth round, after Pacquiao mounted the most furious of
comebacks, after he overcame an early knockdown with a reciprocal knockdown,
after he stung Marquez with a series of left hands. As Round 6 neared its
conclusion, Marquez (55-6-1, 40 knockouts) crept in close to Pacquiao, and he
came over the top from a short distance with that right.
The shot crumpled Pacquiao (54-5-2) to the canvas, right in front of Bob Arum,
his promoter, who held his hands out as if he wanted to catch his prized fighter
in his arms. Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, held her face in both hands and cried. It
took her husband several minutes to rise, and when he did, his face was bruised
under both eyes, which were vacant. He looked lost.
“We knew it would be a tough fight,” Marquez said. “But not an impossible
Pacquiao was later sent to the hospital for a CAT scan; Marquez had a broken
nose and a suspected concussion.
Before the fight, Pacquiao strode deep inside Grand Garden Arena, through a maze
of tunnels. He entered Dressing Room 2 at 5:40 p.m. This was about an hour
earlier than for his previous foray against Marquez. Pacquiao was so early that
he caught the drug testers off guard. One ran off to fetch a test kit. Pacquiao
just smiled, his face filled with confidence, so sure.
The boxer embraced his trainer, Freddie Roach.
“How are you?” Roach asked him. “You good?”
Pacquiao simply nodded.
He wore a blue T-shirt imprinted with his likeness; T-shirt Manny held a
microphone, wore boxing shoes and spun a basketball on an index finger.
Real-life Manny sat in a chair below where highlights of his previous Marquez
fights played on a flat-screen television.
As if to underscore his mood, Pacquiao did not wait for the HBO boxing analyst
Larry Merchant to interview him. He grabbed the microphone and interviewed
Merchant instead. Merchant ably played along. To one query, he said he wanted to
confirm HE won the previous three fights against Marquez.
Pacquiao looked up, incredulous. “Wait,” he said, “that’s my line.”
Then it got surreal. In came Mitt Romney. Yes, that Mitt Romney, the former
Massachusetts governor and the presidential runner-up, every hair on his head in
place. Romney, in fact, came in twice. His introduction was at once awkward and
“Hi, Manny,” he said. “I’m Mitt Romney. I ran for president. I lost.”
All that really happened, truth stranger than fiction. Or just another Pacquiao
The fighter himself stood coiled in his corner before the opening bell ring, his
fists already raised. Then he charged at Marquez like a bull at a matador.
Pacquiao fought the smarter fight early, as he tagged Marquez with lefts and
avoided the right hand.
That all changed in the third round, all changed with one punch. It came from
Marquez, who sent his right arm wide, over Pacquiao’s left glove, flush into
Pacquiao’s face. The punch sent Pacquiao flying backward, on his backside. He
climbed to his feet quickly, his face twisted into a sneer.
It marked the first time in 39 rounds between the fighters that Marquez had
knocked Pacquiao down. If anything, it seemed to galvanize Pacquiao. Well, at
least until the sixth.
Through three previous fights, through 36 razor-thin rounds, Pacquiao and
Marquez had already staged a trilogy that lacked but one significant element: a
clear outcome. In those bouts, Pacquiao did not lose. But he did not exactly
win, either. His Marquez tally consisted of two victories and one draw and
enough doubt to make a rare fourth fight compelling enough to stage.
Boxing history is much like blockbuster movies in that regard. They are plenty
of trilogies, three meetings between two fighters that defined careers. A fourth
fight is more uncommon. It happened with Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer,
with Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles, with Bobby Chacon and Rafael Limon
and in a handful of other instances.
Pacquiao did not want a fourth bout, not initially. Nor did Roach. Marquez,
among the best counterpunches of his era, often befuddled Pacquiao with
stylistic kryptonite. He waited until Pacquiao came to him. And when Pacquiao,
against Roach’s instructions, shifted left and led with jabs, Marquez countered
over the top with stinging straight right hands.
Marquez arrived here like some boxing Popeye, his body bigger, his muscles
carved from long hours in the gym. The questionable past of his trainer, Angel
Guillermo Heredia, an admitted steroids dealer who testified for the government
in the Balco scandal, only added to rampant speculation, which Marquez and his
camp vehemently denied.
Still, Roach maintained that speed, not bulk, won fights. “I don’t think muscle
men have a better chin,” he said.
The last time these boxers met, Pacquiao entered the ring with his personal life
in shambles. He arrived late to the arena, and in an argument with his wife.
Throughout that camp, his confidants described Pacquiao as a changed man who
replaced his numerous vices with religion. Now, they say that Pacquiao,
obsessive in all endeavors, had binged too much on Bible study.
Only in boxing could someone cite too much Bible study as a distraction for a
For this bout, Pacquiao cut out plyometrics from his training, exercises that he
said led to cramping in his calves. His promoter, Arum of Top Rank Boxing, said
the last time he saw Team Pacquiao this peaceful was before Pacquiao fought
Oscar De La Hoya, before he became famous and his life personal life imploded,
before he won a Congressional election in the Philippines.
Whether such tranquillity could translate into the aggression Roach desired
remained to be seen. They had a game plan for the third fight, after all, until
Pacquiao discarded it.
This time, Pacquiao appeared to follow the plan. He remained aggressive, even as
he lunged forward, at times off balance, susceptible to the right. Asked
afterward if he would entertain a fifth fight, Pacquiao said, “Why not?”
Perhaps he will want to watch the punch on replay. It happens to most every
fighter, one of boxing’s starkest and saddest truths. They all get hit, all get
knocked down. Some champions, even Pacquiao, get knocked out.
Camacho, a boxer known for his lightning-quick hands and flamboyant personality
who emerged from a delinquent childhood in New York’s Spanish Harlem to become a
world champion in three weight classes, died Saturday in San Juan, P.R., four
days after after being shot while sitting in a parked car. He was 50.
His death was reported by Dr. Ernesto Torres, the director of the Centro Médico
trauma center in Puerto Rico, who said Camacho had a heart attack and died a
short time later after being taken off life support. He was declared brain dead
The police said that Camacho was shot in the left side of the face on Tuesday
night as he sat in a black Ford Mustang with a friend, The Associated Press
reported. The bullet fractured his vertebrae and was lodged in his shoulder when
he was taken to the Puerto Rico Medical Center. The friend, Adrian Mojica
Moreno, was also killed.
The police said that two men fled the scene in a sport utility vehicle but that
no arrests had been made. They said that nine bags of cocaine were found in
Moreno’s pockets and that a 10th was found open in the car.
Fighting in bouts sanctioned by professional boxing’s myriad organizing bodies,
Camacho, who was widely known as Macho Camacho, won titles as a super
featherweight (maximum 130 pounds), a lightweight (135 pounds) and a junior
welterweight (140 pounds). In his last title bout, at age 35 in 1997, he fought
at 147 pounds and lost to the welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya.
Terrifically agile and fast afoot, Camacho had a sackful of canny tricks gleaned
from his teenage years as a street fighter; he was known occasionally to spin
his opponents 180 degrees and reach around to punch them from behind. Rather
than a slugger, he was a precise, impossibly rapid-fire puncher and deft
counterpuncher who early on drew the admiration of the boxer who was then the
avatar of hand speed, Sugar Ray Leonard.
“Not only quick, but accurate,” Leonard said in 1982 after watching Camacho,
then a super featherweight, dispatch Johnny Sato in four rounds. He added: “I
told him that people are always asking who’s going to take my place. I told him
Fifteen years later, Camacho, who was six years younger than Leonard, ended
Leonard’s comeback attempt at 40, knocking him out in the fifth round.
In the 1980s and ’90s, few boxers were more attention-grabbing than Camacho. He
was known for his hairdo, which featured a spit curl over his forehead; his
clownish antics at news conferences; his brashness and wit, especially whenever
a reporter with a pad or a microphone was around; and his dazzling outfits. He
variously entered the ring in a diaper, a Roman gladiator’s outfit, a dress, an
American Indian costume complete with headdress, a loincloth and a black fox fur
robe with his nickname, Macho, stitched across the back in white mink.
“From now on I’m going to dominate this game,” he said in an interview with The
New York Times in 1985, after he defeated José Luís Ramirez to win the World
Boxing Council lightweight crown, his second title.
Three years earlier, he had earned $50,000 for whipping Sato. Camacho, who was
then 20, acknowledged that this was a lot of money, but he told Sports
Illustrated, “A few years ago, if I had met Sato on 115th Street, I would’ve
done the same thing for nothing.”
As a teenager Camacho was a brawler, a serial shoplifter, an admitted drug user
and a car thief, and he never put that part of his nature behind him. He was
arrested numerous times on charges including domestic abuse, possession of a
controlled substance, burglary and trying to take an M-16 rifle through customs.
This year he turned himself in after a warrant charged him with beating one of
his sons. A trial was pending at his death.
Hector Luis Camacho was born in Bayamon, P.R., near San Juan, on May 24, 1962.
After his mother, Maria, separated from his father when Hector was 3 years old,
they moved to Spanish Harlem. He started boxing at 11 and eventually won three
New York City Golden Gloves titles, though after the first one he found himself
in a cell at Rikers Island, serving three months for car theft.
At 15, after being thrown out of a number of schools, he entered a Manhattan
high school for troubled youths, where he came under the influence of a language
teacher, Pat Flannery, who taught him to read and became a father figure,
guiding him to the Golden Gloves. Flannery is credited with giving Camacho his
Camacho won his first professional fight in 1980, and he earned his first title,
the World Boxing Council super featherweight crown, by knocking out Rafael Limón
in August 1983. His last fight, at 161 pounds, was in 2010 in Kissimmee, Fla.;
he won. His professional record was 79-6-3, with 38 knockouts.
Camacho was married once and divorced. His survivors include his mother; his
father, Hector; three sisters, Estrella, Esther and Raquel; a brother, Félix;
four sons, Hector Jr., Taylor, Christian and Justin; and two grandsons. Hector
Jr. is also a professional boxer.
boxing’s human encyclopedia, a prolific writer and editor and a flamboyant and
ubiquitous presence in the world of the ring, died on Sunday in Mount Kisco,
N.Y. He was 75.
He had lung cancer and died of cardiac arrest at Northern Westchester Hospital,
his daughter, Jennifer Frawley, said.
The author or editor of dozens of books; the editor, at various times, of The
Ring magazine and Boxing Illustrated; and a television and radio commentator who
rarely turned away from a microphone, Mr. Sugar was as voluminous a speaker as
he was a writer.
Garrulous, opinionated, an eager conversationalist who was known to talk with
just about anybody, he was an accomplished raconteur with a bottomless sack of
anecdotes and an incorrigible penchant for wisecracks and bad jokes. You could
pick him out in a crowded room by his voice — a distinctively upbeat growl — or
by the omnipresent wide-brimmed fedora on his head and the fat cigar in his
Mr. Sugar, who was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005, was
not simply a character, however. He wrote about the sport with swagger and
panache, a prose style that carried the weight of expertise and that simply
assumed the authority to bellow and bleat:
“In the world of the early 1900s, still awash with Victorian gentility and
doily-type embroidery on everything from manners and modes to conversation and
conventional heroes,” he wrote to introduce an essay on the great black champion
Jack Johnson, “the name of the heavyweight champion stood out in stark relief, a
man of swaggering virility who epitomized the turbulent yet proud surety of the
populace of a nation destined for greatness.”
In the 1980s, he dared to choose and rank the 100 greatest boxers of all time,
and 20 years later he revised the list (and the book explaining it). In
“Boxing’s Greatest Fighters” (2006), he ranked Sugar Ray Robinson No. 1, Joe
Louis at 4 (after Henry Armstrong and Willie Pep) and Muhammad Ali at 7 (after
Harry Greb and Benny Leonard). At 100, he listed Mike Tyson, whose chapter he
began this way:
“To perplexing questions like ‘Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?’ and
‘Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?’ can be added another: What the hell
happened to boxing’s kamikaze pilot, Mike Tyson?”
Herbert Randolph Sugar was born in Washington on June 7, 1936, and, according to
family lore, legally changed his name to Bert as a child because he was tired of
classmates taunting him with, “Herbert, please pass the sherbet.”
He attended public schools, graduated from the University of Maryland and earned
business and law degrees at the University of Michigan, where he wrote for The
Michigan Daily and played rugby. He passed the Washington bar in 1961 — “the
only bar I ever passed,” he was wont to remark — but instead of going into the
law, he moved to New York City and worked for a time in advertising.
An obsessive sports fan and an inveterate memorabilia collector who had a
700-pound chunk of stone from the original Yankee Stadium planted in his rock
garden, he leapt into sports journalism by the beginning of the 1970s,
purchasing Boxing Illustrated — which he edited well but ran as a business badly
— and a handful of lesser-known, short-lived sports publications. For a while in
the mid-’70s, he edited the men’s magazine Argosy.
In 1979, he and several others, including Dave DeBusschere, the former
basketball star, and Bill Veeck, the former maverick baseball club owner,
purchased The Ring; Mr. Sugar was its editor through troubled financial times
until 1983. Mr. Sugar’s book about Muhammad Ali, “Sting Like a Bee,” written
with the boxer Jose Torres, was published in 1971, and Mr. Sugar was the
co-writer, with Angelo Dundee, Ali’s longtime cornerman, of Dundee’s
autobiography, “My View From the Corner: A Life in Boxing.” (Dundee died on Feb.
With the former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, he wrote “Inside Boxing”
(1974), an examination of boxing technique. And he wrote on other subjects as
well: a history of ABC Sports, a biography of the escape artist Harry Houdini, a
primer on horse racing. Nearly as immersed in baseball arcana as in boxing
arcana, he edited several volumes of statistics and trivia.
Mr. Sugar lived in Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to his daughter, he is survived
by his wife, the former Suzanne Davis, whom he married in 1960; a son, JB; a
brother, Steven; and four grandchildren.
The New York Times
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Dundee, the renowned trainer who guided Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard to
boxing glory, died Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. He was 90.
His death was announced by his son, Jimmy, The Associated Press said.
In more than 60 years in professional boxing, Dundee gained acclaim as a
brilliant cornerman, whether healing cuts, inspiring his fighters to battle on
when they seemed to be reeling or adjusting strategy between rounds to counter
an opponent’s style.
“In that one minute, Angelo is Godzilla and Superman rolled into one,” Dr.
Ferdie Pacheco, who often worked with Dundee and then became a TV boxing
analyst, once remarked.
“You come back to the corner and he’ll say, ‘The guy’s open for a hook,’ or this
or that,” Ali told The New York Times in 1981. “If he tells you something during
a fight, you can believe it. As a cornerman, Angelo is the best in the world.”
Dundee’s first champion was Carmen Basilio, the welterweight and middleweight
titleholder of the 1950s from upstate New York. Although best remembered for Ali
and Leonard, Dundee also trained the light-heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano,
the heavyweight titleholder Jimmy Ellis and the welterweight champion Luis
Rodriguez. Dundee advised George Foreman when he regained the heavyweight title
at age 45. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994.
Born Angelo Mirena, a Philadelphia native and the son of a railroad worker, he
became Angelo Dundee after his brother, Joe, fought professionally under the
name Johnny Dundee, in tribute to a former featherweight champion, and another
brother, Chris, also adopted the Dundee name.
After working as a cornerman at military boxing tournaments in England while in
the Army Air Forces during World War II, Dundee served an apprenticeship at
Stillman’s Gym near the old Madison Square Garden, learning his craft from
veteran trainers like Ray Arcel, Charley Goldman and Chickie Ferrara. In the
early 1950s, he teamed with his brother Chris to open the Fifth Street gym in
Miami Beach. It became their longtime base, Angelo as a trainer and Chris as a
In the late 1950s, Dundee gave some tips to a promising amateur named Cassius
Clay, and in December 1960, after Clay’s first pro bout, Dundee became his
trainer, working with him in Miami Beach. He guided him to the heavyweight title
with a knockout of Sonny Liston in February 1964.
Dundee avoided the temptation to tamper with the brilliance of his young and
charismatic fighter, and he used a bit of psychology in honing his talents.
“I never touched that natural stuff with him,” Dundee recalled in his memoir,
“My View From the Corner,” written with Bert Randolph Sugar. “However, training
Cassius was not quite the same as training another fighter. Some guys take
direction and some don’t, and this kid had to be handled with kid gloves. So
every now and then I’d subtly suggest some move or other to him, couching it as
if it were something he was already doing. I’d say something like: ‘You’re
getting that jab down real good. You’re bending your knees now and you’re
putting a lot of snap into it.’ Now, he had never thrown a jab, but it was a way
of letting him think it was his idea, his innovation.”
When Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali soon after winning the heavyweight title,
his boxing management and financial affairs were handled by the Nation of Islam.
Dundee was the only white man in his camp, and he grew disturbed over references
to that fact.
In his memoir, Dundee said that he and Ali “had this special thing, a unique
blend, a chemistry.”
“I never heard anything resembling a racist comment leave his mouth,” he said.
“There was never a black-white divide.”
Dundee knew all the tricks in the boxing trade, and then some.
When Ali — or Clay, as was still known at the time — sought to regain his senses
after being knocked down by Henry Cooper in the fourth round of their June 1963
bout, Dundee stuck his finger in a small slit that had opened in one of Ali’s
gloves, making the damage worse. Then he brought the badly damaged glove to the
referee’s attention. Dundee was told that a substitute glove wasn’t available,
and the few seconds of delay helped Clay recover. He knocked Cooper out in the
In the hours before Ali fought Foreman in Zaire in 1974 — the Rumble in the
Jungle — Dundee noticed that the ring ropes were sagging in the high humidity.
He used a razor blade to cut and refit them so they were tight, enabling Ali to
bounce off them when Foreman unleashed his “anywhere” punches from all angles.
Ali wore Foreman out, hanging back with the “rope-a-dope” strategy Ali undertook
on his own, and he went on to win the bout.
Dundee became Leonard’s manager and cornerman when he turned pro in 1977. He
taught Leonard to snap his left jab rather than paw with it and guided him to
the welterweight championship with a knockout of Wilfred Benitez in 1979.
Roberto Duran captured Leonard’s title on a decision in June 1980, but Leonard
won the rematch in November when Dundee persuaded him to avoid a slugfest and
instead keep Duran turning while slipping his jabs. A thoroughly beaten Duran
quit in the eighth round, uttering his inglorious “no mas.”
Dundee enjoyed chatting with reporters — he called himself a “mixologist” — and
he tried to “blend” with his fighters, creating a rapport rather than imposing
himself on them.
In talking about his boxing savvy, he liked to say, “When I see things through
my eyes, I see things.”
“When Dundee speaks, traditional English usage is, to say the least, stretched
and malapropisms abound,” Ronald K. Fried wrote in “Cornermen: Great Boxing
“Yet the language is utterly original and Dundee’s own — and it conveys exactly
what Dundee knows in his heart.”
After retiring from full-time training, Dundee had stints in boxing
broadcasting. He taught boxing technique to Russell Crowe for his role as the
1930s heavyweight champion Jimmy Braddock in the 2005 Hollywood movie
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Dundee once remarked: “I’m not star quality. The fighter is the star.”
But he took pride in his craft. As he put it: “You’ve got to combine certain
qualities belonging to a doctor, an engineer, a psychologist and sometimes an
actor, in addition to knowing your specific art well. There are more sides to
being a trainer than those found on a Rubik’s Cube.”
The New York Times
By COREY KILGANNON
VIRUET does not have to talk about what he accomplished in the ring. His career
lies laminated on a small ringside table that stakes out the spot where he
trains fighters at John’s Boxing Gym in the South Bronx.
Clippings and grainy photographs and promotion posters attesting to Mr. Viruet’s
31 victories during his professional lightweight career are protected by clear
tape from the blood and sweat and spit. One shot shows his fist smashing the
face of the great champion Roberto Durán, whom he fought twice. There he is
carried on shoulders after winning a lightweight title in Puerto Rico.
“That’s a beautiful record right there,” he said Wednesday in the gym packed
with fighters sparring, skipping rope, shadow-boxing and pounding the bags.
As for his six supposed losses and two draws, the real explanation cannot be
seen on the table. It falls to Mr. Viruet himself to offer an explanation. They
were not really losses, but rather fights he says were fixed against him —
especially his two close fights against Mr. Durán in the 1970s, the second for
the world lightweight title. The judges’ decisions for Mr. Durán in both fights
were disputed by people other than just Mr. Viruet.
Back then, Mr. Viruet fought at 135 pounds. Now he weighs in at 210. He subsists
on food stamps and Social Security benefits, and rents a $400-a-month room in an
apartment near the gym. He lives on the fumes of his beautiful record.
There was the victory over Alfredo Escalera, a featherweight champion, and the
one over Vilomar Fernandez, who had beaten the great Alexis Arguello. But now we
arrive at the 1971 draw with Saoul Mamby — which Mr. Viruet says should have
been a win. Once again he was robbed, he said, and other fighters and promoters
avoided setting up fights with him. It all got so frustrating that he decided to
end his career with a statement: He took $5,000 to step into the ring with a
lesser fighter named Alvin Hayes in Detroit in 1983 and, he says, he took a
“That was it,” he said, miming a wiping clean of his hands. “My message was,
‘What do I need to win? Shoot the other guy with a gun?’ ”
On it goes — Mr. Viruet can pummel you with this stuff for 15 rounds.
The Puerto Rican-born Mr. Viruet grew up in New York City, one of four boxing
brothers, including Adolfo, also an illustrious pro who fought Mr. Durán as well
as Sugar Ray Leonard. Growing up on the Lower East Side, Edwin and Adolfo would
spar at a boys’ club and fight each other on the sidewalk for money.
Edwin was undefeated as an amateur, with 18 wins and Golden Gloves titles in
1968 and 1969 — when he and Adolfo met in the finals and were declared
co-champions. While Adolfo was more of a slugger, Edwin was a dancing stylist
who patterned himself after Muhammad Ali.
As a teenager, Edwin began training at Gleason’s Gym, which at the time was in
the Bronx, next to where John’s is now.
Like many former fighters, Mr. Viruet only feels right in a busy gym. So he
shows up every day, though he lacks the large following of the dozen other
trainers at this first-floor space in a graffiti-strewn building on Westchester
The place calls itself home to current champions like Joseph Agbeko and Joshua
Clottey, and colorful trainers like Understanding Allah. Mr. Viruet knocks
around, waiting for his next budding champ, or next payday, to walk in.
He trained Alex Stewart during the heavyweight’s ascent, before he fell to the
likes of Holyfield, Tyson and Foreman. He prepared Wesley Snipes for fight
scenes in the 1986 film “Streets of Gold,” and even snagged a cameo. When the
mobster Salvatore Gravano, widely known as Sammy the Bull, wanted to take up
boxing, he paid Mr. Viruet good money to play patty-cake in the sparring ring
with him. “He was a cupcake,” laughed Mr. Viruet, who bides his time by training
amateur fighters, many of whom lack the money to pay him.
Last week, Mr. Viruet agreed to watch a YouTube replay of his second Durán
fight, the 15-rounder in 1977, on a laptop propped up on a car hood outside the
gym. Suddenly, there was Howard Cosell, in his yellow blazer, declaring that
“each man genuinely hates the other,” and noting that their 10-rounder in 1975
ended in a decision for Mr. Durán that was booed.
“One of the classiest boxers you’d want to see,” Mr. Cosell said of Mr. Viruet
as the lithe fighter danced around his plodding opponent and taunted him.
The money Mr. Viruet earned is gone now, he said, but not the pleasure of
watching himself punch Mr. Durán’s face open in the 12th round. “I’m the only
fighter who cut him,” he crowed into the Bronx night, with the No. 5 train
The ex-fighter known around here as the Butcher, affectionately, has a signed
photograph of Joe Frazier that he keeps like a laminated Mass card in his
wallet. He has other personalized mementos, too, including a couple of scars on
his fist-dented face, the handiwork of Smokin’ Joe.
The Butcher knew Frazier as well as anyone can in the public intimacy of a
boxing match, where exhausted men hold each other in sweaty, slow-dance
clinches. But he did not go to Frazier’s funeral in Philadelphia on Monday,
attended by boxing’s elite. Among other reasons, the Butcher drives a school bus
now; he had to make his rounds.
Besides, Frazier is forever with the Butcher. It has been this way for nearly 40
years, since May 25, 1972, when Frazier, the heavyweight champion of the world —
the world — came to Omaha to fight an obscure long shot from the neighboring
Iowa city of Council Bluffs: a challenger with a steel-driving punch and a
penchant for bleeding by the name of Ron Stander, also called “The Bluffs
Butcher.” Or, simply, the Butcher.
“If,” the Butcher says, past bridgework that he often pops out with his tongue
as a joking but startling reminder of his brutal past life. His hair is gray,
his gut is pronounced, and his mind is sharp enough to know the toll that the
Butcher has taken.
“If,” he says. “The biggest word in the dictionary.”
The Butcher’s “if” moment — if he wins, he becomes world champion — took place
on national television and before nearly 10,000 fans in the Omaha Civic
Auditorium. Nearly all of them were chanting, “Go, Big Ron,” for the boxy man in
red trunks, with a mop of dark hair and sideburns that didn’t know where to
The Butcher, a beefy 27, was 23-1-1, with a wow knockout against the powerful
Earnie Shavers, an uh-oh loss against a forgotten nobody, and a reputation for
patiently taking beatings until he could unload his knockout punch. He lacked
discipline, liked his beer, and had virtually no chance of winning.
Not even his wife at the time gave him a shot; she famously said: You don’t take
a Volkswagen into the Indy 500, unless you know of a hell of a shortcut.
“And in this corner, the world heavyweight champion,” trumpeted the ring
announcer. “Weighing in at 217 and one-half pounds. Unbeaten in 28 fights, 25 by
knockouts, World Champion Joe Frazier.”
Out jogged Frazier, a rock-solid 28, his face a mask of all business. He had
beaten Muhammad Ali a year earlier, and was looking forward to the big payday
chance to do it again. For him, the Bluffs Butcher was merely a human tuning
Imagine sitting on that stool a few feet away, in front of everyone you’ve ever
known in your life, about to challenge a world heavyweight champion known for a
left hook that could knock you into tomorrow. And just to make it fun, a pug
named Mighty Joe Young had recently broken your nose while sparring.
“It was bothersome,” the Butcher says of his sore nose.
The two men tapped their gloves in center ring. “You ready?” Frazier asked, as
the Butcher recalls. He says he winked, went back to his corner, and said a
If only the Butcher had capitalized on his first-round punch that buckled
Frazier’s knees — a blow that had the television announcer shouting that
“Stander is carrying the fight to Frazier.” If only he had connected with that
uppercut that just missed Frazier’s jaw, just. If only his own jaw had not met a
Frazier uppercut that Jell-O-jiggled his brains.
“I was out on my feet,” the Butcher recalls. “But I wasn’t going down.”
In Omaha, at least, that is what is most remembered: the Butcher never went
down. But the blood seeping from cuts to the bridge of his nose and his right
eye could not be stemmed by his corner men. “I couldn’t look up,” the Butcher
says. “I tried to follow him around by his feet.”
By the fourth round, the television announcer was shouting a sad ballad for the
Butcher: “Stander with the crowd behind him, but Frazier doing the dynamite. ...
Stander going for broke. ... And a cut over the eyebrow, but look at this kid
battle. ... And the claret continues to flow ...”
DING! DING! DING! DING!
In the auditorium, Toddy Ann Leytham, who had gone to high school with Ronnie,
as she called him, became so upset by the bloodbath she was watching through
binoculars that she tumbled onto the concrete floor. She spent the next several
hours in the hospital with a concussion.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jack Lewis, the attending physician, was telling the Butcher he
was done. “Hell, he couldn’t see me!” Dr. Lewis recalls. “He didn’t know where
Joe was. He was just swinging.”
Soon the announcer was again at center ring, his Kleenex-white tuxedo in sharp
contrast to the blood just shed. “The winner, by a technical knockout after the
fourth round, and still heavyweight champion of the world, Joe Frazier!
The greatest opportunity of the Butcher’s life lasted 12 minutes — or a split
second, if you just count that missed uppercut. The crowd cheered their
gladiator, while commentators made his gruesome loss sound epic. He received 17
stitches to his puffy face, and then he went off somewhere and broke down.
Joe Frazier continued on. He lost his championship; lost two rematches to his
tormenter, Ali; made and lost millions; and died of liver cancer last week at
the age of 67. He ranks among the very best fighters of all time: a lunch-pail
warrior who never gave up. All business.
As for the Butcher?
He kept on fighting for another decade, barreling away in boxing rings from
Hawaii to South Africa, but his career effectively ended that night in Omaha.
You might say he left more than his blood on the mat.
Divorced, remarried, divorced, with four children all told. Bought a bar called
the Sportsman Inn (“Come See the Butcher and Friends”), drank too much, and had
a few run-ins with the law. Drove a cement truck. Worked as a bodyguard for
celebrities; you can find his name among the credits on the Eagles album “Hotel
Worked as a machine operator for 13 years, but lost that job when the plant
closed. Worked now and then as a boxing referee. Received a perfect-attendance
certificate at a heating and air-conditioning school, only to find no work. Quit
a lousy maintenance job at an apartment complex. Did odd jobs around town.
Collected cans. Gave up drinking, but still drinks a little.
A scramble of a life, it turned out, always looking for that one clear shot at
security. But as the Butcher says, more than once: “You can’t change destiny.”
Three years ago, the Butcher attended his 45th high school reunion in Council
Bluffs. Who was there but Toddy Ann Leytham, the only one to be carried out
after the Frazier-Stander fight, widowed and still harboring a crush for Ronnie.
They married a year later.
Destiny for the Butcher at 67 means driving a school bus, helping out
disadvantaged kids and living in a cozy house with Toddy, his biggest fan. She
wears a T-shirt that bears his younger image and the words “My Hero.” She makes
reprints of boxing posters to have him sign and sell. She hangs photographs from
his boxing years, including a particularly gory one from the fight with Frazier,
always with him.
People in Omaha have not forgotten that fight. And when they see Frazier’s
bloodied victim around town, they call out his name. Hey, Butcher, they say.
The New York Times
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Frazier, the former heavyweight champion whose furious and intensely personal
fights with a taunting Muhammad Ali endure as an epic rivalry in boxing history,
died Monday night. He was 67.
His business representative, Leslie Wolff, told The Associated Press on Saturday
that Frazier had liver cancer and that he had entered hospice care.
Known as Smokin’ Joe, Frazier stalked his opponents around the ring with a
crouching, relentless attack — his head low and bobbing, his broad, powerful
shoulders hunched — as he bore down on them with an onslaught of withering jabs
and crushing body blows, setting them up for his devastating left hook.
It was an overpowering modus operandi that led to versions of the heavyweight
crown from 1968 to 1973. Frazier won 32 fights in all, 27 by knockouts, losing
four times — twice to Ali in furious bouts and twice to George Foreman. He also
recorded one draw.
A slugger who weathered repeated blows to the head while he delivered
punishment, Frazier proved a formidable figure. But his career was defined by
his rivalry with Ali, who ridiculed him as a black man in the guise of a Great
White Hope. Frazier detested him.
Ali vs. Frazier was a study in contrasts. Ali: tall and handsome, a wit given to
spouting poetry, a magnetic figure who drew adulation and denigration alike, the
one for his prowess and outsize personality, the other for his antiwar views and
Black Power embrace of Islam. Frazier: a bull-like man of few words with a
blue-collar image and a glowering visage who in so many ways could be on an
equal footing with his rival only in the ring.
Frazier won the undisputed heavyweight title with a 15-round decision over Ali
at Madison Square Garden in March 1971, in an extravaganza known as the Fight of
the Century. Ali scored a 12-round decision over Frazier at the Garden in a
nontitle bout in January 1974. Then came the Thrilla in Manila championship
bout, in October 1975, regarded as one of the greatest fights in boxing history.
It ended when a battered Frazier, one eye swollen shut, did not come out to face
Ali for the 15th round.
The Ali-Frazier battles played out at a time when the heavyweight boxing
champion was far more celebrated than he is today, a figure who could stand
alone in the spotlight a decade before an alphabet soup of boxing sanctioning
bodies arose, making it difficult for the average fan to figure out just who
held what title.
The rivalry was also given a political and social cast. Many viewed the
Ali-Frazier matches as a snapshot of the struggles of the 1960s. Ali, an
adherent of the Nation of Islam who had changed his name from Cassius Clay, came
to represent rising black anger in America and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Frazier voiced no political views, but he was nonetheless depicted, to his
consternation, as the favorite of the establishment. Ali called him ignorant,
likened him to a gorilla and said his black supporters were Uncle Toms.
“Frazier had become the white man’s fighter, Mr. Charley was rooting for
Frazier, and that meant blacks were boycotting him in their heart,” Norman
Mailer wrote in Life magazine after the first Ali-Frazier bout.
Frazier, wrote Mailer, was “twice as black as Clay and half as handsome,” with
“the rugged decent life-worked face of a man who had labored in the pits all his
Frazier could never match Ali’s charisma or his gift for the provocative quote.
He was essentially a man devoted to a brutal craft, willing to give countless
hours to his spartan training-camp routine and unsparing of his body inside the
“The way I fight, it’s not me beatin’ the man: I make the man whip himself,”
Frazier told Playboy in 1973. “Because I stay close to him. He can’t get out the
way.” He added: “Before he knows it — whew! — he’s tired. And he can’t pick up
his second wind because I’m right back on him again.”
In his autobiography, “Smokin’ Joe,” written with Phil Berger, Frazier said his
first trainer, Yank Durham, had given him his nickname. It was, he said, “a name
that had come from what Yank used to say in the dressing room before sending me
out to fight: ‘Go out there, goddammit, and make smoke come from those gloves.’
Foreman knocked out Frazier twice but said he had never lost his respect for
him. “Joe Frazier would come out smoking,” Foreman told ESPN. “If you hit him,
he liked it. If you knocked him down, you only made him mad.”
Durham said he saw a fire always smoldering in Frazier. “I’ve had plenty of
other boxers with more raw talent,” he told The New York Times Magazine in 1970,
“but none with more dedication and strength.”
Billy Joe Frazier was born on Jan. 12, 1944, in Laurel Bay, S.C., the youngest
of 12 children. His father, Rubin, and his mother, Dolly, worked in the fields,
and the youngster known as Billy Boy dropped out of school at 13. He dreamed of
becoming a boxing champion, throwing his first punches at burlap sacks he
stuffed with moss and leaves, pretending to be Joe Louis or Ezzard Charles or
At 15, Frazier went to New York to live with a brother. A year later he moved to
Philadelphia, taking a job in a slaughterhouse. Durham discovered Frazier boxing
to lose weight at a Police Athletic League gym in Philadelphia. Under Durham’s
guidance, Frazier captured a Golden Gloves championship and won the heavyweight
gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
He turned pro in August 1965, with financial backing from businessmen calling
themselves the Cloverlay Group (from cloverleaf, for good luck, and overlay, a
betting term signifying good odds). He won his first 11 bouts by knockouts. By
winter 1968, his record was 21-0.
A year before Frazier’s pro debut, Cassius Clay won the heavyweight championship
in a huge upset of Sonny Liston. Soon afterward, affirming his rumored
membership in the Nation of Islam, he became Muhammad Ali. In April 1967, having
proclaimed, “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong,” Ali refused to be
drafted, claiming conscientious objector status. Boxing commissions stripped him
of his title, and he was convicted of evading the draft.
An eight-man elimination tournament was held to determine a World Boxing
Association champion to replace Ali. Frazier refused to participate when his
financial backers objected to the contract terms for the tournament, and Jimmy
Ellis took the crown.
But in March 1968, Frazier won the version of the heavyweight title recognized
by New York and a few other states, defeating Buster Mathis with an 11th-round
technical knockout. He took the W.B.A. title in February 1970, stopping Ellis,
who did not come out for the fifth round.
In the summer of 1970, Ali won a court battle to regain his boxing license, then
knocked out the contenders Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena. The stage was set
for an Ali-Frazier showdown, a matchup of unbeaten fighters, on March 8, 1971,
at Madison Square Garden.
Each man was guaranteed $2.5 million, the biggest boxing payday ever. Frank
Sinatra was at ringside taking photos for Life magazine. The former heavyweight
champion Joe Louis received a huge ovation. Hubert H. Humphrey, back in the
Senate after serving as vice president, sat two rows in front of the Irish
political activist Bernadette Devlin, who shouted, “Ali, Ali,” her left fist
held high. An estimated 300 million watched on television worldwide, and the
gate of $1.35 million set a record for an indoor bout.
Frazier, at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches and 205 pounds, gave up three inches in height
and nearly seven inches in reach to Ali, but he was a 6-to-5 betting favorite.
Just before the fighters received their instructions from the referee, Ali,
displaying his arrogance of old, twice touched Frazier’s shoulders as he whirled
around the ring. Frazier just glared at him.
Frazier wore Ali down with blows to the body while moving underneath Ali’s jabs.
In the 15th round, Frazier unleashed his famed left hook, catching Ali on the
jaw and flooring him for a count of 4, only the third time Ali had been knocked
down. Ali held on, but Frazier won a unanimous decision.
Frazier declared, “I always knew who the champ was.”
Frazier continued to bristle over Ali’s taunting. “I’ve seen pictures of him in
cars with white guys, huggin’ ’em and havin’ fun,” Frazier told Sport magazine
two months after the fight. “Then he go call me an Uncle Tom. Don’t say, ‘I hate
the white man,’ then go to the white man for help.”
For Frazier, 1971 was truly triumphant. He bought a 368-acre estate called
Brewton Plantation near his boyhood home and became the first black man since
Reconstruction to address the South Carolina Legislature. Ali gained vindication
in June 1971 when the United States Supreme Court overturned his conviction for
Frazier defended his title against two journeymen, Terry Daniels and Ron
Stander, but Foreman took his championship away on Jan. 22, 1973, knocking him
down six times in their bout in Kingston, Jamaica, before the referee stopped
the fight in the second round.
Frazier met Ali again in a nontitle bout at the Garden on Jan. 28, 1974. Frazier
kept boring in and complained that Ali was holding in the clinches, but Ali
scored with flurries of punches and won a unanimous 12-round decision.
Ali won back the heavyweight title in October 1974, knocking out Foreman in
Kinshasa, Zaire — the celebrated Rumble in the Jungle. Frazier went on to knock
out Quarry and Ellis, setting up his third match, and second title fight, with
Ali: the Thrilla in Manila, on Oct. 1, 1975.
In what became the most brutal Ali-Frazier battle, the fight was held at the
Philippine Coliseum at Quezon City, outside the country’s capital, Manila. The
conditions were sweltering, with hot lights overpowering the air-conditioning.
Ali, almost a 2-to-1 betting favorite in the United States, won the early
rounds, largely remaining flat-footed in place of his familiar dancing style.
Before Round 3 he blew kisses to President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife,
Imelda, in the crowd of about 25,000.
But in the fourth round, Ali’s pace slowed while Frazier began to gain momentum.
Chants of “Frazier, Frazier” filled the arena by the fifth round, and the crowd
seemed to favor him as the fight moved along, a contrast to Ali’s usually
enjoying the fans’ plaudits.
Frazier took command in the middle rounds. Then Ali came back on weary legs,
unleashing a flurry of punches to Frazier’s face in the 12th round. He knocked
out Frazier’s mouthpiece in the 13th round, then sent him stumbling backward
with a straight right hand.
Ali jolted Frazier with left-right combinations late in the 14th round. Frazier
had already lost most of the vision in his left eye from a cataract, and his
right eye was puffed and shut from Ali’s blows.
Eddie Futch, a renowned trainer working Frazier’s corner, asked the referee to
end the bout. When it was stopped, Ali was ahead on the scorecards of the
referee and two judges. “It’s the closest I’ve come to death,” Ali said.
Frazier returned to the ring nine months later, in June 1976, to face Foreman at
Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Foreman stopped him on a technical knockout in
the fifth round. Frazier then announced his retirement. He was 32.
He later managed his eldest son, Marvis, a heavyweight. In December 1981 he
returned to the ring to fight a journeyman named Jumbo Cummings, fought to a
draw, then retired for good, tending to investments from his home in
Both Frazier and Ali had daughters who took up boxing, and in June 2001 it was
Ali-Frazier IV when Frazier’s daughter Jacqui Frazier-Lyde fought Ali’s daughter
Laila Ali at a casino in Vernon, N.Y. Like their fathers in their first fight,
both were unbeaten. Laila Ali won on a decision. Joe Frazier was in the crowd of
6,500, but Muhammad Ali, impaired by Parkinson’s syndrome, was not.
Long after his fighting days were over, Frazier retained his enmity for Ali. But
in March 2001, the 30th anniversary of the first Ali-Frazier bout, Ali told The
New York Times: “I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I
shouldn’t have said. Called him names I shouldn’t have called him. I apologize
for that. I’m sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight.”
Asked for a response, Frazier said: “We have to embrace each other. It’s time to
talk and get together. Life’s too short.”
When Frazier’s battle with liver cancer became publicly known, Ali was
conciliatory. “My family and I are keeping Joe and his family in our daily
prayers,” Ali said in his statement. “Joe has a lot of friends pulling for him,
and I’m one of them.”
Fascination with the Ali-Frazier saga has endured.
After a 2008 presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the
Republican media consultant Stuart Stevens said that McCain should concentrate
on selling himself to America rather than criticizing Obama. Stevens’s
prescription: “More Ali and less Joe Frazier.”
Frazier’s true feelings toward Ali in his final years seemed murky.
The 2009 British documentary “Thrilla in Manila,” shown in the United States on
HBO, depicted Frazier watching a film of the fight from his apartment above the
gym he ran in Philadelphia.
“He’s a good-time guy,” John Dower, the director of “Thrilla in Manila,” told
The Times. “But he’s angry about Ali.”
In March 2011, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the first Ali-Frazier
fight, Frazier attended a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and told
reporters that he had not seen Ali in person for more than 10 years.
“I forgave him for all the accusations he made over the years,“ The Daily News
quoted Frazier as saying. “I hope he’s doing fine. I’d love to see him.”
But as Frazier once told The Times: “Ali always said I would be nothing without
him. But who would he have been without me?”
LAS VEGAS —
The final sequence came quickly, brutally, not even four rounds into Floyd
Mayweather Jr.’s latest boxing triumph Saturday night.
One minute, his overwhelmed opponent, Victor Ortiz, was being deducted a point
for a clear and illegal head butt. The next minute, Mayweather feigned as if to
hug Ortiz, stepped back, and hit him hard, twice — first with a quick left hook
and then with a devastating right hand. Ortiz fell to the canvas, knocked out,
dazed, confused. He would not rise for several minutes.
After the fight, Ortiz summed up its end this way: “And then, boom, he
The crowd, which never seemed behind Mayweather, did not cheer the new World
Boxing Council welterweight champion. In fact, it booed, loudly, lustily, as
Mayweather assumed the role of villain once again.
It is a role that Mayweather seems to relish more with each passing fight, that
of heel, a champion perhaps respected, but hated nonetheless. In fact,
Mayweather swore at the HBO analyst Larry Merchant during an in-ring interview
immediately after the bout.
“In the ring you have to protect yourself at all times,” Mayweather said. “We
touched back after the break.”
He added: “He did something dirty.”
That was true, and the consensus ringside afterward seemed to be that
Mayweather, the victim of the purposeful head butt, had not done anything
illegal, even if he would not win any awards for sportsmanship. That is not his
The question now, as always, is whether Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will ever
cease with substandard opposition and actually fight each other. But that is for
The fight took place under a surreal backdrop, even by boxing’s circus-like
standards, a confluence of crazy strange to anyone not named Mayweather, but
normal, too, given the Mayweather clan’s involvement.
The fighter, a world champion in five weight classes, returned to the ring for
the first time in 16 months. In recent weeks, he feuded with his father on HBO,
contested numerous lawsuits and defended his legacy so loudly, so often, he
seemed a bit jumpy, if not genuinely concerned. At the weigh-in Friday, he put
his right hand on Ortiz’s neck, strange behavior for a 5:1 favorite.
Ortiz, 10 years younger, visibly bigger, entered the ring with muscles carved
like some sort of Greek boxing god. He came here with a back story worthy of the
big screen: abandoned by his parents, guardian to his younger brother, a fighter
who sang in the school choir and played piano; whose leisure pursuits include
skydiving and surfing and triathlons.
If Ortiz had pursued another vocation, he said he would have become an
architect. Indeed, he constructed an unusual team. His trainers work day jobs,
one a truck driver, one a landscaper, and his brother, when not in camp, drives
a semi truck.
Ortiz’s career path seemed equally unorthodox. In 33 career fights, he lost
twice and earned two draws, yet he knocked every single opponent down. The power
in both his hands was evident, but his mental state begged questions, especially
after he quit two years ago in a fight against Marcos Maidana. Ortiz said he
went into that contest with a broken wrist and had shot himself with cortisone,
without telling his trainers.
Still, doubt lingered, and even though Ortiz came into this fight as the W.B.C.
titleholder, he said, “I don’t see myself as the champion.” And neither did
That status went to Mayweather, boxing’s most divisive figure, loved and hated,
sometimes all at once. Ortiz referenced often Mayweather’s “beautiful mouth,”
and it worked overtime all month. In one odd twist, Mayweather took several
shots at Oscar De La Hoya, the namesake of the company Mayweather hired to
promote the fight, a boxing legend who recently left rehab.
For his part, De La Hoya said Mayweather picked opponents too old, too green, or
too damaged. The undefeated Mayweather bristled at that suggestion, although the
last time he faced a fighter age 25 or younger was in January 2001.
“I’ve been dominating the fight game since Victor Ortiz was 9 years old,” said
Mayweather who called this training camp his longest ever and most grueling.
“And I’m still sharp.”
Ricky Hatton's extraordinarily brave bid to wrest the WBC
welterweight title from Floyd Mayweather ended when he was dramatically knocked
out in the 10th round in Las Vegas.
In the early hours of Sunday morning Mayweather clattered Hatton
to the canvas via the ring post with a left hook and after the Briton clambered
gamely to his feet, the champion finished the job with another huge left which
sent Hatton stumbling backwards and then flat onto his back.
Hatton had attempted to outhustle Mayweather from the start but his tactics
seldom worked and the American held a huge points advantage by the time the
fight was stopped.
"I felt alright tonight, really big and strong but I left myself open. He's
better inside than I thought, with all the elbows and shoulders and forearms he
used," said Hatton after the fight. "I didn't quite stick to my game-plan. He's
not the biggest welterweight I've fought but he was very strong. I don't think
he was the hardest puncher tonight but he was a lot more clever than I expected.
I'll be back, don't worry."
Hatton's fans continued roaring their hero's name as he was counted out on his
back on the canvas before he was helped back to his corner on unsteady legs. And
Mayweather paid a rich tribute to his vanquished foe. "He was definitely the
toughest competitor I've ever faced. I was throwing body shots and he kept
coming. I see now why they call him the 'Hitman', he said. "I feel like one of
my last fights I gave the fans a dud so I wanted to give back and give the fans
a great fight."
Mayweather had landed the first meaningful punch with a swinging left hook in
the opening seconds, but Hatton raised the roof when he landed a left hand which
caused the champion to momentarily loose balance.
Another clean left from Mayweather cracked home before the bell ended an
action-packed first round, which Hatton perhaps shaded, and Mayweather headed
back to his corner in some discomfort.
Hatton continued to stalk his opponent in the second round, taking the champion
further out of his comfort zone, but increasingly leaving himself open to the
champion's tremendously accurate left hands.
The furious exchanges continued into round three, when Hatton barged his
opponent to the ropes and dug in under the watchful eye of referee Joe Cortez,
who was perhaps being a little too pernickety in regulating Hatton's inside
Hatton fired a superb jolting jab in response to another Mayweather swing but
the American responded with a cracking right hand and Hatton went back to his
corner with blood seeping out from a cut above his right eye.
Hatton landed a fine body shot but Mayweather began picking up the pace in the
fourth round, jolting home a left hand and two rights over the top which forced
Hatton to take his first backward steps. Things looked grim for Hatton but to
his enormous credit he stuck resolutely to his painful strategy in the fifth,
and was at least continuing to succeed in dragging the champion into a tear-up.
Hatton's aggression alone probably shaded the scrappy fifth, and landed a good
right in the sixth before a shot to the back of the head knocked Mayweather half
through the ropes and brought Hatton a one-point sanction from referee Cortez.
Hatton responded by briefly showing his backside to Mayweather before setting
about the champion with renewed vigour, wrestling him into the ropes but still
being picked off by Mayweather's cleaner shots.
Hatton had promised to rough up Mayweather as much as possible - and he was
clearly walking a fine line with Cortez through a number of infringements.
Meanwhile he continued to drop further behind on the scorecards.
Mayweather ended round seven with a flourish, jolting Hatton's head with two
booming right hands, and stepped things up further in the eighth, slamming home
a right from which it was a minor miracle that Hatton was able to stay upright.
There was worse to come for Hatton. Mayweather crashed in a left hand and jerked
Hatton's head as he had him in all sorts of trouble in the corner. Amazingly,
Hatton looked unfazed and fired back with a right of his own.
Cortez paid Hatton close attention at the end of the round but Hatton insisted:
"I'm OK", and strode out to continue his seemingly fruitless quest, but lacked
the clean work required to bring him back into the fight.
Early in the 10th, Mayweather finally dropped Hatton with a sweeping left hook
which sent the challenger clattering head-first into the ring post then down for
a count of eight.
Hatton gamely got back to his feet but Mayweather responded by smashing him back
to the canvas with another left hook, and referee Cortez wisely called time on
the Brit's extraordinarily brave bid one minute and 35 seconds into the round.
As if to underline the futility of Hatton's quest at that point, two officials
were scoring the fight 89-81 in the champion's favour, and the other had him
LAS VEGAS— Turns out the
obituaries written for boxing were a bit premature.
Oscar De La Hoya's fight with
Floyd Mayweather Jr. set a record for most televised buys for a fight, according
to figures released Wednesday, surpassing Mike Tyson's second fight with Evander
Holyfield and making it boxing's richest event.
A total of 2.15 million households
paid $54.95 for the fight, generating revenue of $120 million. The previous
record set by Tyson-Holyfield was 1.99 million buys.
"This puts to bed this theory of boxing being in trouble, or being dead or
dying," said Ross Greenburg, head of HBO Sports. "This fight would have never
materialized if boxing was dying."
A person close to the promotion said De La Hoya would end up making about $45
million for the fight and Mayweather just over $20 million. That person
requested anonymity because the promoters did not want official figures
The $45 million would be the biggest purse paid to a fighter, higher than the
$35 million purses Tyson and Holyfield reportedly were paid for the infamous
Mayweather beat De La Hoya on a split decision Saturday night in an entertaining
fight that drew a record live gate of $19 million at the MGM Grand Garden arena.
Mayweather won on two of the three ringside scorecards to win the WBC 154-pound
The fight will be replayed Saturday at 10 p.m. ET.
Greenburg credited the success of the network's "24/7" reality show that ran in
a coveted Sunday night slot behind the "Sopranos" and "Entourage" for three
weeks leading up to the fight with helping sell both the public and the media on
Mayweather and his dysfunctional family, including his estranged father, Floyd
Sr., and his trainer and uncle, Roger, became the stars of the show, allowing
non-boxing fans a glimpse into the life of the fighter.
"The series was not only well received by the American public, who were suddenly
attracted in a very human way to these two fighters, but it allowed the media to
cover the fight in more depth," Greenburg said. "They were able to dive deeper
into the backgrounds of both fighters."
The reality show concept never had been done among top fighters in boxing, but a
similar series on the Spike network was credited with making Ultimate Fighting
Championship mixed-martial arts fighters popular.
Greenburg said the 2.15 million buys have to be multiplied because most people
who bought the fight invited others over to watch. Multiplied by five fans or
more a household, the fight likely was seen live by well over 10 million people,
"I'm not going to say that boxing was thriving, but it was thriving on our
network," Greenburg said. "I think we were losing the average sports fans, but
this proves if you do the right names and the right matches you can win the
average fan back."
The huge success and competitive nature of the fight also brings up the
possibility of a rematch.
"You can't generate this kind of revenue and think the two fighters wouldn't
want to do it again," Greenburg said. "I haven't heard from Oscar, so I don't
know. You never know in boxing."
PHILADELPHIA — In a cluttered gymnasium on
North Broad Street, the stench of a lifetime of hard work hung over the tools of
a trade that once made Joe Frazier a heavyweight champion and a wealthy
On a quiet, sunny Sunday afternoon in this city he adopted, Frazier stayed well
beyond the reach of the natural spotlight that beamed through the front window
of Joe Frazier’s Gym and swept across an old boxing ring and rows of rusty
lockers. Caught in the glow were tables covered with boxing gloves and head
gear, and not nearly enough trainer’s tape to hide an old warrior’s wounds.
In a back room beneath a dim bulb, Frazier sat on a sofa and taped his
62-year-old hands for a light workout.
“A sound body keeps a sound mind,” he said.
Then the man known as Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who once formed half of one of the
greatest rivalries in sports, rose slowly to his feet. Slightly stooped but
still feeling unstoppable, he began to shadow box.
“Don’t seem like I’m getting any older,” he said on this day in early October.
“I weigh about 212 pounds, only 10 pounds heavier than I was in my prime.”
Ten pounds heavier, but millions of dollars lighter, according to Frazier and
the marketing people who work with him. Over the years, Frazier has lost a
fortune through a combination of his own generosity and naïveté, his carousing,
failed business opportunities and a deep hatred for his former chief boxing
rival, Muhammad Ali. The other headliners from his fighting days — Ali, George
Foreman and Larry Holmes — are millionaires.
But while Ali has benefited from lucrative licensing agreements and remains one
the world’s most recognized and celebrated athletes, Frazier lives alone in an
apartment one staircase above the gym where he and others train young fighters
in a run-down part of town.
“This is my primary residence,” he said. “Don’t matter much. I’m on the road
most of the time, anyway.”
Asked about his situation, Frazier became playfully defensive, but would not
reveal his financial status.
“Are you asking me how much money I have?” he said. “I got plenty of money. I
got a stack of $100 bills rolled up over there in the back of the room.”
Frazier blamed himself, partly, for not effectively promoting his own image.
“I don’t think I handled it right, because I certainly could have gone out more
and done better for myself over the years,” he said. “I could have left the gym
a little more to be on the road.”
He added: “But I guess, in a way, I’m rich, too. I have my family and I have a
sound mind and a sound body, and after all of those brutal fights, I’m lucky to
still have my eyesight.”
Frazier was born in 1944 in South Carolina, the youngest of 12 children. His
parents worked in the fields, and he dropped out of school at 13.
He made Philadelphia his boxing home, turned professional in August 1965 and won
his first 11 bouts by knockouts. He was generously listed at 5 feet 11½ inches
when he retained his heavyweight title by defeating Ali in a 15-round decision
at Madison Square Garden in March 1971. He compiled a career record of 32-4-1.
These days, Frazier is not completely healthy. While driving on the busy street
in front of his gym three years ago, he said, his car experienced a mechanical
problem and collided with another car. The Philadelphia police said it had no
record of the accident. But Frazier has since had four operations on his back
and neck, the most recent three months ago at Pennsylvania Hospital.
A person who was briefed on the accident and said he would speak only on the
condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing his relationship with Frazier said
that Larry Holmes helped pay for the operations. Holmes, now a businessman in
his hometown of Easton, Pa., answered cautiously when asked if he had done so.
“Joe Frazier is my friend, and what I choose to do for my friends is my own
business,” he said. “If I do anything for a friend, it is not done for the
purpose of making myself look good and getting my name in the paper. But know
this about my friendship with Joe: If I had $4 left in my wallet, two of those
would go to Joe.”
Corporate sponsors have not always felt the same way about Frazier.
Darren Prince, Frazier’s marketing manager since 1995, said Frazier remained
beloved by fans. But he also said that Frazier’s longstanding animosity toward
Ali had hurt him financially.
“They were bitter rivals, and Muhammad always made jokes about Joe, calling him
things like an Uncle Tom and a gorilla, and Joe was hurt so he fired back, but
sometimes he went too far,” said Prince, who recalled that when Ali lighted the
Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996, Frazier told a reporter that he would like to
throw Ali into the fire.
Frazier’s frequent insistence that he won all three of his fights against Ali
also did not endear him to potential sponsors, Prince said.
When told of Prince’s remarks, Frazier said, “I am who I am, and yes, I whipped
Ali all three times.”
In fact, Frazier lost two of the three fights, including the Thrilla in Manila
bout in 1975. Frazier exposed an emotional scar as he recalled those days.
“Ali kept calling me ugly, but I never thought of myself as being any uglier
than him,” he said. “I have 11 babies — somebody thought I was cute.”
Frazier’s 11 children are scattered. He once managed the boxing career of his
eldest son, Marvis, a heavyweight. In June 2001, his daughter Jacquelyn
Frazier-Lyde fought Ali’s daughter Laila and lost on a decision.
Frazier-Lyde is a lawyer and has worked on her father’s behalf in pursuit of
money they claim he was owed in a Pennsylvania land deal. In 1973, Frazier
purchased 140 acres in Bucks County, Pa., for $843,000. Five years later, a
developer agreed to buy the farmland for $1.8 million. Frazier received annual
payments from a trust that bought the land with money he had earned in the ring.
When the trust went out of business, the payments stopped.
Frazier sued his business partners, claiming that his signature was forged on
documents and that he had no knowledge of the sale. In the ensuing years, the
land was subdivided and turned into a residential community. The property is now
worth an estimated $100 million.
Frazier-Lyde said her father’s former partners took advantage of him.
“They used my father’s money — money he earned through blood, sweat and tears —
to build that land,” she said.
She helped her father sue the homeowners, but the case was dismissed in 2003.
Frazier said the matter came down to honor.
“I had a job to do in the ring, and the businessmen around me had a job to do
outside the ring,” he said. “I did my job by beating up most of the guys they
put in front of me and staying in shape, but the people I trusted didn’t do
Les Wolff, who has served as Frazier’s business and personal manager for the
past three years, said he was working to help Frazier recover. He said he talked
with a Hollywood director about putting together a movie on Frazier’s life.
“Can you think of two boxers in the world who share the same stature as Ali and
Frazier?” Wolff said. “The biggest problem that Joe has had over the years is
that he has not been marketed properly.”
On Nov. 30, Frazier will box Willie W. Herenton, the 66-year-old mayor of
Memphis, in a three-round charity bout at the Peabody Memphis Hotel. Herenton is
a former amateur boxing champion.
“He must have a death wish,” Frazier said.
So Frazier headed toward the ring to resume training. But before leaving the
dimly lit room, he stopped to glance at a giant poster that was made from a 1971
cover of Life magazine. It showed him and Ali, side by side and clad in tuxedos,
beneath the words “Fight of the Century,” a reference to the first of their
three clashes, the one that Frazier won at the Garden. Each fighter made $2.5
million that night.
“Ali always said I would be nothing without him,” Frazier said. “But who would
he have been without me?”