Monday, August 21, 2017

My Top Four: Ali, Frazier, Robinson and Duran

Muhammad Ali

Joe Frazier

 Sugar Ray Robinson

Roberto Duran

By Randy De La O

There are many fighters that have captured my heart over the years. Some of them may not have been the best and some were absolutely the best. It is usually a personal quality that draws me to a certain fighter, a big heart being at the top of the list but there are other qualities. It just depends on the fighter.

Boxing is the greatest sport in the world and these four fighters, with respect to all others were the best. These four are my pick. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Robinson and Roberto Duran.

So many other honorable mentions, with some just a hair's breadth away from these four but these are the fighters that have captured my heart above all others. There were victories and there were losses There was drama, thrills, high points , painful low points and comebacks but through it all they continued to fight their hearts out for us, maybe longer than they should have but this is who they were. They entertained us and the world took notice when they fought. I don't know if we will ever see there like again.

The days when these four were fighting were the glory days of boxing for me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Mayweather vs McGregor

By Randy De La O

When I think of the upcoming fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor later this month I cannot help but be reminded of the ubiquitous quote by announcer Larry Merchant, “Boxing is the theater of the unexpected”.

 The reasonable expectation, in this fight, is that Mayweather will win this fight easily and maybe by knockout. It's hard not to believe this. Mayweather is undefeated in his career as a boxer and McGregor is stepping into Mayweather's domain; the boxing ring, in which he is the undisputed master.

 The unexpected, of course, is a McGregor victory. He has his fans and believers to be sure but almost to a man, boxing fans consider this fight a joke and a mismatch and I have to agree with them.

 The caveat in this whole affair is Mayweather himself. When he steps into the ring on the 26th of this month, he will be 40 years old (McGregor is 29), and it will have been almost two years since he last fought (a unanimous decicion over a tired Andre Berto). So how are we to accurately gauge him? Maybe you can but I can't.

 I personally give McGregor a snowball's chance in hell to win this fight, which is to say I give him no chance at all. If the fight were taking place in the cage I would feel the same way about Mayweather. I don't discount any man who comes to fight. I have to give him a measure of respect simply because he is a man and a fighter and champion in his own right. I respect the attempt and the effort.

 History has played cruel tricks at times with boxing fans. Whenever we seem to find ourselves believing that someone cannot lose a fight, or someone cannot win a fight, the unexpected always happens. We bet the house and we lose.

 So what am I saying? I'm saying I am absolutely sure that Mayweather will win this fight any kind of way. I just won't bet the house on it. (I'm not paying for it either)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Classic Photo: A Gathering of Champions

Boxing Greats

From left to right: Wilfredo Gomez, Larry Holmes, Angelo Dundee, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jose.Sulaiman, Alexis Arguello and Danny Lopez. 

I'm not sure what the event was but this group of fighters is just a small part of what made the 1970's and the 1980's one of the greatest in the history of the sport.  The talent and the competition was thick. What an era!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Canelo vs Golovkin September 16, 2017

Canelo Alvarez Wins by Decision Against Chavez

By Randy De La O

I wrote this a couple of days ago and still believe it.
"I believe this fight will be judged not on size but on attrition and the ability to handle adversity. The fighter that can impose his will on the other will win the fight."
That is exactly how the fight played out. Canelo fought a good fight and Chavez, as has been proven before, could not handle adversity.
Whatever Chavez' game plan was went out the window as soon as the fight started. He should have fought tall, instead he chose to bring himself down to Canelo's height and make himself an easy target. Not that it would have made a difference.
The fight was not a sham but it was a travesty. Still, Canelo did his part. Don't blame him.
Next up is GGG and I'll be rooting for Canelo.

Regarding Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin: As we found out last night, talk is cheap; whether it's a fighter, the writers or the fans. Talk is Cheap!
Both men will be facing the best when they step into the ring in September. That is an undeniable fact. I don't give GGG and more respect than I give Canelo.
More than anything else I want to see a genuine fight worthy of the title "Super Fight" If that happens in it's purest form then we all win!

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

There is a part of me that has a deep empathy and sympathy for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He suffers from the same malady that Marvis Frazier did. He is the son of a boxing legend! Not just the son of a former boxer but the son of a legend. How do you deal with that? How do you live up to that?
You cannot create another Julio Cesar Chavez any more than you can create another Woodstock. It happens by itself and with whomever the fates decide it will be.
The difference between Marvis' burden and Chavez' is this: The American public understood this and watched Marvis doing his damnedest to make his father proud. We knew he would rather die than let his father down. We understood his plight.
Chavez' burden on the surface is similar but he was dealing with an unsympathetic public in Mexican fight fans. In a country that prides itself on machismo and manly culture they demanded that he fill his father's shoes. It was an impossible task for junior. He was doomed to fail.
All the reports that have been written on his pitiful and disgraceful training habits bear this out. His heart was not in boxing. He tried and it's to his credit that he has gone as far as he did.
It's time for the father to tell the son “Son, it's okay, you don't need to do this anymore. I love you no matter what you do. It's time to stop now”. Maybe he's been waiting for those words all his life. I have no way of knowing if any of this is true or not but it's my educated guess.
But if it is true then it's time for junior to reassess his role as a son, as a man and as a fighter because when it is all said and done it's his life. He owes no one a career in the ring. There is no shame in not being a boxer. It's not for everybody any more than being a football player is. The shame is never taking charge of your own destiny.

All photos courtesy of Google.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Saul "Canelo" Alvaez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Does Size matter?

Does Size Matter?
Maybe, and maybe not. Sometimes the size of a fighter's heart can over come almost any obstacle, including size.
I've seen Saul “Canelo: Alvarez” frustrated but I've never seen him quit, on the other hand I have seen the chink in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s armor when he fought Andzej Fofara, quitting on his stool after being knocked down in the 9th round. Not exactly an unforgivable act but it is an indicator.
I admit I am not a (true) fan of either fighter, at their age they should have already made their definitive mark on boxing. The biggest thing Canelo has going on his resume is that he is Oscar De La Hoya's fighter (and that may or may not be a good thing), for Chavez Jr. it's being the son of a legend. Would they be where they are without that. I can't really say. In some ways this may just be an extension of the Chavez – De La Hoya rivalry.
I believe this fight will be judged not on size but on attrition and the ability to handle adversity. The fighter that can impose his will on the other will win the fight. Each man has something to prove. Both men want to establish their greatness.
I'm going out on a limb, I know, but I'm picking Canelo by 12 round decision. Still and all, may the best man win, and may we finally see a career defining fight by both fighters!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Meeting Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson One of the great personal memories during my short time in the ring was meeting Sugar Ray Robinson. It went beyond just meeting him. For a short time during the 1970's, he was my friend and I never forgot him.

I trained at the Main Street Gym in Downtown Los Angeles, usually in the afternoon. Sugar Ray trained there daily. No sparring, just the rope, shadowboxing, hitting the bags, etc. He was in his 50's at the time. He was a daily figure at the gym. He always wore a red sweat suit.

One afternoon, I was shadowboxing in front of one the mirrors. I glanced behind me and I could see Sugar Ray, skipping rope, I could also see that he was looking at me. A minute or two later, I saw that he stopped skipping rope and was studying me.

He walked up to me and said “Excuse me son, do you mind if I give you a little advice?” My first instinct was to look at my trainer, Mel Epstein, for permission. Mel usually went ballistic when anyone approached any of his fighters. He nodded at me and smiled. I mean, what was he going to say? Don't listen to him, he doesn't know anything about boxing!!

He says, “I noticed that every time you throw the jab you bring your right hand back.” Don't do that. That's a good way to get knocked out! I want you to think of your right hand as a catcher's mitt and the other guy's fist as the baseball. Just relax and catch it.' He moved around a bit so I could see what he meant.

Over the course of time he had more advice, much of it reinforced what Mel had already shared with me. I was mindful of every minute with him. I soaked it all up. You can take it to the bank that I was well aware of how lucky I was.

What sealed it for me were the times I was at the gym, and I saw Sugar Ray walk through the doors and look around, then he saw me, smiled and went to the locker room. He was looking for me.

This went on for several months and then one day he was gone. I never saw him again. I remember hearing in the news, back in 1989, that he passed away. I'm grateful for the memories and I'm grateful that this great man took some time out of his own life to spend with me. R.I.P.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson, passed away on this date in 1989. He is universally considered "Pound for pound" the greatest fighter that ever lived.

I was lucky and blessed to have called him my friend many years ago. Rest in peace Sugar Ray Robinson and thank you for your advice and your friendship!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Mighty Mick's Gym (The Main Street Gym)

Click Image for a larger View

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky standing in the remnants of Mickey's Gym. In the original Rocky all the gym scenes were filmed at the Main Street Gym in Downtown Los Angeles. The Main Street Gym was razed in the mid 80's.

The gym in this photo is obviously a replica of the original Main Street Gym. They did a good job capturing it. Bittersweet for those of us that trained there but nice to know the memory lives on thanks to Rocky!