Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Two Boxing Legends: Julio Cesar Chavez and Roberto Duran


By Randy De La O

Julio Cesar Chavez on the left, Roberto Duran on the right. Two bona fide Latin Legends in boxing but so much more than that. Two of boxing's finest that would have rose to greatness in any generation.

They never fought each other; age wise, weight wise and otherwise, the timing was all wrong. Chavez' star was rising as Duran was winding down his own career (though he did fight longer than he should have). together, they have a combined total of 234 fights.

In many ways they were made for each other. Both were at their absolute best when facing an opponent that wanted to fight. They would have no trouble finding each other.

If only there really was a mythical and mystical pound for pound Netherland where all the greats could meet and face each other in their natural prime and at their best weight without losing anything in the process. Instead, we are left to wonder.

Had they fought I'm convinced that it would have been Duran's hand that would be raised in victory. At his peak, Chavez was near impossible to knock out. If I remember correctly he was born with an abnormally thick skull. A curse for his opponent but a blessing for Chavez. I don't believe Duran could knock out a prime Chavez. With respect to Chavez, I think Duran had the better overall arsenal. Neither man was easy to hit but Duran  mastered the defensive nuances better than Chavez.

Duran was an underrated but masterful counter puncher and I think this would be the key to a win over Chavez. Duran had his own left hook but Chavez had one of the great left hook in boxing period, what has generally become known as the "Mexican Left hook". Still, as Duran has proven throughout his career, he can take it.

In his later, years after dominating the lightweight division for seven years, Duran moved up to take the welterweight title from Sugar Ray Leonard, the Jr. Middleweight title from Davey Moore, and the middleweight title from Iran Barkley, as well as many other middleweights including a better than expected close loss to Marvin Hagler. He handled the weight gain much better than Chavez did.

Chavez captured the Super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight divisions and was one of the most exciting fighters of his era. He beat the best of his era, including, Hector Camacho and Meldrick Taylor (a clear cut victory as far as I'm concerned). Chavez fought to a highly controversial draw against Pernell Whitakerfor the welterweight title. (He lost). He moved up one weight class to many.

I always had a house full of friends and family when these two fought. They gave us their all and the gave us our money's worth! It pleases me to see both of them enjoying their retirement.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Long Walk to the ring, …... and Respect


By Randy De La O

It never sits well with me whenever I hear someone call a fighter a coward. Almost to a “T”, most fighters that have made the long walk from the dressing room, to the ring, whether it be, professional boxing, amateur boxing, military, police or firefighters boxing, understand about respect. If you have made that walk into the ring you are deserving of respect. It's been earned.

When Oscar De La Hoya was fighting, he was often called De La Chicken. Floyd Mayweather has been called similarly ridiculous names, Gayweather being the most common. There may be a number of reasons to not like De la hoya and Mayweather, and other boxers but cowardice is not one of them.

It's no easy task to face another man in the ring because, despite the game face, and any and all bravado, a fighter still wonders. Yes, he is confident but still he wonders. No one knows what the outcome will be. A man, or a woman, is emotionally naked in the ring, for all the world to see. Not many have the kind of courage, at any level, to lace up the gloves, look the other guy in the eyes and then fight him. No easy task.

During a fight, someone will almost invariably say “Oh, that didn't hurt!”. I have news for you, they all hurt but you learn to push it aside. This is what you train for. At other times, again, someone will yell out “If it was me...... “ As if.

The worst of it, in my eyes, is to call someone who has trained hard, and dared to make that walk into the ring, whether he is a champion or someone making his debut, a coward. Years ago, Jerry Quarry was a color analyst for a fight, I cannot remember what fight it was. One of the announcers, again, I don't remember, made this statement as one of the fighters was stepping into the ring, “He has a bit of the dog in him!” In other words, he was a coward! To which Jerry snapped back, “No coward ever stepped into the ring.” Truer words were never said.

Years ago, my wife Jeri and I were going to see Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya fight at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. About a week before the fight we went shopping for new clothes. We were in a men's clothing store when this young salesman, probably in his twenties was helping me and he eventually asked me (I'm paraphrasing) “Big event coming up?” No, we're going to the Chavez and De La Hoya fight."

I didn't get a chance to finish what I was saying because he immediately went on a rant about Oscar. My wife and I looked at each other because we both liked Oscar but I just kept quiet. We reached the cash register where a sales girl and an older salesman were standing. As he was ringing up my sale he continued with his rant. The two salespeople were rolling their eyes as he spoke. I ignored him until he said:

“Someone ought to kick his ass!”

“Why don't you do it?

“Huh?”

“I said why don't you kick his ass!”

“No, I was just....

It's not really that hard you know, all you have to do is find a gym, start training, win some fights and then challenge Oscar. It's not that hard really, …. if you've got the balls.

Silence

“Yeah, that's what I thought! Show some respect!”

Talk is cheap. If you think any fighter is a coward. Step up and find out for yourself. It's not that hard, really.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rocky Photo on Instagram

I woke up today to find that Sylvester Stallone posted this photo on the Official Sly Stallone page on Instagram, of him and I at the long gone Main Street Gym in Downtown Los Angeles. The photo was taken during the filming of the original Rocky in 1976.

I don't know if I can ever explain how lucky and how grateful I am just to have been a small part (and it was very small) of this epic boxing movie. It's one of my nicest memories of those days and I treasure it.

As nice as this is it's the reaction from my wife, kids and grandkids that makes this truly meaningful.


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.