Forgotten Fades – Simon Brown vs Tyrone Trice

Shedding light on this fight came to me while watching an infamous moment on the now defunct USA Tuesday Night Fights program.  Tyrone Trice, after savagely knocking out someone, got on the mic to challenge James Toney, who was ringside.  Toney, being who he was, got into the ring without hesitation and told him “Bring your ass Tyrone, we can get busy right now!!!” Of course, cooler heads would prevail that night even though the fight never came up.  But it did make want to see some of Tyrone’s fights.  One fight that did pop up was his first fight with Simon Brown.  I have always been fan of 15 round fights.  I also have the opinion that today’s world title fights should also go to 15 rounds.  It would stop all the dodgy, suspect decisions that have been going on lately.  By 1988, 15 round title fights were becoming more and more rare and the IBF was the last sanctioning body still going strong with it.  This fight would be for the vacated IBF Welterweight Championship, last held by Lloyd Honeyghan.  This would also be the first world title challenge for both fighters.

The first couple of rounds were noteworthy of the power that Tyrone Trice had.  Trice looked like he had a surge of adrenaline.  He came out immediately swinging, getting in the trenches with Brown.  A left uppercut by Trice badly wobbled Brown halfway through the first round.  Brown was able to weather the storm and return some firepower of his own.  The second round, Brown was not as lucky.  More than willing to be in the trenches with Trice, Brown ate a huge left hand from him.  Brown backed into the ropes where Trice followed up with a barrage.  A right hand as Brown was coming off the ropes floored him for the first time in his career. Brown again was able to weather the storm although he did get tagged again at the end of the bell.  Simon Brown, knowing that Trice can hurt him, made a very necessary adjustment.   Brown turned into an out fighter, picking his shots better.   He also created distance to lessen the sting of the blows if not have him miss completely.  When Trice came inside to bang, Brown immediately held or did his best to take the shots on his arms.  It was not like Tyrone Trice was not boxing well in the fight.  He was able to cut off the ring very well and jabbed consistently.  He had his moments here and there in rounds 3 through 6 tagging Brown with shots.  Brown also did another thing to take some of the steam off Tyrone’s pressure and punches.  He whipped off some serious body punches on the inside. 

As the fight got into the latter half, Brown slowly morphed into the aggressor.  He had finally managed to wobble Trice with his own right hand.  He also started hitting every legal spot as possible.   He started beating up Tyrone’s on the arms mixing up with uppercuts.  Tyrone, surprisingly, never made any adjustments or changes from how he started the fight.  By now, he was only landing only 1 punch at a time.  Brown was jabbing and starting to land at will from the outside.  Round 10 was a round off ebb and flow.  A fading Tyrone Trice was starting to wobble from the accumulated punishment.  He almost went down from a series of right hands.  But true to his nature, he fired back temporarily to get himself out of trouble.  Trice though was fighting more flatfooted and look tired.  Brown was able to land combinations and have him in some more trouble as the round ended.  A break came for Tyrone when the ref took a point away from Simon for punching after the bell.  An infraction he had been warned about earlier in the fight.  Trice seemingly had found a second wind and boxed a lot better in the 11th

The 12th pretty spelled the beginning of the end when Brown finally manages to drop Trice not once, not twice, but 3 times.  To be fair, one of those knockdowns seemed to be caused by a push followed by a punch landed while Trice was on the canvas.  Trice was in all sorts of trouble as the round ended.  Simon thought the fight was over even though the ref Steve Smoger told him otherwise.   That would only delay the inevitable.  Tyrone Trice was out of the fight physically by now.  He was getting rocked around the ring by Brown while Trice’s wife looked on with worry.  Trice would get out of the round but not before another punch after the bell followed by some retaliation.  The 14th round would see Brown dropped Trice for officially the 4th time in the fight.  Trice somehow gets up and the fight should have been stopped.  Trice was wobbling all the over the ring taking more punishment.  Brown would land a final brutal left hook on a helpless Trice, which turned him into a bobble head.  Ref Steve Smoger would step in at that point to give Brown the win and IBF Welterweight Title.  At the time of the stoppage, one of the judges had Brown winning comfortable 126-122 while the 2 other judges had Trice up with scores of 124-123 and 123-122.  Even though Trice had faded, he was not completely out of the fight score wise.  What an extraordinary fight that was!!! As I mentioned before, 15 rounds separate the men from the boys in my humble opinion.  

The aftermath for both fighters as they were relatively young would go into different directions.  A rematch would happen almost 2 years later when Brown would dominate and repeat his stoppage over Trice in 10 rounds. Simon Brown would hold on to the title until 1991.  Along the way he would partially unify his IBF belt with the WBA belt by beating then champion Maurice Blocker. He would vacate the IBF belt shortly after. He would lose his other belt to the brilliant James “Buddy” McGirt.  Two years later, following a move to 154, he would shockingly upset then WBC 154 champion “Terrible” Terry Norris in only 4 rounds.   He would lose the belt almost 6 months later back to Norris.  From there on a slide came in his performances.  He would be on the receiving end of a highlight reel knockout from Vincent Pettway in a title shot at 154 pounds.  He would move up to Middleweight and came up short in title shots against Lonnie Bradley and Bernard Hopkins.  Simon Brown was unfortunately a case of a fighter going on too long as he retired in 2000 winless in his last 6 fights.  Tyrone Trice unfortunately would never win championship gold.  After coming short in the rematch in the fight with Brown, he would move to 154.  He challenged then WBO champion John David Jackson and would lose a unanimous decision.  He would find an even less success going up to middleweight losing to notables such as Julio Cesar Vazquez and a streaking Joe Lipsey.  Tyrone Trice would retire in 1996 where he would win his final fight, snapping a 3-fight losing streak.  Not much has been heard from either man in retirement, which hopefully has been good to them.  The effort they put forth on that day in 1988 should not be forgotten.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

One of the greatest welterweight battle ever.

Forgotten Fades – James Page vs Jose Luis Lopez

One of the reasons I like doing these articles is not only to bring attention to fights that may have been overlooked, but the fighters as well.  Boxing for the most part has a “what have you done for me lately” attitude.  Many a good fighter has slipped the mind of boxing fans both new and old.  In the time of pandemic, boxing fans should use resources necessary to educate themselves.  But let me get off my boxing high horse and get into the forgotten fade I wanted to write about.   The welterweight division in the mid to late 90s so the likes of De La Hoya, Trinidad, Whitaker, & Quartey do battles within their quartet and outside of it.  The division was on fire.  However, as all 4 would leave the division to go up in weight, new welterweights would seek to make their mark and eventually become champion.  One such welterweight was James “Mighty Quinn” Page. A troubled but talented fighter, he would go to prison in the mid-90s following a theft from the gym he worked out at. Once out, he would resume his career and sign to Don King.  He would claim the WBA Welterweight Title, vacated by Ike Quartey, in 1998 with a savage highlight reel 2nd round knockout over Andrey Pestryaev. 

Jose Luis Lopez was another talented welterweight of the latter half of 90s.  An underrated boxer puncher with an outstanding ability to soak up punishment.  He would capture the WBO Welterweight Title in 1996 dethroning Eamonn Loughran in just 1 round.  He would then go on to have victories of such notable fighters such as Yory Boy Campas, Jorge Vaca, & Aaron “Superman” Davis.   These victories would lead to his most known fight to date:  a title shot against then WBA Welterweight Champion Ike Quartey.  Lopez gave “Bazooka” all that he could handle in the fight. He managed to score 2 knockdowns, but ultimately would have to settle for a Majority Draw.   The fight did nothing to lower his stock to the boxing public even as certain out of the ring habits were starting to become more prevalent.  After wins in 3 rebound fight, Lopez would get another crack at regaining a title.  He would be selected to be the opponent for James Page’s first title defense on the undercard to Johnny Tapia vs Nana Konadu.

                The fight itself was a thriller.  The opening round saw Page trying to assert himself early against the ever-dangerous Lopez.  Using a jab to keep Lopez at bay in order to land a left hook.  During this, there seems to have been a cut that affected Page’s right eye.  You could see him pawing at it a little bit.  The second round followed more of the same with Page starting to open more on Lopez who seems to be hesitant to let his hands go.  In the final seconds of the round, Lopez got Page’s attention by snapping his head back with a left hand.  Round 3 saw the first knockdown of the fight occur.   Page’s hands were dropping lower than expected, a sign of things to come. A beautiful 1-2 combination from Lopez had Page unstuck and wobbling into the ropes.  Lopez would then follow up with a fuselage of punches that would send Page down into the ropes. Page got up but was in serious trouble.  Lopez would pound him around the ring but unfortunately the bell rang, saving Page from a knockout.  Round 4 saw Page sticking and moving trying to clear his head.  Lopez again though did not press to further the advantages he had caused earlier until the waning moments of the round.  He again badly hurt Page with a right hand and again let his hands go.  The bell rang and Page would even take a shot after this.  What a pattern this fight was beginning to take.  Page outworks and outboxes, then get hurts and is in all sorts of trouble.  Judges at this point must have been stressing about how to score these rounds. 

The middle rounds you saw Page getting off first and landing.  Lopez just moving forward and not letting his hands go. It was ridiculous as his chin. It was amazing the punishment he was taking from Page and not going down.   Lou Duva, in the corner, being blunt that he was losing the fight and it was getting away from him. In round 9, a punch lands on Page as he is slipping.  The ref rules it a knockdown which Page jumped up and down in pure disbelief.  But it does not help where Lopez has another round he knocks Page around again near the end of the round.  As we are getting deeper into the later rounds, Lopez’s work rate started increasing slightly but his pressure was getting to Page.  Page was noticeably starting to slow down by this point.  Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Lopez.  While he had landed some good punches on Page, he was not able to slow Page’s movement enough.  When the final bell rang, everyone could tell Page that won (and survived) a gut check war.  The judges would officially confirm that via unanimous decision with scores of 116-111, 115-112, and 115-111.  In the post-fight interview, the most poignant thing to me that was mentioned was Page not even remembering he got knocked down in the fight.  It was one hell of a fight between both men.

                The aftermath of these two would take different trajectories.  For Jose Luis Lopez, this would be the final stand as a serious contender.  After taking more than 2 years off, he would come back and bounce between 160 and 175 with wins against lower competition but little momentum following.  He would also suffer his first and only stoppage loss against Francisco Sierra in 2010.  He would eventually retire later that year.  For all intents Jose Luis Lopez has led a pretty drama free and quiet life in his retirement.  The same could not be said about James Page unfortunately.   Page would have 2 more successful title defenses before being stripped of his title in 2000 for not honoring a mandatory.  He would be out of the ring until 2001, where he would be knocked out in 7 by the late Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis in his final title shot.  Shortly after, he would be sent to prison for 10 years for committing a couple of bank robberies.  Upon his release in 2012, he attempted a boxing comeback which last all of one fight.  A disastrous 2 round knockout at the hands of the journeyman fighter Rahman Mustafa Yusubov who had a losing record.  With no other skills or prospects, he would return to committing bank robberies for which he would send back to jail for 7 years.  A sad post career story that is unfortunately more common than not for retired boxers.  Regardless, it does not take away from what both fighters did in the ring and their fight.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades – Ricardo Williams Jr. vs Juan Valenzuela

Sometimes we get fights that for one reason or another that has a fighter that pulls out and they are replaced with a different fighter.  Sometimes that different fighter maybe looking for a second chance redeem themselves and turn their career around.  Sometimes that results in a fantastic fight happening.  Sometimes an unexpected result that happens that no one thought would be possible or feasible.  This is the tale of Ricardo Williams Jr vs Juan Valenzuela.

                Ricardo Williams Jr was a highly touted prospect from Cincinnati, Ohio.  At the 2000 Olympics Games, he had a good showing and came back with the silver medal.  After which he would turn pro and sign with Lou DiBella along with some of his Olympic teammates.  “Slick Ricky” showed glimpses of being a future champion within his first couple of fights.  He displayed a very entertaining boxer puncher style who whipped beautiful combinations into his opponents.  In his 9th professional fight, he would score a very impressive victory soundly outpointing former IBF world light welterweight champion Terron Millett over 10 rounds.  With the good however there was the bad.  When Ricardo signed with Lou DiBella, he received a signing bonus of $1.4 million dollars.  That amount was unprecedented for a debuting fighter.  A millionaire before accomplishing anything significant in the ring, he also started showing signs of being underconditioned and listless.  This would plant the seeds of destruction for him and his career.

                Juan “El Pollo” Valenzuela in contrast, did not have such an illustrious debut.  He debuted a year earlier in 1999.  His career was a tougher road travelled as he worked his way up the ladder. In 2002 we burst on to the world stage when he upset future world champion Julio Diaz on an episode of “ESPN Friday Night Fights”.  Diaz was just coming off a very close split decision loss to Angel Manfredy in a lightweight title eliminator, which was his first loss. In his second fight from that loss, he faced “El Pollo” and was shockingly knocked out standing up in 1 round.  Unfortunately for Valenzuela, he would follow that upset win with 2 straight losses to then highly touted prospect Alex Trujillo and hard punching journeyman Ernesto Zepeda. 

                The fight was scheduled as the main undercard support for Tim Austin vs Rafael Marquez.  Ricardo was originally scheduled to face Juan Carlos Rubio but Rubio ended up pulling out of the fight.  So “El Pollo” was penciled in as a last-minute replacement.  This was scheduled to be a 10-round fight at 140 pounds.  However, Ricardo would be overweight by 1 pound on top of Valenzuela also weighing at 144. It was changed to be contested at welterweight.  The fight night weights would show Ricardo Williams at 149, Juan Valenzuela at 157.  Once again, questions were raised on Ricardo’s commitment and dedication to his training.   On that night, live on HBO, some of those questions would be answered.

                From the opening bell, Valenzuela put the pressure on Williams and moved forward.  Valenzuela would let both hands fly eager to test the smaller man’s chin.  Williams was able to move back and land some nice counters. However, the counters did not really seem to faze much less stop any of Valenzuela’s momentum.  What also was apparent was that Ricardo Williams was not conditioned for a fight like this. From Round 2 on, you can see him with his mouth open as he moved around the ring.  In between rounds, you could see him in his corner taking deep breaths.   Round 3, Valenzuela keeps moving forward on Williams starting to land some big shots.  That constant pressure from a bigger man had Williams on edge.  His legs starting to get heavier, Williams opted to start standing his ground to trade.  In doing so, Valenzuela started mixing up his head shots with some vicious body work.  The end of the 4th round, the crowd exploded as both men landed power shots on each other.  The middle rounds saw Valenzuela start taking control of the fight.  When Williams fights off his backfoot, Valenzuela is in full pursuit.  “El Pollo” barely giving him any room to set and land too many effective counters.  Failed to get his respect, Williams started getting outworked and taking some unnecessary shots. He was being bullied into the ropes catching combinations upstairs and downstairs.  One thing that I could not help but notice: “Slicky Ricky” was a tough guy and had some steel resolve in him.  This had been an incredibly rough fight for a prospect to go through.  That resolve would be tested even more in the later rounds of the fight.

 In round 8, Valenzuela found his mark and was hitting Williams repeatedly with power shots.  At one point in the round, Ricardo does answer back with a combination of his own.  Valenzuela’s response:  Turns away and does a shimmy type of dance much to the delight of the crowd.  Then he turns back and increases his punch rate on a fading Ricardo Williams.  The late great Emanuel Steward noted in his commentary that the punches that Williams was throwing at this point were almost shoeshine.  That was a huge round for Valenzuela.  The 9th round saw Valenzuela press harder on the gas pedal and just pounds Williams all over the ring.  A series of straight right hands and uppercuts followed by a 1-2 combination had Williams on the verge of being knocked out.  In fact, the only thing Valenzuela did wrong in this round was mistake the 10 sec warning to be the end of the round.  He started prematurely celebrating before the ref turned him around to fight.  In the 10th and final round, you can sense the fight is incredibly close.  The late Harold Lederman had it 86-85 for Williams on his scorecard.  Valenzuela, showing signs of fatigue for the first time in this bout, still did not shy away from his game plan.  Williams would eat a huge shot from Valenzuela and then come back with hard counters.  They would end up trading toe to toe as the final bell rang.  What an extraordinary fight and showing of guts by both fighters.   It would be an unfortunate first loss for the former Olympian Ricardo Williams Jr. Juan “El Pollo” Valenzuela would win a unanimous decision with scores of 98-92 and 97-93 x 2. 

The aftermath for both fighters would see their career trajectories go off different directions.  For Ricardo Williams Jr, he would never regain any of the momentum that he had as a prospect.  Shortly after the loss, Lou DiBella would release him from his contract.  Two fights later, he would suffer an embarrassing upset split decision loss to aging former WBO Welterweight Champion Manning Galloway.  In 2005, he was sentenced to 3 years for drug trafficking charges.  Upon his release from prison, he would resume his career on smaller cards and venues.  He still displayed some of the talent that made him so highly regarded.  He would win 9 straight fights before suffering his first knockout loss at the hands of Carson Jones for the USBA Welterweight Title.  After winning 3 more fights, Ricardo Williams Jr. would retire with a 22-3 record with 12 knockouts.  For Juan Valenzuela, his career momentum only moved upwards.  One of the first fighters that was signed to Golden Boy Promotions, he would rattle off 4 more wins.  During which he would establish himself as a very fan friendly fighter.  However, fate would deal him a very cruel hand.  He was scheduled to fight Miguel Cotto on the undercard for Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez 1.  A pre-fight exam would reveal a detached retina.  Valenzuela would not fight again for another 3 years.  He returned in 2007 to fight a split decision draw with journeyman Daniel Stanislavjevic. He has not fought since and presumed retired with a 20-6-1 record with 9 knockouts.  The last thing I heard regarding “El Pollo” was the fact he was training some fighters.  To me it is a shame 2 talented fighters turned into 2 notable “What If?” candidates in the annals of boxing history.  My highest recommendation to watch.  You will not be disappointed.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades: Israel Vazquez vs Jhonny Gonzalez

So how did I come across picking this fight you may ask?  Well with boxing currently on hiatus due to corona virus, I was like let me go ahead and do another Forgotten Fade article.  To be optimistic, it has made go back even more into the archives to watch old fights.  When boxing has been a part of your life for such a long period of time, it is hard to break the habit.  So, it has been quite the adjustment for my weekends, where I usually look forward to sitting down on my couch and catch the latest cards on ESPN, FOX, Showtime, or DAZN.  I hit up Shutterworth da Gawd and asked what division I should be focused on this time? He said, “Look at 118 or 122”.  Then he mentioned Abner Mares, who I was not too keen on doing an article about.  I still hold a little grudge over the Agbeko fights, and I didn’t want to glorify him in any way.  Shutterworth and I had a brief back and forth on it and I mentioned Jhonny Gonzalez sending Mares to the bushes in 1 which was awesome.  Then I said that Gonzalez had some fades and mentioned the fight with Israel Vazquez, which I had remembered being awesome.  So, in the middle of the night I rewatched the fight on YouTube and was like “this kicked so much ass.”. The next day, I told Shutterworth this was the fight I wanted to highlight for this article.

                This fight was for the WBC Super Bantamweight Title, the 2nd defense of the title by then champion Vazquez.  For Jhonny Gonzalez, then WBO Bantamweight Champion, it was a chance to move up and win a belt in a second division.  It took place on the undercard of Marco Antonio Barrera vs Rocky Juarez rematch.    Both men were right in the middle of their primes.   This fight was a tale of two fights.  It started off with both boxers having a little feeling out round.  Keeping their distance and using their jabs as stated by the late great Emanuel Steward.  But from the start of round 2 it didn’t take Gonzalez long to get going.  His jab and right hand caused a blood blister to appear on Vazquez right eye in contrast to shots returned caused blood to come from his nose.  In Round 4, within the opening seconds Gonzalez floored Vazquez with a beautiful left hook lead that deposited him right on the seat of his pants.  Vazquez though got up in little to no time, a look of frustration over getting dropped trying to get inside.  The left hook it seemed was not too flush just happen to catch Vazquez slightly off balance.  For the rest of the round Gonzalez started whipping 3-4 punch combinations onto Vazquez, whose right eye was still bleeding. This continued for a couple of more rounds with Gonzalez throwing punches with almost near reckless abandon. Sometimes reckless to the point where he would be off balance and Vazquez would be trying to get inside to take advantage of.  Near the end of round 6, Gonzalez would land 3 consecutive right hands that landed flush followed by a whipping left hook that again sent Vazquez to the canvas.  This time that left hook seemed to really hurt Vazquez as he got up with his mouthpiece sticking halfway out of his mouth.  Lucky for him the bell sounded as Gonzalez moved in. He would need all the time in the corner to recover.  Jhonny’s ring generalship and knockdowns gave him a sizable lead on the cards halfway through the fight.  The second act of that fight though would change things almost immediately. In round 7, Gonzalez is stepping on the gas whipping combinations from head to body seemingly going for the KO. With a minute left, Vazquez counters Gonzalez’s uppercut on the inside with a quick right hand which rocks Gonzalez.  A follow up 1-2 combination would put him on the canvas split legged.  What a turnaround that was!!!  In the 8th round, it looked like Gonzalez had taken control, but you couldn’t help but noticed that he was getting more and more busted up.  Vazquez’s mentality at this point was “KNOCKOUT.”  There was a moment where it looked like a hook to the body dropped Jhonny to the canvas again, but the ref ruled that a slip.   In round 9, Gonzalez started looking increasingly sloppy. Throwing punches and being completely off balance and Vazquez closed the distance even more.  In Round 10, Jhonny throws an errant low blow which earned him a stern warning from the ref who told him a point deduction would be next.  With almost a minute left, Vazquez connected with a 4-punch combination that drops Gonzalez for the second time in the fight.  Gonzalez gets up although looks very beaten up at this time.  While the ref was getting ready to send him out to fight, Jhonny Gonzalez’s cornermen came on the apron and waved the white towel to signal the end of the fight.  Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward were voicing their displeasure loudly at the corner stoppage. Israel Vazquez clawed his way back from being significantly down on all 3 cards to win and retain his title.  It was an extraordinary fight between 2 of the most top-level super bantamweights at the time.

                Each fighter would go on their own unique paths after this fight.  For the winner and still super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez, he would go on to earn more acclaim in 3 straight fights with Rafael Marquez.  Each fight a ridiculous war which would see both men knock chunks of flesh along with their primes off each other.  All 3 of those fights took place within a year.  The first fight saw Vazquez surrender his title by a 7th round TKO to Marquez in war.  The second fight saw Vazquez regain his title by 6th round TKO.  The third fight with Marquez would see Vazquez retain his belt via split decision.  Vazquez though would pay a very high price for these fights with a detached retina which would keep him sidelined for a year.  When he came back 19 months after the 3rd Marquez fight, he looked very much badly faded struggling to score a 9th round TKO over journeyman, Angel Priolo.  Then in his final fight, he took on Marquez in a 4th fight that respectfully should have never happened.  Marquez would stop him in 4 rounds.  A final career record of 44 wins against 5 losses with 32 coming by way of knockout.   In retirement, Vazquez had been struggling with the retinal injury that he got from the Marquez fights.  Numerous operations on his damaged right eye proved to be unsuccessful resulting with it being removed and being replaced with a prosthetic.  A very high price to pay indeed.   Jhonny Gonzalez would go on to lose his bantamweight title in an upset 7th round KO loss to Gerry Penalosa.  He would also fail in a second attempt to become a super bantamweight champion against then champion Toshiaki Nishioka.  He would rebound and finally achieve his goal of being a champion in 2 weight divisions. Defeating then WBC Featherweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa by a 4th round TKO.  He would keep this belt for a little over a year before losing it on an upset technical decision to Daniel Ponce de Leon.    His biggest win and upset to date would come in 2013.  He scored a decisive 1st round KO of an undefeated Abner Mares for the WBC featherweight title.  He would keep for it for a year and half before losing it to Gary Russell Jr.  As of August 2019, Jhonny Gonzalez is still an active fighter and a veteran of 79 fights.  In the twilight of his career but I wouldn’t put it past him to win a big fight one last time before he hangs it up.  But the fight these two waged was something else and should not be forgotten. Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades – Clifford Etienne vs Lawrence Clay-Bey

The spirit of the forgotten fade is finding that one fight that delivers above and beyond expectation where there are little to no expectations.  As a bonus, the fight may sometime surpass every other fight on the card it’s on, including the main event.  The fight that I am about to reminisce on is one of those that fit the above criteria.  An unexpected war between then rising Heavyweight prospects/contenders.  The fight I am referring to is Clifford Etienne vs Lawrence Clay Bey.  This fight was scheduled on the undercard of Lennox Lewis defending the undisputed heavyweight championship against David Tua.  Unfortunately, that fight is the opposite of a forgotten fade to put it lightly. That is where Etienne and Clay-Bey would come in.

                Clifford Etienne would learn how to box in prison, where he was sent to serve a 40-year sentence for armed robbery.  While in prison, he would win the boxing championship in there and keep an undefeated record.  Paroled after serving 10 years, he would turn pro in 1998 and would jump out to an 18-0 record.  The most notable of the wins was over then undefeated Lamon Brewster in a barnburner of a fight, which saw him beat the future WBO Heavyweight Champion by a comfortable unanimous decision.  Lawrence Clay Bey is a name I knew for a while as he was from my home state of Connecticut.  He was a big amateur star here.  He made it on to the 1996 US Olympic boxing team and was its captain.  Unfortunately, he did not medal.  He would eventually lose a controversial decision to Wladimir Klitschko.  Following the Olympics, he decided to turn pro at a relatively late age of 32 in 1997 to see how far he would go.  He would go 12-0 shedding another 30 lbs along the way.  The stage was set for the 2 undefeated heavyweight prospects.

                I know most people only know Etienne for his fight with Tyson which admittedly he didn’t look like anything special.  But this fight showed you why HBO had their eye on him back then.  Etienne’s buzzsaw style of fighting was something to see when he got going.  In this fight, it took only a minute in the first round for him let off a vicious assault to Clay Bey.  In the second round it looked Etienne was going to have an early night as he trapped Clay Bey in the ropes and let off like a dozen body shots mixed with uppercuts that were breaking through his guard.    The ref, Jay Nady, I was surprised to see that he didn’t step in to stop the fight.  With about 12 secs left in that round, Clay-Bey exploded and rocked Etienne to his core that left him dazed and bleeding from the nose at the bell.  Clay-Bey going into round 3 tried to employ a “Rope a Dope” strategy, where he would go to the ropes and let Etienne just wail on him and then try to steal the round by letting off combinations.  When the fight was taken to the center of the ring, it was “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” where Clay-Bey got the best of it.  So why Clay-Bey kept taking it to the ropes is beyond me.  He did however make an adjustment seen in the 7th and 8th rounds.  Clay-Bey would go to the ropes and then as Etienne would come in, he met him with right cross counters.  Etienne was badly stunned by these shots.  It was a miracle he did not go down.  Clay-Bey continued habit on laying on the ropes was a tactical mistake.  Etienne got his second wind and his legs back.  In round 9, he was getting the best of Clay-Bey now in the middle of the ring and started beating the crap of out of him.  Step around and hitting Clay-Bey with left hooks.  It was beautiful stuff to watch.  Clay-Bey looked tired at this point and seemingly had enough.  In the 10th and final round, both men went all out.  Unbelievable ebb and flow.   First it was Clay-Bey who came out swinging and landing right hands.  Then Etienne managed to get him into the ropes and proceeded to land hooks and uppercuts flush.  Some of those punches Clay-Bey took flush on the chin with his hands down.  It was an extremely brutal stuff to watch.  In the waning moments of the fight, Clay Bey again managed to rock and badly hurt Etienne with a left hook.  Etienne managed to weather the storm to the bell.  What a fight this was!!!Clifford Etienne would win by unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 99-91, 97-93.  The scores don’t accurately tell the story of the fight in which the action and punishment dealt out was two way.  Unfortunately, neither fighter would go on to higher heights from this. 

Lawrence Clay-Bey even after losing his zero earned a lot of kudos for his performance.  For a man who had many issues plaguing him from the beginning of his career, it provided a brief window into his true potential.  However old habits crept back up.  He started coming into the ring out of shape again on top of advancing age, he would lose to the likes of Elieser Castillo (by KO) and the late Sinan Samil Sam (by decision).  He would retire in 2005 after a draw with Derek Bryant.  In his retirement from boxing, he has been working as a corrections officer.  For all intents and purposes, he has seemingly adjusted well to life after boxing.  The same thing cannot be said for Clifford Etienne.  It was a slow decline for the “Black Rhino”.  After that fight, he got a very lucrative contract from Showtime.  The bad was he would lose his zero to Fres Oquendo who knocked him down 7 times.  Etienne would have some fights to rebuild his stature.  His fight with Francois Botha yielded a draw which saw him go down twice in a wild affair.  This would lead to his most well-known fight, a fight against “Iron” Mike Tyson.  A fight that lasted only 49 seconds where a short right hand ended his night.  From there his career would go into a tailspin downward losing his final 2 fights to Calvin Brock and Nikolay Valuev.  Shortly after that fight, he would be sent back to prison on carjacking, kidnapping and attempted murder charges.  A very unfortunate fate for someone who originally found redemption through boxing.   However, nothing can take away from Clifford Etienne and Lawrence Clay-Bey’s wonderful fight.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades: Tomasz Adamek vs Paul Briggs I & II

Light heavyweight has always been a division to watch.  It’s been a division very consistent with notable fighters mixing it up during different eras. While names Jones, Calzaghe, Hopkins, Tarver were the headliners, there was a second wave bubbling underneath the surface.  Specifically, these two upcoming fighters in Tomasz Adamek and Paul Briggs.  Antonio Tarver getting stripped of the WBC Light Heavyweight Title paved the way for these 2 to be matched up with the vacant title.  The result is some of the bloodiest pair of fights to ever take place not only in the division but boxing itself.

The first fight, which took place on 5/21/2005, was the co main to Lamon Brewster vs Andrew Golota.  It took no time to get going.  From the opening bell, those 2 wasted no time in throwing right hands,  By the end of the opening round, a bad cut from the left side of the eye of Paul Briggs courtesy of headbutt momentarily threatened the fight.   This would only make Briggs fight even harder.  He manages to badly hurt Adamek in the beginning of the third round.  Adamek’s legs were all over the place as Briggs poured it on.  By the end of the round Adamek’s eye was neatly swollen and shut.  To add on to the maladies, Briggs also severely breaking Adamek’s nose in the exchanges.  Adamek  came on in the middle rounds with a savage body attack trying to slow down Briggs’s momentum.  In round 8, Briggs would buckle the legs of Adamek with brutal right hands.  Badly hurt, this would be the closest I’ve seen Adamek being stopped.  His face, a pained, swollen, bloody look.  The level of punch resistance shown by both fighters is incredible.  As the fight went into the championship rounds, Adamek is out-boxing Briggs as the earlier body attack took its toll.  Briggs was still game but his punches lacked  the firepower it once had.  The announcer screaming loudly that Briggs would need a knockdown to rescue himself in this fight.  The knockdown never came as the final bell rang.  The canvas a blood stained masterpiece from the pugilistic genius of these 2 fighters.  Tomasz Adamek would win the fight and the vacant WBC Light Heavyweight Title by a majority decision with scores of 117-113, 115-113, and 114-114.  It was a simply awesome fight.

The second fight would actually up the ante.  A rematch on the co main of Nikolay Valuev vs Monte Barrett heavyweight championship fight.  Round 1 or Round 13 if you want to call it that.  No time was wasted as both came out guns blazing.  The opening round would see Adamek go down for the first time in his career courtesy of a well timed left hook from Briggs.  Just like in the first fight, a cut was opened over the eye of Briggs by Adamek.  Briggs with increasing regularity was hitting Adamek with clean right hands. Adamek’s nose was busted up once again.  It looks like Briggs was going to turn the corner and even up the fight count. In round 8, it was Adamek’s turn to hurt Briggs badly with a right hand as they slugged it out.  Adamek pulling a veteran move by landing a mean left hand low on Briggs who fell to the canvas in absolute pain. The ref would give Briggs ample time and also dock Adamek a point for it.  A seemingly close fight has now got even closer on the cards.  The next 2 rounds Adamek  caught a beating from Briggs and was bleeding heavily from his eye, nose, and mouth.  In the final round, Adamek made a final bloody stand and seemingly gets the better of Briggs.  At the bell, Briggs looked like one more clean combination would put him on the canvas.  Briggs looked very unsteady as he stood in the corner as the judges read the scores.  Unfortunately, he would come up short in a close majority decision loss with scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 113-113.  Adamek retained his light heavyweight title in another savage, debilitating fight.

Aftermath

Tomasz Adamek would eventually lose his light heavyweight title to an undefeated Chad Dawson.  He would then go on to the cruiserweight division and win the title from Steve Cunningham.  Eventually making a final stop at the heavyweight division winning fights over several fringe contenders and past prime heavyweights before falling in a lone heavyweight title challenge to Vitali Klitschko.  He was last seen in the ring last 2018.  He has not announced retirement but almost 20 years in the ring over 3 divisions, one would think the end has definitely come.  Unfortunately Paul Briggs would not last too long as a pro boxer.  The 2 fights with Adamek were physically damaging affairs that he never recovered fully from.  He would only fight 2 more times a pro.   He started exhibiting some serious neurological problems and had originally retired after his final victory in 2007.  But reportedly strapped for cash he went back into the ring 3 years after.  His final fight, in 2010,  a source of controversy in which he went down in the first round from a seemingly harmless blow to the head by Danny Green.  His license was immediately revoked as his health problems became public knowledge.  The high price of boxing and poor Paul Briggs became another casualty.  But for those that saw him in the ring in those 2 wars against Tomasz Adamek, they will never forget the extraordinary effort that was shown.  A full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades: David Lemieux vs Hassan N’dam N’Jikam

This fight was one of many that happened on that particular day.  PBC had a lackluster card headlined by a disappointing Shawn Porter vs Adrien Broner fight.  Andre Ward would come back after a long hiatus and beat Paul Smith in a fight that really didn’t register any real impact on the excitement meter.  This fight didn’t have any high expectations either.  HBO refused to even air this fight on their network.  From where I am located, it ended up airing on FOX Sports 2.  FOX Sports 2 at the time was not even offered in HD on my cable system so I had to watch it in SD.  The fight I am talking about is David Lemieux vs Hassan N’dam N’Jikam. 

This fight would be contested for the vacant IBF Middleweight title previously held by Jermain Taylor who was stripped due to out of ring issues.  For Lemieux, this would be an opportunity to validate the potential he had shown at various points in his career.  He had to work his way back from reputation damaging back to back defeats to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine.  For Hassan N’dam, this would be an opportunity for him to regain a piece of the Middleweight title.  He had a brief reign as WBO Middleweight Champion almost 3 years prior.  He was an interim champion that was upgraded to full champion when previous champ Dmitry Pirog retired due to back issues.  He would lose it in a firefight of a first title defense against Peter Quillin in which he would go down 6 times.  He received this title shot by beating Curtis Stevens in an IBF middleweight title eliminator over 12 rounds.  The stage was now set.

The fight

                To sum up the fight, it could easily be compared to the aforementioned N’dam fight with Peter Quillin.  It was a shootout from the opening bell.  No feeling out necessary, no warm up needed.  Lemieux would strike first in the 2nd round by uncorking a beautiful left hook to drop N’dam for the first knockdown.  N’dam got up quickly, shook it off like it was nothing, and went back to work.  One thing I thought is N’dam is shaking off these punches like it was nothing and Lemieux can crack.  None more apparent than in round 5 where Lemieux’s left hook would drop him 2 more times.  If there was a point in the fight where I thought the ref would take a hard look at N’dam, it would be in that round, but N’dam’s recovery powers were nothing short of amazing.  One more knockdown by Lemieux in the 7th round, a round where N’dam was boxing Lemieux’s head off.  But for the rest of the fight, especially in the championship rounds, N’dam remained upright and to me out boxed Lemieux soundly.  I was impressed though that Lemieux’s work rate still didn’t drop off.  N’dam surprisingly to me didn’t have enough to power to really keep Lemieux at bay nor really bother him.    Unfortunately he also didn’t bank enough rounds, much less returned a KD, to overcome those 4 knockdowns suffered.   Lemieux would win a UD with scores of 115-109 x2 and 114-110 and become the new IBF Middleweight Champion.  Respect and sportsmanship were displayed all around, it was an extraordinary fight.

Aftermath                

The newly crowned champion Lemieux certainly earned the right to face a soft touch for his first title offense.  Instead he went straight for another fellow champion, Gennadiy Golovkin, also known as GGG.  GGG held the WBA Middleweight title and was calling for a unification.  In the era where other Middleweight champions such as Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez found unique ways to avoid GGG, Lemieux was of a different breed.  On a HBO PPV main event, he put up an admirable effort but would be stopped in 9 rounds.  His reign as champion would be brief.   He has since continued scoring some brutal knockouts along the way.  He received a title shot against then WBO Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and would get out boxed over 12 rounds.  Now it seems he will be moving into the 168 division.  I wouldn’t count out Lemieux grabbing a belt there.  For N’dam it was a minor setback.  He would go on to win his next 4 fights before facing undefeated Japanese sensation Ryota Murata for the “regular” WBA Middleweight Title. In one of the more shocking results, N’dam would win a controversial decision over Murata to regain a piece of the Middleweight title he once held.  That reign would be brief when Murata would be the first to stop him in a rematch.  N’dam is still active, even made an overture to 168 in his last fight.  It is a shame this fight was not picked up by HBO else I’m sure most people would talk about it more. Then it wouldn’t be a “Forgotten Fade” and I wouldn’t go out of my way to shed light on it.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

Forgotten Fades: Clarence Bones Adams vs Paulie Ayala I

One of the few times I remember being taken aback from somebody I talked boxing with was somebody mentioning this fight to me.  It all started from when I had a conversation with my lady.  This was in the early stages in our relationship.  She told me that she had a friend that was also into boxing like I was.  Now when I hear that, most of the time I’m kind of dismissive to comments like that.  This was when the Floyd vs Manny thing was in full swing and by then I was more than over the talks with people taking either side to the extreme.  Her friend would later friend request me on Facebook.  One day I made a post about the greatest fight of all time IMO:  Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo 1.  He posted under it and mentioned Clarence Bones Adams vs Paulie Ayala 1 as his favorite fight of all time.  I went “Whoa!!!” and replied back “That’s a fight you don’t hear somebody mention every day.” I mean I was seriously impressed.  We then had one of the longest conversations ever under that post.  My lady read all that and was like “I told you so!!!”  This fight is one of those that is so unheralded that someone mentioning it to me suddenly will automatically validate as you know something about boxing.

The Fight

                Adams wasted little time on a feeling out process and opened up on Ayala.  Ripping Ayala to the body and piling up the points.   This strategy however left Adams susceptible to counters upstairs as Ayala answered back with mean hooks.  Pretty soon Adams started to show the effects of those punches but it didn’t dissuade him from not staying on the inside.  The fight deteriorated into a phone booth type brawl with some absolutely sickening exchanges. Bones’s eye and cheek were getting puffier by the rounds. I feel for the judges who had to score this fight by this point.  In the second half of the fight, you can see Ayala missing on a lot of shots and Adams closing the gap rolling with Ayala’s punches.  But then you see Adams start to tire and his own activity start to drop.  Ayala took advantage and in the 10th round, rocked Adams with a huge hook.   Then it was followed by more vicious body punching from both men.   This fight is amazing after all the years.

 In the 11th round, accidental clash of heads produced a nasty cut over Bones’s eye.  Ayala then targeted the cut, opening it up more.  How the doctor let this fight go on after that round is beyond anyone’s guess.  Maybe he didn’t want the fight to end himself and was into it.  Whatever the case Ayala moved forward on him while Bones tried to fight back.  Bones was caught several more times in that bloody eye.  It’s quite possible he was not seeing those punches coming.  In the final round, Ayala did something that was confusing to me and most likely everyone else.  He got on his bike like he secured the win.  Circling the ring which turned into a run when Bones started lighting his body up.  Then came the clinching when Adams managed to close the gap.  It was a puzzling negative round on Ayala’s part.  When the bell rang, just like I did all those years ago, I thought Bones pulled it out.  My score being 116-113 for Adams.  The first 2 judges announced a 114-113 score for each fighter.  The third judge scored it 115-112 for the winner…..Paulie Ayala!!!  Man you can see the absolute disappointment in Bones’s face but it doesn’t take away on how great that fight was.

The Aftermath                

After a fight like this it was only right that a rematch had to take place.  6 months later they got it on again which Ayala would win a very comfortable unanimous decision.  Bones would go into a decline, never regaining his championship form or any career momentum.  He would bow out of the sport in 2010 following a TKO loss to Edel Ruiz, a 29-22-4 journeyman.  As for Paulie Ayala, he too would go into a career decline. He would receive a PPV shot against Erik Morales for the vacant WBC Featherweight Title and lose a unanimous decision.  One more win against the aforementioned Edel Ruiz would set him up for what turned out to be his final fight.  A 10th round TKO loss to the great Marco Antonio Barrera in June of 2004.  Both men these days seemed to have settled well into retirement and are still involved in the sport.  Ayala runs a gym and Adams is a trainer with some good prospects on his roster and as well as some vets.   But nothing will ever take away from the greatness of their first fight.  Full recommendation to catch if you haven’t already.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

Forgotten Fades: Pawel Wolak vs Delvin Rodriguez 1

In my previous “Forgotten Fades” articles, a lot of fights mentioned were originally aired on ESPN.  Well here’s another gem of a fight that comes from that network – Delvin Rodriguez vs Pawel Wolak 1.  You are probably asking when seeing this choice “Why no mention of the second fight?”  I will touch upon that later in the article.  Delvin Rodriguez (then 25-5-2 with 14 KO’s) was a staple on the ESPN Friday Night Fight cards and had plenty of fan friendly fights on there. Oscar Diaz, Jesse Feliciano, Allen Conyers, Shamone Alvarez were some of those affairs.  He would also have a couple of USBA Welterweight title reigns during that period.  He would be making his 154 debut.  Pawel Wolak (then 29-1 with 19 KO’s) was an exciting prospect in the 154 division at the time.  His only professional blemish was getting outboxed and knocked down by the underrated Ishe Smith.  He would rebound after that to score the biggest win of his career by stopping former WBA 154 champion Yuri Foreman in 6 rounds.  That fight got plenty of attention because it was on the PPV undercard of Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga. The matchmaker who ended up putting this fight together for FNF couldn’t imagine how it would it turn out.

The Fight

                Similar to his performance in the Foreman fight, Wolak wasted no time bringing the fight to Rodriguez from opening bell.  Putting Rodriguez under pressure by staying in his chest and bullying him in his attempt to wear him down.  Rodriguez was getting hit constantly with body punches and hooks upstairs. This was the pattern for most of the earlier rounds but Rodriguez would not let that be the story of the whole fight.  Every time he was able to create some distance, Rodriguez would punish Wolak with some serious combinations.  He also start timing Wolak’s attempts as he came in with right hands and uppercuts that were noticeably snapping his head back. 

As the fight progressed into the middle rounds, Wolak’s right eye swelled up grotesquely.  It was at the level if not worse than the swelling Hasim Rahman got from Evander Holyfield.   During times of the fight, the ref Steve Smoger would call a break in the action to have the doctors check it out.  To my shock and minor disbelief, they would say Wolak was good to go.  Now I’m watching this and thinking there is no way that Wolak is seeing anything out of that eye.  The fight just got more and more brutal by the round.  Round 9 especially was tough to watch as Rodriguez was targeting that swelling on that eye.  I was cringing at the shots that were landing on it.  That round was also notable for Teddy Atlas going off on a rant regarding Haye vs Klitschko.  Teddy was not a fan of that fight due to what he perceived as lack of desire from both men.  He would say that if those 2 fought like Rodriguez and Wolak, then Klitschko would not be heavyweight champion. The 10th and final round, both fighters just let it all hang out to the final bell with the audience cheering wild.

Aftermath

Personally I thought Rodriguez edge it out by a couple rounds due to his work in the later rounds.  The judges saw it a little differently.  One judge scored it 97-93 for Rodriguez. The other 2 judges scored 95-95 which made the fight a majority draw. Both Wolak and Rodriguez were nothing but class and cordial to each other in the post-fight interview with the ESPN FNF crew.  Teddy again reiterating his views on Haye vs Klitschko and how that fight was nothing in comparison to this fight.   It was a definite fight of the year candidate.  It would get the Boxing Writers Association of America Fight of the Year award for 2011.   Both were adamant on doing it again.  Which leads up to the second fight.  Sometimes you have the first fight that is so good but underrated that it is warranted its “Forgotten Fade” status.  Sometimes you have subsequent rematches that you just like to forget about it period.  Wolak vs Rodriguez 2 is one of those fights.  The rematch took place on the undercard for Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito 2. This time the fight was largely a one sided affair won by Rodriguez who nearly came close to scoring a knockout in the final round.  Wolak would retire from professional boxing shortly after this fight.  A brief sliver of potential that never got realized.  Rodriguez would soldier on but never really being able to get over the hump.  He would only win 3 of the next 8 fights afterwards.  He would fall short in title shots against then 154 champions Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.  However they will they will always have that fight.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

Forgotten Fades – Julio Cesar Gonzalez vs Julian Letterlough

ESPN Friday Night Fights was a great boxing platform during its on network TV.  Many fighters of yesterday and today got their start on there.  Some of course would go on to bigger things.  Others would be mainstays who had a reputation of getting into great TV fights.  That was definitely the case of Julian “Mr. KO” Letterlough.  After a 7 year stint in prison, he was released and turned pro as a light heavyweight.  His first 16 fights all but 1 ended in a knockout.  A lone draw would break the KO streak.  Nevertheless his punching power was a force to be reckoned with.  Julio Cesar Gonzalez turned pro in 1997 after representing Mexico at the 1996 Olympics. He would win his first 25 fights prior to this fight with Letterlough.  A good fight on paper but no one expected what would transpire in the ring.

The Fight

The fight itself was a back and forth war.  There were a total of 5 knockdowns in the whole fight.  Gonzalez would be the first to strike dropping “Mr. KO” to the canvas in the first round.  Resilient as always, Letterlough would fight back and in the third round returned the favor.  A brutal left hand followed by a counter right hook would send Gonzalez down to one knee.  Gonzalez popped back up immediately but still had to take that standing eight count.  The bombs continued in close quarters.  A pattern of ebb and flow now firmly established in the heat of combat.  In the early moments of round 5, Letterlough detonated one of his patented left hooks on Gonzalez sending him face first to the canvas near the ropes.  This time Gonzalez didn’t pop back up immediately, wisely taking the full count before returning back to war.  They continued to trade bombs in close quarters.  Absolutely vicious fades were being handed out by both fighters.

The fight almost ended in round 10, when Gonzalez backing up a retreating Letterlough into the ropes and walked into another flush right hand counter.  Gonzalez went down like he was shot with a violent impact.  His head slammed into the canvas and his eyes rolling around his head.  I watched this like “Damn!!!…Mr. KO is a hellacious puncher”.  Teddy Atlas mentioning Gonzalez fighting the wrong fight.  Gonzalez somehow gets to his feet almost similar to Fury waking up against Wilder in the 12th round.  He absorbed a terrible beating in the process as Letterlough smelled blood while Teddy Atlas saying “Mr. KO is about to get a KO!!” loudly.  Gonzalez managed to survive and his corner worked furiously to revive him sufficiently for round 11. In the 11th round, Gonzalez mustered a left hook/right hand combination that sent Letterlough sliding to the canvas.  Letterlough argued to the ref that he slipped but to no avail.  The audience was going absolutely nuts from what they were seeing.  They continued trade until the final bell.  I was exhausted just watching this classic fight.  Unbelievable war.  Gonzalez would prevail winning the UD with the scores of 114-109 x 2, and 113-110.  When do you usually see a fighter going down 3 times roar back like he did to win a decision?  Nothing but pure class and sportsmanship from those 2 fighters.  In my humble opinion, there were no losers.  Everybody was a winner that night.

Aftermath

Julio Cesar Gonzalez would go on a couple fights later to face the great Roy Jones Jr for the WBC/WBA/IBF 175 belts coming up short in an admirable effort.  In 2003, he scored the biggest win and upset of his career outpointing Dariusz Michalczewski to win the WBO and Lineal Light Heavyweight Titles.  Unfortunately his reign would not be long lived as he would lose to Zsolt Erdei in his first title defense.  After winning a title eliminator against Montell Griffi , he would receive a title shot losing to then champion Clinton Woods.   A couple of years later he would receive on what would be his final title shot in a rematch loss to Clinton Woods.  Followed that fight, Gonzalez would go winless in his final couple of fights losing to the likes of Reggie Johnson & Tavoris Cloud.   He would finish with a final record of 41 wins and 8 losses with 25 KO’s.  Julio Cesar Gonzalez would pass away tragically in a motorcycle accident in 2012.

Julian Letterlough later on in the year would receive a title shot at then IBF cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov but fall short.  He would continue to fight on for the next 3 years but never regained any career momentum he had with mixed results here and there.   He would finish with a record of 21 wins, 5 losses, and 3 draws with 20 knockouts.  Unfortunately Julian Letterlough, after a night out with his wife, was murdered outside of a bar in Reading PA in 2005.

Thank you Julian Letterlough and Julio Cesar Gonzalez for the great in ring memories during your careers that you provided and continue to rest in perfect peace.

Written by Patscorpio for RingGangRadio.com

Forgotten Fades: Omar Figueroa vs Nihto Arakawa

In boxing, half of the time, the best fight on the whole card is not in the main event.  In recent times you have Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura upstaging Canelo vs Miguel; Cotto with their war.  Or the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Chocolatito waging a battle very rarely seen in America in the lower weight classes as a co main to GGG vs Daniel Jacobs.  This particular fight I am about to talk about wasn’t even hyped up to be anything but a showcase for an up and comer.  The fight I’m referring to is Omar Figueroa vs Nihito Arakawa. 

                This fight was part of the “Knockout Kings 2” card put together by Golden Boy Promotions.  A card opened with Keith Thurman stop Diego Chaves in a rousing slugfest and ended in the main event where Jesus Soto Karass became the first man to KO Andre Berto.  It was the middle fight – Figueroa vs Arakawa – that stole the show.  The fight was for the interim WBC Lightweight Tile.  The interim status was because the champion, Adrien Broner, had won the WBA Welterweight title from Paulie Malignaggi and had yet to vacate it.  Omar Figueroa (21-0-1 17 KO’s) was an exciting volume puncher and an extremely hard puncher to book.  If I remember correctly with regards to his knockouts all but one at the time ended in 3 rounds or less.  Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1 16 ko’s) was not really known outside of Japan. Prior to the fight just to get an idea of what type of fighter he was, I managed to see his lone fight outside of Japan vs Daniel Estrada.  I thought that it was a hell of a fight but somebody I thought Figueroa would put away easy.  How wrong I was!!

                From Round 1 to Round 12 it was a flat out war.  Omar was landing at will on Nihito for the majority of the fight and he just kept on coming.  There were 2 knockdowns of the flash variety that were scored by Omar in the 2nd and 6th rounds.  I love a good clean brutal fight as the next boxing fan but seeing Arakawa absorb this type of punishment was alarming.  His eyes were swollen as was his head.  The funny thing is I kind of expected Laurence Cole to stop the fight after the 6th round.   In a way I’m glad he did not stop it.  Not to say it was all one way.  Arakawa was throwing back but the problem with that was he was not sitting on his punches.  They were arm punches.  Numerous arm punches that also found their target more often than not.  Omar’s nose ended up broken and bloody.  What was more troubling was that Omar ended up damaging his hands from landing so many punches.  All of these injuries would set the stage for a late rounds rally by Arakawa, who moved forward on the fading Figueroa.  The conditioning that both fighters shown for this was incredible, especially for Arakawa.  It’s amazing neither men collapsed from this fight.   When the final bell ran I remember my beater being sweaty from watching this feeling relieved it was over.  It was an outstanding fight.  Now I remember not agreeing with the official scores for Figueroa (119-107, 118-108, and 118-108).  Personally I thought it was around 115-111, however Figueroa was no doubt the winner of the fight.  Arakawa, even after the beating he took, was able to give a post-fight interview ending it with a “Thank you very much Texas San Antonio.”

                The aftermath of this fight I honestly thought this fight would have ruined both fighters.  Bradley vs Provodnikov was the leading candidate for fight of the year for 2013 and this was the first fight to really challenge it. Even Tim Bradley remarked that his fight with Provodnikov was kid stuff compared to that.  The compubox stats were eye popping.  Omar landed 480 out of 942 punches; Nihito landed 280 out of 1170 punches.  No slouching on the work rate whatsoever.  Nihito Arakawa is still fighting as of 2019.  After Figueroa, he was given a shot on the Canelo vs Angulo PPV card against Jorge Linares.  Linares easily out boxed him to a wide decision loss. After which he returned to Japan, where he has been operating since. He is ranked 7 on the WBO 135 rankings so we may see one more high profile fight from him in the near future.  As for Omar, he never really regained his momentum as he has had to battle chronic hand issues, inactivity, and weight/ discipline issues.  He has maintained his zero since that fight and had a very good win over a faded Robert Guerrero. But spotty performances sprinkled in with had close calls against the likes of Ricky Burns and Jerry Belmontes.   Nonetheless it doesn’t take away from the unheralded classic that is Figueroa vs Arakawa.  As always, do not take my word for it, watch for yourself.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

https://www.sho.com/video/28051/figueroa-vs-arakawa-full-fight

Forgotten Fades: – Ebo Elder vs Courtney Burton

Background

                Shobox for years has been where many fighters who were up and coming prospects received their first taste of national exposure.  It boasts a sizable alumni of fighters who would go on to become world champions.  Esteemed names such as Tim Bradley, Ricky Hatton, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence, Chad Dawson, Andre Ward, etc., etc.  However we can’t forget about the prospects that fought on those Shobox cards that unfortunately were not able to reach world champion status.  Two prospects who put on what I consider the greatest fight ever aired on it:  Ebo Elder v Courtney Burton.

                Ebo Elder debuted in 2000 at light welterweight after a successful amateur career.  He rose to attention with wins over highly regarded prospects such as Emmanuel Clottey and a then undefeated Oscar Diaz.   Ebo would also become a born again Christian following out of ring issues that nearly derailed his career.  Courtney Burton debuted in 1996 after a successful amateur career as well.  In 2003, he burst upon on the world title scene with back to back knockout wins over faded former world champions Gabriel Ruelas and Angel Manfredy.  This would lead to an IBF title eliminator against Julio Diaz where he would come up short.  He then rebounded with a disputed win over Emmanuel Augustus.  The stage was set but nobody who caught this fight live, in person or TV, would expect it to play out the way did.

The Fight

                Man talk about a closet classic.  Both men just bombed away from jump.  Fast paced action from the start that never let up.  Burton was switching up his stances constantly which you can see was visibly confusing Ebo and blasting away with his left hand.  There was a point deduction in round 6 on Ebo for repeated low blows.  But Ebo kept plugging away and in the process was absorbing tremendous damage.  His face was a grotesque mask of pain, cuts, and lumps.  His eyes were so swollen it is a wonder that he was able to see anything.  Many times you could see Ebo staggering to his corner at the bell and wondering if the ref was going to stop this.  Courtney was giving it as good as he got for ¾ of the fight.  Toe to toe action galore.  Ebo’s pressure eventually got to him and wore him out leading to the increased amount of punishment that Courtney ended up taking.    In the 12th and final round, Ebo summoned one final reserve of energy and strength.  With 1:14 left in the fight, Ebo walloped with a brutal straight left hand that sent Courtney into the ropes.  Desperately trying to hold on but Courtney instead took another left hand and snapped his head all the way back and put him on the canvas. Courtney got up but was in serious trouble.  He backed up with Ebo in pursuit.  Ebo then landed one more straight left followed with a right and left that sent Courtney down and out under the ropes.  The ref waved it off immediately.  The climax of this fight captured perfectly as Ebo sunk down to his knees exalting God for the victory. He then would go over and pray with Courtney, who was sat up and put on a stool in a unique show of sportsmanship and respect.  After which Ebo mentioned to him over and over that he was a “bad dude”.  2 of the judges had Ebo ahead 106-102 and 105-103 while one judge had it even at 104-104.  So the fight was still up for grabs for both men.  A pure gut check ending to an incredible fight.    

Aftermath                

The drama and the brutality of this fight is the reason for its “Forgotten Fade” status.  I found a first-hand account of this fight from Ebo himself on his Facebook page.  Ebo said “I fought Courtney Burton, who was then ranked #4 in the world in the lightweight division in a “title eliminator”, where the champion, Juan Diaz, would have to fight the winner. In undoubtedly the most brutal fight of my career, God intervened in the last round. My jaw was broken, my kidneys were bleeding, and blood was running from cuts over both of my eyes. In spite of my complete fatigue, injuries and a powerful left that nearly took me out, the Holy Spirit came upon me with 2:05 left in the 12th round.”   For him this would be proved to be a pyrrhic victory and the last win of his career.  9 months afterwards, he would receive a WBA lightweight eliminator shot against Lakva Sim and get stopped in the 12th and final round.   His final fight would take place on season 2 of The Contender where he would get stopped in 4 by Michael Stewart.  After that he would retire to become an evangelist and a motivational speaker.  Courtney Burton would fall even harder.  Equally ruined, he would get ko’ed in 3 straight fights after to Rolando Reyes, Juan Lazcano, and, in a rematch, Emmanuel Augustus.  He would retire in 2006 but come out of retirement almost 4 year later.  He would win one fight against a journeyman before losing a decision to a then undefeated prospect Vernon Paris.  He would retire again for good after that loss.    As always highest recommendation to watch.  Don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

Forgotten Fades: Omar Sheika vs Scott Pemberton 1 & 2

I posted the video for Omar Sheika for the latest “Nightly Knockouts” post on the Ring Gang Radio Instagram.  A video showing a young Omar Sheika destroying a journeyman in only 30 seconds.  In In the process of finding this video on Youtube had me stumble upon a bunch of Omar Sheika’s fights.   ESPN Friday Night Fights was one of my favorite boxing series to watch.  At times it was the only thing worth watching on TV Fridays.  Many future stars made their debuts on it and had several unheralded fights that never got the recognition it deserved.  Omar Sheika had a certain couple of fights there that meet that criteria.  The couple of fights I’m referring to are his 2 barnburners with Scott Pemberton.

First Fight – 7/25/2003

                This at the time was seen as a must win for both men.  For Omar Sheika, he was riding a 2 fight losing streak coming up short in an IBF title eliminator fight against Thomas Tate after dropping him twice.  He had also had unsuccessful title challenges against then WBC Super Middleweight Champion Eric Lucas and then WBO Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe.  For Scott Pemberton, he was starting to get up there in age as well having personal issues outside of the ring.  Both fighters being notable punchers, no one thought this fight would go the distance. It certainly didn’t appear that way when in the second round, Pemberton got dropped by Sheika with a right hook counter.  Sheika for most of the early rounds was the aggressor scoring with hard combos.  Pemberton weathered the storm and starting putting in effective body work in the middle rounds.  By 9th round you could see the pace of the fight start to wear on Sheika as his output slowed.  Pemberton also started to clinch more than usual.  He looked like he was going to fight to a clear decision when Omar came alive in the 11th round and nearly came close to putting him away late with a loud thudding left hook.  Pemberton, as he had been doing all night, weathered the storm and gave it as good as he got in the final round.  Scott Pemberton would win a split decision by 2 scores of 114-113; Sheika given the nod on the final card 116-111.  I personally do not agree with that score as it was too wide for my liking but it was still an outstanding fight

Second Fight – 1/23/2004

                The first fight was wildly considered to be a top FOTY candidate for 2003.  In fact ESPN had actually named that fight as its fight of the year.  So you already know they were going to do it again.  The second fight pretty much picked up where it left off.  Round 1 or Round 13 depending on how you looked at it.  It almost mirrored the first fight where Sheika controlled the earlier rounds and again drops Pemberton in round 2.  Pemberton weathers the storm again by clinching repeatedly in order to get his bearings back.  The middle rounds were mostly Sheika being the aggressor and in the 6th round forced a standing 8 knockdown after catching Pemberton on the ropes with a barrage.  After that round, Sheika’s activity began to drop as Pemberton willed himself back in the fight.  By the 9th round Pemberton was landed almost at will on a defenseless Sheika.  The 10th round, Sheika completely exhausted would get knocked down by a 3 punch combination.  The ref would have done well to stop the fight by then as Sheika labored to his feet.  Pemberton followed up with a big right hand that had Sheika in all types of trouble.  One more combination from Pemberton would send Sheika falling off balance into the corner forcing the ref to stop the fight.

Aftermath:  Both fights were brutal affairs that put more than enough of mileage on both fighters. Pemberton, the victor of both fights, would only fight on 4 more times.  He would eventually receive his one and only title shot against then IBF Super Middleweight Champion Jeff Lacy.  Lacy wound run right through him in only 2 rounds.  Omar Sheika would fight on another 8 years. He also received a title shot against Jeff Lacy and in his career best performance gave him all that he could handle.  Sheika would lose a disputed UD with the scores being close on 2 cards.  He would receive one more title shot against then WBC Super Middleweight champion Markus Beyer who handled him with ease on his way to a wide decision.  Sheika would never regain any form and the fights added up. His last fight of note was getting ko’ed in 5 rounds by an aging Roy Jones Jr.  Neither of them ever made it to the top level of the sport but those 2 fights were nothing but pure class. Do yourself a favor and catch those fights.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Written by PatScorpio for

RingGangRadio.

Forgotten Fades: Lamon Brewster vs Siarhei Liakhovich

Introduction

                One of the old adages of boxing is “boxing goes as the heavyweights goes.”  This has been, more or less, been the way boxing has operated for 115 something years.  At the turn of the century though there was a change in this status quo.  The heavyweights were no longer the de facto marquee division of boxing.  The fighters in the lower divisions had managed to maintain and/or raise their profile to the level where they were able to create bankable, crossover stars.  In contrast, the heavyweight division went on a decline.  The top HW fighters and contenders of the 80s and 90s were aging and the newer class of heavyweights did not necessarily have the spark or “it factor” to capture the public’s attention.  Contrary to popular belief, there were definitely good to great heavyweight fights that occurred in the post Tyson/Holyfield/Lewis era.  The fight I am highlighting in this article was IMO the best heavyweight fight post 2000.  An all-time classic heavyweight title fight and slugfest to boot.  The fight I am referring to is Lamon Brewster vs Siarhei Liakhovich.

The Fighters

                “Relentless” Lamon Brewster debuted on the scene in 1996 and was considered somewhat of an underachieving prospect dropping fights to Clifford Etienne and Charles Shufford.  Lamon would work his way back from those minor setbacks where he would score his biggest career victory to date:  Stopping Wladimir Klitschko in 5 rounds to win the vacated WBO World Heavyweight Championship.  This fight would put on full display the vulnerability factor that would come to epitomize him and his career.  Dropped for the first (and only time) in his career in the 4th round by Wlad, Lamon managed to come back in the next round to hurt and drop Wlad, albeit after the bell.    He would then go on to defend the title successfully 3 times in wildly exciting fights against the likes of Kali Meehan, Andrew Golota, and Luan Krasniqi.

                “The White Wolf” Siarhei Liakhovich debuted in 1998, a couple of years after representing Belarus in the 1996 Olympics.  A decent boxer-puncher but his chin was considered questionable after a KO loss to Maurice Harris.  He did manage to work his way back from that defeat including getting a good win over fringe contender Dominick Guinn in December of 2004.  However this was Siarhei’s last fight prior to getting a shot at Lamon Brewster, which was scheduled for April 1, 2006.  So during this period of inactivity, Siarhei managed to maintain ranking of 13 with the WBO in order to justify this title shot. 

The fight

                Prior to his scheduled 4th title defense, Lamon started experiencing vision problems and underwent laser eye surgery unsuccessfully to correct it.  Details on why the fight still went forward remain a little murky.  In particular that Lamon had a state mandated eye examination 8 days before the fight and was given the ok to fight.  There was also reportedly a desire to go on to fight by Lamon so he could fulfill his contractual obligations to Don King and move on to another promoter.  This fight aired on Showtime as part of its free view weekend.  I had grown to be a fan of Lamon Brewster during this period of his career because his fights as mentioned before were exciting, in contrast to the other HW champions like John Ruiz or Chris Byrd.  I would be lying to you if I said I was anticipating this fights or did I think this fight would turn out the way it did.  I think my opinion of this fight was definitely shared by the majority of boxing fans.

                The fight, point blank, was 12 rounds of epic brutality and ebb and flow.  The first 4-5 rounds shows Liakhovich outboxing Brewster with an educated jab and beautiful combination punching.  Brewster being just a sad slower until the 5th round.  Brewster then start living up to his nickname and started letting off savage combinations to the body and head.  Liakhovich, to his trainer’s dismay, followed suit.  The middle rounds were filled with violent back and forth action. Liakhovich came back nearly stopping Brewster in the 6th.  Brewster then coming back getting the best of Liakhovich in the 7th round knocking him down in the last seconds of the round after both inflicted heavy punishment on each other.  Liakhovich managed to regain his bearings in the 8th and in the 9th round wobbled Brewster an over hand right and left hook and came very close to KO’ing him.  Referee Ernie Sharif would have done well to stop the fight at this point.  How Lamon Brewster remained on his feet after that is beyond me but essentially that emptied his tank.  He never was able to mount any real sustained offensive response nor was able to keep Liakhovich at bay until the final bell.  Siarhei Liakhovich dethroned Lamon Brewster by unanimous decision (115-113, 115-112, 117-110) to be the new WBO Heavyweight Champion.   I found myself agreeing with the post-fight comments of the Showtime broadcasting team.   In particular with Karyn Bryant who mentioned to Steve Albert” that although the fight was free, she would have paid a heck of a lot of money to see this fight”.

Aftermath

                You would think a fight like this would be mentioned over and over with its highlights being shown ad nauseam on Showtime in throwback montages. Surprisingly, that is not the case. It is only mentioned from time to time and usually by only hardcore boxing fans.  To me it is the best heavyweight fight of the last decade and the last one I considered an ATG until Joshua vs Klitschko. Both men really put it on the line and unfortunately both ended ruining each other.  For Lamon, he had suffered a detached retina in the first round.  On top of his fighting style, this most likely played a part in the tremendous punishment he took.  He would go 2-3 in his last 5 career fights.  2 of those losses ended in a KO.  A shell of what he was during his reign.   He would retire in 2010 with a left eye that, to date, has not fully healed.  

As for Liakhovich he got his day in the sun but it would be brief.  This was in a way a pyrrhic victory. He managed to win a war with one of boxing’s heaviest punchers, he also used up a career worth’s of punch resistance.  He would go 4-6 in his next 10 fights never really being able to take a good shot from an opponent.  He would lose his belt in his first title defense to a sluggish Shannon Briggs by KO in round 12, needing only to remain standing to win.   He would also suffer some more brutal knockouts along the way at the hands of Robert Helenius, Bryant Jennings, and Deontay Wilder.  Of course these are just my words and thoughts.  Please watch the fight and most likely that you will also be in agreement as well.

Written by PatScorpio for Ringgangradio.com

Forgotten Fades: Merqui Sosa vs Prince Charles Williams 1 & 2

In my boxing lifetime, the best fight that I have ever watched is Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo I.  That fight was 10 rounds of unbelievable ebb and flow with a finish not even a rocky movie could do justice.  However, the point of this article series isto focus on the classic wars that do not get the attention that they rightfully deserve.  Corrales-Castillo has receivedmore than enough adulation and praise from all areas of the boxing world.  The first fight that I thought of that was so underrated and in need of a spotlight was Merqui Sosa vs Prince Charles Williams.  To me their 2 fights were the most violent that I have ever seen at light heavyweight

Merqui Sosa was a tough hard punching fighter from the Dominican Republic who operated from 160 to 175.  He had been in the ring with some of the boxing best of the time: James Toney, Michael Nunn, and Frankie Liles.  In fact he had come very close to handing toJ ames Toney his first career loss in an unsuccessful bid for the IBF Middleweight title.  Prince Charles Williams, a pro since 1978, was looking to regain some career momentum coming off an almost 6 year title reign as IBF Light Heavyweight Champion.

 The first fight, held on 1/13/1995,is one of the most savage fights ever seen at the time.  There were very few clinches in this phone booth war.  Absolutely mind numbing ebb and flow.  Blood and sweat flying everywhere. The punishment doled out by both men was incredible.   To watch this as it played out it had the feel that that someone needed to save these 2 warriors from themselves.  After the 7th round, referee Ron Lipton and the ringside doctor stepped in and stopped the fight.   What made this stoppage unique is that they ruled that both men were unable to continue.   Sosa had a possible broken cheekbone while Prince Charles had a nasty cut around his eye. The result was an extremely rare double TKO which was ruled official asa technical draw.  The scorecards though showed that Sosa was up significantly on all 3 judges’ cards, something that didn’t sit right with Sosa.

Now after a fight like that one would think that a significant time off for rest and recovery would be the movefor both fighters.  Instead a rematch wassigned and took place only a mere 5 months on 6/30/1995 after that fight.  Both men picked up where they left off in an even more savage slugfest.  However the judges were not needed this time around. At the beginning of the 10th round, the tank went zero all ofa sudden for Prince Charles.  Prince Charles got hit with a right hand that had him out on his feet in a corner.   Sosa then ripped off a murderous left uppercut, overhand right, left hook, and right hook combination that had Prince Charles swaying helplessly in the corner.  The referee, John Carroll, incredulously issued a standing 8 count instead of stopping the fight like it needed tobe.  It took some missteps from Prince Charles for him to officially bring an end to the fight giving Sosa arguably his career best win.

The aftermath of this fight was not pretty.  Prince Charles was carried out of the ring on a stretcher while a visibly emotional Sosa was on the verge of tears in the post-fight interview concerned about his condition.  His skills completely faded after these 2 wars,Prince Charles would fight and win one more low level fight a year after and retire in 1996.  Merqui would soldier on until 2000 going 9 and 5 in his final 14 fights but never really regaining the brief world class form he had as the wars added up.  You never hear these 2 fighters mentioned much less these series of fights or for that matter any of their fights. If you’re a boxing fan check these fights out, you will not be disappointed.

Written by PatScorpio