Forgotten Fades – Carlos Hernandez vs Vicente Escobedo

The last hurrah of many professional fighters more often than not are lowlights of their career. brutal losses or pyrrhic moments with maybe some wins here and there. It does not matter if you are an All Time Great, Champion, Contender, Journeyman, etc. When it hits, it hits hard, and the results are usually sad to watch. This fight that I picked for this newest “Forgotten Fade” article is absolutely a last hurrah for one fighter: Carlos Hernandez.

“El Famoso” is a criminally underrated fighter who has shared the ring with a respectable number of notable fighters. Genaro Hernandez, Gregorio Vargas, Floyd Mayweather, Justin Juuko, Steve Forbes, Erik Morales, Jesus Chavez, Kevin Kelley. He became IBF Super Featherweight Champion in 2003 winning the title (vacated by Steve Forbes) a technical decision over David Santos. He would make two successful title defenses before surrendering it to Erik Morales. He is also the first and only fighter to score a counted knockdown against the aforementioned “Pretty Boy.”  However, starting with the title loss to Erik Morales in a war, Hernandez started to decline as a fighter going 3-3 in fairly hard fights before signing to face Vicente Escobedo. Escobedo back then was a promising prospect straight out of the Olympics for the lightweight division. Sporting and working his way to an impressive record of 19-1, it seemed like this was a fight set up to put a notable name and aging fighter on his record as he campaigned towards a title shot. This fight would take place on the undercard for Edwin Valero vs Antonio Pitalua PPV.

               The crowd gave both men a great ovation as they came to the ring. In the first round, Hernandez came out swinging and putting a lot of pressure on Escobedo. Enough for Bernard Hopkins, who was on commentary, to believe that this fight would not go the distance. Near the end, Escobedo manages to knock down the tough Hernandez with a fast 1-2. Hernandez got up and then went back down as he was going back to this corner. Escobedo in round two manages to score what the commentary was calling a flash knockdown. However, the way Hernandez went down, it was more than that. Hernandez looked incredibly shaky during the rest of the round. Round three, Escobedo hit Hernandez with an accidental elbow and cut him. All that seemed to do was wake up Hernandez. He went right back to Escobedo with both hands, guns blazing, much to the delight of the crowd. A highlight was a wicked left hook by Hernandez when Escobedo was on the ropes. In the middle rounds, Hernandez was giving plenty of problems to the younger Escobedo. Lacing him with hard right hands and left hooks. The old fighter looked like he found a little bit of his prime keeping Escobedo on his backfoot. Was not like Escobedo was not doing any damage to Hernandez. He managed to bloody Hernandez’s nose in between the violent exchanges of the two men.

Round six, Hernandez manages to score a knockdown on Escobedo on a hard right hand. A right hand that Escobedo fell hard into the middle rope before sitting on the canvas. Escobedo would argue that Hernandez stepped on his foot, but the ref still called it a knockdown. The crowd again genuinely appreciated the action they were getting in the ring. Escobedo looked like he would not be able to survive this test from Hernandez. In Round 7, Hernandez was landing body shots with Escobedo landing 1-2’s and 1-2-3’s in return. An uppercut by Hernandez briefly hurt Escobedo. The punishment showed on both men’s faces. It was an incredible effort. Hernandez unfortunately would hit the wall in the latter two rounds. Escobedo took advantage of this. Escobedo was laying a beating on Hernandez. Eyes nearly swollen shut so was not picking up the big combinations that Escobedo was throwing and landing. The ref was looking very intently at all of this. The Leijas,in Hernandez corner, were working furiously to keep him in the fight. In the tenth and final round, both men summoned up everything they had and slugged it out for the last 3 minutes. When the final bell rang, the crowd roared with adulation. “El Famoso” had his last stand. He would lose a unanimous decision with the scores of 96-91, 94-93 and 95-91 to Escobedo. What an incredible effort and fight that was.

True to his word, Carlos Hernandez would retire after a long and distinguished career. An interview done with San Antonio Express News , “El Famoso” became a boxing promoter and started a company called Famosoo Productions where he would hold shows in San Antonio and later on in LA.  He also helped give young fighters their first break, most famously Adam Lopez. Still giving back to the sport that gave him so much. Vicente Escobedo would follow up his grueling win over Hernandez with a 2-round knockout of a faded Kevin Kelley. This would set up for his first world title opportunity against Michael Katsidis for an interim lightweight title on the undercard for Mayweather vs JMM. In an extremely punishing war, Escobedo would drop a close split decision which saw him break Katsidis jaw in the final round. Two fights later, he would drop another fight to Robert Guerrero. Afterwards he would drop weight to compete in the super featherweight division. Escobedo would score one more marquee win by decisioning top contender Rocky Juarez. This impressive win would set up a final title shot, facing then WBO Super Featherweight Champion Adrien Broner. Unfortunately, this fight would be mired in controversy as champion Broner was overweight by 3.5 lbs. Broner would also blow the morning weigh-in day of the fight by another 3 lbs. Further negotiations had to be done in order to keep the fight. His fight purse was significantly boosted by the penalties, Escobedo was no match for Broner who was much bigger. Escobedo would be taken out in five one sided rounds for the first KO loss of his career. Subsequent knockout losses to Edner Cherry and hard punching journeyman Fernando Carcamo would spell the end of his career. In retirement, he became a coach at a gym in Downtown Pasadena. As I like to say, it is great when fighters have a healthy and productive retirement. Even though both men were not household names, they still deserve mention for their careers on top of the incredible fight they put on. Full recommendation to go and watch.

Forgotten Fades – Kendall Holt vs Demetrius Hopkins

Kendall Holt is definitely a forgotten figure in boxing today. When he was active, he was in a lot of barnburners and hard fights. The first man to drop Tim Bradley, the two wars with Ricardo Torres, the close fight with Danny Garcia are some examples. He was a fun fighter to watch. There is one particular fight of his that I wanted to highlight for this article. The opponent is even more forgotten than he is even though he is related to one of boxing’s all-time great fighters. Demetrius Hopkins since the start of his career had been in the shadow of his uncle, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. Demetrius was a fine boxer in his own right with underrated power even though his record did not indicate. He had really good wins over solid competition as he was coming up the ladder. His KO of Michael Warrick in particular was of the highlight reel variety. This fight came about due to the fact that Ricardo Torres got injured training for what would have been a trilogy between him and Holt. So, Hopkins was substituted in as the replacement. This worked out as Hopkins and Holt had history going back to their amateur days. Hopkins won all of their amateur meetings and Holt was looking for some get back. On the line was the WBO Super Lightweight Title of which Holt was making his first title defense live on ShoBox.

               The first round saw Hopkins keeping Holt in check, sticking him with a jab and moving. Not letting Holt get into any type of rhythm early. You could tell though that Holt had faster hand speed and was a little bit more explosive. In the second round, Holt started closing the gap more by leaping in and letting off fast combinations on Hopkins. You can tell Hopkins’s plan was not to engage in close quarters with someone with that hand speed on top of the power. The next couple of rounds saw Holt more or less imposing his will. Moving forward and throwing combinations with mean intentions with Hopkins staying in first gear but not making any adjustments to any offensive flurries outside of sticking and moving. The fifth round was in my opinion the most boring round of the fight. Hopkins was fighting very negatively, and you can see the frustration in Holt’s face as he tried to get him to engage. The generalship and jabbing Hopkins displayed was the clear-cut ex-factor.

Hopkins came out in the sixth round more offensive, landing a good left hand on Holt. Holt would also do the same thing. Both fighters squared up now and taking more chances with throwing combinations that have nothing but mean intentions. Holt would rock Hopkins to his core with a huge left hook in round seven forcing Hopkins to really clinch. Hopkins managed to recover but not enough to stop Holt from landing follow up combinations to the body and head. It seemed that the fight was beginning to get beaten out of Hopkins. Hopkins was arguably getting on his bike throwing jabs or jabs with his right hand behind it. His corner had been telling him to throw the uppercut at Holt, who was walking him down. However, by the end of tenth round, Holt’s stamina was starting to run empty. Hopkins decided to uptick his offense by jabbing and throwing his right hand more on a tired Holt. By this point, I would think that Hopkins would catch Holt with something and drop him. Holt was known to be a little chinny. Hopkins would throw and land a nice combination and then clinch to smother Holt’s work and somehow his as well. Holt was swinging for the bushes trying to land something. The crowd was definitely in it trying to will the fighters to do work in second gear. Unfortunately, neither man would find a canvas dropping shot at the final bell.

Depending on what you liked, the fight was close. In the end two of the judges favored the aggression shown by Holt who gave him the fight with scores of 117-111 and 116-112, while the other judge seemed to favor the ring generalship shown by Hopkins with a score of 115-113. Kendall Holt retained his WBO Super Lightweight Title via split decision for his maiden title defense. Hopkins, who took the fight on short notice, blamed his loss on ring rust and being off for so long. This would end up being his only world title fight in his whole career. Demetrius Hopkins would rebuild at 147 with a couple of more wins before being beaten again by a then undefeated Brad Solomon. A move to 154 would net him the USBA Super Welterweight Title before losing for a third and final time to Jermell Charlo. That fight was remarkably close though and he definitely gave a good account of himself. Hopkins then would be out of boxing’s spotlight for about a decade before giving a couple of interviews for YSM Sports Media in which he said he was blackballed by politics. He also mentioned wanting to get back in the ring as he had kept himself in shape.

For Kendall Holt, this would be his only successful title defense, as he would lose his belt in a unification fight against then WBC Super Lightweight Champion Tim Bradley. Holt would drop Bradley in rounds 1 and 12 but would be largely outworked in the rounds in between. He also was dealing with some legal issues surrounding his manager, who was brought up on drug charges. An upset KO loss in his first fight after losing the title to an unheralded Kaiser Mabuza would force him to rebuild. An impressive stoppage over former world champion Julio Diaz earned him a spot in the title eliminator against Danny Garcia. He would come up short via split decision. After an impressive win against one time prospect Tim Coleman, he was matched up against then IBF Super Lightweight champion Lamont Peterson. Peterson would stop him brutally in eight rounds. This would be the final fight of his career albeit with controversy as reportedly one of them popped dirty for the fight, but it was never acknowledged who it was in a bizarre turn of events. Holt seems to be doing well in his retirement, doting on his family and was inducted into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. You could say both fighters might have come up a little short on their potential, but they had some memorable moments in the ring. Recommendation as a fight for people to check out.

Article written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades – Kermit Cintron vs David Estrada

The Welterweight division of today is currently in a standstill. Due to a combination of politics, injuries, and bullshit. Truthfully, it is one of the most terrible divisions in boxing. It is sad because there are a lot of talented fighters that operate there. However, the significant fights do not get made in a timely fashion or at all. It is frustrating to see a division like that struggle and be mediocre. So, as I usually do, it was time to look at yesteryear. This fight I picked because it was a sentimental favorite of mine and also Shutterworth the Gawd. We were having discussions on a potential fight for a “Forgotten Fade” article and again this fight came up. Kermit Cintron vs David Estrada was an IBF eliminator. Cintron was trying to right the wrong that happened in his then lone world title shot against then reigning WBO Welterweight Champion Antonio Margarito. Margarito would dominate, break down, and stop an undefeated Cintron in only five rounds. The sight of Kermit Cintron crying after being knocked out was not one lost to boxing fans. David Estrada was a contender who at the time had only lost to the best in the division, Ishe Smith and Shane Mosley. He was looking for the notable victory on his ledger on top of the chance to fight for the title. The stage was set.

               The first round started with Estrada being characteristically aggressive, attacking with two hands on a moving Cintron. Cintron is trying to keep distance using a jab with his exceptionally long reach. Estrada, keeping his head off the line, got through with a right hand and left hook that shook up Cintron. Cintron immediately responded with his right hand. Both fighters clearly were not shy of letting their offense go early in the fight. The 2nd and 3rd rounds followed the same way. Estrada getting bolder in asserting his offense. Going forward with reckless aggression throwing his both hands trying to set a pace thinking Cintron would not be able to manage. Cintron, to his credit, remained more disciplined with his boxing. Taking the shots on his gloves and moving backwards trying to maintain the distance to box. Estrada’s offensive surge did pay an early dividend by inflicting a cut over Cintron’s eye after catching him with some winging shots. In the fourth round, Estrada managed to get inside and started cracking Cintron with heavy shots. Cintron knew he had to stand his ground and get his punching respect; else Estrada would not stop coming forward. So, he played the role of the counter puncher making sure that for every shot Estrada landed, he responded with 2-3 punch combinations in kind. The highlight was a mean right uppercut from Cintron that visibly shook-up Estrada. The audibles on some of these shots were crazy. It is a full-on slugfest at this point. On one hand you have Estrada just putting Cintron under crazy pressure landing winging shots then Cintron rocks him with a hook or straight hand and Estrada would wobble and be stunned. It was hard to tell who was going to break first. The crowd is very appreciative of the level of sustained action. In those mid rounds though, you can tell the power of Cintron was getting to Estrada. Cintron was lining up right hands on Estrada, snapping his head back. Estrada would just pound on his chest telling him to bring it on. Estrada would then retaliate with some withering body shots although prior he was starting to spit up some blood himself. What Estrada was not doing was getting out of the wheelhouse of Cintron’s punches. One more long, head snapping right hand after a shot to the body had Estrada doing a silly dance at the end of the sixth round trying to hang on. Estrada was so loopy for that that the ref (and Cintron) had to point him to the right corner.

In the seventh round Cintron is throwing with fire in his eyes. Wicked body-head combinations that had Estrada lowering his hands to protect his body and eating headshots in return. As part of the ebb and flow for this fight, a left hook and a right hand from Estrada found its mark and all of a sudden Cintron was in trouble. Holding on while absorbing a wild barrage of punches from Estrada who had nothing to lose. In the eighth round Estrada picked up where he left off and managed to knock Cintron’s mouthpiece. The ref rightfully had to call a temporary stop to the action much to the crowd’s displeasure. When the fight resumed, it was back to rock ’em, sock’ em action where it looked like Estrada was getting the better of the exchanges. The ninth round resembled some of the first couple rounds where Cintron is going back to sticking and moving while Estrada again is coming forward although a little sloppy by this point. In round ten, the accumulated punishment took hold on Estrada when two right hands from Cintron put him on the canvas for the first knockdown. Estrada looked finished and barely responded to the ref’s commands, but the ref let him continue. Cintron raced across the ring with an uppercut and right hand followed by more head and body combinations. The ref saw Estrada was not picking up the punches, stepped in, and waved it off. A brutal, spectacular win for Kermit Cintron, who becomes the first man to stop David Estrada. The aftermath would see Cintron go to the hospital for stitches while Estrada went for dehydration.

               The win from Cintron came with a number 2 ranking. In his next fight he would face Mark Suarez for the vacated IBF Welterweight Title (previous champion Floyd Mayweather Jr) and stop him in five rounds. A couple of successful defenses against Jesse Feliciano and Walter Matthysse (A sickeningly brutal KO) would follow before losing again to Antonio Margarito. From there Cintron would be very up and down. A Brilliant win over the then undefeated Alfredo Angulo to a confusing draw with Sergio Martinez in which he was counted out before but somehow the fight was restarted. Then you have the losses to Paul Williams, Carlos Molina, and Saul Canelo Alvarez. Each fight shows the increasing mental unraveling of Kermit Cintron in tough physical fights. Another draw with Adrian Granados pretty much spelled the end of Cintron as a viable contender. A technical draw, knockout loss, and no contest were the results of his final three career fights of which Cintron would retire in 2018. An update from Ring Magazine has Cintron happily retired, spending time with family, studying radiography, and playing golf. For David Estrada, unfortunately the pattern of coming up short in big fights would follow. A 3-fight win streak would see him back in another eliminator against Andre Berto. Another brutal back and forth fight which saw him get stopped in eight rounds. Back-to-back losses to Jesus Soto Karass and Luis Abregu looked like the end was near for David Estrada. Estrada would rebound with his best career win to date knocking out then undefeated Orlando Lora in eight rounds. However, promotional issues would kill the momentum of his career even though he won all eight of his fights after the aforementioned loss to Abregu. Estrada fought as recently as 2020 however has transitioned into an assistant trainer role working out of a gym in Miami. Both may have underachieved in their pro careers, but their fight stands out on its own. Strong recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades: Jameel McCline vs Samuel Peter

The 2000s era for Heavyweights gets downplayed a lot largely because it is the era that is widely known (and unfairly panned) as the Klitschko era. Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko were the 2 dominant heavyweights no question but there were plenty of other contenders that would at least make things interesting and competitive. Jameel “Big Time” McCline would burst onto the world title scene with a shocking first round knockout of former world title challenger Michael Grant. A knockout where McCline dropped Grant with the first shot he landed, and Grant broke his ankle on the way down.  Subsequent wins over the likes of Shannon Briggs and Lance Whitaker would lead to his first world title shot against then reigning WBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko.  Klitschko would take his zero and win in one-sided fashion by 10th round TKO. McCline would rebound with some good wins over former title challenger Charles Shufford and undefeated prospect Cedric Boswell. This would lead to his second world title shot against then reigning IBF Heavyweight Champion Chris Byrd. In a very bruising fight, McCline would drop Byrd in round 2 and give him all that he could handle but would lose a close split decision.  Most observers, myself included, thought McCline did enough to win the fight.  After this fight, McCline’s performances would become increasingly spotty.  He would suffer losses to upcoming contender Calvin Brock and journeyman Zuri Lawrence.  A rebuild stretch of lower-level wins would lead to a third title world shot against then WBA Heavyweight Champion Nikolai Valuev.  This would end prematurely as McCline would suffer a knee injury in the 3rd round.  However, it did not hurt his ranking as he was placed in this interim WBC title fight.

               Samuel Peter came up the heavyweight rankings with an iron chin, brutal power, and a string of brutal knockouts.  None so chilling then virtually ending the career of Jeremy Williams.  Quality wins against the aforementioned Charles Shufford, Yanqui Diaz, and Taurus Sykes would lead to an IBF & WBO eliminator against Wladimir Klitschko.  Peter would give Klitschko all he could handle in a 12 round war in which he scored 3 knockdowns but would lose a close decision along with his zero.  This was a loss though that only enhanced his reputation as a top heavyweight.  He would go on another streak culminating with what are considered his best career wins.  2 wins, back-to-back, over the legendary James “Lights Out” Toney with the second fight considered his finest performance. This would lead to a shot against then WBC Heavyweight Champion Oleg Maskaev. However, Maskaev had to bow out of their bout with an injury.  So, Samuel Peter and Jameel McCline would battle for the WBC Interim Heavyweight Title.

               The first round started off with Peter at once establishing a jab against McCline.  A fine display of jabbing as he would double it up and triple it up.  Combining that with good movement, the object was to make sure McCline would be tentative early to throw.  Pushing McCline with educated pressure, he looked great after an aforementioned 9 month layoff.  It was funny hearing the announcers talk about Peter’s chin not knowing what was going to happen the rest of the fight. Second round Peter picks up where he left off with the jab mixing that up with body work. Peter was also visibly stunning McCline with overhand rights. Peter was well on his way to winning the round when a short uppercut from McCline dropped Peter for the first time as an amateur or pro. Peter did not seem very hurt as the ref was issuing the count. Lucky for Peter, the round just ended. However more emboldened, McCline threw another uppercut in round three which landed and had Peter wobbling all over the place. A left hook followed by another right hand put Peter on the deck again. Peter gets up but he is very shaky. McCline moved in for the kill landing combinations on a Peter with wobbly legs. Peter, being the fighter that he was, fired back. McCline looked like he had punched himself out and was visibly gassing out. All of a sudden, a left hand followed by two right hands would drop Peter again with a minute to go.  Peter at this point dug a fairly considerable size hole on the cards. McCline unfortunately would fail to finish Peter, who managed to weather the storm.

               Peter’s cornermen were none too pleased with what happened and urged him to fight smarter. That is what Peter who climbed his way back into the fight reestablishing his jab and a vicious body attack.  McCline surprisingly moved his hands less after nearly upsetting the apple cart.  All this did was encourage Peter to move forward with more and more abandon.  McCline would land the hard shot here and there but not putting anything together to dissuade Peter.  Some of those hard shots would actually wobble Peter but McCline would just not follow up.  Peter would simply clear his head and continue his attack.  By the 7th and 8th rounds it looked to me that Peter had won enough rounds in row to erase the deficit that 3 knockdowns caused in the early rounds.  Members of the press row certainly had it either for McCline or Peter but no more than 2 rounds. McCline I felt had a better round in round 9 using uppercuts to slow down Peter’s attack.  McCline would also land left hooks to answer the jab that Peter was throwing on top of clinching and leaning on him.  Poor ref had to keep separating until Peter got frustrated and started landing shots below the belt.  McCline immediately started firing back until the bell rang.  Round 10 Peter again took control of the fight and this time it was for good.  That round was Peter re-establishing his jab and right hand on a McCline who again was wildly inactive.  11th round McCline, with his mouth open, tried throwing the left hook seeing if he could hurt him again. It was close until the final 10 seconds when Peter opened up and landed a wicked salvo of shots that hurt McCline. At the bell McCline’s head nearly went bobblehead and had to be led back to his corner by the ref bleeding from his mouth. The 12th round was kind of anticlimactic as it ended with McCline punching and holding trying to stifle the jab and hard right hands that were coming from Peter.

               It was still a hell of a fight with both men showing serious resolve in a bout with ebb and flow. Going to the cards, the judges would score the bout 113-112, 115-110, and 115-111 for the “Nigerian Nightmare”. Jameel McCline had a look of disappointment and disbelief as he walked out of the ring to the back.  Stopping along the way to tell the fans that he was the one that won the fight. Truthfully, I thought he should have got the nod and the 115-110 and 115-111 scores were too wide.  However, Jameel’s slide continued as he would lose 5 of the last 8 fights in his career to the likes of John Ruiz, Chris Arreola, Harold Sconiers, Artur Szpilka, and Magomed Abdusalamov.  In retirement, he moved to South Florida training fighters, being highly involved in his community, and tending to his several philanthropic endeavors.  The highest profile would be with Vocadia, an automatic call center platform that helps eliminate human error, of which he is an executive. 

For Sam Peter, his star would continue to rise. In his next fight, he would KO Oleg Maskaev in the sixth round to become the full WBC Heavyweight Champion.  His first title defense would be his last as he was stopped in 8 rounds by a come backing Vitali Klitschko.  A following loss to Eddie Chambers of which he looked incredibly sloppy and out of shape put him on the comeback trail.  After regaining his fitness along with a string of KO’s against lesser competition, he would fight Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF & WBO Heavyweight Titles. This time Wlad showed a level from the first fight and brutally stopped Peter in the 10th round.  Another brutal KO loss to Robert Helenius in the fight after spelled the end of what you would consider the prime part of Samuel Peter’s career. He would come back on and off after a 3-year layoff but always heavy, out of shape, with his skills notably faded.  He became an opponent for up-and-coming heavyweight prospects and contenders.  He has not fought since 2019 and truthfully have not seen much info on what he is doing now.  Both him and McCline will always have this fight to remember that demonstrated what made both men champions and contenders in the heavyweight division.

Forgotten Fades – Kassim Ouma vs Verno Phillips 1 and 2

154 is one of the best if not the best division in boxing today. Some would call it a hot take, but the proof is in the pudding. The amount of fight of the year candidates that have come out in the last 5 years have been incredible. A division where truly any champion, contender, or journeyman can pull off a big win or spectacular upset on any given day. So, I really wanted to highlight a forgotten fight of yesteryear from this great division. I had found an old list that I did some years back of fights that I wanted to do a future “Forgotten Fades” article about. This just happened to be one of two that I did not get a chance to write. No better time than the present. The first half of the 2000s had some a lot of elite talent that operated there at the time. De La Hoya, Mosley, Vargas, Wright, Trinidad are some of those names but there were also some solid vets and up and comers. Enter Kassim Ouma vs Verno Phillips. Kassim Ouma has one of the unbelievable life stories that you will hear from a boxer. So unbelievable that a great documentary was made about it called Kassim the Dream. If you come across it, full recommendation to watch it. However, in the early 2000s, Ouma was a highly touted prospect who started his career in 1998. Outside of an unexpected blip where he got knocked out in one by a journeyman in 1999, Ouma showed chin and punch resistance to go along with the above average work rate he possessed. Verno Phillips was farther along in his career debuting in 1988. He had already been a world champion having won the WBO 154 title in the mid-nineties and having world class wins over the likes of Julio Cesar Vasquez, Gianfranco Rosi, and Julian “The Hawk” Jackson. He was in the hunt for another title opportunity.

Ouma vs Phillips 1
The first fight between these two fighters took place on 9/7/2001 on an episode of ESPN Friday Night Fights.  What a slugfest this was. From the opening bell, both guys went at each other with fists of fury.  Ouma set a furious pace and outworked Phillips for prolonged periods of the fight. But with most high work rate fighters, they usually do not have the soundest defense.  Ouma was also taking some heavy shots round and round from Phillips who was not easily dissuaded. By the mid rounds, both men showed the effects of the punishment on their faces.  The referee is having a night off as there was little clinching.  The crowd were showing their approval very loudly. In round seven, the non-stop attacks by Ouma were starting to take its toll on Phillips.  Phillips found himself on the ropes taking some extended punishment but would come firing back at the end of the round.  Those shots were wild and Ouma, in a rare display of defense, simply ducked under them.  In the ninth round, Ouma would score a knockdown when in between combinations to the head, he landed a left hand right to the body of Phillips.  Phillips immediately grimaced and sat on the ropes of which ref counted as a knockdown.  After that Phillips was starting to wilt in the waning seconds of that round with another punishing body attack.  Lucky for him, the bell before Phillips got counted again or stopped.  In the final round, both were switching stances throwing as If it was the first round.  Again, it looked like Phillips was fading as Ouma moved in for the kill with several unanswered shots.  Holding on the best he could with the gas tank on E, Phillips had a final surge trading hook before the final bell rang.  The punch stats for this fight were incredible especially for Ouma.

The final two rounds, in my eyes and the judges too, clinched the fight for Ouma who would win a unanimous decision with scores of 95-94, 96-93, and 97-93. This I felt was the coming out party for Ouma as a world class fighter and contender at 154 pounds. The fight was so good, that they did it again 3 years later.

Ouma vs Phillips 2
For this rematch, the stakes were a little higher.  In the 3 years since the first fight, both men had raised their stock in the 154 division.  Ouma would capture the 154 USBA belt, which is a guaranteed top spot for the IBF.  Phillips would regain a world title defeating Carlos Borjorquez for the vacant IBF 154 title. A title that was stripped from Winky Wright who opted to forego his mandatory for a more lucrative rematch with Shane Mosley.  Ouma was the IBF mandatory that Wright was supposed to face.  Ouma could not take advantage of fighting for that vacant belt due to injury.  So now the stage was set for 11/20/2004 on a live broadcast of Showtime Championship Boxing.  The early rounds saw the champion Phillips take a more tactical approach with plenty of stick and movement.  Far cry from what went down in the first fight.  Phillips was doing clever work with keeping Ouma on this toes and off balance.  However, in the third round a right hook from Ouma knocks out the mouthpiece of Phillips.  When the ref resumed the action, Ouma took over with nonstop punching and pressure to even up the cards.  It was the pattern of the middle rounds.  Phillips was hitting Ouma with some hard shots to the body. Phillips though would make an impressive comeback taking the later rounds.  As in the first fight, you can see Phillips start throwing wide shots and getting sloppier.  Up on the cards, Phillips would hit the wall going into the last two rounds.  Ouma would land on an almost 4 to 1 ratio on a gassed-out Phillips.  Broadcasters were mentioning ring rust being a factor.  Just like in the first fight, a body shot had Phillips doubled over and in between ropes.  Ouma would then throw combinations that had Phillips reeling around the ring.  Phillips would also go down after a swing and a miss, but it was ruled a slip and not a KD. The 12th round Phillips was on empty again just getting pounded around the ring.  He would also go down again but ref would also rule that a slip.  Ouma was a fresh as a daisy landing whatever he wanted; shots managed to also close Phillips eye.  By the end of the final round Ouma walked to his corner with his hands in the air. Phillips walked dejectedly to his corner.  The final effort from Ouma in the last two rounds would prove to be the difference on the score cards.   Kassim Ouma would capture the IBF 154 Title by unanimous decision.  One judge had 117-110 but the other judges had it 114-113 x 2.  Damn good display of stamina and work rate to break the will of a good champion.

As always, I like to mention what each fighter went on to do after highlighting them in a “Forgotten Fade”.  For Verno Phillips, he managed to rebuild himself once more.  A close loss to the great Ike Quartey highlighted with some quality wins over names such as Teddy Reid and Cory Spinks.  The latter was seen as an upset and netted him his third world title at 154.  However, he would not stay champion for very long.  He would give up the belt for a fight with Paul Williams who stopped him in 8.  This would be the final fight of Phillips’ career. From the excellent “Best I Faced” article from Ring Magazine, they gave us an update on what he was up to. Phillips, now 51, lives in Colorado, he is married and has two children. He keeps busy with different activities outside boxing but also trains his son, who is 13-2 as an amateur.
Unfortunately for the new champion Kassim Ouma, it would be a slow and saddening decline.  He would lose the belt in his second title defense in a listless effort against Roman Karmazin.  He would rebound with some good wins over the likes of Marco Antonio Rubio and Sechew Powell.  A challenge for the Middleweight Title against then champion Jermain Taylor would prove to be the start of an irreversible slide.  Taylor landed clean and often against Ouma and win a clean unanimous decision.  He took simply too much and the losses on his record accumulated at a greater frequency.  Losses to Saul Roman, Cornelius Bundrage, Vanes Martirosyan, Gabriel Rosado, and Gennadiy Golovkin ended his status as a world class fighter/contender.  A plethora of legal and personal problems compounded the slide.  As of 2022, he is still an active fighter on a 9-fight losing streak dating back to 2016 taking overseas fights.  A sad ending that you hope does not get even sadder. It does not take away from how great both fights were.  Full recommendation to watch

Forgotten Fades:  Sharmba Mitchell vs Lovemore N’Dou

Sharmba “Little Big Man” Mitchell’s name doesn’t get enough mention in today’s boxing world. He fought sixty-three professional fights in his career. A near 3-year reign as WBA Super Lightweight Champion in the late nineties to early 00s. Had solid to good wins over the likes of Bazooka Limon, Rocky Lockridge, Vince Phillips, Terron Millett, and Ben Tackie. The only man to have fought (and lost to) prime versions of Kostya Tszyu, Paul Williams, and Floyd Mayweather. For you boxing trivia buffs, Sharmba Mitchell would be the last non PPV, non-Las Vegas fight for Floyd Mayweather before his ascent into boxing superstardom. Unfortunately, when he is brought up it’s usually as a reference to one of those three defeats to those gentlemen. 

 If Sharmba Mitchell’s name isn’t brought up like that, then Lovemore N’Dou’s name is brought up even less. N’Dou himself had a very brief reign as IBF Super Lightweight Champion in his 64-fight career. He himself has been in the ring with quite a few notable fighters: Miguel Cotto, Paulie Malignaggi, Junior Witter, Kermit Cintron, Kell Brook, and Canelo. He has never been knocked out either which makes it even more impressive. Mitchell vs N’dou took place on February 7, 2004, live on Showtime. Mitchell, then the IBF’s number 1 mandatory, was originally scheduled to face then undisputed 140 kingpin Kostya Tszyu in a rematch. However, Tszyu had to bow out due to a shoulder injury. N’Dou at the time was ranked ninth the IBF and was penciled in as the replacement. Both men made it clear that they didn’t like each other too much. What was on the line was an interim IBF Super Lightweight belt. If Tszyu didn’t fight the winner next, then the winner would be the new IBF Super Lightweight Champion.

It turned out to be quite the tough scrap for those in the crowd and who tuned in. Mitchell, a southpaw, came out looking vintage. Sharp and quick but also coming forward on N’Dou with sharp jabs. N’Dou looked like he was having trouble trying to find his range on Mitchell who was deftly avoiding the combinations being thrown his way with educated feet and good head movement. Mitchell would then let off fast combinations on N’Dou while making him take a step back. However, that would not last for long. In the third round, N’Dou started landing his right hands on Mitchell.  N’dou was lunging with the right hands which Mitchell seemed to have trouble dealing with. Let me tell you they were hard, fast, and audible right hands that made Mitchell hold immediately. The power shocked Mitchell and had him all out of sorts. Mitchell then decided to focus more on the body and threw pitty-pat combinations in hopes to slow down N’Dou who was gaining momentum. In the next three rounds, N’dou started switch hitting which Mitchell had trouble dealing with. The southpaw jab, left hand, right hooks were all landing with noticeable effect. What also was landing were some headbutts as the way N’dou was throwing punches led to head clashes. That would open a cut right on Mitchell’s forehead. 

In the middle rounds, N’dou seemed to hit a wall and gassed. Sensing that, Mitchell found a second wind and went on the offensive. Pushing N’Dou into the ropes and letting off combinations to the body and head. As the fight progressed into the later rounds, Mitchell uncharacteristically was squared up more than usual to land his shots. This would lead to him getting clocked every now and then with the right hands from N’Dou. The final two rounds did see N’Dou find a second wind and come on strong. The last minute of the 11th round was wild to see. Toe to toe exchanges punctuated with Mitchell slipping and going face first in the middle of a combination. Thankfully, he did not reaggravate a knee injury. In the final round, Mitchell’s face looked swollen and beat up, barely able to keep N’dou off him. When that final bell rang, there was applause to what turned out to be an incredibly fun fight to watch. If I were to score this, I would give the fight to N’dou 115-113, but it could have gone either way by those scores. However, two of the judges had a different mindset than I did. A reasonable score of 115-113 for Mitchell was reasonable, but 117-112 and 118-110 for Mitchell was not. It was a shame a fight like this was tainted by bad judging. Nonetheless, Mitchell walked away as the interim IBF Super Lightweight Champion.

For Lovemore N’dou, his stock as a fighter went up and developed a reputation for being a tough night for top competition. As mentioned earlier in the article, he would eventually capture a piece of the 140 titles but would never be able to get that marquee win over a marquee fighter. The rematch with Paulie Malignaggi, who he lost the belt to in the first fight, would be the closest and widely seen as robbery. He continued to have mixed success retiring in 2012. In his retirement, he became a lawyer and opened his own practice in Australia. A man who clearly thought about life after boxing. For Mitchell, the win got him his long awaited rematch with Kostya Tszyu. Weight drained; Mitchell would be bludgeoned into a third round TKO defeat after being dropped four times. This would be his last fight at 140. He would move into Welterweight where he would go 2-2 before retiring in 2006. A Best I’ve Faced article from Ring Magazine on him gives an update of what Mitchell is doing today.  He works as a finance manager at a car dealership, does personal training, and owns a couple of establishments such as a lounge and a smoothie shop. Another fighter who also thought about life after boxing. It’s great that both men are leading quality productive lives in their retirement. Hopefully with more time, they will see a boxing spotlight just one more time. Their fight is an unquestionable full recommendation to watch

Forgotten Fades – Ivan Baranchyk vs Abel Ramos

It’s amazing how sometimes the next fight I pick for my Forgotten Fades series can come from random conversation. In this case, this fight came up as Ring Gang was doing a live preview for the Keith Thurman vs Mario Barrios card. I had voiced displeasure at Mario Barrios being in another PPV main event and thought the better solution should have been Abel Ramos. Ramos at the time was scheduled to fight on the undercard vs Josesito Lopez. I thought Ramos would have been a better choice for a main event spot rather than Barrios. Then we started going through the boxing record of Ramos, going down some of the names on it. We got to Baranchyk and Shutterworth and I immediately remembered that it was a wild fight. So that is how this fight was picked for this article. This fight aired on the critically acclaimed Shobox: The New Generation series on Showtime, home of future world champions. The location: Miami, Oklahoma on Feb 10, 2017. Ramos had a then 17-1-2 record with 12 knockouts. His only loss at the time came at the hands of another future world champion Regis Prograis. Ivan Baranchyk was a highly touted prospect with a record of 13-0 with 10 knockouts. At the time, most people would think “Hmmm 2 punchers…this maybe is a good fight.”  I don’t think we were ready for how good this fight would be.

                The fight started off with Ramos pumping the jab into the face of Baranchyk. That jab was giving Baranchyk fits as he kept charging. It was controlling the fight up until within the final minute of the third round. Baranchyk would drop Ramos with a corker of an overhand right. I mean he dropped him HARD! Ramos got back to his feet quickly and surprisingly. He went back to jabbing and moving and with 3 seconds to go, Ramos landed a short-left hand that sent Baranchyk crashing to the canvas. Baranchyk got up but he looked very hurt. Lucky for him the bell had sounded. Fourth round continued more of the toe-to-toe action from both men. Ramos looked like he was hurting Baranchyk noticeably with body shots. A double left hook out of nowhere by Baranchyk sent Ramos crashing again to the canvas. Baranchyk is one forceful puncher. The bombs continued into the mid rounds. Ramos re-establishing his jab to set up hurtful combinations on Baranchyk. Baranchyk bringing serious pressure and letting his hands fly with heavy handed combinations when he gets on the inside. The sixth round was another ridiculous round of give and take of both fighters. The later rounds are where we start seeing some separation. Baranchyk’s conditioning would be key as he noticeably took over and started landing heavy shots on a tiring Ramos. Just pushing him on the ropes just banging away. Ramos was returning fire and not making it easy, but his punches were losing some steam. To add on to that, his face was also showing the effect from the heavy punches from Baranchyk. Swollen eyes with a cut that eventually got opened over one of his eyes. In the 10th and final round, it looked like Baranchyk was nearing a stoppage when a final fuselage on punches on the ropes had Ramos reeling across the ring. But it was not to be as the bell rang, just in time. If this had been a 12-round fight, it’s a good chance Ramos would have been finished or stopped in the next round. What a fight this was!!! The punch stats, for a 10-round fight, was impressive. Both fighters landed over 40 percent of their total punches, both landed 50% of their power punches.

The judges read their scorecards: 97-92, 99-91, and 97-93. All for the winner by unanimous decision, Ivan Baranchyk. 2017 opened with some incredible wars and this fight was one of them. One of the best Shobox fights of all time in my opinion. Both men gave it all they had and left it in the ring. Both men would go on to bigger fights. Abel Ramos would soldier on moving up to the welterweight division. He would have close competitive losses to Jamal James and current WBA Welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas. A well come back from behind win over Bryant Perella as well as a career best knockout victory over former WBC Lightweight champion Omar Figueroa. At time this article will be printed, Ramos would suffer a minor upset loss to Lucas Santamaria on the undercard of Keith Thurman vs Mario Barrios. Knowing the type of fighter Ramos, I’m sure he will bounce back and get back in the welterweight mix.  The future however is not as sure for the winner Ivan Baranchyk. Baranchyk would go on to have a brief reign as IBF super lightweight champion, winning the vacant title against Anthony Yigit in the 140 World Boxing Super Series tournament. He would then lose it in a hard competitive fight to the eventual tournament winner and current undisputed super lightweight champion Josh Taylor. After a comeback win, he would face Jose Zepeda in a WBC title eliminator. In one of the greatest violent shootouts of all time, they waged an incredible war. A war where both fighters suffered four knockdowns each before Zepeda knocked Baranchyk cold in round five. Baranchyk laid twisted up and motionless on the canvas for several minutes before being taken to the hospital. The fight took a toll on both men, but it looked like Baranchyk was affected more. His last fight out, he was stopped in seven rounds by upcoming prospect Montana Love. This fight showed a diminished punch resistance, which for a fighter of his style is a recipe for disaster. A loser in three of his last four fights, Baranchyk’s career is in question. However, this fight aged like wine, and it is still a great watch to this day. High recommendation to check out and watch.

Forgotten Fades – Manny Pacquiao vs Agapito Sanchez

First of I want to start this article with the following.  Manny Pacquiao is an undisputed all time GOAT in boxing.  We will not see another fighter like him for a very long time.  Imagine someone who was a flyweight would go on to win titles up to light middleweight.  An incredible feat to accomplish.  We all hope and wish the “Pac-man” has a happy and healthy retirement as he goes on to campaign for presidency of the Philippines.  I know most people are very familiar with the big fights he’s been involved for the better part of the last 20 years.  There are also some that did fly under the radar, or some not mentioned at all.  If you look on Manny Pacquiao’s record, you see that he has 2 draws.  One of them being against Juan Manuel Marquez in their 1st fight.  If not for a scoring error would be a split decision victory for Pacquiao.  The other draw has more of a case of being one.  The topic of this latest “Forgotten Fade” article – Manny Pacquiao vs the late Agapito Sanchez.

This followed an unexpected triumph in beating then IBF Super Bantamweight champion, the late Lehlo Ledwaba, as a last-minute replacement in his American debut.  In the first of only 3 unification fights in his career, he was matched up against the experienced then WBO Super Bantamweight champion, Sanchez.  This fight took place on the undercard for Floyd Mayweather vs Jesus Chavez.  Notable for being the first card to feature both Mayweather and Pacquiao.  Sanchez had a very notable and well-learned reputation for being an extremely dirty fighter.  One of his boxing nicknames was being called “Dirty Sanchez”.  He would give hard fights to the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Freddie Norwood, and Guty Espadas losing efforts.  He would finally be crowned champion, in his previous fight, winning the vacant title vs Jorge Monsalvo in 7 rounds.     This stage, airing on HBO, was now set.

From the opening bell, Pacquiao was looking to land his vaunted left hand against Sanchez to establish himself early in the fight.  However, a lot of those left hands were missing Sanchez, whose educated footwork kept him away from the power shots. In response, Sanchez started landing his own right hands after series of tit for tat feinting and jabbing.  Right hands that Pacquiao was walking right into.  In the closing seconds of the fight, Pacquiao did land a nice left hand on Sanchez but not enough to possibly win the round.   This was probably the only “clean” round in this fight.    Round two started off with a mean clash of heads from both fighters.  Pacquiao immediately grimaced and started pawing at his forehead.  A big cut opened over his right eye with blood just gushing out.  It was the type of cut that you couldn’t even blame the ref or the doc if they wanted to wave it off then.  After a quick check from the ringside physician, the action resumed.  Sanchez immediately targeted that cut to a Pacquiao who was clearly affected by it. Blood getting into the eye, he couldn’t pick up Sanchez’s punches in a timely manner and started swinging wildly.  Pacquiao would once again make a late rally at the end of the round. Round three Sanchez purposely threw a low blow at Pacquiao hitting him right in the cup.  Pacquiao grimacing and taking a knee in the corner.  After a brief reprieve, Pacquiao continued and start landing some 1-2’s on Sanchez, who seemed a little surprised.  Fight seemed to be heading into another shift of momentum.  So, Sanchez dug into his bag of rule breaking tactics and used the open hand of his glove to lace Pacquiao across the face.  That was more than enough for the ref to deduct a point from Sanchez.  An automatic round for Pacquiao. 

Round four you see more of the dirty tactics from Sanchez.  In between brief spells of actual solid boxing from Sanchez of Pacquiao were clinches, headlocks, and more low blows.  One low blow landed which had Pacquiao writhing in pain on the canvas.  This caused the ref to deduct another point from Sanchez.  This was an ugly fight that I think the ref was losing control of. After that though Pacquiao turned vicious and got the better of toe-to-toe exchanges with Sanchez.  When that round ended, Sanchez was bleeding from a cut himself.  Round five saw Pacquiao finally making some mid fight adjustments.  The left hand that had been missing Sanchez before were now starting to land more frequently.  Sanchez in response took advantage of the compromised right eye of Pacquiao by landing left hooks on it. Say what you want about Sanchez, but he was up for this fight.  Even as his efforts were starting to tire him.  Round six would be the final round of the fight as both men clashed heads again the in the center of the ring.  That convinced the doctor to stop the fight.  Rules stated that partial rounds had to be scored for technical decisions.  The official scores were as followed: Pacquiao 58-54, Sanchez 57-55, and an even 56-56 for the split decision draw.  If not for the point deductions by Sanchez, he would have walked away with a split decision and 2 of the super bantamweight titles.  Team Pacquiao in the aftermath of this fight stated they had no interest in pursuing a rematch.  In response Sanchez mentioned that Pacquiao did not have heart and was crying too much.

The career aftermath of both men took a wildly different turn.  A small speed bump for the career trajectory of Manny Pacquiao.  I don’t we need to mention what happened with Manny Pacquiao after this fight.  He would go on to have one of the greatest careers in boxing.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Agapito Sanchez.  He would go on to lose his title in his next fight to a then undefeated Joan Guzman.  Although he won the last 5 of his 6 fights, the competition was getting lighter.   In November of 2005, Agapito Sanchez would be killed by an off-duty police officer in the Dominican Republic.  It was reportedly after Sanchez took offense to something the policeman said to Sanchez’s girlfriend.  An unfortunate and tragic end.  Even with the fouling and rough housing, it was probably a fight that has necessary for the continued development of Manny Pacquiao.  It’s also never really brought up especially in the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s retirement.  However, it doesn’t mean it should be forgotten. It was really a hell of a “Forgotten Fade”.  Full recommendation to go and watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades – Mikkel Kessler vs Librado Andrade

Mikkel Kessler is one of the good, borderline great super middleweights of the last 25 years.  5 reigns as super middleweight champion.  Great fights with the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Carl Froch, and Andre Ward.  An outstanding record of 49-3 with 35 coming by way of knockout.  The “Viking Warrior” had accomplished a lot in his career with possibly only an induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame left to attain.  Yet for some reason his name is not really mentioned or brought up as much today.  Kessler, for the most part, has been very quiet and lowkey in his retirement.  To me it is almost like he has been forgotten.  Well, I am going to shed some light on one of his fights that I feel that does not get enough mention.  Librado Andrade, a rugged durable fighter from Mexico, would be the man signed to face Kessler in his HBO debut.  Andrade had been a contender in the division for some time.  He would win an WBC eliminator in his previous fight knocking out former world champion Otis Grant in 7 rounds.  Kessler at the time was a unified WBA and WBC Super Middleweight Champion.  A clash between 2 then undefeated fighters.  Kessler with a 38-0 record, Andrade with a 24-0 record.  The stage was now set.

                I will say this from the opening bell, Kessler did not waste any time to get to work. It was the start of the one of the most astounding one-sided beatings that I have ever seen in the ring.  Kessler established his jab early.  You can hear the impact as it landed on Andrade’s face.  The rest of the fight followed a very noticeable pattern.  Andrade moving forward trying to land a shot.  Kessler hitting him with the jab, to the head or body, with the right hand behind it.  On occasion he would mix up that combination with a left hook. It was incredible the number of flush punches that Kessler was landing on Andrade.  Andrade, as tough as they come, still pressed forward and still throwing punches.  Surprisingly, the first to draw blood was Andrade.  He managed to bloody Kessler’s nose with a right hand in round 3.  That would be his only real offensive highlight of this fight.  The problem was Andrade could not hit Kessler with anything.  Kessler’s footwork was so on point. He was going backwards, going side to side, showing great lateral movement that Andrade could not get anything off.   When Andrade threw something, Kessler was throwing back 3-4 punch combinations or making him reset with the jabs to the body, feints, and then more right hands.  The Denmark crowd was absolutely loving the action they were watching from their hometown fighter.

By round 5, you can hear the concern from the HBO broadcasting crew for the wellbeing of Andrade.  Musing that either Laurence Cole, the ref, or Wayne McCullough, Andrade’s trainer should really step in and pull Andrade out. In the 2nd half of the fight, Andrade continued to make no adjustments.  He was still throwing but the zip was starting to come off his punches.  But man, his chin is incredible as was his stamina.  To also note, his face somehow stood up to the punishment that Kessler was doling out.  No cuts, blood, and swollen faces.  That also is not normal in the realm of fights like this either.  Andrade did try to rally in the 11th round, but Kessler managed to weather that storm. By the final round, Kessler clearly had a huge lead in the fight and Andrade is hopelessly behind.  Usually, the ref will have the fighters touch gloves before they start the 12th round. Instead in a unique show of sportsmanship, they hugged it out instead.  Kessler was in his right to coast at that point, but instead he attempted to put Andrade away.  He managed to stagger Andrade briefly as well as knockout his mouthpiece.  There were no more rallies from Andrade, but he managed to weather Kessler’s final assault before the bell rang.

The Lop-sided punch stats

                The decision was pretty much anti-climactic as Mikkel Kessler retained his WBC and WBA Super Middleweight belts by unanimous decision.  All 3 judges scored the bout 120 to 108.  It was that one sided a beating.   I mean look at the official punch stats from CompuBox.  Andrade threw more punches than Kessler, but Kessler landed on an almost 4 to 1 ratio.  All you can do really is shake your head at that stat.  I already touched upon earlier in the article how Mikkel Kessler’s career would unfold after this fight.  What about the career of Librado Andrade?   Librado Andrade would suffer his first career loss in his first title shot.  After a fight like this, you would think a fighter would accumulate serious mileage.  Not Andrade, who would pretty much remain a top contender at 168 for the next 3 to 4 years.  During that time, he would score stoppages over the likes of future world champion Robert Stieglitz and former world champion Eric Lucas.  He would also fight for a Super Middleweight title on 2 more occasions.  Both of those title shots coming against then IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute.    The first fight with Bute was infamous for a really suspect call from referee Marlon Wright.  In the waning moments of the fight and down on the cards, Andrade manages to drop Bute heavily to the canvas.  Wright, in the middle of his count, would break from it to tell Andrade to get back in the neutral corner.  The problem was Andrade was already in a neutral corner.   In the eyes of many Bute got a “long count” and as such was able to escape a KO loss and remain champion.  Andrade’s rematch with Bute however would tell a different story.  In his final title shot, Andrade would be stopped by Bute in only 4 rounds.  The first knockout loss of his career.  He would go 2-2 in the final 4 fights of his career.   An upset loss to Aaron Pryor Jr via majority decision and a brutal 3rd round TKO loss to an unheralded Rowland Bryant.  Andrade would retire in 2013 with a 31-5 record with 24 knockouts. Not too much is known about what he has been doing in his retirement.  Hopefully not paying the price for numerous hard fights he had and is healthy to boot.  Just like Kessler’s effort, we also shouldn’t forget the effort of Andrade.  Not too many one-sided fights are action packed but this is right up there.  High recommendation to watch.

By Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades: Erik Morales vs Pablo Cesar Cano

In 2005, Erik Morales, “El Terrible”, was possibly at his highest peak as a fighter when he decisioned a streaking and hot Manny Pacquiao over 12 rounds in the first of their fight trilogy.   To fan the flames of interest some more for a lucrative rematch, both men would appear in an HBO doubleheader against different opponents.  Pacquiao would go on to face and knock out Hector Velasquez in 6 rounds.  Morales would move up to 135 and face Zahir Raheem.  To the surprise of many, Raheem would end up soundly defeating Morales by a unanimous decision.  This would be the beginning of the end regarding the pound for pound status that Morales had enjoyed for quite some time.  He would face Pacquiao in the 2nd fight and would be TKO’ed in 10 rounds, the first knockout loss in his illustrious career.   A 3rd fight would bring closure to the trilogy as Morales would again be stopped in only 3 rounds.  Morales would try to not only become champion again but be the first Mexican fighter win belts in 4 divisions.  He would face then WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz who he would lose a close but clear unanimous decision. With 4 losses in a row, it seems that the aging “El Terrible” was finished as a fighter.  He would announce his retirement in the post-fight conference.  It was a retirement that would not last.

            After nearly 3 years out of the ring, resting his body, Erik Morales made a return to boxing.  This run he would be competing at 140 pounds.  He would rattle off 3 straight wins against non-descript opponents before taking a fight against Marcos Maidana for the interim WBA Super Lightweight title.  Most, I included, expected that the aging Morales, would catch a beating from a young, prime Maidana.  To the surprise of many, he managed to summon up an extraordinary effort and nearly fought Maidana to a standstill by the end of the bell.  A badly swollen eye, Morales had managed to battle past that in the early rounds and hurt Maidana several times before Maidana rallied back.  Morales would lose a majority decision but won a lot of praise for his effort.  Morales was then given a spot on the Floyd Mayweather vs Victor Ortiz against Lucas Matthysse.  Matthysse would pull out with a respiratory infection.  Enter Pablo Cesar Cano, a then undefeated young puncher from Mexico who was also unranked.  Cano was also unknown on the world stage and was given an opportunity to share the ring with his legendary countryman.  An added plus was the vacant WBC Super Lightweight Championship being on the line.  The belt was stripped from then champion Timothy Bradley, who was given a “Champion in Recess” status due to inactivity.  This was a controversial move on top of an unranked fighter for a world title. However, the stage was already set for what would end up being a thrilling fight.

            The opening round saw both men feeling out each other with Cano getting the slight advantage with work rate and his movement.  In the 2nd round, Cano manages to wobble Morales with a nice combination.  Morales did fire back and applied more pressure to young Cano standing in the pocket and landing some vicious punches in the next couple of rounds after.  Cano was only happy to oblige the older man.  In round 5, Cano noticeably staggered Morales with a right hand before both men traded back and forth to the bell.  A cut had also open above Cano’s eye, a foreshadowing of the physical damage to come.  The sight of blood seems to invigorate Morales in round 6.  Morales was applying a very steady beating on Cano, swelling up one of his eyes.  Cano, in round 7, returned the favor and opened a cut over Morales eye that had him pawing at it.  Morales was again starting take some noticeable punishment.  Blood was flowing freely at this point, but Morales still moved forward on Cano.  The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.  Truer words that never spoken in the case of Cano whose face was starting to fall due to the amount he had taken. Both of Cano’s eyes were swelling up and his nose appeared to be broken.  Cano valiantly tried fighting back but his punches were rapidly losing steam.  By the end of the 10th round, Cano’s face, especially his eyes were too damage from Morales’s precise punching to continue.  His corner stopped the fight and Erik Morales became WBC Super Lightweight Champion.  The first Mexican fighter to win titles in 4 divisions.  Truly an astonishing feat for “El Terrible”.

            The win over Pablo Cesar Cano would be the final one for Erik Morales.  He would go on to make his first title defense against Danny Garcia.  Unfortunately, he would come in a couple pounds overweight and lose his belt on the scales.  Although he had some moments in the fight, Morales was overwhelmed by the younger man and would lose a very clear unanimous decision.  A rematch would take place 7 months later.  The fight would go a little differently than the first one. Garcia laid a one-sided beating on “El Terrible”, punctuated with a brutal left hook that sent him into the ropes for the stoppage.  Originally planning to fight on afterwards but had a change of heart and officially announced his retirement in 2014.  Post boxing life has been good to him.  From being a trainer to being elected to the Mexican version of the Congress, he is living his best life.  As for Pablo Cesar Cano, this fight put him on the attention of the world level.  He would receive one more world title shot against then WBA Welterweight Champion Paulie Malignaggi.  Unfortunately, Cano would not make weight for that fight thus he could not win the title.  Nevertheless, the fight still went on and he would give Paulie absolute hell for 12 rounds.  He would end up losing a narrow decision to him.  He would follow up that by giving Shane Mosley a tough fight losing another decision.  After that, his performances in the ring got spotty and uneven.  As of 2021, he is still an active fighter signed to Golden Boy.  He is still capable of giving fighters trouble such as scoring a very surprising 1st round TKO over Jorge Linares a couple years ago.  We do not know if he will ever pick up a world title but at least he can say that he gave a future HOF’er all that he could handle in a war that should not be forgotten.

Forgotten Fades – Michael Katsidis vs Albert Mensah

From the late 2000s to the mid-2010s, there was a fighter that seemingly wanted to continue in the footsteps of the late, great Arturo “Thunder” Gatti as a blood and guts warrior.    A fighter coming straight out of Australia, nicknamed “The Great”.  The fighter I am talking about is none other than Michael Katsidis.  The first time I ever saw Katsidis fight was on the undercard for Bernard Hopkins vs Winky Wright.  It was his HBO debut, American debut, and PPV debut.  I believe he was supposed to fight Joan Guzman for his belt, but Guzman pulled with an injury of some sort.   He faced a fighter by the name of Czar Amonsot instead.  Man, what a fight that was!!!  One of the best fights to air that year.  I could not believe the level of brutality I was watching.  It was not for the faint of heart.  At the end of the fight, both men wore the trademarks of such a grueling fight.  Katsidis’s face was lumped up from the punishment while Amonsot ended up with bleeding on the brain.  That was my introduction to Michael Katsidis. 

For the next 5 years, Katsidis would go on an incredible string of hard, violent fights.  He took the likes of great fighters such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Joe l Casamayor, and Juan Diaz to their limits before going down bravely into defeat.  He also scored some nice wins over fighters such as Jesus Chavez, Vicente Escobedo, Kevin Mitchell, and Graham Earl.  Although he was never officially a world champion, he did hold a pair of interim WBO lightweight titles.  He was must see TV and at times his fights would overshadow whoever was in the main event if he were not part of the main event himself.  But with these types of grueling fights, an inevitable slide would also follow.  Starting with the Marquez fight, he would lose very decisive fights to Robert Guerrero and Ricky Burns.  Only a single win notched in the middle of those 2 fights against a modest opponent.  At the time, all 5 of his defeats were against from high level competition plus they were champions to boot.  Albert Mensah was largely unknown at the time.  I had never heard of him before prior to this.  Being a Ghanaian fighter, automatically I knew he was going to be a tough fighter.  There are very few Ghanaian fighters that I have watched over the years that were not tough.   Because of this I had my doubts that Katsidis would win this fight.  I remember an acquaintance of mine, who was a gambler, asked my opinion betting on this fight.  I think the odds were between 4 and 6 to 1.   I told him it was worth the betting risk.  Would this fight be a risk for Katsidis?

This fight took place on 4/13/2012. All Katsidis’s fights in America have aired on HBO.  This time it was different.  It would air on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.  Another sign of the apparent downswing that the career of Michael Katsidis had took.  This would be the American TV debut for Albert Mensah.  Katsidis had largely competed at 135 during this part of career. This time he would be fighting at 140.  A crossroads type feel had been established and officially set for 10 rounds.  From the opening bell, Katsidis did not waste any time to feel out his opponent.  This fight was an exercise in violent work rate.  Katsidis looking to overwhelm Mensah immediately with blistering combinations to the head and body.  Mensah at first looked like he was taking by surprise but then quickly adjusted fighting off the ropes.  He started picking off the Katsidis’s shots in between the barrage being thrown at him.  One thing I noticed in those early rounds as they were playing out.  They were type of rounds that you could say were swing rounds depending on what you were looking at or for.  Katsidis was winning the rounds because of output.  He controlled the pace better than Mensah did. Katsidis has pop in his punches for a volume puncher but nothing that visibly dissuaded Mensah at all.  On the other hand, Mensah when he landed, visibly shook up Katsidis.  That would set up a big 4th round for Mensah.  It was the only round in the fight where both fighters would throw more than 100 punches in a round.  It was also the only round that Mensah out landed Katsidis as well. He got out of the tight defensive shell he was fighting out of and began to hammer Katsidis with heavy shots.  What possessed Katsidis to continue moving forward with his head being snapped back repeatedly is beyond me.  Even being backed up against the ropes, Mensah would fire off hard counters and land. 

The 5th and 6th rounds would follow similarly. When Mensah had a lull in his offense, Katsidis controlled the tempo.  When Mensah threw back, he was landing on 3 shots to 1 ratio.  After that round, you can see that Mensah was starting to gas out. This would lead to a clear 7th round for Katsidis who took advantage of this.  His nonstop punching had Mensah temporarily shelling up with his back to the ropes.  Katsidis right hands were also finding its way around and through the guard of Mensah. Mensah was still trying to find that second wind, but he did take the shots well as the bell rang to end the round.  In round 8, the fight had an equal ebb and flow with each fighter having their moments in it.  Katsidis eyes now showing the effects of the punishment he had absorbed in the bout so far. It would be for all intents and purposes his last hurrah in the fight.  In round 9, Mensah found his second wind and came nearly close to stopping a rapidly fading Katsidis, who was starting to falter.  The punishment had accumulated.  An uppercut that landed flush on Katsidis knocked out his mouthpiece.  A pair of vicious left hooks wobbled Katsidis badly much to the concern of Teddy Atlas.  Another furious barrage of punches from Mensah had Katsidis in trouble at the end of round.  All I could is marvel at how Katsidis stayed upright.  Even with all that, the fight still felt it was close.  On Teddy’s scorecard, he had Mensah up by 1 going into the 10th and final round. Katsidis cornermen imploring to let loose with all he had.  There was not much left as Mensah picked up where he left off and poured on the punishment.  Katsidis throwing punches back and constantly losing his footing doing it.  His face resembled a Halloween mask.  It was just ghastly to look at. His punches were of the arm variety. There was nothing behind them whatsoever. Al l the hard shots that landed in that round came from Mensah clearly.  When the final bell rang, the crowd showed their appreciation for the war they had witnessed.

Now there were some swing rounds that could have gone either fighter’s way.  Personally, I thought Mensah won the fight 96-94 (An official judge score) with his performance in the final round sealing it.  It was also close enough to be a draw (Another official judge score) or even a 96-94 for Katsidis.  However, there was no 98-92 (official judge score for Mensah) in this fight whatsoever for either man.  But Mensah was able to pull off the upset with a majority decision.  The punch stats for this fight were incredible to behold.  If you look at the screenshots below, Katsidis threw in triple digits in 8 of the 10 rounds for 1,148 total punches.  Mensah, no slouch himself with the work rate, had 870 total punches thrown.

For Albert Mensah this would put him on the world scene.  However, it would be for a very brief amount of time.  Decision losses to Denis Shafikov and Cesar Rene Cuenca (this was an IBF 140 eliminator) would halt his ascension up the super lightweight rankings.  He would never regain the momentum of his win over Katsidis.  Mensah last fought in 2019 and he may still be an active fighter today.  COVID has forced plenty of fighters take extended, unfortunate breaks from the sport.  This fight had all but confirmed that Michael Katsidis expired as a fighter and his status as a top fighter was finished.   There were plenty of concerns around the time of his health.  In 2013 before a scheduled fight, a CAT scan showed he had scarring on the brain.  Because of this, he was advised to retire which did albeit temporarily. He would attempt a comeback the following year after nearly 2 years off.  A repeat win over an overweight Graham Earl would be the final win of a notable opponent in his career before being shockingly ko’ed in 2 rounds by Tommy Coyle.   He would then go 3-1 against very non-descript competition in Australia to close out his career in 2017.  In retirement, Katsidis has led a very quiet life outside of a few news blips of alleged drug use.  Looking at his Instagram, he seems to be healthy for a man in his now early 40s.  We all hope that he continues stays that way.  Still does not take away from highlighting an extraordinary fight with extraordinary effort from both men.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio

Forgotten Fades – Leonard Dorin vs Raul Balbi I

In the first decade of the new millennium, the lightweight division never lacked for any star power or talent.  You had your Floyd Mayweather, the late Diego Corrales, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Nate Campbell, Paul Spadafora, etc., etc.  There was another fighter who was also making some waves in the lightweight division.  He went by the name of Leonard Doroftei, or professionally known as Leonard Dorin.  An amateur standout from Romania, he would win bronze medals in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.  Turning professional in 1998, he would get up to 19-0 prior to this first world title shot against Raul Balbi.  Balbi, who is from Argentina, managed to become a world champion in his 2nd title shot.  He defeated then champion Julien Lorcy by majority decision, scoring a knockdown in the process.  Leonard Dorin would be his first title defense as champion.  The location – San Antonio, TX – live on HBO on January 5, 1992.

                I know it is cliché to say they tore into each other from the opening bell.  But that is exactly what they did when that bell ring.  It was instant phone booth status as both fights found their range immediately.  They bounced off short hard punches off each other with Dorin being the aggressor.  Balbi was the first to land clean effective body punches.  The body punching would also become a recurring theme in this bout.  The next couple of rounds, Balbi shifted from first to second gear and started doling out an impressive amount of punishment on Dorin.  His left hooks snapping Dorin’s head back.  His body shots making Dorin visibly freeze in his tracks.  An uppercut opening a cut over Dorin’s eye.  Dorin did his best in those rounds to fire back and rally but it was not enough for him to take the round in my opinion. The 4th round, it was Dorin who managed to temporarily hurt Balbi with a left hook following a flurry of punches.  However, Balbi was able to recover and inflict some cuts on Dorin’s face.  The original cut over the eye was getting bigger, the other cut was compounded with some swelling.  Dorin’s eyes were a mess.  There was a threat of the fight being stopped because of it.  Dorin’s cut man was the real MVP for the work he did to keep Dorin in the fight.  After getting the OK from the doctor to continue, the fight slowed to a different pace.  A lot of offense from both fighters mixed in with clinches.  Balbi landing quick combinations while Dorin would land the more telling right hands. 

The 6th and 7th rounds would only get worse for the cuts that were inflicted on Dorin earlier.  At times it seemed like Dorin was throwing not really to land but to keep his hands busy enough so the fight would not be called.  The fighters were also having trouble keeping their footing due to the logo on the ring.  Balbi was relatively unscathed in comparison to Dorin.  He then decided to switch up and go to the body in round 8.  Savage hooks ripped the sides of Dorin.  It was enough to make you cringe.  Round 9 though Dorin’s determination to keep moving forward bore fruit.  A lead right hand followed up by a hook had Balbi in some trouble.  A couple of more power shots found its mark as Dorin moved in for the kill.  Balbi, on shaky legs, did the only thing he could do in that situation.  He went back to work on the body to take some wind out of the sails. In round 10, Dorin flipped the script and took the wind out of Ralbi. Not by body shots but by multiple fouls.  Fouls that eventually got him a point deducted from the ref.  Balbi, visibly angered, rallied to land more vicious hooks to Dorin’s head.  The blood again flowing very freely down Dorin’s face.  Into the final 2 rounds, Dorin looked more energetic than ever.  He used this burst of energy to land several big shots on Balbi.  Balbi at first was trading as always but his punches seemed to have lost some steam.  He then got on his bicycle to avoid getting clipped with any more shots.  Both men did punctuate the end of the fight by engaging in fisticuffs with a “devil may care” attitude when the final 10 seconds hit. 

                It was a bloody and extraordinary action fight.  The funny thing is that I thought Balbi did more than enough to retain his belt.  The official judges that night disagreed with my notion.  I should say 2 of the judges disagreed with my notion.  One judge scored it for Balbi 115-112. The other judges scored the fight for Dorin with scores of 115-112 and 114-113.  A split decision win for the new WBA Lightweight champion of the world.  I will say this Dorin could have also easily lost this fight by TKO with the bad cuts he suffered.  So, with that and unsatisfaction from the boxing world regarding the scores and winner, a rematch was all but inevitable.  The rematch was a far more decisive win for Dorin who repeated via 12 round unanimous decision.  Raul Balbi would only challenge for a world title once more.  He would face Souleymane M’baye for the vacant WBA super lightweight title in 2006 losing by 4th round TKO.   He would go 1-3-1 in his final 5 fights after and retire in 2010.  For Leonard Dorin, he would move into a more high-profile unification fight with then IBF Lightweight champion Paul Spadafora.  An awesome fight that ended in a split decision draw.  Just as sudden as Dorin rose to prominence, he fell just as fast.  He would have issues making the 135 lb. limit.  He would lose his belt on the scales before a scheduled bout with Miguel Callist.  A fight that would be cancelled due to Dorin weighing almost 5 pounds over the limit.  A temporary retirement followed by a non-descript comeback fight put Dorin in the win column for the final time.  This led to another high-profile fight in the summer of 2004 against the legendary Arturo Gatti.  Gatti at the time was the reigning WBC super lightweight champion.  There was a lot of excitement and anticipation for 2 of boxing’s blood and guts warriors to fight.  The fight would end up being anti-climactic as Gatti put Dorin away in only 2 rounds from a vicious body shot.  Dorin would shortly retire from boxing for good.  Personally, I thought Dorin called it a career too early and was disappointed he did not continue.  Both men have been quiet in their retirements, but nothing will ever take away from their classic first fight.  Full recommendation to watch.

Written by Patscorpio
Raul Balbi defends his WBA Lightweight Title against undefeated Leonard Dorin in the first fight on HBO Boxing After Dark.

Forgotten Fades – Zack Padilla vs “Sucra” Ray Oliveira

When I started this article, I was going to review a different fight:  “Sucra” Ray Oliveira vs Vince Phillips.  I remember watching this fight live years ago and I thought it would be a perfect “Forgotten Fade” topic.  However, when it came time for me to watch again, the fight was no longer available.  That was very annoying.  However, another name popped up from trying to search for a copy of that fight.  That name would be Zack Padilla.  Zack Padilla is not a fighter most people know or have forgotten for various reasons.  His boxing career is fascinating.  He turned pro in 1985.  Stopped boxing in 1986 after suffering his lone professional loss by TKO.  Was out of the ring until 1991, where he made a comeback.  He would go on to defeat the late former 2 division champion, Roger “Black Mamba” Mayweather.  He also took the zeroes of future welterweight champion James Page and world champion Carlos “Bolillo” Gonzalez.  The latter would earn him the WBO World Super Lightweight Title. Off the strength of seeing that name in my searches, I decided that this is fight I would review for this “Forgotten Fade”:  Zack Padilla vs “Sucra” Ray Oliveira.

From round 1 to round 12, the fight was an unbelievable exercise in work rate.   It is simply incredible to watch. Oliveira came out early establishing the jab and throwing quick combinations.  Padilla responded in return.  Fast accurate combinations on the outside from both men.  Padilla not giving Oliveira any ground.  In the second round, Oliveira came out and was throwing fast, shoeshine combinations at Padilla.  Padilla cutting the ring off and pushing Oliveira near the ropes to let off combinations of his own.  Oliveira would find his way off the ropes and started to showboat a little with his defense plus fighting off his toes. Towards the end of the round, Padilla would land some hard combinations on Oliveira.  In round 3, I did find it funny that Padilla took what looked to be a breather before going back to fight it out with Oliveira.  Punches in bunches and Padilla was starting to land and often.  The 4th round is where the fight really began to look like as most people would say “Rock’em Sock’em Robots”.  You can tell Oliveira really wanted to give himself some distance to operate, but Padilla was in his chest constantly.  The only thing he could do was oblige and throw.  After all, he was the challenger in this fight.  He knew what he had to do what he could to beat the champion Padilla.

The middle rounds it was more of the same thing.  I found it funny that Oliveira’s cornermen was telling him not to slug it out.  Again, it did not look like he had any choice in that matter.  Padilla would be breathing at the end of each round but then would go back out and resume the heavy volume.  Oliveira it looks like he was punching just to keep Padilla off him.  However, a lot of his punches were not landing or landing clearly.  From there, Padilla would land the harder counters in between those shots.  The 6th and 7th rounds were just incredible to watch.  The judges I am sure were having a harder time trying separate these 2 fighters on the scorecards.  But as we got into the later rounds, Padilla was getting the better of the exchanges.  Oliveira was only effective if he was able to get Padilla in the corner or on the ropes.  But again, he was throwing anything that would make Padilla take a step back or dissuade from his nonstop attack. 

In round 10, it looked like to me a left hook from Padilla briefly hurt Oliveira.  Oliveira then stepped away and try to clear his head a little before going back to trade.  11th round was more of a “boxing” round.  Oliveira started sticking and moving more, working behind his jab.  Surprisingly, Padilla followed suit and dropped his work rate as well.  Even still, Padilla clearly won that round with the more effective shots.  Going into the 12th and final round, both fighters cornermen clearly let them know they needed to finish strong.  Both fighters listened and put it all on the line.  This time, it looked like Oliveira won that very strongly.  The crowd I feel should have been more appreciative at the action.  This fight broke a CompuBox record:  Most punches thrown in a 12-round fight with 3,020.  Judges would award the fight to Zack Padilla by unanimous decision by scores of 118-110, 117-112, and 116-113.  A great great fight. 

The aftermath of both fighters would go in different directions after.  Zack Padilla, the champion, would only last 3 more fights.  He won every one of the fights by TKO.  His final fight, one of his finest achievements, being the first and only man to stop noted iron chin and former world champion Juan Laporte.  His career would end abruptly in a sparring session with a young Shane Mosley. The details about what happened was always lacking until I came across an interview that he did early this year on where he explained what happened:

In early 1994, he defeated Harold Miller, and former champion Juan Laporte. A big money fight with Pernell Whitaker was in the works, but Padilla felt something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t feel that good when I fought Miller,” said Padilla.” My left eye felt weird. It felt worse when I fought Laporte.”

 Padilla says now he should have seen a doctor, but he didn’t. Instead, he kept training and waiting on word of the Whitaker fight. He was sparing Shane Mosley when everything changed.

 “When I sparred Mosley, they were hard,” said Padilla. “Ten hard rounds, every day. They were ring wars. We were going at it. My left eye felt like broken glass. I started getting dizzy. I told Jack (Mosley) I didn’t feel well. He put towels on me. I threw up”

Padilla made an appointment with a doctor. The news was devastating.

 “The doctor told me I had a brain aneurysm and I couldn’t box anymore,” Padilla said. “I went and got a second opinion from a doctor in Beverly Hills. He told me the same thing. I can’t fight. He sent a letter, and I was banned from boxing.

 “I felt like I got fired from my job.”

 Padilla was 31 years old. His boxing career was over.

                For “Sucra” Ray Oliveira, he would only receive one more world title shot, in which he came up short against then IBF 140 champion Jake “The Snake” Rodriguez.  He would go on to fight for 12 more years.  A solid contender and later would be a gatekeeper for other world champions and up and coming prospects.  He would have some incredible wars against the likes of Vince Phillips (scored a majority decision win) and Ben Tackie (a majority decision loss).  After back to back knockout losses to Ricky Hatton and Emmanuel Augustus, “Sucra” Ray would step up away from the ring.  Both men have been quiet in their retirement and hopefully content.  This fight is full recommendation to watch for those who love work rate and non-stop punching.  You will not regret it.

Written by Patscorpio

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.


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.


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