Weekend Review: Lopez, Cosell go into Hall of Fame
Danny “Little Red” Lopez: The most-exciting fighters are those who fearlessly risk being knocked out in order to knock out their opponents. That was Lopez, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday. He typically was hurt or knocked down himself before rising to stop his foe, a formula that mesmerized grateful fans throughout his career. And his accomplishments shouldn’t be overlooked. He stopped one game fighter of Mexican descent (including Ruben Olivares) after the other during a time in which the pool of such fighters was very deep. He went to South Africa and took David Kotey’s title before a hostile crowd. And he finished with an astounding KO ratio: 42 victories, 39 knockouts. It was honor to watch him fight.
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Howard Cosell: Cosell was what so many people would love to be but can’t begin to realize – unique. Can you think of another broadcaster like him? Some liked him, most it seemed didn’t. Everyone watched him, though. His exaggerated delivery and sense of drama made every event he worked more compelling. He, as much as anyone, was responsible for the phenomenal success of Monday Night Football. Then there was Ali. They’re relationship kept us entertained for Ali’s entire career. And, finally, there was Cosell’s social consciousness. He publicly defended Ali’s right to hold his positions against the Vietnam War even in the face of harsh criticism. And he took up other causes, including fighter safety. He refused to work another fight after Larry Holmes beat up a helpless Tex Cobb. Author Dave Kindred said Cosel didn’t suffer rivals well. That shouldn’t have been a problem: He didn’t have rivals.
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Two other inductees: We all marvel at the success of promoter Bob Arum and such superstars as Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. One man doesn’t get enough credit, Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler. Trampler, who learned under the foot of fellow Hall of Famer Teddy Brenner, has played an instrumental role in selecting the opponents of Arum’s fighters – including De La Hoya and Pacquiao — and no one is better at it. The fighters owe him a debt. Ed Schuyler, the former Associated Press boxing writer, was known as much for his cynicism and wit as for his work. Make no mistake, though: The man was a journalistic marvel. He was required to file complete, accurate stories that captured the essence of each fight only moments after the final bell, which is extremely hard to do. He not only fulfilled his duty without fail, his stories were as good or better than anyone’s else’s.
David Lemieux: The budding Canadian star passed an important test against Elvin Ayala on Friday night in Montreal, stopping the capable veteran in the first round. Ayala had drawn with Sergio Mora in 2007 and went 11-plus rounds before he was stopped by Arthur Abraham the following year if comparisons are meaningful to you. Lemieux (23-0) obviously has power, having stopped all but one of his opponents. Plus, he has the looks and the charisma to become something truly special if he continues to win. Let’s reserve judgment on the 21-year-old, though. He seems to be a competent boxer but might not have the skill or athleticism necessary to excel at the highest level. Also, he has a very short reach – 64 inches (163cm) – only one inch longer than junior flyweight Ivan Calderon. Stay tuned.
Ivan Calderon: One thing was a virtual certainty before Calderon suddenly became prone to cuts in his previous three fights: a victory by decision. The little Puerto Rican got back to his modus operandi by easily outpointing Jesus Iribe on Saturday to maintain the zero in his loss column. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the Klitschko brothers seem to be the most-unbeatable fighters but Calderon, a master technician, is right there with them. He has held a title for seven years. The problem is that he goes largely unnoticed because of his size, junior flyweight. Let’s hope he finds an interesting opponent or he might continue to be overlooked in spite of his gargantuan talent.
Cotto-Foreman: The issue of whether Yuri Foreman should’ve been allowed to continue fighting after he injured his knee against Miguel Cotto on June 5 in New York turned into a full-blown international debate during the week. Boxing people I respect and many readers described the decision of referee Arthur Mercante to ignore the corner of Foreman and allow the fight to continue dangerously misguided. Others saw a damaged but brave fighter who continued to exchange punches with his opponent, which one could argue was a reason to let Foreman fight on. The bottom line is this: The debate among passionate and knowledgeable people was healthy. We can only hope that it will lead to better handling of such a situation in the future.
Arthur Mercante: The more I learned about Mercante after the Cotto-Foreman fight, the less respect I had for him. Readers sent me videos of fights he allowed to go on far too long, although I’m not sure plucking a few fights out of hundreds or thousands he’s worked is entirely fair. His behavior during the Cotto-Foreman fight was inexcusable, though. No referee should coach a fighter as Mercante did Foreman, at one point telling the then-titleholder to “suck it up.” The referee’s job is to officiate, not offer advice. Mercante should be suspended at the very least. Note: I still support his decision to allow the fight to continue after Foreman injured his knee. Again, the then-titleholder was fighting back and hadn’t taken a beating. He deserved a little more time to show what he could do.
Pacquaio vs. Cotto II: Miguel Cotto is a realistic option for Manny Pacquiao should the Filipino icon be unable to come to terms with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the fight everyone wants to see. Since when are lousy fights followed by rematches? Cotto was able to hang with Pacquiao for three-plus rounds when they fought in November, felt his power and backpedaled away from a far-superior fighter for the remainder of what turned out to be a disappointing fight. No discerning fan wants to see that matchup again. Arum and Co. can be a lot more creative that. Let’s hope they are.
Colin Cosell, Howard’s grandson: “The boxing world was very good to us. With his trademark modesty, I’m sure Howard would say he was very good to the world of boxing as well – tongue in cheek, of course.