Dougie’s Monday mailbag
Do you know where the tradition started when after a fight, a boxer goes over to congratulate his opponent and his opponent’s corner gives him a swig of water? I always wondered how this tradition started even though it doesn’t happen after every fight.
Have you ever changed a fight pick just before the fight was to begin? I’m talking about seeing the boxer you didn’t pick have that “eye of the tiger” look entering the ring or you noticed the boxer you picked was looking a little too nervous for your liking.
Finally, was there ever a moment that happened in a fight that made you laugh out loud? Something that happened between the fighters, funny commentary or something a trainer said between rounds. Thanks, Doug – Bill from Toronto
Thanks for writing Bill. Two LOL moments immediately come to mind – one occurred during a fight I was commentating on a few years ago and the other was while watching boxing on network TV when I was first becoming a hardcore fan.
The broadcast moment came during the opening bout of the non-televised portion of the Pacquiao-Marquez II undercard, which was streamed live on the internet (Yahoo! Sports carried it and Rich Marotta was my broadcast partner if memory serves me right). L.A.-area middleweight prospect Buddy Tyson was struggling with a hardnosed spoiler named Esau Herrera, which frustrated his trainer, Jerry Rosenberg, who expressed his displeasure with rather colorful language between rounds.
“Man, what the f__k are you doin’!? Stop all that bulls__tin’!” Rosenberg seemed to bark after each round. Tyson was unfazed by the manner in which Rosenberg expressed himself.
He just stared blankly and asked: “Am I winning? Do you think I won that round?” This happened between each round. Between the fifth and sixth (final) rounds, Rosenberg finally got fed up with Tyson’s recurring question and yelled: “Man, you lost ’em all! Now what!?”
The way he said it, the crazy look he gave Tyson and the bewildered look Tyson – who fought to a majority draw – shot back made me laugh out loud. (I can’t recall if I was able to mute it out with the “cough” button on my console.)
The other LOL moment that comes to mind was during Alex Wallau’s post-fight interview with Nigel Benn after “the Dark Destroyer” blasted Iran Barkley out in one round on ABC. (I can’t believe this one-sided opening-round shootout happened 22 years ago this month. I’m an old man! By the way, this post-fight interview remains my ALL-TIME favorite, as I’ve probably mentioned in previous mailbags.)
The fight was crazy. Benn stormed out of his corner like a maniac and stunned Barkley with the first right hand he launched. “The Blade,” being the O.G. that he was, fired back but was caught again with a right hand followed by a pin-point hook that knocked him into the ropes (and nearly out of the ring) where referee Carlos Padilla tried to call a knockdown – but Benn kept punching Barkley even when the ref was between them. Barkley got a standing 8 count (remember those?) and then worked his way back into the fight after buzzing Benn with a hook.
However, Benn’s punches were faster and more accurate and a series of haymakers soon put Barkley down on all fours with a little under 30 seconds left to go in the round. Benn flirted with getting DQ’d by cracking Barkley with a hard short right while the Bronx badass was still down.
Barkley got up and let his heavy hands go. (What else was he gonna do? He wasn’t the type of fighter to hold or run out the clock.) Benn clipped him during an exchange, which knocked him back onto his heels and gloves. Barkley got up and seemed able to survive to the bell (which was literally two or three seconds away) but the fight was automatically over due to the newly formed WBO’s three-knockdown rule (which they’ve since done away with).
It was great stuff for a budding hardcore head to watch on a Saturday afternoon, but the post-fight interview made me a Benn fan for life. Wallau was going crazy each time Benn nailed Barkley after a break or while the American was down. He felt Benn should have been warned, penalized and perhaps DQ’d for the repeated infraction, which obviously gave the Brit an advantage during the brief battle.
Since there was plenty of time in the broadcast, Wallau grilled a still singing and celebrating Benn (once he was able to get the WBO beltholder off his homeboy’s shoulders) during the post fight interview. At first, the amped-up fighter vehemently denied fouling Barkley – which I expected.
But when he was shown the replay, he surprised me by immediately calming down and admitting that he did do it.
Wallau exploded when he watched the foul punch that landed after the second knockdown during the slo-mo replay: “That! That right there! There’s no telling how much that took out of Barkley!”
Benn (in a subdued voice): “Oh, yeah, I see what you meanÔÇª.”
I honestly couldn’t imagine an American star doing the same thing after a huge victory.
But Benn, in all his nutty glory, tried his best to explain it to Wallau: “You don’t know what it’s like to be a fighterÔÇª”
Wallau: “I know; that’s why I’m asking you about it.”
While his corner and entourage were still jumping up and down and pumping their fists beside him and the British fans who made the trip to Vegas sang those loud drunken soccer-style songs, Benn sincerely attempted to express what can’t really be explained to a non-combatant, such as Wallau, Yours Truly (and most of the fans who saw the fight).
“I was so hyped… I was sooooÔÇª within myselfÔÇª,” Benn struggled to say.
It was a bizarre scene. I laughed at the absurdity of it all and out of admiration for Benn’s raw honesty and for Wallau’s dogged journalistic integrity.
Benn ended the surreal interview by calling out Sugar Ray Leonard.
“Let’s get it on, Sugar Ray,” Benn said. “The fans don’t want to see you fight Tommy Hearns or Marvin Hagler again, they want to see you in with a hungry young blood.”
Benn’s capper to the broadcast: “Us Brits ain’t a bunch of pussies.”
I don’t know I’m 100 percent accurate with all these quotes, but I trust you get the gist of it. I haven’t been able to find the ABC feed of this fight on Youtube, so the last time I heard the interview was in 1990.
(If anyone has a tape or DVD of this post-fight interview PLEASE post it on YouTube.com.)
Regarding changing fight picks right before the fight, that’s not something that I do unless I find out the guy I picked has an injury or he was using drugs or he if seriously drains himself making weight. However, I’ve wanted to make last-minute fight prediction changes numerous times based on the demeanor of the fighters I picked on fight day (or on the previous day).
I picked Fernando Vargas to beat Felix Trinidad and I wanted to change that by fight week because “El Feroz” was too hyped up at a time when he should have been chilling and focusing on his game plan. Instead, the dude (God love him) was literally marching around the Mandalay Bay with a huge Mexican flag and an entourage of at least 30 people in tow. He was like the leader of a small Mexican Pride parade. It was great for the pre-fight atmosphere but I kept thinking “Fernando is acting like a pro wrestler and not a pro boxer.”
But hey, you gotta ride with your picks. (And if you couldn’t ride with El Feroz in 2000, you weren’t a real fan.)
Dude, I have no idea when fighters started thanking the trainers of their opponents immediately after the fight (and occasionally getting a swig or splash of water from the opposing cornermen). I’m not sure that’s really a “boxing tradition,” so to speak, like touching gloves. It’s just something boxers often do after a fight, and I’m sure they’ve been doin’ it for decades.
What I’m not sure about is why you think I would know. LOL! I’m 42 years old. I know that’s “old” by Twitter generation standards but it’s not THAT old. This is a question for @HBOMerchant (if that really is Larry Merchant).
THE SEPT. 15TH DILEMMA
It’s been a while since I have emailed, but I am gearing up to head to Vegas for the Sept. 15 fights. I figured I had a couple of friends who have never been to a fight in Vegas, this would be a great time to be there since we have 2 major fights that night.
My question is really, which one should we go to? Even thought my ‘hardcore’ friends like Kirk & Speed might never let me live it down, I am really leaning towards the Goldie card.
I would love to hit the main event for the Top Rank card but honestly, I don’t think the undercard is very strong. And I have a hard time giving money to Boob after the ‘who cares what fans think’ comments. Although, the Goldie card has a very good undercard, the main even isn’t as strong. I guess we will have to play it by ear.
I have one last question for you. What are the top 10 interviews you have had in your career?
I figured you have interviewed hundreds of fighters and we obviously get the on camera personality. I’m wondering if the camera captures who these fighters really are. I love meeting these guys when I go to the fights. I have never met one fighter who was a jerk and most are truly regular guys.
Hopefully, I’ll see you at the fights. Take care and God bless. – Gino Ortiz
It’s great to hear from you, Gino. Although you will no doubt lose your “hardcore” status, be banned from several message boards, and earn the nickname “Gino Boy Promotions” from Kirk and Speed, I think you and your buds should come to the MGM Grand show on Sept. 15.
Why? Because that’s where I’ll be, G__damnit! (If you really want to meet Lem Satterfield and Mike Coppinger I guess it’s OK if you go to Arum’s show at the Thomas & Mack.)
Seriously, I think you have a grip on what to expect with both shows. The Golden Boy/Showtime card has the stronger undercard – with two can’t-miss slugfests, Gonzalez-DeLeon and Maidana-Soto Karass, and a decent bantamweight title bout (Santa Cruz-Morel) – while the Top Rank/HBO PPV show has the more significant main event with THE RING/WBC middleweight championship.
I think Chavez-Martinez will deliver action and drama, but I also believe Alvarez-Lopez will be a competitive scrap. I’ve been watching Josesito fight for many years and I’ve never seen anyone have an easy time with that guy. I know Canelo is the bigger man, but come on, is the redhead THAT much better than Lopez? He lost rounds to Alfonso Gomez, folks. Trust me, Lopez will be in this fight.
Regarding my top 10 interviews, that’s a tough question. I’ll have to really take some time and reminisce about the past 15 years or so in order to accurately come up with (and rank) the 10 best individual interviews I’ve done.
You’re correct if you assumed that the fighters are reserved when on camera. My best interviews are not videotaped or even recorded. And I seldom get anything good when the interview is a media roundtable at some press conference or luncheon.
I get the best out of my subjects when it’s just me, the fighter, a pen and a pad, and a lot of mutual respect.
Off the top of my head I can tell you the most enjoyable and meaningful interviews have been with accomplished veterans or retired hall of famers – including Carlos Palomino (the first fighter I ever interviewed for HouseofBoxing.com), Mike McCallumn, Julian Jackson, Erik Morales and James Toney.
However, some of the most satisfying interviews I’ve done over the years were with mid-level pros who are unknown to many fight fans. Often, these are guys who were serving as sparring partners to the “marquee” fighters I had come to see during media days or privately scheduled workouts for my Gym Notes column.
These boxers are always humble and down to earth. Most are intelligent, educated and articulate. All of them love boxing. They are fans of the sport as much as you or I. Undefeated cruiserweight/light heavyweight Ryan Coyne, who sparred with Gennady Golovkin during my recent visit to the undefeated middleweight contender’s Big Bear camp, is in this group. So is junior middleweight fringe contender Charlie Ota, who I also met in Big Bear (when he was sparring with Alvarez, prior to Canelo’s fight with Gomez).
Preston Hertzog, a huge, chubby heavyweight prospect I met when I snuck into one of the Klitschko brothers L.A.-based camps in 2004, was an absolute delight to talk to. Friendly, bright and insightful, he was able to expertly break down the Klitschko style and explain why it’s so difficult to combat. Even though I only met him once, I was shocked and saddened to learn that he died of a heart attack two years later.
Coyne and Ota also gave me excellent insight to the styles of the world-rated fighters they sparred with. That’s the material I used in my Gym Notes, but we talked about other subjects. They all started boxing late (attended college/did military service) and thus had interesting backgrounds and aspirations that former amateur stars who have never held a job outside of boxing often lack.
JTT = GGG
I can’t be the only person that thinks this Golovkin guy looks exactly like Jonathon Taylor Thomas…can I?? Right?? – David
Forget my opinion that Golovkin looks like Kostya Tszyu or Julian Jackson’s assertion that the Kazakhstani resembles Julio Cesar Chavez. This TV/film/voice actor (who played Young Simba in The Lion King) is who Gennady looks like.
Give Mr. Thomas eight weeks of strength and conditioning training with Abel Sanchez at The Summit and he’ll be able to play Golovkin in the made-for-TV movie that will no doubt be produced in Kazakhstan five years from now when “Superman” unifies all the middleweight titles.
Email Dougie at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer