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The Travelin’ Man Goes to Davis-Ruiz: Part One

Junior welterweights Mario Barrios (right) and Richard Zamora throw down in their fight, which Barrios won by 4th round KO. Photo by Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME
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Feb

Friday, February 8: The five-and-a-half days since returning from Rochester have been hectic but ultimately productive. I completed as much of the CompuBox research “to-do” list as I could and transferred last week’s DVR recordings to DVD, so, upon rising at 5:25 a.m. with designs of leaving the house by 6:15, arriving at the airport at 8:30 and hopefully catching my first flight of the day at 11, I was in an excellent frame of mind. 

But after logging onto the internet, my mood turned somber. The reason: The death of Rocky Lockridge. 

Early Thursday morning, Lockridge’s family confirmed that the two-time 130-pound champion passed away at age 60 following a stay of several weeks at a hospice and a week after being removed from life support. His life after retiring from the ring in 1992 was far more arduous than anything he experienced during a nearly 14-year career that saw him assemble a 44-9 (36) record. That post-boxing life included divorce, health problems marked by a series of strokes, public and private battles with alcohol and drug addiction, 27 months in prison for burglary, and homelessness that lasted a decade. 

The angst, shame and frustration that he must have felt in his worst years was best captured in a single moment that became a viral video: During an episode of the A&E series “Intervention,” Lockridge unleashed a long, wrenching sob after being told by his tearful and traumatized son Lamar “and still, I am here because I know, somewhere deep down in my heart, I still love you.” The scene was later deemed “the best cry ever” by social media, but while that moment made for compelling television, it also produced lasting results. Moments later, Lockridge accepted his son’s request to receive treatment, and his subsequent sobriety reportedly lasted for the remainder of his life. 

Long before he became an internet sensation, Lockridge was a sensation inside the ring. Born Ricky Lockridge on January 10, 1959 in Tacoma, Washington, he was one of four fighters from that city to become a world boxing champion. While Freddie Steele retired nearly two decades before Lockridge’s birth, he learned his craft with the other two at the Tacoma Boys Club – future 1976 Olympic champion Leo Randolph and 140-pound titlist-to-be Johnny Bumphus. As an amateur, Lockridge captured the 1977 AAU national championship and advanced to the 1978 final only to be beaten by another standout in Jackie Beard. He finished his amateur career with a reported record of 210-8, then turned pro under the Main Events banner. 

Guided by the Hall of Fame team of Lou Duva and George Benton, Ricky – now named Rocky – displayed Marciano-like aggression and possessed pulverizing power in his overhand right. After scoring a two-round TKO over Tony Reed in his August 1978 pro debut, Lockridge built a 16-0 (14) record that included victories over Gerald Hayes (W 12 for the New Jersey featherweight title) and one-time featherweight title challenger Fel Clemente, who he stopped in seven. The Clemente TKO was the third in what would become a career-high eight-fight knockout streak that earned him a crack at WBA featherweight champion Eusebio Pedroza, who was set to make his 10th title defense. 

Fighting before his adopted home state fans in McAfee, N.J., the 21-year-old Lockridge gave the Panamanian veteran all he could handle, and CBS commentators Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy saw him a runaway 145-140 winner. Judge Harold Lederman agreed as he scored 144-142 for Lockridge, but HBO’s future “unofficial official” was overruled by referee Stanley Christodoulou and judge Rodolfo Hill, whose scores of 147-141 and 149-139 for Pedroza ignited a firestorm of controversy, not just because of the winner’s identity, but because of the margin of victory. 

Another row was sparked by video of Pedroza’s manager Santiago del Rio placing something in the champion’s mouth following round five. Promoter Bob Arum said it was pills (“I saw them,” he said) while Pedroza said it was ice. This dispute — as well as the excellent action and Lockridge’s subsequent seven-fight KO streak following a shocking second-round knockout loss to Juan LaPorte (the only stoppage defeat of his career) — led to a rematch April 24, 1983 in San Remo, Italy. Just like Pedroza-Lockridge I, Pedroza-Lockridge II was a nip-and-tuck affair that went the distance, and, this time, while the verdict for Pedroza was unanimous, two judges scored it 147-146 and 146-145 while the third jurist viewed it 147-142. Lockridge scaled a shockingly low 122 ½, his lowest weight since his fifth professional fight, and some believed that might have cost him valuable strength in the late rounds. Then again, Pedroza was renowned for his late-round stamina.  

Lockridge moved up to 130, and it didn’t take long for him to make a mark in his new weight class. On the undercard of Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello II in September 1983, Lockridge overcame a first-round knockdown to comprehensively outpoint former WBC super featherweight titlist Cornelius Boza-Edwards. That victory earned him a February 1984 match with WBA champion Roger Mayweather, a brash 22-year-old who was riding high after viciously dethroning two-time titlist Samuel Serrano via eighth-round TKO and notching knockout defenses against Jorge Alvarado (TKO 8) and Benedicto Villablanca (KO 1), victories that extended his record to 17-0 (11). “The Black Mamba,” whose top-heavy physique and scorching right hand reminded many of a miniature Thomas Hearns, was so confident he would get by Lockridge that he spoke of future fights against mandatory challenger Tae Jin Moon in Korea and an eventual unification showdown versus WBC counterpart Hector Camacho. That confidence was further expressed by the sunglasses Mayweather wore into the ring, but it was the underdog, no-flash Lockridge who ended up having the last laugh. 

A little more than a minute into the fight, Lockridge worked his way into close quarters and connected with a trademark overhand right to the temple. Mayweather’s spindly legs folded underneath him and the rest of his body hit the canvas with a thud. Flat on his back, the stricken Mayweather tried his best to regain his feet, but he couldn’t beat referee Larry Rozadilla’s 10-count. Lockridge joined the roll call of champions just 91 seconds into his third championship opportunity, and it would prove to be the biggest victory of his professional career. 

Lockridge inherited Mayweather’s mandatory against Moon, who he stopped in 11 in Anchorage, Alaska nearly four months later. He followed with six round stoppages of Julio Llerena and Kamel Bou-Ali before losing the belt in May 1985 to an aged Wilfredo Gomez, who gutted out a 15-round majority decision most thought Lockridge should have won. Following wins over Fernando Segura (KO 4) and Efrain Nieves (KO 3), he met rising superstar Julio Cesar Chavez for Chavez’s WBC super featherweight title in August 1986, and Lockridge’s physical strength was such that he caused the normally aggressive Chavez to carefully box from long range for large portions of the fight. Chavez won a majority decision thanks to a late round surge, but thanks to his competitive performance, Lockridge remained in the title hunt. 

Lockridge earned another chance at 130-pound gold by beating southpaws Felipe Orozco (W 10) and Dennis Cruz (KO 7), and this time, his target for this August 1987 fight was IBF titlist Barry Michael, a 59-fight late-bloomer who, two years earlier, dethroned 20-year-old Lester Ellis in a scintillating all-Aussie turf war. Since then he notched three successful defenses against Jin-Shik Choi (KO 4), Mark Fernandez (KO 4) and Najib Daho (W 12), but as strong and skillful as Michael was, Lockridge was even more so, and, at age 26 and with 45 pro fights behind him, he had that enviable blend of youth and experience that proved too much for the 32-year-old titlist. Lockridge’s power shots broke Michael’s nose in round one, broke his right eardrum in round three and ultimately broke his will to fight. The injuries prompted Michael not only to retire on his stool between rounds eight and nine, but to retire from boxing altogether. 

As for Lockridge, he notched victories over Johnny de la Rosa (KO 10) and Harold “The Shadow” Knight (W 15) before meeting the up-and-coming Tony “The Tiger” Lopez in Lopez’s hometown of Sacramento in July 1988. Lockridge scored the fight’s only knockdown in round eight, but Lopez, no doubt inspired by the sonic support of his fans inside the Arco Arena, performed well enough in the numerous toe-to-toe exchanges to win the title by unanimous decision. The fight was named THE RING’s 1988 Fight of the Year, and the rematch in March 1989 saw Lopez retain the belt, again at the Arco Arena, by unanimous decision. It would prove to be Lockridge’s final title fight, and he ended his career with an eighth-round TKO over Mike Zena and back-to-back decision defeats to future titlists Rafael Ruelas and Sharmba Mitchell.

Those of us who were old enough to follow Lockridge’s career were stunned by his subsequent downfall because that downfall was at such odds with the persona portrayed on TV. We appreciated the warrior inside the ring, but we didn’t know about the drug problems that began sometime during his ring career. We liked the thoughtful and soft-spoken man we saw in interviews, but we didn’t know the turmoil that swirled within him away from the cameras. We were shocked and saddened by the intensity of his downward spiral, but were heartened and inspired by his eventual triumph over his demons. While he hasn’t been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame – he has been on the ballot for several years – the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame enshrined Lockridge in 2000.

From beginning to end, the man we know as Rocky and the man his family knew as Ricky, was a fighter, as well as a winner. Rest in peace. 

*

The polar vortex that plagued last week’s trip to Rochester was a distant memory as the next several days saw temperatures in the 50s and even the upper 60s in my area. But, as luck would have it, the warm spell disappeared overnight and by the time I backed out of the garage at 6:15 a.m., the indicator inside the car read 35 degrees. 

Today’s destination will be the Los Angeles metroplex, and, while there, CompuBox colleague Dennis Allen and I will chronicle a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader consisting of a 10-round welterweight contest between Mario Barrios and Richard Zamora (a late sub for Juan Jose Velazco), a 10-round lightweight showdown between Javier Fortuna and Sharif Bogere and, in the main event, WBA “super” super featherweight champion Gervonta Davis defending against Hugo Ruiz (a late sub for the injured Abner Mares). 

For Ruiz, stepping in for Mares represents quite the role reversal, for three weeks earlier he defeated his own late sub in Alberto Guevara, who stepped in for the grossly overweight WBA “interim” featherweight titlist Jhack Tepora. Despite scoring a first-round knockdown, Ruiz had issues cutting off the ring against the mobile and resourceful Guevara, who survived to the final bell and lost a lopsided 10-round decision. Ruiz said he didn’t perform as well as he could have because he prepared for a southpaw slugger in Tepora and got a stick-and-move right-hander in Guevara. Had he fought a left-hander, he said, he would have produced a better performance. By accepting the Davis fight, Ruiz will now have the chance to turn his words into action, and, if he does, he’ll produce another early candidate for 2019 Upset of the Year along with Caleb Plant-Jose Uzcategui, Pablo Cesar Cano-Jorge Linares, Can Xu-Jesus Rojas, and Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez II. My guess: Davis KO 3 Ruiz. 

With no recent footage of Zamora to gauge, I can only go by Barrios’ recent form, which has been terrific. He has stopped his last six opponents – including an eight-round corner retirement over Jose Roman in his most recent bout July 28 at the Staples Center – while Zamora has stopped three in a row and four of his last five since getting starched by Antonio Moran in 92 seconds in March 2017. Based on my limited information, I see a fifth-round TKO victory for the lanky (5-foot-10 ½ inch) and rangy (70-inch reach) Barrios. 

For me, the Bogere-Fortuna fight pairs a couple of truly star-crossed fighters. Fortuna’s last two fights saw him lose a heart-breaking split decision to then-IBF lightweight titlist Robert Easter Jr. (after missing weight by one-and-a-half pounds) and suffer a four-round no-contest against Adrian Granados after falling out of the ring and injuring himself seriously enough to warrant the fight being stopped. As for Bogere, the 30-year-old — a TV staple nearly a decade ago — has rehabbed two separate Achilles tears (one in each leg), the last of which prompted a 13-month hiatus. He is fighting his first high-profile match on TV since losing his lone title shot against then-WBA lightweight belt-holder Richar Abril in March 2013. Save for a no-contest against Jose Daniel Ruiz in August 2015, Bogere hasn’t lost since. 

Photo by Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

Given their histories – which includes multiple point-losing infractions for Fortuna and a lost lion’s head for Bogere (it was reportedly stolen before his most recent fight against Oscar Bravo, which was televised on Bounce TV) – this fight could feature a heaping helping of weirdness – and, because of the orthodox-southpaw dynamic, headbutts. The key, I believe, will be Bogere’s ability to impose a hot pace on Fortuna, who likes to operate at a milder pace. If he doesn’t, then Bogere could be ensnared in Fortuna’s thinking-man’s southpaw web. My guess is that Bogere, hungry for the success Fortuna has already achieved and eager to re-establish the place he lost due to the Achilles injuries, will box his way to a points victory. 

The venue is now known as Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., but, before the corporate name change, it was known as the StubHub Center, and, before that, the Home Depot Center. This is the first boxing event staged under the new name, and that name has a lot to live up to in the eyes of boxing fans. Since the first main event under the Home Depot name (Marco Antonio Barrera KO 10 Paulie Ayala on June 19, 2004), the venue has hosted more than its share of outstanding firefights under its two names. They include the first and third meetings between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez (both of which were deemed THE RING’s Fight of the Year in 2007 and 2008), Brandon Rios’ closet-classic war with Urbano Antillon in July 2011 and his titanic first fight against Mike Alvarado in October 2012, THE RING’s 2013 Fight of the Year between Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov, Jhonny Gonzalez’s shocking first-round knockout over Abner Mares in August 2013, Lucas Matthysse’s outstanding 11th round stoppage of John Molina (THE RING’s 2014 Fight of the Year), Roberto Guerrero’s action-packed scrap against Yoshihiro Kamegai in June 2014, Nicholas Walter’s KO upset of Nonito Donaire in October 2014, Viktor Postol’s surprising 10th round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse and a pair of up-and-down battles in Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz II and Thomas Williams-Edwin Rodriguez in April 2016. 

All these battles led fans to bestow affectionate short-hand labels to this venue: “The Home Depot” and “StubHub.” If the venue produces more great fights under the new name, it’ll be difficult to find a fight-friendly shorthand for Dignity Health Sports Park. Any suggestions? As for me, I’ll try “The Dignity.”

*

The drive to Pittsburgh International Airport was pleasingly uneventful, but finding a parking place proved problematic, especially since the airport converted a large area previously designated as “extended lot” territory to a “long-term” area, where the daily charge is doubled. As I sifted the second-most distant lot, I spotted a young man walking toward his vehicle. After seeing him climb into his truck, I drove to the end of the row, wheeled around the corner and headed toward the spot, but I found that another car was already parked and poised to pounce. Though I was in better position to pull into the spot, I yielded to the other car because (1) he was there first, and (2) it’s not my nature to be a jerk. 

My penalty proved steep: A spot in the outermost lot I call “the hinterlands.” After parking directly underneath the 19C sign, I completed the seven-minute walk to the terminal entrance amid gusts of chilly wind, then cleared security with routine ease through the “TSA Pre-Check” line. 

The day’s itinerary promised many hours of flying: A three-and-a-half-hour flight from Pittsburgh to Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, then, after hopefully bridging a narrow connection window, another three-plus hour flight from Houston to LAX. To help pass the time, I packed another book I received for Christmas – Richard Askwith’s 445-page biography of legendary distance runner Emil Zatopek entitled “Today We Die a Little.” 

As a child, I developed a fondness for the Olympics thanks to Bud Greenspan’s excellent series “The Olympiad” (which aired on my local PBS station) and David Wallechinsky’s book on the Olympics that chronicled the games from 1896-1972. A major figure in that book was Zatopek, a Czechoslovak Army officer who won gold in the 10,000 meters in 1948, then achieved the unprecedented (and, to date, unduplicated) 5,000-10,000-marathon gold medal treble in 1952. Incredibly, the marathon triumph was Zatopek’s first marathon race, and, in winning it by more than two-and-a-half minutes, he smashed the Olympic record by more than six minutes. He was the greatest distance runner of his era, and, thanks to Askwith’s book, I am learning even more about Zatopek the man. 

Flying on Southwest is different than on most airlines, and, with apologies to faithful readers of the “Travelin’ Man Chronicles” but in deference to new readers and non-fliers, here is an explanation of why. 

Southwest, unlike other airlines, does not have assigned seating. Instead, passengers are divided into three groups of 60 and are defined as “Group A,” “Group B” and “Group C.” Upon boarding the aircraft, passengers are allowed to sit wherever they wish but the options shrink with every succeeding place in line. Based on my experience, Group A passengers are guaranteed to snag their desired window or aisle seat, while many in Group B should feel OK about their remaining options. Group C passengers, on the other hand, will likely end up in an undesirable location, such as the very back of the plane, near a bathroom or in the dreaded middle seat. Additionally, overhead space recedes to the point where Group C passengers will have to check their luggage and I learned early on that avoiding baggage claim is always the best policy.

When I first began flying Southwest, I, of course, usually landed in Group C. But the airline gave me an “out” in the form of purchasing a “Business Select” seat. For a fee – usually between $30 and $50 depending on the route – I could guarantee myself a place between A-1 and A-15. Over time, I developed a policy: If I am assigned anywhere below B-15 I will try to upgrade. However, for today’s flights, I was pleasantly surprised to see I was placed at B-9 on the Pittsburgh-to-Houston leg and A-47 on the Houston to LAX leg. As a result, I was able to sit on the aisle at row 14 on the first flight, then a row five window seat for the second. 

I felt a bit fortunate in terms of making my connection in Houston. My plane touched down just 14 minutes before my flight to LAX was to begin boarding, and because I was seated so far back in the cabin I wondered if I would be able to complete a multi-concourse walk if need be. After deplaning, I looked around for a flight monitor but saw none nearby. But as I walked a few steps to my left, I glanced to my right at a gate monitor that read “Los Angeles Flight 591” with a departure time very similar to mine. I dug out my boarding pass and realized, to my relief, that my connecting gate was located directly across from my arrival gate. Less than five minutes later I was standing in the A-group line and 10 minutes later I walked down the jetway and found my seat in row five. 

I was seated by an older African-American woman who told me she was returning home from a funeral. I soon learned she was also a nervous flier. The evidence: During the mildly turbulent ascent, she suddenly grabbed my left arm. In all my years of flying, I had never had a seatmate be so nonverbally bold, but, because I realized she was seeking comfort for her momentary fear, I didn’t pull my arm back. She released me after the turbulence faded, but she grabbed my arm twice more in the next half hour, both times because of turbulence. 

She apologized to me after letting go each time, and I tried my best to reassure her everything was fine. It must have worked, because, after the first half hour, she felt no need to grab my arm anymore, even during a descent that had some iffy moments. 

After deplaning, I took a taxi to the crew hotel, the Torrance Marriott on Fashion Avenue, checked into my ninth-floor room, ordered room service, and spent the remainder of the evening catching up on the news and sports I missed during my long travel day. That day took more out of me than I thought, for I turned out the lights shortly after 9 p.m. local time. 

Saturday, February 9: Unlike most nights on the road, I slept pretty soundly. I awakened for good at 3:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Eastern – because I knew I would have to arise at a similar time tomorrow to make my 8:30 a.m. flight from LAX to Pittsburgh. After completing the morning routines, I spent the next several hours writing many of the words you’ve read so far. 

One element of tonight’s show unique to the others this year is that it will take place outdoors. Thanks to the time of year, I won’t need to have a screen shade for my laptop because the sun will have already set by the time we go live, but while the forecast called for a 5 percent chance of rain, the temperature was set to fall into the upper 40s. No problem: I packed a sweater to wear over my light shirt and I also have my International Boxing Hall of Fame windbreaker to provide additional warmth. If the wind picks up and makes the air even chillier, I also have the knit cap that came in so handy last week in Rochester. 

I’ve worked in cold venues before (the Main Street Armory in Rochester last week being one), and it may surprise you to know that one of the chilliest outdoor venues I worked was in Key West, Fla., more than a decade ago. The temperature not only fell into the 40s that night, the chill was furthered by an ocean breeze. Despite everything else feeling cold, my fingers – thanks to the fighters I counted – were kept warm enough. 

My punch-counting colleague Dennis Allen was assigned a car by Showtime, so, as agreed, I met him in the hotel lobby at noon and arrived at the Dignity by our 12:30 call time. The early-morning rain had given way to bright sunshine and a temperature in the low 60s. Better yet, the updated forecast now called for no chance of rain.

One good aspect of staging a February fight outdoors at the structure formerly known as StubHub is that the sun will set behind the stadium well before our 7 p.m. TV start. But should we return to the venue in the summer, I’ll need to purchase a sunshade for my laptop because if I don’t the direct sunlight would make it impossible to see my screen. 

When I worked shows with Joe Carnicelli (who passed away last year), Joe would build a makeshift sunshade from cardboard boxes stored in the bowels of the arena. Because he worked many shows over the years – and because Joe was such a personable guy – the security guards allowed him to do his foraging. While I’ve been told I’m as friendly as the name of my hometown, I don’t think I’ll fare quite as well with the guards. 

After getting the hoped-for green lights, Sports Media’s Andy Vanderford advised us to partially close our screens so that the sunlight won’t adversely affect our touchscreens. As I waited for the sun to dip behind the stadium, I chatted with several ringsiders. They include ring announcers Ralph Velez and Miguel Flores (the former was conducting interviews for Mayweather Promotion’s YouTube channel while the latter announced the 11-fight non-TV undercard) as well as senior vice president of production Gordon Hall, who, among his other duties, was scouting fighters for future ShoBox episodes. 

The bouts began shortly after 3 p.m., and the stands were virtually empty when bantamweight Jose Balderas began his scheduled six-rounder against Philadelphia’s Jerrod Miner. I missed the ending of the bout – a third round corner retirement that lifted Balderas’ record to 6-0 (1) and eroded Miner’s to 1-4-2 (1) – but I stuck around for the remainder of the non-TV fights. To me, the most eventful was Erickson Lubin’s third round TKO victory over former 154-pound titlist Ishe Smith because the 23-year-old Lubin became the first man ever to stop Smith. 

Lubin’s performance was simply overwhelming. A left cross to Smith’s temple in round two scored the fight’s first knockdown, and the effects served to scramble the veteran’s wires for the remainder of the bout. A right hook to the top of the head put down Smith a second time while a subsequent flurry scored the third. With the three-knockdown rule not in effect, Smith was allowed to continue, but while he made it to the bell, the fight was all but over. A right-left put Smith down for the fourth and final time near the end of round three, and, once again, Smith was able to complete the round. But as he walked toward his corner, Smith was seen to say the word “no,” meaning he no longer wanted to continue. 

And, just like that, it was over. It was the first time in Smith’s 40-fight, 18-plus year career that “Sugar Shay” failed to finish a fight, and that is after facing confirmed punchers such as current WBC super welterweight king Tony Harrison (a split L 10), Julian Williams (L 10), Daniel Jacobs (L 10), Joel Julio (L 10) and Randall Bailey (W 12). Smith’s chin was so sturdy that even a suffered knockdown was worthy of note, and, at his best, he was a solid technical fighter on offense who also practiced excellent defense. But now he’s 40 and he is at a career crossroads. Will he emulate Barry Michael following his corner retirement loss against Lockridge and make it the final act of his professional career, or will he choose to fight on in search of a better ending?

Lubin, on the other hand, has injected new energy into his career. Since his stunning first round KO loss to then-WBC super welterweight titlist Jermall Charlo in October 2017, Lubin, now 20-1 (15), has scored two knockouts over solid veterans in Smith and the 37-21 (18) Silverio Ortiz, each inside four rounds. Can he recapture the buzz that surrounded him before the Charlo challenge? An upgrade in opponent will give us the answers we seek.

The numbers he registered against Smith may be deceptive because Smith was in full-blown defensive mode throughout. Lubin landed only 15% of his total punches, 5% of his jabs and 24% of his power punches for the fight (Smith, at 18%, 8% and 35% respectively, was more accurate), but his superior activity (54.3 punches per round to Smith’s 18.7) helped set the foundation for the dominance displayed by his fists (nicknamed “Sledge” and “Hammer”). For the record, he led 25-10 overall, 4-3 jabs and 21-7 power.

Other highlights of the non-TV undercard include featherweight Angelo Leo’s eight round decision over durable southpaw Alberto Torres, flyweight Ava Knight’s third round technical draw against Argentina’s Luna del Mar Torroba (a butt-induced gash over Knight’s left eye ended the match), super lightweight Juan Heraldez’s seventh round stoppage of Eddie Ramirez and especially the final pre-TV fight of the card between super lightweights Maurice Lee and Lennard Davis, which provided astonishing two-way drama from start to finish. Both men hit the canvas (Davis in round one, Lee in round four) and several rounds saw both men staggered. While the crowd booed the majority draw, I thought it was fitting given the see-saw action. If there’s going to be a rematch, I hope (1) it will be on TV, and (2) I will be there to count it. 

The Lee-Davis fight was supposed to serve as the table-setter for the three-fight TV card to come. Instead, it stole the show for the bundled-up live audience that numbered 8,048. In a year that has already produced several candidates for Upset of the Year, will this card offer more contributions? 

*

Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 16 writing honors, including two first-place awards in 2011 and 2013. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics” (available on Amazon) and the co-author of “Muhammad Ali: By the Numbers” (also available on Amazon). To contact Groves  use the email [email protected] or send him a message via Facebook.

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