Monday, February 27, 2012

Back to the land of the Samurai in a big way

December 21, 1997 was the first and last time The UFC was in Japan; that was until Saturday night when they went back to the land of the Samurai in a big way. The Saitama Super Arena was home once again to mixed martial arts, only this time it was UFC 144. Headlining this event was a lightweight (155 lbs.) championship between now former champion Frankie 'The Answer' Edgar (14-2, 3 KO's 3 subs) and new champion Ben 'Smooth' Henderson (16-2, 2 KO's, 8 subs).

'The Answer', who fought valiantly, just didn't have one against Henderson, who proved too be too big for Edgar in the long run. Henderson, a huge lightweight with tree trunk sized legs, used a combination of punches and kicks that did some serious damage to Edgar's left eye (as evidenced in the photo above) and his body. One perfectly placed up kick from his back to the bridge of Edgar's nose towards the end the second round seemed to be the momentum changer in this one.

Up to that point, Edgar appeared to be in control using constant movement and different angles to effectively strike on Henderson. He also used an approach of catching all of Henderson's round kicks to the body then throwing punches with his free hand and countering with round kicks of his own. However, in the end Henderson's size, as Edgar should truly be fighting at featherweight (145 lbs.), proved too much for the game former champion. Henderson now follows Carlos Condit as former WEC champions who have won titles in the UFC; albeit Condit's title is an interim one.

Speaking of former champions, former light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson (32-10, 14 KO's 7 subs) returned to Japan where he was once a star during the Pride Fighting Championships. Unfortunately, The Prodigal Son's return was not a good one for Jackson as he was manhandled by contender Ryan 'Darth' Bader (14-2, 6 KO's, 3 subs). Bader used his former All-American collegiate wrestling skills to consistently take Jackson down, control him and ground and pound a unanimous decision victory.

Bader has now come back with two wins in a row, including this big one against a former champion, after suffering his only losses back to back last year to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz. Jackson meanwhile, always a fan favorite, continues to show his lack of evolution when it comes to the ground game and his deficiency against wrestlers. In his defense, he did come into this fight with a knee injury sustained during training. Nonetheless, I believe his days as a contender are long behind him.

Stocked heavily with Japanese fighters, eight in all, UFC 144 disproved a theory had by MMA fighter Phil Baroni. He states that the reason Japanese fighters have not faired extremely well in the octagon is because of the long trip they have to endure to fight in the states. Japanese fighters went (4-4) on the night although one of those fights did feature two Japanese fighters facing off against each other.

Of the Japanese fighters on the card, featherweight Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2, 4 KO's 12 subs), was clearly the homegrown star with his second consecutive win in the UFC. Hioki put on a dominating performance against Bart Palaszewski (36-15, 17 KO's 11 subs) earning a unanimous decision and putting himself in the discussion as a possible opponent for featherweight champ Jose Aldo. Although Frankie Edgar, when asked after his fight by Joe Rogan if he would consider a drop to featherweight to challenge Aldo said, "I don't know; that's something I'm not thinking about right now."

As for the fight everyone would like to see besides Edgar vs. Aldo, lightweight Anthony Pettis (15-2, 6 KO's 6 subs) has laid his claim as the logical next opponent for new champ Henderson. Pettis continued to live up to his nickname 'Showtime' as he scored the knockout of the night, a beautiful left round kick to the face of Joe Lauzon (21-7, 4 KO's 17 subs) in the first round. Joe Rogan called it "a perfect shin to the chin shot."

The former and last WEC champion, who won the belt from Henderson in a five round classic back in December 2010, which featured the now legendary kick off the cage heard round the world, is primed and ready for another shot at the now UFC champion. With both of these exciting young fighters in their primes and at the top of their games, I think this fight would rival any of the other exciting fights fans are clamoring for. The UFC definitely went back to the land of the Samurai in a big way.

The second coming of The Body Snatcher

In the '80's and '90's there was a three-division boxing champion named Mike McCallum whose body attack was so vicious, he was eventually given the moniker 'The Body Snatcher'. McCallum was so proficient at using that style; he ended up winning 49 of 54 pro fights and three world titles on his way to a Hall of Fame career. This weekend, I may have seen the second coming of The Body Snatcher.

Welterweight Ronald Cruz (16-0, 12 KO's), who has been referred to in boxing circles as 'Hands of Steel' because of his punching power and his hometown of Bethlehem, PA, continues to make waves along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. This past Saturday @ Bally's in Atlantic City, Cruz (pictured to the left), currently ranked as high as #15 by the IBF, punched his way to a unanimous decision victory over tough Allen Conyers (12-6, 9 KO's) from The Bronx, NY. Conyers is nicknamed 'The Dream Shatterer', but on this night the dream continued.

Conyers, who had a five inch height and decisive reach advantage, may have appeared to Cruz as though he was tangling with a tarantula. Early on he kept Cruz at bay with a stiff jab, however Cruz, a natural orthodox fighter, countered by fighting in a southpaw stance. Cruz told me, "I thought he was going to bum rush me early, so my thought process was to counter his jab by side stepping and hooking to the body."

The strategy seemed to work to perfection as at the end of the first round, Cruz caught Conyers with a combination hook to the body and head that dropped his opponent to the canvas. Although Conyers got up, he was lucky to be saved by the bell. Instead of pouncing on his opponent and making any mistakes, Cruz used a pronounced approach in the second round, which allowed Conyers to gather himself.

Meanwhile, Cruz stayed in a southpaw stance until the fifth round when Conyers caught him with a hard left-right combination to the head that had Cruz against the ropes and in serious trouble for the first time in the fight. Weathering the storm, Cruz came back in the sixth switching back to his normal orthodox stance and had his best round of the fight, He caught Conyers with some right overhand bombs to the head that nearly ended his night; once again the end of the round was on Conyers side.

Going ten rounds for the first time in his career, after previously never going past six, Cruz continued to switch stances throughout controlling the pace and winning big with two scores of 99-90 and 98-89 on the other. I asked Cruz's trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez if starting out southpaw and switching stances was a planned strategy going in? His response was, "No; Ronald likes to start that way a lot of times to see what his opponent has to offer. Then when I notice something in the corner, I let him know what it is and tell him when to switch."

Rodriguez wasn't the only one in Cruz's corner that night as Ronald as always had veteran cutman Jim Williams with him. Williams, 75 years old, has been in this business for over 40 years learning his trade from 'Gypsy' Joe Harris. After the fight Williams was so elated, he told me, "I am so proud of this kid the way he fought tonight. He's such a humble kid; I am honored to be in his corner." The pride was echoed by his manager Jimmy Deoria who also told me, "I'm so proud of Ronald the way he fought tonight."

That pride is what drove me and countless others from Bethlehem, PA to converge on Atlantic City this weekend. There is a brotherhood in this city that extends far beyond the Puerto Rican community that supports Cruz. His fan base from back home consists of African-Americans, Caucasians and females alike all with one common bond, The Christmas City. I asked Ronald after the fight if he could hear his fans cheering for him. He told me, "Yes I did, it felt great. It's extra motivation to fight harder for them."

His hometown fans may not have to wait long to see him again as there are tentative plans for Cruz to step back into the squared circle on June 1st. They may not have to drive as far either because the plan is to have the fight most likely in the brand new Events Center at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. Get ready Bethlehem, the second coming of The Body Snatcher is coming home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Black House MMA + Roy Tapia = Boxing success

Normally when you hear the name Black House in combat sports you immediately think of excellence in Mixed Martial Arts; with their stable of numerous world champions and renowned contenders. However, that excellence is now being exhibited in the boxing ring as well and the fighter upholding that standard for them is a young, talented featherweight named Roy 'The Pit' Tapia.

Fighting out of his hometown of East Los Angeles, California, this up and coming prospect is currently (3-0, 2 KO's) as a professional; but don't let his experience or his age, only 20 years old, fool you. This kid was practically born for boxing. To hear him tell it, "My dad always had me in gyms since I was little."

I guess that's what happens when your father, Jose Luis Tapia, is a former fighter himself who had his first pro fight in Tijuana, Mexico at the tender age of 14. Thus, it was no surprise that at age seven, Roy would have his first encounter in an actual boxing gym. "My father used to take me to a park in East L.A. where I would run laps, get in shape and learn the basics. It was so when I got to a gym I wouldn't look dumb."

Apparently it worked because he caught the eye of trainer Clemente Medina who asked his father if he could work with him. That relationship lasted throughout Roy's entire amateur career which spanned over 90 fights and included numerous titles. Part of that resume includes Bronze at the 2006 Junior Olympics Regional tourney, Silver at both the National Blue & Gold and National P.A.L tourneys and three time champion at the Desert Showdown. "Clemente was like a second father figure to me," Roy said.

Everything seemed in order in Roy's life till an incident, which forced the deportation of his father back to Mexico, turned his life upside down. He said, "My father provided everything for me, so when he was gone I lost my head for a while." Forced to move to Corona to live with his mom, he suddenly lost boxing; that lasted about a year. He then went to Vegas for another year where he was working, but had no interest in the gym. All told, he was out of boxing for nearly two and a half years.

Then one day realizing he was going nowhere he confided in a mentor he knew since his childhood, Albert Vasquez, a former boxing trainer himself that he wanted to get back to the gym. Not wasting anytime, Vasquez introduced him to promoter Gary Shaw and before you knew it, Tapia was training for his first pro fight which took place last September. "It was crazy, one day I was working in Vegas and literally the next I was in California training for a fight."

Just when everything seemed back in order in his life, Vasquez had to leave the scene as he was heading back to El Salvador. However, realizing he was an advisor of sorts to Tapia, Vasquez gave Roy a phone number; he told him to call a former fighter of his named Cesar Garcia and to not worry that Garcia would become the advisor he was. When I asked Roy how he felt about trusting a stranger, he said, "I've known Albert practically my whole life, so I trusted his judgment. Once he told me Cesar was okay, I knew I could trust him as well."

"That was in June 2011 and to date," Roy says, "I can honestly say I have not had one bad experience with Cesar." When I asked Cesar the same question he said, "Developing a relationship, we hit it off right away. Once I saw his determination and commitment, it was easy for me to back him. Plus, the reason I knew he was going to be good was because my former trainer recommended him and he's always had an eye for talent."

However, the business of boxing is a shady one; first came the business of finding a trainer. After discussing it with his advisor, Tapia decided on Ramon 'Yuca' Morales of the Maywood Boxing Club. He said, "I just felt I needed a new school as there is only so much you can learn under one person." Then came an even bigger decision to make; what manager to entrust your career with?

Garcia, being a former professional boxer himself, knew what to look for. He advised Tapia to find out what the manager will do for him besides schedule fights. After interviewing four or five different boxing managers, Tapia said, "They were different, yet all of them seemed like the stereotypical manager." That's when Garcia suggested an old contact he knew from small MMA shows he used to attend back in 2005 and 2006. "I was able to talk to Ed Soares of Black House back then and I knew he used a different managerial system for his fighters," Garcia said.

In July 2010 during an interview I had conducted with Ed Soares, I asked him if he would entertain the thought of managing boxers. He told me, "I love combat sports, so it is something I would like to do in the future, though it is not my forte." Nonetheless, the model Black House has used for their MMA fighters was good enough for Tapia to buy into and Vice versa as Soares felt this young prodigy was the perfect fit to be the first and only boxer under the Black House stable.

The result has been three wins in five months with the most recent coming last Friday February 17. Tapia finished his opponent, who had previously gone the distance in five pro fights, in a little over two and a half minutes of the first round. According to Tapia, "The plan is to fight once a month if I can and if so, my goal is to be 10-0 by the end of the year." The way I've seen this kid throw a left hook to the body and the head, I wouldn't bet against it.

Roy Tapia would like to thank Albert Vasquez and Cesar Garcia. Also, his girlfriend Griselda and her family along with all his friends and fans.

I want to thank both Roy Tapia and Cesar Garcia for their time during this interview and Mike Ramirez of Black House for his assistance in setting it up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

UFC on Fuel TV 1: Ellenberger wins, now what?

With a rare weekend past and present without any Mixed Martial Arts action, the UFC sandwiched a free TV event in between. Unlike, and unfortunately for the UFC, the live card they had on the Fox network a few backs, this card on Fuel TV was a lot more entertaining. Just goes to show the unpredictability of this sport and why I called that Fox card 'Murphy's Law'.

Nonetheless, this one delivered on many levels and the main deliveryman came in the form of the current number one welterweight contender in the UFC, Jake 'The Juggernaut' Ellenberger. Who, the casual fan may ask? Well, Ellenberger (27-5, 17 KO's, 5 subs) is currently riding a six fight win streak and along the way has defeated some household names you may recognize such as Mike Pyle, Jake Shields and now Diego Sanchez.

This native of Omaha, Nebraska got to return home on Wednesday night and put on a fight of the night performance before a raucous hometown crowd and national TV audience against a very dangerous and formidable opponent. How dangerous is Sanchez? Ellenberger won the fight, but it was clearly on the strength of two strong rounds because in the third, he was in serious trouble. Sanchez, after Ellenberger had taken him down, reversed the position, got a hold of Ellenberger's back and definitely slowed the momentum 'The Juggernaut' displayed in the first two rounds.

An impressive win for Ellenberger to be sure and now he is the undisputed number one contender in the welterweight division. The question is, now what? Number one contender status usually means you're next in line for a title shot. However, for some reason, that commitment is not being made a/o yet by Dana White, UFC President. According to him, maybe current interim champion Carlos Condit would be better suited to wait for a crack at welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. "If you're Carlos Condit, (and) you just fought Ellenberger not too long ago, I'd wait for GSP," White is quoted as saying.

What? Excuse me, but wasn't the purpose of making the recent Carlos Condit/Nick Diaz fight for an interim title, solely for one reason; so that a title can be defended and not lie dormant while the champion recovers from a serious knee injury? If that is truly the case, then why this sudden back pedaling? Not to mention that a fight between Ellenberger and Condit is a no-brainer considering there is a built in storyline.

You see Ellenberger's last loss before the six-fight win streak was a controversial split decision loss to none other than Carlos Condit. This was back in September 2009, two and a half years ago, so I'm not sure what White means when he says they fought not too long ago. It isn't like this is an immediate rematch or something. On top of that, I would think White would want Condit, his interim champion, to fight as soon as possible, seeing the backlash he's received for the strategy he used in the Diaz fight.

I'm not a promoter and Dana White has already proven he's the best in this business. However, forget GSP, as there is no certainty regarding his timetable or return; you can also forget about Nick Diaz as he's looking at a year off, at least, due to his drug suspension. I think if you take all the above and add in that Ellenberger has proven to be a very exciting fighter, four KO finishes in those last six wins, plus a fight of the night performance, it's pretty simple. "Ellenberger wins, now what," means that he should fight Carlos Condit for the interim title; maybe I should be a promoter after all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sorry if I misled anyone to believing this was a blog or movie review regarding the classic western from the '60's, but I couldn't think of a better title to describe current UFC welterweight Nick Diaz. Unfortunately, I just couldn't find a photo of him wearing a cowboy hat; especially after the way his brother Nate threw down Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone's hat last month either.

Yet, if I looked hard enough, I probably could find a photo of him with a spliff in his mouth though. Nonetheless, the timeless image of legendary actor Clint Eastwood playing the character 'Blondie' in the movie will do just fine to illustrate the many sides there are to this complex, but talented young fighter and individual.

Considering I just wrote about Nick Diaz last week and chastised him for his, more or less, spoiled brat behavior after his decision loss to Carlos Condit, I don't want people to think I'm fighter bashing or even player hating. Truth is, I am a huge fan of Nick Diaz, always have been, when it comes to his fighting style. He not only brings it, but he's extremely skilled; sadly though, that's where it ends.

The news this week that Diaz was the one fighter to fail his post fight drug test after last weekend's event solidifies my reasoning. I'm sure Nick Diaz supporters will argue that at least it wasn't for performance enhancing drugs, thus he garnered no known advantage in his fight against Condit. They might even argue that even while under the influence of marijuana metabolites in his system, Diaz was able to put forth the effort he did during the fight. All that is fine and dandy, but it doesn't make it right.

The bottom line is Nick Diaz was busted for a drug of abuse; one that is not only banned by the UFC, but is illegal to use in this country. That is unless you are from the State of California where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed. Now Diaz is from California and although not official, may say that the use of marijuana helps him in some emotional way, which he has not said. However, when it comes to fighting in sanctioned mixed martial arts, it is considered a banned substance.

The good about Nick Diaz is he is an extremely talented fighter who is very popular amongst MMA fans. The fact that he shoots straight from the hip, no pun intended, when revealing his thoughts is considered noble; people appreciate the honest candor of a professional athlete who doesn't sugarcoat everything with cliches and textbook responses. On top of that, his fighting style is appealing to those who enjoy action, skilled at the highest level, in the cage.

The bad is that he enjoys getting blazed. Like I said, I am not hating on Diaz or anyone else that partakes in smoking marijuana, but let's call it for what it is; Nick Diaz likes puffing trees and as a professional fighter, that is a problem. This is the second time he's failed a test in Vegas for weed, the first time being five years ago after his epic fight at Pride 33 against then number one in the world Takanori Gomi. He won that fight, but ultimately his failed test cost him the victory as it was ruled a no contest.

Finally, the ugly is that Nick Diaz is the type of athlete that walks to the beat of his own drum and does not do well with what he considers restraints on his personal viewpoints. Just like Ricky Williams in the NFL, he'd rather throw it all away rather than conform to the rules of the game. That's why I said last week; he's the kid in the playground that will take his ball home if he doesn't get his way. If his attitude doesn't make a sudden change, he'll soon find that society and not MMA will be his biggest problem.

Sure he's in his prime and at the top of his game now; thus, he has some leverage in terms of his power within the game. However, in a few years when he is no longer in demand as an athlete and he has to make it in the world outside of the cage, where the rules are a lot more stringent, how will Nick Diaz react? On one hand, you have a person who is disciplined enough to train himself for triathlons, yet on the other hand doesn't have the discipline to say no to drugs. In a nutshell, that is the good, the bad and the ugly of Nick Diaz.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

So much for keeping it real

If there is one thing that has always made UFC welterweight fighter Nick Diaz such a popular and polarizing figure among fans it is his candor. Granted he is a great fighter and is always guaranteed to lay it on the line when inside the cage, which is just as big a reason why; but his honest personality and willingness to keep it real is what truly sets him apart.

In the world of sports and entertainment, where fame and fortune could easily change a person's personality, Diaz has always been the same person. That is why I found it strange and disheartening as a fan last night when he acted the way he did upon hearing the decision of his fight with new interim champion Carlos Condit. Sure he was disappointed with the outcome, but his reaction was not reminiscent of Nick Diaz the competitor.

In a close fight that made me instantly think of Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard's 'Superfight' in boxing from 1987, Diaz resembled Hagler. Throughout the fight, he stalked his opponent while attempting to be the aggressor. Meanwhile, Condit played Leonard as he stuck and moved while weaving in and out and picking his shots. While the outcome was the same, as Leonard also won a close decision, the difference here was Hagler had a platform to be disappointed.

For the record, I had Leonard winning that fight in '87 seven rounds to five. However, last night I had Condit winning the fight four rounds to one. My basis was simple, effective striking and ring generalship; those are two of the three main criteria a judge must use in mixed martial arts when scoring a fight. Of course, effective grappling is the third, where Diaz clearly won the only exchange of such in the last round, thus the reason I gave him the round. Yet, for all the (s)talking he did throughout the first four rounds, he lost in the battle of the other two.

Notice I have the letter 'S' in the word stalking in parentheses. That is because while he was "stalking" down his opponent throughout the fight, he was wasting time talking down his opponent as well. In typical Diaz fashion, but also in a desperate sign of frustration, Diaz kept throwing his hands up at Condit in disgust as he tried in vain to goat the Albuquerque, New Mexico product into his realm. To Condit's credit, he never bit at the bait; choosing instead to stick to his game plan of sticking and moving.

Also to Condit's credit, he fought; maybe not to the liking of hardcore Diaz fans or to fans who crave the blood and guts style of a Toughman competition, but like it or not he fought. Take one look at Nick Diaz's face and that should tell you whether or not Carlos Condit fought. More importantly, I'd like to take a look at Diaz's right leg this morning where Condit effectively showered it with round kicks throughout. To quote Diaz, "All he did throughout was pepper me with baby kicks." I'm willing to bet those "baby kicks" have changed the color of Diaz's leg drastically today.

After the fight, the judges scored the fight 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 for the winner Carlos Condit; more or less the way I saw the fight. Upon hearing the decision, Diaz pulled away from the ref in disgust and his face showed a sign of bewilderment. In his mind he truly believed he won the fight; or did he? His post-fight interview with Joe Rogan tends to suggest otherwise.

When Rogan asked his opinion on the fight, Diaz responded by saying, "I'm not going to accept the fact that this is a loss." He also said, "You guys pay me a ton, but I don't think I'm getting enough to keep going on." ..."I don't want to play this game anymore." In other words, Nick Diaz decided to pout and whine as the caricature above suggest. For all the bravado and straight talking attitude he portrays, he ended up being the kid on the playground who took his ball home if he didn't get to play by his rules. Thanks for playing Nick, so much for keeping it real.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Goody & Angie: Last of a dying breed

They just don’t make them like they used to. That’s the phrase people use when they’re talking about pieces of furniture, automobiles etc. However, I’d argue that the same phrase should be applied to boxing trainers. In today’s generation of unlimited social media, where there are numerous organizations in the boxing world that are willing to crown someone a champion, a champion fighter’s trainer instantly becomes a household name; even though that fighter or his trainer’s credentials may just not be that great.

That of course could and would never apply to Guerino ‘Goody’ Petronelli and Angelo ‘Angie’ Mirena Dundee, two legendary former boxing trainers who, up until this week, were the last of a dying breed. That is because in an ironic twist of fate, both Petronelli and Dundee died this week, both of natural causes, within four days of each other. Petronelli was 88, while Dundee was 90.

Besides their claim to fame in boxing, both Goody and Angie shared some other similarities as well. Both were of Italian descent born in boxing rich tough Eastern cities, Brockton, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, PA respectively, and both served their country proudly during World War II. Of course there was one more thing they shared, multiple world champions.

Goody Petronelli, like his childhood friend Rocky Marciano, began boxing while he was in the Navy. Petronelli had a successful amateur career, while Marciano went on to win the heavyweight championship of the world. The difference in success levels had nothing to with Petronelli’s lack of ability, but rather his reality. He viewed boxing as a long shot in terms of his future as a fighter and actually tried to convince Marciano of the same when after returning home from the war Rocky told him, “I’m thinking about turning pro.”

Upon hearing this, Petronelli actually tried to talk Marciano out of it, according to his nephew Tony. “You know Rocky, it’s a real tough game,” Petronelli is quoted as saying; just imagine if Marciano would have listened. Nonetheless, Petronelli would enter the game, but not as a fighter, rather as a trainer. Along with his brother Pat, who handled the managerial duties, they opened a gym in Brockton in 1969.

Not too long after a young amateur transplant from Newark, NJ named Marvin Hagler came through the doors and the rest as they say is history. Besides Hagler, Petronelli trained former world champion Steve Collins, USBA champ Robbie Sims, along with numerous other regional champions who contended for world titles. As for heavyweights, he is best known for training both Peter McNeely and Kevin McBride, who both had the distinction of fighting Mike Tyson; the latter ending Tyson’s career in 2006.

Meanwhile, Dundee made his bones in the boxing game in a different fashion. After the war, he had a couple of older brothers Chris and Joe who were working as a promoter and fighter respectively in boxing. Angie decided to join Chris as his assistant while the three of them adopted the name Dundee, so their parents wouldn’t know about their work in boxing.

Dundee enjoyed working in the corner so much he traveled to gyms in New York and Miami to work under fabled trainers such as Ray Arcel and Chickie Ferrera, cutting his teeth as a bucket boy. However, the grunt work proved its worth when Dundee started to use the knowledge he had garnered and coupled it with his uncanny ability to motivate. It was that trait that caught the eye of a young Olympic champion named Cassius Clay.

Clay had met Dundee in a chance meeting in 1959, the year before he won the gold medal, and once he turned pro, he already knew who he wanted as his professional trainer. Together the two would enjoy great success as Clay, who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali, went on to become “The Greatest.” That same type of accolade would follow Dundee as the mastermind behind the fighter.

Dundee was not just known for his motivation and master strategy, but for his ability to think outside the box (no pun intended). It was Dundee who decided to make an existing hole in Ali’s glove even bigger in his fight against Henry Cooper, when he saw his fighter needed an extra blow to regain himself. He did the same for Ali, when he was ready to give up in his third fight against Joe Frazier, the famed ‘Thrilla in Manila’, when Ali told him he couldn’t continue because of exhaustion.

He would go on to use these same techniques with his other legendary champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Calling Leonard a young Ali, coming out of the ’76 Olympics, Dundee was in Leonard’s corner against some of the greatest fighters in history,which included such opponents as Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. It was against Hearns during their first fight in 1981 that Dundee would utter the now famous words to Leonard before the 13th round, “You’re blowing it kid, you’re blowing it.” Leonard would go on to score a 14 round TKO.

In 1987 Dundee worked with Leonard again, this time in the “Superfight” against none other than Marvelous Marvin Hagler. That meant that he was in the opposite corner of the aforementioned Goody Petronelli. The fight was about as close as you can get with Leonard pulling out a split decision that is still argued among fans to this day.

Granted the fight lived up to the hype because of the two champions involved; but it also had a lot to do with their trainers. Both are legends in this sport that made their way during the glory years of boxing, when it was on top of the sports world. More importantly, they were genuinely regarded by all that knew them as gentlemen. They truly were the last of a dying a breed.

Junkie Gathering 2017... this time it was personal

Wow! I feel the only way to properly start this summary of what I just experienced is summed up in that one word. Although there is anothe...