Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Classics - Wilfred Benitez vs. Harold Weston I

Even if you've been a fight fan most of your life, and even if you try to educate yourself when it comes to guys far before your time that you'd never know or care about unless you were a fight fan, you're bound to encounter a few great scraps that you didn't know existed or simply hadn't yet seen.

Footage of primordial bouts has been lost, packed away or forgotten about, and sadly we may never see those gems, and we live with that. 

Other classics simply escape our consciousness for one reason or another, though. Fights like Frankie Baltazar Jr. vs. Juan Escobar, or even "Caveman" Lee vs. John LoCicero lacked really familiar names, but their tales were recounted unto younger boxing followers by responsible, bloodthirsty folk who watched them 30 or 40 years ago. Jung-Koo Chang vs. Katsuo Tokashiki was perhaps the Somsak SIthchatchawal vs. Mahyar Monshipour of the early 1980's, in that both featured two non-American fighters on foreign soil in excellent lower-weight collisions, though the latter match-up was pushed heavily on the internet, while the former relied mostly on word of mouth. 

Whatever the reason, despite how the internet has accelerated the evolution of the boxing fan, we cannot be everywhere at once. Time is limited, and fights fly under the radar. 

This one, while not quite the slugfest the above mentioned were, flew under mine for too long. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ave Atque Vale, Joe Frazier

"Oh, Brother, ripped away from me so cruelly, now at least take these last offerings..."
     - Gaius Valerius Catullus

Joe Frazier was referred to as "the slaughterhouse smasher" by the AP ahead of his decision loss in the 1964 Olympic Trials to Buster Mathis Sr., who out-weighed him by 100 lbs. 

It was a short phrase, likely written quickly and without much analysis, simply referring to his destructive style, and his job at a slaughterhouse. But it's perhaps an unintentional metaphor for exactly what he did in the ring, and what he made it look like in there. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boxing After Dark - Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Kennedy McKinney

When reports of a new HBO Boxing series surfaced sometime around the New Year in 1996, the obvious intention was to showcase younger or lesser-known talent. Perhaps not quite as apparent was the network’s specific intention to expand its international reach by including fighters from abroad, as HBO would control all international rights to a boxing series for the first time ever.

For its February 3 premier, two of the four fighters chosen for the show’s maiden voyage hailed from outside of the United States: lanky Brazilian unknown Giovanni Andrade, and Mexican part-time law student (and WBO junior featherweight titlist) Marco Antonio Barrera, a 22-year-old who had been appropriately named 1995’s international fighter of the year by the BWAA.

The opening bout of the broadcast, WBO super flyweight champ Johnny Tapia vs. Andrade, did little to boost any interest at all, much less outside the U.S. Moments into the fight, Tapia caught Andrade with a punch below the equator, which appeared to set the tone. Andrade was floored by a right hand to the temple in the second round, rose, and hit the deck again near the end of the round, courtesy of a hard hook to the waistband. An unfortunate ending, Andrade chose to roll around on the canvas in feigned agony as referee Raul Caiz, Sr. stopped the fight.

Salvaging the broadcast seemed a sizable task following the disappointing outcome, but Barrera and Kennedy McKinney lightened the mood -- and then some.  The crowd of 7,900 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, CA witnessed a “Fight of the Year” caliber main event, contested on a reasonably high level of skill despite the ferocity of the exchanges.