ไม่นานหลังจากการสัมภาษณ์ The Ring ได้จัดงานเลี้ยงอาหารกลางวันในแมนฮัตตันที่ LaMotta ได้รับการแต่งตั้งอย่างเป็นทางการ เขาเขียนเกี่ยวกับเรื่องนี้ในบทสุดท้ายของหนังสือเล่มที่สองของเขา Raging Bull II (แสดงโดย Chris Anderson และ Sharon McGehee) “และตอนนี้ 36 ปีหลังจากที่ฉันได้รับรางวัลนี้ ในที่สุดฉันก็ได้รับการแต่งตั้งให้เป็นหอเกียรติยศการชกมวยของนิตยสารเดอะริง… ฉันเดาว่าต้องใช้คนรุ่นใหม่และให้อภัยมากขึ้นกว่าจะรับรู้ถึงความสำเร็จของฉันบนสังเวียนทั้งๆ ที่ฉันต้องทำ เพื่อให้ได้ช็อตที่ถูกต้องของฉันที่ชื่อ
“ฉันยืนสูบบุหรี่อยู่ข้างนอกร้านอาหารเล็กๆ ใจกลางเมืองเล็กๆ แห่งหนึ่ง ก่อนที่ฉันจะเข้าไปข้างในเพื่อรับโล่ประกาศเกียรติคุณ ไม่ใช่ห้อง Hall of Fame ที่ Madison Square Garden อย่างแน่นอน แต่ก็ดีพอสำหรับฉัน”
Lennox Lewis heard talk in 2000 that Michael Grant was boxing’s next great heavyweight. By Thomas Hauser
THE mid-20th century gave birth to a new breed of athlete; men who were big, well-coordinated, and faster than men their size had been before. By the start of the new millennium, athletes had further honed their natural gifts and were even bigger than their predecessors. Two heavyweights personified this trend: Lennox Lewis and Michael Grant. When they met in the ring at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2000, Lewis was the reigning heavyweight champion. But Grant was seen in some circles as the heir apparent to the throne.
After winning a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics, Lewis advanced through the heavyweight ranks and was awarded the WBC heavyweight belt Riddick Bowe didn’t want. Next, he defeated Tony Tucker, Frank Bruno and Phil Jackson. Then, shockingly, he was stopped by Oliver McCall.
The road back for Lennox began with knockout victories over Lionel Butler, Justin Fortune, and Tommy Morrison. Then came a narrow majority decision over Ray Mercer at Madison Square Garden. In 1997, Lewis avenged his loss to McCall and reclaimed a portion of the heavyweight throne. Victories over Henry Akinwande, Andrew Golota, Shannon Briggs, and Zeljko Mavrovic followed. That set the stage for a return to Madison Square Garden and a March 13, 1999, title unification bout against Evander Holyfield. The widespread belief was that Lennox deserved the nod that night. But the judges ruled the contest a draw. Eight months later, Lewis won a unanimous decision over Holyfield in Las Vegas. In his next fight – on April 29, 2000 – he fought at Madison Square Garden for the third and final time.
The opponent was Michael Grant; 27 years old, undefeated in 31 bouts, 6-feet-7-inches tall, 250 pounds. There were questions regarding Grant’s skills. He’d turned pro six years earlier with only 12 amateur bouts to his credit. In many respects, he was still a ‘project’. But boxing insiders marvelled at his strength, coordination, and stamina. Some observers called him the best pure athlete ever to come into boxing.
HBO (which set the agenda for boxing in those days) was high on Grant. The cable giant had televised his five most recent outings during the preceding two years; fights in which Grant knocked out David Izon, Obed Sullivan, Ahmad Abdin, and Andrew Golota in addition to decisioning Lou Savarese.
On February 8, Grant and Lewis attended a press conference at Madison Square Garden to announce their April 29 battle. There were the usual speeches before the fighters had their say. Don Turner (Grant’s trainer), advisor Craig Hamilton, and attorney Jim Thomas spoke for Team Grant. Promoter Panos Eliades, manager Frank Maloney, and trainer Emanuel Steward advocated for Lewis. In the middle of the speeches, Turner pumped his fists spontaneously into the air. Joy and anticipation were etched on his face.
There was an interesting energy in the air. Most of the boxing media had come to the press conference believing that Lewis would beat Grant. But there was a growing sense that maybe Grant’s time had come; that Holyfield-Lewis had been about boxing’s past, and Lewis-Grant would be about boxing’s future.
Michael Katz, then the dean of American boxing writers, had been skeptical about Grant for most of the fighter’s pro career. Now Katz opined, “One way or the other, one of them won’t be standing at the end. I think Grant will win.”
HBO Sports Vice President Lou DiBella (the network’s point person on boxing) was also at the press conference. On his way out of the Garden, with excitement and some surprise in his voice, DiBella said simply, “I think we’re in for a changing of the guard.”
When the day of reckoning came, Grant awoke in his room at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan at 6:00am. He lay in bed, listening to gospel music for two hours. Then he ordered breakfast from room service. Fruit salad, scrambled egg whites, and ham. At 10 o’clock, Don Turner came to the room and the two men talked for 20 minutes. That was followed by a light snack.
At 12:30, Grant went down to the hotel lobby and sat in a large cushioned chair for an hour surrounded by friends.
“There have been other fights where I was more relaxed than this one,” he acknowledged. “But this is okay. I’m cool with it. I know this is for the heavyweight championship of the world. But I’m focusing on the fight, not the belt.”
For the first time in his pro career, Grant would be the underdog in one of his fights. Lewis had been installed as a 5/2 betting favourite. The prevailing view was that Lennox’s boxing skills gave him an edge. Also, Grant might be stronger, but Lewis was believed to be the harder puncher.
Grant’s advantage, such as it was, lay in his stamina. In the past, he’d worn opponents down. And some of Lewis’ past performances had raised doubts regarding Lennox’s stamina. The early rounds were expected to belong to the champion and the late rounds to the challenger. The outcome would hinge on what happened early and, if that wasn’t dispositive, on how early it got late.
The objective in the Lewis camp was that there not be any late rounds. Emanuel Steward’s plan was for Lennox to jump on Michael. But Craig Hamilton had a different view. Standing in the hotel lobby, Hamilton observed, “When you’re in the centre of the ring looking at Michael and the referee is giving final instructions, Michael can look very imposing. Lennox could be forgiven for asking himself at that moment, ‘Do I really want to jump on this guy? Maybe I should just use my superior boxing skills.’”
“It won’t be easy,” Don Turner added. “Lennox has plenty of guts. He’s not that good when he’s backing up; most fighters aren’t. But he’s very good coming forward. Michael has to fight a hungry fight. If Michael lays back, Lennox controls the fight and outboxes him. Michael has to back Lennox up and make it an action fight to win. He has to impose his will. Get off first. Initiate everything. Dictate the rhythm of the fight. If Michael does what he’s capable of doing, he doesn’t have to worry about what Lennox is doing. We know about Lennox. This fight is about Michael.”
At two o’clock, Grant went for a walk. An hour later, Turner, Hamilton, Thomas, and associate trainer Bobby Miles walked over to Madison Square Garden to arrange for last-minute ticket requests and check out the ring. Meanwhile, Michael returned to the hotel, had a three o’clock snack, took a nap, and spent the rest of the afternoon in his suite with his wife and a few friends. At seven o’clock, he ate his final pre-fight meal. Like every fighter who ever fought for the heavyweight championship of the world, he had dreams.
“I like Lennox,” Michael had said earlier. “I think he’s a gentleman. He’s not an open person; he’s very private. But if we were neighbours, there’d be a connection. We’d be in each other’s homes from time to time.”
Now Grant was focusing on the task ahead. “I know what I have to do when we fight,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me. When I’m champion, I won’t change. My character won’t change. But when I win the title, my life will.”
At 8:45pm, wearing a dark-blue jogging suit and grey peak cap, Grant arrived at Madison Square Garden with Turner, Thomas and Miles. His assigned dressing room was 24 feet long and 20 feet wide with a scuffed gray linoleum floor and white cinderblock walls. Nine lilac-coloured folding chairs were scattered about. A TV monitor was affixed to the wall by the door.
Grant crossed the room to a blue rubdown table and seated himself in an upright position with his legs dangling over the side. Then he lowered his head in contemplation. “The most nervous I ever was before a fight was before my first amateur fight,” Michael had once said. “I remember being in the locker room, banging the back of my head against my locker, saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’”
He looked nervous now. Very nervous.
An inspector from the New York State Athletic Commission came into the room and handed a pair of latex gloves to each of Grant’s cornermen. A NYSAC physician who had entered with the inspector took Michael’s blood pressure.
At 8:58, Grant lay down on the rubdown table with a half-dozen towels beneath his head and closed his eyes. Two minutes later, another Commission inspector came in and asked for a urine sample. Michael got up, went into the adjacent lavatory, provided a sample, and returned to the rubdown table where, once again, he lay down and closed his eyes. The table was a foot too short. His feet and then some dangled over the end.
The monitor on the wall heralded the start of the evening’s pay-per-view telecast. Several members of Team Grant watched as Wladimir Klitschko knocked out David Bostice in two rounds. Next, Arturo Gatti KO’d Eric Jakubowski; also in two. Michael slept, or pretended to sleep, through it all.
At 9:43, the monitor showed Lennox Lewis arriving at Madison Square Garden. Three minutes later, someone from HBO came into the room and asked if it would be possible to wake Michael for an interview. The answer was “no.”
At 10 o’clock, an hour after Grant lay down and closed his eyes, Turner roused him gently.
At 10:05, New York Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson entered the room and approached Grant. “You came this far,” the NFL star exhorted. “You’re gonna get it done, definitely.”
Paul Ingle versus Junior Jones, the next-to-last fight of the evening, came onto the TV monitor.
Turner began taping Michael’s hands. Fifteen minutes later, he was done and a Commission inspector initialled the wraps.
At 10:30, Grant and Turner left the dressing room and walked to a nearby freight-loading area where Michael jumped rope for three minutes. Four times, the normally agile fighter missed a beat and the rope slid off his shoe against the floor. That was cause for Turner to be concerned about his fighter’s state of mind.
The trainer led Grant back to the dressing room and took him through a series of stretching exercises. The positive energy so abundant at the February 8 kick-off press conference was gone. The room was silent. There was no aura of confidence and no crackle of electricity to signify that this was a fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
Grant began loosening up. For the first time since he’d entered the room earlier in the evening, his face transformed into the face of a fighter. His eyes grew more focused, angry and intense.
Then the look receded.
Paul Ingle KO’d Junior Jones in the 11th round.
Grant put on his protective cup and trunks and gloved up. Cutman Joe Souza applied Vaseline to his face.
At 11 o’clock, referee Arthur Mercante Jnr, who would preside over the title fight, came into the room to give the fighter his final pre-fight instructions. Two minutes later, Mercante was gone.
Someone turned on a portable CD player. Gospel music sounded.
Bobby Miles put on a pair of handpads. For the next six minutes, Grant hit the pads as Miles gave instructions.
“Jab, hook to the body… Jab, hook to the body, follow with a right.”
When they were done, Michael began pacing in a circle. Now it was just a matter of time. But something was missing. The room seemed strangely unalive. Miles put the handpads on again and Grant pounded them for another two minutes. It was 11:15pm.
“Three minutes,” a voice from the doorway sounded.
Everyone in the room joined hands in a circle, readying for prayer.
“Be sincere, please,” Michael implored them.
They prayed together. Then Grant turned for a silent moment of his own.
“I always shed a tear before a fight,” Michael had once said. Now he appeared to be shedding many of them. The room still didn’t feel right.
There would be no violent transfer of power that night. Lewis knocked Grant down three times in the first round and ended matters in the second stanza.
Grant never fought for the heavyweight title again. In his next outing, he suffered a broken ankle, occasioning a first-round stoppage at the hands of Jameel McCline. After that, he did what he could to rebuild his career. He worked hard in the gym. He took seven fights for small money, winning all of them. Every step was aimed at getting back on HBO. When he did, it was against Dominick Guinn in a crossroads bout for both men. Guinn won. Grant then reeled off eight more victories in succession before losing a 12-round decision to Tomasz Adamek. He finished his career with a 48-7 (36) ring record.
“The problem,” Bobby Miles said as Grant’s career wound down, “is that Michael doesn’t really like boxing. It’s just not something he likes to do. And he still thinks like an athlete, not a fighter. In most sports, there’s a code of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. If you’re a fighter, you have to approach each fight like a gladiator in the Roman Colosseum. You have to be mean. You’re fighting for survival. Tyson, Duran, guys like that; they understand. All great fighters do. Ray Leonard might have smiled and said nice things, but in the ring he was a mean son-of-a-b***h. Michael just isn’t mean enough.”
And Craig Hamilton added, “It’s not a question of courage. Every time in his career that Michael has been knocked down, he’s gotten back up. But he lacks confidence, and confidence is crucial to a fighter. What can I say? Michael wasn’t cut out to be a fighter. The fact that he got as far as he did in boxing is testament to what a great athlete he is. He could have accomplished so much more if he’d had the temperament of a fighter. But he doesn’t, and that’s that.”
Meanwhile, Lewis’ knockout of Grant solidified his own standing as the preeminent heavyweight in the world. By the time his ring career ended with a victory over Vitali Klitschko three years later, people in the know understood that Lennox would have been competitive against the best of all time.
Tom McNeeley ล้ม Floyd Patterson ถึง 11 ครั้งในปี 1961 Dave Zyglewicz ต่อสู้กับ Joe Frazier ในเวลาเพียง 96 วินาทีในปี 1969 และ Jean Pierre Coopman หรือ Richard Dunn กับ Muhammad Ali ทั้งคู่ในปี 1976 ไม่ใช่คำอธิษฐาน แต่พวกเขาต่างก็มาถึงกางเกงขาสั้นตัวใหม่กับคนที่รักความฝันนักมายากลในกรณีของ Dunn และพวกเขาออกไปจากระฆังเปิดเหมือนวีรบุรุษในเมืองเล็ก ๆ ที่พวกเขาเป็น ฉันคิดว่าคอปแมนมีหมอผีอยู่กับเขา หรือเคยทำงานกับนักเวทย์มนตร์ฮิปปี้ ตอนจบมันยุ่งเหยิง น่ารังเกียจ และเป็นการชกที่แย่
คืนหนึ่งที่มอสโคว์ในปี 2549 ในเวลาที่ Wladimir Klitschko ถือเข็มขัดสองเส้นและแชนนอนบริกส์มีหนึ่งเส้น Peter Okello แห่งกัมปาลาต่อสู้กับ Oleg Maskaev เพื่อชิงตำแหน่ง WBC ยังไง? Big Oleg หยุด Hasim Rahman สำหรับตำแหน่งและจะแพ้ให้กับ Samuel Peter ในปี 2008 ทั้งหมดนี้เป็นเมื่อไม่กี่ปีที่ผ่านมาไม่ใช่การต่อสู้จากวันที่น่าละอายเมื่อนักสู้ผิวดำไม่สามารถยิงได้หรือวันที่ผู้จัดการหวาดระแวง เพียงแค่เพิกเฉยใครก็ตามที่มีชีพจรหรือปีที่ไม่มีความปรารถนาที่จะให้นักสู้ที่ดีเติมเต็มความฝันของพวกเขา นอกจากนี้ ราห์มานยังเดินเตร่ เดินเล่น พูดคุยหลอกๆ ในการต่อสู้กับอเล็กซานเดอร์ โพเวตกินสำหรับตำแหน่ง WBA ในปี 2555 ซึ่งสูงอยู่ในแผนภูมิที่เป็นพิษของฉัน
อย่างไรก็ตาม Okello ซึ่งเป็นที่รู้จักในนาม The Letter O นั้นสดใหม่จากชัยชนะเหนือ Big Bob Mirovic; Bob Mirovic คนเดียวกันที่เอาชนะ Joe Bugner ครั้งเดียวและถูก Matt Skelton ทำร้ายที่ York Hall ในเวลานั้น สกอตต์ แกมเมอร์เป็นแชมป์เฮฟวี่เวทของอังกฤษ และฉันจะสนับสนุนเขาอย่างหนักเพื่อต่อสู้กับ The Letter O
Francesco Damiani วีรบุรุษนักสู้ชาวอิตาลีผู้ยิ่งใหญ่คือผู้ถือเข็มขัด WBO คนแรกที่เอาชนะ Jonny Du Plooy ของแอฟริกาใต้ในปี 1989 ซึ่งไม่ใช่การต่อสู้ที่ยอดเยี่ยม Du Plooy ถูก Renaldo Snipes โบราณหยุดไว้เมื่อไม่กี่เดือนก่อน Damiani จะได้รับความเสียหายจาก Ray Mercer ในปี 1991 และสูญเสียตำแหน่ง แต่ไม่ใช่ก่อนที่เขาจะยุ่งอยู่กับความภาคภูมิใจของอาร์เจนตินา Daniel Eduardo Neto เนโตเป็นเรือลาดตระเวนและใช้เวลาเพียง 64 วินาทีของรอบที่สอง Big Franco ยังคงดูเหมือนดาราภาพยนตร์ Fifties ซึ่งเป็นไอดอลที่มีรอยช้ำด้วยผมป่าและเสื้อคอเปิด ฉันพนันได้เลยว่ามีปาร์ตี้ในคืนนั้น
ฉันได้ติดต่อกับ Jackie Kallen, Don King และแม้กระทั่งคนของ Roy Jones เกี่ยวกับการต่อสู้กับเขา แต่จากนั้นฉันก็ได้รับบาดเจ็บที่หัวเข่าของฉัน มันหลุดออกจากเบ้า และนั่นทำให้การสนทนากับโปรโมเตอร์และโอกาสใด ๆ ที่ฉันจะได้กลับขึ้นสังเวียนในเร็วๆ นี้ นั่นคือเมื่อทั้งชีวิตของฉันเปลี่ยนไป
Thomas Hauser revisits Cotto vs Foreman, one of the worst examples of a fighter being needlessly endangered
ON JUNE 5, 2010, at Yankee Stadium, Yuri Foreman defended his 154-pound WBA championship against Miguel Cotto. Foreman was a Chabad rabbinical student and the first practising Orthodox Jew to win a world title since Jackie “Kid” Berg in 1932. He was also the first Israeli citizen ever to win a championship belt.
Foreman’s ethnicity was central to the promotion of Foreman-Cotto. In that spirit, I’d planned to report on the fight in the form of a column explaining the action to my 84-year-old Jewish mother.
“Foreman and trainer Joe Grier shmoozed in the corner between rounds. ‘You want I should throw the jab?’ Yuri asked.”
If there was a controversial decision, I could write that the loser was “kvetching about the judges.” If Yuri won, co-managers Murray Wilson and Alan Cohen would be “kvelling” with pride. The sanctioning body officials would be labeled “no-goodniks.”
Then reality intervened in the form of what I believe was a gross error in officiating by referee Arthur Mercante that requires serious commentary. Let’s put the matter in context.
Foreman was born in Belarus. His family moved to Israel when he was 11. “At first it was difficult,” Yuri recalled. “I was missing my friends. And sometimes in Israel, there was discrimination between the Russians and the Jews. The Russians were also Jewish, but the Israelis would call us Russians and say we didn’t deserve to be there, so there would be fights in school between the immigrants and the Israelis.”
Foreman learned the rudiments of boxing in an outdoor lot. There was no ring, not even a heavy bag. “They wouldn’t give us a gym because we were just Russians,” he said. “We went to City Hall and begged for a place to hang a bag and put up a ring. All they told us was, ‘Go box with the Arabs.’ So finally I went to the Arab gym. The first time I walked in, I saw the stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box. And boy, did they all want to box me. But after a while, the wall that was between us melted. We all wanted the same thing. I traveled with them as teammates. It helped that I won almost all the time. And finally, we became friends.”
In Israel, Foreman was a three-time national amateur champion. In 2001, he came to New York to pursue a career in professional boxing. He turned pro in 2002, compiled a 28-0 record and, on November 14, 2009, defeated Daniel Santos to claim the WBA super-welterweight title. The key to Yuri’s style was to move constantly and use his legs to keep an opponent at long range. Footwork was crucial to everything he did. He was hard to hit and threw a lot of punches that kept opponents off balance. He boxed more than he fought. In 28 bouts, he had scored only eight knockouts. His trainer was Joe Grier (a former police officer who fought professionally in the 1970s).
And there’s another piece of information that’s relevant. Yuri wore a brace on his right knee when he fought. “It’s for an old injury,” he said. “When I was 15, I fell off a bike.”
Foreman was promoted by Top Rank, whose CEO (Bob Arum) has visions and implements them. As long as a fighter performs in the ring, Top Rank can get him to the dance. In this instance, the dance was Foreman versus Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium. A win for Yuri would establish him as a star in the boxing firmament.
Outdoor fights in mammoth stadiums are part of American boxing lore, and stadium venue was a key element in promoting the fight. The other hook was Foreman’s Israeli citizenship and status as a rabbinical student. That distinction made him a magnet for publicity in the weeks leading up to the bout. Yuri was the grand marshall in New York’s annual “Salute to Israel Parade”. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran feature articles about him. The New York Daily News referred to Yuri and his wife, Leyla, as “the Brangelina of boxing.”
Foreman’s ring walk, the media was told, would be preceded by the sounding of the shofar (a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used in Jewish religious rites). “There will be two highlights for me on fight night other than the fight,” Arum proclaimed. “One will be when they play Hatikva (the Israeli national anthem) for the first time ever in the old or new Yankee Stadium. The other will be when Yuri begins his ring walk to the sound of the shofar. That’s something that has never been seen or heard in the whole long history of boxing. We are very fortunate to have Israel’s number one entertainer, Yoni Dror of Tel Aviv, attending the fight to sound the shofar. Yoni is beyond compare when it comes to sounding the shofar.” Yoni was also Arum’s nephew.
On the day of the fight, Foreman observed the Sabbath (from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday) in a Manhattan hotel room. He left the hotel at 9.08pm and drove with a police escort to Yankee Stadium. In his dressing room, he taped an eight-foot-long Israeli flag over the lockers at one end of the room. Then he took a Bible from his gym bag and bowed his head while reading from the Book of Psalms. Five minutes later, he kissed the book and put it back in his gym bag.
Top Rank’s international television feed could be seen and heard on a TV set in the dressing room. Yuri stood silently as Hatikva was sung, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
The referee for Foreman-Cotto was Arthur Mercante Jnr (son of Hall of Fame referee Arthur Mercante). Arthur Snr was known throughout the boxing community as a man of integrity and competence. Over the years, his son had developed his own body of work.
The first part of Foreman-Cotto boiled down to boxing basics. Miguel was the aggressor. Yuri sought to stem the tide with lateral movement and enough punches of his own to keep Cotto from rolling over him. Foreman’s punches stung. Miguel’s were the harder blows. Cotto appeared to be more concerned with finding Yuri than he was with getting hit.
The third round saw the first of what would be several strange acts by Mercante. With 1-42 left in the stanza, Foreman’s mouthpiece fell out of his mouth. Arthur saw it and immediately picked it up. There was a lengthy lull in the action, but he didn’t call time. Instead, he waited more than a minute before leading Foreman to Cotto’s corner. Emanuel Steward protested that he was the wrong guy to rinse the mouthpiece and put it back in, that Yuri wasn’t his fighter.
“No! No! You clean it,” Mercante ordered.
That was a clear departure from boxing protocol.
Round four was Foreman’s best round of the fight. He landed several hard lead right hands after feinting with his jab and won the stanza on each judge’s scorecard.
Round five belonged to Cotto. Round six was close.
Halfway through the scheduled 12 rounds, Miguel was ahead 59-55, 59-55, and 58-56 on the scorecards. Yuri had a bloody nose and a cut on his left eyelid. But he was still in the fight.
Then things got crazy.
Forty-five seconds into round seven, as Foreman was moving laterally to his right along the ring perimeter, his right knee gave way and he fell hard to the canvas. He rose in obvious pain, hobbling when he tried to walk. “Walk it off, champ,” Mercante told him. “Suck it up, kid. I’ll give you five minutes.” Then he asked, “Is it your ankle?”
Given the fact that Yuri was wearing a knee brace, an ankle injury wasn’t the most likely possibility.
Foreman said no.
“Is it your knee?”
“Suck it up, kid,” Mercante repeated.
Less than a minute after Foreman went down, the action resumed. At that point, Yuri was a seriously compromised fighter. Forty-five seconds later, again with no punch being thrown, his knee buckled and he fell once more to the canvas.
“Oh, shit,” Mercante muttered. His words sounded as though they were spoken more in anger than out of concern for the fighter. “Suck it up,” he said. “Do you want more time? You’re a game guy. Do you want to go?”
Foreman appeared to be in no condition to fight, but he was a champion with a champion’s heart.
Mercante instructed that the action resume.
With one minute left in round seven, a Cotto left hook knocked out Yuri’s mouthpiece. Mercante let the entire round finish without giving the mouthpiece to the corner to put back in.
Mercante’s handling of round seven was bad. His conduct in round eight was worse.
Joe Grier readied Foreman for the eighth round in the hope that Yuri could regain his mobility. But it was quickly clear that, not only couldn’t he move to avoid punches, he couldn’t get power on his own blows. At the 1-30 mark, while trying to move laterally, he staggered and almost fell again. “I knew then that it was a serious injury and that it wasn’t something he could recover from,” Grier said afterward. “Yuri had no mobility and he couldn’t get leverage on his punches. He was just a target.”
At that point, following proper procedure, Grier asked Ernie Morales (the New York State Athletic Commission inspector assigned to Foreman’s corner) to tell Mercante that he wanted to stop the fight. Morales stood on the ring apron to get Mercante’s attention. Arthur admitted after the fight that he saw and heard the inspector. And he knew that Morales was assigned to Foreman’s corner because he’d seen him in Yuri’s dressing room when he gave the fighter his pre-fight instructions. But Mercante pointedly ignored the request.
“Yuri was starting to get banged up,” Grier recounted later. “He couldn’t properly defend himself because he only had one leg. The referee wasn’t listening to the inspector. I had to get it stopped. I asked if I could throw the towel in, and the inspector said ‘go ahead.’”
With 1-15 left in round eight, Grier threw a white towel into the ring. Both trainers came through the ropes to embrace their respective fighters. Then Mercante did a disservice to boxing. If he had doubts as to where the towel came from, he could have asked Grier if he’d thrown it in. Grier would have answered, “Yes, sir.” The responsible thing for Mercante to say in response would have been, “Okay; the fight is over.”
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, Mercante shouted, “Everybody out of the ring. I don’t want the towel. The corner is not throwing in the towel [apparently, he knew it came from the corner].” Then he turned to Foreman and asked, “You all right, champ?”
Obviously, Foreman wasn’t all right.
“You’re fighting hard. I don’t want to see a move like that. Suck it up. Walk it off.”
The action resumed. But as Grier said, Foreman was no longer able to properly defend himself. The fight was clearly unwinnable. In fact, it was no longer a professional prizefight. It was a beating.
Foreman’s knee gave way and he staggered several more times before the end of the round.
After the eighth stanza, Mercante went to Foreman’s corner. “Who threw in the towel?” he demanded.
“I did,” Grier told him.
Mercante turned and walked away. He didn’t even talk with Foreman. Grier, understanding that he’d been forbidden to stop the fight, reluctantly readied his charge for the ninth round.
Thirty seconds into round nine, Cotto landed a hook to the body. Yuri’s knee gave out again and he fell to the canvas. Finally, Mercante stopped the bout.
In the dressing room after the fight, Foreman was disappointed but accepting of what had happened. “I felt a lot of pain,” he said. “It was very sharp and my knee was weak. I didn’t want to stop the fight, but I couldn’t box like I had to. If the leg was fine, I would stay in my game plan. Without the leg, I couldn’t move and I had no leverage on my punches.”
Grier thanked Ernie Morales for doing what he could to stop the fight. “The inspector did the right thing, and so did I,” Joe said. “I’d throw the towel in again if I had it to do over. All that happened after that was, Yuri took unnecessary punishment. He was fighting with dignity, but he only had one leg. I wanted it to stop while he was still on his feet, not down on the canvas. I know you’re not supposed to throw a towel in. I told the inspector I wanted them to stop the fight. The inspector told the referee. And the referee told them to keep fighting. What else was I supposed to do?”
Arthur Mercante came in the room to congratulate Foreman on his courage.
“You should have stopped it,” Yuri’s wife, Leyla, said.
“He wasn’t going to get hurt,” Mercante countered.
“You don’t know that.”
“Each time he collapsed, he got back up, throwing punches.”
“It made no sense,” Leyla pressed. “What did you expect was going to happen? Nothing was going to change. There was not going to be a miracle that he could start to move again.”
Mercante left the dressing room; but not before pointing to several text messages he’d received on his cell phone telling him that the HBO commentators had praised his work during the fight.
Yuri lay down on a rubdown table, and a doctor put the first of seven stitches in his left eyelid. Six days later, he underwent knee surgery at NYU Medical Center to repair a torn miniscus muscle and rebuild his anterior cruciate ligament.
Subsequent to the fight, New York State Athletic Commission chairperson Melvina Lathan praised Mercante for his handling of the contest. “I think Arthur did a remarkable job,” Lathan told writer Michael Woods. “He did what he was supposed to do. He knows the rules. He responded appropriately. All in all, it was a magical evening of boxing.”
I have a different opinion. I think that Mercante’s handling of the fight was appalling.
Let’s start with some facts. Early in round seven, as previously noted, Foreman’s knee gave way and he fell to the canvas. He rose, debilitated and in obvious pain. New York State is a member of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Section 33 of the Referee Rules and Guidelines adopted by the ABC in 2008 states, “The referee must consult with the ringside physician in all accidental injury cases. The referee, in conjunction with the ringside physician, will determine the length of time needed to evaluate the affected boxer and his or her suitability to continue. If the injured boxer is not adversely affected and their chance of winning has not been seriously jeopardized because of the injury, the bout may be allowed to continue.”
Foreman’s injury “seriously jeopardized” his chance of winning the fight. Mercante is an intelligent man, so presumably he understood that. Also, Mercante failed at that juncture to consult with Dr. Rick Weinstein (an orthopedic surgeon, who was the ringside physician in Yuri’s corner) as required by Rule 33. Instead, he urged Foreman to “walk it off” and “suck it up,” and let the fight continue.
When Foreman’s knee buckled and he collapsed again less than a minute later, Mercante followed the same procedure. The key to Foreman’s success as a fighter is his mobility. In rounds one through six of the fight, Cotto had landed an average of 11 punches per round. In round seven, with a disabled fighter in front of him, he landed 29, including 27 “power” punches.
Joe Grier understood Foreman’s fighting heart and wanted to give him every reasonable opportunity to win. But as round eight progressed, it was clear to Grier that Yuri’s injury was not something that the fighter could “walk off” and that it would only get worse.
Corner inspectors are the eyes and ears of the commission. They don’t have the authority to stop a fight. But they do have the authority to tell the referee that a fighter’s corner wants the fight stopped. Midway through round eight, when Yuri staggered and almost fell again, Grier asked inspector Ernie Morales to tell the referee that he wanted to stop the fight.
Morales relayed the request. Mercante refused to honor it.
At that point, with the inspector’s permission, Grier threw a white towel into the ring.
I’m hard-pressed to think of another instance when a chief second asked that a fight be stopped (let alone, an instance when a fighter was hobbling around the ring on a severely injured leg) and the referee refused to stop it.
After the fight, when Mercante was interviewed by Max Kellerman on HBO, he was evasive, as evidenced by the following colloquy:
Kellerman: “Do you know who threw in the towel?”
Mercante: “At the moment, I didn’t know.”
Kellerman: “Do you know who it is now?”
Mercante: “I kind of know.”
After round eight, Mercante had gone to the corner and demanded, “Who threw in the towel?”
“I did,” Grier told him.
Arthur didn’t ask, “Why?”
He didn’t say, “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
He turned and walked away.
If that’s standard protocol in New York, then New York needs to overhaul its standards.
After the fight, one of the things that Mercante said in support of his decision was, “There was no need to stop the fight. They were in the middle of a great fight. That’s what the fans came to see.” But referees are taught from day one, “You don’t worry about the crowd. You’re there to ensure a fair fight and protect the fighters. You do what you have to do to fulfill these obligations whether or not it makes the crowd happy.”
Shame on anyone who thought that seeing a one-legged fighter get beaten up was “entertainment.”
Here, one might also note that Mercante was the referee on the night of June 26, 2001, when Beethavean Scottland fought George “Khalid” Jones in a bout that was nationally televised from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid. Scottland took a beating. On three occasions in three different rounds, there were cries from the crowd that the bout should be stopped. In round 10, he was knocked unconscious. He died six days later.
Larry Hazzard is uniquely situated to comment on Foreman-Cotto, having been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of a Fame for his body of work as both a referee and chairman of the New Jersey Board of Athletic Control. “Normally, I don’t comment on situations involving a referee and a commission,” Hazzard said after Foreman-Cotto. “And I don’t like to criticise. But I’d be doing a disservice to the boxing community if I didn’t speak out. The most important mission of the referee is to protect the health and safety of the fighter. Fighters are in danger every time they step into the ring. It’s the referee’s job to protect them when the danger becomes too great. The referee’s mission is not to tell the fighter, ‘Suck it up. Walk it off.’
“Walk it off? What does that mean?” Hazzard continued. “The referee should have called in the doctor when the fighter’s knee gave out. Instead, the referee, on his own, made a medical decision that the fighter should continue. That’s why we have a doctor in each corner. You call time and consult with the doctor. How can anyone argue with that? And how can you overrule the trainer when he wants to stop the fight? Nobody knows a fighter better than his trainer. When the inspector came up on the ring apron and told the referee that the trainer wanted the fight to be over, that should have been it. When Mercante threw the inspector out of the ring, he was throwing all the rules and a hundred years of boxing out of the ring. Right then, someone should have taken the fight out of his hands; because clearly, at that point, he wasn’t acting properly. I hate to be this critical. But the way this fight was handled was horrible. In the whole history of boxing, to my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened before. And it should never happen again.”
Don Turner has been honored as “trainer of the year” by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America. “I didn’t see the fight,” Turner acknowledged. “But I heard about it. First, let me tell you about Joe Grier. He’s a good trainer; he cares about his fighters; and he’s a great guy. Second thing; the only problem I have with Joe Grier in this situation is that he was too nice a guy. If it had been me in there with my fighter and the referee told me I couldn’t stop the fight, there would have been a bigger fight between me and the referee. All trainers want to win. The trainer does everything he can to keep his fighter in the fight. But the trainer knows better than anyone else when his fighter is in trouble and when a fight should be stopped. When the trainer reaches that conclusion, it’s not about asking the fighter, ‘How do you feel about me stopping the fight?’ When the trainer says ‘that’s all,’ the fight is over.”
Finally, there was Emanuel Steward, respected throughout the boxing community as a trainer and HBO commentator. Steward had a unique view of Foreman-Cotto. He was in Miguel’s corner as the drama unfolded. “I usually defend referees,” Steward said. “It’s a hard job. And to be honest; I don’t like to say things that upset officials because they might hold it against me down the road. But I’ll talk about this because it was horrible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee do a job that bad. First, the referee was out of position all through the fight. No one is talking about that. Then there was the mouthpiece thing. That was crazy. And when the towel came in; that was awful. There are things we have in boxing to protect fighters from their own courage. There’s the referee, the ring doctor, and the fighter’s corner. The fighter’s corner has always been able to stop a fight. The trainer knows his fighter better than the referee does. We’re not stupid. If the trainer wants to stop the fight, you stop the fight. Yuri could have been killed. One punch can do it. And it was obvious to everyone except the referee that Yuri couldn’t defend himself. Even if Joe Grier didn’t want to stop the fight, the referee should have stopped it.”
“If it was my fighter and I wanted to stop it,” Steward concluded, “we would have had a real confrontation, in the ring right then and there. The referee could say anything he wanted. I’d have told him, ‘I don’t care what you say. The fight is over.’ I have no idea what the man was thinking. The fighter’s life was at risk. A bad call in another sport can cost you a point or maybe lose the game. Boxing is a whole different sport. If a referee doesn’t understand that, he has a serious problem. The whole thing was weird and scary. This wasn’t one bad spur-of-the-moment decision. Everything was wrong. There was bad refereeing and irrational behavior all night long. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I hope I never see anything like it again.”
There are those who say that it was appropriate to allow Foreman-Cotto to continue because Yuri had earned the right to “go out on his shield.” That translates into, “Yuri had no chance to win. But the referee should have allowed him get to beaten up, rip open the cut on his left eyelid, shred whatever remained that was holding his right knee in place, and maybe get knocked unconscious. Then, since there were no shields at ringside, he could have been carried out on a stretcher.”
Foreman didn’t need that to establish his courage. It’s not a hard concept to grasp. If a fighter is hurt and his chief second wants to stop the fight, the referee should stop the fight. People can agree or disagree with me. But that’s how I felt then. And more than a decade later, I still feel very strongly about it.
ดูเหมือนว่า Kash Ali จะอายุมากขึ้นในขณะที่ Tommy Frank จะเลิกกับ Matt Windle เพื่ออำนาจสูงสุดในประเทศ เขียน Matt Bozeat
ROTHERHAM รุ่นเฮฟวี่เวท Kash Ali พาดหัวข่าวที่ Sheffield ในคืนวันเสาร์ Fightzone ฉายการแสดงจาก Ponds Forge Arena ที่มี Tommy Frank คนโปรดในท้องถิ่นซึ่งกำลังเผชิญหน้ากับเมืองเบอร์มิงแฮม Matt Windle เพื่อชิงแชมป์บริติชฟลายเวทว่าง
Frank-Windle เป็นคนที่เลือกยาก ในขณะที่ Ali เริ่มตัวเต็งเพื่อเอาชนะ Roman Gorst อดีตแชมป์เยอรมันชาวเยอรมัน (7-1) มากกว่า 10 อัน อันที่จริง มันดูเหมาะกับ Ali ที่ชนะด้วยความมั่นใจ ในเดือนพฤษภาคม. โทมัส ซาเล็ค มาจากสาธารณรัฐเช็กด้วยสถิติ 15-2 (13) ฟอร์มกำลังดี และอาลีก็ฟาดฟันเขาภายในสามยก เลือดกำเดาไหล กรีดตา และปล่อยเขาสองครั้งด้วยตัวพิมพ์ใหญ่ นั่นเป็นผลลัพธ์ที่ดีที่สุดในสถิติ 19-1 ของอาลี
Kearon Thomas ต่อสู้อีกครั้งในคาร์ดิฟฟ์ในอีกสองสัปดาห์ Ryan Woolridge ต้องการที่จะออกไปเร็วๆ นี้ และโปรโมเตอร์ Errol Johnson จะทำให้แน่ใจว่าสิ่งนั้นจะเกิดขึ้น แฟนๆ ของ Ryan เลิกงาน ดีใจและไม่มีรองเท้าสำหรับคืนวันอาทิตย์ที่ The Beacon Ryan ไปงานฉลอง แต่เขาไม่เคยดื่ม “การชกมวยคือชีวิตของฉัน แค่นั้นจริงๆ” เขากล่าวขณะที่เขาจากไป