Home Boxing News Bam On Boxing May 31, 2011

Bam On Boxing May 31, 2011

Fights, Fans, Rivalries: Boxing Needs You!

Philadelphia was known as a first-rate fight town from the turn of the 20th century through the 1970’s, 80’s and into the 90’s. What happened? When did Philly Boxing become second-rate?

There is more local talent in Philly now than there has been in the past 10 years. Besides light-heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins, cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham and heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers, there now are two other fighters world-rated by the prestigious Ring Magazine: Welterweight Mike Jones and junior welterweight Danny Garcia.

Fighters must be willing to fight other good fighters to get recognition. Today’s fighters don’t seem to understand this, or perhaps their managers don’t want to take risks. More than 50 years ago, legendary manager and boxing guru Cus D’Amato was quoted as saying: “It’s not that there aren’t any good fighters, it’s that there aren’t any good managers.”

Fans rarely get to see the fights they dream of seeing. Not every fighter becomes world champion. Some never rise beyond the level of neighborhood star or crowd-pleasing club fighter. All of them hope to win a world title, yet many lose sight of the journey. Staying active against any and all opposition is the best way for a fighter to make a name for himself.

Fighters in the 1970’s and 80’s fought as often as possible. They enjoyed the sport and they had bills to pay. Now it seems like money, titles and relationships are excuses for fighters not to fight. This is boxing; excuses should not be part of the vocabulary. Excuses are failure’s best friend. Excuses are reasons not to succeed.

There is more to boxing than million dollar purses and TV exposure. What about staying active, learning your craft building a name, climbing the ladder. Mike Jones is a good example. There is no way he is making the money that he made in Texas or Las Vegas when Jones fights Munoz of Leon, Mexico, on June 25 at the Arena in South Philly. Doesn’t matter, Jones knows the importance of staying busy, staying active any experience he can get, is good experience.

One of the saddest excuses I hear today is that one fighter will not fight another one because he knows him or is friendly with him. Get real! Fighters turning pro out of Philly grew up together, fought in the same amateur tournaments, trained in the same gyms. Middleweights Bennie Briscoe and Cyclone Hart both trained at Joe Frazier’s gym on North Broad Street before their classic two-fight series in the mid-1970s at The Spectrum. One of Philly’s all-time great fights in 1959 at Convention Hall featured welterweights Charley Scott against Sugar Hart. Not only did both train at Champs Gym; they lived within walking distance of each other.

Fighters respect each other. They treat each other as if they were friends anyway. If they really are friends, what would change if they fought each other? If they had to fight each other for a trophy in the finals of an amateur tournament, being friends would not stop them. So why should it stop them when they are fighting for money? Fighters know what it takes to step into the ring. Mutual respect would be there in any situation. If winning the fight enhances your career, do it! Let the fighter who watches from his seat make the excuses.

Fans keep the sport alive. Take a look at boxing from the outside. What is missing? The younger generation, the white-collar or blue-collar fan base, has vanished. Boxing needs to cultivate fans of all sports, not simply the hard-core fight fan. When you go to a fight you find the same people all the time. Fighters bring their family and friends. Where is the casual sports fan?

When was the last time there was a main event in Philly that excited you? Was it Derek Ennis vs. Gabriel Rosado last summer at The Arena? The atmosphere was terrific as two local guys battled it out.

You don’t see the same people every time you go to a Phillies game or a Sixers game or an Eagles games. You see thousands of people interested in the baseball or basketball or football. Where are those fans and why don’t they come to the fights?

Casual boxing fans rent the PPV fights and I think to myself, why? People spent $50.00 or more to watch Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, a boring fight. The Manny Pacquaio and Shane Mosley, where they did little more than touch gloves every round. The pathetic thing is they could have a better time sitting in a Philly gym watching local guys spar. Fans can spend less money, attend a local card and see much better fights. Thankfully, there are a few coming up.

Welterweights Ronald Cruz and Doel Carrasquillo meet Friday, July 1, at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. The fight will take place under a huge tent in the parking lot of the casino. Cruz is from Bethlehem; Carrasquillo is from Lancaster. This fight will be a brawl with hometowns so close and styles that match. Cruz is challenging himself and Carrasquillo is trying to hold on. This has potential to be great.

Junior middleweights Gabriel Rosado and Harry Joe Yorgey collide Friday, July 15, at Bally’s Atlantic City. This match, between two tough Philly guys comes at the right time. There has been much talk over the past few years between these two camps and their fans. It’s time to see what each fighter has to offer. We will not be disappointed. This is a big, big all-Philly fight, even if we have to drive 60 miles to see it.

Boxing needs fights like these more often, the hard-core fans deserve it and the casual fans will enjoy it.

IN OTHER BOXING NEWS: Harrah’s Chester resumes action Friday, June 3, with talented and exciting fighters such as lightweight Victor Vasquez, light-heavyweight Tony Ferrante and junior lightweight Angel Ocasio as part of a seven-fight card…The following evening is another busy one for Philadelphia-area fighters when super middleweight Derrick Webster, light-heavyweight Charles Hayward and heavyweight Bryant Jennings appear on a seven-bout card at the Hamilton Manor in Hamilton Township, NJ…Two hours south of Hamilton, on the same night, super middleweights Glen Johnson and Carl Froch meet on a Showtime-televised show at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall.

The author is a senior in sport and recreation management at Temple University.  She recently joined Peltz Boxing as an intern.  This is the third in a series of weekly columns.

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