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The Turnaround Punch

Yogi Berra coined the phrase “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” and we’ve all heard the present day opera follow-up that it’s not over  till the fat lady sings, but I don’t know that the famous Yankee pinstriped backup or your most caloric-challenged female  baritone would’ve stuck it out to the end of some of the sweet science’s most famous “reversals of fortune”. It takes a true boxing fan to hold out hope when all appears gone,  or maybe it just takes enough exposure  to the “Turnaround Punch”.

Boxing is unique in that it’s the only sport that can end at any point in the contest and with either side the victor. Try to picture a 15-1 blowout in baseball being waved off by the home plate umpire with the trailing club suddenly celebrating on the field,  an NBA team hopelessly behind (in this case, we’ll say the Charlotte Bobcats just to help with the visualization) hitting a shot and leaving the floor victorious while a shocked Miami Heat bench looks on, picture Tom Brady leaving the field after a  single play in the 4th quarter  rendered his  three quarters of brilliance meaningless.

Silly, you say?  Absolutely.  All these sports have “Sudden Death” via Overtime or Extra-Innings, but only after a stalemate exists.  Only boxing provides for the suddenness of a David vs. Goliath finish whether it’s the first stone or the last.

Down through the years, some of the Rings greatest moments have developed from what appeared to be some of it’s most hopeless situations.  Suppose Rocky Marciano never lands his famous Suzy Q and Ezzard Charles goes on to capture a decision or a TKO as the Brocton Blockbuster can’t overcome his split nose?  Boxing history changes faster than you can say Marty McFly and Doc Brown.

Lennox Lewis title reign would’ve undoubtedly been enhanced had it not taken a detour through Hasim Rahman, when a complacent Lewis who was having his way with the Baltimore underdog in South Africa got caught by the Turnaround Punch. Tommy Hearns suffered the same fate in his first fight with Iran Barkley.  Woe be to the fighter that enjoys the fruits of his labor too much and doesn’t guard against The Turnaround Punch.

Any Boxing fan from the early-Eighties might forget the outcome of a lot of fights, but I don’t know many that will forget  Big John Tate laying unconscious on the canvas just 45 seconds short of a near whitewash decision over Mike Weaver in 1980.  The same can be said for another generation of fans a quarter-of-a-century later who were lucky enough to witness Deigo Corrales calling on the Gods of the Turnaround punch when turning the tables on Jose Luis Castillo in their first fight. Nothing provides the lasting memory of the Turnaround Punch taking you by complete surprise…..unless you happen to be on the receiving end of it.

In a  Battle of New England protagonists,  Dana Rosenblatt appeared to be having little trouble outboxing Vinny Pazienza in their first matchup, controlling the fight with his jab….right up to the point where our friend The Turnaround Punch poured out of the Pazmanian  Devil.

Both of George Foreman’s careers saw the Turnaround Punch come into play.  Following the loss to Ali in Zaire, the moody young ex-champion found himself on the canvas at the hands of Ron Lyle.  It was the only time I ever saw a fighter fall FORWARD  into the oncoming punches  and still manage to beat the count.  To this day, I still marvel that he had the wherewithal to summon up the Turnaround Punch to save the day.  Of course, it was for naught as he fell victim to Jimmy Young  a year later in San Juan, but fast forward to 1994 when after ten round of being dominated, the Preacher turned Pitchman seemed to conjure up divine intervention with a Turnaround Punch for the ages in turning the tables on Michael Moorer.

We’ve seen wounded warriors, including Castillo, pull out the Turnaround Punch within moments of impending disaster. Jorge Castro capturing the WBA MW title from John David Jackson  in a fight that probably should’ve been stopped and was certainly headed in that direction when Castro launched the Turnaround Punch that’ll live forever in Argentinian boxing lore.

James Toney given one last round to call on the Turnaround punch when a gaping cut threatened to cost him his Super-Middleweight title against Tim Littles in  1994, and 1996 brought recent HOF inductee the late Arturo Gatti’s Turnaround Punch landed on Wilson Rodriguez through swollen eyes.  It just seems to add to the occasion when the Turnaround Punch is an act of desperation.

Of course, it doesn’t require a fighter to be on the brink of defeat, but it does add to the occasion when it’s in conjunction with an upset. Antonio Tarver’s stunning KO 2 over Roy Jones certainly changed 2003’s boxing landscape and Buster Douglas’ Turnaround Uppercut to gain back control over Mike Tyson in Tokyo come to mind.

The bottom-line is that we don’t see it often, but hope springs eternal in every boxing fans mind, and we’ll often sit through the most hopeless of lost causes, counting down the seconds until the final bell, but in the back of our mind knowing that our old friend The Turnaround Punch might just make a surprise appearance and give us something to remember where nothing existed before.