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The Boxing Scene

Thomas Hauser

Publication Year: 2009

Thomas Hauser has been called “one of boxing’s greatest writers. The Boxing Scene, Hauser’s provocative new anthology, contains all of his trademark insights and candor as he peels away layers of hypocrisy to reveal the men who make up the contemporary boxing landscape.

Hauser exposes the inner workings of HBO Sports; examines the phenomenon of mixed martial arts as it relates to boxing; and records the amusing encounter between his 81-year-old mother and larger-than-life boxing impresario Don King. The Boxing Scene also updates Hauser’s personal and professional thoughts on superstars like Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and Bernard Hopkins as well as fight promoter Bob Arum, announcer Bob Sheridan and a host of others.

The Boxing Scene recreates another year in professional boxing and adds to Hauser’s definitive record of the sport.

Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-x

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Author’s Note

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pp. xi

contains the articles about professional boxing that I authored in 2007. The articles I wrote about the sweet science prior to that date have been published in Muhammad Ali & Company; A Beautiful Sickness; A Year at the Fights; The View from Ringside; Chaos, Corruption, Courage, and Glory; The Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali; I Don’t Believe It, But It’s True; and The Greatest Sport of All. ...

I. Fights and Fighters

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Evander Holyfield and the Impossible Dream

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pp. 3-8

Evander Holyfield is an aging fighter. He’s forty-four years old and has amassed a professional record of forty wins against eight losses and two draws over twenty-two years. “I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me in my career,” he says. “Making the United States Olympic team [in 1984] was my greatest moment. Beating Buster Douglas [in 1990] to ...

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John and Grainne: A Love Story

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pp. 9-15

That’s very different from getting hit. And while fans often identify with fighters, they rarely consider what watching a fight is like for someone who has close personal ties to one of the combatants and loves him. Grainne Coll loves John Duddy, the Irish middleweight with piercing blue eyes who is unbeaten in nineteen fights and is causing a sensation in America. Like Duddy, she’s a native of County Derry, Ireland. ...

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Boxing Awaits De La Hoya–Mayweather

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pp. 16-21

The tagline for the fight (“The World Awaits”) is a bit pretentious. The world hasn’t paid much attention to boxing lately. The days of Louis–Schmeling II and Ali–Frazier I (when the world really awaited a prize fight) are gone. But boxing is waiting for Oscar De La Hoya versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. like a drowning man who sees a log floating in his direction. The log won’t solve all of his problems but it will ...

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Floyd’s World

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pp. 22-23

The May 5 fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. might turn out to be the largest-grossing fight in the history of boxing. Over the next few months, thousands of articles will be written about the combatants. Their respective psyches will be thoroughly explored. I don’t claim intimate knowledge of either man, ...

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De La Hoya–Mayweather in Perspective

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pp. 24-31

At 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2 Floyd Mayweather Jr. was holding court at the Mayweather Boxing Club, the storefront gym in Las Vegas where he trains. In three days, “Pretty Boy” would enter the ring to face Oscar De La Hoya. The final pre-fight press conference at the MGM Grand had ended several hours earlier. ...

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First Bout at 3:05 P.M.

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pp. 32-36

Boxing’s historical record, like most forms of history, centers on the exploits of kings, not foot soldiers. But the sweet science is about more than great champions. Journeymen, faceless opponents, and young fighters with optimism are an integral part of the game. On Saturday, May 5, 2007, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather ...

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The Enigmatic Shannon Briggs

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pp. 37-43

Perpendicular to the boardwalk in Atlantic City, a four-story shopping mall called The Pier Shops at Caesars extends across a narrow beach and juts out over the Atlantic Ocean. Standing at the eastern end of the mall, one can gaze at the ocean and see Herman Melville’s “great shroud of the sea” as it rolled on thousands of years ago. ...

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Bob Arum Mans the Ramparts with Cotto–Judah

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pp. 44-49

The first fight that Bob Arum promoted was Muhammad Ali versus George Chuvalo in 1966. Arum is seventy-five years old now. He and Don King are self-described “dinosaurs of the sport.” But while King has seen his influence fade in recent years, Arum’s remains constant. His current roster of fighters includes Manny Pacquiao, Antonio ...

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Bernard Hopkins: He’s Baaack!

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pp. 50-55

Glory came late for Bernard Hopkins. Bernard’s first pro fight was at age twenty-three for a purse of $400. He lost, sat out for sixteen months, returned to the ring in 1990, and was defeated only once over the next fifteen years. In 1995, he captured the IBF middleweight crown with a seventh-round knockout of Segundo Mercado. Ultimately, he made twenty consecutive title defenses. ...

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Bernard Hopkins: History in the Making

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pp. 56-65

Egos are big in boxing and few people in the sweet science have a bigger ego than Bernard Hopkins. The fighter himself says, “I admit that your ears can get tired listening to Bernard Hopkins.” Hopkins is a writer’s fighter. He’s quotable and charismatic with marvelous ring skills to match his persona. He’s also an exceedingly complex man with personal potential that has yet to be fully tapped. He ...

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Taylor–Pavlik: “And the NEW Middleweight Champion of the World . . .”

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pp. 66-79

For most of the world, a prize fight is a sporting event, entertainment, a show. For a fighter, each bout carries the potential to be a crucial turning point in his life. Kelly Pavlik is a fighter, a self-described “skinny white kid from Ohio.” He has a thin muscular body and knows one way to fight: going forward, punching. In high school, he worked odd jobs to get the money ...

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Forget the Belts: Madison Square Garden—October 6, 2007

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pp. 80-82

The thrill of heavyweights is in the way they punch. The blows come in slow-motion in comparison to those of smaller fighters. Fans in the nosebleed seats can follow their arc. And they land hard. On October 6, Don King promoted a night of boxing at Madison Square Garden. When it was over, the crowd had seen three pretty good heavyweight fights. ...

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Cotto–Mosley: Youth Will Be Served

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pp. 83-87

Some of boxing’s most memorable battles have been contested in the courtroom, not in the ring. In June 2007, a Swiss banker, a lawyer, and a media-savvy superstar were locked in legal combat. Then mediator Daniel Weinstein intervened. “Once the mediator broke our logjam,” Bob Arum later proclaimed, “the animosity just melted away. It had a cathartic effect, where you rid ...

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Vinny Maddalone: “When the Candle Burns Out, I’ll Walk Away”

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pp. 88-93

Vinny Maddalone is a club fighter with the heart of a champion. Boxrec.com lists him as the 217th-ranked heavyweight in the world. His records stands at twenty-eight wins and four losses with nineteen knockouts. There was a fifth loss, but the verdict was changed to “no contest” after his opponent tested positive for marijuana. Maddalone’s fights have the look of a slugfest from a 1940s movie. ...

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The American Perception of British Fighters

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pp. 94-98

There will be a lot at stake when Ricky Hatton fights Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas on December 8. Mayweather’s “pound-for- pound” crown and various sanctioning-body belts will be on the line. But more significantly, an entire historical era could be laid to rest. England is the cradle of modern boxing. But for most of the past century ...

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Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas: Dreams versus Reality

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pp. 99-111

On December 8, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ricky Hatton met in the last big fight of 2007. The differences between them and their constituencies were self-evident. Mayweather looks like a sleek high-powered precision fighting machine unscathed by the ravages of his trade. Undefeated in thirty-nine fights, he’s boxing’s reigning pound-for-pound king and brings to mind ...

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Jack Dempsey Revisited

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pp. 112-128

September 22 will mark the eightieth anniversary of the famous “long count” fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. The two men are remembered as adjoining links in history’s chain of heavyweight champions. But Dempsey was more than just another champion. He was one of the most charismatic fighters in ring history ...

II. Curiosities, Issues, and Answers

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HBO Boxing: The Challenge

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pp. 131-137

Boxing is struggling, and 2007 will bring new challenges for the sport. Showtime has publicly announced its intention to televise mixed martial arts. Meanwhile, HBO recently committed to televising three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) shows during the coming year with an option for three more. HBO’s current plan is to air the shows at midnight on dates still to be determined. No matter how ...

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Some Thoughts from the Hammerstein Ballroom

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pp. 137-139

Malignaggi came into the bout with blue hair to match his blue-andsilver trunks, blue gloves, and blue shoes (with tassels, of course). More significantly, he’s a good fighter who knows what he’s doing in a boxing ring. “I can’t imagine how it would feel to be in the ring with a guy who can outthink me and outbox me,” Paulie said recently. “That’s never ...

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HBO Notes

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pp. 140-145

Last week, I received an e-mail from a reader who asked, “Why is it that, every time I watch a fight on HBO, everyone except maybe Max Kellerman and Fran Charles knows in advance who’s going to win?” That’s a good question. The periodic promises by the powers that be at HBO about more competitive fights are starting to have all the credibility of Dick Cheney’s pronouncements on the war in Iraq. ...

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The Void

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pp. 146-147

These men were gods with a common bond. “Fitzsimmons had been hit by Corbett,” Liebling wrote. “Corbett by John L. Sullivan; he by Paddy Ryan with the bare knuckles; and Ryan by Joe Goss, his predecessor, who as a young man had felt the fist of the great Jem Mace. It is a great thrill to feel that all that separates you from the early Victorians is ...

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More on the Heavyweights

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pp. 148-150

Over the years, IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and his brother, former WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, and have become known as good people with a social conscience. Wladimir devotes considerable time and effort to raising public awareness and funds on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, ...

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A Boxing Fan Looks at Mixed Martial Arts

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pp. 151-160

Today’s video-game culture and increasingly violent movies have spawned a demand for entertainment that offers clearly visible mayhem. Meanwhile, boxing is in trouble. Not many sports have a reigning superstar who has won only twice in the past four-and-a-half years and lost three of his last five outings. But that’s Oscar De La Hoya’s recent record. ...

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No One Is Enforcing the Federal Boxing Laws

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pp. 161-164

Boxing is allowed to exist as an exception to state laws against violence on the premise that it will be regulated in a manner that protects the combatants physically and financially. In 1996, when it became clear that the individual states were not properly protecting boxers, congress enacted the Professional Boxing Safety Act. Four years ...

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Agenda for the New York State Athletic Commission

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pp. 165-167

The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) has made enormous progress with Ron Scott Stevens as chairman. It might now be the best commission in the country. With leadership comes responsibility. If the NYSAC is to remain in the forefront of boxing regulation and reform, here are a dozen things ...

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Bob Sheridan: The Voice of Boxing

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pp. 168-171

Bob Sheridan was first behind the microphone for a fight in 1966. Since then, he has called more than 800 championship bouts and become an integral part of boxing’s historical soundtrack. From radio to broadcast television to closed-circuit to pay-per-view; been there, done that. ...

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Are There Fewer Good Trainers Than Before?

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pp. 172-179

As sports and technology have evolved over the years, training and coaching have evolved with them. From videotape to computer analysis to sports medicine, the sources of improvement are endless. By way of example, some of the men who won gold medals in swimming at the 1960 Rome Olympics (where Cassius Clay won his gold ...

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A Note on Jim Lampley

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pp. 180-182

Last summer, Jim Lampley began dating a woman named Candice Marie Sanders. Lampley is fifty-seven years old. Sanders (who reigned as Miss California in the 2003 Miss USA Pageant) was twenty-nine when they met. Sanders became omnipresent in Lampley’s life. A lot of Jim’s friends and co-workers had doubts about her, but he was in love. It was a tempestuous ...

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If Boxing Ruled Baseball

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pp. 183-184

For the past two years, in addition to his involvement with boxing, Lou DiBella has been president and managing partner of the Connecticut Defenders (a Double-A minor league baseball team). His goal is to someday be managing partner of the New York Mets. So, what would happen if the people who run boxing took over Major ...

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My Eighty-One-Year-Old Mother Meets Don King

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pp. 185-187

I have a great mother. She got married at nineteen, and I was a wedding-night baby. She isn’t young anymore, but she’s still young at heart. My mother is a loyal Democrat and a cut-throat bridge player. At eighty-one, she takes a weekly class in global politics at NYU. She’s inquisitive and likes life-broadening experiences. She thought it would be ...

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Hauser’s Fourteen

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pp. 188-189

In April 2001, I was in Las Vegas for the fight between Naseem Hamed and Marco Antonio Barrera. In the days before their encounter, the arena at the MGM Grand was taken over by Julia Roberts, George Clooney, and company, who were filming a remake of . The original Ocean’s Eleven starred Frank Sinatra and involved a ...

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Fistic Nuggets

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pp. 190-194

Three years ago, I reported on Don Elbaum’s efforts to promote a series of fight cards in Nevada to be known as “Bordello Boxing.” Prostitution is legal in Nevada, and the plan was to promote monthly shows at an upscale brothel called Sherry’s Ranch. Things didn’t work out. Advertising was considered essential to the venture, and it’s illegal under Nevada law to advertise to induce people to ...

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Fistic Notes

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pp. 195-207

In 1973, Elton John advised the world, “Saturday night’s alright for fighting; get a little action in.” Now Saturday is the only night on which mega-fights are held. It wasn’t always that way. For the first half of boxing’s history under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules, the live gate was the economic force that drove the sport. Big fights were held in major cities. Men (the ...

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More Important Than Boxing: 2007

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pp. 208-212

We don’t stop being citizens when we enter the world of sports. With that in mind, once a year I use this space to address issues that are more important than boxing. Democracy should be practiced, not just celebrated. One of the most troubling aspects of George Bush’s tenure in office has been his assault on the judicial underpinnings of American democracy. Despite his rhetoric, ...

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The Heavyweights Rate the Writers

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pp. 213-214

It has become accepted sport in the boxing industry for writers to trash today’s heavyweights. With that in mind (and on the theory that turnabout is fair play), I asked some of the more-criticized heavyweights of recent years to evaluate today’s boxing writers. Their thoughts follow: ...

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Tempest Storm

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pp. 215-221

She’s seventy-nine years old now and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in East Las Vegas, the industrial part of town. Defying age, she has managed to remain both shapely and slender. She’s charming and disarming with an air of refinement and still has long fiery-red hair. It’s May 1, 2007, four days before Oscar De La Hoya versus Floyd ...

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If There’s Free Food, Grab It

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pp. 222-227

There’s a centuries-old proverb, “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.” Howard Cosell used to declaim, “You can buy the writers for a ham sandwich.” “With some writers, it’s in their DNA,” says former Boxing Writers Association of America president Bernard Fernandez. “If it’s free, they have to eat it.” Put those thoughts together and you have what some think is Rule ...

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Ticket Scalping and Boxing

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pp. 228-231

There’s a time-honored promotional tactic in the entertainment industry. Create a buzz that an event is where everyone wants to be; and suddenly, because of the buzz, everyone wants to be there. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas on December 8, tickets for the fight had a face value of $1,000, $750, $600, $300, and $150. Golden Boy (which promoted the fight) announced ...

Larry Merchant and HBO

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pp. 232-241

E-ISBN-13: 9781592139781
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592139774

Publication Year: 2009