Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Gold medalist James DeGale wins pro debut

He was the only British fighter to win a medal at the Beijing games. From AP-

Olympic middleweight gold medalist James DeGale won his first pro fight Saturday night, a dominating points win over Vepkhia Tchilaia.

Despite winning each round, jeers rang out at the National Indoor Arena as Britain’s lone boxing champion from the Beijing Games failed to provide the excitement sections of the crowd were demanding.

“I had to track him down and bang him around and it was tough,” DeGale said. “I’m never happy with my performances — even at the Olympics — that was just 30 percent of me.”

A systematic approach lacking urgency was adopted against the 21-year-old Georgian, who dropped to 9-9. The tactical fight was a stark contrast to DeGale’s sloppy Olympic gold medal bout with Cuba’s Emilio Correa.

“It was a learning curve. What do you want me to do?” DeGale said. “I don’t want to be silly and get knocked out. He’s running, he’s tucking up. I still had a couple of good shots.

“You lot are going to see the best of me when someone is there and wants it just as much as me.”

Two less than impressive fights don’t mean DeGale isn’t championship material. With the many weight categories there are in boxing today, not to mention the myriad of boxing federtaions(IBF, WBC, WBA,), I wouldn’t bet against him holding at least one title before his boxing days are over.


North Korean female boxer loses title after skipping match

She won the super flyweight title back in 2007

A female North Korean boxer has been stripped of her international championship after missing a defense match for unspecified reasons, a South Korean official from the sporting body said Thursday.

Ryu Myung-ok, 26, became super flyweight champion of the World Boxing Council Female division in October 2007. She has not appeared in a title match since defending her championship against Mexico’s Ana Maria Torres in April last year. The WBC Female is an affiliate of the World Boxing Council-Yonhap News

Ms. Ryu isn’t the only North Korean boxer. Ms. Choi Hyon-Mi who along with her family defected to South Korea, also makes her living as a fighter.


Two-time Olympic Champion boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux defects

He won Bantamweight gold medals in both 2000 and 2004. From AP-

Former Olympic boxing champion Guillermo Rigondeaux defected to the United States, 18 months after he was kicked off the Cuba team as punishment for a previous defection attempt.

Farah Colina said Tuesday her husband had no choice but to flee Cuba if he wanted to box again.

“I’m surprised on one level because he left home at the end of January saying he was going to Santiago,” Colina said, referring to the eastern city that is Cuba’s second largest. “But, on another level, I think he was obligated to do this.”

Luis de Cubas, an agent for Arena Box Promotions in the United States, confirmed that Rigondeaux was in Miami and interested in fighting. The 28-year-old boxer won bantamweight gold medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

Colina said her husband called a neighbor Saturday to say he made it to Miami. The family does not have a phone. She declined to describe his journey to the U.S., but said he sounded happy and nervous on the phone.

While Rigondeaux came to the US in an illegal fashion, he’ll be granted asylum here. Since the Clinton adminitstration the policy known as dry feet wet feet has in place. The boxer made it solid US soil, he gets to stay.

It comes as no surprise that conditions in Cuba haven’t changed under Raul Castro. Even if the Castros fell and a democratic government took its place, the island country will hardly be a prosperous paradise for those living there for some time.


Former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito and trainer suspended

This happened as a result from what happened at a fight last month. From ESPN-

The California State Athletic Commission revoked the licenses of former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito and trainer Javier Capetillo on Tuesday, banning them for at least one year for tampering with Margarito’s hand wraps before he was to face Shane Mosley on Jan. 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Voting 7-0 on both motions for revocation, the panel found that they put a plaster-like substance on illegal pads inside Margarito’s hand wraps.

Prior to the fight, in which Margarito was knocked out in the ninth round, Mosley’s trainer, Naazim Richardson, had objected to the way Margarito’s left hand was wrapped. When the wrap was cut off, officials found a suspect bandage wrap inside the knuckle pad that would be placed over Margarito’s hands.

Richardson then insisted that the wrap on Margarito’s right hand be checked and another identical illegal pad was discovered. Margarito eventually had his hands rewrapped and went on to lose the fight.

The attempt at cheating didn’t work out very well. Margarito lost his title and got suspended to boot. He’ll just continue boxing but outside the United States or take a year off. One or the other. The sport of boxing of a high threshold when it comes to cheats and other scoundrels.


Former Heavyweight champ Ingemar Johansson dead at 76

He won the title from Floyd Patterson in 1959 but lost the title in a re-match a year later. He was AP male athlete of the year in 1959.

I got to meet Ingemar Johansson in the late 70′s thanks to my father’s involvement with harness racing.(There were many pro athletes who liked the ponies then) By then Johansson had put on quite a bit of weight and was asked to be Santa Claus for the Broward County(Florida) Christmas boat parade.

Unfortunately I don’t remember anything else from our meeting. His boxing career ended when I was still a toddler. RIP Ingemar.


Former Heavyweight Champ Lennox Lewis, others, to be inducted into Boxing HOF

Lewis is the only member I’ve heard of in the 2009 class.

Three-time heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis says he’s proud that enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame will secure his place in the sport’s history.

“Everybody, when they start something … always wants to leave some kind of legacy behind,” said Lewis. “I’ve been able to accomplish that. To be put in the Hall of Fame is an accomplishment that seals my legacy. It will always be there in history. People can read about it. It gives me great pride.”

Lewis headlined the 2009 induction class announced Tuesday and will enter in the modern-era category, along with American bantamweight champion Orlando Canizales and South African junior lightweight champion Brian Mitchell.

Posthumous honorees included middleweight champion William “Gorilla” Jones, welterweight champion “Mysterious” Billy Smith and middleweight champion Billy Soose in the Old-Timer Category. Nineteenth-century American heavyweight champion Tom Hyer was recognized in the Pioneer Category.

Inductees were voted in by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians. The induction ceremony will be held June 14.

The 43-year-old Lewis retired in 2003 with a record of 41-2-1, including 32 KOs, and enters the hall in his first year of eligibility.

“He definitely belongs in the top six heavyweights of all-time and would have been a threat to any heavyweight champion in history because of his size, his balance and his all-around skill,” said Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, a 1996 inductee.

Lewis in the top 6 heavyweights of all time? I don’t know. Here would be my top 5, not necessarily in order

Rocky Marciano
Muhammad Ali
Joe Louis
Jack Johnson
Jack Dempsey

After that, I suppose you could pick Lewis. Mike Tyson was a hell of a fighter before he self destructed. Larry Holmes was very good, but never earned much respect since he followed Ali. A few others may be up there too.


Joe Calzaghe: Boxing on the ropes

The Welsh fighter voiced this opinion in London today.

Joe Calzaghe believes boxing is on the ropes, with too many champions and few real stars.

Still weighing whether he’ll retire after beating Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. this year to remain unbeaten in 46 fights, Calzaghe said Wednesday he was glad he was almost on the way out of the sport instead of just starting out.

“I think boxing is a dying sport. Globally — in America for instance — you’ve got UFC, which has taken a lot off boxing, business-wise,” Calzaghe said, referring to the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The Welshman who held the WBO super middleweight world title for more than 10 years before moving up to light heavyweight to fight Hopkins and Jones also said boxing has its own problems.

“There is too much politics in boxing, too many belts and too many champions, which dilutes real champions like myself,” he said. “There are four world champions in each division and it’s bad because there are no stars any more. It’s a big problem.”

First of all, who is Joe Calzaghe? Never heard of him before today. I probably just make this fighter’s point.

Boxing has found PPV profitable but at the same time it has dwindled the fan base. I’ve only once paid to watch a fight. As no fighter is high profile enough, because I have never seen or even heard of them, I just don’t feel obliged to pay $50-60 to watch 36 minutes of boxing. I make a bet many sports fans feel the same as I do about the sport. What ever happened to the days when there fights on prime-time network television? They’re gone, I don’t think they will coming back.


Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao wins welterweight super-fight

The WBC Lightweight Champion fought a non-title fight in Las Vegas last night.

Manny Pacquiao punished Oscar de la Hoya for eight rounds, his technical knockout triumph over the US superstar underscoring the Filipino icon’s status as best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Pacquiao’s speed and precision were too much for De la Hoya, whose left eye was swelling shut in his battered face as he declined to come out for the ninth round.

The Mexican-American sat quietly on his stool as his corner decided he had taken enough punishment, and referee Tony Weeks officially stopped the fight.

With the technical knockout, Pacquiao improved to 48-3 with two drawn and 36 wins inside the distance.

Pacquiao, the reigning World Boxing Council lightweight champion, moved up two weight classes to take the lucrative bout with De la Hoya, a 10-time world champion in six different weight classes who fell to 39-6 with 30 knockouts.

The disparity in size, most obvious in De la Hoya’s four-inch height advantage, proved no handicap for the 29-year-old Pacquiao, who was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was halted.

It isn’t too often that my wife asks me the result of a sporting event before I even sit down for breakfast in the morning. Filipinos and Filipinas alike celebrate Manny Pacquiao.


Punchy- Fighter claims broadcast of old fight is ruining his life

A former heavyweight fighter is suing ESPN.

Here’s the deal. Boxer Joe Frazier’s last opponent is suing ESPN Classic, claiming the broadcast of his fight has basically ruined his life.

Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings filed suit in Randolph County, Illinois, claiming by broadcasting the fight without his consent, ESPN Classic sought to “annihilate and destroy the seclusion of my private life …”

In the suit, Cummings says prior to the broadcast, he “Lived a quiet and private life, free from the prying curiosity which accompanies either fame or notoriety, withdrawn from the public gaze, free from the insatiable interest of the great mass of people …”

Cummings claim of ESPN ruining his life is interesting particularly in light of the fact that he is serving a life sentence in a Illinois prison for armed robbery.

I guess Cummings is just another fighter who took too many punches to the head.

Hat tip- Don Surber


Welterweight Oscar Diaz emerges from coma

He collapsed two months ago following the 10th round of a fight in San Antonio Texas. From AP-

Two months after slipping into a coma following a brain injury sustained during a televised fight, San Antonio welterweight Oscar Diaz is awake and breathing on his own.

Oscar Diaz, seen here in 2006, is awake and breathing on his own, two months after falling into a coma following a 10-round TKO loss to Delvin Rodriguez.

Diaz has been upgraded from critical to stable condition, San Antonio University Hospital spokesperson Julie Wiley said Thursday morning.

“He’s opening his eyes and showing improvement. He is off the ventilator and breathing on his own,” Wiley said.

Diaz’s family and neurosurgeon Dr. David F. Jimenez were scheduled to appear at a 3 p.m. ET news conference at the hospital to provide a more detailed update on his condition.

“It’s very exciting to see Oscar open his eyes. He’s a fighter and I believe he will get better,” Theresa Diaz, his mother, said in a statement.

Diaz (26-3, 12 KOs), 25, collapsed in his corner following the 10th round of a TKO loss to Delvin Rodriguez on July 16 in the main event of “Wednesday Night Fights” on ESPN2. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to relieve swelling on his brain. He had been in a coma since.

All along, the doctors said they expected him to eventually come out of the coma.

Still a truly incredible story of recovery. Most comas come with either some brain damage or memory loss or both. May Diaz have a successful and as complete a recovery as possible.


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