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Lionel Canagata -- Lee Canada to Canada Lee, from Jockey to Fighter to Actor.

 . . .from Hank Kaplans Boxing Oddities and Anecdotes

There once was a fighter from NY who went on to have a major role in Motion Picture Classics. His name, as we knew it, was Canada Lee, but he really was . . .

Lionel Canagata, born in New York, born March 3, 1907 in Manhattan, NY  - - - an outstanding amateur boxer from 1918-1921, winning the AAU and New York State welterweight championships.

Running away from home at 14, his love for horses lured him to the racetrack, where he started as an exercise boy and soon graduated to a jockey. But his weight gain and eventual desire for boxing soon had him focused on the professional ranks. Turning to the ranks of professional boxing in 1927, his name was mispronounced in the introductions one evening, as the announcer bellowed "Lee Canada". Lionel kind of liked the sound of that and upon further thought, decided he liked it even better the other way around, and from that point of time he was known as "Canada Lee.'

The old cliché that "I fought them all" was appropriately applied to Lee. Lee encountered with such top men such as welterweight champions Vince Dundee, Tommy Freeman, Jack Britton, and Lou Broullard, as well as top contenders Al Mello and Johnny Indrisano, were the caliber of opponent he often faced.

With many of his bouts unreported, it is estimated that he engaged in over 175 fights before his career was brought to a halt by a New York Commission Doctor, who found the fighter completely blind in one eye. Never knocked out, and floored only three times in his career, Lou could retire with pride.

Despite his handicap, Lee's fighting days were not completely over. In 1935, he was engaged as a sparring partner for Joe Louis, who was training for his big match against former champion Primo Carnera.

His interest in acting occurred quite accidentally when an actor acquaintance persuaded Lee to participate in a YMCA production in Harlem. Canada soon showed great promise as a budding actor, as his participation in the amateur stage productions became more frequent. He was finally given a chance to act professionally in a Broadway play called Native Son, with his powerful performance winning critical acclaim. Lee went on from there to triumphs in plays Anna Lucesta, and The Tempest.

Approached by impressed motion picture scouts, Lee's transition from the stage to screen was remarkable. Lee's stunning performances in classic films such as Lifeboat, and Body and Soul with John Garfield (Lee playing the boxer in the latter film) brought him worldwide renown.

Exercising his talents to the fullest, Lee ventured to the role of producing, and his play On Whitman Avenue was well received.

It is often said "all good things must come to an end" Canada Lee's talented existence faded much too soon, when he passed away in 1951 at age 45.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Lee

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6625217

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Lee

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0496938/bio

 

 

 

 

 

1970's Heavyweight

ALFIO RIGHETTI

Who was the best Italian born and raised heavyweight of my time (1965 to present)? Was it Lorenzo Zanon who gave Jerry Quarry and Ken Norton trouble before being stopped? Zanon also unsuccessfully challenged Larry Holmes for the title.

Was it Francisco Damiani who defeated Teofilo Stevenson as an amateur? The same Damiani who as a professional was just a few rounds away from winning the WBO version of the heavyweight title. Damiani was outboxing the highly regarded Ray Mercer for eight uneventful rounds. In the ninth round Mercer connected with a smash to Damiani’s nose that ended the fight and crowned Mercer as the WBO champion.

Was it Alfio Righetti? He turned pro in 1974 and won his first 21 bouts. Win #22 came in 1976 when he beat tough Bepi Ros. In his next fight Righetti won the Italian heavyweight title defeating Dante Cane.

In 1977 Alfio lost a decision to up and coming Olympic Gold Medalist Leon Spinks. Righetti would go on to win his next nine battles. In 1979 he met fellow countryman Lorenzo Zanon for the European title. After twelve rounds it was adjudged a draw thus Zanon retained his title.

In his next fight Righetti would meet Cleveland, Ohio journeyman Terry Mims. In a major upset Mims halted Righetti in round one. That was Alfio’s last fight. Final record 36-2-1 with 17 knockout victories.

On a side note, Terry Mims ended his career with a 13-16 record. He lost to the likes of Michael Dokes, Duane Bobick, Tex Cobb, Bernard Benton and Evander Holyfield. He holds a victory over Leon Spinks.

One last thing…Was Primo Carnera the best Italian born and raised heavyweight of all time ? I guess a case could be made for him. He developed into a decent boxer with a fairly effective left jab. He was strong as an ox and game to the core.

Jim Amato

 

 

 

 

 

 

MATTHEW HILTON : A CAREER UNFULFILLED

This was a young man that had world champion written all over him. He had all the potential in the world to have become a boxing superstar. He did achieve the status of world titleholder due to the fragmented title system of the day but I thought he would have accomplished so much more. Only Tony Ayala Jr. in that era disappointed me more. What a great fighter Matthew Hilton could have been.

He defeated former middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo to win his nineteenth straight victory. In win number twenty he demolished the great Wilfred Benitez in nine brutal rounds.

What a future was ahead for Matthew Hilton or was it?

He was 26-0 when he entered the ring to face IBF Junior Middleweight champion Buster Drayton in 1987. Hilton proved to be much too strong for the game Drayton and Matthew was now a world champion. Matthew would lose his title in 1988 via a stunning upset to Robert “Bam Bam” Hines. This would be the beginning of Hilton’s demise.

In 1990 he would challenge WBO middleweight titleholder Doug DeWitt. The gritty DeWitt survived Hilton’s early bombardment and came back to halt Matt in round eleven.

Here’s what I remember about Matthew Hilton. At his peak he was pound for pound one of the strongest fighters I’ve ever seen. He was a tremendous body puncher. When Matt was at his peak he was a very formidable fighter.

Jim Amato

 

JEAN CLAUDE BOUTTIER

To me Jean Claude Bouttier was one of the best fighters of a great era who never won a world title. He joins Pierre Fourrie, Yaqui Lopez, Bennie Briscoe, Hedgemon Lewis, Ernie ” Red ” Lopez, Armando Muniz and Ray Lampkin who were boxers fighting in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even some boxers who held a fragment of a title never got the recognition they deserved because of other dominant champions. Men like Rodrigo Valdez, Esteban DeJesus and Howard Winstone.

Bouttier was probably the most popular French fighter since the beloved Marcel Cerdan. He became a professional in 1965 and by 1969 he was beginning to meet some of the better middleweights in the world. He lost two decisions to the under rated Juarez DeLima and drew with countryman Max Cohen.

Jean Claude posted a big victory in 1970 outscoring Stan ” Kitten ” Hayward. He also beat DeLima but lost to Lonnie Harris. Bouttier bounced back to defeat Pascual DiBendetto, Tom ” The Bomb ” Bethea and Harris in a rematch. He then won the European title with a fifteen round decision over Juan Carlos Duran.

He continued his march to a shot at the world title by beating Raul Soriano, Bunny Sterling, Manny Gonzalez, Doyle Baird and Fabio Bettini. On June 17, 1972 Bouttier met the great Carlos Monzon for the world’s middleweight title. The bout was held in Paris. I’ll never forget this fight. I was married for the first time that day. As soon as I could free myself from the ” festivities “, I rushed home to watch it. ” King ” Carlos stopped Bouttier that day but Jean he would return.



Jean Claude began his comeback with disqualification victories over Jose Chirino and the great Emile Griffith. He then beat Joe DeNucci, Art Hernandez and Alvin Phillips. On September 29, 1973 he met Monzon again in Paris. This time Bouttier gave Monzon all he he could handle but he faded down the stretch and dropped a fifteen round verdict.

Two fights later Bouttier lost his European title to England’s rugged Kevin Finnegan. In his last fight in December of 1974, he lost his French title to Max Cohen. Bouttier had 72 fights in his fine career. His record was 64-7-1. He scored 43 knockouts. I have no doubt in my mind that if he was fighting today he would have won one of the four titles available. Monzon had high respect for Bouttier. That is a compliment.

Jim Amato
 

 

GREAT BRITAIN 1960's and SIR HENRY COOPER

He came from a fighting family and by the time his boxing career ended in 1971 he was the most beloved British boxer of all time. Only once did he challenge for the world’s title but he dominated the British heavyweight scene for over fifteen years. His popularity soared even more after retirement and eventually the Queen of England knighted him. Sir Henry Cooper was more than just a British fighter. He was a fine example of what British boxing is all about.

Henry’s professional career started in September of 1954 and he proceeded to win his first nine fights including an eight round points win over Joe Bygraves. In Henry’s tenth bout he lost the first of many bouts due to an eye cut to Uber Bacilleri. He would later avenge that loss. The roller coaster career of Henry Cooper had now begun. He would drop a ten rounder to Joe Erskine and stop Brian London in one round only to lose in five to Peter Bates. 1955 was a rough year for Henry as Bygraves kayoed him for the British Empire title. Future world champion Ingemar Johansson then bombed him out. Joe Erskine then outscored him for the British title. Henry began to turn things around late in 1958 with a stoppage over Dick Richardson and a point win over respected American Zora Folley. He finally won the British and Empire titles by decision over Brian London in 1959. He halted Gawie de Klerk in an Empire defense and defended both titles by a fifth round stoppage of Joe Erskine. In 1960 Henry scored important decision victories of Roy Harris and Alex Mitiff. He again defended his titles by a fifth round stoppage of Erskine in March of 1961. On December 5, 1961 Henry suffered a major setback when Folley kayoed him in the second round of their rematch.

He came back to again stop Erskine in 1962 and Dick Richardson in 1963 setting the stage for a match with the undefeated Olympian, Cassius Clay. The facts of Cooper’s first bout with Clay have been well documented. His left hook knocked Clay down at the end of round four. A torn glove supposedly gave Clay time to recover. In reality it was a very brief delay. Cassius then came back to cut and stop Henry in round five. Henry bounced back to beat Brian London again, also winning the vacant European title in the process. Six months later he was stripped of the European title due to an injury. Henry would win five of his next seven bouts setting up a title shot and rematch against Clay (Muhammad Ali). The rematch was anti-climatic. Henry tried hard but Ali’s punches again ripped the tender skin above Cooper’s eye forcing a stoppage. Four months later, ex-title holder Floyd Patterson felled Henry.

It was again time to rebuild.

Henry went back to retaining his British and Empire titles by defeating Jack Bodell and Billy Walker. He then regained the European title winning on a disqualification from Karl Mildenberger. In 1969 Henry was to be matched with World Boxing Association champion Jimmy Ellis. The fight fell through because the British Boxing Board refused to recognize it as a world title fight. In a huff, Henry gave up the British and Empire titles. Later Henry relinquished the European crown due to an injury. Again in 1970 the amazing E’nry came back to regain the British and Empire titles from Jack Bodell. Later he regained the European crown by stopping Jose Urtain. On March 16, 1971 Henry met upcoming Joe Bugner with all three titles at stake. After fifteen well contested rounds, Bugner was awarded a very close and controversial decision much to the dismay of Henry. Cooper never boxed again.

Henry Cooper’s popularity had even crossed the Atlantic. He was a popular guest when he visited the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, New York. A fitting tribute to this fine fighter and even finer gentleman.

Jim Amato

 

The Original Heavyweight Gatekeeper . . . . and a crack at Joe Frazier's heavyweight title.

MANUEL RAMOS ; MEXICAN HEAVYWEIGHT

   When you think of Mexican fighters it is usually a tough little hombre like a Ruben Olivares, Vincente Saldivar or Julio Cesar Chavez. More often then not the better boxers from Mexico scaled under 160lbs. In an exception to the rule during the mid 1960’s to the early 70’s this country produced a pretty fair heavyweight. He fought two world champions and nine others that attempted to win the heavyweight crown. His name was Manuel Ramos. Although he lost almost as many as he won, the names on his resume are quite impressive.
 
   When Ramos made his way from Mexico to the West Coast he quickly began meeting the best opposition available. In 1964 he lost a decision to Henry Clark and drew with Joey Orbillo. In 1965 he lost a rematch to Orbillo and drew with George Johnson. He finished the year losing by knockout to Lars Norling.     
 

 In 1966 Manuel began a win streak that would carry him to a world title shot. He knocked out Norling in a rematch and then stopped Archie Ray in eight. Next Manuel would outpoint faded ex-contender Eddie Machen. In 1967 Ramos halted James J. Woody in two and then on October 14th in Mexico City he faced ex-WBA Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell. Manuel scored an upset ten round decision. Two victories in 1968 brought Manuel’s streak to fifteen straight and set up a title fight with “Smokin” Joe Frazier. The bout took place June 24th at Madison Square Garden. Joe held the New York State Heavyweight crown when he entered the ring and two rounds later he left with his crown intact. Joe overwhelmed Ramos in what would be Manuel’s only title shot. Three months later Manuel was taken apart by George Chuvalo in five rounds.
 
   Ramos began to rebuild his career in 1969 by beating Tony Doyle but Jack O’Halloran stopped him in his next bout. Manuel had seven bouts in 1970 and won only one of them. He lost to Chuck Wepner, Joe Bugner, Jimmy Richards and Joe “King” Roman. He drew with Ron Stander and was stopped in one round by Oscar “Ringo” Bonevena. Manuel had seven more bouts in 1971 and again won only one losing to Jurgen Blin, Jack Bodell, Elmo Henderson, Terry Daniels, Stander and Ron Lyle.
 
   In 1973 Ramos was halted in four by Johnny Hudgins. Then in 1973 he lost to Luis Pires and Armando Zanini. In his last chance at the big time he faced Olympian Duane Bobick but was done in seven rounds thus finishing him as a formidable heavyweight contender.


 
 Jim Amato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 From the 1960's to the '70's there was an international heavyweight named . . .

GREGORIO PERALTA
 

Sometimes it isn’t just talent that makes someone successful inside the ropes. A generous dash of luck usually helps. Also being in the right place at the right time doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately for Gregorio Peralta of Argentina on this occasion two out of three isn’t good. He had talent and lots of it but he lacked luck and the ability to be in the right place. Peralta was a throw back to the cagey old veteran boxers of decades before. He campaigned successfully in two weight divisions throughout the sixties and early seventies. As a light heavyweight he carried a pretty solid wallop to go along with his uncanny ring generalship. He defeated champion Willie Pastrano in a non title bout to qualify for a 1964 title shot. Pastrano fought maybe the best fight of his career but Peralta stayed right with him until a cut forced a stoppage in Willie’s favor. Gregorio would never receive another attempt at a championship.

Gregorio at this time held the Argentine heavyweight title. He decided to campaign strictly as a heavyweight. He outpointed Roberto Davila retaining the South American heavyweight championship only three months after losing to Pastrano. Then Peralta lost a twelve round decision to fellow countryman Oscar Bonevena in September of 1965 prompting a twenty month layoff. Returning in 1967 Gregorio won 26 of 29 fights with only draws against Chuck Leslie, Vittorio Saraudi and Bonevena marring the streak. In 1969 plans were being made for Peralta to challenge World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis in Buenos Aries. Ellis was on a collision course with Joe Frazier and he wanted to make a defense of his title before his showdown with "Smokin' Joe". For whatever reasons the proposed Ellis-Peralta bout fell through. Ellis went on to fight Frazier and lose. On the undercard of Frazier-Ellis, Peralta met 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist George Foreman. This was probably Gregorio's shining moment. Taking everything a still green but powerful Foreman could offer, Peralta stayed in the bout with an exhibition of guile and guts. Peralta lost a tough decision to George but he won over the Madison Square Garden crowd with his performance. 
 

In 1971, Foreman finally caught up to Gregorio in the tenth round of their rematch to score a knockout. Peralta then went on a successful tour of Europe in which he scored an important kayo victory over Jose Urtain. On August 1, 1972, in Barcelona, Spain Gregorio met Muhammad Ali in an eight round exhibition bout giving a good account of himself. In 1973 Peralta twice fought the dangerous Ron Lyle losing a decision in Denver and then holding Lyle to a draw in Frankfurt, Germany. Eventually Gregorio faded into retirement. 
 
I wonder how Peralta would have made out if he would have met Ellis in front of thousands of cheering countrymen? Whenever anyone mentions great heavyweights from Argentina you're sure to hear Luis Firpo and Bonevena. Please don't forget a fine fighting machine named Gregorio Peralta. 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                           Jim Amato

 

 

MIKE WEAVER - THE CINDERELLA STORY OF "HERCULES"

If I was to tell you there was once a heavyweight who lost his first professional fight by knockout. Also this heavyweight would actually lose half of his first dozen fights. If I told you he would go on to win a piece of the heavyweight crown and be a major player in the division for well over a decade. Would you believe me ?

Well this is a true Cinderella story. It is the career of former WBA heavyweight titleholder Mike "Hercules" Weaver. Who in my opinion for nearly a five year period he was the second best heavyweight in the world.

Mike turned pro in 1972 and he was matched tough from the very beginning. He lost his debut by knockout to future contender Howard "Kayo" Smith. He would then lose a five round decision to Smith in a rematch. Undefeated Billy Ryan would halt him in two rounds and four fights later unbeaten Larry Frazier would stop Mike in the second. In 1974 Weaver would drop a ten round duke to the much bigger Rodney Bobick. Then Mike would be taken out in seven by the streaking Olympian prospect Duane Bobick.

At this point the future of Mike Weaver looked very bleak. Over the next three and a half years though Weaver would put together a fairly impressive eight fight win streak. Among his victims were Tony Doyle, Jody Ballard, Dwain Bonds and hard hitting Pedro Lovell. This put Mike into a fight with the talented Stan Ward for the California heavyweight title. Ward outweighed Weaver by forty pounds and took a twelve round verdict. Seven months later Weaver was matched with Big Leroy Jones for the vacant North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. Jones outweighed Mike by a whopping sixty six pounds! Jones boxed his way to a twelve round decision over Weaver to capture the crown.

The determined Weaver with resurge his career by reeling off five straight wins in impressive fashion. He took out the very dangerous Bernardo Mercado in five rounds. He then met Stan Ward in a rematch. The vacant United States Boxing Association heavyweight title was on the line. This time Mike took care of Ward in the ninth round and put himself in a position for a shot at the world's heavyweight title.

On January 22,1979 Weaver met World Boxing Council heavyweight titleholder Larry Holmes at New York's Madison Square Garden. Although Larry only held a piece of the title he was widely regarded as the world's best heavyweight. Holmes brought in a glossy but well earned 30-0 record into the Garden that night to meet the decided underdog Mike Weaver. Oh what a fight it was!

The superb Holmes jab would set the early pace but at times Weaver would surprise Larry with a good jab of his own. Someone must have forgotten to tell Weaver he was a big underdog because he sure was not fighting like one. As the bout progressed Mike started to carry the fight to Holmes. On several occasions Weaver would rock Larry with powerful lefts to the head and body. These were hurtful punches by the challenger but the ever proud Holmes kept keeping the pace. Still the crowd was starting sense an upset may be in the making. After ten well contested and brutal rounds, Holmes was ahead on the cards. Nevertheless he looked the worse for wear as Weaver seemed to be coming on. Then came the pivotal eleventh round. Weaver was going like gangbusters now and he was really working Larry over. The game champion was winging back but he looked hurt and drained as his title seemed to be slipping away. Toward the end of the round Weaver was hammering Holmes in a corner. Then out of nowhere Larry landed a huge uppercut that sent Weaver down against the ropes. It was obvious that Mike was badly shaken as he barely pulled himself up by the ropes. Holmes followed up quickly but time ran out. As the fighters came out for round twelve it was plain to see that Weaver was still on queer street. Holmes jumped all over him and soon the referee was forced to halt the fight. Larry had won the war but Weaver had won the fans.

Mike Weaver was now a proven commodity. Later in 1979 Mike would win a one sided decision over rugged Scott LeDoux. Next up for Weaver, a shot at World Boxing Association titleholder Big John Tate. Many experts were saying Tate was the future of the heavyweight division. Big John had destroyed Bernardo Mercado, Duane Bobick and Kallie Knoetze to build a 22-0 record. He then won a convincing decision over Gerrie Coetzee to win the WBA title vacated by Muhammad Ali. Now there was talk of Ali coming back to fight Tate. There was talk of a unification fight between Tate and Larry Holmes. The future looked very bright indeed for John Tate. The Weaver bout would just be a chance for John to showcase his talents in the friendly confines of Knoxville ,Tennessee.

The bout itself pretty much went according to plan. At 6"4" and 232 pounds, Tate was a very smooth boxer for a big man. Weaver seemed somewhat lethargic in the early going and Tate built up a substantial lead. It wasn't until around the twelfth round that Weaver stirred himself and began to open up. At one point he rocked Tate down to his toes but John hung in there. You could see Tate was fading but it still looked like he would be able to stall until the final bell and get the much deserved decision. The clock was ticking in round fifteen and with around a minute left in the fight, Weaver had Tate on the ropes. Mike then landed a shot to Tate's head that landed with such force that John was out before he hit the canvas. As Tate laid in a motionless heap, Mike Weaver was crowned a world champion. Poor Tate was never the same after this fight. He would be knocked out by Trevor Berbick in his next fight and then fade from contender status.

Weaver's first defense would be in South Africa against native son Gerrie Coetzee. The experts gave the hard punching Coetzee a good chance of bringing the crown to South Africa. The bout itself was an action packed contest. Each fighter landed their share of heavy punches. Weaver was landing well with powerful left hooks to the body. These seemed to be breaking Coetzee down. Weaver was slightly ahead on points when he halted Coetzee in round thirteen.

Weaver's next defense would be against unbeaten (20-0) James "Quick" Tillis. It was a dreary fifteen round affair that saw Tillis take few chances. Weaver retained his title with a convincing decision. Next for Mike would be undefeated (24-0-1) Michael Dokes at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The bout had hardly started when Dokes stunned Weaver and sent him to the ropes. Dokes was quickly on Weaver trying to follow up. Weaver was trying to defend himself when referee Joey Curtis jumped in and stopped the fight! Only one minute and three seconds had elapsed and now Mike Weaver was an ex-champion. It was a very controversial ending and a rematch was scheduled. The second meeting took place five months later. It was a solid action fight with both boxers dishing out their fair share of punishment. I felt Weaver came on down the stretch to do enough to regain his title. His bodywork was excellent as he gave Dokes quite a rib roasting. Two judges scored the fight a draw. The other judge had Dokes four points ahead. Dokes retained his title with a draw. To this day I still feel Mike Weaver won that fight.

Weaver would solidify his status as a top contender again stopping Stan Ward in their rubber match. Then almost two years after his draw with Dokes, Weaver was set to meet WBC champion Pinklon Thomas. This was a good scrap while it lasted. Thomas had a great jab but at times Weaver was out jabbing him. Mike was also landing some heavy body shots. Although Weaver had suffered a brief knockdown in the first round he had battled back and the bout was almost dead even after seven rounds. In the eighth round Weaver's chin betrayed him as Thomas knocked him out to retain his title.

From this point on the career of Mike Weaver became a roller coaster. He scored a second round kayo over highly regarded Carl "The Truth" Williams. Then in turn he was taken out in one round by James "Bonecrusher" Smith. Next Mike would lose a split decision to Donovan "Razor" Ruddock. Fifteen months later Weaver would return to South Africa and upset Johnny DuPlooy in seven rounds. Five months later Weaver would return again but this time DuPlooy took him out in the second.

In April of 1990 Mike would lose a lopsided decision in a rematch with "Bonecrusher" Smith. Over a year later he was belted out in six rounds by an up and coming Lennox Lewis. The loss to Lewis pretty much finished Weaver as a serious contender. In 1993 he was on the big fight card in China and won a hard fought ten round decision over Bert Cooper. Mike won his next five fights over mediocre competition. In 1998 weighing in at 244 pounds he was halted by Melvin Foster in nine rounds.

Over two years later in his last hurrah, Weaver got his rematch with Larry Holmes. This time Larry was the boss as he stopped Weaver in round six. It was Mike's last fight. Weaver retired after sixty pro fights with a record of 41-18-1. He scored 28 knockouts and was stopped 12 times. Sometimes records are deceiving. From Weaver's 1974 loss to Duane Bobick up to his 1985 title fight with Pinklon Thomas, Mike had a 21-4-1 record. Mike met seven world champions and five others who fought for the titles.

Jim Amato

 

 

 

TALE OF THE TAPE: RAFAEL PINEDA

Rafael Pineda was a very fine fighter. He is a former champion who most fans remember as being outclassed by a prime Pernell Whitaker (who wasn’t back then). In reality Pineda was a contender from the late 1980′s to 2004. Rafael was a very dangerous fighter !

Pineda turned pro in 1986 and won his first 20 fights. In 1989 he suffered his first loss when he was stopped in five rounds by Mark Breland for the WBA welterweight title. Pineda claimed he was thumbed and refused to continue. Rafael then won six straight bouts and in 1991 he challenged Roger Mayweather for the IBF light welterweight title. In a huge upset, Pineda destroyed Roger in the ninth round. Rafael would make one successful defense before his 1992 loss to Whitaker.

Pineda would stay of the ring for four years but upon returning he won five straight contests before losing in 1999 to Emmett Linton .Rafael scored a another upset in 2001 when he halted the highly respected Oba Carr in six rounds. In 2002 Pineda lost a seventh round technical decision to Cory Spinks due to a accidental head butt. Then in 2004 Rafael lost a split decision to Zab Judah in a WBO welterweight eliminator. That was his last fight. He was a world class fighter until the end. Pineda retired with a very respectable 38-6 record. This powerful right hand bomber scored 31 knockouts. He was stopped only once in his career.

Jim Amato

 

 

THE SHORT OF A JOURNEYMAN - HEAVYWEIGHT JOE ALEXANDER

He had less then twenty professional fights but for anyone who followed the heavyweight division in the 1970's, they will never forget Joe Alexander. In his twelve victories he scored ten knockouts. This guy could bang ! Joe was a New Yorker turned pro in 1968. He was short for a heavyweight at 5'9". In his second bout Alexander suffered a one round knockout defeat. Hey I didn't say he had Jake LaMotta's chin.

In 1969 filling in as a substitute he was halted by the capable Hal Carroll. No shame in that defeat since Carroll was a ranked fighter. Joe came back in 1972 and in 1973 Joe outscored rugged veteran Leroy Caldwell. Two months later he shook up the heavyweight division with a shocking one round blitz of Venezuela's world ranked contender Jose Luis Garcia. In 1974 he was put in as a "tune up" for the highly ranked Jerry Quarry. Joe hadn't read the script. Jerry was as tough as they come and he had a great chin. In the first round though Joe floored Jerry and Quarry was lucky to get up and survive the round. Jerry showed his pluck in round two as he gathered himself to halt Joe. Nevertheless Alexander had made a statement.

Alexander would win three straight by one round knockouts. He followed that with a two round victory. Then he outscored tough journeyman G.G.Maldonado. Joe then went to Las Vegas where he dropped a ten rounder to talented Kevin Issac. Alexander would lose decisions in 1979 and 1981 and retire. His final ledger was 12-7. He may not have been a top contender but he was a very dangerous man.

Jim Amato

timesunionblog

 

 1960's/1970's a GIANT IN JACK O'HALLORAN
 
 
   As Muhammad Ali ruled the heavyweight division in the mid 1960′s white hope contenders came and went.  Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo and Karl Mildenberger all were vanquished by the “Greatest”.  When Ali was forced to relinquish his crown in 1967, the best of the white contenders was probably Jerry Quarry. By 1969 a huge brute of a man named Jack O’Halloran had compiled an impressive 16-1-1 record. Standing at around 6’6 and weighing in the vicinity of 240 pounds Jack struck fear into opponents by his mere bulk.  In 1969 he upgraded his opposition with mixed results.  He dropped decisions to Joe “King” Roman, Joe Bugner and Tony Doyle.  On August 19th he was halted by rugged “Florida” Al Jones.  In turn he outscored Carl Gizzi and stopped Mexican contender Manuel Ramos in seven rounds.
 

A right uppercut stuns Ken Norton in 1972

   On January 26th, 1970 in New York O’Halloran was kayoed by George Foreman in five rounds.  On April 9th he was destroyed in one round by Mac Foster.  Jack lost a rematch with Roman but he did manage to outpoint Britisher Danny McAliden.  1971 was a dismal year for O’Halloran as he lost to Jack Bodell, John Griffin, Ron Stander and Ron Lyle.  Jack did decision the still dangerous Cleveland Williams and he kayoed Terry Daniels.
 
   Big Jack made his move in 1972 as he fought his way into the heavyweight ratings.  On March 17th he lost a ten round donnybrook to future champion Kenny Norton.  Many felt this was one of the best bouts between big men on the west coast in years.  On June 16th Jack dropped a verdict to a highly regarded Henry Clark.  On August 10th in what became Jack’s career highlight victory he won a twelve round rematch with Clark for the California State heavyweight title.  One month later he halted Ali’s brother Rudy Clay (Rahman Ali) in eight rounds.  Quickly Jack put out a challenge to Muhammad to avenge his brother’s loss.  Luckily for Jack the ex-champ had other commitments.

 
  

 

Jack started 1973 where he left off in 1972.  He pounded out a ten round decision over Al “Blue” Lewis.  He then split a pair of knockouts with Jimmy Summerville.  On June 8th Jack lost the California State title to Howard “Kayo” Smith via a twelve round points call.  Jack then dropped back to back verdicts to Boone Kirkiman and Koli Vailee.  On December 5th O’Halloran was stopped in nine rounds by Larry Middleton.  That loss pretty much finished Jack as a viable contender.  In all Jack fought two world champions and seven others challenged for the crown.  Also include top contenders such as Al Jones, Al Lewis, Mac Foster, Henry Clark, Boone Kirkman and Larry Middleton and you can see Jack did battle with the cream of the crop.
 
                                                                                                                                                                                       Jim Amato

 

 

 

LOOKBACK AT CAREER OF LEON SPINKS 
   Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks has surely received his share of negative press over the years. Many consider him just a footnote in heavyweight history. The man Muhammad Ali "loaned" his title to. Leon was much more then that. Much more.
 
   One should first look at his decorated amateur career. Before entering the professional ranks Leon racked up a stellar 178-7 record. He won the National A.A.U. light heavyweight championship three years in a row (1974-76). He then captured the 1976 Olympic Gold Medal in 1976. He was more then ready for the pro ranks. He turned professional in 1977 and in his fourth fight he took out seasoned veteran Pedro Agosto in one round. Two fights later he drew with rugged contender Scott LeDoux. In his next bout he upset undefeated Alfio Righetti.
 
   One year and one month after turning pro Leon took his 6-0-1 record into a Las Vegas ring to meet the self proclaimed "Greatest", Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship of the world. Few if any gave Leon a chance. The Spinks camp claimed Ali was the greatest but Leon was the latest. It turned out that the Spinks camp was right. An ill prepared Ali was lethargic throughout the fifteen round contest. Spinks piled up points on sheer energy and aggression. At the final bell the hand of Leon Spinks was raised.
 
   By beating Ali, Spinks was to next face the World Boxing Council's #1 contender Ken Norton. Spinks would instead take a much more lucrative rematch against Ali in a bout blessed by the World Boxing Association. The W.B.C. stripped Spinks of the title and recognized Norton as their champion. Regardless of the politics the Ali - Spinks rematch took place seven months later in New Orleans. This time a better conditioned Ali schooled Spinks over fifteen rounds. It marked the third time Ali had won the title making him the first to ever do it. Before the rematch Leon broke training camp on several occasions. His new found fame and love of the night life earned him the nickname "Neon Leon".
 
   Spinks was now an ex-champion and Ali promptly retired. The W.B.A. set up a four man elimination tournament to determine Ali's successor. John Tate would knock out Kallie Knoetzee to advance and Leon would meet Gerrie Coetzee. Leon's hopes of regaining the crown were dashed in less then a round by the hard punching Coetzee. For Spinks it was back to the drawing board. Leon put together a knockout over Alfredo Evangelista. A draw with Eddie "The Animal" Lopez and knockouts over Kevin Isaac and Bernardo Mercado. Leon was then awarded a crack at the W.B.C. titleholder Larry Holmes. The talented Holmes had won the title from Norton and on June 12,1981 in Detroit he defended against Spinks. Leon was game and he tried hard but he was just outclassed by Holmes who stopped him in the third round.
 
   Spinks decided to move down in weight and try the cruiserweight division in 1982. He beat Ivy Brown and then defeated the classy Jesse Burnett for the North American Boxing Federation cruiserweight title. In his next bout he met former world cruiserweight champion Carlos DeLeon. Leon was battered and stopped in the sixth round. In 1985 Spinks returned to the heavyweight division and reeled of five straight wins including a knockout over Kip Kane for the W.B.C. Continental Heavyweight tile.
 
   In 1986 Spinks was offered a shot at Dwight Muhammad Qawi's W.B.A. cruiserweight title. On March 22nd in Reno, Nevada Leon was savaged in six rounds by Qawi. Returning to the heavyweight division Spinks was stopped by tough Rocky Sekorski. In 1987 Leon was blitzed in one round by the capable Jose Ribalta. Then there were more losses to Angelo Musone, Ladislao Mijangos and Cleveland's Terry Mims. On March 18,1988 Spinks received his last shot at the big time. He took on ranked contender Randy "Tex" Cobb. It turned out to be a spirited effort by Leon but after ten rounds Cobb won a well deserved decision in an entertaining fight. In his next fight Leon would lose in 33 seconds to journeyman Tony Morrison.
 
   Spinks would take three years off and on returning he put together a modest five bout win streak. He then lost to Kevin Porter. Leon would only win three of his last seven fights before hanging up the gloves in 1995. In a 46 bout career Spinks would end up with a 26-17-3 record. He scored 14 knockouts and he was stopped on 9 occasions. Leon had the tools and if he would have stayed a light heavyweight in the professional ranks he may have carved out a great career. The heavyweights were where the money was at though. Throughout his career Spinks was his own worst enemy but no one can take away the fact the he was once heavyweight champion of the whole wide world. It's in the books forever.
 
                                                                                                                                                                 Jim Amato

 

Stan "Kitten" Hayward: One Of The Toughest Fighters To Come Out Of Philadelphia

 Stan "Kitten" Hayward was just one of the many tough welterweights and middleweights that came out of Philadelphia in the 1960's and 70's. He battled the best his hometown had to offer and several other world contenders too. Hayward began his pro career in 1959. He won sixteen of his first eighteen matches. In 1963 he dropped a ten rounder to welterweight contender Jose Stable. Later in the year he stopped Percy Manning . In 1964 and 1965, Hayward made great strides up the ladder. First he halted future welterweight champion Curtis Cokes in four brutal rounds. In 1965 he beat Vince Shomo, Tito Marshall and "Bad" Bennie Briscoe.

In 1966 Hayward suffered a setback when he lost in seven rounds to the talented Gypsy Joe Harris. Stan came right back in 1967 beating Fate Davis, Pete Toro and battling to a draw with Jean Josselin. In 1968 he drew with rugged Joe Shaw and then in October he won possibly the biggest fight of his career. Stan scored an upset ten round decision over former world champion Emile Griffith.

The win over Griffith put Hayward in line for a title shot. On March 17, 1969 he met Freddie Little for the vacant WBA and WBC versions of the junior middleweight title. The bout took place in Las Vegas and Little outscored Stan over fifteen rounds.


The loss to Little started Hayward's career on a downward spiral. Over his next fourteen fights he would go 5-8-1. He finished 1969 losing a decision in a rematch with Griffith. In 1970, he was defeated by Jean Claude Bouttier and Juan Carlos Duran. In 1971, he dropped a points verdict to Alvin Phillips. Stan's career really took a nose dive when he was blitzed in one round by the savage punching Eugene "Cyclone" Hart.

As his career was winding down Stan was kayoed in seven by Willie "The Worm" Monroe in 1974. In 1975 Stan lost a rematch to Bennie Briscoe. In his final fight taking place in 1977 Stan was taken out in four rounds by Larry Davis.

Hayward amassed 48 fights in his respectable career. He finished with a 32-12-4 ledger while meeting some of the best boxers of his era between the 147 and 160 pound weight classes.

                                                                                                                                                                            Jim Amato


 

RON LYLE -  1970's POWER PUNCHING HEAVYWEIGHT

Big,strong Ron Lyle was a heavyweight who fought during the talent rich 1970′s. He was a main stream contender for nearly a decade. He fought “The Greatest”,Muhammad Ali for the title and more then held his own until being stopped in round eleven. He had “Big” George Foreman on the canvas twice before succumbing to George’s power in probably one of the best heavyweight battles of all time. His all action shoot out with Earnie Shavers would be a strong runner up to his bout with Foreman.
 

Ron started his career late after serving 7 ½ years in prison. It did not take him long to establish himself. Wins over Manuel Ramos, Jack O’Halloran, Vincente Rondon, Buster Mathis, Luis Pires and Larry Middleton moved him up quickly in the ratings. Granted that Ramos was a washed up former contender and O’Halloran was a fringe contender. Rondon was a former light heavyweight title claimant until “Bad” Bobby Foster drilled that dream out of his head. Middleton was a game and clever boxer who just happened to lack a punch. Pires was a decent heavyweight from South America. Nevertheless this impressive win streak sent him into a bout with Jerry Quarry. The hard luck Quarry was on the downside of his career and had recently suffered his second loss to Muhammad Ali. On this night though Jerry’s experience and Lyle’s lack of it was clearly evident. Quarry took Ron to counter punching school and handed Lyle his first loss. Even in defeat Ron showed his gameness. Overmatched at this stage of his career he hung tough and he learned his lessons well.


To Ron’s credit he quickly went back to the business of re-establishing himself. A win and a draw against clever Gregorio Peralta. Pulverizing knockouts over the very dangerous Jose Luis Garcia, Jurgen Blin and hard hitting Boone Kirkman. Then came a decision win over Larry Middleton in a rematch. Twelve round verdicts over the clever former champion Jimmy Ellis and rugged Oscar Bonavena put Lyle back in the title picture. His only loss during this time was a decision setback against slick boxing Jimmy Young. Ron finally challenged Muhammad Ali for the world’s championship that Ali had regained the year before when he “Rope-a-Doped” the Mummy, George Foreman.

Ali tried to use that same tactic against Lyle but Ron would have none of it. Forcing Ali to box at ring center Lyle was able to trade evenly with Ali in a very slow paced bout. For a big and strong guy, Ron was a decent boxer. He was not a good enough boxer though to match wits with Ali, Young or even Quarry. In hindsight Ron should have fought a different fight. He should been more aggressive and taken chances. In round eleven Ali stunned Lyle and trapped him in a corner. Ali’s follow up barrage had Ron out on his feet when the referee intervened. Ron would never receive another shot at the title. Very unfair based on his credentials. Lyle's bout with Shavers was a slugfest. Ron got up off the canvas to score a brutal knockout. The brawl with Foreman was a classic for the ages. It pitted two of the biggest, strongest men ever to lace on a boxing glove. They traded bombs with each other with no regard for defense. It was a savage war of attrition in which both men tasted the canvas. Lyle finally fell for good in round five.

The loss to Foreman and another decision loss to the clever Jimmy Young forced Ron to rally toward another title shot. Hard fought decision wins over Joe Bugner, Stan Ward and Scott LeDoux again put Ron on contention. A suprising second round kayo loss to unheralded Lynn Ball dropped Ron from consideration. In his last significant bout Gerry Cooney halted Ron in one round. Ron made a brief comeback years later but it was in the 70′s that Lyle made his mark.

Jim Amato

 

 

 

 

BARBADOS JOE WALCOTT ; BURYING THE "DEMON"

For a boxer who had crossed gloves with the likes of Sam Langford, Joe Gans. Philadelphia, Jack O’Brien, Mysterious Billy Smith, Kid Lavigne, George Gardner, Dixie Kid, Rube Ferns, Tommy West, Dan Creedon, Honey Mellody and Joe Choynski, his was not a fitting end. Joe Walcott was born on March 13, 1873 in Barbados, British West Indies. On December 15, 1901 he stopped Rube Ferns in five rounds to capture the welterweight title. Ninety years later the man nicknamed the Barbados Demon was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Walcott’s career began in 1890 and lasted through 1911. He engaged in 135 recorded professional contests but Joe insisted there were many more. He failed in his first two attempts to win title recognition losing to lightweight champion Kid Lavigne in 1897 and welterweight champion Mysterious Billy Smith in 1898. After beating Ferns in 1901 he held the crown until losing to Dixie Kid in 1904. He reclaimed the title when Dixie Kid moved up in weight but lost all recognition when he was defeated by Honey Mellody in 1906.

From his retirement in 1911 until 1935, Walcott worked many different jobs. His boxing fortune had long since been depleted. Destitute he eventually surfaced in New York City. It was there that Mayor Jimmy Walker learned of Joe’s plight. Walker was able to get Joe a job at Madison Square Garden. There Joe stayed for a month or so and then he vanished without a trace. “Barbados” Joe Walcott was a 5’1″ freak of nature with a barrel chest and a reach equal to a much taller man. It was these physical attributes that enabled him to battle even heavyweights with success. Now he had disappeared without a clue to his whereabouts. His final resting place may never have been known if it had not been for the efforts of Bill Cereghin a devoted boxing fan from Defiance, Ohio.

Cereghin went on a mission to find the once great champion. In 1955 Bill’s efforts led him to Massillon, Ohio some twenty years after Joe had last been seen. Massillon is a town famous for the exploits of their high school football team once coached by Paul Brown. In Massillon Bill got the break he was hoping for. Someone remembered a person fitting Walcott’s description working in a small town near Massillon called Dalton. When Bill arrived in Dalton there was no sign or clue of Walcott. He searched the town cemetery with no luck. Finally a gravedigger led Bill to a Potter’s Field on a small hill and said he remembered burring a person of Walcott’s description who claimed he was once a great fighter. Bill then met with the undertaker who verified the gravedigger's claim. Joe had been walking one night and was hit by a car. He died at the scene. Now satisfied that his search was over Bill decided to try and dignify the unmarked grave. Bill found a slab of cement and with a black crayon wrote “Joe Walcott; Died October 1, 1935”. This was the date the undertaker had put on Walcott’s John Doe death certificate.

This story was brought to my attention by Sal Marino, a boxing expert from Niles, Ohio. Upon reading of Cereghin’s search and discovery of Walcott’s grave, Sal decided to pay Dalton a visit. Since Dalton was within a reasonable distance from Niles, Sal and his wife made the trip. At the cemetery they too found Walcott’s place of rest. No longer was the grave marked with the crayon inscribed cement slab. It now has a small but simple headstone. Did Bill Cereghin who was making an effort to collect enough money to buy a stone succeed? I am not sure.

The story about Bill’s search came out over thirty years ago. I have had no luck in my effort to contact Bill. It is fans like Bill and Sal who take the time and effort to keep the memories of our boxing heroes alive. Mr. Boxing himself Nat Fleischer rated Walcott the best welterweight of this century’s first fifty years. How could a boxer that was bestowed such an honor by left unremembered in an unmarked grave? The boxing company owes Mr. Cereghin a debt of gratitude.

Again a special thank you to my late, great friend Sal Marino. He was the co-founder and President of the Trumbull County,Ohio's Legends Of Leather for the information he sent to me.
 

Jim Amato

 

 

A CAREER SHORT OF A HEAVYWEIGHT CALLED "RINGO"

Who was the greatest fighter to come out of Argentina? Well pound for pound you would probably say Carlos Monzon or possibly Pascual Perez. You could make a case for Nicolino Locche too. Who was the biggest and baddest of all Argentine fighters? Many would say Luis "Angel" Firpo. I'll go with Oscar "Ringo" Bonavena.

When Oscar started his career in 1964, he met tough opponents like Tom McNeely and Dick Wipperman. In his first bout in 1965, he was overmatched and defeated by veteran contender Zora Folley. Oscar left New York and returned to Argentina. He defeated the very capable Gregorio Paralta and American import, Billy Daniels. When he returned to New York in 1966, he outpointed equally rugged George Chuvalo.

Oscar was then matched with 1964 Olympic Gold Medal winner, Joe Frazier. The fight was classic. Oscar had Joe down twice but Frazier came back to win a close decision. In 1967, Oscar was entered in the eight man tourney to determine the defrocked Muhammad Ali's successor. Oscar traveled to Germany and trounced southpaw Karl Mildenberger. In his next match he was floored twice and soundly beaten by the eventual tourney winner, Jimmy Ellis. Oscar regrouped in 1968 beating Folley in a rematch and also the respected, Leotis Martin. He was matched again with Joe Frazier for the New York State version of the crown. Oscar fell behind early but he came back strong only to drop the verdict. Bonavena would still remain a viable contender for several more years.

Two years after his loss to Frazier, Oscar would face the comebacking Muhammad Ali.
It would be one of the most grueling fights of Ali's career. The "Greatest" came out on top by stopping a dead game but exhausted Oscar in the fifteenth and final round.

In 1971 Oscar won by a disqualification over colorful Al "Blue" Lewis. In 1972 Bonavena met former champion, Floyd Patterson. Oscar lost a very debatable decision. Two years later he was defeated by the highly regarded Ron Lyle.
The loss to Lyle pretty much pushed Oscar out of the title picture. Bonavena was still a rated fighter when on May 22, 1976, he was shot and killed at a brothel in Las Vegas.

The hard partying "Bad Boy" had finally met his match.

Jim Amato

FIGHTERS OF THE 20th CENTURY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last updated: 10/15/17.