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  1. Cliff Rold does excellent previews - here's tonight's big one - my pick is Ward - just a gut feeling and not based on anything else - a pick'em fight for me Sat Nov 19, 2016 Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward: Pre-Fight Report Card by Cliff Rold Four years ago, having gone through the Super Six minefield and becoming the first man to stop then lineal light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in a super middleweight title fight, Andre Ward looked like the heir apparent. Following the wild round robin years of the 1980s featuring a relative parity of elite talent led by Sugar Ray Leonard, there has always been that one guy who stands out from the crowd; the sublime master talent whose peers can’t quite catch up to in their prime. Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather…Andre Ward? That’s the way things looked like they were heading. Maybe that’s the way they’ve been all these years anyways. Injuries and a well documented legal battle with his former promoters kept Ward on the shelf for most of 2013 and all of 2014. Since returning in June 2015 from an eighteen-month layoff, the former 168 lb. king Ward has been in the ring three times. He may not have lost more than a handful of rounds. He hasn’t shared the ring with anyone who had any business doing better than that. That changes this weekend. A lot of things have changed over the last four years. When Ward stepped into the ring with Dawson in September 2012, Sergey Kovalev was still just an interesting prospect in the light heavyweight division. In January 2013, he announced that he might be much more. A three round annihilation of former titlist Gabriel Campillo was an eye opener. Campillo came in on the heels of highly debated decision losses to Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud; he could easily have been a unified beltholder that night. Kovalev walked through him. He’s walked through a lot of other good fighters since while winning three of the four most recognized belts in his class. Nathan Cleverly and Jean Pascal had never been stopped before they faced Kovalev. No one had ever shut out the great Bernard Hopkins before Kovalev did it. In nine title fights at light heavyweight, only two have lasted the distance and all have hit the deck at least once. None of them were Andre Ward. In the four years since Ward last faced someone regarded as an elite talent, a genuine rival has emerged. In each other, Ward and Kovalev find an opponent that can both validate everything they’ve done to date and elevate their standing to a new plateau. Many fights can be regarded going in as 50-50 but for the rare few does that really set the imagination on fire. It might not decide history’s king at 175 lbs. (that claim still resides with Adonis Stevenson), but the winner will be widely regarded as the best light heavyweight in the world. This isn’t just a fight where we can’t be sure who will win. It’s a fight where we can’t wait to find out. Let’s go the report card. The Ledgers Sergey Kovalev Age: 33 ?Current Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2013-Present, 8 Defenses); WBA Super Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 4 Defenses); IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 4 Defenses) Previous Titles: None Height: 6’0 Weight: 175 lbs. ?Hails from: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Hails from Russia) Record: 30-0-1, 26 KO Rankings: #1 (BoxingScene, TBRB, Ring, Boxing Monthly, BoxRec), #2 (ESPN) Record in Major Title Fights: 9-0, 7 KO Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 4 (Gabriel Campillo TKO3; Nathan Cleverly TKO4; Bernard Hopkins UD12; Jean Pascal TKO8, RTD7) Vs. Andre Ward Age: 32 ?Current Title: None Previous Titles: WBA Super Middleweight (2009-15, 6 Defenses); WBC Super Middleweight (2011-13, 1 Defense); TBRB/Ring/Lineal Super Middleweight (2011-15, 2 Defenses) Height: 6’0 Weight: 175 lbs. ?Hails from: Oakland, California Record: 30-0, 15 KO Rankings: #2 (BoxingScene, TBRB), #3 (ESPN, Boxing Monthly, BoxRec), #4 (Ring) Record in Major Title Fights: 7-0, 1 KO Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 5 (Mikkel Kessler TD11; Sakio Bika UD12; Arthur Abraham UD12; Carl Froch UD12; Chad Dawson TKO10) Grades Pre-Fight: Speed – Kovalev B+; Ward A Pre-Fight: Power – Kovalev A; Ward B Pre-Fight: Defense – Kovalev B+; Ward A Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Kovalev A+; Ward A+ If the weigh in is any indication of the atmosphere Saturday night, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist at Light Heavyweight, Ward, will have the home court advantage here. Kovalev got a round of boos when he stepped to the scale. He smiled anyways. This isn’t first time he’s been on the road in hostile territory. Both men looked elated by the moment and in peak shape. There was no reason to expect anything less. Both Ward and Kovalev have been consistently professional throughout their careers. They also consistently met and exceeded expectations. Kovalev and Ward are gamers. They don’t just win their big fights. They win big in their big fights. What will that mean Saturday? It could mean one man holds to that standard and simply takes over. We can hope it means we get something more memorable than that, a genuine two-way contest worthy of the anticipation this has garnered among serious fight followers. There are reasons to think both are possible. If one man takes over, the smart pick to do so is probably Ward. Kovalev physically dominating Ward, hurting him early and never letting up, is possible. Ward’s craft makes that less likely. The American is the sort of fighter who does a little bit of everything right. He has excellent balance, understands distance as well as any fighter in the game, and can throw in some work from the southpaw side just to mess with an opponent’s timing. Ward’s best power punch is the left hook but power isn’t what makes his game. What makes Ward so fascinating to watch, and frustrating for foes, is the way he takes weapons away. For fighters who like to fight inside, Ward has proven able to box at range and smother when they get close. Against foes that like to keep a man at the end of a jab, think Kessler and Dawson, Ward beat them up at close quarters. He doesn’t waste motion regardless. Ward moves but he’s not a guy who stays on his toes all night. His movement is about getting to the next spot where he can plant and land again. It’s not always pretty and he’s not above bending the rules. Forearms, an educated forehead, and clinches that allow him to use his physical strength to wear men down aren’t about aesthetics. They’re just about winning. Another thing that makes fighters like Ward successful is that they bring the punch output of their opponent’s down. Ward has smart head movement and is no easy target. If Kovalev headhunts, he is in for a long night. He’s regularly shown the ring smarts to be more than that but he struggled in spots in his last fight against Isaac Chilemba. Chilemba boxed, stayed in his game, and lasted the distance while winning a few rounds along the way. Kovalev couldn’t find him the way he was used to finding others. His punch output dropped from a Compubox average in the eight fights prior to Chilemba by approximately nine punches per round. If Chilemba can do that, Ward’s chances to bring his output down even more look good. Kovalev isn’t above using the rough stuff either. He punches what is available. Sometimes that means flirting around the waistline; sometimes it means a hard shot that lands on the back of the head. Kovalev will have to have answers for Ward’s reservoir of tactical knowledge. It will start off the jab. In his breakthrough fight against Mikkel Kessler, Ward disrupted the Dane’s jab all night. Kessler had arguably the best jab in the super middleweight division then. The same can be said of Kovalev right now at light heavyweight. Kovalev’s jab appears superior to Kessler’s. It’s just as straight but Kovalev isn’t as athletically rigid and he mixes it up to the head and body better. Ward has the edge in speed here but Kovalev is quick enough to use his advantage in arm length. The reach, on paper, isn’t far apart but Kovalev has more narrow shoulders than Ward. Earlier this year, the punch that Sullivan Barrera had the most (of limited) success with against Ward was the jab. Like Kovalev, that was predicated on his length. If Kovalev can establish his jab, he can win the fight. The jab sets up everything else. Some have pointed out Kovalev’s perceived deficiency on the inside. If this becomes a phone booth fight, the edge will be to Ward. Few are better at working in the clinch and hacking away with the free hand. Carl Froch was able to land his share of awkward rights against Ward. It wasn’t enough to change the fight, but the angles he worked from made Ward work to the end. Kovalev is quicker than Froch and can land at similar angles with more precision. It doesn’t mean Kovalev lacks weapons at close range. He’s very good at taking a short step backwards and landing quick left hooks and shortened, slashing overhand rights when foes try to crowd. That he can land those with power moving backwards makes him more dangerous. Defense is an assumed advantage for Ward but Kovalev isn’t easy to hit either. His head movement is an overlooked asset and he’s good at creating space. This could be a fight where we see both men thinking and looking for openings in spots versus punching. Temperament will be a factor as well. Neither Kovalev nor Ward come across as kindly men in the ring. Can either man shake the other mentally and force them out of character? How will Ward respond if he has to come off the floor? How will Kovalev respond if he finds himself being bullied inside and forced to the ropes? We’re mere hours from finding both the answers to these questions and what questions we didn’t think to ask. The Pick There are a few ways for Ward to win here and it will be interesting to see what his strategy is. Does he think his chances are better in smothering Kovalev or will he find his edge in speed allows him to use his legs and counter punching to keep Kovalev frozen and resetting. For Kovalev, it's a tighter needle to thread. He has to hurt Ward at some point and not let him establish a rhythm. Kovalev can win rounds that way but it's hard to see seven of them. Ward is a twelve round, methodical fighter. A long steady contest favors him. The power of Kovalev, his underrated quickness, and fluid combinations, make him a threat no matter the round. This isn’t as simple as boxer versus puncher. Both men are well-rounded, high boxing IQ talents with commensurate professional experience. They’ve seen a range of styles, both have been in big fights, and neither knows how to lose. However, in flipping the coin on a fight that is 50-50 on paper, the coin comes up Ward. Kovalev’s paths to victory depend on offense and Ward is a master of stifling offensive fighters. It’s the safe pick even if no pick feels safe on this one. The fight is that good. Report Card and Staff Picks 2016: 37-13
  2. scribbs

    Hilmer Kenty

    Kronk’s Hilmer Kenty - From AAU to WBA Champion! Interview By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 31, 2011) From 1972 to 1976 the amateurs in the US were as good as any in the entire world. Detroit’s Hilmer Kenty would spar with Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns in the Kronk Gym and then fight the likes of “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor and Howard Davis, Jr. That was just to win either the AAU or Golden Gloves titles. A boxer had to be exceptional in those days and Kenty was exceptional! “I fought Aaron Pryor 7 times. He defeated Pryor for the US Championship in 1976 but lost in their last fight (after splitting 3-3). I lost to him to see who would fight Howard Davis, Jr. in the 1976 Olympic trials,” said Kenty. This writer witnessed Pryor and Davis and I believe Pryor could have made the team just as easily as Davis did. It all came down to attitudes and Davis had a better one. Kenty was 106-30 winning the AAU title in 1974 and 1975 at 132. He was 16 when he fought in the 1972 Olympic trials. “In the 1973 Golden Gloves finals I lost to Ray Leonard. He was fast and could punch. You could see the improvement each year with him. When he fought Tommy (Hearns) I know he did a lot of studying of his films in order to fight him the way he did. I had to learn to get inside of Tommy’s power in the gym,” said Kenty. “After winning the AAU titles (74-75) I lost to Howard Davis in 1976. He had such speed and quickness,” said Kenty. Pertaining to his 7 fights with Hall of Fame boxer Pryor was very interesting. “Pryor could be so aggressive yet people underestimated his boxing ability. He could be more dangerous when he had you chasing him. I lost to Pryor one night and the next night he beat Hearns,” said Kenty. Born in Austin, TX, in 1955, Kenty’s family moved to OH, at an early age. “My trainer was Bill Cummings through the amateurs. He started the Ohio State Fair tournaments. Manny Steward would later do something similar to Bill when he started Kronk. Our club was the IBC (the Invitational Boxing Club out of Columbus),” said Kenty. “When I turned pro Bill would be my trainer and manager. The professionals were a lot different in OH, as far as the number of shows. Bill’s main fighter was Steve Gregory,” said Kenty. Gregory would go 20-0-2 before losing in a world title bout. Kenty would win his debut defeating Steve “Hammer” Homan, 10-0 (8), in a 6 round decision in October of 1977 in Columbus. In his next fight in November he was beating Ray Carrington, 6-14, while his year older brother Forrest Winchester, 4-0 (4) was stopping Al “Earthquake” Carter, 3-0 (3), in 5 rounds. Carter would win his next 19 fights all by knockout before losing again. Winchester would go 15-0-2 beating future champ Manning Galloway, before losing a fight. Kenty would win 4 of his first 5 fights in OH, with one in Detroit. “I started fighting for the Kronk Gym in my sixth fight. Manny (Steward) would be the first person in the gym and the last person to leave,” said Kenty. He would score 6 straight knockouts in Detroit before defeating title challenger Arturo Leon, 22-15-2. Leon lost a decision in a title bout with Alexis Arguello the year before. “He was tough and smart. I was trying too hard for a knockout,” said Kenty. He would take a 10 round decision over Leon. A couple months later in Kenty’s next fight he found himself on the canvas not once but twice. “I got dropped in the first and second rounds by Canadian Ralph Racine, 24-7-1, but recovered and won the rest of the way taking a close decision,” said Kenty. He would end the year in 1979 stopping South American champ Sebastian Mosqueira, of Paraguay, and Scotty Foreman of New Orleans bringing his record to 16-0 in just 25 months. “I remember seeing Leo Randolph (1976 Olympic Gold) win a world title within 2 years in his eighteenth fight. That really inspired me to get an early title fight,” said Kenty. It would be 4 months later in March of 1980 he would fight WBA lightweight champion Ernesto Espana, 27-1 (24), of Venezuela, in the motor city of Detroit. Espana was on a 13 straight knockout streak. His only loss was in his fourth fight and that was reversed. He defeated Claude Noel for the vacant WBA title and stopped then unbeaten Johnny Lira in his only defense. This was your boxer – puncher match-up. The Joe Louis Arena in Detroit would have 13,172 in attendance. Espana made his US debut in the Lira fight. During instructions Espana’s trainer questioned Kenty’s gloves trying to unnerve the challenger. Kenty was cool as a cucumber with the smile of confidence. When Kenty went down to a knee in the first round Latino referee Larry Rozadilla called it a knockdown. It looked like they may have banged heads. Howard Cosell at ringside thought it was a slip. It cost Kenty the first round no matter what. Rozadilla would also score the fight along with another Latino Ismael Fernandez. Now HBO judge Harold Lederman would serve as the third judge. With a Latino referee and 2 Latino judges Espana had that going for him as the champion. Kenty had the thousands of fans behind him. In the second round it became a war. Only Kenty had a jab while Espana was throwing all power punches with Kenty getting the best of it. In the third round Kenty was keeping his left down inviting Espana to throw a right. Kenty had his way through rounds 2 to 5. Espana only went more than 6 rounds in 2 of his 3 decision wins and it was beginning to show by the sixth round with his face well marked. In the ninth Kenty rocked Espana back on his heels. Espana came back with an uppercut to the chin. A left hook knocked Espana into the ropes. Espana was on rubbery legs as he got to the middle of the ring. A barrage of over a dozen punches drove Espana into the ropes again. He was draped over the ropes taking punch after punch with the referee for some reason not stopping the fight. Kenty was knocking the head of Espana back time after time before the referee finally stepped in at the 2:53 mark of the ninth. At the time of stoppage the judges Rozadilla had it 78-75 and Lederman 78-74 for Kenty. Fernandez had it 76-74 Espana. Kenty’s handlers and Kronk fighters like Tommy Hearns were in the ring congratulating not only the new WBA lightweight champion, Hilmer Kenty, but Kronk’s first world champion! “No one knew who I was when I won the title. Hearns was the man. I didn’t handle success well”, said Kenty. Hearns would be their second champ. In his first defense back in the Joe Louis Arena in August Kenty had the OPBF Champion Young Ho Oh, 39-7-3, of South Korea down twice in the eighth round. He couldn’t come out for the ninth. “He wasn’t much,” said Kenty. Just 7 weeks later Kenty would give Espana a rematch at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, in San Juan, Puerto Rico in September. It was 6 months since their first fight and Espana hadn’t taken any fights. “It was so hot out that the fast pace exhausted me. By the fourth round I could hardly punch,” said Kenty. He had been cut in the corner of his left eye in the second round of a slugfest. Kenty rocked Espana into the corner and Espana was shook. In the third round a left hook rocked Espana. He barely was able to walk back to his corner at the end of the round. Espana was cut over the left eye in the fourth. Espana was completely out on his feet as Kenty landed four unanswered punches before referee Marty Denkin stopped it at 2:57 of the fourth round. Kenty held his young son in the ring after defending the title and was all smiles glad it was over. Again just 7 weeks later Kenty would be in with a veteran who had an unusual style in Vilomar Fernandez, 24-7-2, a Dominican out of New York who had defeated WBC Super featherweight champ Alexis Arguello in a non-title bout 2 years earlier. He lost to Olympian Howard Davis, Jr., who chose to fight Jim Watt for his WBC title instead of Kenty for his WBA title. Davis thought he was taking the easier way out and suffered his first loss in Scotland. Fernandez had lost to Robert Duran in 1977 in a WBA title bout. The Fernandez fight with Davis was very close on 2 of the judge’s score cards so he would get the title shot with Kenty. The fight was at the Cobo Hall in Detroit in November. “He was a slick boxer and had good speed,” said Kenty. The referee Waldemar Schmidt of Puerto Rico would also score the fight along with judge’s Rogelio Perez and Guy Jutras. “I got leg cramps in the fourteenth round from losing weight in this fight,” said Kenty. The fight would go the distance of 15 rounds. All 3 judges gave Fernandez 141 points. Schmidt gave Kenty 145, Perez 147 and Jutras 146 with Kenty retaining his title for the third time. Due to cataract surgery it would be 5 months before meeting Sean O’Grady, 74-2, in April of 1981 in Atlantic City. O’Grady had only lost to Hall of Famer Danny “Little Red” Lopez and in a 1980 title fight with WBC champion Jim Watt in Scotland on cuts. He was ahead on all 3 cards after 11 rounds. Kenty was having enough problems making weight. “Before the fight I was scared. It seemed like he had all the support. He had Emmanuel Steward, Tommy Hearns and many other great boxers in his corner! He was the best boxer I faced. Even in Prior to the fight his manager/trainer Manny Steward told this writer Kenty had a bad cold and he didn’t want him taking the fight and knew O’Grady was more than ready. Kenty disagreed with being told this and said he was told “fight or lose your title” by Steward. “I should have never fought. I got hit in the chest in the first round and knocked down. My cold was so bad you could see the mucus coming out of my nose from the knockdown. I was down one more time in the fight,” said Kenty. Kenty lost his title in a fight he should not have taken and moved up to 140. O’Grady did not escape without injury as the blood was flowing down the side of his face from a cut outside his left eye at the finish. The scores were lopsided at 146-139, 146-138 and 147-137 all for O’Grady. That wasn’t going to be Kenty’s only problem. “Before the fight I was scared. It seemed like he had all the support. He had Emmanuel Steward, Tommy Hearns and many other great boxers in his corner! He was the best boxer I ever faced. Even in the later rounds he continued to try to beat me. He was so tough and fought with the heart of a champion. He threw up in his corner between the 10th and 11th round yet he still came out for more,” said O’Grady. This was taken from the story this writer did on O’Grady. “The crowd was electric. I remember them chanting for me and it inspired me to keep going. They probably inspired him, too! After the fight I really felt sorry for him. I am so proud that I won that fight. I interviewed him on Tuesday Night Fights and can say that we are friends. One thing I learned about boxing is that even though, through 15 rounds you say no words whenever you fight someone you look into their soul. You know what kind of person your adversary is. I can tell you Hilmer Kenty is a solid person. He is a man of character,” said O’Grady. “It was 3 months after the O’Grady fight that it was discovered I had a retina tare in my left eye,” said Kenty. He would be inactive for 14 months. “I was never the same after the surgery,” said Kenty. He would leave Kronk at that time. “I was told the surgery went well. People said I couldn’t come back and I think it gave me a burning desire to become champ again,” said Kenty. Kenty’s first fight back would be June of 1982 at the Joe Louis Arena where he would stop Christ Fernandez, 26-15-4, in the fourth round. This was a “to get the rust out” fight. Next would me unbeaten John Montes, Jr., 22-0 (17), of L.A., who also had a decision win over Arturo Leon. Kenty would come in at 133 ½, the lowest since before winning the title. With a plan of fighting every 2 months Kenty would meet Roberto Elizondo, 24-3 (19) who lost to Arguello for his WBC title less than a year before. Elizondo had his jaw broken by Arguello and lost a close decision to former champ Cornelius Boza Edwards right after that. In his last bout 2 weeks before this bout he scored a knockout. The fight took place at Great Gorge Resort, McAfee, NJ. Ray Leonard and Gil Clancy were doing the commentating. Leonard talked about his eye problems in comparing them to Kenty prior to the fight. He also felt Kenty was fighting inside more instead of boxing. In the first round Kenty boxed very well dominating Elizondo who couldn’t seem to land more than a couple of punches though the aggressor. The second round was a complete turn around as Elizondo was landing with effectiveness to both the body and head. Once he got Kenty on the ropes you knew it was the last place Kenty wanted to be. A couple of straight right hands got Elizondo’s attention but nothing to hold him off. At the end of the second round Kenty did not come out. Kenty was interviewed after the fight, obviously dejected. “I just didn’t feel like I had anything tonight. I don’t know if it was getting down to the weight or what. I want to apologize to my fans. I don’t think I could have gotten through a third round as you could see he was coming on and I hit him with a couple of good shots and it had no effect on him,” said Kenty. This would be his last fight at lightweight. Today, Kenty simply says “I quit”. He would be back in action 3 months later against James Martinez, 47-24-3, at the Yack Arena, in Wyandotte, MI. He would win a 10 round decision. It would be 7 months before he would fight again when he took on Ali Kareem Muhammad, 11-0, at the Boardman Sports Complex, Traverse City, MI. Again, Kenty would take the 10 rounder by decision. “He was tough,” said Kenty. After 2 more wins, 1 by knockout, Kenty was up to welterweight at 143. In April of 1984 he took on future IBF lightweight champion Fred Pendleton, 10-7-1, in Detroit, taking another 10 round decision. He was smart and a good puncher. This writer managed Pendleton for one fight and can tell you whoever gave him the nickname “Fearless” must have been using reverse psychology. In June Kenty scored a knockout and finished his career in August winning a split decision over Dave Odem, 10-5-2, at Riverview Ballroom Cobo Arena, in Detroit. “I always knew I had good boxing ability. Good view of the ring and got my opponent to do what I wanted him to do. For Odem to even go the distance with me I knew I didn’t have it anymore and retired at 29,” said Kenty. Kenty was pleased to become a world champion and is a man of God today. He attends the Plymouth United Church of Christ. “I was truly blessed to win the title in 2½ years. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior,” said Kenty. In the late 90’s he was appointed to the board of athletes by Govenor Blanchard. He also ran an electric supply business which he sold in 1997. “Today I feel I would like to get involved in boxing in some way,” said Kenty. As a former AAU champion and a world WBA champion it would be easy for Kenty to fit in somewhere in boxing. Like many boxers he may have gotten to the top too fast. Last year marked 30 years since he won the WBA title. Even today he is a well spoken individual like he was along with Sean O’Grady when they fought 30 years ago this April. O’Grady said it all when he said “I can tell you Hilmer Kenty is a solid person. He is a man of character”!
  3. scribbs

    Peter Mathebula

    Terror's special place in history by Ron Jackson 16/08/2012, 12:44 Peter Mathebula earned himself a special place in SA boxing history when he won the WBA flyweight title in 1980. The date was December 13, and Mathebula beat Tae Shik Kim from South Korea on points in the Olympic Arena in Los Angeles to take the belt. Mathebula, who was born on July 3, 1952 and spent his early years in the Mohlakeng Township near Randfontein in Gauteng, became the first black South African to win a world title. Only three other South Africans – Willie Smith, Arnold Taylor and Vic Toweel – were regarded as world champions before “Terror” Mathebula defeated Kim. Mathebula, sporting a collection of scars that he had picked up in street fights, left South Africa almost unnoticed to go challenge the champion. Only two sports writers went to see him off at the airport. In a way, he was well prepared for the daunting task. He had grown up in an area where violence was part of life. He became, from the age of ten, a tough street-fighter. The 23-year-old Kim, from Seoul, was a feared fighter. He had knocked out 11 opponents in his 16 fights. His only loss was in his debut as a professional in September 1977. He won the WBA title when knocked out Luis Ibarra, who had a record of 19-1, in the second round. After retaining the title against Arnel Arrozal, Kim was the overwhelming favourite when he took on the little-known South African in a fight scheduled for 15 rounds. At the bell for the first round, Mathebula rushed in and started throwing punches in an effort to stop the champion early. But when it became clear that Kim could take his best punches, trainer Willie Lock told Mathebula to pace himself and stay in close. Mathebula used his jab to outbox Kim, who soon resorted to using his elbows, butting and even hitting on the break. In the fourth round, when he head-butted the challenger again, an old cut above Mathebula’s right eye opened. The doctor was called in to examine the damage in the sixth round, but let the fight go on. In the fourteenth round the desperate Korean launched a vicious attack but Mathebula hung on until the bell. The courageous South African’s eye was swollen nearly shut but he launched an all-out attack in the final round to earn a split-decision win – 145-143 on two cards against 145-142 for Kim. RUNNING START Mathebula received his first boxing lesson from Jake Mashigo, who had fought as a lightweight in the late 1960s. Mashigo first saw the youngster when he was taking some members of his boxing club on a training run. They were passing some shops when a boy of about nine years old joined the group – and stayed with them. The lad soon became a regular at the beerhall where the training sessions were held. He had his first fight in Roodepoort when he weighed about 21 kg. He beat up his opponent and Mashigo afterwards told him his opponent was nicknamed Terror. But because there was no “terror” left in him, the name was transferred to young Peter. In 1969, after winning most of his bouts, he teamed up with Theo Mthembu and Ted Khasibe at the Siphiwe Amalgamated Boxing Club in Dobsonville. He made his professional debut in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg, on July 10, 1971 when he beat Sidwell Mhlongo on points over four rounds. However, he lost two of three fights in 1972 and had only one fight in 1973, when he defeated Joe Ngidi in Durban. But Ngidi stopped him in the fourth round of a return match in June 1974. Ngidi won the vacant SA flyweight title on August 1, 1975 when he beat William Molatudi, but he lost it to Mathebula, who won by stoppage, in his first defence on May 1, 1976. SEVEN FIGHTS AGAINST SITHEBE Before winning the SA title, Mathebula had beaten William Molatudi to take over the Transvaal flyweight title, which he retained against Johannes Sithebe in the second bout of a seven-fight series between the two. All were exciting battles that went the full distance, except for their last one in September 1980, which Sithebe was stopped in the ninth round. In four of the fights the SA flyweight title was at stake. Mathebula also made successful defences against Ngidi, winning both fights inside the distance, before facing his first imported opponent, Freddie Hernandez, in Johannesburg. He was well beaten. However, he then won ten fights, seven inside the distance. One was for the vacant SA bantamweight title against Leslie Pikoli, whom he knocked out in the eighth round in Port Elizabeth on February 3, 1979. He retained the title against Vincent Ngcobo but lost if when Welile Nkosinkulu stopped him in the ninth round in December 1979. Dave Wolpert and Bobby Toll, who had just taken over as his management, felt a lot better when Mathebula recovered to beat Godfrey Nkate and Johannes Sithebe before being matched with Kim. They were supposed to fight in South Korea in May 1980 but Mathebula and his countrymen Raymond Slack, Willie Lock and Stanley Christodoulou were refused visas and had to abort the trip in Hong Kong. Mike Mortimer, chairman of the WBA rating committee, then struck a deal with the Korean Boxing Commission for the fight to be held in Los Angeles or Argentina. After beating Kim in Los Angeles, Mathebula received a hero’s welcome in Johannesburg. He was named SA Boxing World/King Korn Fighter of the Year and his trainer, Willie Lock, received the Man of the Year award. FIGHTING AT ORLANDO STADIUM Mathebula was scheduled to make the first defence of his title against Shigo Nakajima of Japan, but negotiations broke down and he was matched with Santos Lacier from Argentina. They fought at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on March 28, 1981. Laciar began to dominate after a slow first three rounds and knocked Mathebula down in the fourth and fifth. With his left eye cut, a tired-looking Mathebula came out for the seventh round. Laciar pounced and dropped the champion again. Mathebula beat the count but soon afterward indicated to referee American Stanley Berg that he was unable to see through the blood flowing from his eye. The fight was stopped two minutes and two seconds into the round. Some local supporters were so disappointed that they turned against Mathebula, whom they felt had let them down. “He drank and ate carelessly and forgot his responsibilities as a world champion,” one fan was quoted as saying. As WBA champion, Mathebula had indeed attended many functions. He had to dance to the tune of sponsors and did not train hard enough. He also probably underestimated Laciar. It was later revealed that he was 3 kg over the weight limit on the eve of the fight. He spent two hours in a sauna, which left him drained and weak. As a former WBA champion, he was still in demand and was offered a fight against another former WBA flyweight champion, Venezuelan Betulio Gonzalez. They met in Maracaibo in June 1981 and Mathebula as stopped in the tenth round. In a return match in Maracaibo three months later was knocked out in the sixth round. Fighting as a bantamweight in 1982, he beat Joseph Ngubane,who later won the SA bantamweight title, and knocked out Welile Nkosinkulu, lost to Matata Plaatjies and outpointed Siphiwo Fuma. On April 16, 1983 he outpointed Mandla Booi and in his last fight, on August 12, the same year he won the Transvaal bantamweight title by stopping Jacob Molefe in the tenth round to finish with a record of 36 wins (17 inside the distance) and 9 losses.
  4. THE CRAZY WORLD OF LIVINGSTONE BRAMBLE : Snakes, Dogs, Voodoo--He Even Has His Manager a Little Punchy February 16, 1985 RICHARD HOFFER | Times Staff Writer RENO — Livingstone Bramble is angry with the media because all they want to do is write about an eccentric, a kid who trains with a boa constrictor named Dog around his neck and whose most beloved companion is a pit bull terrier named Snake. It's like this: You hire a witch doctor for just one fight--what if it does turn out that Dr. Doo was a high school basketball coach--and nobody lets you forget it for the rest of your life. Well, you can see what Bramble, 24, the World Boxing Assn. lightweight champion, is up against, even as he trained for tonight's rematch with Ray Mancini, 23. It's "Hey, Bramble, hear you've been sparring with a caged chicken." Or "Hey, Bramble, hear you've been shadow-boxing with bubbles." There is no letup. No wonder, then, the chip on his shoulder. No wonder he refused to tape a segment with CBS, which just happens to be providing part of his $750,000 purse. There is a serious side to Bramble that everybody chooses to ignore. The other day at a press conference, for instance, he unwrapped a voodoo doll and began probing the eyes with a needle. "Ray, tell me how your eyes feel. See how your eyes are jumping now." Then there was the solemn presentation of a ceramic skull--made in China and bought at a pet store. Bramble would like to know just what they mean by eccentric. "Don't believe it," said Wily Lou Duva, Bramble's long-suffering manager, when asked about these reported troubles with the media. "He loves it. I mean, what we have here is a nut, a real coconut head, a cuckoo." Duva, no stranger himself when it comes to promoting a fight--he nearly started a brawl with Mancini's manager, Dave Wolf, the other day--said he doesn't mind Bramble's zaniness, only his protests to the contrary. Duva's attitude is: Why should a man who plans to wear a skull and crossbones on his trunks complain about his coverage? Does the Pope whine because everywhere he goes people look on him as a religious figure? If Bramble is not, in fact, what the psychiatrists like to medically classify as a coconut head, he is at least showing many of the symptoms. Since winning the title from Mancini last June in a 14-round upset, Bramble has done little to change his image from the dread-locked Rastafarian who is full of that Virgin Islands voodoo. It is almost easy to forget that he is really a champion, an excellent counter-puncher with a 22-2-1 record whose strength was more than equal to that of the stand-up slugger, Mancini, whose record of 29-2 was forged largely by presenting his face and daring anyone to hit it. Bramble's activities outside the ring tend to overshadow those within. The glory of his reign, a reign that will be tested in Reno's Lawlor Events Center and will be televised nationally by HBO, has been obscured by a certain unpredictability, a behavior that has often veered onto a very low road, indeed, even beyond voodoo dolls. Before the first Mancini fight, for example, Bramble said he was going to sew the name of Duk Koo Kim on his trunks, in reference to the fighter who died after a title fight with Mancini. There is little doubt that all this had an effect on Mancini in that first fight. Mancini was somewhat psyched by those goings-on. "The Mancini people, they don't know how to hype a fight," Duva said. "They think everything is for real." Mancini, of Youngstown, Ohio, says it was more a case of overtraining for that fight, that he had absolutely nothing that night. All the same, those close to the promotion say Mancini has been working hard to stay above the fray this time, that he has resigned himself to whatever Bramble has up his sleeve. After Bramble had his way with the voodoo doll, Mancini simply asked if Bramble would be his valentine. Wolf, who put a recent press conference in high gear by tossing out some vague drug allegations, said Bramble's efforts for the rematch have been boring. "I have to fault them for their creativity," he said. "They should have done something better than this. This is supposed to be a psych-out?" To tell the truth, there is some question as to whether this is, indeed, supposed to be a psych-out. Duva ordinarily welcomes anything that gets his fighter attention, but Bramble's behavior has been getting even to him. And he's not sure it's all so calculated, either. "Some of it's BS," he said. "But you have to remember, he's a kook. I don't know from hour to hour what he's going to do. He doesn't either. I've been spending all my time here covering up for him, for the things he's been saying." In the beginning Duva could laugh it all off. It's been a standing joke when he said: "I've got an appointment already made. After any Bramble fight, I commit myself to a mental institution for 10 days." But it doesn't always make him laugh these days. In fact, he's at the point where he's ready to walk away from a champion. See, not all this bizarre behavior makes it to the press.
  5. U.S. boxing promoter Don King, right, honors Denis Lebedev, of Russia, after the WBA cruiserweight world championship title bout between Lebedev and Guillermo Jones, of Panama, in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, May 17, 2013. Jones knocked out Lebedev in the 11th round But that eye area is jacked up, might need a little ice...