Ted Sares fought as an amateur boxer in the Chicago area in the 50's. He has since become a boxing historian and member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He specializes in articles that capture the pathos of the sport. His works have been featured on a number of boxing sites and magazines including East Side Boxing, Fightkings, WAIL Magazine, IBRO Journal, Saddoboxing.com, and many others

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Underestimating can be Unhealthy


When Ray Mancini was riding high as the real-life Italian Stallion, his last moment in the sun would be when he met two-time world champion (but shop worn) Bobby Chacon, 52-6-1 at the time, and easily beat him in three rounds. He would then lose his title by upset stoppage to a then unknown Livingston Bramble, 20-1-1, in 1984 but not before giving an all out effort, the result of which was an overnight stay at a hospital and over 70 stitches to close cuts around his eye. The Mancini camp had badly underestimated the colorful Virgin Islander. Bramble's non stop offensive and sharp punches turned "Boom Boom's" face into a hideous and bloody mess.

This upset would have implications for boxing since Mancini, a real life "Italian Stallion," was a major attraction at the time. Bramble not only upset Mancini, he also upset the apple cart of many boxing people who thought they could capitalize on Ray's popularity and make serious money on his future matches. However, It was not to be.

Larry Holmes almost met the same fate when he met and defeated an underestimated and unknown Mike Weaver for the WBC Heavyweight Title in 1979. Weaver had a record of 21 wins and 8 defeats, and many, including Holmes' team, viewed him as a journeyman. "Hercules." proceeded to drop Holmes in round four, however, and gave Holmes all he could handle before being dropped in round eleven and succumbing to the world champion. Weaver would go on to win the WBA Heavyweight Title by a spectacular 15th round ko over Big John Tate.

Tommy Morrison was badly underestimated by Big George Foreman when they fought for the world championship on June 7, 1993. Morrison surprised many critics by sticking to a disciplined strategy of hit and run and clearly outpointing the surprised Foreman over 12 rounds, winning the title. Almost immediately, there was talk of a fight with WBC world champion Lennox Lewis, although it would not have been a unification bout since the WBC has always refused to recognize the WBO. However, much money was to made.

The talks ended, however, when "The Duke" was himself upset in his first defense by the virtually unknown Michael Bentt who knocked out Tommy in round one in front of a home town audience. Had Tommy's team done some due diligence, they would have leaned that Bentt had a remarkable armature career.He won four New York City Golden Gloves titles and five USA Amateur Boxing championships. Both accomplishments remain unprecedented. After having won the bronze medal at the 1986 World Amateur Boxing Championships, he was placed a controversial second in the 1988 US Olympic Trials to the eventual 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist to the eventual 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist, Ray Mercer. He won the right to fight on the Jamaican Olympic boxing team, but refused rather than give up his U. S. Citizenship. He is regarded as the most decorated boxer in the history of American amateur boxing never to have competed on a US Olympic Boxing Team. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to tell the Duke. Bad mistake.

Of course, the great Joe Louis once underestimated someone named Jersey Joe Walcott. Walcott was considered an excellent boxer and slick defensive fighter when he challenged Louis for the title in December of 1947, but no one gave him much of a chance and it was clear that he had been underestimated. He decked Joe twice but lost a 15-round split decision to "The Brown Bomber" in a fight he had clearly won. Even Louis knew it by leaving the ring before the shocking decision was announced. The very next year, Louis defeated Walcott by knocking him out in 11 rounds.

There are many more fights in which someone was badly underestimated. Can you name some?

"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion. The potential for greatness lives within each of us." Wilma Rudolph


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