Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abell disqualified for late punch knockout, Walters defeated in 56 seconds

Editor's Note: The result of this fight was officially changed from Disqualification to No Contest. More information forthcoming

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark ConnorBy

Raphael Butler appeared to be in command of the Minnesota Heavyweight Championship fight against Joey Abell as the final 30 seconds of the first round approached. He’d been landing good combinations and winning exchanges, picking apart the southpaw Abell with jabs, hooks, right hands and body shots. He was moving well and slipping well and seemed to be establishing the kind of rhythm that propels a fighter to victory. But then suddenly Abell hit him with a solid straight left hand that seriously stunned him, and then he punched some more and knocked him down. As Butler got up he did what was necessary to survive the round and the bell rang. It clearly rang. There was no mistaking it. Then, as Butler put his hands down and was ready to return to his corner, Abell threw the left again, knocking Butler out. Thereafter a melee occurred when Butler’s trainer, Dan O’Connor, ran into the ring and over to Abell, attacking him, at which time Abell’s corner attempted to protect him. When the incident had calmed down just a bit Abell went to Butler’s corner to tell O’Connor he wasn’t aware the round was over when he threw his last punch. After Butler was revived and had been awarded the victory, he was given the microphone and tried to tell the crowd Abell would get a rematch, but he could barely be heard over the boos.

Before the fighters exited the ring I was able to talk briefly to both of them, although State Commissioners were attempting to block interviews. Just before leaving the ring Abell verified to me that he told O’Connor he hadn’t realized the bell had rung before throwing the last punch, and Butler verified my suspicion, that until getting hit with the first significant Abell left hand he felt he was in command of the fight.

“I thought it was going to be an easy fight,” Butler said in reference to how he’d been doing prior to being dropped.

As disappointed as the crowd was, the disqualification was the right call. Historically speaking, even though the reference is to the amateur rather than the professional arena, the incident reminds me of when Evander Holyfield was disqualified in his 1984 semifinal Light Heavyweight Olympic bout in Los Angelus when he didn’t break momentum and knocked his opponent. Also, Abell showed the same level of class after his disqualification as Holyfield did while representing the U.S. in the Olympics 25 years ago.
In the co-main event Zack Walter of Duluth, MN was overwhelmed by Larry Sharpe of Pine Falls, Manitoba, Canada, who dropped him twice to win by knockout at 56 seconds of the 1st round. Sharpe improved to 24-4, 13 KOs, and when interviewed after the fight he announced to a round a boos from the Twin Cities crowd that he now wants to fight Matt Vanda. “I’d been campaigning as a Junior Middleweight,” he said, “and I didn’t belong there. I’m a natural Super Middleweight.”
The night’s most entertaining fight was the unanimous decision victory of St. Paul lightweight Tony Lee in his professional debut against Hector Orozco of Hopkins. Lee took command immediately with his jab and executed fast combinations. He also landed numerous body shots throughout the fight and in the 1st round dropped the southpaw Orozco with a right hand from an angle the man couldn’t see. Orozco proved tough and determined, though, continuously coming and landing a significant amount of his own punches. Lee pressed on with speedy combinations from angles he was able to create with movement, landing right hands and left hooks against the southpaw stance but also finding the jab consistently and pounding the body. By the middle of the second Lee’s knockout opportunity appeared to have slipped away, and by the end of the third he tended to carry his hand a little low, subtly signifying the weariness creeping into his arms from punching a guy who wouldn’t give up. But before the bell to end the round he pulled his hands back above his chin and went to work with combinations. Lee was significantly less effective in the last round, though, leading me to debate whether he won it. I gave him the nod, as one judge obviously did with a 40-36 final score. My unofficial card agreed with that, but the cards of Denny Nelson and John Mariano were both 39-36, leading me to believe Lee’s fatigue lost the 4th for him in their eyes by a margin of 10-9. Lee showed me his left hand afterwards, which was significantly bruised near the outer wrist, and he said that it inhibited him during the last half of the fight. Orozco faired well enough in this fight, but he took a lot of punches and was in over his head, as he was in his professional debut in 2006 when he lost a unanimous decision to Raúl Gracia, whose corner I was in at the time. It seems to me that Orozco is an exceptional athlete and has potential as a boxer, but he needs to fight some opponents with less skill on whom he can practice new moves and sharpen his combinations and defense. Lee will need more conditioning and another entry level opponent, but should then be able to take the next step and progress steadily.

Boris, “The Russian Giant” Shishporenok, of Blaine (who is actually from Belarus, not Russia) controlled his bout from the beginning against a debuting Will Gillette of Rapid City, SD. The taller and heavier Shishporenok, a southpaw who weighed 280 pounds and stands 6’-5’’, towered over Gillette and visibly damaged him before the end of the first. He consistently jabbed and followed through with hooks and uppercuts after catching Gillette with left hands coming in. Then, in the second round he threw a perfectly timed one-two combination that Gillette walked into, the left hand landing flush and knocking him cold. Shishporonek climbs to 7-1, 6 KOs. He was originally scheduled to fight Travis Walker but the match fell through, and so he settled for this significantly easier challenge.

Lightweight Gary Eyer, Duluth, MN, has to be admired for being courageous enough to enter the arena to the cross dressing singer Boy George’s song “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”. Standing taller than his rough Mexican opponent, Levi Cortes of St. Paul, he took punches all night in a 6 round fight he won by unanimous decision. Apparently the right hand haymakers that Cortes threw were seen by the judges as grazing blows that made some noise and riled the crow but did not actually score, event though they consistently clocked Eyer in the face and visibly damaged him. Cortes took his own share of punches and was cut badly on the mouth, while Eyer was significantly bruised on the lower corner of his left eye. While Eyer exhibited a fair amount of skill he didn’t seem to be landing nearly as many punches as Cortes, nor was he generally effective. He did score two knockdowns, however, one in the third and another in the 5th, and referee Bob Brunette (very unjustifiably, I believe) told Cortes’ trainer, Fernando Ortiz in the corner that if another such knockdown occurred in the 6th he would stop the fight. Actually, when the first knockdown happened Eyer had been taking a pummeling, but he wisely timed a left hook over Cortes’ haymaker right. Eyer was obviously trying to land that punch all night, as was evidenced by his continual lifting of his right foot while moving back to time Cortes coming in. The problem with that strategy is it tended to cause him to lean in off balance and throw his right hand with his back foot slightly in the air, inhibiting him from ever being able to seriously threaten Cortes even after knocking him down. After the first knockdown Cortes wisely clinched very tightly several times and came back strong in the closing portion of the round. The second knockdown resulted in another strong survival response. I would have scored the fight 59-56 for Cortes. However, Cortes must work on a number of things which could have helped him in this fight. The first is to shorten that right hand instead of throwing haymakers, the second is to stop smothering himself and learn to take half steps back or to the side to maintain punching range, and the third is to throw an uppercut. Any one or all of these tools could have helped him tremendously in this tough battle. Eyer’s improvement would start with a good strong jab which was nonexistent in this fight. Nevertheless, Eyer climbs to 7-0-1, 5 KOs.

Tomi Archambault of Minot, ND struggled down three pounds Thursday night to make the minimum 130 pounds to meet the 129 + or – limit for the Featherweight (normally 126 lbs) fight against Coon Rapids’ Ronnie Peterson, 127. Peterson dominated the first round with body and head combinations, hooking well off the jab and making Archmambault miss or catch his shoulders or gloves when returning fire. Peterson began to look physically troubled in the second half of round 2, however, which he obviously lost. His breathing appeared to be inhibited, and, unfortunately the bout was stopped after the second round when he complained in his corner of a shoulder injury. Peterson suffered a significant shoulder injury in his final year as an amateur, which subsequently prevented from him from competing in the National Golden Gloves at the time. Hopefully he will make a full recovery and this incident won’t significantly retard the progress of his career.

Ronnie Peterson’s older brother, Junior Middleweight David Peterson of Mounds View, had absolutely no problem against Silas Ortley of North Dakota, over whom he scored a 4th round TKO. Peterson pounded Ortley’s soft body for three and a half rounds, the North Dakotan falling to the canvas. Peterson was open and vulnerable throughout but Ortley was not skilled or conditioned enough to capitalize on it. In fact Ortley, falling to 4-8, 3 KOs, appeared to have no idea how to handle Peterson, now 12-0, 7 KOs. Peterson’s last outing was a win over Corrie Rodriguez, shortly after which he related to me that he was surprised at how easy it came. Significant training will be required, but he should fight another opponent of that caliber with the intention of taking a step up from there in the immediate future. He has potential, but he’ll never be challenged on this level, or worse—he could get lazy and get caught with an unseen punch against someone like Ortley who has no business in the ring with him.
Junior Middleweight Saverino Garcia, Jr., of St. Paul, got his first win with a unanimous decision over Jacob Dobbe of Minneapolis. Garcia, now 1-0-1, 0 KOs picked up his first win over the debuting Dobbe, who showed a lot of heart and potential. Garcia fights significantly similar to his dad, former Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champion and professional featherweight Saverino Garcia, Sr., who trained in the Petronelli camp in Brocton, MA where he sparred with Middleweight Hall of Fame Champion Marvin Hagler. The willingness to trade blows is apparently hereditary in this case, but the lesser number of years experience are evident the son’s lack of defense. Against a fighter of significantly little experience Garcia started slow, seemingly surprised at Dobbe’s ability to hit him and determination to fight. He clearly lost the first round. He came on by the second half of the second round, though, when he began to find his timing and rhythm. Then he got into the groove and dominated the last two rounds, proving that with a little more conditioning and sharpness he can start dropping opponents on the preliminary fight level. He and his father both said that they know he has a lot to work on and they’re just happy to have gotten the experience as they look to the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Abell plans adjustments, Butler stands on skill

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

Raphael “the Silencer” Butler, 35-8-0, 28 KOs, and Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell, 25-4-0, 24 KOs, have been training hard for their scheduled Minnesota Heavyweight Championship match this Friday, December 4. As they wind up training and ready for the 6 o’clock weigh-ins at the Target Center this Thursday night, it makes sense to evaluate their styles and histories, examine their statements about the fight, and come to a conclusion about the possible results.
Both fighters spoke briefly after a press conference at the Target Center on October 27, sharing their expectations for the fight. While Butler confidently insisted that since becoming a professional in 2005 he has improved far beyond Abell’s skill and couldn’t possibly suffer the traumatic defeat he experienced against him as an amateur, Abell argues his ability to knock Butler out. Both acknowledge each other’s accomplishments, though, and also remember what they learned about themselves and each other when they’ve had occasion to spar in the past. The match is significantly dramatic given their extensive knowledge of each other, Butler being from Rochester and Abell from Coon Rapids, and now that they’ve compiled respectively impressive winning records a collision course has led them to what is for both a crossroads fight.

“I guarantee I can knock him out and I know he can knock me out too,” Abell says, “but I mean I’m not gonna put myself in the position to be knocked out and I’m going to go out there every round and fight not just to win the fight but to knock him out because that’s what the fans want to see.”

Abell remembers that when they fought as amateurs he successfully pressured Butler with constant punches, and says that’s the reason the fight was stopped. Butler acknowledges that, insisting a combination of a lack of experience and less than stellar conditioning is what debilitated him at the time. To accurately judge what each is capable of doing to the other today, it is necessary to examine their professional performances, particularly their best and their worst. Abell says there are three or more ways to beat Butler, the first being the pressure he applied to them in their amateur fight nearly a decade ago.

“I’m gonna try that,” he said of the pressure strategy. “There’s probably three different ways of going about this fight. If one doesn’t work I’m gonna switch to another and if that one doesn’t work I’m gonna switch to another. There are many different things I can do.”

Butler believes his superior command of speed and footwork, along with his ability to slip and counter punches, will carry him through the fight and secure victory.
“I feel like I’m talented enough if I get in there and I do exactly what I’m supposed to do,” he explained, “there should be no way Joey Abell should be able to beat me.” Butler didn’t go into great detail about his strategy, but it can be deduced from his statement referring to his skills in relation to Abell’s.
“I know I’m faster than Joey, I know that I can move better than Joey, and I actually know that I’m actually more intelligent as far as boxing goes than Joey,” he said. “So that’s why I feel confident that if I do my work in the gym and if I do everything I need to do at home, the fight will be the easy part.”

The work in the gym he referred to will be the key, because everything else he said regarding physical talent is accurate. Butler does move better and is faster than Abell, but conditioning in this fight will be the final determining factor if it is at all close. Butler has had his tendencies to tire in the past, and he will have to eliminate that possibility to accomplish what he is obviously capable of.

“Anybody will tell you that the hardest part of the fight should be your training,” he said, “and if it’s not your training than you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Abell does punch hard and he is strong, and he will most likely be in great shape. His tendency is to hold his chin too high and expose himself dangerously when loading up with the right hook from his southpaw stance, however, and his footwork is slow and plodding. He will have to pressure Butler like he mentioned in October, and if the pressure doesn’t work he’ll have to be able to avoid punches and hit him from angles that Butler cannot see. So long as Butler is in condition and boxing intelligently, however, Abell’s chance of pulling it off will be minimal. But the one factor present throughout the fight will be the possibility of Abell landing a big punch.

As far as Butler’s fight is concerned, he’ll have to make sure to keep his eyes on his opponent to avoid the sneaking shot from nowhere. He’ll have to also counter well and often after he lands lead combinations, stepping to the side instead of just straight back and wallowing on the ropes. He’s had a tendency to do the latter in the closer fights he’s had, and he’s also tired in the past. If he’s not in the best of shape and allows himself to tire, he’ll have problems. But he’s been training hard and sparring regularly with strong southpaw Boris Shishporenok; and his middle has tightened up in the last month. His endurance should be there enough to pull off the victory, but for his own sake he needs to be in better shape than the past. If he’s in really top notch condition it shouldn’t be that hard of a fight. It’s hard to say which Butler will show up for the Friday night contest, but the best guess is that he’ll pull it off one way or another.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Truax Shatters Hope, Kayongo Tops Todd

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

Caleb Truax shut down a brave bid by Kerry Hope of Wales to break his winning streak for the vacant World Boxing Foundation (WBF) International Super Middleweight title at the St. Paul Armory last Friday night, November 20, while Mohammed Kayongo may have resurrected his career with a 4th round knockout of Welshman James Todd for the WBF Intercontinental Welterweight title. Although the Truax-Hope contest was much more competitive, both victors were dominant throughout their respective contests.

Hope pressed the fight immediately in the first round, and although it was close and Truax was competently composed while moving around the ring in an attempt to establish his rhythm, I thought Hope won the round 10-9 because of his effective punching and aggression. Truax took control of the fight from there, though, and I had him winning every round except the 10th. I had the chance to speak briefly with judge Denny Nelson after the fight, and he told me he scored the first seven rounds for Truax, but the 8th, 9th, and 10th for Hope as Truax got tired. I scored the 9th for Hope because Truax appeared to be taking that round off after building such a huge lead, but thought Truax did enough to take the 10th. My unofficial card was 98-92 for Truax, but the official cards were unanimous at 97-93 for Truax. Strategically speaking, it was a near perfect performance for Truax, who handled Hope’s southpaw stance with the kind of precision necessary to succeed as a professional.

Hope fought more on the outside than he has in previous losses when he demonstrated a tendency to give up his natural reach advantage by smothering his power on the inside. He concentrated on keeping his distance and punching behind his right jab from full range in this fight, but Truax was too fast and too elusive for him to dominate. Also, Truax threw a strong left jab over the top of Hope’s lead whenever he was able to step outside Hope’s right foot. More often than not Truax concentrated on the right hand, though, and just when it seemed he was headhunting he’d land a significant shot to the body before coming back upstairs to land a clear shot to the chin. It took until the 4th round for him to cleanly land the left hook after the right hand, but once he did he was able to return to that shot at various critical periods throughout the night. By the 7th round he was moving well throughout the ring and picking his spots to effectively land significant shots. Due to a continued clash of heads in the opening rounds Truax suffered a cut in the corner of his right eye and Hope was cut on the side of his head, but neither injury significantly inhibited either fighter. Hope’s brave and competitive performance justifies his prefight confidence, but his evaluation of Truax’s credentials proved particularly flawed.

“Yeah, his record suggests he can punch,” Hope said the previous night after the weigh-ins, “but he’s fought tin cans if you ask me.”

That was an interesting statement, given that Truax entered the fight with a record of 13-0, 9 KOs, against a list of opponents whose combined win-loss record is 143 wins, 123 losses, and 15 draws, whereas Hope’s previous opponents have a combined record of 126 wins, 467 losses, and 29 draws.

“It’s their job to fight every week,” Hope said of his opponents with hundreds of losses, explaining that they were experienced enough to go the distance with good boxers but that he believed Truax’s previous opponents were not. Nevertheless, Hope has only scored one knockout in his entire 15 fight career, and he must go back to the drawing board after this loss. Perhaps he could climb back to this level with some more work, because he was obviously formidable for Truax, but “Golden” Caleb has taken a big step with this victory and appears poised to improve if he steadily increases his level of competition with the conservative approach that will enable him to continue his progress.

Kayongo opened his welterweight bout with immediate aggression against Todd, loading up with his punches. He jabbed well, but put most of his effort into right uppercuts and left hooks as he continuously moved around the ring bouncing punches off the advancing Todd, who had no idea what to do with him. Todd was cut with a mouse under his left eye by the 2nd round, when he was knocked down for the first time. At 2.35 of the 4th round Kayongo landed a combination that put Todd down for an immediate stoppage, referee Mark Nelson neglecting to count over the fallen fighter. Kayongo improves his record to 15-2-1, 11 KOs. This is Kayongo’s third win in a row since being TKO’d by José Leo Moreno in June 2005. He knocked out Eberto Medina, 2-2-0 in round 4 on April 25, 2007 at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, and won a 6 round Unanimous decision over Alex Perez, 23-30-4 on October 3, 2008 at the Ho Chunk Casino in Lynwood, IL. Todd’s rookie record falls from 2-1-1 to 2-2-1. It remains to be seen if Kayongo, the “African Assassin” can climb back to the level of challenging himself against experienced quality competition to the degree he did before falling to “The Lion Hearted” José Leo Marino.

In preliminary action Light Heavyweight Michael Faulk of St. Paul won a Unanimous decision—38-36, 39-37, 39-37—over Ryan Soft of New Town, ND. Faulk landed cleaner shots in the 1st and 2nd but got caught a bit near the end of the 2nd as Soft came on in the 3rd. Soft feigned pain from alleged low blows in both the 1st and the 4th, but it’s unclear whether anyone in the building saw Faulk land any low blows against him. Soft was able to catch Faulk with plenty of punches but many of his right hands were a little too looping to land flush and do damage, and he also lifted his right foot off the ground at critical moments while punching, throwing himself off balance and many times smothering his power. Faulk, a Southpaw, landed many effective combinations but squared himself off way too much and unnecessarily opened himself up for damage he would have best avoided. Faulk climbs to 2-0 while Soft falls to a perfectly balanced 1-1-1.

Featherweight prospect Willshaun Boxley boxed a very entertaining exhibition to open the night. He was faster, punched harder, and outmoved his opponent while making him miss throughout the fight, although he carried his chin curiously high during his performance. Hopefully he'll be in competitive action again soon so local fans can see how fast he's developing.

There were three Mixed Martial Arts matches between the Faulk-Soft match and the Kayongo-Todd match. While I was interested in them as I watched, I could have just as easily skipped the experience. They were competitive athletes, though, and very strong and tough. They deserve credit for their efforts. In the first bout Derk Abram TKO’d Gabe Wllbridge, in the second Isaiah Mahto won by submission over Jedidiah Jones, and in the third Marcus LeVessuer defeated Bruce Johnson. LeVessuer is particularly impressive.

There are two reasons I would rather not see MMA matches included on boxing cards. One is that MMA fighters are regularly paid in a manner different than boxers, wherein a participant will get a couple of hundred or a few hundred dollars to fight (or many thousands or greater in big promotions), then additional payment of the same amount if he wins. In other words the winner between two competitors on the same level makes double the loser, when in fact the fight couldn't happen without both and the loser may even be the bigger draw. I for one would hate to see any attempt to introduce this type of pay system into boxing. The other reason is that the inclusion of an MMA match necessarily means the exclusion of a boxing match. Seconds Out Promotions impresses me as a sound operation and I believe it to be a positive presence in Minnesota boxing. I understand that prmoting is necessarily a financial risk every time it's done, and I admire anyone who can organize such an event successfully. I just firmly belive the cards are always a higher quality when they are exclusive to boxing, and I worry that inclusion of MMA matches can become a crutch to fill up a card with less expensive competition. The counter to this argument, of course, is that promoters concentrating solely on boxing also must fill the cards with quality matches, and sometimes that is very challenging. More opportunity to explore this issue will present itself as the nature of boxing promotion evolves in the next decade.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hope Optomistic Against Truax

Mark Connor
© Copyright Mark Connor 2009

Welshman Kerry Hope, 12-2, 1 KO, weighed in at Brits Pub in Minneapolis last night at 168 pounds for his fight tonight against Osseo’s Caleb Truax, 13-0, 9 KOs at the St. Paul Armory for the World Boxing Federation (WBF) International Super Middleweight title. Truax also weighed 168 pounds.

Hope is a step down from Truax’s original opponent, Carl Daniels, 50-18, 32 KOs. Daniels is a 21 year professional who’s first fight was at 140 pounds, but has recently campaigned at Light Heavyweight. He has failed to go the distance three times in a seven fight losing streak that began with a 7th round Technical Decision loss to Minnesota’s Zach Walters on February 23, 2008. He also lost a 10 round unanimous decision to Anthony Bonsante on September 20, 2008. While he’s been fighting at Light Heavyweight, his recent presence in Minnesota obviously familiarizes him not only with local fans, but also Truax’s trainer and his promoter. Hope, on the other hand, is a newer appearance on the radar screen, but he should certainly be less of a challenge than the ruggedly experienced Daniels. Hope poses little threat in punching power, and although the southpaw stance may be an adjustment for Truax, Hope has had a tendency to diminish his reach advantage by ignoring the jab and slugging inside. In that respect he seems to be tailor made for Truax. After the weigh-in Hope spoke briefly about his past and his first look at Truax when they crossed paths at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.

Truax had been sent to training camp this fall in Big Bear, California, followed by some days of training and sparring at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. Hope was there too, saying he watched Truax spar and he believes he can beat him. He also said fans should not be fooled by his lack of knockouts in the past and that since moving from Wales to California in June he’s greatly improved, adding confidently that he will win tonight. The region he’s from is mountainous, he said, and he has great endurance from running steep hills. While Hope won his last fight via 6 round unanimous decision, he lost the previous two, getting stopped in the 4th round of a 10 round battle in February for the Welsh Area Light Middleweight title, and TKO’d in the 8th of an 8 round fight at 156 ½ pounds in March, 2008.

A full report on the fight and the undercard will appear here in the coming days.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vanda dominates as Hilario pushes through in Hinckley

Vanda dominates as Hilario pushes through in Hinckley
Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

Matt Vanda dominated his Super Middleweight fight against Phil Williams last Friday, November 13, at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, MN. From the opening bell Williams appeared hesitant as Vanda found his range, out jabbed his taller and heavier opponent, and landed just enough punches at critical stages of each round to win the majority of them in a convincing fashion. In the co-main event IBA Americas Super Featherweight Champion Wilton Hilario, of St. Louis Park, MN won a unanimous decision over Leon Bobo of St. Louis, MO. While Hilario began the fight explosively his momentum was shut down and all possibilities of a knockout were prevented by the highly skilled Bobo, who with a record falling to 18-4-1 proved too weak to effectively fight Hilario but too experienced to suffer serious damage or be knocked out. There were four preliminary fights on the card.

By the third round it was evident that Vanda had taken full control of the fight, landing good uppercuts and hooks to the body and head and easily out jabbing Williams. In the fourth Williams’ movement and punches slowed Vanda progress a bit, but couldn't stop it. In the fifth Vanda began mockingly copying Williams’ style and landed shots plentifully, and Williams seemed clueless about how to neutralize him. Williams finally started better in the sixth round, but he lost his momentum to Vanda’s efforts in the second half of it. I scored the seventh and ninth rounds even, but gave the rest of the fight to Vanda easily. However, I was not seated at ringside and know the judges always have the best view in the house. The seventh and ninth could have easily gone to Williams, and a couple of other rounds could have too. I found many of them to be close and believed that Vanda’s extra efforts near the end of them resulted in more clear and effective punching and ring generalship, allowing him to win otherwise competitive rounds. If I would have given the seventh and ninth to Williams my unofficial score would have been 98-94 rather than 100-92. Denny Nelson’s score was 97-93 in favor of Vanda, and I can’t argue with it. Nelson is the most experienced and also the most accurate judge in Minnesota. He has judged and refereed a large number of World Championship fights, and his score should serve as a good indicator that many of the rounds were close but Vanda was in control and decisively victorious. Vanda won by 10 round Split Decision.

Hilario showed the vulnerability inherent in his slugger’s style when he occasionally got caught with stunning left hands from the taller Southpaw, Bobo. The St. Louis fighter did not keep his distance though, mainly because Hilario was too strong and too relentless for him to do so. Hilario was just too strong for Bobo to pose a threat. He was also too light of a puncher (his only two career stoppages came in a TKO for his pro debut against an 0-9 fighter in 2003 and a KO of a 7-12 fighter in 2007) to pose any threat to Hilario. Hopefully the “Pretty Warrior” will learn from this fight, make adjustments for southpaws he may face in the future, and learn to gage his distance better so as not to have his power smothered or avoided by clinching, rolling and slipping masters of defense.

Cerresso “Wu Wu” Fort of St. Paul remained undefeated with a six round unanimous decision over former amateur nemesis Lamar “The Prince of Pain” Harris of St. Louis. He was quite fortunate in his victory, however, given how difficult he made the fight. He caught Harris with a heavy right hand in the first round and could have easily knocked him out before the card girl readily held the number 2, but he blotted strategy from his mind and became a headhunter for most of the night. A round or two later he did the same thing again, hurting Harris with the natural power in his right hand but ignored the body and battered the glove’s Harris used for protection while backing into the corner. Then Harris decided to smash a couple of shots into Fort’s body, landed a left hook and right hand to his head, and spun him onto the ropes and went on the attack. Yes, Fort won the fight, but he made the rounds close and expended more energy and took more punishment than a fighter wishing to challenge on the world class level and exit the sport without permanent injury can afford. He is obviously one of the strongest and hardest punchers to come out of Minnesota in the last decade, but at Middleweight and Super Middleweight he hardly compares at this point to the local legends of Dan Shcommer, who out boxed Chris Eubank for 12 rounds in the 1990s before losing a controversial WBO Super Middleweight title shot, or Doug Demmings, who went 15 rounds with Sugar Ray Seals, 10 rounds with Alan Minter, and gave Marvin Hagler all he could handle in the 1970s. Fort is in dire need of quality coaching and must stop relying on the long, looping overhand right that will get him hurt against higher quality competition. Also, for the sake of his career, he must avoid illegitimate competition like Bobby Kliewer, his teammate from St. Paul’s Rice Street Gym whom he stopped at the Target Center in Minneapolis last April 18.

Tim Taggert of Hinckley and Sam Morales of St. Paul fought to a 4 round majority draw in the opening bout. Taggert displayed an obvious preponderance of skill in the beginning, but he was evidently not conditioned well enough to handle Morales’ admirable determination. Neither one was the pinnacle of athletic prowess, but Morales had enough strength to keep himself in the fight and make it close. A few more miles of roadwork is all Taggert would have needed to outbox him and win.

Don Tierney showed the results of inactivity in his 4 round majority decision loss to Zach Schumach, whom he defeated in a mutual pro debut last April 18 at the Minneapolis Target Center. Schumach earned a draw in June and got knocked out in July, but the activity apparently sharpened him enough for this fight. I thought Tierney’s defense, which he no doubt learned from the wise instruction of former World Title challenger Mike Evgen who’s joined his corner, was enough to win the fight. I thought he was scoring more solid punches as he made Schumach chase him around the ring. However, as I said earlier, the judges have the best view in the house and Schumach got the decision. Tierney was lucky to fight a shorter man who could barely hit him, because he kept his chin in the air all night as if his life depended on it. These two are a good match because their skills are roughly even, but I’d hate to watch either one make the foolhardy mistake of fighting a skilled, serious boxer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uppercut’s Saturday Night Fights Features Developing Talent

Mark Connor
© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

The highlights of the amateur boxing card on Saturday, October 10 at the Uppercut Gym in Minneapolis came from one of the club’s beginning boxers and another who is more seasoned. While a debuting Tim Tu, 155 lbs., walked across the ring and landed a solid right hand on the chin of an unsuspecting Brian Karanez of Anoka to score an opening round knockdown, capitalizing on the early surprise to win when the referee stopped the contest a short time later, Gizzy Hobbs, 145 lbs., showcased superior footwork and head movement in a bout against a taller and very determined Roberto Mendoza of Canada. Hobbs mixed his punching approach with shifting concentrations on jabs, lead left hooks, and occasional right hands, and at times confused his larger opponent by dancing and moving away and luring him in, rather than trying to chase him down to cut the reach advantage. His skill and poise won for him a well deserved decision.

In the opening bout Bryan Beccera demonstrated the degree of talent to be found in boxers younger than 12, defeating Julian Alvarez of Canada in a fight at the 75 pound division. Beccera, a southpaw with a noticeable reach advantage, fought off a determined Alvarez who landed his own share of punches. But Beccera’s jab proved to be too much, and the precocious punch controlled the momentum and secured the fight.

In the third bout of the evening, St. Paul’s Steve McComas, the three time Ringside Masters Division Light Heavyweight Champion, took on Heavyweight Jack Kennelly, also of St. Paul, in Kennelly’s competitive debut at 193 lbs. I was not at the weigh ins, but it seems highly unlikely McComas weighed anywhere near 193, although that didn’t deter him from out boxing Kennelly from opening to closing bell. Kennelly should be commended, however, because he kept coming every round and McComas admitted afterward that he gave him all he could handle. McComas is now in his mid-50s, and Kennelly is 57. I trained Kennelly for a short time in 2004 at St. Clair Fitness in St. Paul, and he has trained at Uppercut since 2005. It is a major accomplishment for him to have gotten to this point, and it will be no surprise if this nearly 30 year marketing professional is seen competing in Masters competition in the future.

In one of the more exciting contests of the night, Uppercut’s Jesse Vasquez of St. Paul fulfilled a lifelong dream of getting into the ring to compete when he won a 150 pound match with Dane Smith of Anoka. Vazquez, 22, showed his inexperience in catching a few more punches than he had to, but he kept his jab in Smith’s face, landed some good right hands, and kept up enough pressure throughout the fight to take the decision.

In the main event, Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champion Deon Jordan gave his best effort at 163 pounds against Canada’s Kelly Page, but procrastination in the execution of combinations and getting hit at the end of exchanges put victory an inch or so out of reach.

Robbie Loyd of Uppercut took till the third round, but he stopped Jehrid Hale of Rochester to win a 165 pound fight. Jamie Barlett of Rochester defeated Damon Lachaman of White Bear Lake in the second bout at 115 pounds, and Abdi Gelle of Rochester won a decision over Brendan Feiler of St. Cloud in the 8th bout of the evening.
Uppercut Gym is located at 1324 N.E. Quincy Street, Minneapolis, MN 55410,
(612) 822-1964,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Figeuroa Settles for Technical Decision after Desperate Orozco Lands Headbutt in West St. Paul


Mark Connor
© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Danny Figeuroa, below, was far ahead of Hector Orozco after three rounds when in the 4th round he was forced to settle for a technical decision after a head butt cut him deeply over his left eye. (© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009)

The main event on the card of preliminary fighters promoted by Fernando Ortiz on October 3 at the Armory in the city of West St. Paul, MN lasted through an entertaining three rounds before a victorious Danny Figueroa (now 3-0-0, 2 KOs) was forced to accept a unanimous technical decision after being cut over the left eye from a head butt by a desperate Hector Orozco (now 1-3). Figeuroa’s performance warrants a chance for a preliminary fight at a bigger venue in the near future, and the other contests on the card made up for a lack of collective experience and polish with competitive action.

Figueroa was the aggressor throughout the fight, landing the majority of punches and forcing Orozco to back up each round. Whenever Figueroa actually found himself against the ropes he countered with solid shots that lead him out of danger and turned the tide immediately back in his favor. Finally, as Figueroa continued his dominance in the fourth round, Orozco butted him over the left eye, inflicting a deep cut to which referee Mark Nelson immediately responded by stopping the fight and sending it to the scorecards. All three judges had Figueroa ahead at 29-28. The Boxers and Writers Magazine card was 30-27 in favor of Figueroa in a fight that was reminiscent of another Orozco loss three and a half years ago.

On March 4, 2006, I assisted Dennis Presley in the corner of Raúl Gracia, against whom Hector Orozco was making his professional debut in Fargo, ND. He was absolutely no match for the superior skills of Gracia, who at one point even put Orozco down with a body shot. Orozco could do nothing offensively in that fight, and his most effective move was to tie him up. But in the middle of the fight (I think it was in the third round) he charged in with his head, opening a severe gash on Gracia’s face. Luckily it wasn’t in as severe a spot as the cut over Figeuroa’s eye on Saturday night, so the same referee, Mark Nelson let it go the distance. In four fights Orozco has lost three, and I have witnessed half of his career. It’s possible the two head butts in question actually were accidental, but if they were they indicate a lack of boxing skill on his part, because a fighter with proper balance who keeps his eye on his opponent is capable of keeping his head from becoming and illegal advantage in the fight. Let this fight be a warning to local officials in Orozco’s future competition, because it seems curiously coincidental that half of Orozco’s career has so far followed this pattern.

In a Lightweight contest Levi Cortes was announcedat 132 pounds, and David Lacque was announced at 138. Lacque actually weighed in the day before at 140, but the respective fighters agreed to go ahead with the fight so long as Lacque did not weight over 140 by fight time. Boxers and Writers Magazine received no information about any subsequent weigh-ins on the actual day of the fight. Nevertheless, the weight difference made no difference for Cortes. Lacque came out aggressively from the opening bell, but Cortes proved too much for him before the round was over. Lacque was repeatedly warned by Mark Nelson to keep his head up, because he was making the amateurish mistake of ducking punches with his head below his opponent’s belt while looking directly at the canvas. When Lacque complained about being hit in the back of the head he was sternly told to keep his head up. In the mean time, Cortes handled the Southpaw Lacque with brute strength and the unschooled thuggery of constant roundhouse rights. As he punished Lacque’s body with shots that echoed throughout the arena and drew excitement from the crowd, Lacque’s face appeared more troubled by the moment. It was evident that Lacque rushed into accepting this fight, and he definitely needs to head back to the drawing board before putting himself at further risk.

Jake Backus of White Bear Lake was unsuccessful in his professional debut at Bantamweight, dropping a unanimous decision to Vicente Alfaro. Backus, a southpaw, rushed in too fast, and although he had control in the first 30 seconds of the fight while backing Alfaro up, Alfaro caught him with a straight right hand off the ropes that irreversibly changed the tide of the fight. Alfaro was the aggressor for the last two minutes of the first round, and he landed more effective shots and remained the aggressor in the second round. Alfaro got caught a few times in the third round but landed clear shots throughout and recovered well when he did get hit, and although Backus landed a few solidly he got caught too much and was off balance at times. The final tally was announced as 39-37 from Judge John Mariano, 40-36 from Denny Nelson, and 40-36 from Joe Shoemaker. Boxers and Writers Magazine scored the fight identically with Nelson and Shoemaker.

Gustavo Espinoza and Juan Baltierrez fought to a majority draw in their 4 round Lightweight bout. While Baltierrez obviously had the skill to defeat the southpaw Espinoza, he was neither aggressive nor strong enough to pull it off. In fact, while he effectively countered with good right uppercuts to both the body and the jaw, there were never enough follow through punches and he let himself get tied up too much. Each round was close and judge Denny Nelson admitted it was a hard fight to score, but Boxers and Writers Magazine finds his assessment of 39-37 in favor of Espinoza to be much more accurate than the 38-38 ruling reached by both Mariano and Shoemaker. Baltierrez must build his strength and endurance to progress as a professional, and he also must use a solid jab if he expects to successfully fight against this level of competition or better. While he was able to counter a bit against the southpaw, he was obviously confused by the style and made the fight harder than it had to be. Given his small height and reach advantage, a solid jab and the shifting of angles—including body shots on both sides with left hooks to the head and straight right hands over the top—would have worked wonders for him and maybe even tilted the fight in his favor.

Brad Patraw scouted out Antwon Robertson in anticipation of their October 23 bout for the USA Minnesota State Bantamweight Championship at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minnesota. (© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009)

Antwan Robertson boxed a 4 round Junior Featherweight/Super Bantamweight exhibition with Hassan Waswa. Robertson dominated as Waswa, charming and likeable but stubbornly persistent in his bad habits, moved on his heals and punched with stolid predictability. Robertson caught Waswa with a right hand that put him down once, but they both boxed an exceptionally entertaining sparring match to the crowd’s approval, and Robertson proudly put his Superman outfit back on before leaving the ring. Robertson was smooth and rhythmic, but his nemesis, Brad Patraw who recently defeated him and was scouting him out for their rematch over the Minnesota State Bantamweight title on October 23 at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, MN, was privy to the mistakes he seems to habitually make. Specifically, Patraw only has to time Robertson with a right hand if he wants to hurt him in their upcoming bout, so long as Robertson—who is sparring with Waswa on a regular basis—continues in that fight to constantly employ the practice of spinning to the left on his planted left foot on every left jab he throws, bringing his hand back low with his chin held high. Hopefully Robertson will correct this dangerous habit so his chances are increased and the fight in Mahnomen is much more competitive.

For a newly active promoter showcasing new, undeveloped talent, the card was well run. An exhibition of two young amateurs (Jordan Carranza and Chuy Rivera, whose ages and weights weren’t announced) was boxed at the opening of the show, and for filler there were some friendly farcical antics, including two women dressed in “Sumo Wrestler” outfits for a mock Sumo Wrestling match and a pair of neighborhood friends with oversized, pillow-like boxing gloves hamming it up for intermission entertainment that kept the crowd amused for their nominal, 25 dollar general admission fee.

Evelyn, from Chile by way of Richfield, MN, was the friendliest and most professional of the card girls, stopping here to smile and pose for a picture while informing us that round 3 is to come. She is employed by Accidenses Latina, a personal injury attorney law firm that sponsored the event. (© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009)

Some local ladies dressed up like Sumo Wrestlers for a theatrical Sumo wrestling match, while a couple of neighborhood friends battled with oversized, pillow-like boxing gloves during intermission entertainment below. (© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dunne Loses, Klitschko Wins

Mark Connor
© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Saturday, September 26, was a good day for me because I was able to watch two entertaining world championship professional boxing matches. The first was Bernard Dunne’s defense of the 122 pound WBA Super Bantamweight title against Poonsawat Kratingdaengym, and the second Vitali Kiltschko’s defense of the WBC Heavyweight Championship against Chris Arreola. Dunne lost his title to Kratingdaengym at the end of the third round in an action packed fight, and Klitschko successfully defended his title with a dominating performance putting him far ahead on the scorecards before Arreola’s corner refused to let him answer the 11th round bell at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Dunne defended his title in Dublin, Ireland, and I watched it at The Local, one of the “Trinity of Pubs” owned by Irish native Kieran Folliard, including Kieran’s, not far from The Local in downtown Minneapolis, and The Liffey, on West 7th Street and Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul. It was good to view the fight at The Local and the staff were quite friendly to me, as I was the only one to show up for it and the rest of the patrons were watching soccer matches in other sections of the place. The bartender indulged me in conversation, listening to my technical analysis of the fight and fighters as the action took place.

Dunne fought well and moved and jabbed effectively the first round, but from the beginning he periodically stopped and traded punches, and that caught up to him with 1:23 left in the third round, when he suffered the first knockdown. He got up and struggled to clinch. He shook the cobwebs and moved, and although he seemed to be surviving he started trading punches again and went down. He got up and went right back to it, foolishly, and was knocked out. The last knockdown came with 13 seconds left in the round, and he was unable to recover

The quick turn of the tide from the first to the third round was striking. Dunne moved and landed punches well from the opening bell, and actually looked very skillful, strategically jabbing and dancing to the left, sometimes hooking effectively off the jab and landing right hands and left hooks over the top. He also landed left uppercuts to the liver followed by left hooks and right hands, and some good right uppercuts when Poonsawat tried to move in under his jab. After moving Poonsawat all the way around the ring to the left Dunne would double back to the right, and about halfway to where he started he’d reset and lead him the other way again. But when Dunne stopped to throw his own power combinations, Poonsawat punched right with him and always landed solid blows at the end of exchanges. Also, Poonsawat kept bobbing and weaving forward, had his own jab, and was effective with left hooks and right hands. His determination was overwhelming, and Dunne could not keep the necessary pace. The first knockdown came from a perfectly thrown left hook, and Dunne’s response was to increase his vulnerability by slugging back instead of moving away and avoiding more punishment.

Dunne actually has a connection to St. Paul, having fought in Aldrich Arena in North St. Paul on August 19, 2004, when he won a unanimous decision over Adrian Valdes. That fight was on the under card of the first loss of St. Paul’s East Side son, Matt Vanda, who was defeated in a 154 pound Junior Middleweight fight by Armando Velardez of San Bernardino, California. Freddie Roach was with Dunne for that fight. I had the privilege of meeting Roach and working out at his gym while visiting Hollywood at the end of May, and when I told him I was from St. Paul he recalled being there with Dunne. It seems to me that if fighting is in Dunne’s future he’d benefit from more training with a man like Roach, because in spite of beginning very well he did everything wrong once he got solidly hit. Poonsawat deserves extra credit for the victory, though, because the large ring was obviously chosen for Dunne’s advantage, but in spite of the Irishman’s initial speed and movement the Thai warrior walked him down and caught him with the fatal blows.

The Klitschko fight was not nearly so exciting, but that’s often to be expected among heavyweights, especially when the fight is such a mismatch. But it was still pleasurable to watch this 38-year-old Ukrainian World Champion so skillfully move and pick Arreola apart for ten rounds, especially while taking into consideration the overwhelming intellect he carries through life along with his boxing skills. When a heavyweight capable of beating him or his brother, Vladmir, will come along is anybody’s guess at this point. But Jim Lampley’s assessment at the end of the HBO broadcast was poignant. He and colleague Larry Merchant discussed how difficult it is for a man in his fourth decade to be physically fit enough to compete on the world class level in boxing or any professional sport, and Lampley emphasized in the closing statement that Arreola or any other fighter believing he can take even a short period off to drink beer and still defeat the likes of Vitali Klitschko is only fooling himself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Emmett Yanez Honored with 2009 Harry Davis Award


Mark Connor

© Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Robert Brant of the White Bear Lake Boxing Club carried the flag for the U.S. team at the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) World Chapmpionships in Milan, Italy, which took place September 1 through September 12. After receiving a bye in the tournament's opening round, Brant lost a decision to Cuba's José Larduet Gomez. Brant is guided locally by the same trainer who taught me to box as a boy and guided me to national tournaments, 89-year-old Emmett Yanez, who was awarded this year's Harry Davis Memorial Award at the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves. Pictured above is Brant (L), Yanez, boxer Jonathan Escoto (R) and me. ( © Copyright 2009, Mark Connor) The following article appeared in the 2009 Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Yearbook in recognition of Emmett's receipt of the award.

I was thrilled to learn that Emmett Yanez is receiving this year’s Harry Davis award. At age 89, he is still healthy and working daily with boxers, which he has done for at least forty years. His longevity greatly impresses me, and I’m satisfied to know he continues doing what makes him happy. Nearly thirty years ago, when I was ten years old, Emmett taught me the skills that led to an Upper Midwest Golden Gloves title and competition in three national tournaments. But what I most value about him is a quality he shared with me from the moment we met, and would have shared regardless of whether I succeeded in boxing. That quality is integrity.

Emmett Yanez always demanded dedication from the boys and men he trained, and also the small number of girls and women he began training in the mid-1990s. He communicates as well as possible with a boxer’s parents, and when I was growing up he demanded that I skip the gym and concentrate on school if my grades ever suffered. Also, unlike some coaches, he never cut corners. He always insisted on covering every aspect of training, including daily running, before even thinking of sparring. While some boxers from other gyms chewed tobacco after the weigh-ins or in the crowd after a fight, he would not allow such detrimental behavior in front of him. If he ever drank alcohol I didn’t know it, because when on a trip to a tournament he only concentrated on the boxers’ safety, success and enjoyment, and he was forever conscious of the example he was setting. He never spoke disrespectfully about women and would not tolerate it among us. He let us know it was great we were boxing, especially if we were winning, but that our success was not separate from our other responsibilities. That’s the way Emmett Yanez was, and he still is.
I sincerely hope Emmett Yanez is around for many years to come. There’s no reason to believe he won’t live and still be healthy far past 100, but of course he’s only working on 90 right now. Always dedicated to his family and his wife, Emmett Yanez is able to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it because he’s always done what he has to do—such as fighting in the U.S. Army to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany during World War II, being consciously present in the lives of his children, and caring for his first wife when she suffered and died from Alzheimer’s Disease—when he’s had to do it. Now he lives happily with his wonderful bride, Sylvia, in St. Paul, plays golf through the summer, and still trains boxers all year. That’s because he is a man of integrity, personally expressed in a manner that will live beyond his years in the lives he’s touched in the past, as well as the ones he’ll touch in the future.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ali Makes Irish-American Version of Hajj to Ennis, County Clare

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

On Tuesday, September 1, the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, visited his matrilineal Great Grandfather’s birthplace in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland. Like pilgrimages made by so many Irish-Americans over the last century, the trip enabled a descendant of Erin to spiritually and emotionally reconnect with an ancestral identity buried beneath the outward national expression that forgets the Diaspora experience of an immigrant past. Ali is not thought of as an Irishman in America, but as an African, a descendent of slaves who joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name from Casius Clay immediately after winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World from Sonny Liston. But his Great Grandfather, Abe Grady, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Kentucky in the 1860s, marrying a freed slave. Grady’s Granddaughter, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, gave birth to Ali (then Casius Clay) in 1942.

Such an Irish-American journey back to one’s ancestral home, in this case including a visit to the actual house Grady was born in, is a journey for descendants of Erin that carries heavy emotional weight, one that would not equal but could be compared to the religious journey a Muslim makes at some point in one’s life to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, known as a Hajj. The comparison here is not in any way meant to equate such sentiments for one’s ancestry with religious obligations, as the Hajj is for a Muslim who can afford it, but to celebrate the expression of an individual while recognizing the different combinations—from religious and ethnic to racial and cultural—that contribute to an individual human being’s identity. Such historical reality greatly influences Ali’s contribution to world history and status as an American icon.
Ali, who was stripped of his title, spent a short period behind bars and was unable to fight for three years because of his refusal to be inducted into the United States Army while objecting to the Vietnam War on religious grounds as a member of the Nation of Islam, had worn the U.S. colors in Rome where he won the 1960 Light Heavyweight Gold Medal in the Olympics. While everyone in the United States has a right to express political opinion, his actions at that time were different than those who actually dodged the draft, because he publicly stood for his principles and accepted the consequences. Then, in 1990 as the standoff between the United States and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq built up to the Persian Gulf War, Ali traveled to Iraq as a Muslim on behalf of the United States and negotiated the release of some American citizens being held hostage in the American Embassy. These two events, along with his illustrious career including winning the Heavyweight Championship three times and becoming the most recognizable sports figure in the world, make him one of the most legendary American celebrity figures ever. His Irish ancestry mixed with his African identity also reflects the social and cultural history of the United States, where African and Irish intermingled from the beginning and by no exaggeration largely built our country together.
I was first made aware of Ali’s visit to Ennis, County Clare by an email received from my friend and colleague, Ger Regan, publisher of The Wild Geese today,, an Irish Diaspora website. In early August he forwarded a press release to me that he’d received from another contact. On September 2 ESPN published a story on its website along with video coverage from Ireland.Ali’s wife, Yolanda, is quoted saying she believes if Abe Grady were alive today he’d be in every pub bragging about his champion boxer grandson, and that Ali’s poetic abilities that so enhanced his boxing persona and accentuated his skills are probably attributable to his descending from the Grady Clan.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Litzau and Hilario Battle for IBA Beltand Vanda Features on April 18

by Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009
Mark Connor

While the more widely known and accomplished Super Middleweight Matt “The Predator” Vanda of St. Paul is the featured attraction for the upcoming April 18 professional boxing card at the Minneapolis Target Center, the war of words between Featherweights Wilton “Pretty Warrior” Hilario and Alan “The American Boy” Litzau overshadowed most of the March 4 press conference that announced the event.

“There’s something that really irritates me about this kid,” Litzau said in his opening remarks at the conference; “I just don’t understand how he calls himself the ‘Pretty Warrior’ when he looks like he got slapped with a ugly stick. The only thing I can say is pretty about him is this ass whipping I’m going to give him on April 18th.” When pressed by Boxers and Writers Magazine for the personal strengths he will utilize and Hilario’s weaknesses that he’ll exploit, Litzau only said that he knew what those were but wouldn’t reveal them publicly before the fight. The flaws are there and he’s ready to capitalize on them, but he would not share strategy with the press.

Hilario took his turn at the microphone with the ice cold confidence that has driven his red hot career over the last four years. Currently 10-0 with 8 knockouts and 1 draw, he has so far shown a determination that can only lead him to greater success.

“He said he beat me twice in the amateurs,” Hilario said, “but we didn’t fight two years ago because he didn’t have enough to gain from me, but now he’s fighting me because he’s got everything to win. I don’t got nothing to win from him. He’s already lost three times, got knocked out twice; so this is just another opponent for me, this is just another fight.”

Hilario makes a good point. As can be seen from my coverage of his last fight in Hinckley, Minnesota on January 24 published on the Blog section of, I am critical of Hilario’s style and vulnerabilities. But he has fought a slightly tougher string of opponents, been much more active, and proven himself more relentless in the ring. Litzau does have the skills to beat Hilario, but his nearly 10 months of inactivity and lack of credible opponents will surely hurt him.

Litzau’s last fight was a 6th round TKO victory in a scheduled 6 round fight against Mario Galan, 4-3-0, at Grand Casino in Hinckley. Hilario’s last fight was a 5th round TKO victory over Darrell Martin, 4-6-0, at the same venue on January 24 of this year in a scheduled 6 round fight. Martin was one tough cookie, and he had the physical tools to beat Hilario also. However, he fought him toe to toe and paid the price. But even if the taller Martin would have jabbed and moved and tried to set up counter shots, there’s no telling whether he could have sustained his efforts amidst Hilario’s relentless attack. Furthermore, prior to the success of Litzau’s last outing, he hadn’t fought since losing by 3rd round knockout to Robert DaLuz on April 6, 2007.

The final observation between the 5’-7’’, 26 year old Litzau and the 5’-10’’, 25 year old Hilario is the respectively combined records of their opponents. Litzau, who himself is 13-3-0 with 7 KOs and two losses by knockout, has fought a list of opponents whose combined record is 106-99-12. Hilario, with his 10-0-1, 8 KO record has fought a list whose combined record is 132-113-8. Based on a surface level glance at these records, Hilario’s level of competition has been higher.

Yes, Litzau does have the skills to defeat Hilario, and as Hilario himself was quoted earlier in this article, he did beat him in the amateurs. Litzau also has much more amateur experience to enhance his years as a professional. But he has not been active and he has had some traumatic losses that have taken a toll on him. Furthermore, in spite of his flaws, Hilario is more determined, he is stronger, and he is a much more powerful puncher. Look to see Hilario win by the end of round 5.

Frank Stallone, Singers from Santana, Survivor, Toto feature at Scott LeDoux Concert to Fight ALS


Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

The Scott LeDoux Concert to fight ALS—Hope for a Cure-Help for Caregivers—will be held Friday, April 10, 2009 at Champions Event Center, Elko, MN. LeDoux recently revealed that he has been diagnosed with the degenerative illness, ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. After a career including challenging for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, fights against a total of eight World Heavyweight Champions, an exhibition with Muhammad Ali and sparring partner duties with Mike Tyson, LeDoux has worked with charitable organizations for decades. For this benefit his good friend, Frank Stallone, who contended for an Oscar nomination with the song “Far from Over” on the Staying Alive soundtrack and is known for “Take You Back” and other classics, will be the feature performer. Also playing will be Alex Ligertwood, former lead singer for Santana; Jimi Jamison, who with the band Survivor sang the Rocky III anthem “Eye of the Tiger”; and Fergie Frederiksen, former lead singer of Toto. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
LeDoux’s friendship with Stallone goes back to the seventies, highlighted publicly with the exhibition they boxed in 1978. While some of Stallone’s best known singing and acting work has been in the series of Rocky films, he has appeared in numerous television and cinematic projects, including the role of Eddie the bartender in Barfly with Mickey Rourke. Further information on the Hope for a Cure—Help for Caregivers event can be found at the Minnesota Chapter of the ALS Association, including details of a silent and a live auction and T-shirt sales. Information on Frank Stallone is at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

May 2009 Post, Sugar Ray Leonard's Recommended Reading and Other Boxers and Writers Magazine Updates

Sugar Ray Leonard’s Recommended Reading and Other Boxers And Writers Magazine UpdatesMay 24, 2009


Mark Connor

Sugar Ray Leonard participated in a Celebrity Roast of former Heavyweight Contender Scott LeDoux at the Marriot City Center in Minneapolis on May 3. The event raised money for the Wishes and More charity. Leonard spoke with Boxers and Writers Magazine,, about the value of reading and education, mentioning one book that greatly influenced and inspired him. Read the full story on the Literacy and education page of Boxers and Writers Magazine at

February 2009 Post, Sharing the Warmth at the "Out Cold" Night at the Fights

Sharing the Warmth: “Out Cold” Night at the FightsFebruary 3, 2009

byMark Connor

© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor

All athletes claim their sport to be the metaphor of life, but boxers seem to do so more legitimately, if only by virtue of the extra intensity of any misfortune that occurs. Such was the case with the “Out Cold” night at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota, Co-promoted by Seconds Out Promotions and Goosen Tutor promotions. The card suffered a heavy blow when Shawn Estrada, who represented the United States in the Middleweight Division at the Beijing Olympics last summer, canceled due to a shoulder injury. There were a number of other cancellations and rearrangements of the card before the opening bell of the first fight, and the third straight weekend of below zero weather made the odds of a large crowd about as good as that of beating the house. Nevertheless, the 2,500 seat Grand Casino Hinckley Events and Convention Center nearly sold out, and the crowd’s energy combined with the overall talent in the ring to yield a very entertaining night.

Rayco Saunders in corner after what he thought was an upset over
Marcus Oliveira © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

The biggest surprise was how well the underdog in the main event, Rayco Saunders, 16-10, 7 KOs of Pittsburg, PA, fought in his Light Heavyweight contest against favorite Marcus Oliveira, 15-0, 12 KOs, of Lawrence, KS. While Oliveira seemed to live up to his reputation in the first and second rounds, Saunders made adjustments and outboxed him for the rest of the fight. The judges didn’t see it that way, though, giving Oliveira a majority decision of 78-75, 78-76, and 74-74. I spoke to Judge Denny Nelson afterwards, as well as Judge John Mariano. Nelson scored the fight for Oliveira, and Mariano had it a draw.“You have to quit looking at women half the fight,” Nelson joked with me, saying I was mistaken in my assessment of the contest. Mariano told me he scored the fifth round on for Saunders, but Oliveira won the first four. It’s a lesson in how people view fights differently, and also in the position from which official judges witness it in contrast to the rest of us. There was a mix up between me and the promoters, so instead of getting a press pass I was granted entry that only afforded me the chance to sit just behind press row at ringside. That meant I was in the dark with the rest of the crowd looking into the lights over the ring, whereas the judges were underneath the lights, right up against the ring apron. But I still noticed a lot I can explain to you here, and I have to say Mariano’s final tally is a much more accurate judgment, at least in my humble opinion, than the others.

Saunders, left, fought a strategic fight, while Oliveira struggled to stay undefeated. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Oliveira obviously won the first two rounds. In fact, Saunders was making a big mistake, leaning in and smothering himself against Oliveira’s body with his left hand down after throwing the jab. This not only took power and speed from Saunders, but it opened him up for right hands. Oliveira’s corner must have told him to throw the right in the second, because he did a few times effectively. But Saunders suddenly made a strategic adjustment that changed the fight for the rest of the night.Saunders began moving to the right, and kept doing so in the third round. He used the jab and took control for the second half of the round, winning it on my card 10-9. That would have put him behind 29-28. In the fourth round Saunders mistakenly moved to his left and back into an effective right hand from Oliveira, but then readjusted, started moving away from that punch to the right more regularly, and boxed very effectively. At this point I believed the fight to be all even.A mixup with the promoters saw me ringside by the red corner, not in press row. Could that cloud my "expert" judgment of the fight? © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009In the fifth round Saunders out jabbed, outmaneuvered, and out punched Oliveira, and Oliveira was tired, backing up, and getting hit too much. In the sixth Oliveira was still tired, his mouth open, and backing up, and Saunders did the same things just as effectively. In the seventh Oliveira, still tired, did come forward but lost momentum, retreating from a hard body shot near the end of the round. Saunders dominated the round and answered Oliveira’s power evenly at the end. Oliveira did his best in the last round but it just didn’t seem enough in my eyes, and even the loudest, most obnoxious drunk in the crowd drew approval from those around him when poignantly yelling to Oliveira, “Come on—you need a knockout!” Evidently he didn’t, but when he fights someone in the top 100 of the Light Heavyweight division, he must perform better.Even though I disagreed with that decision, as did Saunders and his corner and much of the crowd, the fight and the card itself were of the highest quality.

The best raw talent of the night was displayed by Wilshaun Boxley of Anoka Coon Rapids. A fighter who learned the trade at the Circle of Discipline in South Minneapolis, where he became one of the top amateurs in the United States, he now shows the potential to become a world class professional.Wilshaun

Boxley, right, displayed the most raw talent of the night when in only his fourth professional fight he outboxed skillful veteran Torrence Daniels. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

While Boxley’s opponent at the 122 pound division, Torrence Daniels, has only defeated opponents whose win-loss averages are 500 or worse, his losses are primarily against undefeated fighters. Entering the ring with a record of 12-7, 5 K0s, he has one draw and was knocked out one time, by Bernabe Concepcion, whose record was 24-1-1. Although he’d lost his last three fights, the 34-year-old went the distance in all of them, the last two being 8 round fights, and the previous one 6. Such a fighter is a perfect match for a talented man like Boxley, who’s obviously not content with fighting lay down opponents, and it’s even more impressive that he had a 6 round fight in only his fourth time out.

Boxley, foreground, outboxed Daniels for six rounds, but the veteran was too skillful to be taken out. It was a good learning experience for this point of Boxley's career. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Boxley, now 4-0, 2 KOs, took control from the beginning. My assessment of the fight agreed with Denny Nelson’s tally of 59-55 for Boxley. Although he out jabbed the taller man and outmaneuvered him round after round, Daniels showed himself to be highly skillful and competitive, and he obviously knew he could go the distance. A couple of times I thought Boxley should have tried harder to hurt him, and maybe even see if he could finish him off. Particularly in the last round, which I gave to Daniels, I thought Boxley laid back and took too much of a breather. Two things Daniels did very well but can’t be counted as reasons for giving him rounds are throwing low blows and landing a head butt. The low blows came effectively in the 4th round, and referee Mark Nelson didn’t motion for him to keep the punches up until Boxley stepped back and voiced complaint. Daniels threw low blows from an angle at which it was hard for the referee to see, but from where I was the view was clear. That’s the smart way to do it, and even though it’s not fair, it’s a means of survival a veteran sometimes learns to rely on against a younger, stronger man. He landed the head butt at the end of the 5th round. He did it so smoothly, taking a half step back from the middle of the ring, letting Boxley come charging in on him, crouching a little and motioning forward quickly so that the top of his head landed between Boxley’s eyes. Boxley stepped back and shook the cobwebs form his head, obviously disturbed. But alas, it only slowed him a bit and forced him to go the distance, which is a good learning experience for this point of his career.Another exciting fight was the battle between Featherweights Wilton Hilario and Darrell Martin. Hilario came at the taller opponent from the beginning, the way he always does, winging wide lefts and rights nonstop. Martin’s only chance was to control the fight with a strong jab and keep it in the center of the ring, but instead of using his height and reach advantage, he chose to slug it out with the slugger. Hilario, entering the fight with a record of 9-0-1, 7 KOs, is solidly chiseled with strength and endurance, and his overwhelming attack proved too much for Martin, who entered with a losing record of 4-6, 1 KO, and was unable to answer the bell for the 6th round. He showed a lot of courage in battling that long, though, and while Martin sealed his fate by not using the physical tools available to him, Hilario made the fight much harder on himself than he had to.

Hilario, right, entertained the fans with his knockout victory, but he made the fight more difficult than it had to be. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Wilton Hilario is a fighter I’ve been watching since 2005. He won the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves that year in the very same arena at Grand Casino, while Boxley, his Circle of Discipline teammate, won the Featherweight Championship. Hilario at that time used his defense much more effectively than he has in recent professional fights. I’ve watched him training at Uppercut Boxing Gym in Northeast Minneapolis since he turned professional under the Tutelage of Chuck and Pete Daszkiewicz and Jacques Davis. I had the opportunity to spar with him for two rounds in August, 2006, when he was 6-0, 6 KOs. Mind you, at that point I hadn’t competed in 12 years, but I could still make observations, and while I wish to acknowledge his determination, dedication and skills, I also feel compelled to point out the obvious problems he must correct for advancement in his career. First of all, he impressed me as a fearless warrior with overwhelming strength. Also, when he lands a shot, there’s always power behind it. It is worrisome, though, to see him come forward without regard to his safety. He’s terribly susceptible to the jab, and when he gets hit with that punch he is open for combinations. He digs well to the body, but he leans over off balance in an attempt to increase his leverage, and when throwing uppercuts and hooks to the body and head he turns his face in the corresponding direction, following the punches he misses with his eyes instead of keeping them on his opponent. When he fights someone who can make him miss a hook and come back with a right hand over the top, he’s in danger of his career losing momentum with the punch he doesn’t see. While his victory over Martin is well deserved and he pleased the crowd with his relentless style, I sincerely hope to see him correct these flaws in coming fights, because if he does he has the chance to climb the latter of international boxing success.

Hilario, working the pads with trainer Jacques Davis the week before the fight, is impressively determined. But his lack of defense endangers him. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009 (Uppercut Boxing Gym, is where Hilario trains.)

“Golden” Caleb Truax, the recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, continued his undefeated streak with a fifth round TKO of Johnny Hayes in their Super Middleweight fight. Near the end of the first round Truax put Hayes down with a single punch, and Hayes slowly made his way back to his feat as referee Gary Miezwa counted. Hayes survived the round and came out for the second, but beyond tying Truax up he was never able to effectively neutralize the Golden fighter’s relentless attack that kept him on the ropes for much of the fight. By the fifth round Truax caught Hayes on the ropes and punished him with a series of blows that prompted Miezwa to step in and stop it while Hayes’ corner was simultaneously throwing in the towel. Improving to 10-0, 7 KOs, Truax is scheduled to face veteran JJ Corn at Epic Nightclub in Minneapolis on Friday, February 13.

Jeffrey Osborne, Jr. showed a lot of strength and heart, but fatigue and the lack of an effective jab made him vulerable. He lost by a knockout to Dion Savage. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

The opening bout of the evening was between Super Middleweights Dion Savage of Flint, Michigan, and Jeffrey Osborne, Jr. of Davenport, Iowa. Osborne showed promise throughout the fight and made it competitive till the end, but through the first three of the four scheduled rounds, his effective punching was continually answered by a skillful Savage, whose conditioning, determination and efforts gave him the edge. Osborne made a very game effort in the fourth, but a mounting fatigue and the lack of an effective jab made him vulnerable to Savage’s power and speed, and he was knocked out in that round.It’s true; the extra intensity of any misfortune that occurs allows boxers to claim their sport to be the metaphor of life more legitimately than other athletes. But those misfortunes can be turned into opportunities, depending on how they’re perceived. The cancellation of Estrada didn’t stop Tony Grygelko and Joe Goosen from promoting a top notch show that entertained a sizeable crowd who showed up during a month of perpetual cold. I didn’t get my press pass, but I was grateful to be in the arena with access to a ringside view, and I got to see some of the people—including father and son referees Denny and Mark Nelson, referee Gary Miezwa and judge John Mariano—who make the Minnesota boxing community so great. I also met legendary local trainer Ron Lyke, and saw a number of fighters and trainers I don’t get to speak with often enough. Below you’ll find an arrangement of pictures I took of and with them before the fights. The conversation, the atmosphere, and the fights themselves warmed the night enough to sustain me till spring. I’ll be posting again soon. Until then, keep boxing and keep writing. “Malicious” Mark Connor

Here I am with Jeremy McLaurin, left, now 2-0 as a professional in the Lightweight division. We sparred at Uppercut Gym ( last April when he trained with Edison Santos. Now he's under the guidance of Ron Lyke. "He's a great trainer," McLaurin told me of Lyke. Best of luck to Jeremy on Friday, February 13, when he fights at Epic Night Club in Minneapolis. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Chuck Daszkiewicz, who with his brother Pete and Jacque Davis trains Wilton Hilario, smiles in the lobby before the fights. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

"[ A previous post on this blog, "An Old Story" refers to a story I published on the web site, published by the journalist in the picture below, Jesse Kelley]Jesse Kelley, publisher of, talks with Laura Fink, a Boxing Writer who teaches Literature at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Veteran referee (and well known former St. Paul boxer) Denny Nelson talks with famous promoter, manager, and trainer Joe Goosen before the fights. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009Boxing

Judge John Mariano smiles in anticipation of a great night of fights. © Copyright Mark Connor, 2009

Sharing the Warmth at the ‘Out Cold’ Night at the FightsTags: Boxing, Boxley, circle of discipline, Davis, Denny Nelson, Epic Nightclub, Goosen Tutor promotions, Hilario, Hinckley casino, Mariano, Mark Connor, Mark Nelson, McLaurin, out cold, Seconds Out Promotions, Tony GrygelkoPosted in Uncategorized 1 Comment »

January 2009, Boxer is Pleasure of Novel 'This Won't Hurt a Bit'

Boxer is Pleasure of Novel ‘This Won’t Hurt a Bit’January 6, 2009

byMark Connor

© Mark Connor

While reading Timothy Sheard’s novel, “This Won’t Hurt A Bit”, I more than avoided pain; I gained the pleasure of following a working class hero who is encouraged, protected, and supported by a boxer. The story is good enough to hold my interest from the beginning, and the presence of a hero’s faithful lieutenant for whom I have such affinity accentuates the excitement always experienced with a page turner.Tim Sheard and wife, Mary, "and my /69 avanti, made in South Bend, Indiana!" This is a promotional photo for his novel, "A Race Against Death". © Tim SheardThe hero is Lenny Moss, a hospital janitor and union shop steward in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who comes to the aid of a coworker arrested for the murder of a doctor. Lenny’s reluctant investigation is facilitated by Moose Lennox, an accomplished former amateur boxer employed in the laundry room. Passionate and strong, he pushes Moss into the investigation and supports him throughout. The scenario moves the plot along with ever increasing tension as the pair must rely on coworkers and luck to simultaneously avoid the real killers and the hostile eyes of management.

Sheard, who is a nurse at State University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, found the inspiration for Moose Lennox in a couple of coworkers he knew while previously working in a hospital in Philadelphia.

“He’d worked in the dietary office, in the kitchen,” Sheard explains, “and he’d done some boxing in high school and after high school.

I took a lot of his characteristics, and I wanted to show in my novel working class men and women with all of their wonderful qualities as well as some of their defects and flaws. I wanted to try and present them as grounded and fully fleshed out characters. So Moose, I think, is an honorable man, he’s a gutsy guy, and he’s a good and loyal friend to Lenny and his other coworkers.”

This athletic man upon whom Sheard sketched Moose Lennox was a legendary figure among the employees, he explains, recounting a story about him running in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park.

“Supposedly he was caught in the middle of a gale—some kind of hurricane strength thunderstorm—” Sheard recalls, “—and he kept on running and didn’t let it stop him. Now maybe it’s not true, but I decided . . . what a wonderful character to have that joy in the exertion and the vitality of the body. You know, that a body in training—that’s in good shape—that you can do these great things with it and find joy and almost rapture in working that body and exercising it and pushing it to its limit.” Capturing that physical spirit in the creative Process, Sheard rounded the fictional character out with the creativity of another coworker known for artistic talent. Moose draws caricatures of people in the hospital, and he, Lenny, and their investigative allies chart them out on the wall while discussing the clues that could pin the murder on one of them. “The idea of this character being a caricaturist was derived from a respiratory therapist,” says Sheard. “Again, a respiratory therapist is not necessarily college educated—not been to a lot of schooling, a good working class guy—and that’s what he did. He made caricatures of people in the therapy office, and he was very good. So I combined the qualities of these two characters I knew in the hospital into one.”That character, Moose Lennox, prods Lenny Moss along, pushing him the way a boxing trainer would while emotionally expressing his own athletic drive and fighter’s spirit. He makes Lenny start taking the stairs around the hospital instead of the elevator, suggests he come running with him when they’re off work, and is there to rescue him from a suspect’s attack. The odyssey opens with two female medical students realizing their assigned dissection subject is a murdered doctor hidden among the cadavers, followed by a young black man employed at the hospital being falsely charged with the crime. Lenny Moss’s desire to free him, along with Moose’s suggestion that solving the crime will greatly frustrate their nemeses in charge of security and personnel, carries us through the different parts of the hospital while revealing the multicultural mosaic of characters—from a highly educated Russian immigrant stuck with Lenny in the low paying janitor’s job to a devout African American Christian woman praying for Lenny’s and Moose’s safety, and a vast array of others—populating this novel the way people of all backgrounds occupy a boxing gym. The glorification of these regular people is the major charm of the novel, but it made for great difficulty, Sheard explains, in getting it published.

“In fact,” Sheard remembers, “most publishers thought it was good and told me they really liked my writing, but they didn’t want to publish it unless I had a doctor or a psychiatrist as the hero.”Apparently most publishers felt the regular, everyday people compiling the central cast of characters were not special enough to hold the interest of the reading audience, but Creative Arts Book Company in Berkeley, California, found the novel worth while, publishing it in 2001.“Creative Arts is now out of business,” Sheard explains, “but they started in the 1960s as a house that published the Beat poets in the days when nobody else would touch them. So they published [Jack] Kerouac and a lot of these guys very early on, and they also published a lot of hard hitting, hard boiled crime novels in a series called ‘The Black Lizard’. But then times went hard . . . and eventually a couple of years after they published my book, they went out of business.”Sheard’s second novel, ‘Some Cuts Never Heal’, was published by Carolyn Graft, “which is a medium sized publisher in New York, and they did a lovely job publishing a hardcover book, but my sales were not up to their expectations; so my third book [‘Race Against Death’], was printed by a small press out of New England called Five Star.” Sheard’s three novels have been used in the City University Schools in New York, exposing his work to students in all five boroughs. “They’re used in intro to literature classes and they’re popular in English as a Second Language classes,” he happily reports, “and I like that because the [immigrant] students are going in or are likely already working in the medical trade.” While Sheard’s novels are now out of print, the few hundred remaining copies are available for purchase through his website, Sheard and I met at the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) biennial Delegate’s Assembly at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts in August, 2007. I was there as a Delegate representing the Twin Cities Chapter, and he was representing New York. “The National Writers Union is an organization of freelance writers,” Sheard explains. “We all work for ourselves, and as such we’re always looking for assistance in finding markets for our writing; whether it’s books, textbooks, short stories, journalist articles, bloggers—any form of writing.”Beyond helping us find work and other benefits, the union also makes sure we’re treated fairly. “You know when you sell your first story or article and you’re offered a boiler plate contract,” Sheard emphatically declares, “the chances are that contract is going to rob you of your intellectual property. So if you join the National Writers Union, you can get free contract advice, and most importantly you’ll get to know experienced writers so you can call someone and say, ‘Hey—this journal offered me a hundred bucks and these are their terms, is this a good contract?’”The National Writers Union can be accessed at www.nwu.orgCheck out Tim Sheard, purchase his novels, and view his short films at EXTRA! EXTRA!NOVELIST COMMITS TO ATTEND FIGHT FOR FIRST TIMEMystery Novelist Tim Sheard was so intrigued by the Boxers and Writers Magazine [Boxers and Writers Blog] interview with him about his supporting character, a former boxer named Moose Lennox, that he promised to not only attend a live boxing match for the first time in his life, but to make sure that in his next novel, protagonist Lenny Moss and his friends also do. Read more about this, as well as a mention of how Sheard and I first met at the August, 2007 National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) Delegate’s Assembly at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, along with pictures and a narrative of my visit to South Boston Boxing Club, in my next post.Until then, keep writing and keep boxing. Sincerely,—-”Malicious” Mark ConnorPosted in Uncategorized Leave a Comment »