A Press Democrat Blog

Old School

Robert Rubino connects current sports news with the past

Angelo Dundee, R.I.P.

In 1957, Carmen Basilio won the middleweight championship of the world with a split decision over Sugar Ray Robinson, who is still considered by many experts to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time. Angelo Dundee was Basilio’s trainer for that fight. I was only 9 at the time, but I remember listening to a live radio broadcast of that fight with my dad. In 1964, challenger Cassius Clay outboxed heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, who quit after six rounds.… Read More »

Ali’s best, Ali’s worst

Here’s wishing a happy birthday to former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 on Tuesday. And here’s one longtime boxing fan’s lists of Ali’s 10 best and 10 worst performances in the ring. Feel free to join the discussion. Ali’s 10 best fights: 1. First time vs. Sonny Liston, 1964. Without this win, when as Cassius Clay he won the heavyweight championship of the world after a thoroughly beaten Liston quit after six rounds, there may not have… Read More »

Jesse Jackson and Joe Frazier

At the funeral service for Joe Frazier on Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson had a lot of nice things to say about the former champ, and he made a good point when he said since Philadelphia has a statue of a fictitious fighter, Sylvester Stallone as “Rocky,” it should have one of a real fighter, its own Smokin Joe. OK. But then, expanding on that thought, he said “Rocky never faced Ali or Holmes or Norton or Foreman.” Perhaps someone… Read More »

Recalling Frazier-Quarry I

I was 21 in 1969 when a friend and I went to Madison Square Garden and saw Joe Frazier defend his portion of the heavyweight title against Jerry Quarry. It was a fight that would be voted by Ring magazine as the Fight of the Year. And there was a lot of non-stop action. But I remember being underwhelmed by Smokin’ Joe. Oh, sure, his relentless attacking style was impressive, but I thought he gets hit too easily and has… Read More »

Joe Frazier, split decision

As much as I admired Joe Frazier, who died Monday at 67, I wouldn’t rank him among the great heavyweight champions and here’s why. His reign was too short, or too unremarkable. Although he won a share of the title when he KO’d Buster Mathis and another share when he stopped Jimmy Ellis, he wasn’t universally accepted as champion until he beat Muhammad Ali in 1971. Twenty-two months later he lost the title, to George Foreman, never regained it and… Read More »

Joe Frazier hypotheticals

Joe Frazier, the great heavyweight boxer who died Monday, fought Muhammad Ali (three times), George Foreman (twice), Jerry Quarry (twice), Oscar Bonavena (twice), Jimmy Ellis (twice) and Buster Mathis, among others. How do you think he would have done against some notable heavyweights who preceded him? Here is my take: Frazier vs. Rocky Marciano would be such a war, wouldn’t it? It’s very hard to imagine Rocky losing, since he never did. On the other hand, to my knowledge, he… Read More »

Foreman or Hopkins?

Bernard Hopkins became the oldest fighter to win a major title when at 46 he recently earned a unanimous decision over 28-year-old Jean Pascal in their recent light heavyweight title bout in Montreal. The previous record had been held by George Foreman who in 1994 at age 45 knocked out Michael Moorer (who would turn 29 a week after the fight) in the 10th round of their heavyweight championship fight. OK, Hopkins has the record. But which accomplishment is more… Read More »

Phantom Punch: Final thoughts

Today is the 45th anniversary of the phantom punch, when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their heavyweight championship rematch. Recent Old School blogs and Sunday’s column (in The Press Democrat and online at pressdemocrat.com) contain plenty of information and commentary about the controversial fight, so no need to rehash. But here’s a final thought. I think the phantom punch was a legit knockdown punch. Notice I wrote “knockdown” not “knockout.” I think it disorented Liston enough for him… Read More »

Mr. T vs. George Foreman?

I received an amusing e-mail from Jason Leary, an old friend and former colleague (and the most passionate Oakland A’s fan I’ve ever encountered) that I’d like to share. It follows: “Mr. T (aka the savage Clubber Lang from Rocky III) is selling cooking machines in his golden years just like former ferocious boxer George Foreman. “Probably just a matter of time before Mike “I’m gonna stomp your testicles/eat your children” Tyson starts selling some cookware of his own. “If… Read More »