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The Hauser Report: Some Thoughts on Boxing

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  • The Hauser Report: Some Thoughts on Boxing

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    By Thomas Hauser

    The Triller Fight Club event in Atlanta on April 17 has been criticized by boxing purists as a s---show and a circus. Another boxing event that took place on the same date in New Hampshire might have been worse.

    Chris Traietti is a 35-year-old club fighter who has compiled a 30-4 (24 KOs) ring record over the past fifteen years. The most recognizable name on his ring ledger is Mike Lee (who defeated Traietti 99-90, 99-90, 98-91 in 2016). Traietti is a professional fighter who has entered the ring 34 times. He deserves credit for that.

    Traietti is also a licensed promoter doing business as Granite Chin Promotions. Adding to his credentials, he's a matchmaker. On April 17, Granite Chin promoted a 24-bout card in Derry, New Hampshire. The A-side fighter won 23 of these fights. But the story goes deeper than that.

    The Association of Boxing Commissions maintains a "watch list" overseen by Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb. The watch list was created to track fighters who have long losing streaks and multiple defeats by knockout and presumably shouldn't be fighting anymore. The list is sent to all ABC member commissions. The assumption is that any reasonable commissioner would look at the list and say, "I'm not going to let these guys fight." But nothing in federal law precludes mismatches and poorly equipped fighters from entering the ring. Each state athletic commission has its own standards and procedures to evaluate and license fighters. So, the mantra for many promoters is, "If the commission lets me do it, I'll do it."

    The New Hampshire State Athletic Commission lets promoters do it. The April 17 fight card in Derry had TEN fighters who are currently on the ABC watch list.

    Roberto Valenzuela, age 47, has 80 losses including defeats in his last 14 fights. He was knocked out in Derry by an opponent with a 21-1-1 (20 KOs) ring record.

    DeWayne Wisdom has 56 defeats and has been victorious in one of his last 35 outings. He lost to a fighter with a 10-1 record.

    Rynell Griffen (2 wins in his last 47 fights) was knocked out in the first round by an 11-1 fighter.

    Clifford McPherson (43 losses in a row) was knocked out in the first round by a 16-5-2 opponent.

    Theo Desjardin (0-13), Bruno Dias (0-10), and Paulo DeSouza (0-19) were all knocked out, as were Larry Smith (46 defeats), Steve Walker (37 defeats), and Francisco Neto (who now has 9 consecutive first-round knockout losses).

    The Sweet Science reached out to Traietti for comment. He declined to be interviewed by telephone but responded with an email that read in part, "I am aware of Greg Sirb’s email and “must watch list” that he created and uses to smear promoters and more specifically the NH commission. I appreciate you reaching out for my side of things, sincerely I do, but I feel like it’s not productive for me to go on record and state my feelings about certain 'powers that be' in the boxing world."

    This situation is not good.

    * * *

    Boxing's highest honor is induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Inductees are divided into seven categories: modern, women's modern, old timers, women's trailblazer, pioneer, non-participant, and observer. The first five categories are combatants.

    Anyone can suggest that a name be placed on the ballot for induction. The nominations are then weighed by a review committee that makes recommendations to a screening committee. The screening committee selects the names that will appear on the final ballot. Once the ballot is set, it's sent to the electors, who vary in number from category to category.

    I'd like to suggest two names for inclusion on this year's final ballot. Neither has been on the ballot before.

    Gerry Cooney won his first 23 fights before losing to Larry Holmes on a night when Holmes was as good as he'd ever been or would be ever again. Plagued by substance abuse problems that he conquered after leaving boxing, Cooney retired after losses to Michael Spinks and George Foreman. The only three men to beat him in a boxing ring were first-ballot Hall of Famers.

    Cooney electrified the boxing world with his devastating knockout power. In his two bouts just prior to fighting Holmes, he scored first round knockouts over Ron Lyle and Ken Norton (the latter in 54 seconds). "If Gerry Cooney was fighting today" Holmes told me recently, "he'd be champion. No doubt about it." Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler puts Gerry in the top twenty on his list of all-time heavyweight greats.

    Cooney never won a world championship. But neither did Jimmy Bivins, Charley Burley, Billy Graham, Cocoa Kid, Lloyd Marshall, Holman Williams, and others who are enshrined in Canastota. Knowledgeable observers can argue over whether or not Gerry deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But he certainly deserves to be on the ballot ahead of Jorge Arce, Vuyani Bungu, Yuri Arbachakov, Leo Gamez, Miguel Lora, Orzubek Navarov and some of the other nominees.

    The non-participant category would be strengthened by the inclusion of Pat English on the ballot.

    English is the quintessential boxing attorney. He has been the foundation stone of Main Events for decades and a fierce advocate for fighter safety within the Association of Boxing Commissions and elsewhere. The Hall of Fame selected its first doctor for inclusion last year with the selection of Margaret Goodman. Now it's time for a practicing attorney.

    Thomas Hauser's email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Hmm. Cooney before Jorge Castro 130-11-3), Ricky Hatton, Henry Maske (31-1)?, Sven Ottke , Jerry Quarry, Michael Moorer, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Abner Mares, Vernon Forrest, Dariusz Michalczewski (48-2), David Tua, Gerald McClellan, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, longshot Tommy Morrison, Michael Nunn great middleweight in a stacked era---and many others. Tim Bradley, Diego Corrales, Danny Green, Sung-Kil Moon and Rafael Marquez are outliers. Cooney is a great guy but that doesn't necessarily get you into the IBHOF. Also, Cooney suffered two crushing defeat at the end of his career--the one to Foreman is difficult to watch and he was waxed by Michael Spinks

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    • #3
      Gerry Cooney? No.

      Buster Douglas? Yes.

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