Liston Up Donaire or Lose!

By Michael Schmidt on April 10, 2013
Liston Up Donaire or Lose!
Just go out and smack somebody top of the head and things should fit into place!!!

Don’t do too much analysis. Go out punching, attacking, using your superior power, with speed, and let natural fighting instincts take over…

Las Vegas: Sunday morning after Rios vs. Alvarado II

It was a special night and a special fight last evening. Although, I am tracing back 24 hours to early pre-sunrise yesterday, I am also moving ahead in my mind to Top Rank’s next great fight being Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux. It seems the Top Rank New Year is bringing us a Fight of the Year candidate each month and certainly Donaire vs. Rigondeaux fits for another Fight of the Year potential candidate this month. It will be the thirty-year-old “Filipino Flash,” 5’5” tall, 68-inch reach vs. the thirty-two-year-old Cuban, Guillermo Rigondeaux, 5’4½ “ tall, 66-inch reach. 

Las Vegas: Saturday morning pre-fight, early pre-dawn, desert nowhere

I am out here in the out here in the outskirts of Las Vegas in the desert. The sun should be rising shortly and it’s cold. I am out here with one other individual who is taking care of the Dune Buggy business and he advises that if I am doing a boxing story and the Dune Buggy business is put into the story he is to be referred to simply as “Chapter 81 Ted.” A retired biker no doubt! 

More on Chapter 81 Ted later other than to tell you this:

“They tell me you are involved in the boxing business. I’ve had this thing laying around for awhile so I thought maybe you’d like it,” states Ted. He gives me a Sports Illustrated magazine dated September 17, 1962. On the cover, staring forwards, Sonny Liston in a white silk robe with gold trim and off to the left looking, I guess, towards Liston with his peek-a-boo gloves up, Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson. Inside is an article written by Floyd Patterson entitled “With a Bit of Fear.” It is a seven-page Patterson pugilistic psychological breakdown of how he will beat Liston. He makes sure to let his reading audience know that one Graff, Reiner, and Smith of Los Angeles has guaranteed him $2 million and that there is an expectation that he will receive another split of a $1 million dollar gate with a first year deferred compensation having him receive $300,000 and for the next 17 years 55% of $100,000 as gross income.

Patterson further states in his article, of or on fear, that “Mental attitude is important, almost as important as your conditioning. One punch can knock all the condition out of you.” Patterson goes on and on with respect to how he intends to beat Liston and there is a portion of the story where someone has handwritten their own ink comment. At this particular section of the article a story is retold that at one point Liston had been driven in a car by Patterson’s wife’s brother, Sheldon Hicks, but Liston didn’t know who Hicks was. Liston is advised by writer Milton Gross that the driver is Patterson’s brother-in-law. Liston comments that maybe “if I slap the driver around a few times I get the fight.  Maybe that’s a better way.” Gross inquires as to what specifically Liston means and Liston responds, “I mean if I hit Patterson’s brother-in-law, maybe Patterson gets mad enough to stop being afraid and give me a chance to hit him.” Not much over analysis on Mr. Liston’s part. Just go out and smack somebody top of the head and things should fit into place!!! It is at this point in the Sports Illustrated story, and at the end of the story that the same blue ink handwritten note has been scribbled at the bottom of page.

BLUE INK NOTE: TOO MUCH ANALYSIS—SIMPLE—LISTON ISN’T GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT—JUST GONNA PUNCH AND ATTACK                                                                      

Way back in late September some 50 plus years ago a Mr. V. Kent Sorenson of 10305 West Beloit Road in Milwaukee opened up his mailbox, which probably served back in the day as his milk box as well, and there sat his Sonny Liston staring Sports Illustrated.  Now 50 plus years is a long period of time for a magazine to bump around and how it ended up in Chapter 81 Ted’s hands, who is to know? Further, and now, we certainly have no chain of evidence to attribute those ink written notes to Mr. Kent Sorenson but whoever wrote them certainly caught the right idea.  \Which now brings us to Donaire vs. Rigondeaux. Liston up Donaire or lose!

As I sat ringside ringside last night with Celestino Caballero and Jeff Mayweather, a lad, and his two friends, directly behind me, kept opening up a conversation which in large parts surrounded his “expert” opinion that “Rigo” was going to “slap” Donaire silly. Mind you I have to tell you that our “expert” also whispered into my ear, as it related to Caballero and Mayweather, the following: “Who are those guys, should I know them?”  According to our young “expert” one of the very most important facts to consider was that “Rigo” had over 400 amateur wins and was a decorated multiple Olympic gold medalist. I have to tell you, in good fun, I took the bait and responded as follows: “Well, that’s amateur boxing and this is professional boxing and if we rested all on amateur boxing then certainly a list, neverending, from Duane Bobick to Sugar Ray Seales, both of whom had solid pro careers, would have ended up as pro champions.”

What 400 amateur fights tells me is that “Rigo” despite his 11 pro fights has a lot of mileage on him. In fact if you’ve met “Rigo” or you take a look at photos of him he has the look of very old eyes and expression of wisdom about him. He looks like a character that could be in a Papa Hemingway out at sea fishing story. His journey to this point has been a hard at sea adventure. Leaving your family and friends behind in Cuba to forge a pro boxing career is one hell of a lonely existence deep down no doubt. Our expert just smiled back during this last bit of conversation. Duane Bobick! Sugar Ray Seales! Nah our “expert” doesn’t have a clue!

How to solve a problem like Rigondeaux

Guillermo Rigondeaux is “El Chacal” (The Jackal). The trade name fits doesn’t it? A smaller medium size species of wolf genus, but no wolf, and certainly a boxing genius.  The Jackal, yes he of the opportunistic predator and proficient scavenger type. And what of the Flash? Well, simply replay that Montiel knockout and you certainly know what a “Flash” is.

So then, how to solve a problem like Rigondeaux whose boxing skills are so refined, so liquid in their movement, and so subtle in their spacing? The Panamanian fighter and champion Ricardo Cordoba came close. It is hard to dissect what Cordoba’s game plan was other than to know he, after some very difficult early rounds, seemed to time Rigondeaux in counterpunching his way to split decision loss. 

Can Nonito Donaire afford to play counterpuncher, or can he afford to use his length and speed to catch Guillermo Rigondeaux while playing the waiting game? A betting man’s answer would be an unqualified NO. Donaire seems to be sending mixed mind signals this past week on how he intends to solve a problem like “Rigo.” On one hand he has spoken of a fight of “fireworks” while on the other hand he has stated that “It (the fight) may be a chess match.” Donaire expects a tactical fight early on and stated that “to set things in motion I have to put energy out there to make him (Rigondeaux) engage or do whatever I want him to do.” Playing this fight out in one’s mind, as a tactical boxing chess match, is a thinking man game of loss when boxing someone with “Rigo”’s upper stratosphere skill level. 

Let’s get back to those Sonny Liston Sports Illustrated notes. LISTON UP DONAIRE! Don’t do too much analysis. Go out punching, attacking, using your superior power, with speed, and let natural fighting instincts take over. That is a thought, and only thought, required before that first Radio Music City Hall bell. That one first, be first, solid punch, as Patterson alluded to, may knock all the conditioning, mentally, out of your opponent.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Floyd Patterson vs Sonny Liston, I (long)

Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson II - July 22, 1963

Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson II

Guillermo Rigondeaux - Ricardo Cordoba

Nonito Donaire vs Fernando Montiel [Full Fight]

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  1. Mike Schmidt 06:21pm, 04/11/2013

    JY he was given the key to the city of Toronto two weeks ago and was the guest of Honor at the Shaw Festival annual Black Tie Pro Boxing show this past Tuesday night in Toronto—he is still razor sharp, well spoken, and going strong. We had a great night

  2. Ted 06:20pm, 04/11/2013

    BTW, Mike, that’s an enormous number of reads. Wow!

  3. Ted 06:19pm, 04/11/2013

    I echo Johnny Yuma’s sentiments

  4. johnny yuma 03:08pm, 04/11/2013

    Thanks Schmitty. Ha ,ha,ha, Chuvalo was a throw back.I read a feature on him in TRUE(boxing yearbook) magazine THE MARCIANO OF CANADA.It showed,him Alex Miteff raising each others arms after their DRAW.That was when I was 10,boy if he ever learned to jab,he would have been unbeatable.

  5. Mike Schmidt 01:19pm, 04/11/2013

    J. Yuma and Ted—go to the great Chuvalo documentary on youtube, “The Final Round” about 50 minutes in, you will see George calling the Liston vs Ali second fight a “joke” and you will see him entering the ring pushing and shoving in Ali’s corner right after the fight—he is furious!!!!!!!!! Let me know what you think

  6. Mike Schmidt 12:47pm, 04/11/2013

    Keep me posted Sir.

  7. Ted 12:36pm, 04/11/2013

    Damn, I forgot about the Hall weekend. A bunch of Bostonians are going up there including Tony DeMarco. I have not decided yet whether I will go, but I suspect I’ll pass it for Montreal. Bute-Pascal will be a wild affair in that place and I don’t want to miss that one for the world.

    If I decide to go to the Hall, I’ll call you so we can hook up for a driink and maybe a cigar (on me).

    Cheers, Mike and I’ll check out the video.

  8. Mike Schmidt 12:26pm, 04/11/2013

    Hello Ted. Stevenson-Dawson I can’t make—it conflicts with I.B.H.O.F induction weekend and I am already full booked for that. Bute I am going to pass—the week before I am in Atlantic City and Philly—give me a buzz if you get a chance at the office—Fearless Editor has the number—if A.C and Philly interests you. On Liston vs Clay—as a side note I had the pleasure of being in a limo with Mr. Indestructible—George Chuvalo for about two hours on Tuesday night—go back and watch the video of the second fight-post fight in the ring and see what George thought of it at the time!!!!!

  9. Ted 12:11pm, 04/11/2013

    Nice one Mike. I posted before but it did not take. Sonny threw the second fight just as sure as Jersey Joe did not know what to do. Good God, watching him roll around the ring after having been slapped by a Calzaghe-type punch was cringe-worthy.

    The Cuban is like an iceberg. Lots of depth to his pedigree that is not seen at first glance. ND better be very careful here. I have a bad feeling.

    Mike, will you be at the Bute-Pascal fight? Stevenson-Dawson?

  10. Mike Schmidt 11:42am, 04/11/2013

    Great fighter. Often wonder if it was one of those “the Championship ruined him” cases. When I look at how much quicker and physically more fit ( ie sculpted) he was for Williams, and pre Patterson, well, he just did not look the same come the Clay fights, at least to me Mr J.Y. As for Donaire I think he should make this a Hagler vs Hearns type of deal—come out full force and firing—should be an interesting scrap—thanks for the post up.

  11. johnny yuma 08:01am, 04/11/2013

    Sonny is still a great to me. I really wonder about the two Ali fights.

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