Mike Rossman: A Right to Remember
Rossman entered the ring on August 1, 1975 with a record of 21-1-1 and his only loss being to Mike Nixon a few months earlier…
“This is the kind of fight you would have in old New York, an Irish boy and a Jewish boy.”—Don Dunphy, August 1, 1975
Las Vegas: Big Boxing Weekend from Wynn Encore to The Tropicana Sept 15, 2012
Recent studies have shown that nostalgic thoughts are actually a very healthy process for mind and being. In that context I am somewhat in overdrive this big boxing Vegas weekend. From chatting with the likes of Al Bernstein, Roberto Duran, Ray Mancini, Julian Jackson, Earnie Shavers and Tommy Hearns my mind is floating with boxing memories.
Having left the Chavez vs. Martinez weigh-in at the Wynn Encore (magnificent place by the way) I have made my way over to The Tropicana to meet an old friend. I mention to him that I have just been speaking to one of the all time great knockout punchers, Julian Jackson, whose son will be on the undercard. Of course this Tropicana “old-timer” and I start to talk about great one punch knockouts and he brings up what he refers to as THE Punch; The Tropicana Punch. It is one of the hardest knockout punches I can remember. Some fighters have described that perfect one punch KO as a feeling of electricity flowing warm from the base of their hand, through the arm and up through the shoulder, all the way down to their hip. ZAP! Others have described it to me as almost being an orgasmic feeling with the sensation being so sweet in its sensation of hitting the sweet science spot.
Sergio knew of the sensation the moment he landed that overhand left on Paul Williams. You could see it in his body motion as he turned to go to the corner. He knew Williams was out before he hit the canvas. Bob Foster knew it when he landed that shotgun left hook on Mike Quarry seconds before the round ended. A simple shrug of the shoulder by Champion Foster, as if to say “don’t bother counting and I told you so.” Wilfred Benitez knew it when, having positioned Maurice Hope back towards the ropes, he cracked that overhand. Hope without a hope and Benitiez with that slight euphoric smile as he looked out to the fans in the mid-levels. And what of our KO king Julian Jackson whose broad shoulders, this Vegas weekend, still look like they could bring some serious thunder. The man has kept himself in serious shape. How many and where would one begin with Champion Jackson? How about Buster Drayton? How about pointing to the spot in the canvas where Drayton was about to land as he fell, like fresh cut timber, halfway midair to the canvas. In that context we come back to THE TROPICANA PUNCH and Mike Rossman vs. Mike Nixon number two.
Rossman entered the ring on August 1, 1975 with a record of 21-1-1 and his only loss being to Nixon a few months earlier. Both fighters were seen as solid up and coming prospects. The evening began with legendary ring announcer Don Dunphy introducing into the ring, amongst others, talented Vinnie Curto in a kick-ass tan leisure suit. Do you remember those classic sartorial splendors!! As Dunphy called the fight, Rossman controlled the early tempo of the first three rounds with a weapon rarely used by today’s fighters as he continued to pound Nixon with a jackhammer and whipping jab. In the third round Rossman, in a more pronounced fashion, and in a right hand portent of things to come, started to spear the jab and fake it as well downstairs and then come back up with the right hand. In the fourth, Nixon, the brother-in-law of Jerry and Mike Quarry, perhaps sensing things slipping away began to pressure Rossman. Through six the fight began to even up.
In the seventh round Rossman slid off of a Nixon jab, and with knees bent threw a slingshot -like right hand that had all of the whipping arm torque motion of a big league fast ball pitcher. It hit Nixon point blank like a pistol shot to the temple. Nixon was out cold before he hit the canvas. In fact it would be well over a minute later before he showed some slight movement of his head. Post-fight Rossman commented that the punch would have knocked out Carlos Monzon. Looking back at that punch it probably would have knocked out pretty well anybody it had landed on!
Rossman would go on to a Championship career fighting a host of legendary light heavies and perhaps being best remembered for his title winning performance against legendary Argentinean strong man Victor Galindez. Nixon, who had a solid career, would participate in over 30 main event features.
It is funny how memories sometimes dot connect. From a big Argentinean win this weekend, to meeting one of the best one punch arteeests you would ever see in Julian Jackson, to meeting an old friend at The Tropicana to a big punch landed those years back, at The Tropicana by a fighter that would win a Championship against an Argentinean, THE TROPICANA PUNCH, all with loving boxing nostalgia and with salute to somebody that waxes boxing nostalgic much better, being one Ted Sares and his “Memory Bank.”