Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be?

By Clarence George on August 28, 2013
Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be?
“I'm done with boxing as a professional. I have to support my family.” (Rhonda Churchill)

“I’m becoming a more fan-friendly fighter. I am not asking for the world. I am not asking for millions and millions of dollars…”

“I last saw him by the bulldozer
Playing and running around
But I just can’t see him there anymore
He just can’t seem to be found”
—Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Whatever happened to once-promising light heavyweight Shaun George?

The Brooklynite (18-3-2, 9 KOs), who turned pro in 2000, stunned many in the boxing world by stopping former heavyweight champ Chris Byrd by ninth-round TKO on May 16, 2008. Following his loss to George, “Rapid Fire” stopped Matthias Sandow by fourth-round TKO in March 2009 before retiring from the ring.

Byrd had dropped to light heavy, fighting at 174 pounds, to take on George, and looked like he’d just been liberated from a Red Chinese prison. But Byrd (41-5-1, 22 KOs) had been impressive over his 16-year career, retiring Vitali Klitschko in the ninth to win the WBO strap in 2000 and decisioning Evander Holyfield for the vacant IBF title two years later. Wladimir Klitschko avenged his brother’s defeat, winning the WBO title only six months after Vitali had lost it. Wladimir took the IBF belt from Byrd by seventh-round TKO in 2006. 

George’s stoppage of even an underfed Byrd was nothing to sneeze at. And, sure enough, he wasn’t saying “Gesundheit” to anyone. He oozed confidence in taking on faded but tough Jaffa Ballogou, telling BoxingTalk’s Ryan Burton shortly before the bout, “I want to put on a good show. I am going to come right at him.” True to his word, George stopped “The African Assassin” by first-round TKO on February 25, 2009.

But even while basking in the glow of his victory over Byrd, there were signs of discontent. When Burton asked George about his expectations following his presumed win over Ballogou, the light heavy said:

“It’s funny because I feel like I am being frozen out of the division. I let my team take care of that. I let my manager Donald Brooks and my promoter Lou DiBella handle that. I’m just a fighter. All I want to do is put on great performances and fight. I have called out so many guys in the past and nothing has happened. I want to fight contenders and world champions but I want to do it on premium networks like HBO or Showtime. I am showing my willingness, I am stepping up to the plate and I am being more aggressive. I’m becoming a more fan-friendly fighter. I am not asking for the world. I am not asking for millions and millions of dollars. I just want to be compensated right and we can do what we have to do against any contender. I am not saying I will fight Glen Johnson but I won’t fight Tavoris Cloud. I will fight any contender. Just put it on a premium network and I will do it, period.”

Upset over a perceived lack of recognition and appreciation? Purse envy? Maybe. What’s certain is that George’s outlook did a 180 at what turned out to be his final fight, on July 10, 2009, stopped by “Hard Hittin’” Chris Henry by sixth-round TKO.

“Beyond bizarre,” as Jay Robinson used to say. George was awfully close to putting Henry down and out in the first, but then came the epiphany that boxing had been the wrong career choice all along. By the second round, “George had stopped throwing punches altogether,” wrote Doghouse Boxing’s Brandon Estrict. “It was as if he had something more important on his mind and decided to walk around the ring, away from Henry who was emboldened and constantly coming forward by this point. Maybe George was simply attempting to outdo Willie Pep by not only winning a round but an entire fight without throwing punches. Whatever it was, it didn’t work out for too long.”

It sure didn’t. George was dropped twice in the sixth, and referee Steve Smoger stopped the bout at 1:08.

Dismayed by George’s lack of appetite, Estrict sought him out, wanting to know what can the matter be.

“I was injured,” said George. “My right shoulder, my right thigh, and both of my hands. I couldn’t pull out because I needed the money. I haven’t been working. I only had one fight last year, and then five months ago. Anyway, I’m done with boxing as a professional. I have to support my family, and it’s too hard to come back. I’m too old.”

“It isn’t clear whether these were things said in frustration or this is really the end of the line for Shaun,” wrote Estrict at the time. That was more than four years ago, when George was 30, so it’s reasonable to assume that the disappointed and discouraged Brooklynite has hung up the gloves for good.

Whatever George is up to, here’s hoping he hasn’t gone down “to the building site to see what he could see.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Shaun George Vs Chris Byrd Pre Fight

Chris Byrd Vs Shaun George Rounds 1-3

Chris Byrd Vs Shaun George Rounds 3-6

Chris Byrd Vs Shaun George Rounds 6-8

Chris Byrd Vs Shaun George Rounds 9

Chris Byrd Vs Shaun George Post FIght

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  1. Clarence George 06:44am, 08/31/2013

    I’ve been reprieved, Irish:  No insufferable girl movie and I’m being taken to lunch at Blue Smoke on East 27th—very good ribs.

  2. Clarence George 05:10am, 08/31/2013

    By the way, Irish, it may please you to know that She Who Must Be Obeyed (who’s dragging me to “Before Midnight” later today when all I wanted to do was stay home and watch my “Kolchak” DVD but at least she’s buying lunch) wrote to Barbara Feldon, inviting her to dinner.  No soap, but she did answer with a very nice letter.  She had also sent, for some reason, a similar invitation to Larry Storch.  He, however, didn’t answer.

  3. Clarence George 03:37am, 08/31/2013

    Which reminds me, Irish:  When I was but a lad, I collected stamps of all the countries involved in World War II, including Nazi Germany.  I needed the one of Reinhard Heydrich to further my collection.  My father never forgot, and always brought to mind, the stamp dealer’s reaction:  “You have funny tastes, my friend.”

    The dealer (a French World War I vet) had his establishment across the street from the Whitney—prime real estate.  Can you imagine a seller of stamps being able to afford such a location today?  That was some 40 years ago, and different times from these.

    I still have the stamps, as well as a fantastic autograph collection my brother and I worked on for years.  Kids no longer occupy themselves in such ways—it’s nothing but Super Mario Bros.

    Anyway, Irish, keep ‘em coming!  A Clarence George article without at least one Irish Frankie Crawford observation is like Abbot without Costello.

  4. Clarence George 02:47am, 08/31/2013

    You never let me down, Irish.  My prediction was that the article would remind you of Hope Emerson (rather than of, say, Gerald Nobles)—I didn’t expect Leibovitz, whose work I never cared for, or the she-demon Pelosi.

    I haven’t met the photographer, I regret to inform you, but you’ll be pleased to learn that I did know another famous lesbian, Patricia Cornwell.  She rescues unwanted or neglected English Bulldogs (my favorite breed), and offered me one.  It was unfortunately impossible at the time for me to take her up on it. 

    Byrd fought George at some 40 pounds less than his ideal weight.  A big mistake, obviously, though I remain impressed by George’s win.  In his last fight—the stoppage of Sandow, who then weighed around 198—Byrd wisely went up 20 pounds, to 194.

    But back to Leibovitz.  I understand that she’s not in good shape financially.  If you’re willing to be her sugar daddy, you might indeed have a shot…if you don’t mind touching someone once involved with the unspeakable Susan Sontag.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:58pm, 08/30/2013

    Clarence George-What was Byrd thinking…looks like he didn’t even bother to re-hydrate…..which reminds me….have you ever met Annie Liebovitz….I wouldn’t mind having a run at that….which further reminds me…politics aside, Nancy Pelosi has quite a rack on her.

  6. Clarence George 08:17am, 08/29/2013

    Glad you liked it, Mike.  Yes, it’s fascinating, isn’t?  It’s as though they read about Eleanor Jarman, and said, “Hey, I wanna try that.”

  7. Mike Casey 07:27am, 08/29/2013

    Nice article, Clarence. Funny how some of these guys just drop off the radar.

  8. Clarence George 06:57pm, 08/28/2013

    Glad you liked that, Frank.

  9. FrankinDallas 06:44pm, 08/28/2013

    “Purse envy” lmao

  10. Ted 06:03pm, 08/28/2013

    Yes, he is above average.

  11. Clarence George 05:58pm, 08/28/2013

    I’m neither a fan nor a detractor of Smoger.  In fact, I haven’t given him a great deal of thought.  Based on what I do know, however, I would say that he’s at least above average.

    Byrd wasn’t at his best at that stage of his career or as a light heavy.  Still, George’s win was surprising and impressive.

  12. Ted 02:41pm, 08/28/2013

    Byrd was totally shot when Shaun dismantled him. His legs looked terrible. I was sad for him because he is a very fine individual who had a great run and beat a lot of tough customers.

  13. Thresher 02:39pm, 08/28/2013

    I’m not a big Smoger fan; not at all. Can’t forgive him for what he did in NJ. He is terribly out of shape like a little gnome (redundant?), stands way too far from the fighters, Let’s them fight too long, and is slow on stoppages. Don’t like him. Once did but now don’t, but I recognize that I am in the minority except when it comes to other referees who would likely tend to agree with me rather than not.. Thing is, SS gets way too many assignments for my blood.

    Yes he is experienced and savvy, but I’d label him experienced and wily.

  14. Clarence George 11:27am, 08/28/2013

    Smoger is a very experienced and savvy ref.  In addition to the two knockdowns in the sixth (enough to stop the fight in and of themselves), I think he recognized that something deep in George had broken like an egg.  How could he miss George not fighting after the first round?  He couldn’t…and didn’t.

  15. Ted 11:16am, 08/28/2013

    Actually I was being facetious. SS doesn’t usually stop them until they are unconscious.

  16. Clarence George 10:01am, 08/28/2013

    I think the ref recognized that George was finished, maybe not physically, but emotionally or psychologically.

  17. Thresher 09:04am, 08/28/2013

    Quick stoppage by SS since Shaun was down only twice and was being legally assaulted.

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