The Dark Side of Celebration

By Robert Ecksel on March 9, 2015
The Dark Side of Celebration
Twenty-eight-year-old Randolph Ronchi has lost all 9 of his fights, all in the first round.

“Sometimes you get great fights when you match up two limited guys because they actually got a feeling they can win…”

Boxing is in a celebratory mood. The fight of the century we’ve all been waiting for between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is just weeks away. Bigger than Gans-Nelson (1906), Johnson-Jeffries (1910), Dempsey-Firpo (1923), Louis-Schmeling II (1938), Graziano-Zale II (1947), Ali-Frazier I (1971), and Hagler-Hearns (1985) combined—this is the fight that will finally wash boxing of its sins. And what about those nagging spots that this soaking won’t remove? Not to worry. The new Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC will take cleanse the rest.

But it’s worth remembering that the bigger the front, the bigger the back.

Far from the bright lights of Las Vegas, the bittersweet science marches on, where no-name fighters get clouted for pay, as exploited as hookers for work that is no less onerous, but even more dangerous.

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to covering the major fights at the expense of prelims. Undercard fighters are frequently unknown. They are of limited talent. They generate little interest. They’re like the comics who warm up a TV audience before a big show. They create laughter, of a sort, or momentary thrills, before it’s forgotten they ever existed.

The longtime Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, Greb Sirb, understands the comparison. Intense and outspoken, he doesn’t care if he’s liked or loathed. He would rather fight for what he believes is right and let the chips fall where they may.

One of the tasks Sirb has assigned himself is to create a list of “Boxers over 40” who might consider another profession. We’re not talking about Bernard Hopkins. He can fight until he’s 90 if he so chooses. We’re talking about fighters of limited skill, fighters who fight because it’s what they know or because of poverty, as they pad other fighters’ records from coast-to-coast and beyond.

Sirb assembles these lists and sends to them the boxing commissions in the hope that, best-case scenario, “They match them accordingly.”

With the erosion of knowledge and the corresponding depletion of taste, watching one man beat up another is often enough to suit those who know no better.

Sirb, however, isn’t so sure.

“I think that fans just want to see a good fight,” he said. “Some fans obviously just want to see their boy get a win, but sometimes you get great fights when you match up two limited guys because they actually got a feeling they can win.”

Some of the “limited guys” who sometimes feel “they can win” are on the spreadsheet Sirb sends to the commissions.

In the February 2015 edition, 61 fighters are listed. Their ages range from 23 to 44, and they fight out of Ohio, Tennessee. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Kansas, Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey, Montana, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as Canada and Mexico.

That so many states are represented is troubling, but less troubling than the fighters’ records. Thirty-one-year-old Rodney Freeman, for example, has a 5-24 record and has lost 23 straight fights, with 21 of those losses coming by early stoppage. David Green is only 25, but his record is 2-21-1. He has lost 12 in a row, with 8 of those losses coming by KO/TKO. Thirty-year-old Marteze Logan has lost his last 29 fights. His record currently stands at 26-61-2. Twenty-eight-year-old Randolph Ronchi is just getting started, but has lost all 9 of his fights, all in the first round.

The list goes on and on and on.

When pressed, Sirb admitted that “There are some who definitely shouldn’t be fighting,” adding that, “For me the commission is the final word. The promoters can say this is going to be the fight, the fighter can accept the fight, but the commissions have the final say, so it falls on them to say no.”

How do the commissioners react when they receive his awful emails?

“For the most part,” said Sirb in their defense, “a lot of them do a good job. I think there’s some who, whether they don’t understand match ups or just always look the other way, it just seems like this happens.”

But numbers don’t lie, and these numbers, skewed radically toward the loss column, less resemble boxing than suicide or worse.

“That’s why I put it out there,” Sirb said. “It’s very easy to read and it’s in black and white.”

That makes it all the more shocking, in my opinion, that these men are licensed to fight.

“Yeah, I hear you. I put it out there and these are the facts. There it is.”

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  1. Kid Blast 07:12am, 03/10/2015

    I keep an ongoing list of guys with bad records. Most are in the UK but their records are deceiving as they are rarely stopped. They are simply designated losers. Bheki Moyo is at 0-71-2 but has only been stopped 6 times.

    The key to a bad record is the ratio of losses to Stoppage losses, especially during the closing years of a fighter’s career.

  2. Kid Blast 07:07am, 03/10/2015

    Irish, yes indeed. Knew a lot of those lads and was a personal friend of the Quarry’s.

  3. Eric 05:23am, 03/10/2015

    Bruce Strauss’s record looks pretty damn good the more I look at some of those records. I trying to figure out which would be worst, the 2-21-1 ledger or a record of 26-61-2. Pure percentages would give the nod to the 2-21-1, but somehow the 26-61-2 sounds even worse.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:29pm, 03/09/2015

    Ted Sares- Did your travels bring you to LA much during the late Sixties and early Seventies…..just wondering…. because the joint was definitely jumpin’ with Jerry and Mike Quarry, Ernie and Danny Lopez, Mando Ramos, Frankie Crawford and so many others in Eileen Eaton promotions at the Olympic and then moving up to the LA Sports Arena and on to Vegas. Oh, and Ruben Olivares, Chu Chu Castillo, Mantequilla Napoles and on and on coming up from south of the border to fight for George Parnassus at the Forum. With Jim Murray at the LA Times and Mel Durslag, Bud Furillo, and Alan Malamud at the Herald Examiner covering the boxing beat fanatics like myself were in hog heaven….at least for a time.

  5. Clarence George 08:09pm, 03/09/2015

    ‘55 to ‘63…yeah, I’m going with that too.

  6. FrankinDallas 07:59pm, 03/09/2015

    You’d be hard pressed to find a man WITHOUT a hat on before the early 1960’s. The trend was started by JFK who hated hats.

    The artist chose to paint men without hats so as to not obscure the ring. It’s called poetic licence.

  7. Kid Blast 07:28pm, 03/09/2015

    No suspenders in 67. In fact, no pants in 67.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:22pm, 03/09/2015

    We had seats way the hell up in the LA Colosseum in the Summer of ‘67 for Quarry/Patterson. The ring was set up in the end zone and not having the foresight to bring binoculars (plus being three sheets to the wind) the fighters in the painting above are a good representation of how Jerry and Floyd appeared to my squinting eyes that evening.We had to depend on the roar of the crowd way the hell down below to figure what the was going on!

  9. Kid Blast 06:41pm, 03/09/2015

    Fact the guy is wearing a hat means it might be around 55-63

  10. Clarence George 06:01pm, 03/09/2015

    I don’t recognize it, but that’s a great painting, giving the impression that you’re sitting right behind the Brylcreemed guy in the suspenders.

  11. Kid Blast 04:17pm, 03/09/2015

    CG, Argh, Eraaghh.  couda, woulda, shouda,  It is what it is and he has 3 KO’s in a row.

  12. Clarence George 01:25pm, 03/09/2015

    KB:  Jones should have gone out holding high an untarnished shield.  He’s instead engaging in fights that are embarrassing, pointless, and self-defeating.  Winning, yes, but against whom?  A bunch of third-raters.  And for what, to be crowned German cruiserweight champ?  The guy should have retired a dozen years ago.

  13. Kid Blast 01:14pm, 03/09/2015

    At one time, Marteze had a decent record.

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:08pm, 03/09/2015

    Check out Marteze Logan’s record….is there any undefeated prospects in the past ten years that didn’t take bite out of his ass…..think Keith Thurman, the Peterson twins and James De La Rosa for starters.

  15. Kid Blast 01:00pm, 03/09/2015

    CG, he has won 6 in a row and has found a groove. How can you reason that?

  16. Clarence George 12:52pm, 03/09/2015

    As should Roy Jones Jr., for Pete’s sake!  At least James Toney hasn’t fought in a couple of years.  As Patrick Kavanagh said at Brendan Behan’s funeral, when someone intoned the usual we shall not see his like again, “Thank God for small mercies.”

    “A” for the overall article, but I’m upping it to an “A+” because of the first paragraph’s world-weary (or at least boxing-weary) cynicism and because of the use of “will take cleanse.”

  17. Kid Blast 12:39pm, 03/09/2015

    Marcus Rhode, Ruben Williams, Antwon Echols, Danny Williams, Robert Hawkins, Willie Williams, Frans Botha, Trinidad Mendoza, Noel Garcia and Eduardo Gutierrez and many others should be on his list. I have my own list and it is very long.

  18. Kid Blast 12:22pm, 03/09/2015

    Boxing needs more like this guy

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