“You Need a Knockout, Son”
In the end, both men may have paid a heavy price as neither really progressed from this point. The fight seemed to be career-altering for both…
“Whether it is damaged hands, broken ribs, a perforated eardrum or cuts, there has always been one type of injury or another that has hampered my training.”—Ross Minter announcing his retirement at the age of 30
How many times has a cornerman told this to his fighter but to no avail? Jake LaMotta delivered against Laurent Dauthuille in 1950 and Anton Raadik almost pulled it off against the legendary Marcel Cerdan back in 1947. Bob Satterfield listened to his corner in 1956 against Warnell Lester and again in 1957 against Garvin Sawyer. “Jesse” James Hughes seemed to be deaf until the last round when he heard the magic words and responded against Anthony Stephens with a dramatic KO in 1994. In 1995, Paul Vaden pulled one out of the hat against Vincent Pettway to win the IBF light middleweight title. More recently, Dave Hilton did it against Stephane Ouellet in 1998, and so did Ed Mahone when he KO’d Cody Koch via sudden lightning in the last round. Irish Micky Ward shocked Reggie Green in 1999 with 20 seconds to go in their classic with a dramatic stoppage. There have been others, but it just doesn’t happen all that much.
Minter vs. Curiel (2007)
However, for the pure essence of what this is all about, nothing beats what happened in England back in 2007 when Ross “The Boss” Minter (17-1-1) squared off with New Jersey’s “Furious” Freddy Curiel (16-6-20) in the Contender Challenge UK vs. USA. Minter is the son of Alan Minter, the former middleweight champion who was ringside along with Sugar Ray Leonard. Curiel had been inactive and clearly had his work cut out. He had retired in 2002 and returned to the ring in 2006 for the Contender boxing reality TV show and had only one fight since losing in the first round of the show.
Minter, who also had been inactive, got off to a great start despite being cut by a butt as he pressured Curiel by constantly coming forward against his smaller opponent. Minter almost closed the show in round 4 as he hammered Freddy with gritty infighting and everything in the book. While Curiel survived the round, he sustained a cut on the bridge of his nose thus evening up the bloodletting. It could well have been a 10-8 round.
Round 5 was more of the same as Minter continued to widen the margin, but Curiel showed signs of life as he threw some decent counters.
Round 6 featured some flush shots by Minter early, especially right crosses and jarring uppercuts. Sugar Ray, the team captain, was interviewed between rounds by announcer Barry McGuigan and said “this does not look good.”
Round 7 showed that Curiel still had a chance as he used his boxing skills to pick up the pace against a somewhat tiring Minter who had never seen the 7th round before.
Going into the 8th and final round, Curiel was told by his corner, “You have to knock him out.” Teddy Atlas had Minter ahead and so did everyone else. To Teddy’s credit (despite his repetitive and grueling metaphors), he opined that Curiel still had a shot because Minter “had never been in these deep waters before.”
Then, it happened. With 43 seconds left, the two engaged in an exchange and Minter threw a wide right that missed. Curiel immediately countered with a crunching short right that landed flush on Ross’s jaw and floored him. Minter got up and then fell backwards as if he were hit by a barge pole. And just like that, it was over.
While Alan Minter sat in disbelief, Sugar Ray Leonard raised his hands in elation. Meanwhile, Curiel walked Minter around the ring with his hand raised and encouraged the fans to applaud their local fighter. The popular Minter, with a reputation as a true sportsman, did the same. It was a show of heartwarming sportsmanship. Then, in a moment of further poignancy, Ross bent over the ropes and received a kiss from his father.
In the end, both men may have paid a heavy price as neither really progressed from this point. The fight seemed to be career-altering for both. Freddy would win his last fight in 2009 by a UD over Francisco Ruben Osorio and along with it the WBF All-American middleweight title. Minter would lose his next two, including a TKO loss to Michael Jennings in a bid for the WBU welterweight title. He then retired in 2008.
On this rare occasion, however, Freddy Curiel listened to his corner and went out and got the KO.