Archive for June, 2009

30
Jun
09

Michael Jackson’s Last Concert Rehearsal At Staples Center – June 23, 2009

Michael Jackson's Last Concert Rehearsal At Staples Center - June 23, 2009

Michael Jackson's Last Concert Rehearsal At Staples Center - June 23, 2009

*EXCLUSIVE* Michael Jackson’s last concert rehearsal at Staples Center on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/AEG/WireImage). “I am devastated by the sudden loss of ‘The King of Pop,’ who I have photographed numerous times since the Victory Tour in the ’80s. When he hit the stage at rehearsal, I was thrilled that the magical Michael Jackson was BACK!!! I felt the same adrenaline rush as when I photographed him the first time moonwalking. I was so looking forward to shooting the O2 Arena performances with the amazing production that Kenny Ortega and AEG put together with Michael for his fans.” –Kevin Mazur, Celebrity Photographer and Founder of WireImage.com

Michael Jackson's last concert rehearsal at Staples Center on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California

Michael Jackson's last concert rehearsal at Staples Center on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California

Milton Luban June 30, 2009..Blog Post, I felt even thought this blog is all about boxing news and press releases and boxing in general, I felt an obligation to show these photos I have access to of the final photos of The great King of Pop Michael Jackson’s last concert rehearsal photos. He will be greatly missed! I have had the great pleasures to have meet the King of Pop earlier in my life and it was really a Awesome feeling just to be around the great one, you kinda freeze up and don’t know what to say around him, I was much younger of course, but I still remember the meeting with Michael as if it was yesterday, My mother was a nanny for a very high executive in a fortune five hundred company and she was invited by her boss to attend a dinner where it was a fund raiser and she was told to bring her kids knowing I was a very big fan of the King, I will always remember that day! He will be always in my heart, I also own a boxing memorabilia website called www.substancecollectables.comand I have several items signed from Jackson that day I meet him, but I will not use this opportunity to make money off this terrible tragedy, Please take a look at my boxing memorabilia site for other celebrity hand signed authentic items I have for sale, and lets all say a prayer for his familly and friends. He will always be in our hearts through his great music.

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29
Jun
09

Hopkins sells Adamek and fans short

Bernard Hopkins

When I was in Houston last month to cover the Juan Manuel MarquezJuan Diaz lightweight championship fight, Bernard Hopkins, there in his role with Golden Boy Promotions, pulled me aside. He wanted to talk about his desire to move up to cruiserweight and challenge champion Tomasz Adamek.

It sounded like the perfect fight for both men, and several times during the few days we were in Houston, Hopkins and I talked about the fight. He seemed really into it. He was animated and anxious for Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer to return from an overseas trip so that he could contact Adamek promoter Main Events to negotiate the bout.

“Adamek is definitely a threat. He has ability and he’s world champion,” Hopkins told me in Houston. “It would be a big challenge. I’ve never fought that heavy [200-pound division limit], so there’s a risk. This is a junior heavyweight fight. I can’t ever match up with Wladimir Klitschko, so this would be my fantasy fight. This is the closest I’d get to a heavyweight championship fight.

“It would be Adamek’s biggest purse. I think things could be worked out. I know what is going on with the economy. I see this as an HBO fight, but we could make this a big event, a great East Coast fight. He has a good fan base. So do I. It’s a perfect fight for both of us.”

A week later, Hopkins co-hosted ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” and reiterated his desire for the bout to Brian Kenny. Adamek and his team were also very interested in a fight that would be the biggest fight either boxer could make.

Sadly, however, the fight is dead.

Schaefer and Main Events owner Kathy Duva told me the fight, which they were talking about for July 11 on HBO at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., died Tuesday because negotiations were so far apart that it made no sense to continue discussions.

(One quick note: Although HBO was prepared to pay $3 million-plus for the fight — this, according to Duva but denied by Schaefer — July 11 wasn’t set in stone because HBO had not officially made it available. The network, like everyone else, is waiting for the near-certain return of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who may want to fight live on HBO on that date. That said, despite HBO’s offer, I never got the feeling the network had its heart in the fight.)

In any case, it’s unfortunate that we won’t see Adamek-Hopkins, because it was a really interesting fight. Based on the ample feedback I’ve received from readers, many of you also thought it was a really good fight.

It figured be good in the ring because Adamek is never in a bad fight. The idea was to hold the match in Newark, N.J., where Adamek is a big draw in the Polish community and which isn’t far from Hopkins’ hometown of Philadelphia, so there would have been a terrific atmosphere. The fight also had important historical implications because a Hopkins win would give him a legitimate championship in a third division at age 44, and because an Adamek win would give him a huge name on his résumé and likely send Hopkins into a second (and probably permanent) retirement.

Now it’s down the drain. From where I sit, and with no dog in the fight, the blame falls squarely on Golden Boy and Hopkins.

When I spoke to Duva on Wednesday morning, she told me that the deal came down to this: Golden Boy offered a mere $500,000 flat fee (which is ridiculous) to buy Adamek’s services, meaning Adamek and Main Events would each be paid out of that fee while Golden Boy and Hopkins would keep the rest of the revenue. Duva said she and Schaefer estimated the fight would net between $4 million and $4.5 million.

Main Events expected to co-promote the bout and to split the money on a percentage basis, which it would negotiate. Duva said she asked for a 60-40 split in Adamek’s favor, although she said that she was willing to work with Schaefer on the split.

To me, a percentage split was the only way to make a fight like this, one in which both fighters bring something significant to the table. Maybe they would have been able to make a percentage deal, maybe not. But for Hopkins to insist on paying Main Events $500,000 without recognizing Adamek’s obvious value makes it seem he was just taking Adamek and Main Events for suckers. According to Duva, Main Events and Adamek split more than $500,000 for his defense in Newark last month, an eighth-round knockout against the relatively unknown Jonathan Banks. Obviously, a fight with Hopkins would generate way, way more money. Adamek and Main Events certainly should share in it.

Duva said Golden Boy wouldn’t even consider a percentage deal, instead wanting to treat her side merely as an expense without regard for Adamek’s value to the fight. While Hopkins brings his famous name and HBO money to the table, Adamek also brings a lot. He brings the title, which Hopkins wants. He brings significant foreign television money. And he brings a substantial gate because of the crowd he attracts to the Prudential Center, a venue solely developed by Main Events. A fight with Hopkins would probably generate a gate in excess of $1 million.

“The only offer they made was to give us $500,000,” Duva said. “I didn’t even take that seriously. They wanted all the control even though they were going for the champion, the guy who sells all the tickets and the guy who isn’t 44. We weren’t going to do the fight in a casino. We were talking about going to Newark, a market we built. We’re not going to a casino for a site fee. Those tickets don’t just sell themselves. My people get out there and work really hard to sell the tickets. We’re not just going to turn over our market to Golden Boy and take a seat at the fight.”

When I asked Duva if she thought Golden Boy was treating Main Events and Adamek like chumps with their offer, she said, “Either that, or they didn’t really want to make the fight.”

Duva said she was surprised by Golden Boy’s unwillingness to come off the weak flat-fee offer.

“Richard told me that Hopkins said if you want to have a split, we can’t do the fight,” Duva said. “It’s astonishing. Either Richard doesn’t want to make the fight or Hopkins is out to lunch on his expectations. Half a million is silly. Tomasz generates that on his own against regular opponents. I told Richard come up with what you think is an equitable split or tell me what Hopkins wants and we’ll buy you out.”

Duva said she approached the negotiations with an open mind even though she hasn’t always been happy with the way Golden Boy does business. She said when her fighter Joel “Love Child” Julio fought Golden Boy’s James Kirkland on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” on March 7, the only way she could get the fight made was to give up options on Julio, an almost unheard-of practice in a nontitle fight or a fight in which neither boxer is a substantial economic force.

“That’s what it has come to. That’s how powerful they are,” Duva said. “Everybody has to do that, or they don’t get on ‘Boxing After Dark’ anymore, since Golden Boy has most of the dates. I had to bite the bullet and give them the options or I couldn’t get Julio the fight. So I did it. Maybe that’s why they thought I was a chump when we were talking about [Adamek-Hopkins]. What I think is that Bernard thought HBO would pay, like, $6 million for the fight, which wasn’t going to happen.”

Duva said she would have no trouble lining something else up for Adamek. She said she’s talking to Showtime and also has lucrative options in Poland.

Schaefer stuck to his guns on the offer, saying he believed that Adamek and Main Events should have jumped at the opportunity to fight “a 44-year-old legend.”

“I think we have a different philosophy,” Schaefer said. “If you have a fighter gaining momentum like Adamek and you have the opportunity to fight a 44-year-old legend, you should jump at it. If not, go on and keep fighting the Bankses of the world. I respect their decision, I respect Adamek and Kathy. No animosity. It just didn’t work out. Bernard, he feels this is the deal he wants to do, then so be it. At this point of Bernard’s career, if he can’t get the deal he wants, he just won’t fight.”

I couldn’t disagree with Schaefer more. When there are millions on the table and Adamek is responsible for generating so much of it, he deserves to share in the payoff. The opportunity to fight someone of Hopkins’ stature is not enough on its own without a legitimate financial gain.

Schaefer didn’t sound too disappointed that the fight won’t happen.

“I felt like the way Bernard dominated Kelly Pavlik put the exclamation [point] on his career,” he said. “The Bernard Hopkins masterpiece painting is finished, as far as I am concerned. A fight with Adamek would just be like changing around the frame. But if that fight doesn’t happen and the painting is going to stay the way it is, I love that masterpiece.”

Maybe Hopkins will fight again. (Please, no Roy Jones rematch talk. That ship sailed a long time ago.) Maybe he won’t. But he had his chance at making more history by fighting Adamek.

Hopkins blew it because he was greedy and tried to take advantage of Adamek, much in the same manner that Hopkins has always railed against his past promoters for trying to take advantage of him before he finally made it big.

Next time Hopkins is watching a fight, maybe he should think about that.

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29
Jun
09

Roach out to silence Pacman critics!

 (R) Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines and trainer Freddie Roach look on at the weigh-in for his welterweight fight against boxer Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand Garden Arena December 5, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. De La Hoya fights Pacquiao December 6th.By Dennis Principe
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Apparently legendary trainer Freddie Roach wants to “pull the trigger” and silence critics of the one-sided win scored by Manny Pacquiao over Oscar De La Hoya late last year. Interviewed by the Philippine radio show “Sports Chat” hosted by this writer, Roach said he wants his prized ward to battle a legitimate world welterweight champion who is at his prime and is not past the age of 30. “When we fought Oscar before the fight they said he’s going to kill Manny and then afterwards they say he was old. So after we beat (Miguel) Cotto what are they going to say?” said Roach during an overseas telephone interview from his Wild Card Gym. “So we’re going to beat another champion at that weight and that will be another achievement for Manny Pacquiao, another world title for the pound for pound king.”

The age factor is probably one of the reasons why Roach is seemingly disinterested in getting another world welterweight champion Shane Mosley as Pacquiao’s next opponent. Mosley, 37, holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight crown in knocking out Cotto’s lone conqueror Antonio Margarito in the 9th round last January at the Staples Center.

The 28-year-old Cotto (34-1, 27KO’s), who holds a 12-round decision win over Mosley (46-5, 39 KO’s), is the current World Boxing Organization (WBO) title holder.

“When we fought Oscar at 147 he was not the world champion. Cotto’s a world champion at 147 so he will definitely be our toughest fight to date,” said Roach “Shane lost to Cotto so who’s the better fighter? Stylewise Shane’s a little bit faster than Cotto. But either guy is fine but I think Cotto’s a little more marketable.”

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is working on a Pacquiao-Cotto fight on November 14 in Las Vegas.

At the moment both fighters are studying the offers presented by Arum and that the astute promoter is expecting a deal within the next few days. Pacquiao’s emissary Michael Koncz recently arrived in the Philippines after a brief meeting with Arum in Las Vegas last week.

Initially Pacquiao wants an October fight date but a potential conflict with Baseball’s World Series is making it hard for Arum to seal a Pay-Per-View date that month.

 

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29
Jun
09

Former boxing champ Rocky Lockridge living on streets of Camden, estranged from family, abusing drugs and alcohol

http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2009/06/former_boxing_champ_rocky_lock.html

 
ONE OF THE BEST FIGHTERS OF THE LAST 50 YEARS ROCKY LOCKRIDGE SEEMS TO BE IN BIG TROUBLE IS THERE ANYBODY OR ORGANAZATION THAT CAN STEP UP AND TRY TO GET THIS ONCE GREAT WORD CHAMPION BACK ON HIS FEET

by Todd Schmerler/For The Star-Ledger

John O’Boyle/The Star-LedgerRocky Lockridge sits on a street corner in Camden. The former boxing champion is homeless and living on the streets of Camden.RELATED CONTENT: Read about Todd Schmerler’s decade-long quest to find Rocky Lockridge, and watch Lockridge’s 1984 victory over Roger Mayweather via YouTube 

Rocky Lockridge sits high on a stoop, giving himself a lofty view of the intersection of 7th Street and Chestnut in Camden.

There’s a convenience store on the corner, but it’s not drawing as much interest as the woman openly dealing drugs, shouting, “Five dollars, five dollars,” to anyone who passes.

Former boxing champ Rocky Lockridge is homeless in Camden
 

In the midst of it all, a brown sedan stops, the car idling in the middle of the street. A middle-age man gets out and quick-steps to the top of the stoop to greet Lockridge with a fist bump and a quick man-hug. After a few quiet words, he gets back into the car and drives off.

Others take turns approaching Lockridge to exchange pleasantries. One is a 20-something girl named Laquicha Smith, who seems excited to tell an outsider about the special man sitting on the cement steps.

“That’s Rocky. He’s the champ,” she says. “He’s still got it.”

The Champ looks out across the familiar street corner, his head held high. But his face is swollen by scar tissue around the eyes and more than one tooth is missing. A silver metal four-prong walking cane he now needs to walk is balanced across his knees.

His fingers tremble as he lifts a cigarette to his lips and his voice is raspy and hard to make out.

“Everybody kisses me, calls out, ‘Champ, Champ, Champ,’ ” Lockridge says. “I get joy being around them because they’re going through the struggle, same as me.”

The struggle is living on the streets of Camden, where Lockridge has been for more than 10 years. It has been a long way to fall for a two-time world boxing champion.

Lockridge, who climbed the rankings while fighting out of Ice World in Totowa from 1978-81, has no money. His body tilts to one side when he walks, the result of a stroke he says he suffered three years ago. His scraggly, graying beard makes him seem far older than 50, the age he reached on Jan. 30.

He admits he has a more than two-decades-old drug problem — “I do quite a bit of drinkin’ and druggin’,” he says — and that he’s been estranged from his ex-wife and kids for nearly that long.

John O’Boyle/The Star-LedgerRocky Lockridge stands on a street corner in Camden.

But he won’t take all the blame for his predicament. He blames the boxing industry for much of it.

“I’m bitter. I’m very bitter,” he says, the words coming out slowly and unsteadily. “I made some mistakes, a whole lot of mistakes, but they were beyond my imagination. The blow that was put upon me was harder to take than the blows, or any blow, for that matter, that I received in the fight game.”

It didn’t have to be like this for Lockridge.

A former world champion suffering financial difficulties is hardly shocking, considering the history of boxing, lack of formal education of most fighters and the absence of a pension or retirement plan from any of the sport’s governing bodies.

Lockridge was different.

Particularly bright, articulate and good looking, Lockridge was a natural in front of the cameras and seemed to enjoy his time in the spotlight. After relocating from Tacoma, Wash., at the age of 19 in 1978, Lockridge lived in Paterson as he came up through the ranks, fighting for Main Events, an enterprise of the Duva family, with his early fights at Ice World, a cavernous converted skating rink in Totowa.

Lockridge was the rare fighter who considered a post-boxing career. He looked studious, wearing wide, horn-rimmed glasses, and took classes in business at William Paterson University in Wayne for two years.

Kathy Duva, now the CEO and then the publicist for Main Events, remembers Lockridge being different.

“Rocky was always a low-key person with an easygoing personality,” she says. “He was quiet, articulate, a wonderful guy.”

After two unsuccessful attempts to win a featherweight title in the early ’80s, Lockridge moved up to super featherweight and the extra five pounds suited him. He won a couple of big fights and then knocked out Roger Mayweather — the uncle and trainer of current superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. — in the first round to win the WBA title on Feb. 26, 1984.

John O’Boyle/The Star-LedgerA Fight Game magazine featuring Rocky Lockridge.

 

The Mayweather fight, a one-punch knockout, lasted only 91 seconds and launched him to a new level in boxing circles. Lockridge was 25 with a record of 32-3.

He and his wife, Carolyn, took his winnings and moved from Paterson to Mount Laurel, a tony suburb of Philadelphia in South Jersey. Carolyn gave birth to twins Ricky and Lamar on August 23, 1984.

The future was bright.

Boxing careers usually are short. So when Lockridge lost his title to Wilfredo Gomez in 1985, then lost a year later to Julio Cesar Chavez, no one would have been surprised if Lockridge had reached the end.

He hadn’t.

He won his next two fights and earned another title shot, stopping Barry Michael after eight rounds in England in 1987 to win the IBF super featherweight title.

A year later he lost his title in a unanimous decision to Tony Lopez in a brutal 12-round bout that was named 1988 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine. He would lose the equally bloody rematch a year later, then retire after one last victory in 1989.

As bad as his beatings were in the ring, the abuse he put his body through when he was out of it may have been worse.

After each fight, Lockridge says he would party “two weekends.” He snorted cocaine and abused alcohol, drinking “whatever was around,” he says.

When he needed money, he says he would ask the Duvas for it and they would always give it to him. Now, he says they shouldn’t have been so forthcoming.

“Not only was I not in control financially, but it really didn’t matter to me at the time,” he said. “I wanted the best for myself and my loved ones. There was never any resistance in terms of saying, ‘Champ, you’re out of order with the financial thing.’ It is what it is. It is what it is now.”

Lockridge says he was “raped financially,” but there’s no evidence of that. Kathy Duva said Lockridge made money, but not the kind one could expect to live on forever. Even Lockridge admits his biggest payday came from the fight with Chavez, and that was only $200,000, he estimates.

“He had a family, children, divorce, he bought a house,” Kathy Duva says. “The money goes away. People who abuse drugs end up in desperate straits frequently. That’s a shame, but it’s a choice they make.”

After 2 1/2 years out of the ring, Lockridge attempted an ill-fated comeback at age 33 under new management based in Washington.

The comeback lasted just two fights — both losses.

His final record: 44 wins, 36 knockouts, 9 losses and $0 in the bank.

Rocky, Carolyn and their two boys had moved back to Tacoma a year and a half after Lockridge’s original retirement, in 1991, but the family didn’t stay together for long.

Rocky and Carolyn split up shortly thereafter — partially, Lockridge says, due to the stress of being broke and partially because he didn’t know what to do without boxing. Drug addiction, Lockridge admits, may have played a part, too. Carolyn Lockridge could not be reached for comment.

In 1993, at age 34, Lockridge moved back to Camden. Alone.

“I could not handle not being involved in the fight game, not being a fighter or even partaking in the fight game as a trainer and/or manager,” he says. “My wife, Carolyn, we both were somewhat slapped in the face and she realized Rocky couldn’t handle the blow, what is he going to do? I just didn’t know how to handle that. Her and I both began to see that we weren’t going to be the team that we at one time had been — inseparable.”

Lockridge took a job working for William Jones & Son, Inc. in Camden, a drum and barrel company on Liberty Street, where he cleaned and painted barrels for $8 per hour starting in January 1994.

Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for burglary — the first time — but was sentenced to five years probation, according to court records. Three years later, he was arrested for burglary again, this time serving 27 months before being released in July of 1999.

He hasn’t worked since.

When he got out of jail, he found he had nowhere to go and ended up on the streets.

“I don’t know exactly what happened or how it happened or what happened at that particular time in my life,” he says.

One thing he does remember is going back to using drugs.

“I knew a lot of people who I partied with here in Camden after a victory,” he says.

Lockridge says that if you’re going to be homeless, Camden is the place to be. There are many different places that will give you a free meal, many shelters that will put you up for a night.

Lockridge lives on the $140 a month and food stamps he receives from the government — as well as pocket change he gets from panhandling. He says the stroke he suffered three years ago makes it difficult to walk, no less hold a job.

John O’Boyle/The Star-LedgerRocky Lockridge walks along a street in Camden.

He sleeps in shelters occasionally but admits he’s had issues committing to a shelter because the curfew is sometimes as early as 7 p.m. Lately, he has slept in a mosquito-infested abandoned row house around the block from his regular corner.

And he continues to have troubles with the law, though his last arrest — for criminal trespassing in May — resulted only in community service.

Lockridge’s troubles are similar to issues many other former fighters face. In many cases, some feel it’s inevitable.

Former middleweight Alex Ramos, a friend of Lockridge’s who founded the Retired Boxers Foundation in 1998, says boxers aren’t equipped to handle life out of the ring. They are not trained in financial responsibility and, unlike other sports, there is no union to turn to for help.

“Boxers don’t come from the Ivy Leagues and Beverly Hills, they come from ghettos and Third World countries, looking to get themselves out of poverty,” he says. “A lot of times it’s sad what happens to a lot of fighters when they retire.”

Scott Frank, who fought out of Ice World at the same time as Lockridge, says promoters and managers (in Lockridge’s case, the Duvas) should be responsible for putting aside money for when their boxers can’t fight anymore.

“Lou always said Rocky was like a son to him, so how do you do that to your son?” Frank says. “He made enough money that they should have put some away for him, they should have taken care of him.

“What’s $200 a week for life for a guy like Lou? Rocky fought his heart out for him.”

Duva says he would be open to offering Lockridge a job training boxers — but only if he stays clean and sober.

Orlando Pettigrew, a mail carrier and Camden resident, has befriended Lockridge in the last year after hearing that a former world champ was living on the streets. He looks out for Lockridge.

“He’s a nice guy, he just needs to find his way again,” Pettigrew says. “People call him The Champ, they greet him, hug him. People still look up to him. Any time I see him, that’s what I see.

“It has to be hard, going from living in Mount Laurel to living here.”

Lockridge doesn’t mind losing his house as much as losing his family.

As he sits on his stoop, smoking a cigarette, he talks about why he is finally ready to turn his life around, find a place to live, give up drinking and drugs.

“I’m going to get it back together and say no to drugs,” he said. “I’ve got a family that I want to spend some time with ’til my time is up on Planet Earth. I’m on a mission now, perhaps even greater than my mission before. My kids need me in their lives, experience being the best teacher.”

John O’Boyle/The Star-LedgerRocky Lockridge (left) jokes with his friend Charles Braxton on a street corner in Camden.

Lockridge says he recently was tracked down by his son, Ricky, now 24, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area near Lamar. The twins were surprised to find out a few months ago that they have a half-brother, Ramond Dixon, 22, born in Camden but who now also lives in the D.C. area. The three have become close — but they remain distant from their father.

“I remember spending time with him when I was 3 or 4, but he was never there at a steady pace,” Ramond, known as “Ron-Ron,” says. “Even though my dad wasn’t there for me growing up, I never really had harsh feelings. I never was really upset. As a man now I can see that people make mistakes.”

Ricky Lockridge has mixed feelings.

“It’s sad. It hurts,” he says about his dad’s predicament. “But I never lost confidence in my dad, he’s a strong person.”

Lockridge says reuniting with his boys is his inspiration for cleaning up his life.

“Now I’m ready for this, mentally and physically, to get me back on track,” Lockridge says. “I am in dire need of that kind of support and I want it. I’ve been knocked down. Now I’m finally ready to get back up.”

The Retired Boxers Foundation says it will help him — like his kids and Duva — but only will do so if he gives up drugs and alcohol and sticks in a shelter.

“Rocky would be eligible for supplemental security income, which would provide a monthly check, housing and Medi-Cal, but one of the requirements is that he is sober,” Jacquie Richardson, executive director of the RBF, says. “Boxers don’t always want to accept help. Beyond brain injuries, the shame is overwhelming. They have regrets about what they didn’t do, the mistakes they made, and it’s really hard to forgive themselves. It keeps them hiding out where they are.”

Lockridge says the need to see his sons and help them avoid the mistakes he made is the motivating force to clean up and accept the help of outsiders.

“Edumacation is the best occupation,” he jokes. “Knowing how to handle your money, stay educated in all the areas so perhaps what happened to me will never happen to anyone else.

“It hurts. It hurts. In more ways than one, it hurts. How can you be a great man, father and husband … how can you be a great champion and not be a great father, husband? Dad? It hurts. But I’m still alive. I can’t make up for the lost time, but I can just get there, be there, spend the rest of the time with my wife and children and give them the time that I have left.”

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Sunday June 28, 2009, 12:30 AM
28
Jun
09

Lopez using Lontchi fight as launchpad to bigger, better things

Chris Farina/Top Rank If you were boxing’s next big star like Juan Manuel Lopez is, you’d be smiling too.

 Lopez’s star on the ascent 
After the 2000 Olympics, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum didn’t go after the high-priced Team USA boxers who were eyeing professional careers, some of whom commanded seven-figure signing bonuses and never even lived up to expectations.

Instead, Top Rank president Todd duBoef convinced Arum they should spend their money more wisely. DuBoef had his eye on Miguel Cotto, the fighter on the Puerto Rican Olympic team with the most professional style.

Top Rank signed him for a modest six-figure bonus, along with several of his teammates. But it was Cotto they were after. Less than four years later, Cotto won a junior welterweight title. Then he moved up in weight and won a welterweight championship. All the while, Cotto, with Top Rank’s promotional expertise behind him, was emerging as one of the most bankable attractions in boxing.

Now, he’s a big-fight star — pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao is probably up next in November — and he regularly fills New York’s Madison Square Garden.

After the 2004 Olympics, Top Rank signed Juan Manuel Lopez, the cream of that year’s Puerto Rican Olympic team, and the building of Cotto 2.0 was under way.

“He’s the next big star out of Puerto Rico,” Arum said. “He has the perfect combination. He’s a tremendous boxer with a concussive punch and I just have the feeling he will take his punching power up [in weight] with him. He reminds me of Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad more than anyone else because of his personality. He’s very outgoing and has a very fan-friendly personality.”

Now, the Lopez project is at an important stage, as he is on the verge of breaking out the way Cotto did.

Lopez (24-0, 23 KOs), who grew up idolizing Trinidad, has fought on major cards in New York and Las Vegas, but now, for the first time, he’s headlining his own card in the United States. He’ll make his fourth junior featherweight title defense against Olivier Lontchi (18-0-2, 8 KOs) on Top Rank’s “Latin Fury 9” pay-per-view card at the Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. (9 p.m. ET). If all goes well, Arum has big plans for Lopez, whom he envisions as his next pay-per-view attraction.

Lopez, who turns 26 on Tuesday, gets a kick out of hearing that and embraces the idea with an easy laugh.

“I know I am in good hands with the company,” Lopez said through translator and Top Rank publicist Ricardo Jimenez. “The company has made great stars and attractions with Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. It will take time and eventually I will be there, too.

Juan Manuel Lopez

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Heavy hands, good looks, an aggressive style: What more can fans ask for in Juan Manuel Lopez?

“I know this is a very important fight for me for a lot of reasons. It’s my first main event in the United States and I am headlining a pay-per-view show, so I need to show that I can win and that I can sell my fights. Plus, I am also going back to where I won my title, so it is special to me.”

Like Cotto, Lopez claimed a world title less than four years into his pro career. The powerful southpaw has had an explosive reign thus far, winning his 122-pound belt with a sensational first-round knockout of Daniel Ponce De Leon in June ’08 in Atlantic City in an HBO-televised undercard fight.

His first two defenses also ended with first-round knockouts. In his third defense, Lopez relentlessly battered iron-chinned former bantamweight titlist Gerry Penalosa for 10 rounds until Penalosa’s trainer, Freddie Roach, stopped the fight after the 10th round. It was the first time Penalosa had been stopped in 63 pro fights.

“I think the power is one of those things you are born with,” Lopez said. “My left hand is so strong. Ever since I started boxing [at age 10], I noticed I could hit hard with it. I also have a right hand that I have developed, but the left is strong.”

Lopez believes his power will come through and that he will stop Lontchi, 26, a native of Cameroon who has lived in Montreal for the past eight years.

“This is a guy whose style I have never fought before. He moves a lot, he boxes a lot,” Lopez said. “I have not fought anyone like him. But we worked hard and we know what we are up against. We figured it out. There is no doubt in my mind I will beat him. I don’t think it will be in the first round because his style won’t allow me to do it, but he’s definitely going to get knocked out.”

That is music to Arum’s ears, because if Lopez wins and interim featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa wins July 25, he plans to have Lopez and Gamboa in separate title defenses at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York on a Sept. 26 pay-per-view card. Arum recently signed Gamboa, the electrifying 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist, and wants to build him up a bit more before matching him and Lopez in what he believes will be a major fight.

“If JuanMa is successful Saturday, we have the Theater on hold for that card in September. And then that would be it for the year for him,” Arum said. “Then maybe we’ll do a fight in Puerto Rico on [HBO’s] ‘Boxing After Dark.’ And then, if Cotto is unavailable or whatever, we would feature Juan Manuel in the big fight on Puerto Rican parade weekend in New York.”

Arum has built the mid-June weekend of the annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade into a regular big-fight weekend. Cotto has fought on the eve of the parade regularly for the past few years, including his win against Joshua Clottey two weeks ago.

With the tradition built, Puerto Rican fighters aspire to fight on that weekend. Lopez has been on Cotto undercards, but he dreams of being in the main event.

“I certainly look forward to headlining at the Garden someday,” he said. “I get very excited thinking about those kinds of fights, especially at the Garden, where it’s a big accomplishment for Puerto Ricans to fight. It’s something special to fight at the Garden for a Puerto Rican.”

Lopez said he likes Arum’s plan for an eventual Gamboa fight and that he looks forward to moving up to featherweight next year.

“I know I am in good hands with this company and whatever they decide for me to be next I am all for it,” Lopez said. “It will be good for them and good for me. I look forward to it. I think I can go the rest of the year at 122 but if the opportunity comes at 126, I could go up. But definitely next year I will be at 126. I know that at 126, there are a couple of big names out there for me, but that [fight with Gamboa] is definitely a big fight.”

The first of many, perhaps.

28
Jun
09

Manny Pacquiao ponders retirement

If Manny Pacquiao decided to retire and walk away from the sport of boxing today, his legacy as one of the greatest to ever to lace up boxing gloves is more than secure. The sport he will be leaving behind, however, may be a different story.

With one sensational performance after another, Pacquiao undoubtedly has resuscitated a sport yearning for a new torch bearer. His last two fights have both been blockbuster and sold-out affairs generating more than three million Pay-Per-View buys altogether. His emergence as boxing’s biggest superstar and his massive following has given the sport a much-needed boost, especially under these financially testing times and with the UFC rapidly threatening to become the main fight sport and in the process winning over a lot of what used to be boxing’s fan base.

In a report from Philippines network television GMA 7, Pacquiao was said to have begun pondering his retirement. Stating that he has been in the sport long enough and has little left to prove, Pacquiao was said to be thinking about one last fight in October against either Juan Manuel Marquez or Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao was also quoted saying his desire to help his nation through politics may be the new calling he intends to pursue.

Boxing will definitely survive without Manny Pacquiao.  But with no clear superstar waiting to take his place, and with aging stars such as Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins already on their last legs, it will be difficult for boxing to find another marquee figure to attach itself to that provides the drama and action that Manny Pacquiao delivers each time he fights. Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have come back from retirement, but the consensus with Mayweather is that he isn’t the crowd pleasing fighter that Pacquiao is.  That’s why his fights are a tougher sell than Pacquiao’s.

Nobody can really blame Pacquiao if he does indeed walk away from the game today. He already has the money. He has a ton of other investments and avenues he has put his hands in to keep him busy. He’s an actor, singer, promoter and businessman, just to name a few of the hats he wears.

But my hope is that Pacquiao will realize that even if he no longer needs the sport the way he used to when he first thought of becoming a world champion that the sport probably needs him more now than any other time in his life. On top of that, he is still in his prime. I know even Michael Jordan retired and came back one too many times before, but a Pacquiao retirement today would be like the first time MJ stepped away from the game. He simply has too much left in his tank to call it quits.

At the end of the day, all of this could just be talk. But if Pacquiao does indeed hang the gloves up, I’ll be the first to stand up and tip my hat to say thanks to a man that has given millions of people renewed fever for the sport and showed the world the kind of impact and good that can come out of boxing.

My only wish is that I wouldn’t have to do that anytime soon.

28
Jun
09

R.I.P. – Mikki Wilkins, daughter of IBF President Marian W. Muhammad

 

 

Milton Luban (SubstanceCollectables.Com) with Marian W. Muhammad

Milton Luban (SubstanceCollectables.Com) with Marian W. Muhammad

 

Mikki Wilkins, the daughter of IBF President Marian W. Muhammad, died today.  Mikki was 36 years old.

Mikki attended the Newark and Irvington , NJ school system.  Then went on to Essex County College and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting.  Mikki worked at the IBF offices in accounts payable for approximately 8 years until she moved to Wilson , NC in 2003.  Even after Mikki moved to NC, she attended every IBF convention to sell the IBF merchandise up until 2008 when the IBF convention was held in Germany .  Mikki appeared to get sick on the plane on the way back home from Germany .  She went back to NC and was under the care of her primary physician for approximately 2 months until she lost approximately 60 pounds.  Finally she went to the hospital in July and was diagnosed with gastric cancer.  She fought a valiant fight until 5:05 this morning when she took her last breath.  Marian was with her when she transitioned.

Mikki has three children, Mujahid 14, Aaliyah 14 and Mikaya 11.

Funeral services will be on Saturday, July 4, at Carrons Funeral Home, 325 Nash Street E, Wilson, NC 27893 (252) 237-2169

Marian W. Muhammad, President

 IBF/USBA

 516 Main Street, 2nd Floor

East Orange, NJ 07018

(973) 414-0300

(973) 414-0307 fax

(973) 445-0884 cellular

Thanks, Henry Hascup, For more information or news Click Here:




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