Born Thomas Rocco Barbella this all-time great middleweight champion grew up a juvenile delinquent and got pinched for stealing things that began with the letter “A” like a radio, a watch, a car, a wallet or a purse. A true anti-authoritarian, Barbella entered the armed forces to avoid jail time but was dishonorably discharged for striking an officer. Barbella started boxing under the name of his sister’s boyfriend, Rocky Graziano to avoid his own past. As Graziano would say years later “turns out he had longer rap sheet than I did!”
Graziano’s blend of powerful punches, freakish durability and raw, relentless pressure were the perfect foil to the classic boxing expertise of the Man of Steel, Tony Zale and the two middleweights fought a classic three bout series.
Graziano didn’t have much education; he left school on account of pneumonia, not because he had it, because he couldn’t spell it. But Graziano’s charisma propelled into a lucrative career in tv and commercials after he left the ring and made more there in tinsel town than he ever did in the squared circle.
Rocky Graziano died in 1990 and was inducted in to the IBHOF in 1991.
This week’s Blast features Nicolino Locche “Il Intocable”-The Untouchable.
Despite a two pack-a-day smoking habit, Locche had some of the quickest ring reflexes ever displayed. Legendary trainer Ray Arcel thought Locche was even better than Willie Pep, the man most herald as the greatest-defensive-fighter-of-all-time. Locche was arguably superior. Born in Tunuyan, Mendoza in Argentina, Locche started boxing at 9 years old and amassed an amateur record of 117-5. Locche may have looked like a banger with his beefy sloping shoulders and thick torso, but Locche was all finesse and freakish reflexes. He could all but disappear while standing right in front of an opponent. His ability to make an opponent miss and to mock him while doing it was second to none. Unfortunately, he does not get the credit today, especially from American media, as he fought almost exclusively in Argentina; he had two fights abroad, one in Venezuela and one in Panama.
Although it wasn’t until later in his career that his opponent’s could touch him, cigarettes had their hooks in him. In 1994 he underwent a triple bypass and he died of heart failure at the age of 66 in twenty-oh-five. He was inducted to the IBHOF in Canastota, NY in 2003.
Check out the highlight video below
The Title Bout Championship Boxing Game picks the winners in this weekend’s bouts
By Alex Pierpaoli
We like to use the Title Bout Championship Boxing Game every week in the Blast-From-The-Past by posing fantasy match-ups between today’s stars and yester-years’ greats. Well, of course we can also use the game to propose lots of matches, including a few we’re to see this weekend. Here are the results.
Raymundo Beltran versus Johnathan Maicelo is the first bout to air on HBO at 10:15pm est Saturday night.
The first pairing of these two goes the full 12 and Beltran wins by unanimous decision. In the tenth round we see a rare 9-8 scored frame when Beltran scores a knockdown but is subsequently penalized one point for hitting on the break. Beltran went on to drop Maicelo in the 11th and again in the 12th. Beltran went on to win by scores of 116-110, 117-108 and 116-108.
When these two do battle one hundred times Beltran comes out ahead going 77-16-7 (49). And in those sixteen victories Maicelo was able to score 8 kayos.
Terence Crawford battles Felix Diaz in HBO’s Main Event, and in their first Title Bout contest Bud Crawford kayos Diaz at :39 of round 12. Crawford put Diaz down in the 11th once and down again for good in the 12th.
When these two fight it out one hundred times it is Crawford who dominates, going 74-21-5 (38) and 10 of those 21 wins by Diaz are by kayo.
Gary Russell Jr versus Oscar Escandon is the main event of the Showtime triple-header that begins at 6pm est. In their first encounter Gary Russell Jr scores a tenth round technical knockout at :57. Escandon was on the deck in the first and then stopped on cuts in the 10th.
When they fight 100 times Russell jr dominates at 86-9-5 (17) with 2 of those nine victories for Escandon coming via the knockout.
That’s TBCBG’s take for this weekend. Enjoy the fights!
This week’s Blast features Miguel Canto
Born January 30th, 1948 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, Miguel Canto Solis was just five feet and one half inch tall and fought as a Flyweight. The Yucatan is one of Mexico’s 31 independent states and is also the home of other world champion boxers like Guty Espadas, Miguel Berchelt, Gilberto Keb Bass and others but none achieved similar glory as El Maestro Pequeno, Miguel Canto. Canto was not the typical Mexican fighter. He was not a blood-and-guts pressure fighter like we’ve come to love when we imagine a Mexican fighter. Canto was a stylist and defensive genius and is often referred to as the Mexican Willie Pep.
Canto was one of those rare-greats who actually lost his pro-debut, a three round technical knockout defeat to Raul Hernandez on February fifth, 1969. Canto was just 21 years old. Fighting predominantly in his hometown of Merida, Canto notched a record of 33-3-3 (12) in just under five years as a pro before he faced Betulio Gonzalez in Caracas Venezuela for the WBC Flyweight Championship. Canto dropped a 15 round majority decision to Gonzalez but Canto won his next six fights earning himself another shot at the title in January of `75 against southpaw, Shoji Oguma in Japan. Canto defeated Oguma by the closest of Majority Decisions but he battled Oguma twice more during his record-setting title reign, defeating him each time they met.
In May of `75, Canto avenged his loss to Venezuelan, Betulio Gonzalez winning a spilt decision in his first official defense of the WBC Flyweight Title he earned beating Oguma. Canto went on to defend the Flyweight title 14 times before facing Chan-Hee Park of South Korea who defeated him via 15 round unanimous decision.
IBRO ranks him at number 7 in the top ten of all-time Greatest Flyweights, just behind Frankie Genaro and ahead of Ricardo “Finito” Lopez.
Hey there, Fight-fans!
Up this week is the great Mexican Bantamweight Champion Carlos Zarate.
Born May 23rd 1951 in Tepito Mexico, Carlos was the youngest of 8 children. He was five foot 8 inches tall and fought at 118 and 122. Zarate never knew his dad, who died of pneumonia when Carlos was just a toddler. He was raised by his mom, Luz Zarate, who made sure he got a good education but Carlos was trouble in school and “he liked fighting more than books.” Boxing was a natural fit and soon enough Zarate realized he was a tremendous puncher. He racked up a record of 33-0 with 30 kayos as an amateur—only one man claimed to have beaten him but records of the defeat are sketchy. Zarate was the Golden Gloves Champion of Mexico.
They called him “Classy Carlos.” He crushed stereotypes about the loud and flashy Mexican fighter. Zarate was more refined and even tried to institute a No Spitting policy in the gym where he trained. In the ring he was a methodical technician, coolly confident, an exceptional boxer with fast instinctive moves.
After 7 years as a pro and with an exceptional record of 46-0 (45), Zarate faced off against former stablemate, sparring partner and rival, Alfonso Zamora who carried an equally impressive 29-0 (29) record into their encounter. Dubbed the “Battle of the Z’s” it took place in front of a frenzied crowd at the Forum in Inglewood, California. In the first round a member of the crowd leaped into the ring because “God told him to do it” but he was quickly subdued by riot police. The fight itself was a thriller and is posted below.
Again and again, Saul Canelo Alvarez beats Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. says computer simulation
By Alex Pierpaoli
As you know if you watch the Blast-From-The-Past on The Billy C Morning Show each Wednesday, we like to end each segment by using the Title Bout Championship Boxing Game fight simulation software in setting up fantasy match-ups. Well, in light of this week’s big Pay-per-View we decided to see what the game said about Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. versus Saul Canelo Alvarez. As I do each week on the Blast, first, I put the fighters in against each other in one 12 round bout and then made them fight 100 times. This time I also played with the conditions you can set for each fight. Like say one guy were to arrive overweight, hypothetically, of course, you can set the game to allot for that. So here are the results with a few different specified conditions, the trend is abundantly clear, though. The Computer likes Cinnamon.
Results with Canelo Alvarez ranked as a Jr Middle, Chavez Jr as a Middle and both men in Top Condition: 1st fight: Alvarez is dropped in the 7th, he rises but at 2:57 the bout is waved off. Winner by TKO is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. When they fight one hundred times at that setting, Canelo bests him with a record of 66-28-6 (13). Junior scored 11 kos in his twenty-eight victories.
Results of Canelo vs. Chavez Jr with both fighters ranked as Middleweights and coming in with a setting of Top Condition: In their 1st fight Canelo Alvarez scores a stoppage victory at 2:37 of round 11. When they fight one hundred times under those settings–Both in Top Condition–Canelo gets the best of things with a record of 59-37-4 (15). Julio Cesar Chavez Jr scored 17 kayos in his 37 wins.
Results of Canelo in Top Condition versus a Badly Overweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In their 1st fight, Chavez Jr opens up a big gash in the face of Canelo in round number 6 and at :27 of round 8 the bout is stopped. Winner by TKO, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. But when they fight one hundred times under those same conditions Canelo dominates 86-11-3 (11) and Chavez Jr scored 7 knockouts in his eleven wins.
Results with Canelo fighting under the conditions of: Broke Training Regularly. And Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s condition set as: Badly Overweight: In their 1st fight: Canelo was on the deck in the eleventh. It goes the distance. The scores after twelve rounds are 117-110 x 2, and 116-111 all in favor of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. One of the quotes from the Blow-By-Blow is: This has not been one for the ages both guys tentative.” When they fight one hundred times under those conditions again it is all Cinnamon. Canelo goes 53-41-6 (13) and Chavez Jr was able to notch 17 knockouts among those forty-one victories.
The average of all those different adjustable conditions, if my math is correct, shows Saul Canelo Alvarez finishing at 66-29-5 (13) versus Julio Cesar Chavez jr. So it’s safe to say according to the Title Bout Championship Game, Canelo should win big this Saturday night.
Wladimir Klitschko is sure to dominate says Title Bout Computer Game
As you know if you watch the Blast-From-The-Past on The Billy C Morning Show each Wednesday, you know we like to end each segment by using the Title Bout Championship Boxing Game fight simulation software in setting up fantasy match-ups. Well, in light of tonight’s mega-fight at Wembley Arena we decided to see what the game said about Wladimir Klitschko versus Anthony Joshua.
As I do each week on the Blast, I, first, put the fighters in against each other in one 12 round bout and then made them fight 100 times.
So, what happens? Plain and simple, Wlad destroys Joshua.
When Klitschko and Joshua meet the first time Wlad Klitschko wins by fifth round TKO (2:34) dropping the Briton 3 times before the Ref waves it off.
Then when opposing each other over one hundred fights, Wlad Klitschko dominates with 94 wins, six defeats and 78 knockouts. All six of Joshua’s wins came by way of knockout.
So despite approximately 5-to-1 odds currently in favor of Joshua, the Title Bout game likes Wlad Klitschko to win and win big, regaining the championship for the third time.
I see it going that way as well. Wlad by KO.
Wlad’s still got the big win in him we’ve never seen
By Alex Pierpaoli
Tonight Britain’s Anthony Joshua defends his IBF Heavyweight title against 41 year old former division kingpin Wladimir Klitschko. The bout was a quick sell-out and 90,000 plus will cram Wembley Arena for what is expected to be more of a blood-ritual and a coronation than an actual contest. So heralded is the 27 year old Briton and so equally respected, but disliked is the former champion, Klitschko, that most expect tonight’s fight to be the official start to the Age of Anthony Joshua. That could very well be the case, he is favored to win by as much as 5-to-1, but if Klitschko can banish all remnants of his performance in his last fight, a unanimous decision loss to Tyson Fury in December of twenty-fifteen, Wladimir poses a quantum leap up in clash for the very green young champion.
Anthony Joshua has rocketed to stardom in British boxing and has revived the heavyweight division with his knock-them-cold style; he’s 18-0 with 18 kayos. No one has yet to fight into the eighth round against the twenty-twelve gold medalist for Great Britain. Joshua gets about the business of bashing out his opponents right away, and thus far none have held up for long, with the exception of amateur rival Dillian White who stung him in the second round and lasted into the seventh before ending up horizontal just like all of Joshua’s professional foes. A troubled teen with legal entanglements who used boxing to keep him on the straight and narrow, Anthony Joshua is articulate and handsome and poised to become a very rich man in boxing’s unlimited class. Boxing, especially heavyweight boxing, is where concussive force can and will rule the day. But skill and experience have to count for something.
Like him or loathe him, Wlad Klitschko deserves respect. Sure, some of his biggest wins were among the worst fights this fight-fan has ever seen. But Wladimir’s jab and grab, bash and mash, clutch-for-dear-life style has racked up the wins. Wlad Klitschko was a dominant champion. The division he ruled was certainly not the best and the brightest in heavyweight history but that doesn’t reduce his credibility considering any champion can only fight what’s available to him, and no one would deny that of Klitschko. He holds the second longest reign in the division’s history (Joe Louis 11 years 8 months, W.Klitschko 9 years 7 months) and won 18 consecutive title defenses, only two men have done better than that (Joe Louis 25, Larry Holmes 20). As much as he has never been embraced by the American fight-fan, Wladimir Klitschko is a sure-to-be Hall-of-Famer and was a dominant heavyweight champ.
Isn’t Klitschko too old, his reflexes too blunted? Perhaps. But despite losing the heavyweight Championship in his last fight, he wasn’t beaten up, he was outmaneuvered and out-thought. In terms of conditioning, Klitschko has a lot of mileage on him but he is a consummate professional and is likely to be in the very best condition an athlete of his age could be in. And for an ex-champion, he’s hungry. Klitschko was first denied the rematch with the self-destructive, drug- addicted Tyson Fury who upset the Ukranian in December of twenty-fifteen in the greatest boxing upset you would never want to watch again. For twelve rounds Fury used his reach advantage to befuddle Klitschko with a pawing jab and clever movement. It was ugly but Fury completely diffused Klitschko’s offense and had him spooked about throwing anything for thirty-six minutes. Tonight he is going to be in a fight for his life against Joshua. That could go one of two ways for Wlad. Joshua may find Klitschko’s chin in the opening frame the way Corrie Sanders did and this will be less of a fight and more of a blood sacrifice. But Klitschko turned in what was likely the best performance of his career when faced with a guy who attacked him back in twenty-fourteen against Kubrat Pulev. When attacked on that night, Klitschko fought back aggressively and put Pulev out in destructive fashion. Everyone keeps talking about how Klitschko won’t be able to take Joshua’s best shots, but let’s not forget that the old Ukranian packs quite the wallop himself. This could end up a gun fight in the opening round with two heavyweight monsters firing cannon-blast right hands at each other. That’s why 90,000 people coughed up their cash to see it live and why millions will be watching it on television. Both men can crack.
The late great trainer of Wlad Klitschko, Emmanuel Steward, was often frustrated with Wlad’s hesitancy to use his size and strength. Always concerned about protecting his chin, and perhaps for very good reason, Wladimir Klitschko doesn’t fight like the big man he is. To win tonight he is going to have to fight bold and mean and use everything he’s got. These two guys know each other well and have been downright chummy in the pre-fight meetings. But both guys are pros and that niceness should go right out the window by tonight’s ring walks.
Dull as shit though his reign has been, Wladimir Klitschko has skill. And skill usually beats blunt force trauma. This could very well be one of those night’s where skill gets stretched by predatory, bone-numbing force. It’s actually what I’m rooting for. I want Joshua to drive out those bygone days of Klitschko’s safe but effective victories. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. All those year’s weren’t for nothing.
Klitschko by knockout, in the best win of his life.
Follow me on Twitter @FistThingsFirst
Up this week is one of the greatest heavyweights who never became champion, the incredible Joe Jennette. Born Jeremiah Jennette in North Bergen, New Jersey on August 26, 1879, Joe worked for his blacksmith father, shoveling coal into trucks and delivering it to customers, hard physical labor that paid little. He was was a strong and athletic young man who stood five-foot-ten-inches tall and weighed between 185 and 203 pounds. Joe was light-skinned and strikingly handsome. He was described as “a black Adonis; a magnificently proportioned man” who was “never a braggart nor a clown, but led a quiet disciplined life.” Joe had been a success as a street fighter, and on a dare at the age of 25, he passed through one of the only doors open to an athletic black youth of the age–boxing. He was quite the progeny, despite starting his career late. Jennette was twenty-five and he learned fast as a pro.
After just 3 fights, one of them a stoppage loss to Black Bill (Claude Brooks), Jennette fought Jack Johnson in their first of 10 fights, and finished his career at 1-2-7 against the Galveston Giant. Their contests were always competitive but Johnson prevailed and sadly, once champion, Johnson never granted Jennette a shot at his title, claiming he was the first Black Heavyweight Champion and he intended to be the last.
Locked out of the Championship, Jennette had to settle for the Colored Heavyweight Championship of the World which was all that was available for heavyweights of his pigmentation. At that time, there among the heavyweight contenders were two other great black fighters who were in the same situation as Joe, they were Sam McVey and Sam Langford. Jennette, McVey and Langford, unable to challenge Jack Johnson, were left to sort things out among themselves, meeting about 30 times combined.
In April of 1909, Jennette and McVey met for the third time in Paris in a Finish Fight that may have been one of the most brutal, grueling boxing matches in history. For 49 rounds Jennette and McVey rumbled against each other. Throughout the course of the bout Jennette was dropped 9 times and rose again and again only to rally in the final ten rounds. McVey came out of his corner at the start of the 49th and shook hands with Jennette, succumbing to the punishment he had absorbed for 48 rounds. The French magazine L’Auto described McVey’s appearance at the end of the bout as “he no longer wore a human face.”
Jennette and McVey would meet 2 more times with a final tally of 2-2-1 (1) in favor of Jennette. Against the great Sam Langford, Jennette finished at 2-5-7 through the course of their fourteen encounters.
After boxing, Jennette served as a boxing referee and a judge. He ran a garage in Union City, New Jersey and upstairs from that he trained neighborhood kids in the Manly Art. In 1946, Jennette described Sam Langford as the greatest of the Big Four, calling him “the toughest of the lot.”
Jennette married Adelaide Atzinger, a white woman, in 1906 and the couple had two children, Joe Jr. and Agnes. Jennette died at the age of 78 years old in the North Hudson Hospital in Weehawken, New Jersey. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York in 1997 and a historical marker was placed in his honor in Union City, New Jeresy a few blocks from where his gym and auto-service station stood.
Here he is in action against the incomparable Sam Langford. Jennette and Langford fought 14 times. This is their tenth encounter.