Fanshots

Fight Night might be coming back!

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Rumor has it EA is reviving Fight Night! Hopefully will be able to play as Monster!

Escape to glory: The intoxicating myth of boxing as ‘a way out’

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A great read about the uneasy connection between the middle class and the great black British boxers of the early '90's.

Brief Lives: Virgil "Honeybear" Akins

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Finally, after all the hard years toiling in hothouse gyms and all the years crisscrossing the country as an itinerant journeyman—smoke-filled halls, catcalls and hisses when facing the local hero, narrow losses tallied on doubtful scorecard after doubtful scorecard—Virgil Akins became one of The Chosen. It took "Honeybear" more than a decade to win the welterweight title, and when he did, it vaulted him into nefarious proceedings that would lead, ultimately, to the downfall of the capo di tutti capi of boxing himself: Frankie Carbo, aka (depending on the day) Mr. Fury or Mr. Gray. And while Akins never openly rued his limited reign as champion the way his successor, the radioactive Don "Geronimo" Jordan, did, he never saw the title as a blessing: "Some get the breaks, and some don’t," he said once. "Being world champion was the biggest break I ever got, but it didn’t lead nowhere."

Power Surge: Gervonta Davis and That Elusive Star Quality

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Whether or not Davis ever crashes the mainstream, the fact remains that he has nearly all of the characteristics necessary for popular sports recognition. Davis has a compelling backstory, a promotional relationship with Floyd Mayweather Jr. (somewhat stormy, although kayfabe can never be ruled out), a boorish social media presence, and, above all, he answers the bell for every fight determined to bring the pain. There is also a certain cartoon villainy to Davis that promises future negative appeal. He entered the ring against Santa Cruz wearing a sombrero and a color-coordinated outfit based on the Mexican national flag, all to mock the partisan crowd in Texas. (A few years ago, the novelist Lionel Shriver caused a ruckus by donning a sombrero during a lecture and thereby raising the risible specter of cultural appropriation, but boxing labors under no such moral ordinances.)

Rat Bastards: Roberto Medina

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Roberto Medina, a hard-charging lightweight fighting out of St. Petersburg, Florida, in the mid-1980s, could never escape himself. No, not even the transformative world of boxing—where self-actualization and reinvention are more than just catchpenny terms—could keep his past at bay. When his career as a journeyman hit its peak—a nationally-televised loss to Olympic gold medalist Meldrick Taylor—it also left him at rock bottom. Again. That was when a small squad of detectives handcuffed him in his dressing room after the fight and the newswires revealed the truth about Medina: his real name was John E. Garcia and he was an escaped convict from Denver, Colorado, with a prolix rap sheet (charges ranging from B&E to battery to criminal conspiracy to forgery) to go along with a cracking left hook.

A Dry Season: The Last Comeback of Joe Frazier

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In that last fight, he had been demolished by George Foreman in the sparsely attended Nassau (Mausoleum) Coliseum. That night, Frazier revealed just how deranged prizefighters skew when he wore contact lenses into the ring after he had undergone surgery for a cataract a few months earlier. Raw, ruthless, robotic, Foreman bludgeoned him into a provisional goodbye, but Frazier knew exactly what it meant for an ex-headliner to walk, or even wobble, away: "But a retirement promise from a hard-core fighter is right up there with ‘The Check is in the mail’ for industrial-strength bullshit."

Rat Bastards: Thomas (Tommy Ryan) Eboli

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Before he became just another chalk outline on the cratered streets of 1970s New York City, Thomas Eboli (aka Tommy Ryan) was part of the shady and shadowy boxing fraternity. As a manager in the 1940s, Eboli was only one of dozens of underworld denizens who had made remunerative pit stops at Jacobs Beach. This was, of course, the Frankie Carbo era, when boxing and organized crime were almost indistinguishable.

Rat Bastards: Jack Kearns

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It could only be considered fitting that Jack "Doc" Kearns pulled his last scam from beyond the grave. In 1963, Kearns, the amoral flimflam man in floral shirts and ties, was already dead when an excerpt from his forthcoming autobiography, The Million Dollar Gate, ran in Sports Illustrated. In it, Kearns gleefully recounted how he had prepared a plaster of Paris mix for Jack Dempsey to use against Jess Willard. The myth of loaded gloves had shadowed Dempsey ever since he had left Willard resembling the by-product of a meat grinder in Toledo, and here was Kearns, more than forty years later, confessing to that sinister feat in one of the most popular magazines in America.

Shoot the Moon: The Title Reign of Larry Holmes Part VIII (Muhammad Ali)

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"All I could think of after the first round was, ‘Oh, God, I still have fourteen rounds to go.’ I had nothing. Nothing. I knew it was hopeless. I knew I couldn’t win and I knew I’d never quit. I looked across at Holmes and knew he would win but that he was going to have to kill me to get me out of the ring." —Muhammad Ali

The Pugilist: A Boxing Column (#10): Artist Interview: Damien Burton

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Andrew Rihn interviews artist Damien Burton about his boxing-themed artwork.