Archive for December, 2012

Exclusive Interview With Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes was one of the greatest champions to ever grace the boxing ring.  Holmes achieved so much in his career and his legacy is cemented among the elite heavyweights in the history of the sport.

The “Easton Assassin” posted a professional record of  69 wins against just six losses.  He recorded 44 of his 69 victories by knockout.  Some of his notable wins as a champion came against Ken Norton to claim the championship, Mike Weaver, Earnie Shavers, Trevor Berbick, and of course, Muhammed Ali.

Holmes also gave Evander Holyfield, Ray Mercer, Carl Williams, Renaldo Snipes, Gerry Cooney, Tim Witherspoon, and David Bey, their first losses as professionals.

Holmes, always quick with a quote, talked with me about the current state of the heavyweight division, his relationship with Don King, and about how he is enjoying retirement.

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Paneech:  Give me your opinion of the heavyweight division that we see today.

Holmes:  It sucks.  I don’t see anything happening when I watch these fights, they are very boring.  Not only that, but you never heard of any of the fighters.  It is very hard to watch.  It upsets me to turn on my television set and never be able to look forward to a good fight in that weight class.

Paneech:  How does that differ from the seventies and eighties when that was probably the most enjoyable weight class in boxing?

Holmes:  Well, the seventies and eighties are when the division was really good.  The fights were very enjoyable and everyone knew when the next fight was.  Nowadays, you don’t even know who won a fight three days after it happens.  We need heavyweights, the people want heavyweights.

Paneech:  So we are relegated to watching fighters who weigh less.  What fight do you want to see happen the most?

Holmes:  Everyone still wants to see Mayweather and Pacquaio fight.  When the talks start though, it always seem like it is all about Mayweather, and I think the people hate that.  That guy [Mayweather] is throwing his money around like there is no tomorrow.

Paneech:  Who was weirder?  Tex Cobb, Mike Tyson, or Oliver McCall?

Holmes:  (laughs) Tex Cobb would call me every day after we fought, I got sick of talking to him.  I liked him a lot as a fighter, and as a person, and feel that sometimes he was misunderstood.  Oliver McCall was someone who I never really got to know too well, and he had some well-publicized problems.  Tyson was not a bad guy, he just kicked my butt when I wasn’t ready for it.

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Paneech:  In many of your pre-fight and post-fight interviews, the word money came out of your mouth.  What kind of things are you into to generate the money today?

Holmes:  I’m tired.  I am 63  years old and I have never quit pursuing my goals.  I am heavily involved in real estate right now, but I am trying to get out of it altogether, I am just tired.  I make appearances, but I really want to spend more time fishing.  That is what I really enjoy doing with my spare time.

Paneech:  In your book, you really take some shots at Don King, but you also claim that he made you a lot of money.  On the record, in this interview, I want your feelings on Don King.

Holmes:  Don King ain’t a bad guy.  He cut my earnings, but I don’t hold any hard feelings toward him.  It’s like this…  I did a job, he took money, probably more than he should have.  If I was supposed to get $10 million, I was lucky to get $6.5 million.  It happens and you can’t do much, you decide whether to take it or leave it.  King was a promoter, and he was good at it.

Paneech:  There was an incident (see video below) leading up to your fight with Trevor Berbick where you came out of a limousine through the sunroof, ran down the hood of the vehicle, and jumped off, kicking Berbick in the face.  What caused that?

Holmes:  He was talking a lot of shit.  He accused me of being with his wife.  His wife was merely the friend of a friend and nothing ever happened between us.  He wanted a fight, so I gave him one.  Leading up to the fight he took every opportunity he could to badmouth Larry Holmes and I just blew up.  After I beat him in the ring, he tried to get me going again, saying he deserved another fight, wasn’t happening.

Paneech:  One of your most admirable qualities is that you tell it like it is.  What is your biggest regret in life?

Holmes:  I don’t know if I have any regrets, I have had a pretty successful life.  I have learned good, bad, and ugly.  I have learned that promoters can love you, hate you, then love you again.

Paneech:  Who hit you harder?  Ali or Tyson?

Holmes:  Neither.  Kenny Norton hit me so hard that it still hurts.  Now there was a case of two fighters who did not like each other.

Paneech:  You were once quoted as saying that Rocky Marciano couldn’t hold your jockstrap.

Holmes:  The media loves to take things like that out of context.  There was no harm meant when I said that, but plenty of harm came from it.

Paneech:  With that being said, who was more annoying to you, Howard Cosell or Larry Merchant?

Holmes:  I liked Cosell.  I don’t like Larry Merchant.  He thinks he knows everything about a sport that he was never in.  He walks around with papers and studies what he writes, he just pisses you off.  I cursed him out once, and I told him that he was a phony.

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One Word Answers With Larry Holmes

Favorite Meal of The Day:  Spaghetti, everyday — with sausage.

Favorite Sports Team:  Boston Celtics, and least favorite, the Miami Heat.  They think that their shit don’t stink.

Favorite Junk Food:  Watermelon.

Favorite Musician:  I sing in a band – so me.

Shows You Watch On TV:  NBA and The Price Is Right.

Biggest Phobia:  I’m afraid of my own shadow.

Typical Fast Food Order:  Chicken McNuggets with BBQ and Sweet and Sour sauces.

Worst Habit:  Drinking too much Budweiser when I get angry.

Giuriceo Has Surgery For Detached Retina, Future In Question

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Jake Giuriceo has had a rough 2012 in the ring.  In his last fight, on December 1, at Mountaineer, “The Bull” lost a split decision to Peter Oluoch.  The two fighters butted heads, and the result was not only a loss in the record book, but perhaps a loss of a career as Giuriceo suffered a detached retina.

According to Giuriceo’s manager, Joe Corvino, the junior welterweight had successful surgery on Monday.  Unfortunately, as in the case of Sugar Ray Leonard, a detached retina is a tricky obstacle to overcome and Giuriceo has to be patient and follow the doctor’s orders before he will be cleared for in-ring action.

Giuriceo lost a unanimous decision on March 31 to Michael Clark in Columbus.  That was his first loss as a professional fighter.  With this most recent setback, his record now sits at 16-2-1.

Jake Giuriceo Is Meant For More, Courtesy of Alex Vo Films And Vimeo

Giuriceo is a very strong and spiritual individual and if anyone could come back from such an injury, my money would be on him pulling it off.  I have covered several boxers in this area and nobody works as hard as Giuriceo in the gym.

The video clip above is very telling of what Giuriceo has endured so far in his life.  He is now a married and responsible adult who has overcome adversity in every form.  He still has the potential to be a fresh breath of air in a sport filled with pollution and corruption.

I will pass along more details as I get them.

YSU Lady Penguins Now 7-2 After 83-52 Thrashing Of Wilmington

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Youngstown State pushed their record to 7-2 on Sunday as they easily handled Division-III Wilmington College, 83-52.  The Penguins rode Monica Touvelle for 20, Brandi Brown for 17, and got 11 from Taylor Hvisdak (above), an undersized freshman from the undersized town of Lowellville.

In fact, about half of the paid attendance were Hvisdak’s relatives, Touvelle’s relatives, and friends from Lowellville.

“They support me every game and it was nice that they were in the stands today”, said Hvisdak.

If you were wondering, Wilmington is just to the Northeast of Cincinnati and if you are female, the first thing you receive at orientation is a basketball uniform.  The Quakers (6-3) had 24 players on their roster (19 dressed and played), and had won five in a row before dropping this one.

For YSU, it was a final tuneup heading into finals week and a meeting with #23 West Virginia next Sunday.

“It is a stressful week”, addd Hvisdak.  ”All the teams are going through the same thing with finals.  We will be practicing hard though and getting ready for West Virginia. It is a big game for us.”

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In the first half, Youngstown State raced out to an 11-2 lead as they hit three baskets from three-point range within the first three minutes.  The Penguins had the lead as high as 17 points in the half, but when the buzzer sounded to end the first twenty minutes, YSU was ahead 37-23.  Brandi Brown had 15 points and seven rebounds in the opening half.

Coach Bob Boldon took advantage of the padded advantage to use his bench throughout the contest.  Ashley Lawson, redshirted all of last season with a torn shoulder in two places, saw her first action as a Penguin.

In the second half, YSU kept Wilmington at arms length, maintaining between a 17 to 20 point advantage.  With 14:04 left in the game, Karen Flagg stole a pass and dribbled up the left side to find a hustling Hvisdak for a bucket that made it 47-31.  The layup accounted for Hvisdak’s first points as a Penguin, and she finished the game with eleven and emerged as a new weapon in Boldon’s growing arsenal.

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Brown finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.  Flagg finished with nine points and five rebounds, and is looking more and more like a younger Brandi Brown each game, with the ability to be a difference-maker on both sides of the court.  Monica Touvelle was firing up threes and ended up making 6 of 9 attempts and finished with 20 points in all, to lead all scorers.

Liz Hornberger did not dress for the Penguins.

“Liz sitting was precautionary, we were resting her, and I expect her to play every other game from here on out”, said Boldon.

Wilmington got 11 points from Wippel Makenzie.

To think the Penguins would be 7-2 at this point of the season might have been a stretch for the casual fan.  In reality, they should be 8-1, and if you asked the players, they should be 9-0.  Credit to Boldon, his players, and his staff for really turning the program, well beyond respectability.  The Horizon League will surely take notice.

“I am happy we are 7-2.  We have only played three games at home.  Since the first week, I feel that we have shown significant improvement as players and as a team”, said Boldon.

Slocums Present Bests Slocums Past, 93-50

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Jerry Slocum launched a good coaching career at Geneva.  He won championships and solidified a small legacy as mentor of the Golden Tornadoes in his nine years at the helm.  Now in his eighth season at Youngstown State University, Slocum is starting to prosper.  On Thursday, his past was mismatched by his present as the Penguins coasted to a 93-50 win.

During a timeout with just over two minutes left in the game, the YSU public address announcer declared that Slocum had just moved into second place on the all-time wins list at YSU.

“I honestly did not know about that”, said Slocum.

The Penguins wasted little time racing out to a double-digit lead before halftime.  Blake Allen and Bobby Hain had ten points each in the opening half to propel YSU to a commanding 47-24 lead.  More impressively, the Penguins bench logged 29 first half minutes.

“I thought it was great to see our bench get a lot of playing time tonight.  They work very hard in practice and Bobby [Hain] is probably the best passer on the team and showed he can play inside or down low.  Everyone played well and I liked the business-like approach and unselfish play”, echoed Slocum.

One of the weirder statistics of the game was the fact that YSU only committed one foul in the first half.  They also scored twelve points off of Geneva turnovers and 24 points in the paint.

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In the second half, Geneva felt the sting of the whole Penguin array.  There was a Kendrick Perry breakaway facial dunk.  There was a Shawn Amiker slam a couple of minutes later, and Damian Eargle swatting balls away like a Chinese ping-pong medalist.

On one hand, it was nice to see what the Penguins can do when firing on all cylinders, they are a very exciting basketball team when it all clicks.  On the other hand, it was a rewarding victory because the bench was able to get so many quality minutes.

At the 12:48 mark of the second, Ryan Weber had back-to-back breakaway steals for dunks to increase the Penguins lead to 74-32.  It was at that point of the game that Slocum pulled all of his starters to ensure good health and to keep the reserves active.

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In the blowout win, the Penguins got balanced scoring.  Hain led the way with 16, Allen added 15, Perry had 11, and Amiker knocked in ten.  Eargle had five blocks for the Guins who improved to 5-4 on the season.

Geneva has a great story on their team.  Brian Rice, from New Castle, PA, is a 43-year old freshman for the Golden Tornadoes.  Rice did 20 years of active military duty and has enrolled at Geneva.  He made the basketball team and played very hard, even when the outcome had been determined.

Slocum talked about what it was like playing his past.

“It [Geneva] is a place I love.  I was there for nine years.  It is a wonderful school and I am glad we could help them a little and have them here.”

The Penguins next game is on Saturday at the Covelli Centre in the first game to be played off campus since 1972.  YSU will welcome Hiram to town for the experimental contest.  After the Hiram game, YSU heads back to the road after finals and will have to stash their Christmas presents on the bus with games at South Florida on the 18th and Bethune-Cookman on the 21st.

YSU Women Nab One-Point Thriller At IUPUI

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The Youngstown State women’s basketball team battled through 37 turnovers by shooting 50 percent and held on to beat IUPUI 58-57 on Monday evening at The Jungle.

Brandi Brown scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and her 11th bucket of the night gave the Penguins their 58-57 lead with 1:27 left. That was the game’s final score, but there was plenty of drama in the final 87 seconds.

Kerah Nelson missed two free throws for IUPUI with 29 seconds left, but the Jaguars got the offensive rebound. Heidi Schlegel forced a tie-up to give YSU possession, but Schlegel missed the front end of a one-and-one with 13 seconds remaining. IUPUI called timeout to draw up a play for Nelson, but the fifth-year senior missed the go-ahead attempt in traffic.

Liz Hornberger scored all of her 11 points in the first half, including eight in just over two minutes. She played all 40 minutes. Schlegel added 11 points off the bench in 28 minutes. Brown was 11-for-16 from the field, and YSU made 23-of-46 from the field. The Penguins were an efficient 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

The Penguins are 6-1 for the first time since the 1997-98 season and improved to 4-1 on the road.

YSU out-rebounded the Jaguars 47-22, which helped offset the Penguins’ turnovers.  Still, the Jaguars attempted 17 more field goals and six more free throws than the Penguins. YSU was averaging 14.8 turnovers per game and had a high of 19 through the first six games.

Youngstown State will remain on the road to play at Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN.

YSU Women Now 5-1 After Impressive Performance

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Youngstown State University took advantage of a great defensive effort and got more than enough offense in a 76-43 win over Stony Brook.  The win gives the Lady Penguins five in the month of November, only the second time that has been done in school history.  It was also the largest margin of victory since the ’06-07 Penguins campaign.

In the first half, no Penguin had double digits in the points department, but YSU had six players with at least three points.  Brandi Brown had nine to lead the way.  Karen Flagg was a force on the boards with six first half rebounds, four were on offense.

Defensively, the Penguins forced Stony Brook into shooting less than 35% in the first half.  YSU was also able to convert ten turnovers into 13 points and the Penguins held a comfortable 33-24 lead.

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in the second half, the Lady Penguins exploded out of the gate with a 9-0 run to push the lead to 42-24.  Liz Hornberger hit her fourth three-point basket of the game to encapsulate the nine point outburst that covered just the first minute-and-a-half of the second stanza.

“Nobody practices shooting more than Liz and Brandi during our practice weeks”, said Boldon.  ”It is encouraging to see those two team leaders also step out and take charges.  They have been fantastic vocal leaders whether they go 5-10 or 0-10.”

The Penguins (5-1) pushed the lead to 22 with 11:02 left in the game when Heidi Schlegel hit a pair of free throws.  Brandi Brown made it a 62-36 lead with exactly eight minutes left when she went the length of the court and made a nice layup while contested by to Stony Brook defenders.

As good as YSU looked, Coach Boldon will surely find something that he feels the team needs to improve on, it is the approach he has to coaching.  One thing this YSU team will not be is complacent.

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The Penguins got 15 from Hornberger who finished the game 5-9 from three-point land.  Brown played solid, again, contributing 13 points, four rebounds, and being a force on both sides of the court. Karen Flagg (above) played like a mini Brandi Brown as she snared eight rebounds and had nine points.  Schlegel tacked on 14 more points for the potent Penguins offense.

“I’m angry that we are 5-1, we should be 6-0″, said Hornberger.  ”We are celebrating winning the rebounding edge 34-33, it doesn’t happen as much as we would like.”

Stony Brook’s leading scorer was Jessica Previlon who knocked in 13 points.  This team was not chopped liver.  They entered the game with three wins in their last four contests.

YSU heads to the road for games with IUPUI and Cincinnati next week.