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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Look Back: Jackie Fields

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will present monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

Jackie Fields fought his way into boxing lore by winning the welterweight championship of the world twice and by grabbing Olympic gold in the featherweight division. Fields was renowned for his toughness and his superior boxing ability. He is widely considered one of the greatest Jewish welterweights of all time.

He was born Jacob Finkelstein on February 9, 1908. In the Maxwell Street ghetto in Chicago, Illinois, where he grew up, he was known as Yonkel, Yonk for short. His father was a butcher from Russia. Finkelstein took the name Fields from Marshall Field's department store when he was advised that Finkelstein wasn't a tough enough name for a boxer. The Maxwell Street ghetto was a gritty place where kids had to fight to survive. In later years, Fields recalled getting into fights with kids who rained anti-Semitic slurs upon him.

Sam Langford and Jack Blackburn taught him to box. Jackie's hero was Benny Leonard. When he was 13, the family moved to Los Angeles, where his father opened an ultimately unsuccessful restaurant. But Jackie continued to dream of being a boxer. Fields took his love of fighting and won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris when he was just 16 years old. He turned pro early the next year. On November 12, 1925, he fought a young Jimmy McLarnin. Both men would eventually win the welterweight championship. But on that night in Los Angeles, McLarnin knocked Fields to the floor four times in securing a second round KO.

Fields was a quick, skilled boxer, who lacked heavy hands. He taught Barney Ross, who was younger and also from the Maxwell Street ghetto, to box. Obviously, Fields was a good teacher, but also a hell of a fighter himself. The McLarnin fight would be the last time he was ever KOed. He strung together a number of wins in a row, including a decision victory over the reincarnation of King Tut. His losses were against the cream of the crop. Kid Kaplan beat him in 1927 and Sammy Mandel did so a year later.

After another winning streak, Fields won a version of the welterweight crown when he defeated Young Jack Thompson on March 25, 1929. In a unification bout, Fields became the undisputed champion after beating Joe Dundee. Fields was controlling the contest against Dundee when, in the second round, after being knocked down, Dundee crawled over to Fields and wailed away at his baby-maker. Dundee was DQed and Fields became the champion despite falling unconscious.

In a non-title bout, Fields fought and lost to Young Corbett III in 1930 by decision. After the bout, Fields was astonished when referee Jim Griffin raised Corbett's hand instead of his own. He figured the referee must have made a mistake. Two and a half months later, in May, Young Jack Thompson out-pointed Fields to take away his title.

Fields was a colorful character. He was friendly with Al Capone though he claimed the two never did business together. Fields was adept at squandering away his boxing paydays. He also lost sight in his right eye towards the end of his career, but continued fighting. He figured that, since he was an orthodox fighter, he only needed his left eye in order to see the opponent's punches coming. He passed the doctors' eye tests by memorizing the order of the letters on the eye chart.

On January 28, 1932, the 5'8" Fields beat southpaw Lou Brouillard by decision to win back his welterweight title. He lost it to Young Corbett III on points a little over a year later. Fields fought one more time, a win over Young Peter Jackson, which put him in line for a shot at the middleweight crown. But his mother died and with only one good eye, Fields figured it was time to hang it up at the age of 25. He finishes with a record of 72-9-2 with 31 KOs and 2 newspaper decision victories, according to BoxRec.com.

Fields tried his hand at a variety of different fields after boxing, including being a bookie and a film editor for MGM. By the 1970s, he was greeter at a Las Vegas casino. At that point, living with his second wife and her children, he was content. Fields died on June 3, 1987 in Los Angeles as a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Berkow, Ira. Maxwell Street: Survival in a Bazaar. 1977.
Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers Hall of Fame. 1988.
Century, Douglas. Barney Ross. 2006.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Schedule Update

It is possible that Alexander Frenkel (23-0, 18 KOs) could face veteran Silvio Branco (61-10-2, 37 KOs) according to Affaritaliani.it. Branco has been a professional boxer nearly as long as Frenkel has been alive. Frenkel scored an eye-opening seventh round knockout of Enzo Maccarinelli last September to win the European cruiserweight title.

Junior middleweight Boyd Melson (2-0) is penciled in to fight in the cozy Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York on May 19 in a four round bout. His opponent has yet to be determined.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Salita Wins Third Straight

Dmitriy Salita defeated Ronnie Warrior Jr. by unanimous decision in an eight round bout at the Oceana in Brooklyn, New York last night. Salita utilized his superior jab against Oklahoma resident, despite being the shorter man. The judges saw the fight 80-72, 80-72, and 79-73.

Salita, who won his third fight in the past eight months, advanced his record to 33-1-1 with 17 knockouts. The southpaw Warrior fell to 13-5-1 with four KOs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Salita, Warrior Weigh In

Both Dmitriy Salita and Ronnie Warrior Jr. weighed in over the welterweight limit for their bout later tonight at the Oceana Ballroom in Brooklyn, New York. Salita (32-1-1, 17 KOs) weighed in at 149 pounds while Warrior (13-4-1, 4 KOs) came in at 148. The fight is scheduled for eight rounds.

The veteran Salita, who is expected to beat the journeyman Warrior, is also promoting the card. The event is dedicated to Salita's late mentor, Jimmy O'Pharrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dmitriy Salita vs. James Wayka

December 16, 2010
New York, New York
Roseland Ballroom

Salita: black and white trunks
Wayka: red trunks

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brainstorming about Salita's Future Opponents

Whenever Dmitriy Salita's name is mentioned in a boxing website's forum or a comment section, it's never good. Critics consider him a bum. They site his first round loss to Amir Khan and the lack of quality wins on his resume. They resent his popularity when compared to his accomplishments in the ring.

It is fair to criticize Salita for going in soft. Khan is realistically the only good fighter Salita has faced and Dmitriy admittedly didn't perform well. That criticism of Salita is fair for two reasons. The first is Salita's talent. Sure, he doesn't have Khan's hand speed, but few do. Salita is a tremendously skilled guy; he's a smart boxer with decent power. It's a shame he hasn't put that talent to the test more often.

Secondly, Salita could be content to serve as a regional attraction. He would make money and people happy. But he's vocal about wanting more. He wants to be a world champion. He has the talent to do it. But winning a title requires one to tough foes time and again. At this point, Salita needs to keep taking a step up with each successive fight .

Here are a few names, without knowing their contractual situation or their willingness to fight Salita, that would mark the best win of Salita's career and help him towards becoming a better fighter.

Cosme Rivera (32-14-2, 23 KOs) - Beating Rivera is like a rite of passage for quality welterweights. He is the consummate stepping stone.

Mike Arnaoutis (22-7-2, 10 KOs) - A name guy who has lost 4 straight, all to quality foes.

Jose Miguel Cotto (34-2-1, 24 KOs) - A short, blown up lightweight. But he gave Saul Alvarez a good fight at junior middle. He faces Malignaggi tonight.

Lanardo Tyner (24-4-2, 15 KOs) - A short guy, whose best win is against Antwone Smith, a good fighter. Tyner tends to lose at that level though. He is 4-4-2 in his last 10 fights.

Lovemore N'dou (48-12-2, 31 KOs) - This 39 year old is 3-4-1 in his last 8 fights, but only loses to talented guys.

Steve Forbes (35-9, 11 KOs) - A veteran who always comes to fight. Would be a good test for Salita, but Forbes is likely too short and not powerful enough to beat him. Two Pound's 3-6 in his last 9.

Steve Chambers (23-1-1, 6 KOs) - Young, untested guy from Philly with limited power. Just beat the formerly undefeated Bayan Jargal, who still holds the title of best current nickname (the Mongolian Mongoose!), by split decision.

Terrance Cauthen (36-7, 9 KOs) - This slick southpaw veteran has beaten some good fighters. But Salita won't have to worry about his power. Cauthen's 4-4 in his last 8, all losses to quality guys.

Freddie Hernandez (29-2, 20 KOs) - Knocked out Mike Anchondo, who Salita was scheduled to fight, but was knocked out in the first round against world champion Andre Berto.

Demetrius Hopkins (30-2-1, 11 KOs) - Tested veteran who looked flat in his last fight.

Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3, 16 KOs) - Hardnose veteran, who would show if Salita has championship mettle. He's lost his last 3 decisions.

Shamone Alvarez (21-4, 12 KOs) - Would mark another tough test for Salita. He's 1-3 in his last 4. Has a date for June.

Most of the men above have lost to someone else on this list. They're a couple steps below championship level, but fighting these guys would make Salita better and give him the best win of career to this point. On Wednesday, Salita is scheduled to face Ronnie Warrior Jr. (13-4-1, 4 KOs), who, at least on paper, is considerably below Salita's level.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Huck-Nakash, Questionable Decision?

Ran Nakash challenged Marco Huck for the latter's WBO cruiserweight belt this past Saturday in Halle, Germany. Nakash lost by unanimous decision. Two American judges, Robert Hoyle and Roark Young, scored the bout 118-110 (ten rounds to two) in favor of Huck. The Swedish judge, Mikael Hook, scored the contest 116-112.

The 116-112 mark is a hometown score- Huck fights out of Germany- but it is not egregiously out of line with what happened in the fight. The two 118-110 scores are, to try and put it tactfully, bizarre. Tim Starks of The Queensberry Rules, saw the bout as a draw. Starks writes, "I scored Huck's fight with Ran Nakash a draw, and some had Nakash winning. Two judges scored it 118-110 for Huck, which smacks of extreme German bias... I gave Nakash six of the first seven rounds but no others; Huck eventually started working and Nakash slowed down."

Fans have written in also questioning the decision. They agree with Starks's take on the fight, arguing for a draw. It would be difficult to award Huck more than the fifth round out of the first seven. But to grant him five of the first seven, as two judges did, is not an accurate depiction of the fight that took place last Saturday. Nakash constantly came forward and was busy during the first seven rounds. He rocked Huck on a few occasions. Meanwhile, Huck was content to cover up. Huck appeared to win each of the final five rounds by utilizing his uppercut as Nakash became tired.

The judges' scores tarnished an otherwise competitive and fairly entertaining fight. Nakash fell to 25-1 with 18 KOs, while Huck rose to 32-1 with 23 KOs.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Marco Huck vs. Ran Nakash

April 2, 2011
Halle, Germany
Gerry Weber Stadium
WBO cruiserweight championship

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

Huck: gold trunks, black trim
Nakash: black trunks, yellow trim

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Huck Gets Decision Against Nakash

Marco Huck kept his WBO cruiserweight belt by way of unanimous decision today at Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle, Germany. Ran Nakash, the fourth Jewish boxer to fight for a world championship in the past year and a half, gave a good account of himself, but did not have the stamina to follow through.

Nakash (25-1, 18 KOs) constantly bolted forward throughout much of the fight. He managed to push Huck back into the ropes time and again. Nakash also worked the body. He landed a stunning overhand right in the fourth round. Nakash had thrown more, landed more, and connected on a higher percentage of his punches through the fourth round.

The fight turned in the fifth round. Huck (32-1, 23 KOs) found a flaw in Nakash's attack. As the Israeli challenger charged forward, he also leaned that way. Huck consistently capitalized by throwing uppercuts. That fifth round, Huck found his rhythm with that punch. He even worked off it as if it were a jab.

Nakash still managed to push Huck back to the ropes, but failed to make Huck pay while the champ was pinned. A welt grew under Nakash's left eye from the middle rounds on as he continued to eat uppercuts. It was nearly closed by the end of the bout. Nakash threw a left hook, straight right combination in the sixth that dramatically forced Huck backwards, but that was essentially the last serious bit of joy Nakash would find in the fight.

Huck took the eighth round easily. Nakash became exhausted in the ninth, but pushed forward. In the 12th, Huck fired a combination attempting to end the fight, but Nakash remained in front of him and ended the fight on his feet. The two American judges gave Huck the bout with 118-110 scores. The Swedish judge saw it as 116-112, probably a truer mark of what went on in the fight.

Nakash, who took the title shot on short notice and had never been more than ten rounds in a fight, displayed enormous heart in perpetually taking the fight to the taller, more accomplished champion. He said he was disappointed not to win and that Huck was a strong guy, though not a great boxer. When complimented on his titanium chin for eating all of those powerful uppercuts, Nakash simply smiled and indicated that he felt good.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weights for Huck-Nakash

For their contest tomorrow at Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle, Germany for the WBO cruiserweight title, both Marco Huck and Ran Nakash weighed in under the 200-pound limit. The champion, Huck (31-1, 23 KOs), came in at 198.4 pounds, while Nakash (25-0, 18 KOs) weighed 199.7 lbs.