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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Look Back: Eddie Leonard

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

Eddie Leonard was a good Baltimore-based fighter who fought exclusively in the Mid-Atlantic region during his career in the 1920s. His legacy, however, stems from his career after boxing.

Bernard Simon was born May 17, 1905 in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was raised. He became a professional boxer as a teenager. As with the great Benny Leonard, who purportedly took his surname from the famous minstrel actor, Eddie Leonard, so that his mother would not discover his new profession, it's likely that Simon took his new moniker from the same man for the same reason.

In fact, there were a few Eddie Leonards fighting during the 1920s, which makes it difficult to pin down this Eddie Leonard's actual record. BoxRec lists nine fights in New York on Leonard's record from 1921 to 1922. Another Eddie Leonard probably took part in those fights, because our Eddie Leonard would have been 15 years old for his first fight. BoxRec admits that the identity of the true Eddie Leonard is in question for these fights.

Leonard likely partook in his pro debut in August 1923 against Porky Flynn in Baltimore at the age of 18. A flyweight, he stood 5'4" and fought with his hair slicked and parted in the middle. He wore a Star of David with the letters "EL" inside it on his trunks over his left thigh

Managed by Max Weinman and trained by Heine Blaustein, Leonard built up his record against inexperienced opponents early in his career. He was 12-0-1 when he suffered his first loss to Battling Frye. In their many duels, Leonard went 3-2 against his fellow Baltimore native with four of their fights taking place in 1924.

Leonard's best wins came against a fellow Jewish Baltimorean, Marty Gold, who he defeated twice, once in 1926 and again in 1927. Leonard's biggest fight came against a Londoner and former title challenger, Ernie Jarvis. Jarvis won an eight-round decision in that one. In 1928, Leonard fought for the last time, a loss to Troy Ross.

Leonard's record was somewhere in the ballpark of 45-4-1 with 6 KOs and three newspaper victories, although Thomas Scharf asserts that "Leonard fought around 50 battles during his first two years after turning professional in 1923." Eddie was never stopped.

Comedian Dick Curtis claimed that Leonard was owned by the mob. After his boxing career, Eddie became a referee and judge. He was in the ring with the likes of Joe Louis, Archie Moore, and Willie Pep. Eddie also ran a few businesses. Kliph Nesteroff explains, "As the Mob's pugilists aged they were often granted their own nightclub, as casually as a retiring office worker receives a gold watch."

Eddie opened Eddie Leonard's Spa in Baltimore. This was no day spa; it was a strip club. Curtis described it as one of the worst strip joints in the world. He explained, "I opened at Eddie Leonard's Spa in Baltimore on Christmas Eve. This was in 1952. Can you imagine who would go to a strip joint on Christmas Eve in 1952?"

Curtis's material was clean, much to the chagrin of the angry audience. Leonard came over to Curtis during an interlude and said, "Hey, kid. Don't you know nothing dirty?" Curtis retorted, "No, I don't do that, Eddie. People tell me I look like a choir boy." Eddie answered, "You better learn something dirty or you're on your way out of here."

Curtis did, but the audience continued to viciously heckle him. Leonard came over to him during another interlude and said, "Hey, kid. Don't do those dirty jokes in here 'cause you look like a choir boy." Curtis later asked Eddie why he hadn't been fired in the wake of the patrons' reaction to his comedy. Leonard snapped, "Shut up. You got a tuxedo. You make my show look good."

Leonard also opened a line of carryout establishments, typically in poor neighborhoods, in the 1950s called Eddie Leonard's Sandwich Shop. A number of them are still open in the D.C.-Baltimore area, although they've all been bought out by immigrants from Asia. Of all the fights Leonard- who died in May of 1983- took part in, the sandwich shops have become his lasting legacy.

Debose, Brian. "Eddie Leonard's - 63 years and still going." Be About Design. February 8, 2012.
Nesteroff, Kliph. "An Interview with Dick Curtis - Part One." Classic Television Showbiz. September 24, 2011.
Nesteroff, Kliph. "The Comedians, The Mob and the American Supperclub." WMFU's Beware of the Blog. February 19, 2012.
Scharf, Thomas. Baltimore's Boxing Legacy, 1893-2003. 2003.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Carolina Duer vs. Mayra Alejandra Gomez

July 26, 2013
Club Deportivo San Vicente
Buenos Aires, Argentina
WBO bantamweight championship

Duer: white top, black skirt
Gomez: blue top, blue trunks

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Duer Wins Vacant World Title

Carolina Raquel Duer won the vacant WBO batamweight title by way of unanimous decision over her co-nationalist, Mayra Alejandra Gomez, at Club Deportivo San Vicente in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Duer, who wore a black skirt with a white top, dictated the action. Depending on her mood, she alternated between boxing on the outside and charging at Gomez, who wore a blue top and blue trunks with slits. Duer's hands were faster and her punches were hard enough to grab Gomez's attention from the outset of the fight.

Gomez chose a curious strategy. She wanted to pressure Duer, but as soon as Duer stopped boxing and charged at Gomez, Mayra fled to the other side of the ring. The result was Gomez countered very rarely and her pressure was ineffective. Gomez bizarrely taunted Duer virtually every time she ran.

Gomez was at her best when Duer stood in front of her and didn't throw, which didn't happen often. Gomez connected with a few eye catching shots, such as a right at the end of the fourth and a hard right towards the end of the ninth. But Duer's defense was as good as it's been in recent years. Her running charges thwarted Gomez's offense, she was effective to the body, and threw a ton of combinations.

With Duer firmly in charge, Gomez became frustrated in the seventh round. In the eighth, Gomez became combative with referee Jorge Basili. She accused Duer of hitting low and rabbit punching, but those accusations were a defense mechanism since things were not going Gomez's way. To her credit, Gomez fought back and had her best round in the ninth. But by the tenth, Duer was back on the attack.

Two judges, Roberto Rilo and Jorge Millicay, scored the bout 96-94 and a third judge, Héctor Miguel, scored it 98-92. Miguel's score was a far more accurate depiction of the bout.

This is the second weight division in which Duer has won the world championship. She is now 15-3-1 with 5 KOs. Gomez falls to 13-3 with 4 KOs. This was Duer's second attempt at the title. Two months ago, Duer drew with Sabrina Maribel Perez for the same vacant title.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Foreman Shuts Out Davis

Yuri Foreman defeated Jamaal Davis by way of unanimous decision at Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York last night. All three judges scored the bout 80-72. Foreman moves his record to 31-2 with 8 KOs, while Davis falls to 14-10-1 with 6 KOs.

Foreman arrived at Roseland at 7:30 in the evening; his fight didn't begin until 10:30. During the hours of waiting in the dressing room, Foreman tried to stay positive. His trainer and manager exchanged funny stories as Foreman kept telling himself, "Stick to the plan. I've done the hard work. It's just another day at the office." He also calmed himself spiritually by reading passages from the Book of Psalms.

Foreman's routine in the dressing room before his fight tends to be the same whether he's facing an opponent he's expected to defeat, as was the case with Davis, or a bout for the championship against Miguel Cotto in Yankee Stadium. He feels just as much pressure against a fighter of the caliber of Jamaal Davis because Yuri has "everything to lose" as a decided favorite. The only difference is the amount of people hanging around the dressing room, which depends on the prestige of his opponent.

Foreman didn't know what to expect from Davis coming into the bout because he didn't have a lot of information about the Philadelphia native. Foreman said his strategy was to box and use lateral movement. Yuri felt he was more aggressive than in recent fights, he went to the body more, and mixed up his punches well. When Foreman had Davis on the ropes, he didn't preferred to allow Davis off the hook rather than press his advantage.

Foreman was proudest that he was able to implement what he and his trainer had worked on in the gym in the fight against Davis. Foreman was fluid throughout the bout while Davis was hesitant.

The former world champion described Davis as "a rugged fighter." He felt Davis was "good at landing combinations when he doesn't have to look for the opponent." Davis attempted to throw combos in the clinches against Foreman, something Yuri did his best to avoid. But after applying early pressure int he first round, Davis couldn't find Foreman because of the latter's movement and, as a result, was reluctant to throw punches.

In the fifth round, Davis was cut over his eye due to a clash of heads. Foreman began to target the eye with left hooks. Yuri sensed that Davis became more intense and applied more pressure in the aftermath of the cut. Foreman simply tried to stay in control in the face of Davis's perceived increase in aggressiveness.

Matt Richardson of FightNews.com was one of a smattering of Foreman critics following the fight. He characterized the bout as "a fairly dull fight" and a "snoozer." Richardson claimed a woman fell asleep in the front row during the contest and believes Yuri "has decent boxing skills but elects to run far more than punch, resulting in less than aesthetically pleasing performances."

To the general criticism that Foreman is a boring fighter, Yuri explained, "I like boxing. I like to use my brain [in the ring] and not use my brain as a punching bag. I like to outsmart my opponents." He added that if people don't appreciate that style, they don't have to watch. "They can turn the channel," he remarked.

One day after the fight, Foreman doesn't feel any soreness, but he is tired. "My fight was late last night and I had to wake up early for my kids. They don't care that I won last night. They won't let me sleep in." When asked if he told his eldest son Lev about the his victory, Yuri said that some friends had made a video of the bout for him and he showed it to his son. Lev then began throwing punches, but likely didn't understand that it was his father fighting and winning on the tape.

Foreman said his trainer believes he'll fight one more eight rounder and then move up to a ten round fight. For now, Foreman is taking a week off and going on vacation with his family. He'll be back in the gym in a week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Foreman-Davis Weigh-In

Yuri Foreman (30-2, 8 KOs) and Jamaal Davis (14-9-1, 6 KOs) weighed in ahead of their clash tomorrow. The bout is scheduled for 8 rounds and will be held at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York.

Foreman weighed in at 154 pounds, winking as he left the scale. Davis was 155 pounds. The two men shook hands after the staredown and parted ways.

Davis weighs in at 1:59 of the video. Foreman comes in at 2:13. The staredown comes at 2:30.

Here is an interview Foreman gave to The Jewish Boxing Blog last week.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wohlman "Felt Amazing" in Last Fight

Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman grabbed his first win in a year on July 13 when he defeated Omar Avelar by way of unanimous decision. Wohlman advanced his record to 5-1-1 with one KO with the victory.

Wohlman hadn't fought since his first career defeat lat November. In an interview with The Jewish Boxing Blog, Wohlman described being back int he ring, saying it "felt amazing... I had a blast in the ring."

When asked if he was nervous, Wohlman admitted, "I wasn't concerned with the opponent; I was concerned with myself." He explained that while in the dressing room, "The thoughts that were going through my head was the real fight."

Zac also noted that he has made certain lifestyle changes since the loss and has developed a new confidence as a result.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Melson-Thompson Rematch Set

Junior middleweight Boyd Melson is scheduled to face Jason Thompson on August 14 at BB King Blues Club in New York, New York. The two fought to a controversial draw last October in the first ever bout at Brooklyn's Barclays Center last October.

In the first fight, Melson (now 11-1-1, 4 KOs) was nailed by a Thompson (now 5-6-3, 4 KOs) right and fell to the canvas in the first round. Without the flash knockdown, Melson would have won the round. From that point forward, Melson seemed to carry every round and he even knocked Thompson down in the third.

But each of the three judges scored the bout a 56-56 draw. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the bout 58-54 for Melson. At the time, Melson told The JBB that he was "highly frustrated with the decision."

In a press release for the rematch, Melson commented, "Regardless of how I feel I performed or what I and others believe the outcome of the fight should have been, it was ruled a draw." Melson has shown respect for Thompson's ability and for the quality of opposition he's faced, but Melson asserts, "On August 14th, I will be special. I will look different in the ring."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lefty Brooks to Face Undefeated Prospect Karl Dargan

Lightweight Michael "Lefty" Brooks is scheduled to face his toughest opponent to date, undefeated prospect Karl "Dynamite" Dargan. The battle is scheduled to take place on August 3 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on the undercard of card televised by NBC Sports Network that includes Tomasz Adamek and Eddie Chambers in separate bouts.

Dargan (13-0, 7 KOs), who is from Philadelphia, must be considered the favorite. A decorated amateur, Dargan has boxed in three more fights for a total of 13 more rounds than has Brooks. The great trainer, Nazim Richardson, is in Dargan's corner. Featuring superior hand speed and fleetness of foot, Dargan is also three inches taller than Brooks.

But Dargan's game does feature a few flaws. Against Ramesis Gil in February, Dargan suffered a flash knockdown almost immediately after the opening bell rang. Dargan often found himself square in that bout and was susceptible to body shots.

Brooks (9-0-1, 2 KOs) is a proficient body puncher. Though he can box, Brooks prefers to come forward at his opponents. Lefty, who is three years younger than Dargan, is coming off of an injury suffered in May. Dargan has faced the slightly tougher competition of late.

For Brooks to pull off the upset, he'll need to focus on Dargan's body. Once his opponent brings his hands down, Brooks may be able to hurt Dargan with a right hook and left cross when Karl squares up. Michael will need to keep his hands active and be the aggressor. Dargan's key to success will involve negating Lefty's body attack with movement and using his faster hands to land the harder punches during exchanges.

Both men signify each other's toughest test to date. This fight is scheduled for six rounds.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yuri Foreman on Jewish Boxing

In an interview with The Jewish Boxing Blog, former world champion Yuri Foreman discussed why his favorite Jewish boxer of all time is Barney Ross and what being a Jewish boxer means to him.

Foreman explained that Ross is his favorite Jewish boxer because of the latter's background. Ross, born in New York, grew up in Chicago as the son of immigrants. Foreman admired Ross's character. A three-division world champion, Ross fought in World War II. Foreman sees similarities between himself and the late legend.

Yuri declared that being Jewish has not hindered his boxing career at all. He noted that big fights are usually on Saturday night and promoters tend to be respectful of Foreman's observance of Shabbat. His fights are scheduled for after sundown when they take place on a Saturday night. Foreman believes that his observance of Shabbat is in fact an advantage. It allows him to have a day of rest before his fight.

Foreman believes that being a Jewish boxer, he is in an important position to inspire Jewish kids. he contends, "Maybe they see me and say they can be whatever they want to be."

Note: Yuri Foreman was asked for his favorite Jewish boxer and non-Jewish boxer for The Jewish Boxing Blog Presents: The Fights. The favorites of eight Jewish boxers are featured in the book along with any explanations they provided.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Groenteman to Return on August 31

Junior welterweight Barry Groenteman is scheduled to return to the ring on August 31 in Pumerand, Netherlands. This will be Barry's first fight since a January victory over Samir Boukrara. In April, he had to pull out of a fight due to injury for the first time in his career.

The battle in August is preparation for Groenteman's defense of the Dutch junior welterweight title. Barry is scheduled to face Innocent Anyanwu at Theater Carré in Amsterdam, Netherlands with the belt at stake.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Yuri Foreman's Ready to Continue His Comeback

Junior middleweight Yuri Foreman is scheduled to face Jamaal Davis on July 24 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York. In a phone interview with The Jewish Boxing Blog- as dishes clanged in the background- Foreman (30-2, 8 KOs) said of Davis (14-9-1, 6 KOs), "He's been around, has decent speed, good combos, and knows how to box." Foreman said training was going well, but was hard. He's working on developing his skills and is not worried about his opponent's style, although he does have a Plan B if something goes wrong.

Foreman is coming off of a six-round unanimous decision victory over Gundrick King in April. For that fight, Yuri said he started boxing early to feel out his opponent. He labeled King a "strong guy with a tight defense" and noted that King threw dangerous counters. King's southpaw stance was not an issue for Foreman who had won the world championship against a southpaw, Daniel Santos, in 2009. In the sixth round against King, Foreman pressed the action, but the knockout didn't come.

The King fight was his second comeback victory following a two-year layoff. When asked why he lost motivation after reaching the high point of his career following his courageous performance against Miguel Cotto, Foreman enumerated a few reasons. There were a few changes including the absence of his familiar trainer, Joe Grier. He felt his new training camp did not have the same energy as Grier's normally did.

As a result, Foreman struggled to recapture the love of boxing he once had. He tried to convince himself that his lack of desire would fade, but it didn't. He admitted he needed to be honest with himself and he hadn't been. Foreman attempted to explain, "I was feeling- what's the word?" His wife then called out from across the room, "Burnout."

Foreman found the motivation to return to the sport because he "missed the action. I was going to the gym regularly and became energized again." Yuri continued, "I was doing roadwork and imagining my next fight, but I didn't have one." He realized his love for the sport had returned.

When asked about the perception within the media that Foreman has "no power" and is "feather-fisted," Yuri joked, "It doesn't bother me. Then my opponent shouldn't be afraid of [my] punches." But he then added, "I'm not going to make any predictions, but that's going to change."

His next bout against Davis is scheduled for eight rounds. Yuri hasn't fought as many rounds since his loss to Cotto in June of 2010, but Foreman claimed the distance wouldn't be an issue, because sparring has prepared him to go eight rounds.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wohlman Wins Comeback Fight

Zachary Wohlman earned his first win in a little over a year with his unanimous decision victory over Omar Avelar at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California last night. Wohlman outboxed Avelar on his way to winning with three scores of 40-36.

This win against an over-matched opponent is just the first step for Zachary towards recapturing the status he held before last November's loss. Wohlman advances his career mark to 5-1-1 with one KO. Avelar falls to 2-8 with one KO.

Before the fight, Wohlman was featured in an article in The Hundreds.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wohlman to Face Avelar

Zachary Wohlman's opponent for his comeback fight is scheduled to be Omar Avelar at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California. The bout is scheduled to take place tomorrow and is slated for four rounds.

Wohlman (4-1-1, 1 KO) suffered his lone career defeat in his last fight, a fourth round stoppage at the hands of Alonzo Loeza. That contest took place last November. So far in 2013, Wohlman has had two fights cancelled.

Avelar (2-7, 1 KO), a 23-year-old, is from the Lummi Reservation in Washington. He's lost his last four fights, all stoppages, including one in May and is a couple of inches shorter than Wohlman. Against Javier Garcia in March, Avelar often rushed in off balance, leaving his head exposed while he wildly threw wide punches. He was stopped in the second round of that bout.

Avelar is also an MMA fighter. In that sport, he's had more success than he's had in boxing, but he's lost two  fights in 2013, both first round submissions. His last bout was just three weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chilemba Wins Medal

Light heavyweight Isaac Chilemba was awarded a medal by the president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, at the country's 49th anniversary celebration last weekend. Chilemba (20-2-2, 9 KOs) is coming off of two controversial matches with Tony Bellew this past spring.

In the estimation of many pundits, including The Jewish Boxing Blog, Chilemba deserved victory in both fights, but the two contests were admittedly hard to judge. Bellew is now in line to face the recognized light heavyweight champion of the world, Adonis Stevenson.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Foreman to Return July 24

For his third fight since he began his comeback, Yuri Foreman is scheduled for another tuneup bout. This one will be held on July 24 at Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York. The proposed opponent is Jamaal Davis.

In his last bout, Foreman (30-2, 8 KOs) looked smooth and boxed expertly against his overmatched opponent, Gundrick King, in April. Davis (14-9-1, 6 KOs), who is the same age as Foreman and is slightly shorter, lost a unanimous decision to Patrick Majewski in February.

Davis's best win came last June against hard-punching journeyman Doel Carrasquillo. In that fight, Davis outworked his man with a crisp jab. But it would be difficult to find two fighters as different as Carrasquillo and Yuri Foreman. While Carrasquillo eats punches round after round hoping to land one big KO blow, Foreman is a skilled boxer who relies on constant movement to outpoint his opponents.

According to the nascent site BoxingStat.co, Foreman possesses more power and is able to take a punch better than can Davis. Foreman's first two comeback fights were both scheduled for six rounds; this one is slated for eight.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Jewish Boxing Blog Presents: The Fights

The Jewish Boxing Blog is proud to present its first book: The Fights. This is a recap of choice fights covered in The Jewish Boxing Blog. Each fight write-up contains new background and follow-ups not available before. In addition to the coverage of the fights, the book is loaded with special features- including the fighters favorite Jewish and non-Jewish boxers, a look at the media's treatment of Yuri Foreman, and more.

The price of The Fights is $0.99 and is currently available for Kindle. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reading app on your computer, tablet or smart phone.