|Ode to the Tomato Cans of Boxing
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr., Doghouse Boxing (Jan 7, 2015)
Image by icheehuahua, Doghouse Boxing Inc.
|Undefeated, unblemished, unbeaten, or fighters with such perfect records will not be discussed in this article. Nor will world title holders. For the ones in this article never reached the pinnacle of boxing, never strapped on a world belt, or will go down in history as one of the greats. Instead of being called champ, these fighters were called chumps, bums, the opponent, journeyman, club fighters, stepping stones, and record builders…tomato cans.
There is a lot of emphasis on a clean record, a young prospect with his victories intact usually bring in more of a buzz. We have heard time and time again, “somebody’s 0 must go!” But for every "W" that is recorded for one fighter, a big ol' "L" is stamped on the other.
As I recently read from a fellow Doghouse writer, the fighters with the losing records are the backbone of boxing. And I have to agree. It takes the club fighters, the short notice travelers willing to march into enemy territory and take on the hometown heroes, to make the fight game happen.
So, here are just a few of the ones who have the losing records, this one is for the tomato cans.
Louis Monaco 16-39-5 (8 KO’s) 15 KO Losses
What do Lamon Brewster, Vitali Klitschko, Michael Grant, Trevor Berbick and Butterbean have in common? They all defeated this guy.
I remember seeing Monaco on Tuesday Night Fights, I was not in the room when they announced his record, but when I seen this guy, I thought to myself, “he looks pretty damn tough.” Not too much longer, he was out for the count. I always liked this guy though, a true journeyman. He has fought pretty much everybody on the planet. He does have victories over Peter McNeeley, Michael Dokes and Kevin McBride. He also put to sleep Buster Douglas just a split second after the bell rang.
Marcus Rhode 35-50-2 (29 KO’s) 43 KO Losses
Rhode looked like a promising prospect when he began his career the summer of ’95. He had thirteen consecutive wins before tasting his first defeat. He was also the last man to fight the former WBO title holder Tommy Morrison, after Morrison was diagnosed with the HIV virus. Before Morrison’s comeback that is. Rhode told me he never worried about contracting the virus. Like Monaco, Marcus’s resume has some pretty significant names on his record. Vitali Klitsckho, Lamon Brewster, Shannon Briggs, Riddick Bowe, Andrew Golota and so on. I was privileged to fight on the same card as Rhode, who went two rounds with Lou Savarese. Although Lou took Marcus out in two rounds, a certain well known fight manager told me, “Lou is making Marcus Rhode look like f*cking Mike Tyson!” Lou won, but he was beat up.
Here is a funny quote from an interview I conducted with Rhode back in ’05. “A funny story, you know Tommy Morrison beat me pretty quick, well this one time I was at a country bar in Missouri and this guy came up and he said I am going to call you ninety-eight, and the whole night he called me ninety-eight. I couldn’t figure it out why he was calling me that so finally at the end of the night I asked him, he said I call you ninety-eight because you only lasted ninety-eight seconds with Tommy Morrison and he started laughing. So I told him I was going to call him three hundred and sixty-five and he asked why I was calling him that, and I told him because that is how many days you are going to have to work to make as much money as I did in those ninety-eight seconds, and he just shut up”
Simmie Black 35-164-4 (8 KO’s) 97 KO Losses
Also known as, Spider Black and Fred Johnson, the little guy from Arkansas should have known from his ’71 debut, his career was not going to take off. He fought ten times in ’72, nineteen times in ’77, winning two of those bouts. The bad thing about this cat, he lost to other tomato cans. Nobody of substance was truly on his record, except for Sean O’Grady. It is reported that Black admitted to taking a dive against O’Grady in ’75, and fought him under other aliases on nearly a handful of other occasions.
Not only is a loser in the ring, but a loser in life, Black a registered sex offender for aggravated sexual battery offense in 1996.
James Eric Crumble 0-31 1 NC 31 KO Losses
Not one victory during a thirteen year career for this fighter. Crumble competed in six different weight classes, known opponents are Angel Manfredy, Antwun Echols and Ralph Jones. Other than that, there is little to look up about the man. Just interesting to me.
Douglas Robertson 3-25-2 (0KO’s) 10 KO Losses
The slick southpaw hailing from Longview, TX, people know him in the area as, Preacher Man. Former Tough Man contestant turned boxer. I remember Doug being brought in as the opponent for his first bout, he was not going to make much off the fight, but, when his opponent’s people saw Robertson and how small he was against their guy, they gave him a little bit more green for the beating he was supposed to be taking. Four rounds later he defeated their guy via unanimous decision.
The thing about Robertson is, he actually should have won a few more fights. He was on the bad end of the judging a few times. But what I respected about him, was that when he fought to a draw against Andrew Greeley, he knew he should have lost the bout and admitted it. He fought the then young undefeated prospect Aaron Williams, Teke Oruh, Travis Walker two times, and Kirk Johnson. He has not seen any ring action since 2010, but now aside from working a full time job, he helps others get in shape with his boxing fitness classes.
Reggie Strickland 66-276-17 (14KO’s) 25 KO Losses
I said we would not discuss champions in this article, but when it comes to the biggest losers in boxing, the one to be crowned that title has to be Reggie Strickland. I mean what can you say about this guy? He has more fights than any active fighter, he fought and lost to a slew of undefeated up and coming fighters, and all though he has nearly three-hundred losses, he has only been stopped twenty-five times.
I lied; he did earn himself a title, the vacant Global Boxing Federation World Super Middleweight title, when he defeated 1-15 Conley Person. Strickland has fought seven fighters who were current or former champions, which include losses to, Tavoris Cloud, Cory Spinks and Randell Bailey. And we have to give a shout out to Reggie’s brother, Jerry, who compiled a 13-123 with seventy-nine knock out losses.
And last but not least, in closing, I have to give kudos to a tomato can I knew very well ,or at least for 1:13 seconds.
Ron Collins 2-19 (2 KO’s) 19 KO Losses
Ron was a boxing bag for a many club fighters in the Arkansas area. One promoter specifically used him to build the records of his stable of fighters. He went 0-12 before earning his first, out of two victories. He never made it out of the second round; twelve times he was stopped in the opening round.
I met Collins in February of 2006. We faced off in a four rounder at the Pope County Fairgrounds in Russellville, Ark. I will say it, it was a mismatch. It looked like a bowling ball fighting a stick. He was a cruiserweight while I was a super heavyweight. The funniest thing about the whole fight, the ring was raggedy, I slipped and fell, as I began to get up, he pushed me from the back, back down to the canvas. My lovely wife was taking photos, she got two good photos, the best one was me on my hands and knees getting up, as Collins stood over me like Ali did Liston. The referee asked us if we wanted to wrestle or box. The bout lasted for 1:13, I clobbered him with the ugliest right hand you have ever seen, and he wanted no more.
So I have a special place in my heart for the lack of talent in the fight world. The ones who are willing to go toe to toe in a lose/lose situation for a small amount of money, hoping to get a win in hopes of gaining a bigger pay day down the road.
Yes, the world tunes in to see champions fight, young prospects develop into contenders, to crown holders. But, boxing is much deeper than the major networks. It is a small smoky smelly fair ground with the lessor skilled, lessor known swapping leather.
The tomato cans are a part of the backbone of boxing.
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