Punching from the corner - Sept. 14, 2012
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 14, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
King's Boxing Gym
Four days before champions Andre Ward and Chad Dawson met in the ring, they held a media day at Kings Gym in Oakland, California.  The gym sits like a graying general at the end of a dead- end street.  Kings Boxing Gym is painted on its side in bold black letters.

Once inside the gym, the place comes alive. To the right of the entrance is the office of the owners, Celeste and Charles King. Charles has been involved in boxing most of his life. Many ring legends including Frazier, Foreman, Duran, and Chavez have worked out at Kings. Classic fight posters from a bygone era fill the walls. The sounds of the fight game echo throughout. A whispery rhythm is a fighter jumping rope. A rat-tat-tat is another working the speed bag. The heavy bag swaying and groaning as it absorbs punishment. A big empty ring stands ready for some action.

Andre Ward was the first to enter that day dressed casually in a black track suit. He answered each question in full. I can’t help but think back to the first time I interviewed him at Kings, two weeks before he fought Mikeel Kessler in 2009. He showed patience as I fumbled through my questions. What a good person.

Most boxing pundits were picking Kessler to beat him. I had already decided he would win. I was even more convinced after our interview.

Ward has an edge that says, ‘I won’t lose.’  His focus astounded me. He’s strong inside and out. He’s confident but not cocky. He knows he will win.

Chad Dawson arrived a few minutes after Ward left. He was wearing a blue baseball cap and sits between his trainer and promoter. Dawson, like Ward, is loaded with natural ability. But, he lacks that edge.

“It’s the eye of tiger man,” said Apollo Creed to Rocky, “Eye of the tiger.”


An hour before Ward and Dawson battled, Antonio DeMarco defended his lightweight title against John Molinia. DeMarco’s first round anihilation shocked the Oakland crowd. Molina, from my hometown of Covina, Ca. came out like he always does, aggressively. Near the forty-second mark, DeMarco connected with a heavy left on Molina’s chin, sending the challenger stumbling to the corner.

As the crowd ooed and ahhed, the champion went after his dazed opponent, pounding him with lefts and rights. Molina fired a few bombs of his own, hoping one could change the likely outcome, but alas, he was soon sitting on the bottom rope catching punches. For Molina his bid for a championship was over in less then a minute. For DeMarco it’s, ‘up up and away.’


Ward’s 10th round TKO victory over Dawson resembled a country whipping. Ward breaks guys down, and beats them up. The first two rounds were close. After Ward figured out the rhythm of Dawson’s punches, the fight was over.

“Chad has fast legs, but not fast hands,” said Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter. “It was just a matter of Andre timing him.”

The embrace of Ward and Hunter, after the fight had ended, was much more then a typical trainer – fighter hug.  The love between the two men is obvious.


During the second and last episode of HBO’s “24/7: Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez,” the training methods of both fighters were shown. Martinez appears to be in great shape. His sparring sessions sizzle. Martinez, 37, uses a hyperbaric chamber to fight off father time. He spends an hour a day in the makeshift tomb. The sight made me mutter something about claustrophobia.

Chavez Jr. spends most of his time at his rented home in Vegas. He’s nocturnal, (Martinez does all his work during the day) and prefers training at night. Trainer Freddie Roach is flabbergasted. I’ve always thought the trainer set the schedule, not the other way around. Roach looks lonely as he waits for Chavez Jr. to show up. He reminds me of a man waiting for chronically late bus. A million dollar bus that is. The contrast is shocking. Martinez is rock solid and ready, while Chavez Jr. does what he feels like. Admittedly, when he works, he works hard.

Will the night owl be able to defeat Mr. Senor light? The edge has to go to Martinez, but if Chavez Jr. can hang around, you never know.


I was thrilled to read that a Las Vegas real estate investor had purchased Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home in Louisville, Kentucky. The new owner is a big fan of Ali, and plans to restore the home to way it looked when the future champ lived in it.

There is a boxing god after all.

Until next time...

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