“Mighty” Ivan Robinson Still A Double Threat!
Interview by Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (May 8, 2009)  
Philly’s “Mighty” Ivan Robinson is well known for his fight’s in the amateurs with the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya and in the professional ranks with his two battles against Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. Though both De La Hoya and Gatti went on to achieve much notoriety in the professional ranks they could not have done it without Robinson.

Robinson’s father Jimmy served as his trainer as did Johnny Settles at the start. In 1989 Robinson lost to De La Hoya at the Golden Gloves finals. “That decision I was okay with,” said Robinson.

In 1990 Robinson was in the Goodwill Games in Seattle and defeated Kirkor Kirkorov (Bulgaria) on points and stopped in 3 Faat Gatin (Soviet Union). Then in the finals he met De La Hoya for the second time losing on points. “I thought I won that fight,” said Robinson.

In 1991 Robinson would win the U.S. Amateur Featherweight championship while De La Hoya took the lightweight title. He would also compete that year in the World Championships in Sydney defeating Jose Fernandes (Portugal) and losing to Dyuk-Kyu Park (South Korea) both on points.

In the 1992 Olympic trials in Worcester, MA, Robinson defeated Kenneth Friday and Michael Clark before losing in the final as well as the box-off to Julian Wheeler. In October of 1992 Robinson turned pro knocking out Pedro Cotto in the 1st round in Atlantic City. Between his debut and April of 1994 Robinson had 11 fights defeating Luis Maysonet, 20-4, in the 11th one. “He was a big puncher,” said Robinson.

After another four wins Robinson got his first big test on the cable against Juan Negron, 22-1, out of Newark in nearby Secaucus. “I’ll never forget that fight. He was a tough guy,” said Robinson. Winning the 10 round decision he stayed unbeaten. “We had an opportunity to meet De La Hoya. We asked for $250,000.00 and they took Jesse James Leija instead,” he added.

In his 21st fight he meets the Panama champion Demetrio Ceballos who earlier in the year in Philly won the IBF Latin American title. This bout was for the USBA lightweight title at the Blue Horizon with Robinson taking the decision. “It was a close decision,” said Robinson.

Next up would be Sammy Mejias, 15-2-1, of Puerto Rico, who had won 8 straight including the WBC Fecarbox title in his last fight. “This was a grudge match from the weigh-in when he said he was going to beat me,” said Robinson. “He would hit me with rabbit punches, in the cup and after three warnings got disqualified in the 9th,” added Robinson.

Just two months later Robinson would travel to Baltimore to meet Emanuel Augustus (Burton) and win his 23rd fight without a defeat earning him an IBF lightweight title bout with Phillip Holiday, of South Africa. “Augustus had a crazy style,” said Robinson. “From the right side he hit you with his left and from the left hit you with his right,” added Robinson. For any of us who have seen him fight we can verify that.

“I fired my dad as my trainer and kept O’Dell Cathay, my assistant and added Tommy Brooks,” said Robinson. I would be fighting for Lou Duva and this was his trainer and son-in-law. Robinson would suffer his first defeat in losing the decision. “He was like the energized bunny,” said Robinson. It was December of 1996.

In his first bout in 1997 Robinson lost his USBA title to Israel Cardona, 25-2, by technical stoppage in 3 rounds. “I didn’t train like I should have for that fight,” said Robinson. After a couple of easy wins Robinson had his first of two battles with Gatti. It was August of 1998 at the Convention Hall, in Atlantic City. Though Robinson was down in the 4th round he battled back to take a split decision. Ring Magazine called it the Upset of the year and the Fight of the year. “I had Bouie Fisher and O’Dell in my corner for that one,” said Robinson. “We (Arturo) were buddies and I knew a lot about him while in camp with Pernell (Whitaker). It was a money situation so I took it,” he added. At the weigh-in Gatti tried to intimidate Robinson. “He told me he was going to knock me out,” said Robinson. “It would be redemption for me and a statement fight,” said Robinson.

“I wanted Shane Mosley after that fight and I was offered a rematch with Gatti by Carl Moretti the matchmaker for Duva,” said Robinson. “He was one of the best,” he added. “I had Mike Stewart and Anthony Thompson as my sparring partners,” said Robinson. Gatti had a point deducted for low blows in the 8th round that would have given him a draw on two of the judge’s cards.

Next would be Angel Manfredy who had knockout wins over Gatti and Jorge Paez but lost to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. two fights before. “I was about 50% of myself in this fight,” said Robinson. He would lose a lopsided decision. He would win the NABF title in his next fight and in April of 2000 take on Antonio Diaz, 32-2, for the IBA Light Welterweight Title in Las Vegas. “I took him for granted and got stopped in the 11th round,” said Robinson.

Four months later Robinson came back with would be his last big fight boxing to a draw with future champ Vivian Harris, 16-1, in Atlantic City. “I thought I won,” said Robinson. In the end of 2000 he would lose to (Jesse James) Leija, 40-5-2, being dropped in the 8th round for only the second time of his career. “It was a great fight,” he added.

Then came back to back losses to Efren Hinojosa, 22-0, and Chucky Tschorniawsky, 20-5-1. “Chucky got a gift,” said Robinson. This was in front of the home town fans. “I knew in the Hinojosa fight that when he was too fast for me my speed was diminishing,” he added.

In what was called the International Boxing Council Americas light welterweight title he fought to a 12 round draw with Luis Alberto Santiago, 13-3, at the Blue Horizon. “I was having trouble making weight going in and he hurt me early,” said Robinson. In his corner was his manager Eddie Woods (also earlier Kathy Nicolsi) and in the corner of Santiago was Moz Gonzalez. “We weren’t friends then but would later become partners and still are,” said Woods. “Ivan was a tremendous boxer and was able to fight for the IBF title during his career,” added Woods.

In the end of 2003 Robinson would lose to Stewart, 34-1-2, for the USBA light welterweight title at the Wachovia Spectrum in Philly, getting stopped in the 11th round. “It was a tough fight and Stewart was totally different than when we sparred in the gym,” said Robinson. One fight in 2004 would be a split decision loss to Reggie Nash, 8-9, billed as an IBU Light Welterweight title Eliminator.

Robinson’s last win would come over Tyrone Winckler, 12-9-2, at the Blue Horizon in February of 2005. Three months later he was offered a bout with former champion Julio Cesar Chavez, 106-5-2, in the Staples Center, in Los Angeles. “It was a money fight. I brought my father back in to train me and had gone to North Carolina at Don Turner’s camp for five weeks,” said Robinson. “I did fine for 5 rounds but dropped my hands after landing a combo while pulling back and got dropped in the 6th round,” added Robinson. He would go the distance with Chavez and stay out of the ring for two years.

In 2007 Robinson would lose a split decision to Darien Ford, 10-15, in Philly. He would be the heaviest of his career at 150. A year later in July of 2008 Robinson would travel to Worley, Idaho, and take on Favio Medina, 18-1-2, and lose a 10 round decision. This brings his record to 32-12-2 (12), at age 38.

I have seen him at several shows working corners of fighters being most recently at the New Arena where his protégé Gabriel Diaz who Richard Clark manages. It was a tough debt for Diaz losing a majority decision to the brother of Zahir Raheem, Wahid who was in his third fight. “I didn’t want this fight because these two should meet each other down the line,” said Robinson.

I asked him who else he worked with and if his career over. “I work with Jackie Davis a USA boxing champion who won her debut, Derek Webster who is turning pro, and Tyrone Miles 1-0, all in Camden, New Jersey,” said Robinson. “My wife Tanya doesn’t want to see me box again nor does our daughter Tatyana who said I was getting old after my last fight. My son Ivan, Jr. (13) asks when I am fighting again because I spar with the fighters I train,” he added.

How many people can say they fought De La Hoya, Chavez and Gatti? “Mighty” Ivan Robinson can be a top trainer and still possibly fight. A double threat?

Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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