|Al “Ice” Cole – Down but Not Out!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (May 21, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Former IBF Cruiserweight champion Al
“Ice” Cole is back in the gym working with Maurice Harris who has
a May 27th date with Tony Thompson in Reno. Cole had 5
title defenses and 1 non-title win to go along with his 27-1 record
as the champion. The 47 year-old Cole was last active in September
“I can still fight and I’m still
able,” said Cole. It was his first sparring in a year, with
Harris. Cole was part of the “Triple Threat” which included
former WBO heavyweight champion “Merciless” Ray Mercer and IBF
light welterweight Charles “the Natural” Murray.
Cole spent 4 years in the Army from
1984-1988 compiling a 76-11 record trying to win a birth on the 1988
Olympic team. “I beat Andrew Maynard in the quarter-finals and
Bomani Parker in the finals. (It’s not automatic the final 2 fight
in the box-off) They bring Maynard back in the box-off and they
award him back to back 3-2 wins. If it weren’t for being with Ray
Leonard he would not have taken the spot earned by Parker,” said
Cole. Making the Olympic team would have been financially much more
beneficial needless to say.
“Kenny Adams and Alton Merkerson were
my trainers at the start of my professional career. Adams and Hank
Johnson were my trainers in the Army,” said Cole. He won his first
15 fights before losing a split decision to Leon Taylor, 12-4, at
Resorts in Atlantic City in December of 1990. “Taylor was a slick
fighter. Another Chris Byrd,” said Cole. Less than 3 months later
in a rematch for the vacant USBA Cruiserweight title Cole reversed
the decision by 116-112 on all score cards over Taylor.
In his first defense of the USBA title
he took on Nate “Mr.” Miller, 18-2, out of Philadelphia winning a
close decision over 12 rounds. “He was the hardest puncher I ever
met,” said Cole. This was followed-up by 3 knockout wins and a
match with the IBF Cruiserweight champion James Waring, 14-1, in July
of 1992. “He was a former kick boxing champ and an all-around
great athlete,” said Cole. After 12 rounds Cole would take the IBF
Cole’s first defense was against
Uriah Grant, 22-9, whom Cole called “an action packed fighter”!
Cole took the decision in Atlantic City in February of 1993. In July
he traveled to Moscow, Russia to defeat former IBF cruiser champ
Glenn McCrory, 30-7-1, of the UK, having his opponent down twice in
the sixth round. At the end of the year Cole stopped Vincent
Boulware, 26-4-1, in Atlantic City, in the fifth round.
In July of 1994 Cole gave Miller a
rematch in Bismarck, ND, taking another 12 round decision. “It was
much easier than before,” said Cole. Six months later Cole stepped
up to the heavyweight division for the first time stopping
trial-horse Mike Dixon, 15-16, in the eighth round. It wouldn’t be
until June of 1995, almost a year since his last defense, that Cole
made his final defense of his IBF title in a rematch with Grant, for
his fifth successful defense. It was his twelfth straight win
bringing his record to 27-1.
What happened between that fight and
his fight with former WBA/WBC heavyweight champion “Terrible” Tim
Witherspoon, 43-4, who was on a six fight win streak was the start of
bad things happening in his life. He was in a bad car accident 3
weeks before the fight. “My back hurt but knowing the winner might
meet former world champion Riddick Bowe I went ahead with the fight,”
said Cole. He lost a 10 round decision and took the next 10 months
off to re-hab.
Cole’s heavyweight career was filled
with up’s and down’s with more down’s that up’s. “There
were personal deaths in my family that completely took me out of my
mindset,” said Cole. This writer felt it was not necessary to
bring back the bad memories of those deaths. Cole would win 3 of his
next 4 fights with his only loss to Michael Grant, 24-0, at the end
of the tenth round. One judge had it even.
In December of 1998 Cole had back to
back fights with Canada’s Kirk Johnson, 26-0, with the first ending
in a draw despite Johnson having 3 points taken away from him for low
blows. “I couldn’t believe I didn’t get that decision,” said
Cole. The rematch went to Johnson 3 months later. His next 2 fights
would be out of the country stopping Brian Nix, 10-4, in Canada and
losing to southpaw Corrie Sanders, 35-1, in the first round in South
Africa. Sanders, was a future WBO champion who would knockout
Wladimir Klitschko, 3 years later for the title. “He had
phenomenal hand speed like a middleweight,” said Cole.
Cole fell into the worst slump of his
career going 0-5-1 from April of 2000 until January of 20002. “I
was having mental problems,” said Cole. In June of 2002 he would
defeat prospect Vinny Maddalone, 15-0, in his last fight in the state
of NJ having fought there 24 times. It was under the
Klitschko-Mercer title bout. In 2003 it looked like he might be
turning things around drawing with Jeremy Williams, 39-4, and
defeating Nigerian David Izon, 27-5, before losing to Lance Whitaker,
26-2-1, for the vacant NABA title in October over 12 rounds. “I
took the Whitaker fight on 10 days notice and was dehydrated,” said
Just prior to Cole’s fortieth
birthday on 3 weeks notice he gave former WBC/IBF champion Hasim
Rahman, 35-5-1, a good fight losing 96-94 on all score cards. A year
later he lost to future WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov, 14-0, for the
WBO Asia Pacific title. “I had an argument prior to the fight with
New York Commissioner Ron Stevens that took me out of my game plan,”
It would be 42 months before he donned
the gloves again traveling to Karlstad, SW, for his good friend Don
Elbaum. Boxing was back in Sweden after over 50 years but limited
fights to 6 rounds. His opponent was young hard hitting southpaw
Joey Abell, 20-2. “I left the hospital that day recovering from
walking pneumonia,” said Cole. He would defeat Abell who had a bad
cut by split decision. Never say never as Cole returned to Sweden
almost a year to the day against Timur Ibragimov, 25-2-1, losing a 6
round decision. “He grabbed and held the whole fight,” said
It’s been a 2 part career with a very
successful cruiserweight career and a not so successful heavyweight
career for Cole. He’s fought in 10 states and 4 countries. In NJ
he was 22-2 while going 16-2 in Atlantic City where he had 3 defenses
after winning the title in Stanhope, NJ. Oddly enough he was 0-5-1
in his home state of NY fighting out of Spring Valley.
At 47 he is another one of those
heavyweights that feel since George Foreman won the title at 45 who
knows what could happen? Cole’s good friend Ray Mercer came back
at 47 in Sweden and defeated Richel Hersisia, 30-2, and almost made a
comeback last year at 49. Al “Ice” Cole says he is “down but
not out!” Stranger things have happened in the sport of boxing!
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