“Rocky” steps up to lift boxing
SACRAMENTO, California—The boxing world is upside down and needs help to straighten it up.
“Three odiferous main events in succession” and boom, the sweet science “is reeling,” notes boxing analyst Michael Marley.
First it was the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz welterweight fiasco last Sept. 17 that ended with a contrite Ortiz seeing stars after Floyd decked him with a 1-2 hammer while he wasn’t looking.
Next came the Oct. 16 farce, starring Bernard Hopkins, 46, who lost his light heavyweight belt via a wrestling throw by 29-year-old Chadwick Dawson.
And less than a week later, Argentinian Omar Narvaez tangoed, not tangled, with Nonito “the Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. and prevented a beating from the unified bantamweight champion of the world.
“The sport is sagging,” says Marley, and what is more likely to deliver the much needed “jolt of electricity” than the third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas come Nov. 12?
Expect no less than an explosive performance from a “new” Pacquiao and a recharged Marquez to save boxing from shame, says Marley. “A resounding Pacman victory or, dare I say it, a stunning upset by Juan Ma would get boxing’s voltage back at the proper level.”
But one of the year’s best ring moments that could put a topsy-turvy sport right back up happened recently, by way of a new Rocky Balboa.
He is 52-year-old Dewey Bozella whose life reminds us of the cinematic fighter who defied all odds and made millions for the reel Rocky—actor Sylvester Stallone, a known Pacquiao partisan.
Bozella waited 28 years to achieve his dream of boxing professionally. Ironically his bout against 30-year old Larry Hopkins (no relation to Bernard) was a filler for the enjoyment of early arrivals to what turned out to be the absurd Hopkins-Dawson headliner at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The matchup was an extra treat cooked up by publicists of Golden Boy Promotions who saw a stirring plot of dogged determination and ran with it.
Starting out slow in the scheduled four-rounder, Bozella found his stride and aggressively pursued the tiring Hopkins, who kept losing his mouthpiece by design or out of fatigue. The ageless boxer punctuated a unanimous win with a hard punch that jarred Hopkins’ head at the final bell.
Until two years ago, Bozella was an inmate at Sing Sing Prison north of New York City. Wrongly convicted in the murder of a 92-year old woman, Bozella spent 26 years in jail. Throughout his incarceration, he maintained he was innocent. Twice he declined an offer from the parole board to release him if he admitted to the crime. He said he would not admit to something he did not do.
Dewey kept himself fit while in prison, became the resident light heavyweight champion and earned two college degrees until a law firm eventually took up his case and traced a retired police detective who helped the boxer get his freedom. Bozella was finally released in October 2009.
Are you thinking what I am thinking—a real-life sequel to the Rocky series? Hold that thought. The new Rocky will soon fade to black.
The fight with Hopkins was Dewey’s first and last. He did it just to prove a point: If you can dream it, you can live it.
“Boxing is a young man’s game,” he told the Associated Press. “This bout (with Hopkins) was all I wanted, my dream come true,” Dewey said. “I used to lay in my cell and dream about this happening.”
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner plans to set up a gym in his hometown of Newburgh, New York to keep kids off the streets and help them realize their boxing dreams.