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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:42 pm
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Papa Voo



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Frank “The Animal” Fletcher

Like a meteor nearing the end of its violent life, Philadelphia middleweight contender Frank “The Animal” Fletcher scorched across the fistic firmament in just nine years and 25 professional fights, quite possibly in the knowledge that he had to get it all done before his demons swallowed him for good. “I’ve had so many problems in my life,” Fletcher once said, “that I’ve often thought the only place you can get peace of mind is in a graveyard somewhere.”

Thankfully, the graveyard has yet to consume Frank, but how he diced with death throughout his wildly exciting career in the eighties. A “kill me if you can” slugger from the primitive days of yore, the teak-tough Fletcher became the thrilling darling of NBC-TV as he steadily ripped and slashed his way to the number one contender’s position and a likely title tilt at world champion Marvin Hagler. 

Cheered on by his vociferous, flag-waving mom Lucille, Frank produced one thunderous performance after another as he battered and broke the will of his opponents in a series of brutal, cliff-hanging battles. Fletcher was a true-blue member of the modern-day Philadelphia school of heart-arresting excitement.

Then the punishment caught up with Frank and he began to fall apart. All fighters do when they tempt fate once too often. Even the great Matthew Saad Muhammad, whose durability was astonishing, finally crumbled.

One could argue that Fletcher’s sudden demise was due solely to the punches he took, but that explanation is a little too simplistic in his case. Frank’s turbulent life was constantly one of turmoil and confrontation.

Reflected

In 1983, when he was still Hagler’s leading contender, Fletcher reflected on his life: “For 15 to 20 years, I was in and out of jail. Jail was my second home. There was nothing to do. I didn’t like working for nobody. I didn’t want to get a job. I was stealing, taking things, but there was no guns or nothing. At the time, I thought that was the happening, you know? Why do most people stay in trouble? Because they like it.”

At the age of 12, Fletcher was a court-mandated ward of the Youth Development Center North at 2nd and Luzerne streets.

“I started getting into trouble when I was about nine,” Fletcher said. “I think I broke into a car or something like that. I was always breaking into something or getting into fights when I was a kid.

“I don’t know why I was doing it. But my mother was always coming to get me out of the police station up at 65th and Woodland or 55th and Pine. After a while, I guess she just got tired of coming to get me.”

By early 1985, after three punishing losses in the last five fights of his career, Frank’s boxing days were over, but his prison career would continue to flourish. By 1987, he was talking to Daily Newssports writer Elmer Smith from behind bars at the Graterford State Correctional Institute. Frank was one of 2,600 prisoners and had recently been stabbed in the chest by a fellow inmate. But Fletcher wasn’t complaining or making any kind of noise about the incident. “That’s the way they roll around here,” he explained. “A guy gets whacked and nobody sees anything.”

Frank was back inside for aggravated assault, something he did very well in the ring. How he soared through the ranks! It was all crash-bang-wallop, blood and guts, thrills and spills. Nineteen fights, only a couple of defeats, and there he was at number one, knocking at the great Hagler’s door.

The big break for Fletcher came in 1980 when he became the first 160-pound winner of the ESPN tournament. It was so gloriously typical of Frank that he did it the hard way. You got the impression that he could have made fence painting or lawn mowing a similarly thrilling experience. Barnstorming his way to the ESPN crown, Fletcher began with a points victory over tough Ben Serrano before going on to knock out Jerome (Silky) Jackson, William (Caveman) Lee and Randy O’Grady.

Nigel Collins, editor of The Ring at that time, wrote of Fletcher: “The savage knockout of Jackson also brought Fletcher more — it earned him the Animal nickname. The favored Silky took 10 stitches in his lower lip and spent the night in the hospital for observation after Fletcher chewed him up and spat out the pieces. Frank’s uncompromising, let-it-all-hang-out style had emerged and there was no turning back. From there on it was kill or be killed. He seemed to have caught the Saad Muhammad Syndrome and fans and matchmakers alike ate it up.”

Torrid

Fletcher continued to set a torrid pace for his opponents as he moved up the world rankings. He was NBC-TV’s golden boy and attracted huge afternoon TV audiences with a series of pulsating wins at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Frank won the vacant USBA middleweight title when he outscored Norberto Sabater in a barnburner that is still discussed by those who saw it. It was a title that Fletcher would retain four times in bloody and brutal encounters.

It seemed that Frank captivated his opponents in the same way he wooed the crowds. His challengers didn’t just want to fight him, they wanted to fight him the Fletcher way. They wanted to step into Frank’s inferno and outgame him in the old-fashioned, do-or-die manner. It wasn’t a good game plan. Ernie Singletary went out in eight rounds, Tony Braxton and Clint Jackson had to endure all 12 rounds of Fletcher’s mayhem, while James (Hard Rock) Green was bombed out in six.

Then came the sudden slide, which didn’t seem too dramatic at first. Frank lost his USBA title in 1983 on a unanimous decision to Wilford Scypion, but it wasn’t a defeat that rang too many alarm bells. But perhaps it was just as well that Scypion got the title shot at Marvin Hagler instead of Fletcher. Marvelous Marvin dispatched Scypion in four rounds and most probably would have made a chopping block out of Frank the Animal.

Fletcher came back from the Scypion loss five months later to stop Curtis Ramsey in eight rounds at the Sands, but four months later Frank was bludgeoned to a sixth round knockout defeat by the powerful Juan Domingo Roldan at Caesars Palace. A classic product of Argentina, the bull-like Roldan was a very strong and dangerous fighter who, like his predecessor Eduardo Lausse, always looked like a man who could go all the way. While he didn’t make it to the very top level, the unpredictable Roldan gave Hagler and Thomas Hearns some very uncomfortable moments in two title challenges.

Vulnerable

I recall how dreadfully vulnerable Frank Fletcher suddenly looked after Roldan banged him out in brutal fashion. Suddenly, it seemed, there was nothing left. Frank’s famous resistance had been smashed out of him. Gamely, he rallied back in 1984 with a points win over Jimmy Sykes, but then two crushing defeats to John Mugabi and Curtis Parker confirmed that Frank the Animal was a fatally wounded beast. And that was it. Career over.

Marty Feldman, Fletcher’s trainer and co-manager, reckoned that Frank must have pocketed half a million dollars in ring earnings after deductions. But Frank spent it as soon as he got it and, according to Feldman, had lost his fighting edge after the thrilling victory over James (Hard Rock) Green. On the surface, Fletcher was still doing all the right things, but he also started going out at night as his self-discipline slipped. He had lost his edge and was no longer serious about training. After the final loss against Curtis Parker, Feldman urged Frank to retire.

It was a sound decision for the sake of Fletcher’s health, but it also made him a lost soul. He couldn’t knuckle down and do anything else. He opened a sandwich shop but took no interest in it. On Feldman’s advice, Frank also opened a retirement account, which he quickly plundered.

Finally, the old life pulled him back and he became another statistic at the Graterford Correctional Institute, where any number of unpleasant things can happen to a man. As Mike Tyson discovered, being a formidable fighter doesn’t make you untouchable in that gray and claustrophobic world.

“This place is not like jail,” Fletcher told reporter Elmer Smith in 1987. “It’s like one of those places in one of those horror movies where you’re just walking around in the fog. All of a sudden you come out of the fog and this big, scary building is right in front of you.”
Alas, no happy ending. Frank the Animal is still walking around in the fog and remains caged.


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Last edited on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:48 pm by Papa Voo

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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:45 pm
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beejmi
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I always felt that boxing did itself in by becoming a PPV sport



When 'we all' were growing up, on Wide World Of Sports, there was 'free boxing' every weekend. Not big fights but you got to see the names and personalities like Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers and Joe Frazier and you grew to like them and their 'styles'.


I couldn't name 3 heavyweight boxers right now if I tried.

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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:52 pm
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Papa Voo



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beejmi wrote: I always felt that boxing did itself in by becoming a PPV sport



When 'we all' were growing up, on Wide World Of Sports, there was 'free boxing' every weekend. Not big fights but you got to see the names and personalities like Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers and Joe Frazier and you grew to like them and their 'styles'.


I couldn't name 3 heavyweight boxers right now if I tried.


I remember one of the first PPVs that I remember was Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney. 

You are also right about the personalities.  It was like wrestling to an extent.  Earnie Shavers had no chance of winning a technical match; he could only win by putting somebody in La-La Land.  

Another thing that has been lost from our younger years. 

Last edited on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:53 pm by Papa Voo

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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2019 11:58 pm
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Papa Voo



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John “The Beast” Mugabi TKOs Frank “The Animal” Fletcher in the 4th Round on Augsut 5, 1984.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 21st, 2019 12:22 am
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Papa Voo



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We cannot forget......
Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns 

Thomas Hearns out of the KRONK Gym in Detroit.
 
I liked and respected Hearns, because he did not duck anybody.  He also had the nice mix of being a technical boxer, heavy hitter, brawler or whatever role he had to be to measure up to his opponent. 

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 Posted: Thu Feb 21st, 2019 12:24 am
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Papa Voo



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The Hitman 

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 Posted: Thu Feb 21st, 2019 12:33 am
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Papa Voo



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Another big PPV event.  It was the talk of all my friends in school.

September 16, 1981

Sugar Ray Leonard won the WBC welterweight title with a fifteenth-round knockout of Wilfred Benitez in1979. He lost it to Roberto Duran by a close decision in June 1980 and regained it five months later in the infamous No Mas Fight, in which Duran quit in the eighth round. In June 1981, Leonard moved up to the light-middleweight division for one fight, knocking out Ayub Kalule in nine rounds to win the WBA light-middleweight title.

Hearns won the WBA welterweight title in 1980, scoring a second-round knockout of Jose “Pipino” Cuevas in Detroit, Michigan. He made three successful title defenses, stopping Luis Primera, Randy Shields, and Pablo Baez.

Promoted as "The Showdown in Motown" Leonard (30-1 with 21 KO) fought Hearns (32-0 with 30 KO) on September 16, 1981 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan to unify the world welterweight championship in a scheduled fifteen-rounder. They fought before a live crowd of 23,618 and a worldwide TV audience of some 300 million.

The fight began as expected, Leonard boxing from a distance and Hearns stalking. Leonard had difficulty with Hearns' long reach and sharp jab. By the end of round five, Leonard had a growing swelling under his left eye, and Hearns had built a considerable lead on the scorecards. Leonard, becoming more aggressive, hurt Hearns in the sixth with a left hook to the chin. Leonard battered Hearns in rounds six and seven, but Hearns miraculously regrouped. Hearns started to stick and move, and he started to pile up points again. The roles reversed: Leonard became the stalker and Hearns became the boxer.

Hearns won rounds nine through twelve on all three scorecards. Between rounds twelve and thirteen, Leonard's trainer, the legendary Angelo Dundee, said the now legendary words "You're blowing it now, son! You're blowing it!"

Leonard, with a badly swollen left eye, came out roaring for the thirteenth round. After hurting Hearns with a right, Leonard exploded with a combination of punches and sent Hearns through the ropes. Hearns managed to rise, but was dropped again near the end of the round.

In round fourteen, after staggering Hearns with an overhand right, Leonard pinned Hearns against the ropes, where he unleashed another furious combination, prompting referee Davey Pearl to stop the contest and award Sugar Ray Leonard the unified world welterweight championship. Hearns was leading by scores of 124-122, 125-122, and 125-121.

After the fight, there was controversy due to the scoring of rounds six and seven. Even though Leonard dominated, hurting Hearns and battering him, all three judges gave both rounds to Leonard by a 10-9 margin. Many felt that the ten-point must scoring system was not properly used and those rounds should have been scored 10-8.


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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:17 am
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Papa Voo



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My favorite boxing match of all time. Very short, but it was all out war! 
Hagler vs. Hearns

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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:20 am
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Papa Voo



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April 15, 1984


There are action-packed fights, and then there is this: The unforgettable spectacle waged by Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, who slugged it out with such mind-blowing reckless abandon that it came to be revered as the quintessential action fight, the one that all others are measured against.

The fight didn't last long -- less than three full rounds (8 minutes, 1 second, to be exact) -- but it was perhaps the most electrifying three rounds in boxing history. It was three rounds of pure violence on boxing's grandest stage between two of the best in the business who, along with Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, defined the sport in the 1980s.

Hagler and Hearns both would have preferred a fight with Leonard. Hagler was hungry for the spotlight and the enormous purse it would bring, and Hearns wanted revenge for his only loss, a 14th-round knockout to Leonard in their legendary 1981 undisputed welterweight championship fight. But with Leonard in one of his retirements and out of the picture, Hagler and Hearns turned to each other.

The 30-year-old Hagler, 60-2-2 with 50 knockouts (and having avenged both losses), was the undisputed middleweight champion. The 26-year-old Hearns, who was 40-1 with 34 KOs, had put the loss to Leonard behind him and won the junior middleweight title, but he was moving up in weight to challenge for Hagler's 160-pound crown.

Many forget that Hagler and Hearns had originally been scheduled to fight in May 1982, but Hearns suffered a right hand injury, forcing it to be postponed and later canceled, angering Hagler.

They both continued fighting other opponents, but when the time was right, Hagler-Hearns was eventually made again, this time for April 15, 1985, at the outdoor arena at famed Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. A massive promotion ensued, including a nearly two-week media tour to more than 20 cities across the country.

Day after day, Hagler and Hearns went face-to-face, insulted each other and answered the same questions over and over. They quickly grew tired of each other and got so deeply under each other's skin that they nearly came to blows during the media tour. More than once.

By the time they got to the ring, they seemed to want to kill each other.

When the bell rang after a huge buildup, there was no feeling-out period to speak of. They stormed at each other, and it was on. Punch after punch, neither man let up in an incredible first round hailed by many as the greatest in boxing history.

It was absolutely wild.

Hagler hurt Hearns right off the bat with a right hand, and they spent the rest of the round engaged in a series of fierce toe-to-toe exchanges.

Hearns busted open a cut on Hagler's forehead and, as we would later learn, also broke his right hand -- the power weapon that had disposed of so many previous opponents.

"That was an entire fight accomplished in three minutes," broadcaster Al Michaels exclaimed when the round ended.


The pace did slow in the second round, but it's all relative. There was no way that it could equal the blistering pace the fighters had set in the first three minutes. Still, it was action-packed despite Hearns being a bit rubber-legged.


They spent the final half-minute of the second round in an extended exchange as blood poured from the cut on Hagler's forehead. His corner did an admirable job closing it up between rounds, but it opened again in the third. With Hagler's face covered in blood, referee Richard Steele called timeout to have it examined by the ringside doctor.

Obviously concerned that the fight might be stopped because of the cut, Hagler went after the knockout, pushing even harder than he had in the first two rounds. He cracked Hearns with a right hand that rocked him and kept the pressure on, eventually landing another clean right to the side of Hearns' head to sent him staggering sideways. Hagler followed up with two more right hands that left Hearns limp and falling to the mat like a discarded towel. Somehow, a semi-conscious Hearns got to his feet by the count of nine, but he was gone. Steele wrapped an arm around Hearns and waved the other high overhead, ending one of the most incredible fights in boxing history.

Hagler, his face a bloody mask, celebrated while Hearns was carried back to his corner by one of his handlers. They had fought three rounds that will live forever.

If you want to watch this classic:

https://youtu.be/rOZZoaUWf34








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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:29 am
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Papa Voo



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Hagler vs Hearns

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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:29 am
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Papa Voo



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Hagler vs Hearns

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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:30 am
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Papa Voo



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Hagler getting ready to put Hearns on Queer Steet.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:33 am
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Papa Voo



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Hearns is out! 


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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 12:39 am
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Papa Voo



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Hagler - The Victor! 

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 Posted: Fri Feb 22nd, 2019 01:04 am
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khawk
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One of the problems the current fight game has is that now, at the first sign of trouble, they often get stopped. I get why, of course, but such a huge part of boxing is the guys fighting through bad trouble and knockdowns that are brutal, and the current crop probably doesn't get anywhere near the same chances the guys of that era did to get up and go on.
At the same time that is what often makes for a great dramatic fight.
The most immediate example is one of my favourite heavyweight slugfests ever, Ron Lyle vs. George Foreman. That fight could never happen today. Even as it was happening there was more than one moment that the ref could have just waved it off and nobody would have batted an eye.



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