Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

23 Years and a Day Later, Barkley’s Haymaker still Lands

By Lyle Fitzsimmons

Against my better judgment, I looked at it again.

Even though every previous viewing – whether in connection with an anniversary or not – has yielded a subsequent hour’s worth of muttering and slack-jawed disbelief, I still lingered online after the close of Saturday night’s Froch-Johnson fight to take yet another look.

And even though I’m now up to about 1,000 viewings in what’s now been 23 years and 24 hours since the in-ring version of D-Day, the result hasn’t changed one friggin’ bit.

No matter how strong and sound and superb Thomas Hearns looks through 2½ rounds of his June 6, 1988, middleweight title defense against Iran Barkley, the right hand still arrives.

He still collapses to the floor when it hits his jaw’s left side. He still wills himself to stand one tick before the count reaches 10. And he’s still far too unfit to continue when Richard Steele humanely intervenes with 21 seconds remaining in the third.

The guy was my favorite for 20-plus years. I saw all the big fights – wins and losses – he ever had.

I even had the chance to meet and interview him in a Detroit casino in 2005.

But no moment in those two-plus decades ever packed, or still packs, the “holy sh*t, did I really just see that?!?” wallop created by that 30-second stretch at the Hilton in Las Vegas.

I was lured into watching it again when the Internet feed of HBO’s Chavez-Zbik fight went cold after five or so rounds. I was still buzzing from Froch’s performance via Sky Sports an hour earlier, and wasn’t quite ready to call it a night or reduce myself to either Saturday Night Live wannabes or the insidious smugness of Harvey Levin and his TMZ smart-asses.

As it turned out, it became something of a theme night.

First, Hearns-Barkley I. Then, Foreman-Moorer.

And ultimately, Jones-Tarver II.

The three most stunning moments I’ve had in 30 years as a conscious boxing fan.

And fights like Tyson-Douglas don’t count quite the same to me, because by the time the 10th round arrived in Tokyo, the ultimate result was hardly in doubt… except to Don King and his minions.

For my money – both in terms of underdogs winning and complete reversals of up-to-that-moment momentum – nothing tops that trio.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

But it was a tough-to-watch night for reasons beyond just Hearns.

By the time 1 a.m. rolled around, while watching the Jones-Tarver rematch, I again saw the last great round fought by probably my second-favorite fighter… and the one punch that did more to alter an all-time great legacy than any other I can recall.

For the first three minutes of their second go-round at Mandalay Bay, “Superman” was pecking, flurrying, defending and doing all the other things that made him a convincing winner over Hall of Famers and traffic cops in 49 of his first 50 fights.

Then the left hand came. And history changed.

Before it landed, he’s among the best fighters ever.

Since, he’s the poster boy for hanging on too long.

And rightly or wrongly, every account of the Jones career from here forward will include as much space covering what he’s done in the last dozen fights – 5 wins, 7 losses (four by KO) – as it does those first four dozen plus two.

To me, it’s a shame. Because as cocky and off-putting as he could be at times, Roy seemed to be a decent guy at heart. And whether you’re a true believer in his list of opponents prior to 2004 of not, it’s clear he was near impossible to beat when operating at his highest level.

As he crossed his arms and looked out at the crowd before stepping through the ropes, I wished I could click the mouse and make it all go away. And though I’ve never been one to encourage retirement when guys are still in the upper percentiles of the profession, I hope I don’t see any more.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In terms of live action, my Saturday highlight was the aforementioned Froch.

I’d seen footage of the brash Englishman before, but had never seen him in real time and felt pretty strongly that Johnson would retain enough of the quality – even at a smaller size – he’d long shown against bigger, better men at 175 pounds.

Needless to say, I was way off.

I came away impressed enough with Froch’s ability to control the action from the outside, but far more so with the mettle he showed in taking Johnson’s best shots and almost without fail immediately responding with momentum-changing counter flurries.

It not only altered the game on the scorecards, but played a role in sapping the resilience of the 42-year-old, who looked far more like a beaten man at the final bell than in any of his recent losses.

And while I haven’t changed my stance that Andre Ward is the best fighter both in this tournament and in the weight class – sorry, Lucien – it occurs to me now that the cable TV finale between he and Froch will be a far better clash than I would have believed going in.

Congrats, Mr. Hershman, you’ve got me for at least one more.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

SATURDAY
IBO middleweight title – Kiev, Ukraine
Avtandil Khurtsidze (champion) vs. Dionisio Miranda (No. 31 contender)
      
Khurtsidze (24-2-2, 14 KO): First title defense; Unbeaten in Ukraine (16-0, 9 KO)     
Miranda (21-6-2, 18 KO): First title fight; Three wins in seven fights since 2008 (3-4, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Hometown favorite stays unblemished on backyard turf.” Khurtsidze by decision

WBO junior bantamweight title – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Omar Narvaez (champion) vs. William Urina (No. 14 contender)
      
Narvaez (34-0-2, 19 KO): Third title defense; Held WBO title at 112 pounds (2002-09, 16 defenses)      
Urina (17-1, 14 KO): First title fight; Lost only fight outside Colombia (0-1, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Long-time flyweight king extends reign on next ladder rung.” Narvaez by decision

Last week’s picks: 2-1
Overall picks record: 209-74 (73.8 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz .

Tags:
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Dave Rado on 06-08-2011

[QUOTE=BIGPOPPAPUMP;10656168]By Lyle Fitzsimmons - First, Hearns-Barkley I. Then, Foreman-Moorer. And ultimately, Jones-Tarver II. The three most stunning moments I’ve had in 30 years as a conscious boxing fan. And fights like Tyson-Douglas don’t count quite the same to me, because…

Comment by alembic on 06-07-2011

Duran was a prototype FMJ?? From that era I'd say Ray Leonard MIGHT have had an early career that could be construed as "overly managed" but what separates him from Floyd is that he eventually took on challengers who were…

Comment by jbpanama on 06-07-2011

[QUOTE=jbpanama;10659925]Duran, kicked Mucho A$$, and NEVER AVOIDED or PUNKED OUT against ANYONE!!![/QUOTE] Unlike U Know Who, El FRAUDO!!!

Comment by jbpanama on 06-07-2011

Duran, kicked Mucho A$$, and NEVER AVOIDED or PUNKED OUT against ANYONE!!!

Comment by Florida Gym Rat on 06-07-2011

I've heard a lot of dumb things on this site... but the shot against Duran is among the dumbest. I'm also dying to hear the logic backing it up.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (8)
Top Headlines Deontay Wilder's Manager: It Makes Sense To Fight Luis Ortiz! Miguel Berchelt Wants To Fight Again in 2017, Not Rushing Return Jose Pedraza vs. Mickey Bey in Talks For August 22, Las Vegas Gilberto Ramirez: I Won't Let Jesse Hart Run, I Want Him To Fight Malignaggi: McGregor Can Exploit Things, Have His Moments David Allen Drops, Stops Tom Dallas in Three Rounds Gassiev Sees No Reason For Lebedev Rematch After WBSS Refusal Joe Cortez Helping Conor McGregor Prepare For Floyd Mayweather Mayweather: Believe I Can't Read and Spell? I Made $800 Million! Frank Warren: Mayweather, McGregor - Big Talk, Will They Deliver? Garcia: Non-Title Fight Vs. Broner Still Biggest of Our Careers Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez on September 30 in Latvia Top Rank VP: Pacquiao-Horn Was Close, 117-111 Created Issue Lomachenko: I'm Ready To Fight Guillermo Rigondeaux Next! Garcia Expects Broner to Be Biggest Puncher He Has Faced Yarde Would Love To Emulate Roy Jones, Win Title at Heavyweight Amanda Serrano-Edina Kiss: Still Worth a Look on Delay Nikki Adler Confident She'll Hand Claressa Shields Her First Loss Erol Ceylan Discusses The Past, Present and Future of EC Boxing Hatton: Pacquiao Got Old Overnight, When Horn Beats You... Malignaggi: McGregor Has Game Plan, It's Not What People Think Robert Guerrero and Knowing When To Say When Isaac Zarate Drops, Shocks Carlos Carlson To Win Decision Antonio Moran Stops Rosales To Win WBO Regional Title Amanda Serrano Stops Kiss: Cintron, Oquendo Win By KO White Smiles: Mayweather's Kink is Southpaws, McGregor is One Broner vs. Garcia Approved By WBC For The "Diamond Title" De La Hoya: McGregor Can Beat Floyd - With Flying Kick To Head! Manager: McGregor Will Be Best Fighter in History With Upset Win Jorge Linares vs. Luke Campbell Ordered By The WBA Duva: Barrera is One of Several Options For Kovalev's Return Ustinov vs. Oquendo For Vacant WBA Title in Play For October 2 Lomachenko: I Was Preparing For Salido, But Ready For Marriaga Muwendo, Esquivias Battle at M3 Anaheim Event Center Malignaggi on Sparring McGregor: Good Power, He's No Dummy! Mauricio Herrera vs. Jesus Soto Karass Undercard Information Charlo: My Power is God-Given; Will Translate Immediately at 160 Canelo vs. Golovkin - Closed Circuit Ticket Information Kell Brook Mulled Retirement, Hints at 'Big Changes' in Return Duke Micah Signs Promotional Deal With Evander Holyfield
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement