Category Archives: Jim Amato

Jeff “Candy Slim” Merritt

Jeff Merritt Jeff Candy Slim Merritt

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

He began his career in 1964 but it was not until 1973 that he crashed into the heavyweight ratings.  In between were periods of inactivity and a multitude of meaningless bouts.  He was a murderous, punching prospect that no worthy opponent wanted to chance his career against.  By the time he got his “shot” at the big time, he was 21-1 with 16 kayos.  He scored seven 1st round kayos and eight 2nd round stoppages.  Yet up to this point his claim to fame was being a Muhammad Ali sparring partner.  It is a shame that today very few remember Jeff “Candy Slim’ Merritt.  True, his tenure as a mainstream contender was less than a year but oh what a reputation he had.  Many at that time considered him the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division, bar none.

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Book Review

Book Review:  By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

 

“TRIBUTES, MEMORIES AND OBSERVATIONS” BY STEVE CANTON. FOREWORD BY AL BERNSTEIN.

 

Every now and then a boxing book comes along that is just so good. You have to tell the world about it. Steve Canton’s book “Tributes, Memories And Observations” is just that book. Steve has been around boxing for decades as a fighter, trainer, cut man, manager, radio host and writer. He has been around the world and now he has put down in words his many experiences. The things he has seen along the way and the great people he has crossed paths with.

 

Front Cover Steve Canton Book 198x300 Book Review

 

This book is a treasure of stories. It is not just about the accomplishments of boxers inside the ring. It is also about their exploits outside the ring as well. Personal stories that will capture your heart. With 370 pages of great reading, Steve added 550 photos. Many of them very rare. I truly enjoyed every moment reading this fine book. For me it is a top shelf keeper for my boxing book collection. I highly recommend it to all boxing fans. From the hard core to the casual. It is really just not about boxing. It is about life.

This book is fairly priced at $29.00. To order this book, please go to Steve Canton’s website www.sjcboxing.com

Jose Luis Garcia

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer / contributed to www.dmboxing.com since 2008

There may have never been a more talent rich period in the heavyweight division then from 1968 to 1978. With Muhammad Ali (a.k.a. Cassius Clay) on the sidelines due to his draft case other big men emerged. They would compete with each other on an almost equal basis for the next decade. Joe Frazier had risen to the top of the heap but the level below him would remain as mainstays in the ratings for years to come.

Jimmy Ellis, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonevena, Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo and Henry Cooper would eventually give way to Ron Lyle, Joe Bugner, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers and Jimmy Young. All time great champions like George Foreman and Larry Holmes also made their mark and Ali re-emerged to reclaim his throne.

Lost among the giants of that time period was a fine heavyweight from Venezuela named Jose Luis Garcia. Although Jose never challenged for the world championship he did meet three who did. He also met three world champions in a career that never seemed to reach its full potential.

Jose turned pro in his native country in 1968. He would go undefeated in his first nine bouts before losing a decision to future light heavyweight champion Vincente Rondon. Three fights later Jose was halted by tough Allen Thomas in his first U.S. appearance. The lean Garcia was beginning to grow into a full fledged heavyweight.

Jose Luis Garcia Jose Luis Garcia

On July 2, 1970 Garcia scored the biggest victory of his career. In Los Angeles as a heavy underdog Jose met unbeaten and upcoming future champion Ken Norton. Garcia’s superior hand speed and deceptive power sent Norton crashing in round eight.

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Ronnie Harris – Ohio Middleweight Contender

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer / Contributed to dmboxing since 2008

The professional career of Canton, Ohio’s Ronnie Harris is often overlooked. A lot was expected of him and to many he failed to deliver. In retrospect Ronnie may be one of the best middleweights the state of Ohio has ever produced.

Harris 167x300 Ronnie Harris   Ohio Middleweight Contender

One of the first important wins in Ronnie’s career came in May of 1972 when he outpointed Cleveland’s Bobby Haymon. One year later he won another important contest with a decision over highly regarded Roland Pryor. Three months later Ronnie defeated Leon Washington in ten.

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Youngtown’s L.C. Morgan

250px MorganLC Youngtowns L.C. Morgan

 

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

From his professional debut in 1954 until his final bout in 1969, Youngstown, Ohio’s L.C. Morgan would fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is boxers like Morgan that keep the game alive. He was not good enough to be a champion or a top contender but he was tough enough and talented enough to test anyone who thought they could be.

He had 125 recorded fights and walked away with an impressive 79-43-3 record while fighting some of the best boxers of his era. He went all over the world to ply his trade and had little hesitation boxing in someone’s hometown. He knew if it was on the up and up he could compete with almost anybody. Continue reading

The Greatest Show on Earth – March 8, 1971

pic 1 233x300 The Greatest Show on Earth   March 8, 1971 By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

          There are certain dates that will stick with you as long as you live. Your birthday, the birthdays of family members, anniversaries, the day that you got your divorce ( s ), etc…Happy and important days that mark milestones in your life.
 
          One such date I’ll always remember is March 8, 1971. The ” Battle Of The Century “, it was so aptly named.
          Two undefeated boxers who each had a legitimate pic 2 230x300 The Greatest Show on Earth   March 8, 1971claim to being the heavyweight champion of the world would collide. When Muhammad Ali first won the title in 1964 his name was Cassius Clay. He would shortly thereafter change his name and then proceed to change the face of boxing. He dominated the scene until 1967 when he refused induction into the US Military due pic 3 242x300 The Greatest Show on Earth   March 8, 1971
to his religious beliefs. Then came the Eight Man Elimination Tourney that was won by Jimmy Ellis. The powerful New York State Athletic Commission would recognize the winner of a match up between unbeaten boxers Joe Frazier and Buster Mathis. A bout in which Joe won. In 1970 Frazier stopped Ellis to claim the vacated title. Later that year Muhammad Ali returned to ring wars and halted highly ranked contenders Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena. The stage was now set. Ali and Frazier would clash for the undisputed title.The first Ali – Frazier bout was the epic that all others are compared to, even today. There is no reason in this article to describe the bout itself. Reams of print have appeared documenting the action that took place in the ring that magical night. What I would like to share is the impact on me, and probably millions of others.

Greg Richardson – The Pride of Youngstown

 By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

He was grace and artistry in the ring. He was one of the best pure boxers of his era. He won one world title and failed twice to win titles in two other weight classes. He had class and was a gentleman. He proudly represented the great fight city of Youngstown, Ohio. His name was Greg Richardson and they called him “The Flea.”

greg richardson Greg Richardson   The Pride of Youngstown

Born in 1958, Greg launched his pro career in 1982 winning by a first round kayo. In his next bout Greg was halted in the opening stanza by Harry Lee. Hardly the start of a legend.

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William “Gorilla” Jones

By Jim Amato, Senior Boxing Writer / has contributed to dmboxing.com since 2008
jones gorilla William Gorilla Jones
One of the finest boxers ever to come out of Akron, Ohio was William “Gorilla” Jones. He was good enough to hold the National Boxing Association’s version of the middleweight title in 1932. He was born on May 12, 1906 in Memphis, Tennessee and he began his professional boxing career there in 1924. By 1927 Jones was operating out of Akron. In 1928 Jones took a 20-4 record into the ring for his first major test. On July 17 he dropped a ten round duke to Sergeant Sammy Baker.

Bernardo Mercado

Mercado 278x300 Bernardo Mercado
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By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
has contributed to dmboxing.com since 2008
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          As the talent rich 1970′s heavyweight picture faded into the 1980′s, Larry Holmes emerged as the dominant boxer. Still there were some very capable contenders. Among them was a 6’4″ brute from Columbia, South America named Bernardo Mercado.

What if ? … Jimmy Ellis vs. Bob Foster in 1969

ellis jimmy 11 241x300 What if ? ... Jimmy Ellis vs. Bob Foster in 1969 By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

In April of 1967, Jimmy Ellis pounded out a fifteen round decision over Jerry Quarry to win the vacant W.B.A. heavyweight championship. In March of 1968, Joe Frazier halted Buster Mathis to win heavyweight title recognition in New York State. Two months later Bob Foster knocked out the great Dick Tiger to capture the light heavyweight crown. Foster felt the big money was in the heavyweight division and he began to challenge the champions. Frazier actively defended his title turning back Manuel Ramos, Jerry Quarry, Oscar foster bob 11 211x300 What if ? ... Jimmy Ellis vs. Bob Foster in 1969 Bonevena, and Dave Zyglewicz. Ellis on the other hand made only one defense, a disputed verdict over ex-champion Floyd Patterson. Proposed matches for Jimmy against HenryCooper, Gregorio Peralta and Robert Cleroux never materialized. By the time Ellis met Frazier in February of 1970 to unify the crown the ring rust had settled in. After Frazier destroyed Ellis he would go on to meet Foster later on that year with disastrous results for Bob.

What if during his period of idleness before the Frazier debate had Ellis entertained Foster’s challenge? Foster as we would find out could not handle Frazier’s power, strength and aggression. How would he have fared against a master boxer like Ellis? It may have gone something like this.

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