*** FLASHBACK – this article originally appeared on dmboxing.com on March 19, 2014
By Steve Corbo
NOTE: Steve Corbo, is a veteran of more than 35 years in the boxing game, has been a co-host and color commentator for televised boxing events, as well as a professional boxing judge. He has worked with professional boxers in a variety of capacities, and has written several articles on boxing that have been published in various periodicals. He has made his mark as a top boxing ring announcer, especially in Europe, where he announced major WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO World Championship title bouts televised worldwide. Harold Lederman, Boxing Hall of Fame member and a part of HBO Boxing’s broadcast team, called Steve Corbo “one of the best boxing ring announcers in the entire world.” A Chicago native, Steve has also been heard as the backup PA announcer for the Chicago Blackhawks NHL hockey team.
I will always remember this fight because I was there, at ringside, close enough to reach out and touch Cleveland Denny. In the late 1970’s my friend Johnny Lira was the USBA Lightweight Champion and one of world’s top rated lightweights. In ’79 he lost in his bid to capture the WBA World Lightweight Title.
A year later, Ring Magazine had him rated #5 in the world , he was looking to get back into the mix and get another shot at the title. Johnny was going to fight Gaetan Hart on the undercard of Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran, up in Montreal. The bout was scheduled for June 20,1980. But they weren’t able to make the fight and Cleveland Denny wound up in the ring facing Hart, instead of Lira. Johnny, myself and Mauro DiFiore decided to go up to Montreal anyway and see the show. What a show it was, taking place at the Olympic Stadium and in the same city where just four years earlier Sugar Ray Leonard won a Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympics. Johnny was on top of his game so we were with Angelo Dundee, Wilfredo Benitez, media guys like the dean of all boxing historians Hank Kaplan, etc. We were surrounded by boxing royalty. We had no tickets, but somebody hooked us up and we got in on some TV/Radio Press Passes! We had no assigned seats! I ended up sitting in Leonard’s corner, on a folding chair I picked up from someplace, next to Joe Frazier. We talked about his son Marvis, who was an amateur at the time, and had just won the National’s.