Canizales Fights On
Requiem for a Bantamweight
Orlando Canizales learned how to fight without benefit of a boxing ring, just four garden hoses placed in a square on the dusty floor of the Laredo ( Texas) Boys Club. Yet Canizales emerged as one of boxing's best bantamweights, winning the IBF belt in 1988 and keeping it through 16 title defenses over six years.
Those days are gone. The 33-year-old Canizales, who once fought world tide bouts in glamorous venues for $200,000 a night, is now fighting as an un-ranked featherweight, taking on no-names in muggy halls for $10,000 a gig. Such was the case last Friday night at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, where Canizales stopped club fighter Richard Dejesus in the sixth round.
Canizales (50-4-1) unleashed the same roaring combinations that brought him his previous 36 KOs, yet clearly the career of a fighter once considered among the best is headed toward an inglorious conclusion. "I know I don't have many more years left, and, win or lose against De-Jesus, I was going to weigh my options," says Canizales.
Here are his choices: 1) Keep striving for an unlikely title shot (he is currently unranked); 2) go home to Laredo and wait for a call from the Boxing Hall of Fame. Our suggestion: Hang up the gloves and pull up a rocking chair next to the phone.
A Modest Proposal
Corporations in The Ring?
Once again the boxing business is under heavy fire, with presidential candidates making a play for its overhaul on the one hand and FBI agents putting the game's operators on notice on the other. (Federal agents raided promoter Don King's offices in Florida last week.) Out of this morass steps Fred Levin, a longtime representative of Roy Jones Jr., with what he believes is a preemptive strike, a solution that will satisfy both boxers and fans and keep the government at bay. What Levin proposes is a single sanctioning body—for want of a better title, the World Boxing League—that would oversee tide matches and would contract the ever controversial ratings to an independent body, a la the AP Poll in college football. (The FBI's raid on King was part of a grand jury probe into whether the IBF had accepted bribes for the manipulation of ratings.)
The beauty of it, says Levin, is that such an upstart body can eliminate boxing's habitual systemic corruption. How? By eliminating many of the opportunities for corruption.
Levin, who won big bucks as the litigator who crushed the tobacco industry in Florida, believes free enterprise is the answer. A corporate sponsor might be willing to foot the bill for all tide costs (referees, judges, belts etc.; purses, however, would still come from promoters) for the privilege of appending its name to a bout In his estimation it would cost about a third of what Budweiser pays one NASCAR driver. ( Dale Earnhardt Jr. is due to get $10 million from Bud, his primary sponsor, alone.)
The fighters who now pay millions out of their purses in sanctioning fees (Jones paid $400,000 to two bodies in last Saturday's fight) would surely embrace a no-cost system. The public, meanwhile, bewildered by three champions in each of 17 weight classes, might respond to a streamlined sport. (Levin envisions 12 to 13 classes.)