TITLE Boxing Blog

From inside the gym to around the world of combat sports, the TITLE Boxing Blog keeps you up-to-date with the latest MMA and Boxing news, training tips and fighting techniques. This is the kind of info you need to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

TITLE Legacy

  • Johnny Tapia: A Happy, Sad and Crazy Life

    Johnny Tapia: A Happy, Sad and Crazy Life

    By Brett Ater, PR/Social Specialist at TITLE Boxing

    Johnny Tapia Documentary

    For the hardcore boxing fans of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, Johnny Tapia, Mi Vida Loca, was a well-known sparkplug at the top of the sport’s lighter divisions. For me, it wasn’t until HBO released Tapia (2013), a documentary on his life, that I learned the name and was captivated by Johnny, both the boxer and the deeply troubled human being.

    In the ring he was a true showman. He moved around the squared circle with slick footwork, boastful facial expressions, relaxed but secure defense, lightning fast hands and the power to end fights quickly. On top of all that, he could take a punch. It seemed like he enjoyed that part. He reveled in the all-out action. After bouts, always a gracious sport, he’d greet his opponents with a hug, bow to the judges and then top off his night with an in-ring backflip. But all that joy he expressed in the ring couldn’t be replicated on the outside, at least not completely. It’s easy to see now that under the lights was where the Albuquerque native felt truly at home. Outside the ring was where life was hard and unforgiving.

    Much has been written about the extreme lows of Tapia’s life. Even his nickname, Mi Vida Loca, doesn’t do it justice. Johnny’s father was murdered while his mother was pregnant with him. At just eight-years-old Johnny witnessed his mother, Virginia, being driven away from their home. She was chained to a truck. She was brutally assaulted and left for dead, but she fought and crawled more than a hundred yards before being found by police and taken to the emergency room. Sadly, she passed away a few days later. The sights and sounds of his mother’s last days forever haunted him. He told Boxing News in 2011, “My mom’s death kills me every day…I just want to say ‘Good night mama.’ I want to hug my mama.”

    Johnny was raised by his grandparents following his mother’s death and they steered him toward boxing. He was an extremely successful amateur fighter, winning the Golden Gloves National Tournament in ’83 and ’85. His professional career started off hot as well. He went 21-0-1 in his first 22 bouts, but at age 21 he tested positive for cocaine and had his boxing license suspended for nearly four years.

    He returned from his suspension without missing a beat and rattled off four straight victories before getting his first shot at a world title. On October 12, 1994, Johnny Tapia, who’d already overcome so much, defeated Henry Martinez by technical knockout in the 11th round to be named the WBO Super Flyweight Champion of the World. He’d go on to become a five-time world champion and a member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.

    Johnny Tapia made his pro debut in 1988 and fought for the last time in 2011. He fought 64 professional fights and had his hand raised 59 times (30 KOs). His fan-friendly fighting style took him from a gym in Albuquerque to the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden.

    Heartbreakingly, all the in-ring success, a loving wife (Teresa), happy children (three sons) and adoration from friends and fans were no match for the overbearing pain of loss and drug addiction. Tapia was hospitalized after a cocaine overdose in early March of 2007, and he was arrested for a parole violation (due to cocaine use) in February of 2009.

    On May 27, 2012, Johnny Tapia passed away due to heart failure. He was found in his home and no drugs were found in his system. His story is a happy one, with a terribly sad beginning and end. To watch the documentary and to read the articles on his life, there’s no way to pass judgement on how Johnny lived; to not feel gutted when he tried and tried to overcome disturbing emotional trauma and drug addiction; just as there’s no way to not feel giddy when the music plays and he makes his way to the ring; or to not feel emotional when you hear fellow fighters and Albuquerque natives talk about all he meant to them. All you can say is that he was loved and that he loved with all his heart. Sometimes, for whatever reason, life is crazy.

    Honor Johnny Tapia's Legacy with officially licensed apparel here.

  • Pound-for-Pound the Sweetest Fighter Ever: Sugar Ray Robinson

    Pound-for-Pound the Sweetest Fighter Ever: Sugar Ray Robinson

    By Douglas Ward, Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing*

    The Legacy of Sugar Ray Robinson

    His fundamentally sound fighting style, combined with blazing hand speed and knockout power in both hands, established Sugar Ray Robinson as what many would consider, pound-for-pound, the greatest fighter of the century. He was also one of the pioneers of modern-day boxing.

    Even the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali described Ray Robinson as, "The king, the master…my idol." Robinson’s influence on him and many of today’s fighters can still be seen and was absolutely instrumental in some of the liberties boxers of today experience. He was one of the first fighters to begin making demands, dictating his own terms and creating his own rules about how the game would be played. Inside and outside of the boxing ring, Ray Robinson left an indelible mark as a trend-setter, torch-bearer and everlasting example.

    Although Robinson had actually been born Walker Smith, Jr (he had no middle name), he learned early on in his career and quest to become a fighter, how to work the system in his favor. When he was just fifteen years old, three years too young to legally fight, he tried to enter his first boxing match and when asked for his AAU membership card (to prove that he was an amateur and not a professional), his coach submitted one from a fellow fighter who no longer showed up at the gym. The certificate he used had the name “Ray Robinson” on it, so from that day forward, that’s who he became. He later picked up the additional nickname of “Sugar” after knocking-out a highly-regarded amateur from Canada who was stopping all of his opponents. At 118lbs. Robinson was giving up eight pounds against a bigger guy, but after stopping him in the very first round with a left hook, a New York sports editor told Robinson’s coach, “That’s a sweet fighter you got there. A real sweet fighter.” A lady sitting ringside overheard the comment and added, “As sweet as sugar!” You can guess how his name read the next day in the paper. “Sugar” Ray Robinson would ultimately go on to amass an amateur record of 85-0 with 69 of his victories ending in a knockout, 40 of them in the very first round!

    Turning professional in 1940 at the age of nineteen, Robinson raked up a professional record of 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts by 1951. In that span he began setting new rules in the business of boxing, as it related to the hot commodity called Sugar Ray Robinson, becoming the first fighter to demand and receive a percentage of television, theater and gate revenues. And by the mid 1940s he was commanding an unheard of $50,000 per fight.

    He was one of very few fighters at that time, who had enough power and pull on his own that we was able to avoid any mafia ties and outright denied them the ability to have any control over his career. Robinson also understood the value of diversification and the power of leveraging his boxing popularity. In addition to a few ventures into the song and dance and entertainment field, he was also able to capitalize on his celebrity by owning a literal city block of businesses in Harlem. Among a few were; Sugar Ray’s Quality Cleaners, the Golden Gloves Barber Shop, Sugar Ray’s Bar and Grill and Sugar Ray Enterprises.

    Robinson was able to accomplish and maintain all of this, while remaining a rising star, at the top of his game. From 1943 to 1951 Robinson was unbeaten in ninety one fights, the third longest streak in boxing history. He held the welterweight title for five consecutive years, from 1946-1951 and was the five-time middleweight champion between 1951 and 1960. His historic battles with Jake LaMotta, who he fought six times and won five of them became instant classics. He took on the best in the game and, during his reign, boxing was long on talent and toughness. There was no mention of a “bum-of-the-month” club when fighters like Kid Gavilan, Gene Fullmer, Randy Turpin, Carmen Basilio were all lining-up for their shot at Robinson’s title. He was the man-to-beat for two decades and was thirty-eight years old when he won his last middleweight title.

    After having amassed a career record of 173 wins, just 19 loses with 108 knockouts Robinson finally retired in December of 1965 at the age of forty four. Sugar Ray Robinson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and has left a boxing legacy as sweet as anyone could have every imagined.

    Shop Sugar Ray Robinson Legacy apparel here.

    *This post was originally published on December 15, 2014

  • Intelligence Before Bravery

    Intelligence Before Bravery

    By Fernando Vargas - TITLE Board of Advisors

    Fight Training Tips

    My father figure, mentor and coach, Eduardo Garcia always told me "Intelligence before bravery." I didn't hear him say it to all of his fighters, but he knew me and knew I needed to hear it. He knew I needed to hear it often. I loved to fight and I loved to get my anger all out, but he knew the importance of keeping my head and being more of a thinking fighter.

    These were words that I started to live by. The philosophy and these words became something I was able to slowly apply in the ring and it was a very important lesson in my development as a fighter.

    It was an approach he really stressed going into my first world championship fight with Yori Boy Campos in 1998. I only had 14 fights, against Campas' 74 going into that fight. He had a lot more experience, so Eduardo really wanted to be sure that I kept my head about me, not get over-anxious or over-aggressive. I listened and it paid off. I thought my way through the fight, applied just the right amount of pressure and knocked the champion out in the seventh round. I broke him down by fighting a smart fight, not just going after him.

    Intelligence before bravery can have meaning in all parts of your life. Having heart is important and it's a good trait, but there are times that you should think before acting careless or being reckless. This is something I pass along occasionally when I see my fighters getting too caught up in brawling, a reckless lifestyle or just thinking they're invincible.

    There are times that you have to bite down and just fight, but don't lose your head or let your emotions get the best of you. Know when to lead with your head, instead of your heart. Brains before brawn. Intelligence before bravery.

    Bio:Fernando bio image_BOA

    Three-time World Champion, “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas fought with an elite class of
    fighters throughout the 90s and into the 2000s. He holds wins over Yori Boy Campos (which also made him the youngest Jr. Middleweight to ever hold that title), Winky Wright, Ike Quartey and others. Vargas faced the best fighters of his era in Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad, in what many consider modern-day classics. To this day he remains a fan-favorite because of his accessibility and take-no-prisoners style in the ring. Vargas currently owns and operates the Feroz Fight Factory in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he trains a stable of rising amateur and professional prospects.

    TITLE Board of Advisors:

    A running series of blog posts collected by TITLE Boxing through our relationships with individuals inside the sport. Fighters, trainers, managers, dieticians, referees and more have offered their words, and we bring them to you here.

    Shop TITLE Boxing.

  • Charles "Sonny" Liston - The Myth. The Mystery. The Man.

    Charles "Sonny" Liston - The Myth. The Mystery. The Man.

    By Douglas Ward

    Inspiring Story of Boxing Legend Sonny Liston

    Born into a poor sharecropping family with little or no record of his actual birthdate, Sonny was always haunted by questions about his age. His death, ruled a suicide, was just as shrouded in secrecy, controversy and speculation. His boxing career was plagued by rumored ties with the mob and two highly questionable losses to Muhammad Ali. In between all of that chaos and confusion, Charles “Sonny” Liston was one of the most feared, powerful and dominant fighters to ever lace them up.

    Sonny led a troubled, tumultuous life, but that’s part of what has made him an enigmatic figure in boxing. He was, in fact, larger than life. Physically, he was an imposing heavyweight. First, he possessed an 84" reach, second only to heavyweight giant Primo Carnera's. He had a massive 18" neck and huge fists that measured 15" around. All of that sat on top of two tree-trunk, thick, muscled legs that used to generate enormous punching power. His physicality was matched only by his equally menacing demeanor. Abused as a child (the 24th of 25), hounded by the law, demonized by critics and forced to pound his way into boxing's elite, Sonny understandably carried some hate with him. If not in his heart, certainly his head. This extra incentive to prove himself made Liston that much more dangerous and imposing. It was with that commanding frame and ferocity that Sonny tore through the division's best for nine years, dismantling Cleveland Williams, Nino Valdez and Zora Folley on his way to the claim the heavyweight title.

    Every step of the way and with every dominating performance, those in power tried to keep him out of the heavyweight spotlight and away from title contention. With most of his prime years behind him, and only after he had absolutely demolished every other leading contender, then and only then, did Floyd Patterson and Cus D'Amato run out of options and ultimately agree to give Liston a shot at Patterson’s title. Patterson was subsequently stopped in the first round of their championship bout and then again in the very first round of their rematch.

    Next is where it really gets ugly, but if you’re talking about Liston’s ability, you can forget about the Ali fights. There was more going on in those outings than anyone may ever get to the bottom of. They reek of religious influences, scrupulous associations and dark undertones. Cast those aside and you are left with a legacy of one of the best fighters to ever live.

    Consider this: as an up-and-coming fighter, Liston faced Johnny Summerlin, who had an 18-1 record in only his fourth professional fight. He squared-off against only three guys, in his entire career, who had losing records. In all of his 54 fights, he faced legitimate, formidable opposition. After the Ali fights Liston fought 16 more times, winning all but one of those outings. History and casual fans have all but forgotten those fights.

    At nearly every turn of his life and boxing career, Sonny was shunned, shut out and shot down and yet he still managed to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Given the opportunity and a "fair shake” you can only imagine what Charles "Sonny" Liston might have been. He might have been the best, most fearsome heavyweight ever. Instead, he died an early death, shrouded in mystery, controversy and intrigue. It was an end that ironically mirrored his entire life.

    Shop the Sonny Liston Legacy tees here.

  • Marciano-Moore, 9/21/1955

    Marciano-Moore, 9/21/1955

    Rocky Marciano Last Fight

    On September 21st, 1955, "The Brockton Blockbuster" (right) fought his last fight. Marciano took on Archie Moore at Yankee Stadium. He defeated "The Ol' Mongoose" by knockout in the 9th round.

    Check out the TITLE Legacy tee honoring this fight here.

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