Quotes: Underdogs Make Their Case Ahead of Aug. 8th On Garcia-Salka Card

“I’ve been an underdog for my entire career. I’ve been vaccinated; I’m immune to this.”

– Rod Salka

 

“People will still talk trash about me after I knock Peterson out. But that’s not my problem.”

– Edgar Santana

“I didn’t travel all the way here and spend months in the gym just to get a paycheck. I’m not just an opponent. I came here to take that title back to my fans in Australia.”

– Jarrod Fletcher

BROOKLYN (July 31, 2014) – Rod SalkaEdgar Santana and Jarrod Fletcher are all, understandably, being referred to as underdogs heading into their respective fights Saturday, Aug. 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But the overlooked fighters are all relishing in their opportunity to pull off the upset and shock the world, live onSHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®.

In the main event on SHOWTIME, Unified Super Lightweight World Champion Danny “Swift” Garcia will face the hungry “Lightning” Rod Salka in a 10-round welterweight bout. In the co-feature, IBF Junior Welterweight World Champion Lamont Peterson will risk his title against veteran contender Edgar Santana in a 12-round match. In the opening fight of the telecast, Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs will take on once-beaten Australian Jarrod Fletcher for the vacant WBA Middleweight World Title.

Will these dogs have any bite? Check out SHOWTIME boxing expert Steve Farhood‘s list of top 10 underdogs who pulled off extraordinary upsets and read what each aforementioned fighter has to say as they head into the biggest fights of their careers:

  1. Buster Douglas KO 10 Mike Tyson, February 11, 1990, Tokyo (Wins WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight Titles) – Tyson is 37-0, Douglas is a 42-1 underdog in at least one Las Vegas sports book; not even Nostradamus saw this coming.
  2. Evander Holyfield KO 11 Mike Tyson, November 9, 1996, Las Vegas (Wins WBA Heavyweight Title) – Tyson opens as 24-1 favorite; not first or last time “Real Deal” is overlooked.
  3. Randy Turpin W 15 Sugar Ray Robinson, July 10, 1951, London (Wins world middleweight title) – Robinson went in with a ridiculous record of 128-1-2, and hasn’t lost since 1943.
  4. Frankie Randall W 12 Julio Cesar Chavez, January 29, 1994, Las Vegas (Wins WBC Super Lightweight Title) – “J.C. Superstar,” 89-0-1, suffers first knockdown and first loss in same bout.
  5. Hasim Rahman KO 5 Lennox Lewis, April 22, 2001, Gauteng, South Africa (Wins WBC & IBF Heavyweight Titles) – Rahman does it with one legendary punch vs. ill-prepared Lewis.
  6. Billy Backus KO 4 Jose Napoles, December 3, 1970, Syracuse, NY (Wins world welterweight title) – New York Times lists local challenger, who has 10 losses, as 9-1 underdog; aging Napoles stopped on cuts.
  7. Leon Spinks W 15 Muhammad Ali, February 15, 1978, Las Vegas (Wins world heavyweight title) – Almost beyond belief: In only ninth pro bout, Olympic gold medalist Spinks shocks “The Greatest.”
  8. Corrie Sanders KO 2 Wladimir Klitschko, March 8, 2003, Niedersachsen, Germany (Wins WBO Heavyweight Title) – Southpaw from South Africa crushes Wlad with huge left hands.
  9. (tie) Cassius Clay KO 7 Sonny Liston, February 25, 1964, Miami (Wins world heavyweight title)

Muhammad Ali KO 8 George Foreman, October 30, 1974, Kinshasa, Zaire (Regains world heavyweight title) – Ali is at least 7-1 underdog in both bouts; his handlers, in fear of his fate vs. Big George, had reportedly mapped out route from stadium to hospital.

  1. Kirkland Laing W 10 Roberto Duran, September 4, 1982, Detroit (junior middleweight bout) – A 7-1 underdog, the UK’s Laing surprises Duran, 74-3 at the time.

ROD SALKA:

“I’ve been an underdog the entire time I’ve been a professional.  I’d have to be living under a rock to not think I’m an underdog.  But this is just another fight that I have to win.  I know I’m the underdog, but I’ve never looked at it that way.  I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder.  And I stuck around because people told me I couldn’t succeed.

“I don’t want to look back when I’m 60 or 70-years-old and have any regrets or know I didn’t give it my all. This could be my only opportunity like this and I can’t let it slip away.

“If I needed anything to motivate me it would have been six years ago when I was promoting my own four-round fights, when I was fighting in local shows trying to draw my own fans. Each fight now is its own motivator; each one is the biggest fight of my life.

“Critics would say, ‘He’ll never be more than a four-round fighter, he’ll never be a contender, he’ll never beat anyone good.’ Then I fought on SHOWTIME and I beat Alexei Collado. Now they say, ‘He doesn’t stand a chance against Danny Garcia.’ They were wrong before and they are wrong again.”

EDGAR SANTANA:

“People see me as the underdog, the guy without a chance, which I don’t mind. We are all underdogs in one way or another.  It’s up to me to change that, and the only way to do that is beat Lamont Peterson.

“People have been underestimating me my whole life.  It has definitely motivated me.

“When people say you can’t win, you can’t beat him, you don’t deserve a shot, and it’s alright. My focus is on working hard.  I have to perform that night and to show everyone what I’m capable of doing. I don’t care what people say. People will still talk trash about me after I knock him out. But that’s not my problem. All I know is they made a big mistake in choosing me as an opponent.

“This would instantly change everything for me.  You’re talking about a fighter who many people have forgotten about. But I’m back, I think I’ve paid my dues, I’ve worked hard, I’ve sacrificed a lot.  This is meant to be.  I truly believe that this is meant to be.

“For some reason, I just have that feeling inside, I can almost taste it.  This is my time.  I’m here for a reason and I’m going to take advantage of this. It’s happening for a reason and I’m going to leave it all on the line.

“This shot makes everything I’ve been through in my career and personal life worth it.  I’ve been around, ups and downs, but I still kept pushing.  I was very optimistic throughout my career.  I always told myself that if I kept pushing myself that my time would come.  And that time is finally here.”

JARROD FLETCHER:

“I like having the underdog role. I’ve been the massive dog before -no one thought I would win against Max Bursak earlier this year in Monaco – and it’s the same here in his (Jacobs’) own back yard. I look forward to the opportunity. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.

“The fans in the U.S. might not know who I am, but I’m just focused on my preparation. People can think what they want. I’ve come here to win. I didn’t travel all the way here and spend months in the gym just to get a paycheck. I’m not just an opponent. I came here to take that title back to my fans in Australia.

“It would be life changer. Winning the title would make life a lot easier with the young kids, my wife and family. It would financially set me up and put me up top. Everything would come easier. Winning a world title has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and it will come true next week.

“Once that bell goes it doesn’t matter who the favored fighter is, or what city or arena we are fighting in. It could be in a phone box in Australia and it wouldn’t matter to me. We’ve already put in all the hard work. All those guys cheering against me just make me hungrier.

“I’m just going to let my fists do the talking in the ring. I’ve had a great preparation. This has been a dream of mine and it’s about to come true. This is going to be the start of something big for me.”

Garcia vs Salka

Forgotten Legends: Michael Grant

By: Steve Gallegos 

Some fighters are groomed for the spotlight and appear to be heading for greatness, only to be put into a fight that they aren’t ready for which starts the beginning of the end of their career. That was the case with former heavyweight title challenger Michael Grant. Grant was a giant, standing at 6″7 and he had great technique and skill, which made him probably the most popular of the many young, up and coming heavyweights in the mid-late 90’s.
Grant was born and raised in Chicago and was an all around athlete that played basketball, football, and baseball; however his poor grades prevented him from getting a major athletic scholarship. In 1992, Grant went to Las Vegas to see the action-packed heavyweight championship fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe and while he was there, he met Las Vegas referee Richard Steele, who suggested he become a boxer; therefore he did. Grant had only 12 amatuer bouts before turning pro in July of 1994 and would go 22-0 with 16 KO’s in his first two years as a professional.
1997 would be a big year for Grant as he get some national exposure by going  4-0 with two KO’s, including big knockout wins over Al “Ice” Cole and Jorge Luis Gonzalez. All four bouts were nationally televised on ESPN and ABC. He was being trained by the famous Don Turner, who at the time also trained Evander Holyfield. Turner said that Michael Grant had the ability to be the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. 1998 would be another big year for Grant as he would make his HBO debut on 01/17/98 against David Izon. Izon was known for giving young David Tua, the toughest test of his young career and he was also coming off a huge upset KO win over Lou Savarese in the first boxing event ever held at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
Grant shined in his HBO debut, taking out Izon in five rounds. He would follow it up with another KO win four months later against another solid opponent in Obed Sullivan. The spotlight continued to get brighter for Grant in 1999 as he would begin the year with a 10th round stoppage of Ahmad Abdin and he would follow it five months later with a decisive unanimous decision win over Lou Savarese at the theater at Madison Square Garden. After the win over Savarese, serious talks began about Grant facing the winner of the Holyfield-Lewis heavyweight championship unificiation. All Grant had to do was win one more fight to get a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world and that fight was against the very tough, rugged, experienced and dirty Andrew Golota.
They met on 11/20/99 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ. Grant controlled much of the first round with his jab and right hand when all of a sudden, Golota landed a huge right hand that put Grant down. Golota would continue to attack Grant and would put him down again towards the end of the round. Golota would continue the attack round after round and it looked as though Grant’s title shot against Lennox Lewis was close to being scrapped.
Going into the 10th round, Grant knew he had to dig deep in order to secure his shot at a heavyweight title and he did by landing a huge right hand that hurt Golota. Grant smelled blood and attacked Golota with a good combination that would put him down. Golota got up, however elected not to continue; therefore referee Randy Neuman stopped the bout. It was a great come from behind win for Michael Grant and the stage was now set for Grant to face Lennox Lewis.
The event was called “Two Big” and it was the biggest fight to start off the new millenium. There were a lot of questions going into this fight as to whether Michael Grant was ready to handle the magnitude of the event and the pressure of fighting a superb boxer like Lennox Lewis. There were also questions as to whether or not Lewis had met his match as Grant posed a size advantage over him. Lewis was very confident that he picked Grant at the right time before he became too seasoned. Lewis said “Grant is like what I call hurry come up. He came up fast so he’s gonna go in a split second”.
They met on 04/29/00 at Madison Square Garden. There was no feeling out process in the first round. The two fighters started throwing bombs from the opening bell. Grant landed the first big shot less than 30 seconds into the bout when he caught Lewis holding his left hand low. Grant was getting into a rhythm when Lewis landed a left uppercut followed by a right hand that put Grant on the canvas. Grant got up but was on wobbly legs. Lewis continued the onslaught and landed four straight right hands, which caused Grant to wobble back towards the corner; therefore referee Arthur Mercante Jr. gave him a count. Lewis continued his pressure, landing hard shots to the body and head and with around 10 seconds to go in the first round, he landed another hard right hand right on the temple which put Grant down again.
Many thought the fight was over, but Grant showed tremendous heart and made it to his feet to make it out of the round. Grant came out for the second round, still on wobbly legs and Lewis was still coming forward trying to knock him out. With less than 30 seconds to go in the second, Lewis landed a huge right uppercut that put Grant down for the fourth and final time. It was a spirited and gutsy effort by Grant; however he was blasted by a much better fighter and possibly the best heavyweight of his era.
Grant took 15 months off due to a knee injury caused by the many knockdowns he received against Lennox Lewis. He took on relatively unknown Jameel McCline in his first bout back and the string of bad luck would continue. McCline landed a right hand in the first round that put Grant down and the knockdown would cause a broken ankle; therefore the fight was stopped. It was a crushing setback for Grant and his future was in question. HBO televised the fight that night and George Foreman said aftewards that Grant needs to avoid the big television spotlight for a while, that he needed to fight regularly and fight in small towns, small venues so he can build himself up again.
Grant would take “Big” George’s advice and he would rack up seven wins in a row over the next two years, all by knockout. After building himself back up, it was time for him to return to HBO and he did so on 06/07/03 when he faced unbeaten Dominick Guinn in Atlantic City. It was the co-feature for the third bout between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. It was supposed to be a comeback celebration for Grant; however Guinn would crash the party by putting Grant down four times and stopping him within seven rounds. This loss would pretty much end Michael Grant’s career at the top.
He would continue to fight for another ten years going 10-2 with 6 KO’s. His record as a professional stands at 48-5 with 36 KO’s. He was another story of “What if”. He had all the goods to be a heavyweight great and his train was derailed by the greatest heavyweight champion of his era. He just couldn’t shake the ghost of Lennox Lewis. However short the glory was, it was 100% exciting the whole time because he gave it 100% and then some each and every time he stepped through those ropes.
Michael Grant

 

 

 

 

 

WBF Heavyweight Title Bout: Francois Botha (R) v Michael Grant (L)

Photo Credit: Gallo Images/Getty Images Europe

Brent Bowers: “Scott’s Bout with Washington Will Be the True Test”

Brent Bowers, the long-time chief sparring partner and cornerman for the great George Foreman, says he has helped Houston heavyweight Skipp “Strictly Business” Scott find the true potential of his punching power.

Scott (16-1, 10 KOs) will be looking to exert his newly improved power when he faces Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington (11-0, 8 KOs) in the 10-round co-main event on Thursday, April 3, when Golden Boy Live! presents “Night Of The Heavyweights,” a tripleheader of heavyweight action on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes, from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

In the 10-round main event, unbeaten Cuban Luis Ortiz will take on long-time top contender and world-title challenger Monte Barrett and, in the televised opener, 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale will face veteran Nagy Aguilera.

Tickets for Night Of The Heavyweights, priced at $25, $35 and $45, are on sale now at the Fantasy Springs Box Office, by calling (800) 827-2946 or online at www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The towering Scott, who stands a massive 6′ 8″ has put together a Texas “Dream Team” of trainers for his big showcase, including Bowers, who spent many years learning from Foreman, one of the heaviest punchers in boxing history.

“The one problem he (Scott) was doing offensively was he didn’t have the proper snap in his shots,” said Bowers. “He was relying on his strength too much. We were really able to improve his power by getting him to put that snap in his punches and start twisting his leg properly. Even with the guys I’ve been in the ring with and worked with, I would still say Skipp Scott is a very hard-punching heavyweight.”

Bowers, who has sparred over 500 rounds with “Big George”, in addition to working with several other world-class heavyweights over the past 29 years, says he tweaked Scott’s defense as well.

“I noticed he was keeping his right hand in front of his face, instead of to the side, so we got him to stop doing that. His defense is much improved as well. He’s going to be a vastly improved and much more powerful version of himself on fight night. People will be surprised, most of all his opponent.”

Bowers says the fight with Washington will be the true test of Scott’s ability to utilize what he’s been shown. “He’s very good. He’s got the ability and he can become a champion. After this fight, we’ll know exactly where he’s at. This is his time to show everyone what he’s made of.”

On fight night, Scott’s corner will be manned by legendary Hall-of-Fame Trainer Jessie Reid and well-respected Houston boxing staple, Aaron Navarro.

“Night Of The Heavyweights” is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Corona and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The Fantasy Springs Event Center doors open at 4:00 p.m. PT and the first fight starts at 5:00 p.m. PT. The FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes broadcast airs live at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.