Forgotten Legends: Oba Carr

By: Steve Gallegos

The legendary Kronk Gym in Detroit, MI has produced it’s share of good fighters and world champions. The Kronk has produced some A-class fighters such as Tommy Hearns, Milton McCrory and Donald Curry, all of which were world champions. There was another A-class fighter to come out of the Kronk who was every bit as as good, however never could quite get to the top of the heap. That fighter was ObaMotor CityCarr.

Carr was a very skillful, exciting boxer-puncher who was a top contender in the welterweight division for most of the 1990’s and he mixed it up with some of the best fighters of his era. Oba Carr was born and raised in Detroit, MI and he began boxing at the age of six. He had a very good amateur pedigree as he compiled an amateur record of 168-8. He turned pro in December of 1989 at age 17, joining Emmanuel Steward’s stable of Kronk fighters. He won his first 32 bouts, 18 by KO. One of his most notable wins in his early career was his 21st fight, which was against former world champion Livingstone Bramble. It was a bout televised on USA’s Tuesday Night Fights and it was a matchup that was chosen by the fans via a telephone poll.

They met on 10/08/91 in front of a huge crowd of 13,000 plus fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, MI. It was the biggest test for Carr at that time and it was a chance to shine against world class opposition in his first main event. In the first round, Carr came out boxing well, using his jab as he was trying to set the pace, however Bramble’s experience would be a factor as he put Carr on the canvas with a right hand a little more than a minute into the first round. It was Carr’s first time being knocked down and he was up almost immediately. Bramble moved in, applied the pressure and would put Carr down again in the first round. It was a flash knockdown and Oba was immediately up on his feet again. Carr remained on the defensive for the remainder of the round to avoid getting knocked down again as the three knockdown rule was in effect.

Oba regained his footing and boxed very well in the second round as he used his jab and avoided dangerous exchanges. Carr began to find his rhythm as he began to land combinations in the third, particularly the right uppercut. The fourth round was much of the same as Carr continued to box well on the outside. In the fifth round, Carr landed a hard left hook that buckled Bramble. Oba began landing hard rights and lefts as he was going for the KO. Bramble however weathered the storm. Carr had thrown everything he had at Bramble and seemed to punch himself out. Bramble would regain his composure in the final 20 seconds of round five and began to land some good shots of his own, causing Carr to hold on.

Round five was one for the time capsule as it was a USA Tuesday Night Fight’s “Remarkable Round” and it was one of the greatest rounds in TNF history. Carr slowed down his attack in the sixth round as he still appeared to be spent from the fifth, however he dug deep and was able to land some good hard combinations to both the body and head. In the seventh, Carr was able to get an extra rest as Brambles corner repaired some loose tape on his gloves which took almost two minutes. Carr was able to box smartly and appeared to have gotten his second wind.

It appeared Bramble’s game plan was to fight in spurts. Bramble would attempt to steal the rounds in the last 30 seconds, however Carr was adapting well, tying Bramble up on the inside while keeping him at bay with his jab. Round eight was much of the same, however Bramble stepped up his attack in the final 10 seconds and appeared to have stolen the round. The last two rounds were close as both men had their moments. As the final bell sounded, it was any man’s fight as the fate was in the judge’s hands. The final result was a close split decision for Oba Carr. It was a very tough fight and a learning experience for the young Carr.

He would win his next 11 bouts and would get his first world title shot against Felix Trinidad. Carr and Trinidad would meet on 12/10/94 in Monterry, Mexico for the IBF Welterweight title. Carr came into the fight very confident, feeling Trinidad was vunerable and taylor made for him. By this time, Carr had had many issues outside the ring with managers and trainers. For this fight, he had the very controversial Carlos “Panama” Lewis in his corner who was banned from working a corner in the U.S. Due to an incident in the 1980’s when he stripped padding from a fighter’s gloves.

In the second round, Carr landed a good, straight right hand that put Trinidad down. It was a solid shot, however Trinidad was up almost immediately. Carr stayed on the outside, using his jab and avoiding exchanges with the very dangerous Trinidad. Carr controlled much of the third round in the same fashion as he used his jab effectively to offset Trinidad as well as making “Tito” miss some big, hard shots. Trinidad started to come on in the fourth round, however Carr remained elusive and rolled with the punches very well while continuing to land his jab. Carr was game as he was able to hang in there with the very hard punching Trinidad, however Trinidad would drop Carr twice in the eighth round; hard shots which caused referee Robert Gonzalez to stop the bout.

It was a tough loss for Carr, however he showed courage, heart and resiliency. Carr would bounce back winning his next seven bouts, five by KO and he would once again get a crack at another world title. This time against Ike “Bazooka” Quartey. They met on 10/04/96 at the theater at Madison Square Garden. Carr fought a game, determined fight, however he would once again come up short against the very skilled Quartey as he lost a 12 round majority decision.

Carr would once again bounce back, going 9-0-1 over the next two and a half years which included a decision win over former three-time champion Frankie Randall, which set up the biggest bout of his career; a welterweight title shot against Oscar De La Hoya. The “Golden Boy” was at the top of his game and Carr was supposed to be a tuneup fight for a huge, mega showdown with Felix Trinidad. They met on 05/22/99 in the first main event at the brand new Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV for the WBC Welterweight title. Prior to the bout, Larry Merchant complimented Carr by saying cars need tune ups and that Oba Carr was no tune up.

Carr would once again give a great effort, surviving an early knockdown to give De La Hoya a run for his money before getting caught in the 11th and getting stopped. It was another heartbreaking defeat in a bid for a world title and it would be Carr’s last shot. He would go 6-3 with three KO’s over the next three years before calling it a career in 2002. His record stands at 54-6-1 with 31 KO’s. He was definitely in the class of his Kronk predecessors Hearns, McCrory and Curry. Possessing all the tools to become a world champion, however coming up slightly short of glory.

Forgotten Legends: Frankie Randall

Frankie Randall

By: Steve Gallegos

We continue our ‘Forgotten Legends‘ series with another very underrated fighter who never got the due he deserved. A tough pugilist who wouldn’t let the politics and bad breaks of boxing keep him down. That fighter was former three-time world champion FrankieThe SurgeonRandall.

Randall was a tough, boxer puncher who could bang and he made history during his career while being dealt some very bad hands as well. Frankie Randall was born in Birmingham, AL and grew up in Morristown, TN. He turned pro in 1981 and went 24-0 with 19 KO’s from 1983-1985 before losing his first bout to future world champion Edwin Rosario. He also KO’d and drew with another future world champion in Freddie Pendelton and despite Pendelton’s subpar record, he received a world title shot long before Randall did. Randall continued to press on knowing that one day he would get his world title shot.

After losing his second bout to Primo Ramos in 1987, Randall signed with promoter Don King and went on a 17 fight win streak including a seventh round TKO over Edwin Rosario in a rematch. Finally after 51 fights, Randall would get his first title shot against Mexico’s legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. “El Gran Campeon Mexicano” came into the fight with an outstanding record or 89-0-1 and was looking for win number 90 in his quest to reach 100 victories. Prior to the fight, Randall studied Chavez’s last bout with Pernell Whitaker in which Whitaker outboxed and dominated Chavez. He saw some holes in Chavez’s game when faced with a good boxer and was confident he could capitalize on those weaknesses. He also said prior to the bout that he had a surprise that he was going to unveil in the fight.

They met on 01/29/94 in Las Vegas, NV at the brand new MGM Grand Garden Arena for the WBC Super Lightweight title. When the opening bell sounded, Randall was a 15-1 underdog; however he would defy the odds with a huge statement. Randall came out, showing no fear of Chavez and took the first three rounds as he landed crisp combinations. During the middle rounds, Chavez started to come on; however Randall wasn’t phased by Chavez’s punching power and gave as good as he got. The seventh round is when the tide began to turn in favor of Randall.

Chavez had been throwing low blows for most of the night and in the seventh round, Chavez was deducted a point from Referee Richard Steele after Chavez landed a huge low blow that staggered Randall. Randall would have a huge rally in the 8th and as the fight headed into the championship rounds, it appeared that Chavez would need a knockout in order to keep his title. The 11th round was the most crucial round of the fight as Chavez once again landed another bad low blow which caused Richard Steele to once again deduct a point. Moments later, Randall would unleash the surprise he promised before the fight as he landed a huge straight right hand that put Chavez down for the very first time in his career.

Many watching the Pay Per View telecast will not forget Showtime commentator Steve Albert’s Howard Cosell moment when he yelled out “Oh down goes Chavez for the first time in his career”. It was the icing on the cake for Frankie Randall and when the final bell sounded, he knew he finally acheived his dream. The end result was a very close split decision win for Randall. While the judge’s final scorecards were closer than the fight really was, Randall was finally a world champion. Randall made history in more ways than one that night. Not only was he a world champion, he was also the first man to knock Julio Cesar Chavez down and defeat him. He was also the winner of the very first main event at the now legendary MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Chavez didn’t give the proper respect to Randall and instead blamed the loss on Referee Richard Steele for taking away points for low blows. The Chavez camp called for an immediate rematch and they would get one just a litte over three months later. Randall and Chavez met once again on 05/07/94 at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas. The fight was once again action packed with both fighters having their moments throughout seven rounds.

In the eighth, the two men collided heads which caused a huge gash over Chavez’s eye. According to the WBC rules, when an accidental headbutt occurs, the uncut fighter loses a point; therefore Randall was deducted a point on the scorecards. The bout was stopped and the fight went to the scorecards in which Chavez was awarded a close technical decision. Had the unjust and atrocious rule of the WBC not been enforced, then Randall would have retained his title via a technical draw. Randall shook off the loss and would get another crack at a world title in his next fight when he faced WBA Jr. Welterweight champion Juan Martin Coggi of Argentina.

They met on 09/17/94 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Randall dominated the bout, dropping Coggi three times en route to a unanimous decision victory. He would successfully defend his title twice before facing Coggi in a rematch. They met on 01/13/96 in Miami, FL and Randall would once again be dealt a very bad hand. In the fifth round, the two fighters collided heads and Coggi would go down and would be on wobbily legs causing the fight to be stopped and go to the scorecards. Coggi was awarded a technical decision and the WBA Jr Welterweight title.

Coggi apppeared to be acting more hurt than he really was and many felt he deserved an “Oscar” instead of the championship. Randall was furious, stating that he would rather lose the right way instead of the way he lost and it wasn’t right. He would face Coggi in a rubber match seven months later in Coggi’s home country of Argentina in which he would regain his title via unanimous decision. He was now a three time world champion; however his third reign as champion wouldn’t last very long.

On 01/11/97, he faced tough French challenger Khalid Rahilou in Nashville, TN. Randall’s scouting report on Rahilou was that he lacked power and was slow; however Randall’s observation was clearly mistaken. Randall came out and dictated the pace of the first three rounds as he pressed forward, oppossing his will on Rahilou, who was circling most of the time. As the rounds went on, Randall began having problems with Rahilou’s lateral movement and the tough French challenger began to land hard, fast combinations.

The tide turned for Rahilou in the eighth when he staggered Randall towards the end of the round. Rahilou dominated the ninth and 10th rounds with his quick combinations and went for the kill in the 11th, causing the fight to be stopped. Randall would take the next 18 months off and would cut ties with promoter Don King. He returned in July of 1998, winning two fights by KO and was once again in line for a possible world title shot, this time against Oscar De La Hoya; however he would lose to Oba Carr on 02/13/99 in a title eliminator bout.

It was pretty much the end of the road for Frankie Randall as a serious contender in the sport of Boxing. He would continue fighting for another 6 years going 3-12, including a loss to Julio Cesar Chavez in a rubber match in 2004. He retired in 2005 with a record of 58-18 with 42 KO’s. He is another of our “Unsung” heroes who never got the credit he truly deserved. He was a fighter who never had anything given to him, instead he went out and took it. He was a fighter who kept pressing on when the politics and bad luck of boxing kept trying to keep him down. He is much more than just the man who dethroned Julio Cesar Chavez. He was a true pugilist and a true champion.

Frankie Randall