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.

Photos- Sergio Martinez: “Roach Predicting a KO for Cotto Is One of the Best Jokes He’s Ever Told”

NEW YORK, NY – (6/2/14) – World Boxing Council (WBC)/The Ring middleweight champion and Argentina’s favorite son, SERGIO “Maravilla” MARTÍNEZ, held his final media day earlier this afternoon ahead of his upcoming world title defense this Saturday, and the most eagerly anticipated boxing event of 2014 against three-division world champion and the Pride of Puerto Rico, MIGUEL COTTO.

Hundreds of media members and even more fans turned out Modell’s Sporting Goods flagship store in Times Square, just block from where Martinez will meet Cotto on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, to get a glimpse of Martinez. Martinez answered questions for the media before performing an intense 30 minute workout, which showed the champion to be in absolutely phenomenal shape ahead of his upcoming title defense. Following his work out, Martinez sat and signed autographs and took photos with every single one of his adoring fans that had come out to show their support.

Below are some brief quotes from Martinez as well as a few select photos from both the media work out, and the Empire State Building, where Martinez took photos with his opponent Miguel Cotto earlier in the afternoon, before heading over to his workout.

SERGIO MARTINEZ: I love New York City. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. I am so excited to be here and fight at one of the most famous arenas in the entire world. This is a dream come true for me.

Camp was phenomenal. The gym was excellent, Miami was perfect. This is the best training camp that I have ever had in my entire career. I said it before and I am saying it again, there is no possible way that Cotto will make it out of the 9th round.

On Freddie Roach predicting a KO victory for Cotto:
Freddie Roach is excellent at telling jokes and this is one of the best jokes he has ever told.

CottoMartinez4 CottoMartinez3 CottoMartinez5 CottoMartinez2 CottoMartinez1

Photo credit: Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment/ Ed Mulholland

Body of Work vs Working the Body

By: @medafORACLE

“People forget how fast you did a job, but they remember how well you did it” ~Howard Newton

Quality. What does it mean to you? Where does it come from? Does the existence of quality predate humanity? or is this, like fire; something man has created? Whatever your perception of quality is, the conclusion is that it exists. To me, quality is somewhat like light. Like light, quality can be darkened by a dying star in our universe spiraling with the strongest gravitational pull known to man….or a black hole if you will. Imagine quality being a living star. Shining, bright and beautifully, but; what happens if that star begins to die or its light begins to diminish and darken? The quality of that star can no longer be seen. As the star dies, it tends to suck the life out of everything in its path as well. Even before the star is completely dead, it takes a special kind of light to be able to see these black holes due to having no light or…..quality, so to speak. Yes, I know; this is a boxing site. We’ll get to that in a second. Hopefully you can already see where I’m gong with this, though. If not, be patient and if you can; sit back and buckle up for the ride. Let’s step in the phone booth…..

In the early 90’s the quality of Hip Hop was at an all time high. Like other intrigued inner city residents, Master P decided to join the movement. In 1991 he created No Limit Records. Since that year, to date; the label has released 106 albums with 1998 being their busiest year notching a total of 23 released albums. What was the quality of these albums? Well, with an average of nearly 2 albums a month….1.92 to be exact, you could imagine the quality being equivalent to a dying star. I guess you can consider this label the “Black Hole” of Hip Hop.

Often times, more now than ever; consumers and even aspiring artist tend to trap themselves in the thought process of total body of work of an artist as being quality work. If you aren’t hustling and releasing a string of work longer than the wait of Doctor Dre’s Detox album’s release, then you aren’t deserving of the limelight. Several times I have been involved in such arguments of “who’s better than who skillfully?” and 10 times out of 10 the same rebuttal is uttered from the lips of the illogical consumer…”well, “MC 1000 Projects” has a larger body of work. We’re not discussing body of work; we’re discussing skill level and quality.

Let’s bridge the assumed gap in music and boxing, shall we? Too often do we see this same discussion in boxing. Our “No Limit Records” of boxing today could be in the physical form of a very popular fighter by the name of Canelo Alvarez. At the tender age of 23 this young man has already tallied a total of 45 fights. The quality of this fighter is deemed superb due to the high number of fights at such a young age. This quantity of fights doesn’t quite translate to the quality of his resume and or skill level unfortunately.

Like the Hip Hop community, the boxing world had this very “body of work” discussion in affiliation with Nonito Donaire vs Guillermo Rigondeaux. Nonito’s argument, along with the masses was that Rigondeaux only having 11 fights didn’t deserve a fight as he was “inexperienced” and not of the same caliber of fighter as Donaire. Nonito, who has more fights or a lager “body of work” if you will, was deemed the more quality fighter. On April 3rd, 2013 we witnessed one of the most lopsided and obvious boxing clinics performed due to a skill level more unequal than African American rights in the mid 1800’s. Rigondeaux, the more shaper, crisp, skillful and quality fighter, breezed to a victory easier than the likes of Albert Einstein taking a pre algebra test.

Quality. This is not defined by an abundant output of an individual in his/her field. It is simply the translator of one’s patience and passion. Don’t confuse quantity with quality for you may miss the blessing of performing creativity at its highest level of skill.