AVOIDING SUCKA FIGHTS: CHALLENGING THE RIGHT FIGHTERS IN ROUTE TO THE TITLE
In 1986, I was back in my old “hood” visiting my parents. I ran into one of the guys I grew up with and had
known since kindergarten, his name was “Dickie”. We were talking about boxing on the streets when we were young
lads, about 7 or 8 years old. In my old hood, every Christmas someone would receive a set of boxing gloves which would last
no more than a few weeks. Once word got around the neighborhood about the gloves, every tough guy in the neighborhood would
beg that person to bring the gloves outside so they can fight, just good old recreational fun.
Did not matter what age group it was, kids, teens and adults. We would go in any alley and the challenges would go long
into the night accompanied by cut lips, bloody noses, black eyes, knotty heads and the old guys telling everyone how ‘bad’
they were back in the day.
Dickie was one of the toughest guys that I knew. Fortune and success never really shined on him. A great athlete in every
sport but the one sport he excelled in was boxing. He never had a job. Boxing was his only means of support besides his parents
and drugs. A fight here and there mostly in the DC-Baltimore corridor. He sparred with Sugar Ray Leonard and numerous other
top fighters that were coming up in that era. But everyone always thought that he would be the next great fighter coming out
As we talked about old times, street fighting, gang fights, Muhammad Ali, the ‘76 Olympic Team, etc. Dickie said,
“Ya know Mike, I could have fought as a top pro and made a million dollars, just like Sugar Ray. But the difference
between him and me was that I just kept gettin’ sucka fights. When Sugar and me was amateurs everyone said we were about
That seems to be the story that I have heard from would be champs through the years but it stayed in my memory about Dickie
because he was one of the greatest boxer/streetfighter that I have ever known. Probably with the right guidance he would have
been a professional champion too.
Just like any business a fighter’s career whether it is boxing, wrestling, kickboxing or mixed martial arts has to
be planned. There has to be a road map to the championship and taking on any and everybody is not useful in route to the championship.
As you turn pro, try to align yourself or sign up with gyms or management organizations that have a track record of sending
fighters to championships. You believe in yourself, stick with the people who believe in you.
If you are not the most talented guy in the gym. Seek out informational tips from your trainers, boxers and management.
Ask for constructive criticism from people outside your sphere of influence to see how you stack up. Remember that you are
the one in there taking the punches. It does not hurt to see where you stand as a talent with others.
Be patient. If you are moderately talented. Get better. Learn more. Ask your sparring partners what they see. Work on yourself
Second, keep abreast with your management team‘s activities. Remember, inside your management team you are the most
important person there. You should know what all the moves are and nothing should be kept from you. If you are destroying
talent and you don’t see an upgrade in your opponents, then you have to inquire with your management team why.
On April 7, 2005, Billy Zumbrun (18-6-1, 10 KOs) of Ogden, Utah, a former linebacker from Weber State University, fought
former world champion, Riddick Bowe on Fox Television’s, “The Best Damn Sport Show Period”. Zumbrun came
well prepared and fought the former world champion to a close decision in which he lost, but everyone in the audience including
the sports commentators felt that Zumbrun should have won. Various sports writers on the Internet are saying that the Goosens
who manages Riddick Bowe and promoted the fights that night should give Billy another shot at a high profiled fight.
Choosing to fight a former heavyweight champ on the comeback trail was not a career buster for Billy. If anything it has
enhanced it and will bring him more quality opponents on his way to the title.
You do not want to get stuck in a position of fighting guys with 3-18 records or 14-14 records because you will not learn
much from them. A talented fighter will learn to overcome his opponent’s strengths and discover their weaknesses as
he is in combat with them. This helps mold you into a champion.
If you think that your management is not working in your favor, there are always the state and federal courts to get you
out of your contract. But before you sign away your career. Start off by testing yourself and your team by signing a per fight
deal. A trial, one, two, or three fight deal, just to see if things work out in your favor. You can sign an open end contract
where there is a per fight arrangement and the contract will not bind you to the management group. You or them can walk away
with no harm done if there is any disagreement. Similar to month-to-month agreements on rental property in the real estate
business. If there is a major disagreement, then adios amigos. Try another group that can help you get to the fighter’s
promise land, THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE.
Good Luck and Keep Punching!
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