Bobby ‘Schoolboy’ Chacon was a heck of a fan favorite during his heyday

Bobby Chacon v Cornelius Boza-Edwards : News Photo

Bobby Chacon tangles with Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Chacon winning a unanimous decision in May 1983 in Las Vegas. It was named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine/Photo courtesy of Getty Images, Ring Magazine

 

Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon played host to a reporter from this newspaper in the fall of 2000 at the Skid Row gym where he was teaching kids the art of the sweet science.
By then, Chacon already had been stricken with pugilistic dementia, the result of his many ring wars.

Chacon had lost his wife, Valerie, in 1982 to a self-inflicted gunshot wound brought on by her husband’s refusal to quit boxing.

Nine years later, Chacon’s son Bobby Jr. was the victim of gang violence when he was shot and killed at 17. That’s not to mention Chacon’s own issues with drugs and alcohol.

Yet, Chacon — “the pride of Pacoima” — never stopped smiling. His tough life aside, he would constantly show up at local boxing cards, cracking jokes that had so many laughing. Sadly, it all came to an end Wednesday when Chacon died at 64. Chacon suffered a bad fall in a dementia care facility in Hemet that led to his death, said Ricky Farris, president of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame.

“As sad of shape as he was in, he was the guy who was always laughing and happy,” said Don Chargin, who promoted many of Chacon’s fights. “He wasn’t one of those mean guys, where they get a little bit of that dementia, they get sullen and mean.”

Chacon boxed professionally from 1972-88, compiling a record of 59-7-1 with 47 knockouts while winning world titles in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.

Chacon’s ninth-round stoppage of Danny “Little Red” Lopez in 1974 at the L.A. Sports Arena was just one of Chacon’s many epic victories. Chacon also took on Rafael “Bazooka” Limon four times, going 2-1 with a draw. In their fourth fight, Chacon won a 15-round unanimous decision in a super featherweight title fight in Sacramento in 1982. Chacon was decked twice, Limon once. That was named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.

There were Chacon’s two fights with Cornelius Boza-Edwards. Chacon was stopped by Boza-Edwards in the 13th round in 1981 in a super featherweight title fight in Las Vegas. Chacon came back to win a 12-round unanimous decision over Boza-Edwards in 1983 in Las Vegas. It was another Chacon fight that Ring Magazine honored as Fight of the Year.
Abel Sanchez, trainer of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, grew up in West Covina. Like all area fans, he embraced Chacon during his heyday.

“I think he brought the kind of mentality that has been lost in recent times in our boxing business,” Sanchez said via telephone from London, where Golovkin will defend his title Saturday against Kell Brook. “I think now it’s more of a business, where as back then fighters were warriors; fighters fought like the old-timers did.

“Bobby’s fights with Boza-Edwards are something to learn from and study. He was one-of-a-kind for our Southern California fighters. He just personified the Mexican warrior that we, as fans, want to see in our fighters.”

Longtime promoter Bob Arum said it well in one short sentence.

“He was a tremendous fighter and a big attraction,” he said.

Chargin recalled that Chacon-Lopez sold out the L.A. Sports Arena in 1974. Four months later, Chacon won the featherweight title with a ninth-round TKO of Alfredo Marcano in September at the Olympic Auditorium, then knocked out Jesus Estrada in the second round in his first defense, also at the Olympic.

“That was another night the fire marshal made us quit selling tickets,” Chargin said.
Fellow Hall of Fame fighter-turned-promoter Oscar De La Hoya of East L.A., a big draw in his day, identified with Chacon. De La Hoya on Wednesday said, in part, “Hailing from Southern California, Bobby was someone I looked up to as a young fighter growing up in East Los Angeles. Bobby had the natural talent, good looks, personality and power to be a memorable fighter in the ring that attracted crowds.”

Chacon fought two days after his wife committed suicide in March 1982, stopping Salvador Ugalde in the third round in Sacramento.

“They were a cute little couple and she really wanted him to quit, and he didn’t,” Chargin said. “They had a terrible fight and he said, ‘I’m not quitting,’ and she committed suicide. Naturally, I called the fight off and started to come back to L.A., and I got a call from Bobby’s attorney and he said they were going to bring a lawsuit against me if I called off the fight.”

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Gennady Golovkin tired of hearing about guys who say they want to fight him

Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin/Photo courtesy of K2 Promotions

 

Gennady Golovkin is a respectful kind of guy. But the middleweight champion can be pushed too far, and this week he sounded off about those who say they want to fight him, but don’t.

Golovkin is preparing to defend his belts against Kell Brook on Sept. 10 in Brook’s native England (on HBO). Golovkin was playing host to reporters at the Big Bear camp owned by his trainer, Abel Sanchez, and answered a variety of questions.

He said that he does want to unify his division, but “I don’t know if WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders will fight me.”

How about a move from middleweight to super middleweight for a high-profile fight?
“Move up to 168, for what? Who is going to fight me there?” he said. “Which champion at that weight will agree to fight me for a big fight?”

Good question.

He’s fed up, it seems, and it all came out.

“Just too much talking about fighting me – Canelo, Eubank, Saunders, (Carl) Froch – they are acting like clowns with no respect for the sport,” Golovkin said. “I’m here now, sign the contract and fight me. Any of them, doesn’t matter which one.”

Canelo Alvarez recently gave up his middleweight belt rather than face Golovkin this year. Highly ranked middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr. seemed all set to sign to fight Golovkin, then backed out.

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Gennady Golovkin on hand for funeral services for boxer/trainer Gabe Lira

Gabriel L. Lira's Profile Photo

Gabe Lira, left, and his father Ben

 

Several hundred people turned out Thursday at Rose Hills Memorial Park for the funeral of former boxer/trainer Gabe Lira of Whittier. Lira succumbed July 13 after a 10-month battle with a fungal brain infection that eventually led to heart failure.

Speakers eulogizing Lira talked about his gregarious personality, how he joked with family and friends and was always smiling.

Lira went 7-3-1 with four knockouts in the 1980s. A parks and recreation worker, he helped his father train fighters out of the Teamsters Youth Boxing Club in South El Monte. Lira was 54.

On hand were middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and his trainer, Abel Sanchez. Lira’s father, Ben Lira, is Golovkin’s assistant trainer.

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Gennady Golovkin is Los Angeles Newspaper Group Fighter of the Year

Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin/Photo by Associated Press

 

Any time you’re picking a Fighter of the Year, you’d love it to be a no-brainer because there is no second-guessing. It was not that way in 2014, where there was no real obvious winner.
Some of those strongly considered here included flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and lightweight champion Terence Crawford. Among others given thought but perhaps not real strong consideration included welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and two-division champion Naoya Inoue of Japan.

It wasn’t any of them. It was middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who is trained by West Covina native Abel Sanchez out of Big Bear.

Golovkin, of Kazakhstan, went 3-0 in 2014 – all three fights ending with Golovkin stopping his opponent inside the distance. Golovkin scored a seventh-round TKO over Osumanu Adama on Feb. 1, a very impressive third-round TKO over former champion Daniel Geale in July and a first-round knockout of interim champion Marco Antonio Rubio in October at StubHub Center in Carson.

Remember how Mike Tyson used to have opponents quaking in their shoes ahead of fights? Golovkin is beginning to take on a similar persona that is not yet to that extreme, but seemingly moving toward that.

The only loss by Rubio in the past five years had been to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Rubio went the 12-round distance with Chavez. Also keep in mind that Geale was 5-0 in world-title fights until losing his title to Darren Barker via split-decision in August 2013, so he was no slouch. Golovkin made him look like one, though.

Every time we think of Golovkin, it brings us back to an email Sanchez sent yours truly when he first started training Golovkin in 2010. Sanchez, not the type to go overboard in his assessment of his fighters, said Golovkin was a can’t-miss superstar on the horizon. Sanchez was right.

Let’s not forget, Golovkin won his second and third fights of the year – over Geale and Rubio – after his father died suddenly of a heart attack on Feb. 18 at the age of 68. For a fighter to have to pull himself together after that kind of tragedy has got to be the hardest thing.
Golovkin, 32, is 31-0 with 28 knockouts. That’s a knockout ratio of 90.3 percent.

Touching on a few of the others who did not get the nod here but had very good years, very impressive was what Gonzalez accomplished. He went 4-0 with all four victories by TKO. He won the flyweight world title with his third win of the year – a ninth-round TKO over Akira Yaegashi – and then defended that belt with a sixth-round TKO over Rocky Fuentes.
Interestingly, three of Gonzalez’s four fights were in Japan. Gonzalez, 27, is from Nicaragua.

Also substantial was what Kovalev did. He went 3-0 with two knockouts. He defended his title against Cedric Agnew (KO 7) and Blake Caparello (TKO 2) and won a very wide unanimous decision over ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight title-unification bout.
We also really liked what Crawford did in 2014. He ventured to Scotland to win the title with a unanimous decision over Ricky Burns, then defended it twice in his hometown of Omaha, Neb. First, he stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round, then he won a unanimous decision over Raymundo Beltran.

Good stuff by all of these fighters. They are to be commended.

(Trainer of the Year)
The aforementioned Sanchez is our Trainer of the Year. The reason whys are quite simple. Keeping in mind that we like what several other trainers did, Sanchez was charged with helping keep a heartbroken Golovkin in the proper frame of mind once he began training again after some personal time to heal.

And Sanchez was just the trainer to do that. Sanchez, who trained former junior middleweight champion “Terrible” Terry Norris, is that cool personality that fits perfectly with a caring and sensitive yet absolutely vicious fighter like Golovkin.

Also, Sanchez encourages Golovkin to be the most destructive fighter he can possible be; he knows that’s what the fans crave.

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Gennady Golovkin staying the course of his training regimen

Image

Gennady Golovkin/photo by Associated Press

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is currently in Big Bear training for his July 26 title defense against Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden in New York City (on HBO).

With a record of 29-0 and 26 knockouts, Golovkin has become one of the most feared champions, and one of the most talk about. But his meteoric rise doesn’t mean he’s going to start changing things. Certainly, not his diet. His trainer, Abel Sanchez of West Covina, said as much this week from Big Bear.

“Not really a particular diet, no sugars, fats or sodas,” said Sanchez, who was talking about Golovkin’s overall training regimen, which partially consists of running five miles three times a week and sprints twice a week. “Just a balanced diet. Gennady eats pretty much what he wants, but he’s very smart about what he eats in camp.
“The great (late) Emanuel Steward said it best. Keep it as simple as possible for the fighter. It should not be a dramatic change as they get to another level.”
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Abel Sanchez: Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez didn’t have same fire for Carlos Takam

Heavyweight contender Mike Perez of Cuba this past Saturday fought to a 10-round majority draw with Carlos Takam of Cameroon in Montreal (on HBO). He was expected to defeat Takam, but his trainer – Abel Sanchez – said Perez didn’t seem to have the same fire he had in his previous fight. Perhaps, for good reason.

On Nov. 2, Perez won a 10-round decision over Magomed Abdusalamov, who afterward was hospitalized with a serious brain injury. Abdusalamov survived, but he will never fight again.

According to Sanchez, Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) answered way more questions about Abdusalamov and his injury ahead of Saturday’s fight with Takam, than he did about the fight with Takam. Sanchez said that in one interview with ESPN that was centered heavily on the fight with Abdusalamov, Perez became teary-eyed and had to ask for a break.

“All those things that kept it fresh in his mind,” Sanchez said Wednesday. “Being that preoccupied, he wasn’t focused on the task at hand, which was Carlos Takam.”

Sanchez said that before his fight with Abdusalamov, Perez was chomping at the bit to get in the ring.

“When we were warming up, he was animated, pounding the gloves,” Sanchez said.

Not Saturday, though.

“He just seemed to be dead in the dressing room,” Sanchez said. “And at the weigh-in, he seemed so far out.”

 

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Super featherweight Juan Funez of Reseda spending time with big boys in Big Bear

Juan Funez of Reseda is what we call a prospect. The super featherweight is 3-0 with one knockout, he is talented and he is a southpaw. He’s trained by his uncle, Ricky Funez, with an assist from world-class trainer Joe Goossen out of Goossen’s gym in Van Nuys.

Funez and his team have gone up to Big Bear to finish training for Funez’s fight Jan. 24 against Marcello Gallardo (3-0) at Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash. on the undercard of the light heavyweight main event between Thomas Williams and Cornelius White (on ESPN2).

It seems Team Funez wanted to get its young fighter some time with some world-class fighters. Since the training in Big Bear is being done at Abel Sanchez’s gym, that means Funez is spending time with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and heavyweight contender Mike Perez, both of whom are trained by West Covina’s Sanchez.

“It has given me a whole different perspective of what training is really like when you’re a world champion,” Juan Funez said.  “My uncle and Joe talk to me all of the time of what it takes to be a world champion and how you have to live boxing every minute of every day. But to see it with Gennady and Mike up here in the mountains just pumped me up that much more.”

Among other things, Funez has been running the mountains with Golovkin and Perez.

“I believe Juan has the tools to become an exciting world-class fighter and Joe and I are prepared to do everything to make sure he reaches his goals,” Ricky Funez said.

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Gennady Golovkin stops Curtis Stevens after eight rounds, has 15 KOs in a row

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan has now knocked out 15 consecutive opponents after stopping Curtis Stevens of Brooklyn after eight rounds in a title defense Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Golovkin has not had to go the distance in a fight since June 2008.

Golovkin decked Stevens in the second round with back-to-back left hooks to the head. Golovkin had done serious damage to the body and head over the rest of the fight, Stevens’ corner finally telling the referee it wanted the fight stopped after Stevens had absorbed tremendous punishment in the eighth.

Golovkin, who is trained by West Covina’s Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, is now 28-0 with 25 knockouts and continues to hold the record for best knockout ratio (89.2 percent) of any middleweight champion in history.

Afterward, Golovkin called out fellow world champions Sergio Martinez and Peter Quillin when being interviewed by HBO analyst Max Kellerman.

Stevens (25-4) showed plenty of courage during the bout, and certainly

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Abel Sanchez believes Abner Mares has not reached his full potential

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens had already won titles in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions when he challenged Daniel Ponce De Leon for his featherweight title this past Saturday at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Not only was Mares moving up in weight, he was facing a left-handed power hitter in De Leon. Mares went right after De Leon and stopped him in the ninth round to become a three-division champion. As impressive as Mares was, trainer Abel Sanchez of West Covina believes we have yet to see his best.

“Just like Floyd (Mayweather), he seems to be getting stronger and better at the higher weights,” said Sanchez, who trains middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin out of his sprawling camp in Big Bear, Calif. “When he gets to 130 (super featherweight), he’s going to be an even better fighter. He has good mobility, he was able to withstand Ponce De Leon’s punching; De Leon’s a strong puncher.
“He’s not going to shy away from anybody. He has proven that in all of his fights. And to go in there against a guy who was at least 10 pounds heavier, he took everything De Leon threw and De Leon never wobbled him. I think it has a lot to do with him going up in weight. Not having to sacrifice for weight makes him a better fighter, just like it did with Floyd.”

De Leon appeared to be a good 10 pounds heavier than Mares at fight time.

Mares, 27, on Monday at 6 p.m. will be recognized by the city of Hawaiian Gardens at a special city council meeting.

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