Hang On, Emanuel. You Have One More Victory Left
While boxing fans enjoyed a weekend of fights, watching Gennady Golovkin, Nonito Donaire, Nicholas Walters and others ply their trade, another fighter was in the fight of his life.
One of boxing’s true characters – a character if there ever was one – is in a battle for the ages. And that is truly saying something. For a fighter who has faced the very best in his weight class (predominantly junior welterweight) over a 20-plus-year, 78-fight career, he is in a battle that is going to require more than his patented “drunken master” ring gyrations and fast combinations.
Last Monday, October 13, former light welterweight contender Emanuel Augustus was shot in the back of the head in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The details are sketchy but there has been an arrest made and more will be known in time. But none of that really matters. All that matters is that one of boxing’s brothers is in a real bad spot and needs all our thoughts and prayers. It is the very least we can do for a warrior who gave us countless nights of sheer entertainment in the ring, both through his unique in-ring persona and his admirable and world-class boxing ability.
Does a guy who came up short 40 times in 78 fights deserve to be referred to as “world-class”? Not usually but Emanuel Augustus, 38-34-6 (20), has always been a lot of things. “Usual” isn’t one of them. And he definitely was a world-class fighter. He laced up, faced up and hung with the best in boxing time and again.
Emanuel was born in “The Windy City,” Chicago, Illinois but he grew up Louisiana and boxed in his early years out of Baton Rouge. Augustus began his boxing career under his birth name, Emanuel Burton. When his parents married in 2001, he adopted his father’s last name, “Augustus.”
It was clear right out of the gate that Augustus wasn’t looking for soft touches and easy opponents on which to build a predictable and padded record. In fact, if you review his résumé, one would assume he was looking for the exact opposite. His first three opponents were a combined 12-3. This wasn’t unlike the last four bouts, which amounted to a combined 64-0. Augustus left the game like he came in, facing the best he could. And sandwiched in between those first three bouts and final four were 71 other fights against the very best boxing had to offer in the junior welterweight class.
During his colourful career, the list of fighters Augustus faced is downright daunting. He was a staple on ESPNs “Tuesday Night Fights” and “Friday Night Fights” series that garnered him a large following. Famous for taking fights against the very best out there while on short notice and often in their backyards, Augustus quickly became a fan favourite. While he may not have won the elusive world title, he was without question the “People’s Champ.”
Augustus became famous for his in-ring clowning, antics and crazy ring moves. But he also backed them up by throwing down and fighting hard against every fighter he faced. He had fun in the ring but make no mistake; he was there to win and he often did. If he was on his game and you were world-class, you were in tough. If Augustus was on his game and you weren’t on the very elite tier, he was more than likely walking out with the win. And in both scenarios, he was going to try to jump, jive and wail his way to a victory.
Augustus also garnered praise and respect for one of the classiest and heartfelt moves ever seen in the ring. During his fight against world-rated, New England light welterweight Ray “Sucra” Oliveira back in 2005, Oliveira grabbed his own head at one point in the middle of the eighth round. He was making strange faces and pawing at his head and was clearly in some distress. Augustus sensed he was in some kind of discomfort and immediately looked at referee Steve Smoger wondering what was happening. For the remainder of the round, Augustus threw a minimal amount of punches and only threw body shots. Augustus sensed something was wrong with Ray and he knew he was probably one or two head punches away from an almost guaranteed stoppage win in Oliveira’s backyard. But he chose to do the exact opposite of what a fighter is supposed to do when a man is hurt. He ended up winning the fight anyway. While the fight wasn’t for a title, Augustus was all class as a fighter and more importantly, a person on that night.
Oliveira was just one on the great list of boxers Augustus has faced in his run. He also has stepped into the ring with Jesus Chavez, Ivan Robinson, Diosbelys Hurtado, David Toledo, Louie Leija, Allan Vester, Antonio Diaz, John John Molina, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Micky Ward, Leo Dorin, Leavander Johnson, Omar Weis, David Diaz, Courtney Burton, Herman Ngoudjo, Kid Diamond, Ruslan Provodnikov and Vernon Paris.
As ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas remarked while watching him go to war early in his fight against Ward, “He’s a fighter, a real pro; there is no higher compliment in boxing.”
The Ward fight was voted 2001 ESPN’s 2001 “Fight of the Year” as well as The Ring magazine’s 2001 “Fight of the Year.” Then in 2008, ESPN announced that the fight had been nominated for the ESPN
“Fight of the Decade” award. Augustus was also named “ESPN’s Most Memorable Fighter.” Long-reigning pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. stated in an interview back in 2012 that out of all the fighters he has faced, Augustus was his toughest opponent.
Now Emanuel is in rough shape, suffering from a gunshot wound and is on life support. He gave us so much in the ring during his career and showed us time and again that he knew how to bring it and survive against boxing’s best. His career was a blueprint of triumph over adversity and if there was ever a fighter who can pull off an upset win here, it is Emanuel Augustus.
The very least we can do is say a prayer or have a hopeful thought for a fighter who gave so much of himself in the ring. He’s earned that much.
Hang tough, Emanuel. We all know you have one more victory left.
Post-Fight Quotes from the StubHub Center in Carson, California from Saturday night
Gennady Golovkin remained undefeated at middleweight at 31-0 (28) as he won the WBC interim title while retaining his WBA and IBO middleweight titles.
“Right now, Miguel Cotto is the WBC middleweight champion. I respect him. He is a great champion. I hope he fights me because for me, it’s very important for my career. If I can’t fight Cotto or [Julio Cesar] Chavez, I will fight anyone.”- Gennady Golovkin
“You can’t force many guys to get in the ring with [Golovkin]. We have had guys vacate their titles. That’s why I give Rubio credit because he agreed to fight him. He had a guaranteed date to fight Cotto; he was the mandatory. You can’t force [Carl] Froch or Chavez to get in the ring with him. [Top Rank Promotions CEO] Bob [Arum] did call about a month ago and said there was still a chance to do that [Chavez] fight. Our door is always open for that fight and the reaction we got from the fans about possibly making that fight was huge. If that fight happens, it will be [Golovkin]’s first pay-per view. Carl Froch is a huge attraction over in England; he fights in soccer stadiums. That would be a tremendous fight in the U.K. Golovkin is scheduled to return in February on HBO in Monte Carlo. We already have the date planned for his next fight in February in Europe, unless like I told HBO and Bob, unless Chavez decides to step up, than that will be a priority but otherwise, he will be fighting in February and the fight would be telecast on HBO. Gennady will keep on fighting and he will have a breakout year in 2015.” – K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler
“I knew that he was going to have a lot of problems fighting with me. I got myself in tip-top shape against an excellent fighter. He had a lot of problems with the cut and me going forward. There is always a way to knock a guy out whoever I fight. This fight is a statement for all my opponents, to all the next guys I am going to fight.” – Nicholas “The Axe Man” Walters (after scoring a sixth round knockout over Nonito Donaire and winning the WBA featherweight “super” title).
The Seventh Annual Briscoe Awards honoured the best of the Philadelphia fight scene on Sunday afternoon. This year’s winners include Danny Garcia (“Fighter of the Year” and “Performance of the Year”), Julian Williams (“Prospect of the Year”), Manny Folly (“Rookie of the Year”), Tevin Farmer (“Breakout Fighter of the Year”), Julio DeJesus (KO of the Year), Stephen Fulton Jr. (“Amateur of the Year”), Anthony Caputo Smith vs. Dhafir Smith (“Local Fight of the Year”) and Dylan Price (“Everett Brothers Award”). The Briscoe Awards are named after legendary Philadelphia middleweight Bennie Briscoe.
Heavyweight Steve “USS” Cunningham, 28-6 (13), stopped previously unbeaten Natu “The Truth” Visinia, 10-1 (8) in the seventh round on Saturday night at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.