The Kronk Khronicles: Jan. 22, 2016

Photo by Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Photo by Paul Sancya/Associated Press

 

The original “You’re blowin’ it, son.”: Emanuel Steward

 

On Sept. 16, 1981, Sugar Ray Leonard was behind on points and being tested mentally more than he ever had to date versus Thomas “Hitman” Hearns. Between rounds, where fights can sometimes be won and lost, Leonard’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, said what has become one of the most famous phrases ever heard in a corner between rounds: “You’re blowin’ it son.” Dundee is credited for helping inspire and motivate Leonard to defeat “The Motor City Cobra” by 14th round TKO.

 

A very little known fact is that less than one month before Leonard vs. Hearns I, on Aug. 22, 1981, Hearns’ trainer, Emanuel Steward was working the corner of Kronk middleweight prospect Mickey Goodwin at the Glacier Arena in Traverse City, Mich. Goodwin was struggling with an unheralded opponent named Jimmy “Schoolboy” Baker and the fight was up for grabs heading into the 10th and final round. When Goodwin sat down on his stool after the ninth round, Steward said, “Look, you’re blowin’ this damn fight!…You’re blowin’ it, Mickey!” Goodwin went out and stopped Baker by TKO in the final round.

 

 

Motivating Moorer

 

Trainer Teddy Atlas pushed heavyweight Michael Moorer in the corner between rounds with tactics that, in some ways, became more highlight-worthy than some of the action in the fights themselves! Years before Atlas became Moorer’s trainer, Steward did his own version of motivating Moorer. Early in his career, then-light heavyweight Moorer was regarded as one of the most ferocious punchers in all of boxing. After Jim MacDonald was hurt early on, MacDonald managed to get back into the fight as Moorer stopped applying the pressure. After a somewhat lackluster second round, some boos came from the hometown crowd at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. A “USA Tuesday Night Fights” microphone caught Steward telling Moorer between rounds: “People don’t pay to see you come out here and dance around with someone; they pay to see you knock someone out!” That said, Moorer went out and stopped MacDonald in the third round.

 

 

Cold Hard Kronk Cash

 

In a series of bouts between fighters referred to as “The Fabulous Four,” Hearns, Leonard, Roberto Duran and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, it has been reported that Kronk’s Hearns earned $23,000,000 in his four bouts against fellow Fab Four members. Results were a 14th round TKO loss (in Sept. of 1981) and a highly-disputed 12-round draw against Leonard (in June of 1989), a TKO loss to Hagler in a three-round war (in April of 1989) and a devastating second round knockout win over Duran (in June of 1984).

 

 

Duran and the “Money Man” both KO’ed on same night

 

When Hearns knocked Duran out, it was the only bout between the Fab Four that was not promoted by Top Rank Promotions. The Hearns vs. Duran promotional group included Detroit’s Bill Kozerski (longtime promoter of the old Kronk Team, among other notable Detroit boxers), Shelly Saltman (famous for the Snake River promotion, Evil Knievel’s motorcycle jump) and a LA investor named Steve Taub. Like many before him and after him, it was Taub’s first and last venture into the world of promoting boxing. Rumored to have lost a few million dollars that night, Taub described it as “the most expensive six minutes of my life.”

 

 

The most mysterious injury in Kronk history

 

As the story was told to me by someone with direct involvement, Hearns was preparing to take an “activity fight” when the chance to sign for a marquee match-up for big money presented itself. No one wanted to jeopardize the chance for a big payday with what amounted to a “club fight” and, ironically enough, it was discovered that Hearns had a wrist injury. Kronk team doctor Fred Lewerenz notified Michigan Commissioner Dr. Stuart Kirschenbaum of the injury. The commissioner apparently smelled something funny and ordered a second opinion. That second opinion conducted by a different doctor diagnosed that Hearns, in fact, had a fractured scaphoid a very odd injury to the wrist that can sometimes be difficult to spot in X-rays. In some cases, it might not even show up on an X-ray at all.  I was told the injury healed just in time to proceed with the proposed big fight.

 

You can follow Mr. John Lepak on Twitter @Lightning_JL and on Instagram @lightning_lepak.

 

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