News November 2015

Mexican legend Carlos Palomino talks exclusively to Livefight


By Michael J Jones

LONDONER John H Stracey had famously dethroned legendary Jose Napoles to become the world welterweight champion in December 1975. After stopping leading contender Hedgemon Lewis in his first defence, the charismatic champion was a huge favourite to do something similar to his second challenger; a young US based Mexican.

Carlos Palomino, little known before the bout, would come of age with an emphatic and dominant stoppage over Stracey to lift the WBC title in front of a shocked Wembley crowd. Nearly 40 years later, Livefight was able to track down the great champion to ask him about that life-changing night as well as other key moments of his famous career.

“What happened was, I had fought a draw with Hedgemon Lewis and we were supposed to box a rematch” Palomino, now 66, tells Livefight. “Mickey Duff called from the UK and asked my manager if he could buy out the contract (for Palomino-Lewis 2), I remember that well as that was the first time I got paid for not fighting!”

“Stracey then destroyed Lewis in his first defence so they probably thought he would do the same to me. When Hedgemon Lewis returned to the US, we all went for lunch and I asked him directly what had happened and he just said Stracey had been so strong, he said he was amazed at how physically strong Stracey had been, every time he came in and mauled it weakened Hedgemon and after six or seven rounds he couldn't feel his legs.”

The valuable information prompted team Palomino to add something new to their already intense training regime...

“My trainer Noe Cruz was a roofer and used to lift heavy equipment and bags when he was roofing. He was around six feet tall, weighed around 190lbs so what we would do before Stracey was, finish our training then we'd do four rounds of just him shoving and pushing me around. So when I fought Stracey in Wembley, his strength wasn't that surprising and I was able to shove him off me pretty easily.”

The moustachioed, stalking Palomino cut an intimidating figure. His poker-faced expression never altered, his attacks were consistent; jabs followed by right-hands and left hooks to body and head. Stracey couldn't get out of the way and found his usually damaging punches merely bouncing off his challenger's jaw.

The heavily favoured Brit simply couldn't keep the hungry challenger at bay. As the rounds went by the Mexican grew in confidence while the champion slowly wilted as his attacks became more desperate. Entering the twelfth round, the writing looked on the wall for the demoralised John H.

“I didn't feel him weaken as such but my corner could sense the fight draining out of him. My manager Jackie (McCoy) said to me 'keep doing what you're doing' and she had never said that before in a fight so I knew I must have been winning. I felt by the sixth or seventh my body punches were having an impact but he was so strong and had a huge heart.”

The Englishman bit down on his gum-shield for one final barrage of defiant punches but a sickening left hook to the ribs sent him down in agony. His face a mask of pain, he bravely got up but another shot downstairs dropped him a second time. He somehow got to his feet again but, trapped in a corner, doubled over when another Palomino combination winded him.

“He just wouldn't quit, wouldn't give up” recalls Palomino of his great rival. “When he went down I remember Mickey Duff telling him to stay down but he still kept getting up. John must have been devastated to lose in his home-town but he was a great champion.”

Carlos Palomino was born on August 10 1949. At eight years old he moved from Mexico to the US where he would join the US Army as a teenager. The youngster would try for the Army baseball team but ended up joining the boxing team instead and proved a complete natural in the sport. In just two years and 35 amateur bouts, Palomino would become the All Army champion, All Service champion and would also lift the National championships with a win over future Olympic champion Sugar Ray Seales.

After such a glittering amateur career, the young Mexican inevitably turned professional in September 1972 with a decision over Javier Martinez at the Olympic Auditorium; the scene of many of Carlos' career bouts.

“Sure I remember that fight” replies the still fit former champion. “They said it was going to be a six-rounder and I only found out it was four rounds when I got into the ring. We was the last fight on the card so when I got into the ring everyone was leaving barring members of my family. I remember my father was there, a couple of my uncles and my brothers (laughs) that's all I could see were my family in the crowd.”

In two short years, the welterweight prospect would remain undefeated until a more experienced contender named Andy Price would edge a ten-rounder by split decision. Price, also from Los Angeles, would score a crucial knock-down in the last to take the spoils over the devastated Palomino.

“What happened in that fight was I thought I had the fight won after nine rounds. I wanted to seal the victory by going all out in the last round so I threw everything at him and I had him hurt but I got gassed from throwing so much and he spun off the ropes and dropped me with a left hook to the back of the head. I was OK but I had touched down so they called it a knock-down and I lost the decision.”

“That fight changed my whole approach to training. Before that fight I was in a small gym in Mexico and I was sparring with mainly amateurs and a couple of smaller pros. My manager Jackie said I should change gyms so that's when I started training in LA. As soon as I was there I was in constant hard sparring and the improvement in me was dramatic.”

Six months after the Price set-back, Palomino would box to his second draw* against former world title challenger Zovek Barajas. The two men would then have a rematch just a month later where Palomino would gain revenge with a nine-round knock-out.

*The future welterweight champion had also drawn his third pro fight against Ted Liggett.

“It was just the same as the Andy Price fight in my first contest with Barajas. I felt ahead, but in the last he spun off the ropes and dropped me so it went from a win to a draw. I stopped him in the rematch he was a tough fighter had just fought for the world title.”

Closing 1975, Palomino would fight a draw with the much-more experienced Hedgemon Lewis to set him on the path to becoming the welterweight champion of the world.

After claiming his world title away from home, the new champion would make the first defence against fellow Mexican Armando Muniz at the Olympic Auditorium. Although a veteran of over 50 pro bouts, Muniz was rugged and hungry and would prove a troublesome opponent for the younger champion.

“He came out and dropped me in the first, but I got up and said to myself 'no way am I losing this title in my first defence', I knew he was going to be tough as we had sparred when I was an amateur and he was a pro and he used to kick the sh*t out of me. By the seventh, I knew I was a long way behind and my manager kept telling me I had to do something. I started boxed more than slugging and the fight changed the 14th round it was even.”

The fight was in fact dead even going into the last before Palomino finished with venom. Big punches to head and body had Muniz looking ragged before he was floored twice to force the referee to wave the spectacular contest over with just seconds to go.

Muniz would suffer two inside-the-distance defeats in his long career; the other one to a young fighter named Sugar Ray Leonard a few years after the Palomino classic.

Four months later, the WBC champion returned to the UK for a defence against tenacious challenger Dave “Boy” Green. Green, known as “The Fenland Tiger” was 24-0 entering the contest and for ten rounds gave the champion plenty to contend with.

“He was a real strong guy, built like a middleweight and undefeated so he probably thought he could walk through walls. He was winning the fight, he kept throwing numerous punches and I couldn't make any impression...”

At the close of the tenth, Green looked several rounds in front but picked up damage to his left eye. With his vision suddenly limited, Palomino made his move with devastating consequences. A short right upper-cut was followed with a huge left hook which took everything out of the challenger and left him unconscious for many worrying minutes.

“I was so excited to score the knock-out after being behind but my manager grabbed me and said to stop celebrating as he was still down. I didn't realise how hard he went down and that he'd also hit his head so yeah I was very concerned and was very glad he was OK afterwards.”

While most fighters usually fade as a bout progresses, Palomino on several occasions, most notably against Muniz and Green, seemed to gain in strength as the contests wore on. Palomino explains his training secrets behind his famous fight stamina...

“I see kids around now and they run...then they might do a few sprints on the beach. Sprints of 15 yards (laughs), I had the same training regime in my career as when I was in the Army; I never changed a thing and I tell any guys who ask advise the same thing.”

“People train the same way but what many don't realise is it's the things you do away from training which impact on your fitness. I was always in great cardiovascular condition and it was all down to my intense running routine.”

“I'd run six miles, six days a week, then we'd go to the track several times a week and, wearing army boots, do long sprints around the track. Every week of training I did the same thing and I never lacked in stamina my whole career.”

Through 1977-78 Palomino would make five more defences, the last would be against old foe Mando Muniz in May 78'. This time Palomino would win a decision without the drama of the first fight though it was still another stirring battle.

“I won easier but I broke my left hand in the sixth and that made it a lot harder. It was so bad I couldn't even jab and had to throw my shots open handed. I was sure of the decision though; my corner would always tell me if it was close or I needed to step it up.”

In what would prove the final world title fight of his career, Palomino would take his WBC belt to defend against brilliant youngster Wilfred Benitez in Puerto Rico. The challenger, just 20 years old, had already claimed a world title at 140lbs and was bidding to become a two-weight world champion in front of his adoring fans.

Benitez entered the contest with a 36-0-1 record but had a reputation of being an erratic performer; some nights he boxed like a superstar, others he looked very vulnerable. There would be little vulnerability on show against Palomino sadly for the champion.

“I honestly felt I did enough to win that fight, I chased him the whole fight but there's a long history of Mexican champions losing there belts in Puerto Rico so I wasn't surprised the decision went against me. We tried to get it on neutral ground but it was put out to bids and we were forced to go over there. I knew I needed a knock-out to win but I was always the guy making the fight.”

Benitez started brightly behind the jab as it took the slow-starting champion a few rounds to land anything of note. As the fight unfolded, the challenger seemed hurt to the stomach by a few body shots but boxed masterfully down the stretch as Palomino couldn't quite pin him down. The split decision read 145-142 to the champion while that vote was overruled with the remaining 146-143 & 146-142 cards going to the new champion.

“What upset me was they had promised us a rematch and they never gave us one. It's because of that I ended up taking on Roberto Duran in New York. If you look at the fight with Benitez, after the third, fourth and fifth you can see his trainer Emile Griffith shaking his head as I was hurting him to the body but, because I knew I needed the knock-out I kept head-hunting and he managed to survive.”

“One of my sparring partners saw Benitez right after the fight and (Wilfred) said he thought he was going to get knocked out in the fight as he was getting hurt to the body. If the rematch had taken place I would have targeted the body in an all out attack and I think I would have knocked him out.”

With the dethroned champion in the wilderness for another shot at his old title, he signed to face legendary “Hands of Stone” at Madison Square Garden. Duran, then 67-1, had recently moved to the 147lb weight division and was targeting a match with the star of the division Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I figured if I couldn't fight for a world title then beating Duran would be almost like winning the title but he completely confused me in the fight. I had expected an all-out brawl but he boxed very clever. The first round was as I expected but after he moved, used angles and I couldn't catch him.”

“My best fight is on the inside but he never let me near him. The speed in which he could come in and get away was unbelievable. Before that fight I had two losses which I thought were fights I had won but the Duran fight was the first I felt I had genuinely lost.”

Palomino was floored in the sixth with a big right before dropping the decision by scores of 99-90, 99-90 and 99-91. Three fights later Duran would beat Leonard for Palomino's old WBC title on a famous night in Montreal.

For Palomino, he took the decision to retire from boxed just before his 30th birthday. His record read 27-3-3 (15) and he had reigned as the WBC champion from 1976 until the Benitez fight in 79'.

“It was very easy for me to leave boxing at that time” Palomino tells Livefight. “I had originally told my mother that I wouldn't box after leaving the Army but at that time I was receiving many offers to turn professional so it wasn't easy to stop boxing then.”

“I was Jackie McCoy's fifth world champion and she was thrilled when I retired and got out on top.”

After boxing the newly-retired champion turned surprisingly to acting and has to date many acting credits to his name starring in TV shows such as Buck Rogers, Knight Rider, NYPD Blue and Star Trek: Voyager among many others.

“They asked me to film an episode of (70's sitcom) 'Taxi' and I told them I wasn't an actor. They said I'd just be playing myself so I spent a week on set, hanging out with the actors (such as former boxer Tony Danza and comic legend Danny DeVito) and I really enjoyed it. I asked the actors how would I go about acting after boxing and they said to get an agent and arrange to do some acting lessons so that's precisely what I did.”

“I've done many TV shows and around 22-23 movies. The biggest one I did was probably 'Geronimo' which was a the biggest studio movie (also starring Gene Hackman). I'm shooting another movie in January and I've also just sold the rights to make a movie of my own life. The script is being worked on now and it will start with me in Mexico as an eight year old before picking up in my teens in the Army before my boxing career. I'm hoping an actual fighter with boxing experience will play me but we'll see.”

In early 1997, the long-retired champion would shock the boxing world by returning to the ring at the age of 47. When I ask how that comeback came to happen it brings a heart-breaking response as the grizzled voice of the former fighter softens for the first time...

“My father was dying of cancer and he asked my brother if he could come home for his final months” begins Carlos slowly. “As a kid I never had a good relationship with my father; he was an abusive parent. When he was dying I asked him why he did what he did and he just said 'what did I do so wrong look how you turned out?' I made my peace with him on his death bed and told him I loved him...but all of the best times I ever remember with my father was when I boxing.”

“I went back to my old gym, my manager and trainer were still there and I just said I wanted to work out. When I trained I felt like my Dad's presence was still there and I was close to him again.”

“I hadn't boxed in years but was in excellent cardio shape as I'd been running marathons and had even done an ultra marathon (over 60 miles no less). One day Hector Camacho walked in to do some sparring, I think he was preparing to face Duran, and I asked if I could spar him. We sparred three rounds and I felt pretty good, afterwards Jackie said if those rounds would have been scored I would have won them all.”

“I kept training and one day I was approached to make a comeback. I refused but later I asked to see a contract and the guy brought one back which involved four fights for a million dollars; now I'd not made that my whole career so I had to take notice then (laughs).”

“I said I'd sign the contract but I wanted input in regards of the match-making; I didn't want to end up facing Oscar De La Hoya or someone like that! I came back, won four fights by KO, I never made the money they promised but I still made good money. I tried to get the rest but they didn't have the funds and closed their business.”

After four victories, Palomino was then matched against leading welterweight contender Wilfred Rivera over ten rounds at the Olympic Auditorium. Rivera, nearly twenty years Palomino's junior, had dropped two close decisions to Pernell Whitaker in world title fights before getting stopped on cuts vs De La Hoya in his last bout. It looked a tough ask for the ageing former champion but he put up a very brave showing before dropping a unanimous decision.

“Halfway through that fight I knew I was done” admits Carlos of his final contest. “I did feel tremendous after the fight though, almost like when I won my world title, that I had, at 48-years-old, gone the distance with a guy in his 20's. I also felt I had made some new fans after that fight, I had guys who had watched me in the 70's bring their kids for autographs and photos.”

“I'm still involved in boxing today, I volunteer to help train troubled kids here in LA. It's run by the Police and I train a bunch of kids when I'm not acting. One kid is really good, he's had 12 fights and has won some tournaments but I want to see him in bigger tournaments against better guys. I'm going to take him to the Joe Goosen gym soon and he wants to turn pro at 18.”

“One thing I want to say is I love my UK fans. I tell everybody they are the best fans I ever fought in front of; so respectful and the best fight fans in the world.”

Livefight would like to thank the legendary former champion for taking the time from his busy schedule to share his memories with us.

Palomino was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 and the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Palomino vs Stracey June 1976

Degale "I want Badou Jack in Vegas unification"


By @Livefight

James DeGale MBE says he wants to take the WBC World Super-Middleweight title from Badou Jack after successfully defending his IBF crown against Lucian Bute in Quebec on Saturday night.

Degale vs Bute

DeGale travelled to Bute’s backyard for the first defence of the title he won on the road against Andre Dirrell in Boston in May, with the Romanian-Canadian looking to regain the title he surrendered to Carl Froch in 2013 in his tenth defence.

The Brit raced out of the blocks with great intent and poured the pressure on the challenger from the start, but Bute provided stiff opposition as he was roared on by a partisan crowd. DeGale was troubled by a cut above his left eye from the fifth round – triggering a period of the fight in the middle rounds that the champion admitted to coasting in – but Bute was unable to penetrate the smart defence of DeGale who finished strongly down the stretch to take the fight 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112 on the cards.

“I am peaking now,” said DeGale. “I don't want to waste any time, so in the next three and four years I want the big fights. I go to Jamaica on a family holiday on December 28, but when I get back, I am right back on it and I would like to be back out in April.

“I think I put on a good performance. I made it a competitive fight, a good exciting fight. It's all down to me. I could have been boring and moved and boxed him, I am at my best when I am in the pocket, ducking and throwing shots through the middle. I didn't take any risks, I was just flowing. I cruised through some of the middle rounds and I have to stop that, but it was a good fight to watch and I think people enjoyed it, that's the main thing.

“I think the US networks like me and want me back in the US. I remember growing up and watching the likes of Prince Naseem Hamed go over to Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas, defending his belts, I looked at that and said one day I am going to do that, and that’s what is happening now.

“It's a good 12 rounds against a top level opponent and I am only going to get better. I’ve beaten two elite fighters in my last two fights, and I've gone overseas to do it, and I want to do it all again by going to Las Vegas and unifying titles against Badou Jack.

“I never overlooked Lucian. I knew he was going to be good but I am just confident in my ability and I knew I was going to beat him. He's brave, he showed heart and he dug in. He's a great fighter, he had nine World title defences, you have to recognise that he's an elite level guy, and you have to give me credit for dealing with him comfortably. He showed he still has it and can mix it at the top level, he still has big fights in him, he made it competitive and he sells over here.

“Jim McDonnell keeps telling me to stop taking my foot off the gas in the middle rounds and I have to stop doing that. It's because I go into cruise control when it's too comfortable, but I am going to work on that and next time, it won't happen - I said that after Dirrell, but I really mean it this time.

I looked outside the ring when the final bell went and looked at Eddie Hearn and said: ‘I won that right?’ He said ‘yeah, definitely’. People were a bit worried because we're in Canada and some of the punches he was throwing weren't close to landing because my defence was really good, but because of the home crowd getting right behind him, some of the rounds looked closer than they were. The judges had it right, four or five rounds. The cut bothered me more than the Dirrell fight. The Vaseline was going into my eye and I couldn't see properly.”

DeGale’s win crowned a great night for British boxing coming just a few hours after Tyson Fury stunned Wladimir Klitschko in Germany to land three of the World Heavyweight titles, becoming Britain’s 11th current World champion in the process.

“The Brits are flying right now,” said DeGale. “Tyson pulled off the upset in Germany, I watched it in the hotel, it really did inspire me to go out and keep hold of my title, it gave me that extra push. I boxed in the amateurs with him and been around squads with him, and he's gone on to prove a lot of doubters wrong.”

Mick Hennessy reveals traumatic journey to glory [VIDEO]


By @KuganCassius

iFLTV talks to promoter Mick Hennessy about the testing moments en route to heavyweight victory in Düsseldorf.

"Sometimes this sport can be the greatest sport in the world, but other times it can be the worst sport in the world." said Hennessy.

"You can meet some of the very few best people you can meet in life, but you can also meet the very worst people in life.I'm a genuine person and I'm a loyal person - and if I'm with you, I'm with you through thick and thin - and this is a very special moment for both our families."

Peter Fury receives standing ovation in changing room


By @KuganCassius

iFLTV captured the moment when Peter Fury entered the changing room following his nephew's triumphant victory over Wladimir Klitschko last night in Germany.

Klitschko vs Fury post-fight interviews [VIDEO]


By @Livefight

iFLTV present the post-fight interviews from Düsseldorf, as Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury give their reactions to their heavyweight contest:-

Wladmir Klitschko "My right hand was not injured"


By @Livefight

Classy Wladimir Klitschko states there was no injury sustained to his right hand, that he simply couldn't find the target enough to throw it.

Klitschko Fury Punch Stats

Punch stats (pictured) show that Wladimir only threw 69 right-hands throughout the 12-round contest.

Infact the potent jab and right-hand were both absent for large spells and the younger man outlanded him on both fronts. Fury threw 169 jabs compared to 163 from Wladimir, and Fury also massively out-threw the champion with 371 total punches thrown compared to just 231 from Klitschko.

Underdog Fury snatched the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles last night from him via scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.

Vitali: My brother Wladmir didn't show up tonight


By @Livefight

Vitali Klitschko at the post-fight press conference

Wladmir Klitschko's brother Vitali offered his regards to Tyson Fury at the post-fight press conference, but added that his brother did not perform as well as he knows he can tonight.

"Congratulations to Tyson Fury, good performance." said Vitali

"But it was Wladimir who shocked me tonight because I know how good Wladimir is and Wladimir didn't perform tonight - and because of that, congratulations."

"I know what Wladimir is capable of. I know his strengths but I couldn't see anything of that tonight in the ring. Maybe it was a bad day - but Wladimir is going to take the rematch and show the world who the 'real' Wladmir Klitschko is."

Wladimir Klitschko was dethroned by unbeaten Tyson Fury last night in Düsseldorf by unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 for the Englishman.

Froch looks forward to meeting GGG at Klitschko fight


By @KuganCassius

Carl Froch and Golovkin's manager Tom Loeffler come face to face, where Froch politely tells him that he would "Tear GGG to pieces" but it would need to be at 172lb on account of him putting on too much weight since he retired after the Groves rematch.

"Realistically, I don't think it would be possible for Gennady to fight above 168, but certainly a fight against a legend like Carl would do massive numbers." replied Loeffler

Froch then went on to pay respect to Gennady and looks forward to shaking his hand at the Klitschko fight.


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