DPR's Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is often synonymous with youth athletics, Pop Warner, summer pools, picnics in the park and great weekend events. However what many may not know, is that some of DC’s best and brightest boxers have trained in DPR sponsored boxing programs; a few nationally ranked fighters, such as Lamont Peterson, Seth Mitchell and Tiara Brown, currently work out/train from time to time in DPR boxing facilities and gyms; and that Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, the first African-American to capture a World Flyweight title and the newest member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is a Roving Leader, working at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation – where he shares his wisdom, his talents and his time with the inner city youth of Washington, DC.

On June 10th, 2012 - Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. Johnson is the first boxer from the District of Columbia, and the youngest boxer ever, to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Along with Johnson - the 2012 Boxing Hall of Fame inductees included fellow boxer Thomas "Tommy The Hitman" Hearns, trainer Freddie Roach, ring announcer Michael Buffer, writer Michael Katz, and Showtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein. Johnson’s induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame is an amazing honor for a Washington DC native and DPR employee who often times was shunned by his competitors because, simply put – he was a force to be reckoned with in the ring.

Roving Leader Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson has worked at DPR for the past 8 years and he has influenced hundreds of kids over the years with his work at DPR and on his own, in the community. When asked what advice Johnson had to share with kids, he said, "Never stop dreaming, always obey your mother and father, as well as your elders. Never be a follower, be a leader, stay off the corners, and go to the recreation centers. Get in one of the great DPR programs."

A skilled and notoriously fast southpaw, Johnson was often a boxer that competitors attempted to avoid at all cost. It was commonly known in boxing circles that fighters did not want to step into the ring with Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson. It was almost an automatic “L” for any competitor, and a “Win” for Johnson. During his career Johnson held an impressive 44 Wins (with 28 Knockouts); 5 Defeats (with 3 Knockouts); 0 Draws and 1 No Contest. In 1989 he was the United States Amateur Light Flyweight champion, and during his professional career, he fought in the flyweight, super flyweight, and bantamweight divisions. Johnson won titles in the flyweight division (IBF Flyweight Champion – 1996 to 1999); super flyweight (IBF Super Flyweight Champion – 1999 to 2000 and WBO Super Flyweight Champion – 2003 to 2004); and junior bantamweight (IBF). At the height of his career – from 1990 to 2006 – Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson was not only the first African-American boxer to capture a World Flyweight title, but he was one of the top pound-for-pound fighters of his time.

"I was the most feared fighter from my weight class to probably two or three weight classes above me, but I could never get the endorsement and sponsorship deals or the fights that I truly wanted," said Johnson. "Yet I was persistent. I was determined to pave the way. I put Washington, DC on my back, because after Sugar Ray Leonard, boxing was dead in the DC area. Then you have a guy like me, as a flyweight, I was No. 3, pound-for-pound, in the world. After Roy Jones, there was Shane Mosley and then me." Despite being one of the sport's all-time under-exposed, under-appreciated and underpaid fighters, Johnson earned three title belts over the course of two divisions, and retired as the first African American to win a 112-pound title belt.

AZ Boxing: Gonzales Return, Carlos Castro Debut and much more

According to Fan Base Promotions, former IBF/NABF Super Middleweight Champion Jesus "EL Martillo" Gonzales (27-2-0) will not fight in Arizona on August 3 as previously announced. Instead, the 27 yer old Arizona Native will take on Elvin Ayala (25-5-1) July 21 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Ayala resides in nearby New Haven, Connecticut. The middleweight headliner contest is scheduled for 10 rounds;but, it isn't televised.

The change of time, date, venue and opponent came as a result of Gonzales' difficulty in finding a trainer. Fan Base asked that the name of the new trainer be withheld until the former champ reports for training in Las Vegas, Nevada. If Gonzales fails to report, presumably the bout is off and Fan Base will start a new search to find a suitable foe. It can be told that the "presumptive" trainer is a veteran with a sound resume and a recognizable name in the world boxing community. Gonzales has been clamoring for a name trainer for years and now he apparently has one. The onetime Top Rank Protege dumped his last trainer almost a year ago

This is a crossroads fight for Gonzales whose last fight resulted in a 1st round knockout loss at the hands of Haitian "Bad Boy" Adonis "Superman" Stevenson. Gonzales hopes his return as a middleweight will increase his ring speed and add power to his punch; something that was missing in most of his super middleweight fights.

Gonzales should be able to beat the 31 year old Ayala if his head is screwed on straight and his body is fit.....a defeat could spell the end of a career for a very popular and once promising boxer.
Roger "Black Mamba" Mayweather won a total of 9 major and minor boxing titles during his illustrious ring career. Today he manages a gym in Las Vegas where he tutors and trains fighters. Roger and Bobby Wade, his assistant, were in Arizona on June 16 for the "The Beginning" boxing show held at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. The two highly regarded trainers work with several Iron Boy Promotions fighters including Thomas Valdez, Abel Ramos and Victor Castro.

The always candid Mayweather took a casual poke at Top Rank Boxing by suggesting that the only way a Top Rank fighter could lose was to another Top Rank fighter, a sly reference to the Manny Pacquia/Timothy Bradley fight result...more from roger! After Azriel Paez (one of Jorge's sons) was awarded a unanamious but controversial verdict in 140 lb contest over Michael Salcido , Mayweather walked by Azriel Paez in the dressing room area and quipped "did you win"? To which Paez replied ...what did you say...Mayweather repeated the question and got the same reply. By now, Paez was mad and said of course I won..why do you ask? Mayweather rfesponded with that's all I wanted to know did you win? That's Roger being Roger. Before he departed Phoenix, Mayweather was told that Canadian Light Welterweight Steve "The Dragon Claggett (14-1-1) is challenging Arizona's budding star Jose Benavidez Jr. (15-0) to fight him anywhere, anytime. Mayweather paused and said if you see him..tell him to keep dreaming. Mayweather is very familiar with both fighters. Claggett fight just outside of Calgary, Alberta Canada on a card that includes the return of Janks Trotter and the debut of huge heavyweight Ed Jackson. The show is produced by Fan Base Promotions .

"The Beginning" was Iron Boy's third boxing presentation at the popular venue and the format mirrored the previous two show in that the card featured 8 professional fights and two amateur bouts. Attendance for the June 16 show didn't match previous Iron Boy Celebrity Theatre presentations; but, the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andy Lee televised contest from El Paso may have convinced some boxing fans stay at home and pull one or two from the fridge.....certainly plausible!

All of the pro bouts were scheduled 4 round contests and the only early exit came when undefeated 135 lb Victor Castroknocked out fellow Arizonian Jason Thompson who was making his pro debut. Castro picked up the pace in the fourth round and pummeled the 19 year old Thompson with a barrage of punches that spelled a dramatic end which resulted in a call for the ring physician who revived him and pronounced him okay. Castro's record now stands at 6-0 w/4 knockouts and he is scheduled to return to the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on August 11. Hopefully, his next opponent will have a comparable record. Victor wasn't the only Castro on the card.

Hot Prospect Carlos Castro (123 lbs) provided the best performance of the night when he pushed a game but out manned Tony Green around the ring for 4 rounds to gain an impressive unanimous decision .Castro, trained and managed by Andy Soto, was expected to make his pro debut earlier this year after a stellar amateur career but his proposed opponent wasn't able to join the party. Castro knocked down Green twice and dazzled a boisterous crowd with a display of speed, nimble footwork and punching power rarely seen in debuts. Based on his June 16 effort, Castro could conceivably be headed towards a down the road showdown with local "Superstar" Emilio Colon Garcia aka "Milo-Time" who fights at the same weight. Garcia, trained by Chuck McGregor, is 6-0 and he was sitting ringside at the event. Castro is expected to fight on the August 11 "In Pursuit" card at the Celebrity Theatre. Garcia told reporters after the show that he expected to be on the August 11 Celebrity card also...maybe they will bump into each other.

Marcos Mendias (147) upped his record to 5-4 as he outpointed Phoenix favorite Arturo Brambila . All 3 scorers it in favor of the 24 year old Mendias who has certainly turned his career around since he joined forces with trainer Andy Soto. It marked a return to the ring after a three year self imposed retirement for Brambila. At the press conference, he told fans that he tried to do other things but nothing seemed right;so he returned to boxing. It was a solid performance for the 33 year old and fans showed their just wasn't his night.

In other bouts, 142 lb Abel Ramos contines to impress with a convincing UD over veteran Jeremiah Torres from New Mexico. All three officials came to the same conclusion: 42-36...Ramos remains undefeated at 4-0 and still waiting to be signed by a major boxing promoter. 134 lb Thomas Valdez convinced Cory Muldrew that he was the best man with a impressive UD win and Valdez remains a prospect to watch. 128 lb Chris Lopez was aggressive and confident in his UD decision over New Mexico's
Jazzman Hogue. 148 lb saul Benitez outworked Antonio Moreno in gaining a split decision. As mentioned ...Azriel Paez was awarded a UD over Michael Salcido in an odd contest where Paez seemed to searching for a boxing identify..word of advice: just be yourself and not your father. He has skills. In the first amateur bout: Alexis Urbino, Knockout Boxing, defeated
Alfonso Marquez, San Luis PAL. In the second amateur tiff, Wilbert Lopez, AZ Boxing decisioned Alain Moreno from Eclipse Boxing in Tucson.

Parting Shots: Support amateur boxing in Arizona by going to the website of Arizona Golden Gloves Boxing or contact any of Arizona's gyms (Knockout Boxing, etc.) and ask about community Smokers. They are a lot of fun for the entire family. Special congratulations to to Fan Base Boxing CEO Robert Schmick and his lovely wife on the birth of their daughter Madelyn Gail Schmick. She went through some serious complications before her release from a Calgary Hospital. She is now home with her proud parents.


By Reni M. Valenzuela: This must be mere hearsay. Having disappointed the fans in his trilogy bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao is in for another fix and twixt that would surely disappoint again his legions of followers upon learning the odd “news” if the “news” are the actual facts.

On November 12, 2011, with all the distractions that bothered Pacquiao, It was a common knowledge that the Filipino sports icon apparently lost himself in a very small place called boxing ring. Pacquiao groped helplessly to find his genuine form all throughout that fight with the Mexican “Dinamita,” yet to no avail. Therefore he yielded much of the rounds to Marquez to “win” the contest by majority decision, courtesy of blind masseurs, of course.

But going into the same ring this time versus the unbeaten but lesser pound-for-pound showman in the person of American Tim Bradley two weeks ago, and Pacquiao having made to believe that he would score big anyway (truly he did except in the “official” scorecards) to run with a convincing unanimous decision, I heard that Pacman deliberately made himself “lost” in a way foreign to the game plan strategized by his team and apart from the knowledge of his chief trainer. How could Pacquiao do such to boxing?

Unbelievable! But what about reading some “unfamiliar” Pacquiao body language during the fight and immediately after “Dessert Storm” was announced the winner?

Since Bradley was considered to be an easy fight for the still vibrant and young 33 year-old Welterweight champion, I heard that few concerned “influentials” privately begged Pacquiao to temper his power and not go all out hitting Bradley with full force of his aggressive instinct due to the possibility that Bradley might not be able to recover from Pacquiao’s fatal left knock-out booms that have battered and broken giants and vultures in just the past three years, straight to the hospitals nearby for treatment and emergency precautionary tests.

On top of that rationale, it was argued that there is no better boxing update which would lure Floyd Mayweather Jr. to fight Pacquiao soonest than the observation that “Pacquiao is on the decline or has declined as a boxer.” Floyd Mayweather Jr. should stay motivated to face Pacquiao even after the Bradley fight but which would otherwise be remotely probable and negate Floyd’s confidence had Pacquiao demolished Bradley “his signature-way,” I heard. Therefore the potentially most exciting and richest boxing match in history keeps swinging and blending good.
Has Pacquiao truly waned in power and skill as the People’s champion?

Or, could it be the “drama” is part and parcel of the grand conspiracy to sell even much more wildly and in wholesale packages to the remaining few equally wild “crazy preys” for the second time as an inept “official peddler” organization soon orders a rematch?

But that one I just thought and didn’t hear.

Article posted on 26.06.2012

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