Boxing


The Phone Booth belongs to Micky Ward

28.10.06 - By Ted Sares: Salem, New Hampshire is about an hour and a half South from where I live in and I wasn't about to miss this one. I knew one of the fighters well (having followed him from his armature days in Lowell, MA) and smelled an action packed brawl. It was high time "Irish" Micky Ward got over the hump of beating a world class contender...in this case, Reggie"Showtime" Green (30 (14 ko's)-4 coming in. The slick Green, ranked 7th, had whipped Ray Oliveira and lost a razor thin MD to Sharmba Mitchell in a fight prior to Ward. That's not to say Ward was incapable of an upset..

After all, he beat promising Louis Veader twice for something called the WBU Intercontinental Light Welterweight Title. He also put Larry Merchant and the rest of the HBO team in shock when he iced the then undeafted Alfonso Sanchez with his patented (and lethal) left hook to the liver in the 7th round. This was on the De La Hoya-Whittaker under card and exposed Mickey to a wider viewing audience, though he already was a big ESPN fan favorite. True, he had been having an off night, but he did not warrant Merchant's vicious insults which said more about the caustic Larry, who clearly had done no research on Ward, than it did about that affable Micky. But enough build up, suffice to say Irish Micky Ward needed a career resurrecting fight and opportunity loomed in Salem.

I had my trademark 60 ring corona stoked up and was ready for the bell. The Referee was Norm Vel'ue. Most of the first two rounds were feeling out rounds with Green taking the clear edge and Micky having trouble fighting from the outside which was his won't. But then he landed one of his wicked hooks to Green's head buzzing him and the fight quickly went from "bout" to "brawl" just like that. Now we had begun to enter close quarters.

Landing an overhand right to Green's head to start round three, Ward, who was superbly conditioned, soon found himself confused by Green's speed and polish. Then it happened. After Micky missed with a right cross, he was hit flush by a perfectly timed left hook that Green seem to take from Ward's own play book. Staggering back into the ropes, Ward was badly hurt, perhaps more so than at any time in his career up to that point. Not until Gatti parked Ward into the ropes in their second fight have I ever seen Micky in such danger. How he stayed on his feet was a miracle, but somehow he willed himself to stay upright, his rubbery legs all but gone Going in for the anticipated kill, Reggie let both hands fly, but to the amazement and delight of his fans, Micky stayed upright until the bell rang. He would later say, "He [Green] was very sharp. He was ranked like third in the world at that point. He had a good left hook. He threw one of the best left hooks I got hit by ever. I believe it was in the third round. That was a war."

Letting Ward off the hook in the next canter, Green foolishly waited for a opening for one big shot to end matters. In the meantime, Ward somehow got the cobwebs out and recuperated. Remarkably, he then waved Reggie in and Green obliged but found himself in a dog fight as the pivotal round for Ward ended. Green continued to hit Micky with punishing jabs but Ward kept coming, kept boring in until he could do some inside work with his short ad vicious left hooks. But again stealing a page out of Ward's book, the willing and surprisingly aggressive Green traded hooks and landed better ones along with sharper counters. By then, Micky's face was bleeding from multiple areas and this continued through the seventh as he fell behind in the scoring. Showing his ability as an all around fighter, "Showtime" moved his attack back to the outside where he could continue to carve up "Irish" Micky like a Thanksgiving turkey. It was not pretty to watch and those of us rooting for Micky (the majority of the crowd) were stunned into silence by Green's punishing and ceaseless work as he widen his lead going down the stretch.

Going into the 8th, Ward found himself beaten and trailing on all scorecards. His mouth, nose and eye were now bleeding and his face was a hideous and bloody mess.He badly needed to pick up the pace and intensity if he was to prevail....and that's just what he did. Simultaneously, Green made a terrible tactical mistake by inexplicitly going back inside with Micky. Hey, the phone booth belongs to "Irish Micky" and Green had no business in there with him. While Green had seemingly held his own in the 9th, Micky's inside work had taken something out of him and he was tiring badly. Ward now had the opportunity he was looking for. His fans sensed it as they rose to their feet and began the roaring that accompanies every Irish Micky Ward fight in the Boston area.

The 10th was one for the ages as a visibly tired but still dangerous Green was stalked by Ward. The beginning of the end came when Green got caught with a left hook upstairs. Badly hurt, he staggered into his corner where Micky literally ran after him and savaged him with a series of left hooks. Somehow, Green escaped from the ropes, but was visibly wobbly and ready to go. Mickey again went after him with a furious assault of more brutal punishment, this time from both hands including gut wrenching shots to the body. As the referee moved in to save Green from further hurt, and with only twenty seconds remaining in the final round, Ward punctuated matters by nailing Reggie with a final and debilitating left hook. The gritty Green hit the canvas. He was finished. Coming from behind and pulling off a critical win, a bloody "Irish" Mickey Ward took out the WBA's number 7th ranked junior welterweight contender in the last round of a rousing slugfest in which both fighters could hold their head high.

Later I was told that Teddy Atlas had said on ESPN that this was what boxing was all about...two warriors giving their all and willing to pay the price to give the fans their money's worth. He went on to pay both quite a tribute for their gutty performances. Writer Ron Borges also would pay both fighters a tribute in a poignant piece he did for the Boston Globe. Teddy and Ron were there and knew what had transpired that night. Luckily, so was I. We had seen something very special in Salem on October 1, 1999. This was before Augustus and the Gatti trilogy, but I think it may even have been more special.


In his next fight, Mickey would destroy Shea Neary for the WBU Light Welterweight Title and finally rid himself of contender status, positioning himself for the the thilling series of fights that would mark the end of his remarkable career. In that series, he earn "Fight of the Year" honors three times putting him in rarified company.

"When Ward gets someone willing to fight in a phone booth with him, there is action so incredible that you wonder if you will ever see a fight like that again....Its almost unimaginable to expect to see 10 rounds of nonstop, face first, toe to toe action like in this fight...brawls like this come along only every so often, and Micky has been the star of more than a few." A unidentified blogger's quote from the web


Ted Sares is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and is a boxing historian. He can be reached at tedsares@adelphia.net

Article posted on 28.10.2006



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