23.07.07 – By James Slater: The Michael Katsidis-Csar Amonsot fight on Saturday nightâ€™s under-card in Las Vegas got me thinking. Not so much because of the fight, or the performance of either man – though both guys put on a brave and excitement-filled show – but because of the truly awful facial atrocities Australiaâ€™s Katsidis suffered on the way to his points win.
Quite simply, the gruesome damage his left eye had sustained was one of the worst and most bloody injuries I have seen in recent years. Surely, if they had stopped the fight – though â€śRockyâ€ť was winning – no-one could have complained too loudly.
Michaelâ€™s face was a complete and utter mess as a result of the three cuts he was bleeding from – two above his left eye and another one, almost equally as nasty, below his right eye. â€śGreatâ€ť though he may well be, at least according to his nickname, but rarely have I ever seen a guy that banged up go on to win.
But Michaelâ€™s injuries and his battling through them to win is what got me thinking. What are the worst facial injuries seen in boxing from the more recent years? There have been many fighters that have bled and been busted up, but who among the bigger names from our sport have displayed a badge of courage the most obviously – not to mention the most graphically? Though many will probably find such a poll to be in bad taste, I refer such thinkers to Ring magazineâ€™s special issue of a few years back – in which they recalled boxingâ€™s bloodiest brawls and their bloodiest bleeders. As â€śThe Bibleâ€ť said back then, the issue was a tribute to the bravest of boxingâ€™s gladiators. Some of which were champions, who, as seen in the fights remembered, were also capable of bleeding as much as the next (journey) man. In that same spirit, I now list my five choices for the worst facial injuries suffered in recent memory by a big name pro boxer.
A different list to be sure, but one that recognises a boxerâ€™s bravery in ignoring pain we mortals never could imagine.
In reverse order, here are my five choices for number of buckets bled!
5. Julio Cesar Chavez (Vs. Oscar De La Hoya) 1996.
Chavez, seen by many as the favourite going into his fight with â€śThe Golden Boy,â€ť was busted up something rotten after only a few minutes of fighting. A massive cut over his left eye left Julio a bloody and beaten mess seconds before the end of the fourth round. His face covered with blood, Chavez demanded a rematch – which he got, of course. The Mexican legend was beaten again two years later, but the cut he suffered in fight number one has to rank as one of the worst ever seen in a world title fight. Boxing Monthlyâ€™s front page summed things up perfectly when their bold headline read, â€śRipped to shreds!â€ť Julioâ€™s face certainly was.
4. Paul Hodkinson (Vs. Marcos Villasana) 1991.
Paul â€śHokoâ€ť Hodkinson may have had home advantage as he battled Mexicoâ€™s Marcos Villasana for the vacant featherweight title in June of â€™91, but that didnâ€™t help him in the slightest in the long run. Marked up horrifically around both eyes, Paul was unable to continue in round number eight. Telling ref Arthur Mercante that he just couldnâ€™t see, â€śHokoâ€ť gave the official no other alternative. His face a grotesque mess, the young Hodkinson was totally beaten. His swollen shut eyes were truly a pitiful thing to witness.
3. Michael Katsidis (Vs. Csar Amonsot) 2007.
The only guy on this list that actually won convincingly, Aussie Katsidis attacked his Filipino rival like a man possessed in many of the rounds in his tougher than expected U.S debut. â€śRockyâ€ť paid for his lack of respect. The twenty-one year old Amonsot was as game as they come and proceeded to make a bloody mess of both of the unbeaten fighterâ€™s eyes. Blood absolutely pouring from his left eye in particular, Michael somehow battled his way to a points win. Surely, however, he will not be seen in a ring again this year. Never in the last twelve months have I seen more hideous cuts on a winning boxer. Katsidis, though his career may well be quite short, is the new fight-through-anything warrior!
2. Alan Minter (Vs. Marvin Hagler) 1980.
If De La Hoya ripped Chavezâ€™s face to shreds, then what did Marvellous do to Britainâ€™s Alan Minter at Wembley in their world middleweight battle in 1980? Though he was the defending champion – having won the title from another bleeder in Vito Antuofermo – no-one would have guessed it after a mere nine minutes with Hagler. Alan, though brave, was utterly beaten due to horrific cuts over both eyes after less than three rounds. Indeed, the pro-Minter crowd were so shocked at the suddenness of the defending champâ€™s injuries they felt Hagler had inflicted them with his shaved dome. As we know, Marvinâ€™s coronation had to be postponed due to the resulting pelting of beer bottles. Minterâ€™s face was a disgrace, so too was the conduct of his fans.
1. George Foreman (Vs. Alex Stewart) 1992.
The number one â€śawardâ€ť for most alarming facial atrocities has to go to â€śBigâ€ť George Foreman in his nightmare of a fight with puncher Alex Stewart. Never before or since has George been so grotesquely transformed due to taking punches to the face. It wasnâ€™t just Foremanâ€™s eyes – both of which were mere slits at the end of the ten rounder. Nor was it simply his busted up mouth – misshapen and pouring blood as it was by the later rounds. No, the most hard to look at feature of Foremanâ€™s normally cheerful visage was his massively swollen cheeks. His face was pounded into something so frightening it could only be described as a horror mask. George himself, when being interviewed in the ring, made references to his likeness being akin to something out of an episode of â€śTales from the crypt.â€ť He was not wrong. George Foreman, in his April 1992 nightmare with twenty-eight year old Alex Stewart, scared his fans like never before!