NEW YORK – One of the ugliest incidents in pro boxing history will be recalled and documented on HBO Sports next Saturday August 1. It was the night of June 16, 1983 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and Billy Collins Jr, after his fight with Luis Resto, was never the same.
Collins, undefeated had the opportunity of a lifetime fighting at the Garden and challenging Resto, who at the time moved up to welterweight, Resto had to put on some weight, Collins was a great puncher and moved up quickly after a successful career as an amateur from Nashville Tennessee.
Resto would upset Collins, and for those not familiar with events that followed there is ever more reason to view the HBO presentation. The life of Resto would change, and for Collins an untimely death due to his downward spiral after sustaining numerous and detrimental injuries at the hands of Resto.
But for those who know Resto, a gallant and aggressive fighter at the time, he s not at fault for getting a victory over Collins that was tainted because his trainer, Panama Lewis had the padding illegally removed form Resto’s gloves. The result was Resto banned and incarcerated and Lewis banned form the sport.
“Assault in the Ring” analyzes and reviews events of that fatal night in a ring at Madison Square Garden. Lewis provides his side of the story, so does Resto. Former New York State Athletic Commission chairmen Jack Penderville, Randy Gordon and Ron Scott Stevens, those who prosecuted Resto, defense and jury from the 1986 trial in New York also provide their accounts.
Here is why one should view the documentary that HBO will also replay 13 different times on their networks HBO and HBO 2. Resto is truthful and honest, now a retired fighter and training youngsters with promise at the Morris Park Boxing Gym in the Bronx, New York.
In the meantime, Lewis is still banned from the sport, and with the exception of a jurisdiction body out of the United States, Lewis is not allowed to train or be involved in any aspect of the fight business. And one can never believe this statement from Lewis:
“They wanted to nail me to the wall,” he said. They wanted to take me out the game about winning too many fights.” Yeah, Lewis was an exceptional trainer, but resorted to using illegal means to get his fighters a win.
Case in point is how he aided one fighter the Hall of Fame champion Aaron Pryor, In his fight with now deceased Hall of Fame champion Alexis Arguello, in Miami back in November of 1982, Lewis spiked the water bottle of Pryor that enabled his fighter to get an added boost of energy. Pryor would get a 14th round TKO and win the WBA welterweight tile.
To this day, Lewis will deny that occurrence. Though boxing authorities at the time felt powerless and let the decision stand for Pryor and Lewis. Evidence still exists that Lewis was a criminal then and his credibility for some reason wasn’t tarnished. He continued to train fighters who were vulnerable to the Lewis propaganda of, “I can make you a champion.”
Resto says about the ordeal that happened to him: “Yeah, that was the best year and the worst night,” commenting about the fight and the outcome. On the death of Collins years later, after living a distraught life, Resto says, “When that happened I wanted to commit suicide. I don’t care if I die or not.”
“You know, I think about that fight almost every day,” says Resto. ‘When I work in the gym, I work with the other guys. I don’t see your face, I see Collins’ face.” Very compelling words that come from a misguided fighter who was the wrong victim at the hands of justice and has never recovered, since that fatal night at the Garden.
And the referee, Tony Perez on the bout and tampered gloves that defaced the face of Collins, says, “When I saw the gloves and I handed it to them (the authorities) I knew there was something wrong with the gloves. There was something missing, absolutely.”
There is so much more. HBO over the years has produced more than one award winning sports documentary. This one tells the story, the aftermath. Most of all it is another horrific story that will always be in the minds of those who love the sport..
THROWING THE PUNCHES: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is off the Top Rank pay-per-view “Latin Fury” card this Saturday after sustaining a rib injury in training He is scheduled ot return in September or October. The fight to watch on the telecast is undefeated super featherweight contender Urbano Antillon (26-0, 19KO’s) against top contender Miguel “Aguacento Acosta (25, 9, 2, 19KO’s for the vacant WBA interim lightweight title….
So it is set the mega fight of the year, Miguel Cotto will defend his WBO welterweight championship against the best pound-for pound fighter in the business, Manny Pacquiao. The fight will take place November 14th from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas and will be televised on HBO Pay-per-view.
Both fighters promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank have agreed to fight at 145 and the promotion will be billed as “Power Surge” with Pacquiao currently slated as a 2-1 favorite to win the scheduled 12-round contest. A three-day media tour to promote the fight is slated to begin after Labor Day with stops in Los Angeles and New York….
And from the, you can’t believe this: Over 20 boxing promoters, including some of the most prominent gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City Monday and came to an agreement. They discussed the state of boxing and the need to establish a united boxers promoters association. The only flaw of this is how many of the promoters who attended will be a part of this group once chaos ensues? And in the sport of boxing, when is chaos not evident?
Goals of the group are to protect the interest of boxing and the promoters. But will an Arum, a Don King or Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy really care if the smaller guys in the group like Fight Factory and Thompson are losing money and struggling to compete?
In other words, have unity when certain issues need to be addressed. One good unified aspect of the group is the continued interest and safety of the fighters they promote.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]