Boxing becomes a lifestyle. Once someone gets the bug, it takes over their life. Nothing else seems to matter. The passion behind the sport is more important than anything else. Fighters, managers, promoters, cut-men, trainers and even boxing writers develop a connection.
People involved with boxing tend to start in one place and move to another. Managers and cut-men become promoters, fighters become trainers and trainers become managers.
The Amir Khan-Zab Judah fight last Saturday was a prime example of ex-fighter—fighter combinations. Khan had former lightweight Freddie Roach in his corner. Judah had another former lightweight in his corner, Hall-of-Famer Pernell Sweet Pea Whitaker. Was Saturday night the battle of the junior welterweights or the battle of the former lightweights? In their respective primes, Whitaker would have out-pointed Roach. However, on Saturday night, Roach out-schooled Whitaker and Khan won the fight.
Philadelphia is full of ex-fighter—fighter teams. On the Khan-Judah card there was another ex-fighter—fighter duo. Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant Jennings defeated Theron Johnson over six rounds and in Jennings’ corner was former pro and current head trainer Fred Jenkins, Sr.
Former IBF junior middleweight champion Robert Bam Bam Hines trains fighters in West Philly out of Shuler’s gym, the most notable being light-heavyweight contender Yusaf Mack.
Ex-featherweight Danny Davis is working with fighters out of Joe Hand’s Gym in Northern Liberties as a trainer and he also serves as strength and conditioning coach for welterweight contender Mike Jones. One-time pro lightweight Smokin’ Wade Hinnant trains one of the most popular fighters in Philly, super bantamweight Teon Kennedy, also at Joe Hand’s Gym. All of the city’s ex-fighters do a good job, but the Hinnant-Kennedy connection is becoming more prominent.
It is common for ex-fighters to try to mold their fighters into their styles, instead of working with the style the fighter really has. This is what makes the Hinnant-Kennedy connection unique. Hinnant was a slick lightweight with a defensive-based skill set. Kennedy, however, is an aggressor. His defensive skills are impressive, but his offensive aggression is evident and a crucial part of his game plan.
Kennedy, ranked as high as No. 3 in the world by the IBF, is 17-0-1, 7K0s. He will be looking to improve his record on Aug. 13 at Bally’s Atlantic City when he faces Alejandro Lopez, of Mexico, in a 12-round fight for Kennedy’s NABA 122-pound belt.
One of Philly’s finest, middleweight George Benton, who boxed in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a trainer for his work with fighters like Whitaker, Tyrell Biggs, Johnny Bumphus, Leon Spinks, Bennie Briscoe, Evander Holyfield and Rocky Lockridge. Benton set the standard for ex-fighters becoming top-notch trainers. Here’s hoping the current crop can match Benton’s accomplishments.
In other boxing news: On Friday, July 29, Kea Boxing returns to the Asylum Arena. The card features multiple Philly fighters, junior middleweight Derek Ennis, featherweight Coy Evans, welterweight Ardrick Butler, middleweight Greg Hackett and first-time pro junior welterweight Tyrone Crawley, Jr.
Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing. Please help us out by taking our survey. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XLKQX3Q
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