Sometime between my first and second amateur fight, my coach, Larry Angeles, wanted me to spar a pro that had two professional fights. That didn’t seem like a big deal, because I sparred all kind of fighters by that time: professionals, amateurs, men, women and teenagers. What made this guy different was that he had close to 200 amateur fights under his belt. THAT made me nervous. He was shorter than me, which is strange, because I am always the shorter person in the ring. He fought around 126 to 135 pounds while I was fighting at the 152 pound weight class. Sadly, I do not remember his name.
While I warmed up, I watched him shadowbox and spar a round with another boxer. It was now my turn to spar him. I like to think what’s about to happen is due to me having a bad day, but it wasn’t. This was clearly the difference between a boxer with one amateur fight under his belt and another with 200.
As I recall, I tried to use my reach on him. I was using my jab quite often in an attempt to keep him at bay. He didn’t use his jab much, but counter-punched well. So well in fact that I kept getting hit with the same punch – an oddly thrown overhand left. It was as of his glove had a powerful magnet in it and my face was made of metal. He could not miss!
I don’t remember how many rounds it went, but I’m going to guess no more than three. I do recall not feeling up for much after that. My girlfriend at the time, JoAnn, came to the gym to pick me up and her reaction was explosive. “WHO THE HELL DID THIS??” She was referring to my swollen and blackened nose. Yeah, honestly, never have I before or since been so thrashed in a sparring match. I was a mess. “My sparring partner” I told her.
“Where’s his f-cking car?!” she screamed.
For the record, I was able to calm her down and we left the parking lot without causing a felony.