Overdoses, paralysis, imprisonment, Castro, repentant Irish Internet bookies: two weeks of boxing

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Okay, I cheated: this is a 15-day period, not 14. That said, lying about my intentions seems very much in the spirit of boxing. With no further ado…

May 28: 45-year-old former five-time champion Johnny Tapia dies of an overdose. At age eight he watched his mother get stabbed to death with a screwdriver and, by his own account, was “raised as a pit bull”, as uncles forced him to fight larger, older opponents. On five previous occasions he had been declared clinically dead from overdoses; during one of the five — again, five times clinically dead — two family members were killed in a car accident rushing to be with him.

May 28: 30-year-old former welterweight champ Paul “The Punisher” Williams is paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident on the way to get ready with his brother for another brother’s wedding that day. He had been scheduled to fight for the light middleweight title on September 15.

June 1: Undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., generally considered to be one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, starts a three-month jail sentence for attacking his ex-girlfriend in front of two of their children.

June 4: 40-year-old former champ in three different weight classes “Sugar” Shane Mosley retires. His most celebrated achievement is twice beating Oscar De La Hoya — though many thought De La Hoya was robbed one of those times (not that judges ever get a decision wrong; yes, this is foreshadowing) — a claim to fame undermined by his later testifying to a grand jury he was using undetectable steroids at the time. De La Hoya still went on to work for Mosley as a promoter; what’s a little cheating between friends?

June 5: 40-year-old former light middleweight champ Ronald “Winky” Wright retires. (Note: Yes, “Winky” is the most adorable nickname ever given to someone who earns a living by punching.) It is uncertain if retirement will stick, as he also retired in 2007 after losing a unanimous decision, then came back in 2009 and retired after losing a unanimous decision, before coming back and retiring in 2012 after losing a unanimous decision yet again.

June 8: Apparently feeling the peer pressure, 34-year-old former welterweight champion Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito retires too. Margarito gave Miguel Cotto a stunningly brutal beating in 2008 and seemed headed for being one of the biggest stars in the sport. This came to a halt his next bout, when he attempted to fight wearing hand wraps that contained a plaster-like substance, so that he would have been effectively hitting his opponent with bricks. Caught, he was forced to fight without the wraps and was knocked out by his opponent Mosley. (Margarito insists he did not use the illegal wraps for the Cotto fight; shockingly, Cotto still does not believe this.) Post-wrap scandal, Manny Pacquiao pounded him so severely that in the later rounds Pac-Man eased off and all but begged the referee to end the fight already. Despite Manny’s mercy, Margarito wound up with a broken orbital bone and a severe cataract in his right eye. He recovered after surgery, only to be battered into retirement by Cotto in their rematch.

June 9: Timothy Bradley “beats” Manny Pacquiao in a “controversial” split decision, if “beats” means “loses to” and “controversial” means “clearly wrong.” The verdict is troubling enough that betting site Paddy Power — yes, it is an Irish site — offers refunds to people who bet on Pacquiao. To recap: online bookies said, “This is unacceptably sleazy.”

June 12: 60-year-old three-time Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Teofilo Stevenson dies of a heart attack. The Cuban legend was denied a chance to test himself against Muhammad Ali (and make millions in the process) because Castro deemed it essential he keep his amateur status. Thus the gold medal winner in 1972, 1976, and 1980 turned his back on wealth and fame in pursuit of more Olympic glory, only to see his chances to earn a fourth and possibly fifth gold slip away when Cuba boycotted both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. And that same day…

June 12: Floyd Mayweather’s lawyers file an emergency motion that he be able to serve out the remainder of his term under house arrest at his Las Vegas mansion, stating that in less than two weeks of solitary confinement his health has deteriorated so severely he may be unable to resume his boxing career.

I’m sure the next two weeks will go better.

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