Interview: Steve Farhood

FarhoodBy Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing

Hall of Famer Steve Farhood spoke to Peter Maniatis about working in boxing for 42 years as a boxing historian also Showtime on-air boxing analyst.

Boxing in the 1970s

“I grew up in the 1970s when I was a kid, and, of course, in America in the 70s was all about Ali and the heavyweights, so I was what you would call a casual fan. Nothing too intense. I didn’t buy the Ring Magazine every month. I was just a sports fan in general.

First Job in Boxing

“I graduated from college with a degree in journalism and happened to get my first job with a company that put out boxing and wrestling magazines. At the time it was World Boxing News before the KO Magazine and well before it became The Ring Magazine and I fell in love with the sport immediately. So soon as I started looking at the files and doing research and going to fights – that was 42 years ago and I haven’t been bored for a single day.

The Four Kings

“In terms of covering the sport, the early eighties was such a fantastic time because we had Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Hagler and covering the fights of the Four Kings in the big outdoor expansive Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and in the Superdome in New Orleans. They were really big fights. They were front page news in the newspapers. Not just back page sports news, but front page news. Of course, we all pine for those old days. I would love boxing to be as big now as it was back then. It has marginalized since, but those days were fantastic. For a young writer like myself at the time, I was in my early twenties, to go to those fights was a dream come true.


“The best moment for boxing in 2020 was December 31st wherever you lived, to turn the page to say this is the end of the year. Let’s get on with 2021 because 2020 wasn’t a good year for anybody. It was interesting, in Minnesota, March 13, when in America and the world, everything began to change. We did a show, a ShoBox show, in Minnesota with no crowd. It was the last sporting event in America – pre-pandemic, so to speak. No crowd and no audience. I just remembered being there and saying I hope I can get home, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in Minnesota.

I was able to get home but everything shut down. Boxing or otherwise, for quite a while. The sport picked up well. I covered one big fight this year since the pandemic, which was Gervonta Davis versus Leo Santa Cruz, a fantastic fight in San Antonio. But even then, the traveling makes you feel a little uneasy. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still raging in America.

Greatest Boxers

“Boxing is probably the only sport where you can make an argument that the older guys in years gone by are at least equal if not better than the boxers today. There a lot of reasons for that. They fought more often in those days because they were making less money. There were better trainers in those days. Fewer weight classes. I would say 98% of boxing experts would say Sugar Ray Robinson was the best of all time. That’s because of his record, who he fought, when he fought them, how many divisions he dominated, lightweight all the way to middleweight.

I would say Ray Robinson number one and after that, the top five would be Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis. To me in the heavyweight division you have Ali and Louis and then there is a significant drop-off, and anyone else you want to name, Roberto Duran and Ray Leonard, from my era, I was lucky enough to cover both of them, and I think they belong on any list, as well. They would be the top five or six guys.

Greatest Aussie Boxer

“ I have a personal favorite (from Australia) both as a boxer and as a person, Jeff Fenech. I got to know Jeff early on in the game when he first boxed on American television, which was early in his career. I thought ‘this is the best pressure fighter I have seen.’ I still feel that way. For applying pressure – we have seen Ricky Hatton do it and Joe Frazier do it. Many, many other great fighters applying pressure, but Jeff did it as well as anyone. And the night he fought Azumah Nelson the first time, they called it a draw and he was robbed – he should have been a four-division world champion. I love Jeff. I have seen him at the Hall of Fame and he would be easily my favorite Australian fighter.

Crawford vs. Spence

“One thing we are all looking forward to is having fans at the fights in 2021. That is such a critical element to making a fight an event. You cannot have an event without fans. Hopefully in America at least with the vaccine being promised to being delivered probably halfway through the year. As far as the fights themselves – the fight I would like to see the most is Errol Spence and Terence Crawford. That’s the fight we wanted to see a year ago. That would be a fight between the top pound for pound fighters in the world. Why hasn’t it happened? Obviously, there are politics involved.

Lightweight Division

“I just watched the replay of the Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia fight. Now you have the lightweight division with Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney who we brought up on Showbox. Those four fighters are all young, all spectacular. Politics aside – I would like to see some of those matchups. The lightweight division is as good as ever. I called one of George Kambosos fights in Connecticut about 2 or 3 years ago. His talent was very obvious. He is a legitimate contender. He is not well known to American audiences but he will get his shot.

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  • Wouldn’t mind seeing a World Series of Boxing type tournament in the Lightweight division with the names mentioned above, or maybe a Welterweight Tournament with Spence, Crawford, Vergil Ortiz, Jarron Ennis, Porter, Thurman, Pacquiao (actually would like to see it in all divisions.)

    For those who have made the Ryan Garcia-De La Hoya comparison, check out De La Hoya’s fight with Giorgio Campanella on YouTube. De La Hoya was on the way up at the time, and was flattened by a left hand about 10 seconds into that fight in a very similar manner that Garcia was. I remember having doubts about De La Hoya after seeing that, but he went on to have a HOF career. Garcia learned a lot in that Campbell fight, and he looks to have the tools, and competition level in that division to potentially be the same kind of star that De La Hoya was. Tank and Teo are a couple of huge obstacles though….

    • A lightweight World Series of Boxing tournament would surely have the biggest interest in boxing right now. Other weight divisions would also be good.

      • Yes, if we have to have 18 weight divisions (including Bridgerweight, assuming that sticks), the least they can do is to try to have as many undisputed champions as possible. The World Series thing is a great idea, and should continuously cycle through all the weight classes in boxing. Start with a Heavyweight tournament, when that’s completed, Cruiserweight next, then Light Heavy, etc..Once every weight division has had a tournament, start over again. One Champion in each division, eliminating all shortcuts to “World” titles ensuring we get the best fighting the best. I know it won’t be happening, but fun to think about…

        • Would be even better to have these tournaments with the original eight divisions. Would be real champions instead of the everybody is a champion of today.

  • Farhood has always seemed a well-educated analyst to me when it comes to boxing. I do agree with him that Sugar Ray Robinson is one of the best of all time based on his accomplishments. Thank you Steve for bringing us entertainment in the boxing world for many decades.

    • Couldn’t agree more. He was instrumental in bringing us some of the best pieces of writing in the American magazines during some of the most electrifying moments in the sport’s history. The sport is still good BUT it is now watered down in so many ways. The 1980’s were brimming with competition and greatness. An amazing era…..

  • Steve Farhood is a boxing legend. He was writing great articles way back in the day when I was getting into boxing and buying KO Magazine. This guy should be in the BHOF.

  • “Hopefully in America at least with the vaccine being promised to being delivered probably halfway through the year.”
    There is a big misconception that the COVID vaccine will end the pandemic. Although, the studies show people getting COVID-19, Bell’s Palsy, Chills, Joint Pain, etc. after getting the vaccination.
    There are different companies making their own patented version. One of those is Moderna, and they’ve never brought a drug to the market. The western drug industry is flawed with greed and a lack of regard so I wouldnt put hope there. The side effects from the vaccination will put you under after they made enough money from you.

    • There are a couple of lesser-known biotechs that have therapeutics (not vaccines) that have shown to be very safe and very effective against Covid. The companies Cytodyn (Leronlimab is the drug), and Relief Therapeutics (Aviptadil) have had outstanding results in clinical trials, but they supposedly have more of an uphill battle with the FDA because neither has the money or influence of the Big Pharma companies. Shameful if that’s really how it works. BTW, not sure how this subject came up on this thread, and apologies for drifting off topic…

  • Read slowly;
    Descriptively, any human, especially one who ‘covers’ boxing having Mr. Ali as a ‘great’ fighter is not competent whatsoever. It is news to many that Mr. Ali, having chose not to learn the infinite science of boxing in order to have contended safely and to have invested in healthfulness during combat and post-career, he ranks very low as a pugilist. That is irrefutable. How can a pugilist rank high amongst the wise. Those who were distinctly more dedicated, who mastered their craft, contended safely in each battle, had longer careers and saw gladiatorial temperatures Mr. Ali never encountered. — And lived healthier post-career. These key factors are missing in the vast majority of assessing pugilists. Yes, Mr. Ali toppled his nemesis, but he incurred health erosion in doing so. That can not be praised or dismissed because he was handsome, eloquent and stood up to the government. It is news to many that Mr. Ali, having been naked of boxing science education and mastery was incurring long-term health complications, career-long, from his pro debut to his final contest. Respectfully, Mr. Farhood is telling all of us herein, that he has not been ‘learning’ about Boxiana and is not as astute as his reputation portrays. Moreover, Mr. Farhood, to this hour, can not see the science of boxing he has been paid to ‘cover’ throughout the decades. Copyright 2021 Coach Hilario

    • Respectfully Coach Hilario,
      You made many valid points regarding what is known among boxing circles that Mr. Ali had many technical boxing flaws. Nonetheless, the listing of any fighter as “great” is in many ways a subjective analysis, open to interpretation and dispute. I think that even upon considering all the technical flaws and the unfortunate degenerative disease after boxing, Mr. Ali’s heavy weight credentials merit the title to be among all time greats; the resume and mainly the quality of opposition should, in my opinion, give him the nod. Although, it is true that more defensive fighters have a better post-career health outlook, frankly, it only takes one shot to cause permanent damage. In addition, Steve Farhood, who is certainly not infallible, is a reputable and knowledgeable boxing analyst and historian and perhaps, like many of us, is biased in favor of Mr. Ali because of all he meant to humanity as a whole. It is very hard, and I know that the argument is about boxing, to compartmentalize Mr. Ali’s achievements in the ring and ignore his iconic status – so I see and understand your point. Lastly, fair or not, Floyd Mayweather is not only the best fighter of his generation/era, in my opinion, but also, I think, indisputably an all time great. Yet, I don’t think he will ever be ranked above Mr. Ali and in my opinion he never should be.

      • Thank you for peaceable words. I really appreciate your time and expressions. We are not talking about ‘opinion.’ We are talking about facts. About uncommon gladiatorial temperatures Mr. Ali never ascended too.  Conquering his nemesis has a limited rank because Mr. Ali travailed using his body moreso and holding excessively, not with boxing science mastery. A noble gladiator exits the ring with his health intact. Mr. Ali left the ring each time having incurred long-term health complications. That is not an opinion because I grew up in a renowned boxing ring. When a fighter does not learn and master boxing science he leaves the ring depleted of many facets of healthfulness. The Most Holy One created the earth, man and boxing science to be Honoured. To be pursued intellectually – not ignorantly. For instance, Mr. Ali will never compare to Archie Moore’s body of work and in-ring intelligence. The out-of-ring persona does NOT hold weight in-ring. Only simpletons can not separate the two. What I highlighted about incurring long-term health complications and choosing not to learn boxing science are not ‘opinions.’ These are decisions that Mr. Ali chose. Many can not separate Mr. Ali from being their ‘superhero’ and access properly and within an educated scope.  If you read closer, all I typed are not ‘opinion.’ Even Mr. Farhood’s words point to his ineptitude [ about the very science of boxing ]. The Christ wisdom and knowledge are uncommon. Mr. Moore’s 220 bouts versus Muhammad’s 61 bouts. Come on ! Absolutely no comparisons to Armstrong, Robinson, Pep and even Fritzie Zivic. Mr. Ali is not better than Joe Louis is all aspects of boxing science. Mr. Ali does not compare to Mr. Hagler or [Duran].  As far as, Mr. Mayweather, he is worse off because for approximately 17 years he took on lower risks for high reward defrauding the paying public and his own boxing gifts [ simultaneously ] for what ‘money.’ Everyone remembers Mr. Hagler’s fights, not his bank account. The same for R. Duran and even Terry Norris’ ferociousness and resilience. No human can name a Mayweather scin·til·lat·ing highlight. They don’t exist.
        Copyright 2021 Coach Hilario

        • HIlario- You claim Ali was not a great fighter because of his cognitive decline after his career, yet you praise Terry Norris at the end of your post. Have you heard or seen Terry Norris since he retired? He hasn’t been doing well for a long time. If your standards for greatness include retiring with ones brain fully intact, that would eliminate a lot of fighters who are considered “great”. As far as Mayweather highlights (Floyd Jr. that is), his destruction of Chico Corrales was pretty highlight worthy.

          • Re–READ my comment. I specifically made a reference to Terry Norris [ in regards to an impromptu comparison to Floyd Mayweather having zero scintillating fights. Whereas, Terry has many. And was ferocious, and didn’t choose lower risks for high reward, unlike Floyd. ] Many of you read aren’t fighters and or boxing-science-educated-fighters, write/reply without diligence and knowledge, yet reply speedily and emotionally. Terry Norris’ post- career conditions, unlike Mr. Ali is Terry’s story to tell, as he did compete longer that his body demanded. Terry did not neglect the science of boxing. How much did he learn is his story to tell. His films show he was highly more intelligent than Mr. Ali [in-ring].
            Boxing is not to blame when fighter’s in Mr. Ali’s case never learned or mastered boxing’s infinite science and for Mr. Norris staying active longer than his body demanded. Mr. Norris will tell you ‘did he inspect sparring gloves of his adversaries.’ Did he constantly box heavier weights during sparring? Did he inspect ounces of sparring gloves? There are many contributors to having incurred health complications from boxing. Boxing is easily blamed by the uneducated, armchair simpletons, the untrained eye to Boxiana science and those who utterly lack wisdom and knowledge. Copyright 2021 Coach Hilario

          • His “destruction of Chico Corrales.” Did you know that Mr. Mayweather had Chico weight drained for this bout. That was entirely Mr. Corrales’ fault. He fell in the trap. But please save the Mayweather comments for your high schools friends who need a hero. Mr. Mayweather’s career for his mouth alone, has no highlight reels worth the dias at the Hall of fame, next to Duran – Leonard 1 and Hagler – Hearns type memorable fights. He missed Antonio Margarito in 2006, Paul Williams in 2007 and Manny Pacquiao for six critical years. All of which his dossier proved lower risks were taken. Never done in boxing history. A boxer waited out his nemesis for six complete calendars. There’s more he missed, but he is your hero. Not mine.
            Copyright 2021 Coach Hilario

          • You kill me with your presumptions. Mayweather is certainly no hero of mine; I don’t even like him as a fighter. I merely pointed out a sci-til-lat-ing highlight, Corrales’ pre-fight regimen not withstanding. Now, I was a fan of Terry Norris, but some other questions to ask of him: Did a young Terry Norris walk into a huge right hand from Julian Jackson? Did Terry Norris suffer another huge KO to Simon Brown? Did he get pummeled by an unheralded Keith Mullings? This all happened before he was 30.

          • You type emotionally and without complete weighing of the boxer’s plight. It is easy to talk about boxing. It’s another world to be inside the ring and attain knowledge to elevate the sport.

          • There you go again with your presumptions-I’ve been in the ring with close to 30 amateur fights, I’ve trained in gyms from Cali to Brooklyn, and loved the discipline of training, loved learning the craft, and I loved competing. I have a special admiration for anyone who does get in the ring, especially those who do it for a living. The boxing world is full of self proclaimed boxing gurus.

  • It’s got to be a little weird for Farhood to cover boxing now with the same lens he did in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s no doubt there are a lot of young, talented, exciting fighters coming up now, but in the 70’s and 80’s, everybody who knew who the real champions were, and there were a lot of charachters and personalities that made the sport fun. Guys like Ali, Leon Spinks,Duran, Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Holmes, Tyson, Camacho, The Beast Mugabi, Boza Edwards, Bobby Chacon, Alexis Arguello, Livingstone Bramble, The Body Snatcher, Chavez, Julian Jackson, even Roger Mayweather was a personality and a lot of fun to watch. Those type of guys are the ones who got me to fall in love with the sport.

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