By 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.
“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.
“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.