Top 10 Canadian Disasters in the Desert
By Dave Spencer
Las Vegas has broken more than a few hearts in its time. Few of us go with the intention of breaking the bank and taking it for all it’s worth Ocean’s Eleven style, but most touch down with the intention of rolling the dice a bit, spinning the wheel, doubling down and coming out ahead. But for each person lucky enough to hit the cherries on a slot machine, most instead are brutalized, smacked down and tapped out, limping home to lick their wounds.
Boxers are no different from the rest of us, for most, Vegas represents the same thing, a chance to go all in and come out ahead. While there are success stories, many never recover from the blow that is dealt them. Joachim Alcine had had been down early prior to last weekend in Vegas, but had picked himself up only to be knocked back down thanks to the hands of Matthew Macklin. Canadians historically over the years have not fared well in the desert, join FightNews as it explores the top ten Canadian disasters in boxing’s Mecca
#10 Stephane Ouellet
Boxing-wise Ouellet was riding high when he ventured to Vegas to battle Omar Sheika who was still a hot commodity in 2001. ‘Le Poet’ had finally avenged two losses to Davey Hilton, but when a world title shot suddenly went to his rival and not himself, Ouellet bolted from his Interbox promoter in a bitter split and ended up in the desert out-gunned and under-prepared against Shieka on the undercard of Barrera-Hamed. Prince Hamed wasn’t the only fighter humbled that night, Ouellet was blown out in two and would promptly retire for three years before coming back one final time, another one round blowout to Joachim Alcine.
#9 Arturo Gatti
While the ultimate blood and guts warrior held court as the King of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, things certainly didn’t go well in his only appearance in Vegas. Gatti was thought to be on the downside of his great career when he decided to cash in all his chips by moving to welterweight and earning the ultimate payday against Oscar De La Hoya in 2001. The Golden Boy proved too big a task and Gatti was down in the first and pummeled for five brutal rounds until his corner had seen enough. Unlike most, Gatti managed to pull himself up and dust himself off and fought a trio of fights against a pretty tough chap named Micky Ward and then went to become WBC world champion and number of defenses. He never made it back to Vegas though.
#8 Hercules Kyvelos
A split from his trainer and signing with Don King got Hercules Kyvelos exactly what he was looking for at the time, a crack at the world title. King had a stranglehold on the welterweight division at the time and Kyvelos got his first crack in Phoenix in 2004 against Antonio Margarito, an ill-advised fight that lasted two rounds. Seven months later and Kyvelos was at the Mandalay Bay against another King fighter in Cosme Rivera. Things didn’t go any better as the Montreal fighter lasted just four. Kyvelos would leave Vegas and hang them up for eighteen months before a final kick at the can in 2006.
#7 Hermann Ngoudjo
A crossroads fight for Hermann Ngoudjo in May 2010 against two-time world champion Julio Diaz. Ngoudjo a two-time world title challenger was one fight removed from breaking his jaw against Juan Urango and Diaz was coming off a pair of losses and looked primed for the taking. It wasn’t meant to be though as Ngoudjo working with new trainer Marc Ramsay was dominated on the scorecards and re-fractured his jaw late in the fight and has not fought since.
#6 Matthew Hilton
Matthew Hilton would visit the Las Vegas Hilton in 1988 making the second defense of his IBF world championship and would come up short against tough Philly fighter Robert Hines. Hilton threw absolute bombs in the early going and scored a pair of knockdowns but expended a huge amount of energy in doing so. Hines was able to survive the onslaught and came back to take a close decision. Hilton who had won before and after in Vegas but was never able to return to world championship level after this war.
#5 Kirk Johnson
Johnson began his career in Vegas in 1993 but when he finally got a shot at a world title versus John Ruiz nine years later it defined the word ugly. Ruiz was on the floor three times due to low blows and returned the favour by tackling Johnson in the 10th. When Johnson delivered yet another low blow later in the round, referee Joe Cortez did the ultimate altruistic act and mercifully called a halt to the bout and disqualified Johnson.
#4 Donny Lalonde
A true mega-fight promoted by Vince McMahon of WWE fame versus legend Sugar Ray Leonard for WBC belts at both light-heavyweight and the newly created super-middleweight division. Lalonde believed he was simply too big for Leonard who weighed in wearing a track suit and who he called both old and fat. It looked as if he might be right as Lalonde scored a fourth round knockdown but was eventually stopped in the 9th.
#3 Donovon Ruddock
Razor would fight a total of three fights inside a year at the Mirage in Vegas and while he won the final one versus Greg Page, two losses against ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ are what mark Ruddock’s Vegas legacy. Make no mistake, Ruddock gave everything he had in both Tyson fights and refused to quit. When the first one ended prematurely in controversy, the two did it again a mere three months later. Many feel that Ruddock left it all inside the Vegas ring and never was quite the same fighter afterwards.
#2 Joachim Alcine
Alcine has come back from the dead before, but his only trip to Vegas may have sealed his fate for good. Alcine suffered a one round devastating knockout to Alfredo Angulo in California and was brought back to Montreal as fodder for David Lemieux and his comeback fight. That helped seal the deal for Alcine and Matthew Macklin earlier this month at the Thomas and Mack Centre on the undercard of Martinez Chavez Jr. No need for ring card girls in this one as Alcine again lasted less than three minutes. At 36 and only a .500 fighter in the last four years, Vegas may have been the final blow for the former world champion.
#1 Trevor Berbick
He won his world title in Vegas but will forever be remembered for being the victim in Mike Tyson’s coming out party. Tyson was of course too young, too green and too inexperienced at 20 years old to take on the experienced Berbick who was making his first defense of his WBC belt. The bell helped save the champion in the first round of this 1986 fight but the inevitable onslaught kept coming in the second and Berbick was quickly knocked out in the fight and the heavyweight landscape. One year later he was miles from the Vegas strip both figuratively and literally as fought in Halifax against a 6-14 Robert Evans. Berbick only made it back once to Vegas in 1990 where the aging fighter lost virtually every round on a Tyson undercard.