‘THERE WAS SOME REAL HANKY PANKY GO­ING ON’

Former heavy­weight con­tender Ed­die Gregg looks back on get­ting the rough end of the stick, with

Boxing News - - Q & A - James Slater

TALL, ath­letic and pos­sess­ing fast hands and de­cent punch­ing power, New Yorker Ed­die Gregg should per­haps have gone fur­ther than he did. The 1980s heavy­weight con­tender – ar­guably most fa­mous for his 1986 one-round loss to a come­back­ing Gerry Cooney – be­came a favourite at the Felt Fo­rum, and it was while fight­ing at this venue that Gregg won his only pro ti­tle – stop­ping the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Car­los Her­nan­dez to col­lect the New York State heavy­weight belt in February 1985. His other big vic­tory came when he got the ver­dict fol­low­ing a 10-round slugfest with the gran­ite-tough Ran­dall “Tex” Cobb, three months after de­feat­ing Her­nan­dez.

Gregg, like many heavy­weights of that pe­riod, blames pro­moter Don King for his fail­ure to get a shot at the world ti­tle, but it’s un­likely his three losses – which all came in­side schedule – to Cooney, James Broad and Francesco Dami­ani helped his cause ei­ther.

To­day, Gregg is still loosely in­volved with the sport as a part-time trainer, and though he has that fa­mil­iar ‘I wuz robbed!’ mind­set, Gregg – who was trained by Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton and Tommy Gal­lagher – of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the world of heavy­weight box­ing from some­one who was, once upon a time, right in the thick of it.

You re­tired from pro­fes­sional box­ing in 1987 with a record of 24-3-1 (18). What was your am­a­teur record, and did you en­counter any fa­mous op­po­nents?

I was 32-2 as an am­a­teur. The big­gest fight then was prob­a­bly Marvis Fra­zier. I fought him right in Joe Fra­zier’s gym and I lost a split de­ci­sion. Can you say home cook­ing! That’s what it was. I re­ally had him go­ing dur­ing the fight.

You fought a num­ber of big names at pro level: Gerry Cooney (l ko 1), Randy “Tex” Cobb (w ud 10) and James Broad (l rsf 8). What are your mem­o­ries of those fights?

Broad, I was a lit­tle over-trained. I got winded and he hit me with a good shot. Cobb, he was so tough, eas­ily the tough­est guy I ever faced. He was tough, but he found out that I was just as tough, or tougher. By the time of the Cooney fight, I had lost some de­sire. I had been promised a shot at Tony Tubbs’ [WBA] ti­tle after I beat Cobb. Don King promised me that, but I never got it. I know for a fact I would have beaten Tubbs. So I was more than a lit­tle frus­trated. Against Cooney I had lost a good deal of my de­sire as an ath­lete. But he was a good puncher and he caught me, I have to give him that.

Was Cooney the hard­est puncher you ever met?

No. Cooney was a good puncher, no doubt, but the hard­est puncher ever, I met in spar­ring; that was Ron Lyle. I sparred Lyle dur­ing the early part of my pro ca­reer, we went about five rounds – and it was hard.

You had a fine left jab. Was that your best punch?

That, and I went to the body real well. The thing is, I learned how to go to the body so well due to the fact that I trained and sparred with a friend of mine, who was just 5ft 3ins. He was a shorter guy and all he could do was go to my body, so I learned how to go to the body from him.

You beat a good young fighter, Car­los Her­nan­dez, who was 15-0 when he met you. You stopped him in­side a round, yet he later shook up Ge­orge Fore­man dur­ing his come­back…

[In­ter­rupt­ing] Let me tell you about him! Have you heard about the racist ele­ment in box­ing? I was in the [dress­ing] room ahead of the fight, and then Her­nan­dez walked in, he was late. Any­way, he said, real loud, ‘Is that the n **** r I’m gonna fight tonight?’ I said to him that I wasn’t no n **** r, that I was In­dian. I also told him I was gonna kick his damn ass! He was prob­a­bly try­ing to get a psy­cho­log­i­cal edge, but it sure back­fired

on him.

Have you any real re­grets re­gard­ing your ca­reer, and if you could do it all over again, what would you do dif­fer­ently?

I wouldn’t have re­tired as soon as I did. But I had been lied to by Don [King] and I never got a shot, at Tubbs or at Larry Holmes. They were mak­ing mil­lions of dol­lars and I had fought enough tough guys to have earned my shot. Let me put it this way: there was some real hanky panky go­ing on in the Broad fight and in the Cooney fight; let me leave it at that. You know, if the big peo­ple in box­ing want some­thing to hap­pen, it will hap­pen. You know, it’s not al­ways fair, in any sport. That’s all I’ll say.

Do you still fol­low box­ing to­day?

I train fight­ers to­day, but the only di­vi­sion I fol­low is the heavy­weight di­vi­sion. And let me tell you, it is weak, as weak as… [Deon­tay] Wilder, he’s de­cent, prob­a­bly the best of the cur­rent crew, but he hasn’t im­pressed me too much. If he was fight­ing in the 1980s, there is no way he would have been un­de­feated. The guys from the ‘80s, they’d blow every­one away to­day.

RE­VENGE IS SWEET: Gregg [right] makes Her­nan­dez pay for his of­fen­sive re­marks

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