Ayala Jr

Discussion in 'Boxing Discussion' started by mschatz, May 15, 2008.

  1. mschatz

    mschatz Hamma: I has it

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Messages:
    12,163
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Tony Ayala Jr.: The Best Prospect of All-Time

    By Greg Smith
    Being a hot prospect in the contemporary world of boxing is inherently difficult. If a high profile prospect is fed an array of stiffs and tomato cans to pad his record, he
     
  2. mschatz

    mschatz Hamma: I has it

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Messages:
    12,163
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    San Francisco
    It was both a scary and revealing bout. Tony Ayala Jr. could be hurt and knocked down, but he could rise from the brink of defeat to dominate dangerous opposition. He was no longer a prospect. He definitely wasn’t a one-dimensional front runner who couldn’t handle return fire.

    A contender was born.

    Over the next twenty months, Ayala roared and ripped his way through tomato cans, journeyman, and legitimate contenders. To this day, I have never seen a fighter so young with as much game as Tony Ayala Jr. At age 18, he could execute a shoulder roll off an incoming right hand and counter with his own right hand as well as James Toney or Evander Holyfield. During infighting, El Torito would sometimes cross his arms in the style of Archie Moore, and then counter with a five-punch head and body combination, pivot, and land another thumping combination that would paralyze and befuddle his opponents.

    Tony was uniquely relaxed and vicious in the ring. Barry Tompkins compared him to Jake LaMotta, but with better instincts. Ferdie Pacheco compared him to Roberto Duran because of the relentless ferocity of his attack. It is hard for me to articulate who Ayala reminds me of because he was actually quite original.

    As the sordid story of boxing goes, Ayala never fulfilled his potential. On the verge of a title fight with WBA belt holder Davey Moore, Ayala was convicted of rape and was given a 15-35 year sentence in the New Jersey penal system.

    We should’ve known. Ayala had been in serious trouble before. He reached an out of court settlement in a sexual assault case when he was only 15-years-old. Just months prior to the aforementioned rape, he was arrested while wandering intoxicated in a neighbor’s home. Like Mike Tyson, Ayala was careening out of control, and nothing could stop the wreck.

    When Ayala entered prison in 1983 at the age of twenty, his professional record was 22-0 with 19 KOs.



    When Ayala emerged from prison in 1999, I was surprised when he announced a comeback. In his first career, Ayala once admitted that he really didn’t like boxing as much as fans might think. I was also surprised that he would compete near his original weight. Ayala emerged from prison around 200 pounds, but didn’t appear obese.

    Many people forget that Bernard Hopkins immediately called Ayala out at that time. Hopkins was still laboring in obscurity while waging war against the establishment. Hopkins’ overtures might’ve been a great marketing coup if Ayala’s impulses superceded his intellect. Ayala smartly ignored Hopkins’ challenge. He knew as well as Bernard that 16 years in prison doesn’t improve a fighter’s ability to slip jabs and hooks.

    Ayala’s comeback didn’t go far. Initially, some compared his comeback to that of George Foreman, but the comparison is both unfair and inaccurate. I strongly believe Ayala was at a huge disadvantage compared to the comeback of Fifth Ward George. I have always believed that the level of pure boxing skill tends to increase in inverse proportion to weight. Especially in the contemporary era, the heavyweight division is based more on power than boxing skill. Foreman could easily compensate for slowed reflexes with his freakish power. In contrast, Ayala’s slowed reflexes would be more apparent and detrimental at 154 or 160 pounds. The fighters are quicker and harder to tag cleanly than heavyweights. Therefore, Ayala would automatically experience more difficulty than did Foreman.

    Ayala was doomed from the beginning.

    As it turned out, Ayala’s comeback record was 9-2 with 8 KOs. In his last fight, Tony appeared listless and a caricature of his former self when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Anthony Bonsante during the spring of 2003. Truthfully, his comeback ended when Yori Boy Campas stopped him in 9 rounds on July 28, 2000. Ayala attempted to rebound, but the demons and trouble of the past insidiously crept back into his world.

    Legal troubles started months after Ayala lost to Campas. Ayala was shot when he broke into the home of a young woman who trained at his gym. After much legal haggling, he was placed on 10 years probation.

    In another legal scrape, Ayala was falsely accused of rape by a young woman, but spent a few months in jail while fights fell through.

    When Ayala was released from prison in 1999, he proclaimed himself to be the original Mike Tyson. The parallels fit in many ways.

    In 2004, Ayala was aimless. His boxing career was essentially over, and career prospects appeared elusive. He was arrested for speeding, driving without a license, and possessing drug paraphernalia in his car. Ayala was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation.

    Ayala is now a two-time loser, and only time will tell how Ayala will fare if he survives the next several years in a Texas prison and is granted yet another shot at freedom.

    In classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Nicolo Paganini are two of the greatest virtuosos to grace the planet. Both were child prodigies. Mozart was composing music at the age of five. He was most comfortable effortlessly composing the most exquisite operas and symphonies in history. Mozart was the standard by which eccentric geniuses are measured. Outside of his element, he was a careless spendthrift and nonconformist who didn’t possess an iota of common sense or business acumen. He died destitute and was buried in an unmarked grave at the age of 35.

    Although not as well known on a pound-for-pound basis, Italian violinist Nicolo Paganini might’ve been better than Mozart. Paganini received classical training early in life, but was mostly self-taught. Reports from that era indicate that Paganini’s passages were so beautiful and awe-inspiring that his audiences would weep in admiration. Many were stunned by his virtuosity, and theorized that he was in a pact with the devil. Today, the best musicians in the world continue to struggle in duplicating his work.

    Nicolo’s peccadilloes were also at a different level than Mozart. Like Mozart, he was a spendthrift. Deeper and more disturbing, he was a murderer and a rapist. He was also hopelessly addicted to gambling. Moreover, his wife suffered as Nicolo relentlessly assuaged his sex addiction through countless extramarital affairs, many of which occurred with underage girls. As Paganini’s hubris and instability ultimately hampered his career, it destroyed his life as well. The Catholic Church deemed him a heretic and denied him a Christian burial at his death in 1840 at the age of 57.

    Prodigies often don’t last long, nor do they fit into the established norms and mores of society.

    Tony Ayala Jr. was the prototype of the prodigy gone wrong. Like Mozart and Paganini, he started his profession early in life, and his skill set improved at an unnatural rate. Robbie Epps lost to Ayala on a first round knockout in 1982. He was once a sparring partner of Ayala, and a family adversary. Epps described Ayala’s bizarre and precocious development in Berger’s excellent article.

    “I first saw Torito compete in San Antonio’s Municipal Auditorium in 1972. I couldn’t believe it. Nine years old he was, and he was fighting a guy with a mustache and a tattoo---a 15-year-old man. It was the first time I’d ever seen a kid that young whose punches made a thudding sound when they landed. He had that squatty body of his, but he beat the hell out of the mustached guy. Stopped him in the third round. It was amazing.”

    Ayala stunned and amazed Epps, just as he enthralled fans at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio with his curious blend of barely controlled fury and advanced ring savvy.

    The downfall of Tony Ayala Jr. has been explained in many ways. It is well known that Ayala was pushed hard in his development, grew up too fast, and was raised in a tough environment. Ayala was exposed to drugs and alcohol during the onset of puberty. Heroin was one of Ayala’s toughest adversaries. El Torito later admitted that he was actually detoxing from heroin before some of his most notable performances. Additionally, it is well known that Ayala was molested repeatedly as a child. Some have speculated that the unfortunate nature of Ayala’s upbringing contributed heavily to his self-destruction and criminal behavior.

    In truth, the real professional tragedy of Tony Ayala Jr. is that he was blessed with unusual gifts he didn’t maximize. He simply made the wrong choices, and destroyed his life along with the lives of others. He could’ve been more than a contender. He probably would’ve become at least a good belt holder and might’ve engaged in memorable battles with Hearns, Duran, Hagler, Leonard and Mugabi. At his possible zenith, he might’ve defeated the best, changed the history of boxing, and transcended the sport.

    From a different angle, another tragedy looms. In watching interviews with Ayala, he is actually well-spoken and intelligent. Tony Ayala Jr. could’ve helped a lot of people. Tony could’ve emerged from prison, and counseled those who suffered from the residual effects of sexual abuse and drug addiction. He could’ve helped ex-convicts through the precarious web of integrating back into society. He could’ve trained fighters, and helped them overcome the pitfalls of both success and failure. In the end, Tony Ayala Jr. simply chose to self-destruct instead of taking the opportunity of freedom and turning it into the multi-faceted redemption story he was fully capable of accomplishing.
     
  3. Dit365

    Dit365 Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    2,337
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    dub;in
    great read

    those some slick ass mod skills
     
  4. mschatz

    mschatz Hamma: I has it

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Messages:
    12,163
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I got tricks.
     
  5. 5acrossYOeye

    5acrossYOeye Silver Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,258
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    Washed dad living in the burbs
    you a pimp or a mod?
     
  6. TKDhasBin

    TKDhasBin Green Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,000
    Likes Received:
    3
    Excellent post....
    Reminds me of that poem :

    Of all sad words
    Of tongue and pen
    The saddest are the words-
    what might have been
     
  7. mschatz

    mschatz Hamma: I has it

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Messages:
    12,163
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    San Francisco
    You gonna make me choose?
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.