I was watching "24/7 de la Hoya-Pacquiao," the excellent HBO boxing series, when I saw a familar face. There was Angelo Dundee, the long-time trainer who has guided so many notable fighters, among them Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Dundee, 87, had come to Oscar de la Hoya's training camp in Big Bear Lake, Cal. De la Hoya and will fight Manny Pacquiao Dec. 6. Oscar has been past his prime for years, and he'll need all the assistance he can get. Agreeing to fight Pacquiao takes guts and gall.
I met Dundee a decade ago in Charlotte and spent time with him again two years ago at Fight Night for Kids, the annual Charlotte boxing fundraiser. Humpy Wheeler saved me from a boring conversation by grabbing my arm and dragging me to the bar, which isn't terribly difficult. At the bar was Dundee.
I could have listened to Angelo talk about his boxers and boxing for hours. Yet, despite Angelo's pedigree, he wanted to hear my opinions. That's the mark of a humble and confident man. When we finished, I thanked Angelo for his time. He thanked me for mine. Few sportswriters still care about boxing, he said sadly.
One sportswriter that does is George Kimball, formerly of the Boston Herald. He wrote "Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing."
I read it on a Charlotte to Detroit to San Francisco to Detroit to Charlotte journey and was sorry when it ended. I'm talking about the book, not the flights.
Those of us who love boxing probably didn't realize what we had when the four fighters, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran, all ended up in the same weight class, middleweight, at the same time.
It was a golden age, and Kimball reminds us in a story beautifully told and rich with detail.