BoxingDepot is an Upfront Merchant on TheFind. Click for info.



Terrence Alli's stomach muscles rise magnificently, sets of impressive brown ridges that inevitably

attract one's sight line. Pity the fragile fist that foolishly attempts to make a dent.


Terrence Alli's self-assured smile is no camouflage. Nor are the bright eyes, the gold tooth, or the brown derby. Rather, they're personal statements. Lots of fighters are confident.

But only a few are sure.


Terrence Alli's highlight film features only one constant, that mad dash from his corner at the start of every round, a psychological ploy that can eventually do more damage than any flashy jab-cross-hook combination. The rest of the package includes dancing and slugging, caution and creativity, slick boxing and crude phonebooth warfare. Total unpredictability. "I have five videotapes of Alli, and they all show him differently," said IBF lightweight champion, Harry Arroyo, a thinking man's fighter who didn't know what to think.


But Terrence Alli features more than pretty muscles, costly teeth, and full-back-up-the-middle assaults. He can also fight, flashing fast hands, ample power, neat boxing skills, and a dependable chin, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once.

We've known for more than a year that Hairy Arroyo can fight. And we were pretty sure that he couldn't be intimidated. For those reasons, a ticket for the Arroyo-Alli championship clash at Bally's Park Place Hotel in Atlantic City became as hot as a free yank on a million-dollar jackpot slot machine.

In fact, according to Boardwalk veteran Frank Gelb, promoter Bob Arum's site coordinator, ticket interest was the best, "I've seen since a Matthew Saad Muhammad-John Conteh fight in Atlantic City in 1979."

The interest in Arroyo-Alli was testament to excellent matchmaking, the undiminishing popularity of the lightweight division, and the rise of Harry Arroyo. In truth, despite the CBS cameras and the title tag, no one expected Arroyo-Alli to generate as much attention as it did. Until he was stopped by Jose Luis Ramirez, Edwin Rosario, not Arroyo, was thought to be the best 135 pounder in the world. And how was Arroyo-Alli ever going to approach last November's Ramirez- Rosario explosion, one of the most dramatic lightweight brawls in years? Ray Mancini, not Youngstown, Ohio, neighbor Harry Arroyo, was still the most popular and recognizable 135-pounder in the world, and the Mancini-Livingstone Bramble rematch, not Arroyo-Alli, was the one lightweight fight the fans had to see. And Hector Camacho, not Harry Arroyo, was the consensus choice as the 135-pounder most likely to succeed supreme lightweight rulers Roberto Duran and Alexis Arguello and achieve superfighter status.

But Arroyo-Alli, fought on a convenient weekend—between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl—sold itself. Viewers of ESPN's weekly boxing show had grown accustomed to regularly welcoming Alli, the energetic, colorful. 24- year-old Guyana-born entertainer extraordinaire, as a Thursday night prime time visitor. Alli first introduced himself as a late substitute for Howard

Davis Jr. on an ESPN special in November 1983. He overwhelmed the capable Ivan Montalvo (KO 5) and, two fights later, won the network's lightweight title with a close 12-round verdict over world class Melvin Paul. Alli defended that crown four times in 1984, scoring kayo wins over John Sinegal and Frank Newton and points victories over Efrain Nieves and Victor Babilonia. Though Paul remained the finest lightweight he had faced, Alli's other ESPN title fight victims had been capable 135 pounders. The jump to Arroyo was certainly a graduation into the big leagues (CBS), but a deserved one.

Arroyo, of course, had enjoyed a rather distinguished 1984 as well. His January upset decision over Robin Blake labeled him genuine. His April stoppage of Choo Choo Brown crowned him king of the IBF lightweights. And his first defense, a rugged September kayo of the previously unbeaten White Lightning Brown, established him as one of boxing's finest counterpunchers, a cool technician who had first learned the virtue of patience as a child at the dinner table.

"I was one of 16 children," he says "and we took turns eating dinners."

Handsome, soft-spoken, and far less emotional than Mancini, Arroyo developed a national following of his own in 1984, and CBS was anxious to spotlight him in the first quarter of 1985, one of the hottest three months in the history the hottest three months in the history of the love-hate relationship between

TV and boxing. But as network boxing adviser Mort Shama( and Arum's chief matchmaker, Teddy Brenner, knew, slow and steady Harry needed the right dance partner. In his first network appearance, in 1982 against Joe Manley, Arroyo took a 10-round spin with a mirror image and was offered

little to counter against; he barely escaped with a 10-round verdict and his unblemished record. But those bombardier B Boys, Blake and the two Browns, all tried to remove Arroyo's head from his shoulders, swing by swing. A counter puncher's delight.

It is difficult to picture the ebullient Terrence Alli waiting for anything,whether it be a traffic light, a late friend, or the most subtle of cracks in an opponent's defense. So no one anticipated a dull battle at Bally's. "He will have no trouble finding me, I'll be the one punching all the time," Alli said. And when asked what the fight plan would be, Allis trainer, Don Hayes, answered with one word:


As if this delightful pairing needed any prologue, a relatively insignificant prefight gesture encapsulated the personalities of both champion and challenger and told uninformed viewers all they needed to know about who was fighting. Arroyo, minus the entourage that accompanied Alli, entered the ring only seconds after his adversary. He immediately crossed the canvas and approached Alli, his face as expressionless as a man cruising the aisles of a supermarket. Alli was facing his corner and did not see the chaimpion coming until his friendly hand was offered. But for Terrence Alli, this was no time for high fives, low fives, or any variations of patty-cake. The challenger's eyes widened and he quickly turned, right fist tight and cocked. Arroyo couldn't hide his amusement and grinned all the way back to his corner. After the opening bell sounded, however, Harry Arroyo knew it was time to make war, not friends. Alli didn't disappoint, racing across the ring as promised. But there was Arroyo uncharacteristically charging out as well, and only his delivery of a right ross prevented a mid-ring head-on collision that might have produced who knows what unfortunate damage.

The first round was meaningless, only because of what happened in the second. All missed and Arroyo countered and scored neatly to the body in the first, scored by all three judges for the champion. But Allis sneaky power

manifested itself early in the second,

when a right over a lazy Arroyo jab

connected with such violence and au-

thority that the champion had to grab

the top right to keep vertical. Arroyo's

left glove touched the canvas, howev-

er, and referee Tony Perez correctly

ruled a knockdown. The round must

have seemed endless, for before it

had concluded, Arroyo was troubled

again, this time by Allis wide, strong

left hooks. At this early stage, the

champion's prospects had to be

termed poor; Alli easily eluded all at-

tempts at clinching by simply shoving

Arroyo away, and the champion's jab,

at least on this day, was not sharp

enough to exact a toll for Allis


Alli did not decelerate either, end-

ing the third with a beautiful three-

punch combination and bruising Ar-

royo's left cheekbone in the fourth.

Still, the pace and Arroyo's well-

earned reputation as a sleepwalking

starter had to be considered. One

ringsider's notes included the scrib-

bling, "Watch for Alli burnout."

"He started breathing heavily [as

early as round four], but he was deter-

mined; he kept coming," said Arroyo,

who was forced to repeatedly retreat

and struggle on the inside and off the

ropes. But the champion had anticipat-

ed that in this bout, infighting would

be a necessity. He matched Alli flurry

for flurry in the fifth, sixth, and sev-

enth, and continued to drive his right

into Alli's ribs.

As the middle rounds progressed.

the lightweights began to demonstrate

clear signs of respect Each stopped

shooting out of his corner at the start

of the rounds, and both opted to rest

for portions of the incessant infighting.

Terrence Alli was proving that he was

indeed a fighter. As a result, Harry Ar-

royo would have to prove that he was

indeed a champion.

"They keep getting tougher," Ar-

royo said afterward, admitting that the

riddle of Alli had not been as easily

solved as those of the B Boys.

Alli rebounded to regain a slight

edge in the eighth, ninth, and 10th,

though he lost a point for hitting after

the bell ending the 10th. "Keep the

pressure, keep the pressure," Hayes

and manager Jimmy Glenn screamed

to their fighter, realizing that the title

would change corners only if Alli

could continue to hustle and force Ar-

royo to the ropes and corners. For

rounds 11 through 15, were a true

champion shines, were the road mark-

ers in Arroyoland.

Between the 10th and 11th, ring an-

nouncer Michael Buffer informed the

crowd that Alli had been penalized.

The announcement upset Alli, who

said, "I was upset. I wanted to know

why. I was too excited and overanx-

ious and I wanted to knock him out."

Perhaps only in boxing can an ath-

lete be excited and full of energy and

zest and, less than 30 seconds later, be

flat on his back, motionless, and the

subject of instant medical supervision.

It took a perfect blend of ring intelli-

gence, technique, and raw power for

Arroyo to end the afternoon early in

the 11th. And he did it with one short

stroke, like a surehanded golfer bag-

ging a 14-footer to win in sudden

death on the 15th green. One of Ar-

royo's only steady methods of scoring

had been that lead right to Alli's side.

When Alli saw Arroyo dip and lower

is vision to the challenger's midsection

he properly dropped his left-right elbow

to defense the blow. But he also created

an unmistakable route to his

unprotected jaw, Arroyo smart

enough to serve up the bait, was also

strong enough to reel in the game.

Boom! Up came Arroyo with his right,

crossing it splendidly to Alli's sweet spot.

Arroyo's follow up bullets-the

right that sent Alli to the neutral corner,

the right that landed after Alli had

already fallen, and the series of shots

following Perez's eight count—were

little more than dressing. The bottom

line: Harry Arroyo retained his title after

a fierce, close dog fight with a single punch.

"I was really looking for the left

hook because he did take a lot of

feints," said Arroyo, who applied ice

to the right hand he sprained early in

the bout at the postfight press confer-

ence. "But I decided to fake going to

his side and hope he'd try to block it,

which he did."

“I saw him getting closer and closer

with that right hand each round,” said

John Russell, Arroyo's trainer. “And

Alli had started leaning in.”

“The fight went the way I thought it

would,” added lightweight contender

Tyrone Crawley, an interested observer

at ringside. “Harry had to hurt him

to make him show respect. And that

didn't happen til the 11th round. Until

then, I thought Alli was outpunching

him three to one. No doubt Arroyo's

one of the best out there. Of the three

lightweight champions, he's the best.”

Arum, whose relationship with Arroyo

somewhat compensates for the fact that

he no longer makes money promoting

Mancini, hinted that the champion's

next defense, to be televised by CBS

on April 6th, will likely be against

Florida's Adolfo Medel. Other names

mentioned were bomber Chris Calvin,

USBA champion Jimmy Paul and

Blake. Of the four, Paul is the best

and the only boxer. You can bet his

style will likely disqualify him from

the running. After that?

“Late June, Hector Camacho, Madison

Square Garden,” said Arum.

Wouldn't that be something? The

brash fiery “Macho Man” a fighter

with many of Alli's qualities and

many of his own, against cool Harry O,

with two undefeated records and a world

title at stake. Can't you just see the brash

Camacho badmouthing the quiet Arroyo

at the press conference, blinding the champion

with all that jewelry, dizzying him with that street

talk, trying to intimidate him...

Excerpted from KO June 1985


‹ Go back to the blog


Leave a comment

comments have to be approved before showing up

Recent Blog Posts