Former champion Harry Arroyo is involved in boxing ministry.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- May it never be said that Harry Arroyo backed down from a challenge.
Of course, a tough question doesn't quite have the same punch as Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, but when Arroyo was asked how many fights are fixed, he only hesitated for a moment.
"I plead the fifth," Arroyo, the former IBF lightweight champion, quipped. "I don't know, honestly. It all depends on who you are."
But boxing's biggest problem isn't the boxers, he said. It's the managers and trainers.
"About 85 percent of the professional managers and trainers are dishonest," he said. "It's a shame, but to be a good one, you basically have to be a crook."
A new venture
The Youngstown native, who spoke at Monday's Curbstone Coaches luncheon at the Lockwood House, is now involved with the Boxing Ministry of Austintown, a non-denominational outreach started in 1992 for present and former boxers.
"I had a wonderful career and I invested well and have a pension," Arroyo said. "I'm here to help [the boxing ministry], rather than it helping me."
Arroyo won the IBF title on April 15, 1984, defeating Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown on a TKO in the 14th round. He successfully defended his title twice, against Charlie "White Lightning" Brown and Terrence Alli -- his most memorable knockout.
"At that time of the fight [against Alli], it could have gone either way," Arroyo said. "I caught him with a punch in the 11th and ended it all."
He lost the title to Jimmy Paul on April 6, 1984 on a decision. Arroyo, who was rated in 1984 as the best lightweight boxer in the world, said his most rewarding victory was against Robin Blake.
"At that time, it was my biggest fight and I was basically brought in as a tune-up for him," he said. "Everyone expected Blake to beat me."
Arroyo vs. Mancini
He still remembers the bout that never happened, against Mancini, his former sparring partner.
"Every time someone mentions [Mancini], my eye twitches," he said. "They offered us three-quarters of a million dollars each to fight. At that time, I would have fought Larry Holmes for that. Ray's manager said he wouldn't fight for less than a million, so I said 'Fine, just take $250,000 off mine.' "
"I don't know if I could have beat Ray, but I think if Ray was confident he could beat me, he would have accepted the fight without a glitch," Arroyo said.
For more information on the Boxing Ministry, visit www.boxingministry.org.