Al “Ice” Cole – Down but Not Out!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (May 21, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Al Cole
Former IBF Cruiserweight champion Al “Ice” Cole is back in the gym working with Maurice Harris who has a May 27th date with Tony Thompson in Reno. Cole had 5 title defenses and 1 non-title win to go along with his 27-1 record as the champion. The 47 year-old Cole was last active in September of 2009.

“I can still fight and I’m still able,” said Cole. It was his first sparring in a year, with Harris. Cole was part of the “Triple Threat” which included former WBO heavyweight champion “Merciless” Ray Mercer and IBF light welterweight Charles “the Natural” Murray.

Cole spent 4 years in the Army from 1984-1988 compiling a 76-11 record trying to win a birth on the 1988 Olympic team. “I beat Andrew Maynard in the quarter-finals and Bomani Parker in the finals. (It’s not automatic the final 2 fight in the box-off) They bring Maynard back in the box-off and they award him back to back 3-2 wins. If it weren’t for being with Ray Leonard he would not have taken the spot earned by Parker,” said Cole. Making the Olympic team would have been financially much more beneficial needless to say.

“Kenny Adams and Alton Merkerson were my trainers at the start of my professional career. Adams and Hank Johnson were my trainers in the Army,” said Cole. He won his first 15 fights before losing a split decision to Leon Taylor, 12-4, at Resorts in Atlantic City in December of 1990. “Taylor was a slick fighter. Another Chris Byrd,” said Cole. Less than 3 months later in a rematch for the vacant USBA Cruiserweight title Cole reversed the decision by 116-112 on all score cards over Taylor.

In his first defense of the USBA title he took on Nate “Mr.” Miller, 18-2, out of Philadelphia winning a close decision over 12 rounds. “He was the hardest puncher I ever met,” said Cole. This was followed-up by 3 knockout wins and a match with the IBF Cruiserweight champion James Waring, 14-1, in July of 1992. “He was a former kick boxing champ and an all-around great athlete,” said Cole. After 12 rounds Cole would take the IBF title.

Cole’s first defense was against Uriah Grant, 22-9, whom Cole called “an action packed fighter”! Cole took the decision in Atlantic City in February of 1993. In July he traveled to Moscow, Russia to defeat former IBF cruiser champ Glenn McCrory, 30-7-1, of the UK, having his opponent down twice in the sixth round. At the end of the year Cole stopped Vincent Boulware, 26-4-1, in Atlantic City, in the fifth round.

In July of 1994 Cole gave Miller a rematch in Bismarck, ND, taking another 12 round decision. “It was much easier than before,” said Cole. Six months later Cole stepped up to the heavyweight division for the first time stopping trial-horse Mike Dixon, 15-16, in the eighth round. It wouldn’t be until June of 1995, almost a year since his last defense, that Cole made his final defense of his IBF title in a rematch with Grant, for his fifth successful defense. It was his twelfth straight win bringing his record to 27-1.

What happened between that fight and his fight with former WBA/WBC heavyweight champion “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, 43-4, who was on a six fight win streak was the start of bad things happening in his life. He was in a bad car accident 3 weeks before the fight. “My back hurt but knowing the winner might meet former world champion Riddick Bowe I went ahead with the fight,” said Cole. He lost a 10 round decision and took the next 10 months off to re-hab.

Cole’s heavyweight career was filled with up’s and down’s with more down’s that up’s. “There were personal deaths in my family that completely took me out of my mindset,” said Cole. This writer felt it was not necessary to bring back the bad memories of those deaths. Cole would win 3 of his next 4 fights with his only loss to Michael Grant, 24-0, at the end of the tenth round. One judge had it even.

In December of 1998 Cole had back to back fights with Canada’s Kirk Johnson, 26-0, with the first ending in a draw despite Johnson having 3 points taken away from him for low blows. “I couldn’t believe I didn’t get that decision,” said Cole. The rematch went to Johnson 3 months later. His next 2 fights would be out of the country stopping Brian Nix, 10-4, in Canada and losing to southpaw Corrie Sanders, 35-1, in the first round in South Africa. Sanders, was a future WBO champion who would knockout Wladimir Klitschko, 3 years later for the title. “He had phenomenal hand speed like a middleweight,” said Cole.

Cole fell into the worst slump of his career going 0-5-1 from April of 2000 until January of 20002. “I was having mental problems,” said Cole. In June of 2002 he would defeat prospect Vinny Maddalone, 15-0, in his last fight in the state of NJ having fought there 24 times. It was under the Klitschko-Mercer title bout. In 2003 it looked like he might be turning things around drawing with Jeremy Williams, 39-4, and defeating Nigerian David Izon, 27-5, before losing to Lance Whitaker, 26-2-1, for the vacant NABA title in October over 12 rounds. “I took the Whitaker fight on 10 days notice and was dehydrated,” said Cole.

Just prior to Cole’s fortieth birthday on 3 weeks notice he gave former WBC/IBF champion Hasim Rahman, 35-5-1, a good fight losing 96-94 on all score cards. A year later he lost to future WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov, 14-0, for the WBO Asia Pacific title. “I had an argument prior to the fight with New York Commissioner Ron Stevens that took me out of my game plan,” said Cole.

It would be 42 months before he donned the gloves again traveling to Karlstad, SW, for his good friend Don Elbaum. Boxing was back in Sweden after over 50 years but limited fights to 6 rounds. His opponent was young hard hitting southpaw Joey Abell, 20-2. “I left the hospital that day recovering from walking pneumonia,” said Cole. He would defeat Abell who had a bad cut by split decision. Never say never as Cole returned to Sweden almost a year to the day against Timur Ibragimov, 25-2-1, losing a 6 round decision. “He grabbed and held the whole fight,” said Cole.

It’s been a 2 part career with a very successful cruiserweight career and a not so successful heavyweight career for Cole. He’s fought in 10 states and 4 countries. In NJ he was 22-2 while going 16-2 in Atlantic City where he had 3 defenses after winning the title in Stanhope, NJ. Oddly enough he was 0-5-1 in his home state of NY fighting out of Spring Valley.

At 47 he is another one of those heavyweights that feel since George Foreman won the title at 45 who knows what could happen? Cole’s good friend Ray Mercer came back at 47 in Sweden and defeated Richel Hersisia, 30-2, and almost made a comeback last year at 49. Al “Ice” Cole says he is “down but not out!” Stranger things have happened in the sport of boxing!

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