Interview: Lou Savarese Promotes Heavyweights in “Fists of Fury” October 8th in Houston!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 2, 2009)    
Former top heavyweight contender Lou Savarese who knocked out 38 of his 46 opponents continues his promotions in the Houston area on October 8th with a real good heavyweight match-up between local heavyweight Steve “Freight Train” Collins, 20-1 (15) and New York’s Darrell “King David” Madison, 14-1 (3) at the Hilton Americas Hotel’s Lanier Grand Ballroom.

Both fighters have won 13 straight fights and are on a collision course for recognition among the young American fighters. With the European’s holding all the belts the American’s are seeking a hope of their own and these two may produce just the one. It will be the first 8 rounder for Collins with the USBC title on the line. Madison, a southpaw, is the New York state champion who in July won a split decision over Nagy Aguilera, 13-2 (8), also on the under card against Texarkana’s Jerod Johnson, 3-0 (3) who has posted 3 straight knockout in his young career.

Also on the card is “The White Tiger” from Houston, Chase Shields, 28-2-1 (14) with an opponent to be named. Heavyweight Brad Bowers of Houston will oppose San Antonio’s Isaac Ruiz while two Houston boxers will appear in separate bouts in Edwin Solis and Chris Hernandez. Tiffany Junot of New Orleans will battle with Jessica Grimes of Texarkana. Doors open at 6:00pm and first fight begins at 7:00pm.

I had the pleasure of talking with the former heavyweight contender and holder of the IBA, USBA and WBO Inter-Continental belts. Savarese had a 46-7 (38) record and battled with some of the biggest names in boxing like former champions Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon and Big George Foreman, along with contenders Michael Grant, Lance Whitaker, David Izon and Leo Nolan from 1989 to 2007.

Originally from Greenwood Lake, New York and a two time New York Golden Gloves champion, Savarese has called Houston his residence for years. He met his manager Bob Spagnola at the 1986 Olympic Sports Festival. In the 1988 Olympic trials he lost to future world champion Riddick Bowe. Spagnola had his fighter make his debut in Galveston in April of 1989 and would proceed to score 8 straight knockouts before winning a decision, between sites at New York and Houston. “I boxed for the Houston Boxing Association from 1989 until 1991 when they stopped promoting,” said Savarese. He would start a new streak of 7 straight knockouts before winning a decision over Marshall Tillman, 5-1-1 in Atlantic City in January of 1991. Win’s over former amateur standouts Nathaniel Fitch, 10-4, Olian Alexander, 24-5, and Lyle McDowell, 15-2-1 would help Savarese win his first 36 fights including a 7th round stoppage of Buster Mathis, Jr., 21-1, for the vacant USBA title at the end of 1996.

In April of 1997 he would come up short in a war with former champion “Big” George Foreman, 75-4, for the WBU title in Atlantic City, losing a controversial split decision. “I thought I won that fight,” said Savarese. Many fans that had viewed the event felt the same way. It would be 7 months before fighting another contender in Nigeria’s David Izon, 19-2, and getting stopped in the 5th round. “He was tough and hit me with a good shot,” said Savarese.

He would rebound with a pair of knockouts including former champion Buster Douglas in the 1st round for the IBA title, having him down 3 times in the round. In his next fight he found himself in a brawl with 6:08 Lance “Mount” Whitaker, 18-0, getting dropped to a knee in the 6th round. Savarese would come back in this fight to earn a hard fought split decision in Atlantic City. “I must have been hit with 20 unanswered punches in that fight,” said Savarese. There were no easy breathers when he was next pitted against 6:07 Michael Grant, 29-0, at Madison Square Garden, losing a 10 round decision. “He was a strong fighter,” said Savarese. That would be his last fight in 1999.

Savarese would travel to Glasgow, Scotland, in June, just over a year since his last bout, to take on former champion Mike Tyson, 47-3. Tyson came out like a man possessed as Savarese fought him off the best he could. Referee John Coyle seemed to lose control as he stepped in between the fighters with Tyson coming over his back hitting Savarese. To his credit, Savarese got a punch of his own in with the bell ringing. “I got hit over the top of the referee and when the bell sounded I went back to my corner thinking the round was over, not that Tyson had won the fight by stoppage,” said Savarese. “I mentioned how many times I got hit by Whitaker and came back. I’m not saying I would have beaten Tyson, but the fight should have never been stopped,” he added.

It would be 11 months before returning to the ring for the first time in Houston in almost 3 years. He would win back to back by knockout before ending the year winning a 12 round decision over David Bostice, 26-4-1, for the vacant IBA Continental title in Connecticut. Some 10 months later he would destroy former champion Tim Witherspoon, 55-11-1, in the 5th round, for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title. I had talked to Witherspoon outside Philly at a boxing show and warned him about the heavy puncher Savarese was and he laughed. I guess the last laugh was on him on this night.

For some reason Savarese’s promoter, Goosen, matched him with another one of their fighters, Kirk Johnson, 33-1-1, for the newly won title of Savarese’s. It was not his night at the Club Life, in Dallas, as they stopped it in the 4th round. “He was good and quick,” said Savarese. Over a year later he would meet young unbeaten Leo Nolan, 21-0 for the vacant IBA Americas title losing in 12 rounds. Once each in the 8th and 10 rounds he would hit the canvas. “I tore my bicep in the 3rd round,” said Savarese. It would be his only fight in 2004. Savarese was quoted once saying “everyone goes down, it is getting up that is important”.

Savarese would come back in March of 2006 and January of 2007 to post knockouts before stopping young Matt Hicks, 10-1, with 10 knockouts, in the 1st round in Houston. This fight would get him ready for what would be his last encounter at the age of 41 against 44 year-old Evander Holyfield in El Paso. It was June 30th of 2007 and Holyfield would take the 10 rounder, marking the end of the line for Savarese. He was 10-2 in Texas rings, 6-0 in Houston, where he now promotes out of.

Listed among his trainers were Kenny Weldon, Tommy Gallagher, Jesse Reid and his favorite, Al “Potato Pie” Bolden. He only had one manager, and in referring to him said “if either of my sons boxed, I would want Bobby (Spagnola) to be their manager”. “Born again”, Savarese has two sons. “A true friend is one that can see through you and still enjoys the view.” That’s another Savarese quote that is food for thought. He has enjoyed doing some acting during his career being featured in episodes of The Jury, Guiding Light, The Sopranos and Rescue Me as well as the movie We Own the Night. He also played a lead role in ESPN’s documentary (Cinderella Man: The James J. Braddock Story), for which he received excellent reviews for his portrayal of boxer Max Baer. During our first conversation of the phone Savarese had to cut it short by saying “I have to get my sons up to bed.” A thought came to me. Just think of the 38 out of 46 opponents he “put to sleep”!

Ken at:

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2009