The Harder They Fall - Chatting with our old buddy Tommy Brooks, on Mike Tyson, Holyfield vs Botha and More!
By Sunset Thomas, Doghouse Boxing (March 23, 2010)  
“The fight was scheduled for seven rounds, four more than I’d ever fought and three minutes per! But I was in great shape and once I had the guy’s rhythm down it was really quite easy. He telegraphed each bomb and could only work hard for about a minute per round. I simply played it safe—covered, clinched, kept my guard up until he tired and then I’d sting him with jabs.

“By the fifth round he was shot and pissed off. The crowd who had expected him to make short order of me had turned on him and that didn’t help his psyche. When he dropped those gloves around his waist one more time and sucked in air through his bloodied mouth, I lunged. I caught him with a hard right to the gut and followed with a left hook that caught him square. Despite the whiplash like effect of the left it was a blast to his belly that had did him in—knocked the wind out of him and buckled his knees. He hit the soft canvas with a thud….”

Ooops, I’m sorry. I was just reading a passage from the Kent Wallace’s wonderfully noir murder/mystery “Death’s Green Eyes”. See, the main character Wade Luigi Marchese Ellington was a boxer in his younger days…I love this book, plus one of the characters—Wade’s love interest—Charlene, is modeled after me! (the book is available at

Anyways, Frankie and I are chatting with our old buddy Tommy Brooks via telephone and we begin to reflect…
The first time we actually met—fact to face—we were having dinner at Sparks Steak House in New York City (that’s where Paul Castelllano and Tommy Billotti got whacked on their way in).

We were lucky enough to get in. But the place was mobbed—standing room only in the bar. Frankie slipped me a C-Note to give to the maitre d and we got a table shortly thereafter—that Frankie!

Tommy was with his wife Donna Duva, daughter of boxing icon Lou Duva. I knew Donna from back when Reno Ring LLC promoted its first fight at Caesars in Lake Tahoe and so for us girls it was a time to catch up, but meeting Tommy was a bonus and a real honor.

So we’re on speaker phone with Tommy—he’s in Jersey we’re in Vegas.

Frankie cuts to the chase, “Tommy,” he says. “I hear your training Holyfield for his fight against Botha that’s coming here to Vegas? You know the first time Botha fought in Vegas there was still apartheid in South Africa (South Africa is Botha’s home).

Tommy laughed. “Hey guys, the first time I dealt with Botha was when I trained Mike Tyson in their bout in Vegas back in 1999. Don’t underestimate this guy. He still packs a powerful right. It took Mike 8 rounds to figure him out—of course Mike knocked him out eventually.”

“I remember that Tommy,” I piped in, “Mike wasn’t doing so well until the knockout.”

“That’s because Mike came in looking for the knockout, Sunset. After the 7th Round I told him to go to our game plan. To do what I’d trained him to do, which was to throw right down the middle—not those looping bombs. Mike did as he was told and caught Botha with a straight right and that was that!”

“You were with Mike for his comeback Tommy, I remember that. But then when he fought Lennox Lewis you weren’t there—what happened?”

“It’s funny,” Tommy replied. “I’d trained Evander Holyfield in both his wins over Tyson and when Mike got out of jail Shelly Finkel thought I’d be the guy for Mike. I was coming off back-to-back upset victories with Junior Jones over Marco Antonio Barrera. So I was with Mike as he strung together six straight. I banked about 3.7 million during that streak. Anyways, I was set to train Tyson for the Lewis fight—I was promised $750,000 and Finkel is offering $500,000 if he wins and $400,000 if he doesn’t and, well, right is right…”

“Damn right!” piped in a pissed Frankie Gambino, “I’m proud of you kid. Way to stick to your guns and guess what? It looks like karma took care of the rest—Tyson didn’t do so well after that debacle!”

“True Frankie,” Tommy continued, “And what’s sad is that had Mike come to me personally, if Mike himself had asked me to take the pay cut, I’d have done it—but I heard nothing from Mike, just Shelly’s ultimatum.”

The subject changed as I asked Tommy how Donna was doing—and didn’t they go way back, the two of them?

To loyal readers of Dog House Boxing, I hope you’ll all go to and search for Anatomy of an Adult Film, that’s my book—it’s doing well. Anatomy of an Adult Film is a fast-paced read and a sexy romp—I’m sure you’ll love it!
The Hard-boiled murder/mystery novel
Death’s Green Eyes….
“Sunset, I’ve been with Donna since July of 1983.”

I wondered if Tommy could hear my “ahhhh,” I mean he not only remembers the year but the month too—what a guy!

Tommy reflected, “I started working for Lou as a trainer way back when he got that deal from ABC to train our Olympians—what a talented bunch they were—Biggs, Breland, Taylor, Whitaker and Evander—they were all turning pro and Lou was the man—he brought me on board—that was a special time for sure.”

“It was nice of him to toss Donna in there too,” Frankie cracked. He is such a smart ass!

“So what about this upcoming fight Tommy—Evander and Botha—how’d you get involved?”

“Sunset, I love Evander. He had no trainer when he launched his comeback. He made me a very generous offer before the Nikolay Valuev fight in Switzerland. To be honest, I’d have worked for him for free—that’s how much I respect this guy. Frankly, I thought we won that fight but we lost a majority decision…”

“Tommy,” Frankie interrupted, “Does the guy have anything left in his tank for Chrissakes?”

Tommy was quick to respond. “Frankie,” he said, “Evander has more at 47 than a bunch of the fighters out there today. Hey, he never smoked, no drugs, no booze…”

“Okay, sure Tommy,” Frankie cut him off, “But why? Why keep going?”

“I’ll level with you Frankie,” Tommy said, sounding very serious. “I asked Evander—I asked him why he wanted to keep fighting. What he told me was a little cryptic but poignant nonetheless, he said, ‘To give, I must receive.’
“What the hell does that mean?” Frankie piped in.

This is where I entered the fray. “Frankie, everyone knows Evander is generous—he likes to help youth, the community, he’s a giver—a charitable man—always has been. Maybe he doesn’t have so many resources to share right now, if you get my drift…”

You could almost hear Tommy nodding on the other end of the phone…

“Okay,” is all Frankie said and he smiled.

I had to ask Tommy one more thing. I had to know what he thought about fighting here in Vegas with Crown Boxing promoting—I mean it’s not Top Rank or Oscar or Don King—or even Duva.

“Sunset,” Tommy said, “We’re excited to be working with Crown Boxing. I understand that so far they’ve been hosting some good bouts at the Orleans—in fact, you’ve written quite a bit about them. This is a big step up for the Crown crew and Frank Luca and we like being on the ground floor. Hey, it’s Vegas, taking chances is everything. We’re honored to be working with Crown Boxing.”

I told Tommy to give Donna a big kiss for me and Frankie said he couldn’t wait to see them when they come out in April…

The Holyfield/Botha bout will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on April 10th, 2010…

Loyal DoghouseBoxing readers please check out my book (Anatomy of an Adult Film) and my cohorts hard-boiled murder/mystery novel—Death’s Green Eyes….

To find out more on Frankie Gambino - Please click the link: The Harder They Fall: How I meet Frankie Gambino.

More of Sunset Now! If you want to watch the “Greatest” reality show ever then log on to

Plus Check out Sunset's latest Book at
Plus Check out Kent Wallace's latest Book at
You can find out more at

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2010