This past weekend, while I was in the Prudential Center for the Adamek-Chambers fight, I was lucky enough to meet the former 2 time Heavyweight Champion, Riddick Bowe and renowned cut man, Darren Antola. A couple days later, I was able to link back up with Darren to go over how he got into the sport and he was nice enough to share some of the experiences that he has enjoyed in his previous 16 years as a cut man. We went over some of his favorite fighters to watch when he started; he loved watching the greats like Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and so many others that there was too much to mention. You could definitely tell how much passion he had and STILL has for the sport.
Antola was born in NJ and used to box in Times Square Gym where he met former boxers Jimmy Archer, and his brother, Joey Archer, a former boxer that was arguably robbed of a decision against Emile Griffin. Emile holds a win over the great Sugar Ray Robinson, in what was Robinson’s last fight of his career. Unfortunately, Antola was in a car accident, which stopped any long term plans he had for his boxing career. In 1995, after going away from the sport he loved for a period of time, the people he knew so well from the gym he had boxed in, Jimmy Archer and Jimmy Colotto, pushed him to get back at it. There, at Rocky Marciano’s gym, he also became close with legendary cut man Ace Marotta. Colotto. Colotto who was also a cut man, started showing Antola what it took to be a good cut man and was a great help on starting his path on his career.
Antola specifically wanted me to mention 2 other men that he became close with inside the gym and gave him his big break to the pros, the 2 legendary trainers, Lou Duva and Tommy Brooks. After being a cut man for some exhibitions bouts, it was Duva and Brooks that invited Antola to join them in the pros. He then began working in different gyms, including Red Brick Gym in 2003. Once making it to the pros, Antola’s name as a cut man began to grow and he ended up being in the corners for numerous fighters, which include top boxers such as Yuri Foreman, Pawal Wolak, Vivian Harris, Mark Tucker, Bobby Gunn, as well as the previously mentioned Riddick Bowe. Antola’s name started to become synonymous with some of the greats of the sport of boxing, and eventually became the youngest cut man to be in the corner of 2 World Champions.
We spoke about the situation that happened in Yankee stadium, when Yuri Foreman fought Miguel Cotto, a fight I was at. During the fight, it appeared that Yuri Foreman’s corner was stopping the fight when Foremans’s corner jumped in the ring. The referee then said the fight was not over, everyone has to be sent out the ring, and it continued, and was eventually stopped a round later by the referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. It appears that inexperience by some of the ring officials involved in the fight may have possibly played a part in the confusion. Antola does believe that there is a need for more experienced people in the sport, but he does understand that no matter how experienced, sometimes things just happen.
Antola said he still enjoys watching the top fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and others, but he doesn’t watch the normal everyday fights as much as he used too. After doing something for your entire life, it eventually becomes routine and you eventually get tired of it. This is his job, he still loves what he does, still puts 110% into in, and he’ll continue to do that till the end, but it’s his job and this is a business. He now says he can see the ending of his career as a cut man, he didn’t say it would be anytime soon, but he knows that he won’t be doing this forever.
Darren Antola doesn’t normally do interviews, so I wondered why he decided to talk with me for as long as he did at the fight, as well as on the phone a couple days later. He mentioned that he just wanted to help me out, as even without noticing, he was doing the same for me that others have done for him. That’s the great thing about the boxing community, we stick together and help one another for the sport, and I appreciated Darren’s kindness to speak with me. I guess something that is considered a good deed to me is just another day in “Boxing’s Corner” for Darren Antola.