A lot of big-name fighters and world champions have trained for fights in Carson City over the years, including then-heavyweight champion Oliver McCall and current heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
But none of them could match the friendliness and popularity of Virgil "Quicksilver" Hill, although Lewis came close. Hill, the former light heavyweight champion, trained in Carson City three times for fights and not only was he friendly and available to fans and local residents, he also made friends with many, including yours truly.
I tell you all this because last Saturday night Virgil won and became the new WBA cruiserweight (190-pound limit) champ in a stunning upset in Lyon, France. Virgil went over to the home country of the champ, Fabrice Tizzio, and knocked him out to capture the title.
Hill, (46-3, 22 KOs) surprised just about everyone there when, midway through round one, he knocked Tizzio (42-2, 28 KOs) down with a straight right to the chin. The game champion got up, took another beautiful right to the jaw from Hill and went down again.
Amazingly, Tizzio got up again but he was a goner. Virgil finished him off with a flurry of punches that put Tizzio down for the third and final time. The official time of the knockout was 2:59 of round one, as Virgil once again became a major world champion.
Not bad for a guy who turns 36 next month .. Congratulations to Virgil Hill, it was a well-deserved win for a guy who gives his all every time he enters the ring.
The fight was promoted by the one and only Don King, who was there dressed in his tuxedo and with his hair in full bloom and the fight was shown Saturday night on Showtime.
-- Virgil Hill first trained in Carson City for his Feb. 16, 1985 fight in Reno against David Vedder which was Virgil's third pro fight. You may remember Virgil won the silver medal - and got the nickname "Quicksilver" - at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Virgil won a six-round unanimous decision in that fight against Vedder but what Carson City fans will remember is that Virgil trained at the Ormsby House, where they put up a boxing ring right in the center of the casino floor.
Virgil, who is from Bismarck, N.D., next trained in town at the old Carson City PAL boxing gym (where the Carson City Courthouse now stands) for his June 13, 1987 fight at Lake Tahoe against Marcus Geraldo. Virgil knocked him out in round two.
Back in those days, Virgil liked to "talk boxing." Hill and trainer Freddie Roach spent many an hour doing just that at the gym with the late Ted Walker, who got him to come here to train. We all used to sit around the gym and talk about the sport. The easy-going Hill was not only friendly to fans and the people of Carson City, he also was available for photos and autographs for them and he always had a smile on his face. He spent roughly three weeks in town each time he trained for a fight here. He made a lot of friends while here and anyone who met him will never forget that friendly face with the big smile on it!
Virgil, who was all smiles during an interview on Showtime after his win, won the world light heavyweight (175-limit) title and as champion he came back to Carson City to train for his April 1, 1995 defense against Crawford Ashley at Lake Tahoe. Virgil won a unanimous 12-round decision to keep his title.
Hill also trained at then-Bally's in Reno and at the Eldorado in Reno for other fights and he always came down to Carson City to train for a few days because he liked to visit with Ted and spar with our local fighters.
He always used our fighters as sparring partners as well as those he brought with him. He also helped our local amateur fighters with pointers and advice from both his amateur days and his pro days as a boxer ...
Virgil's just an all-around good guy and I'm glad he captured another world title before he calls it a career.
-- There was lots of fight action over the weekend and it began Friday night with the ESPN2 live telecast from the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. The main event had come backing Charles Brewer (35-7, 25 KOs) taking on Esteban Cervantes (23-3-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round super middleweight (168-limit) fight.
It didn't last long as former champion Brewer knocked Cervantes down twice in round one, the second knockdown ending the fight at the 2:06 mark of the opening round.
In addition to the Showtime Saturday card, HBO showed the Felix Trinidad fight against Fernando Vargas Saturday night and for those who didn't see the pay-per-view telecast, they saw a great fight on HBO and we all know how that one ended.
-- Two interesting fights on Sunday. First up was the Univision live telecast from the Shrine Temple in Memphis, Tenn. The main event featured former three-time world champion Frankie "The Surgeon" Randall taking on prospect Antonio "Tony" Margarito in a welterweight (147-limit) scheduled 10-rounder.
The 38-year old Randall (55-7-1, 42 KOs) bit off more than he could chew against the 22-year old Margarito (23-3, 15 KOs) and when Randall attempted to go toe-to-toe with the younger fighter, he found himself outgunned. There was no boxing here, just a "I'll hit you and you hit me and we'll see what happens" type of fight.
What happened is that Randall proved a 38-year old shouldn't mix it up with a tough 22-year old and Randall "retired" in his corner after round four.
The "Fight Time on Fox" Sunday night telecast had the vacant NABF middleweight (160-limit) title on the line when Tito Mendoza (21-3, 15 KOs) from Los Angeles took on Maselino Masoe (18-1, 17 KOs) from Las Vegas - via Samoa - And in a mild upset, Tito stopped Masoe at the 2:45 mark of round three.
Also on the telecast, Freeda George Foreman (she's going by that name now) was fed a turkey for her third pro fight as she builds up her record. Foreman fought Trina Pembleton who only had one pro fight and lost that by knockout. She was no match for Foreman and in an amateurish fight, Freeda stopped her foe in round two.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.