A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
A “Tremendous” Will: Travis Simms Returns To The Ring
By Tony McClean
Updated: January 4, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — While much of the boxing media will be focused on the James Toney-Samuel Peter heavyweight bout in Miami Saturday night, one of the under cards will hold an even more compelling story.
The road “Tremendous” Travis Simms took to The Seminole Hard Rock Arena for his fight Saturday is clearly one that hasn’t been traveled by many fighters. In fact, it’s very unlikely that many folks in his shoes would have even considered it.
Lets go all the way back to December 2, 2003. The native of Norwalk, Connecticut won the WBA Light Middleweight title with a controversial fifth round knockout of Alejandro “Terra” Garcia.
Unfortunately when you realize just how boxing’s alphabet soup can get crazy, the story takes a sudden turn for the worse. In the original contract, which was mandated by the WBA, Simms was entitled to a showdown with the WBA’s Super Welterweight titlist at the time, Ronald “Winky” Wright.
However, the WBA would ignore Simms’ requests and its own mandate by not allowing him to fight Wright. In fact, the WBA continued to let Wright fight and even benefited from collecting sanctioning fees after his defense’s but never ordered any compensation fees to Simms.
The WBA would later claim that Simms had a rematch clause in his bout with Garcia. But Simms disputed that claim. “Everyone knows that in a championship bout, there are no rematch clauses in those bouts”, Simms added.
Trying to stay active, Simms would successfully defend his crown against Bronco McKart (a unanimous decision) in October of 2004. However, he still felt wronged by the WBA. Simms realized he had to take stand against the organization.
Later that year, he filed a lawsuit against the WBA for not enforcing his mandatory contract that he received from them when he won the title from Garcia. To counter the suit, the WBA stripped Simms of his light middleweight crown and awarded it (surprise!) Garcia.
And there’s more!!
To add to the craziness to the whole affair, Garcia in his first “defense” of the crown was defeated by Jose Antonio Rivera. Now Rivera, who had been inactive for over nine months, has previously lost to one of Simms’ stablemates, Luis Collazo, for the WBA Welterweight title in his previous fight.
Despite the obstacles, Simms remained steadfast to his convictions and it would eventually pay off. In August of 2006, Simms and the WBA reached an out-of-court settlement.
As a result of the settlement, the WBA reinstated Simms as “Champion in Recess” while maintaining the full champion status of reigning champion Rivera. On Saturday night, Simms looks to maintain his perfect record (24-0, 18 KOs) when he faces Rivera in Miami.
“I always felt this (lawsuit) was something worth fighting for”, Simms added. “Boxing is my lively hood so it was hard to be inactive for such a long time. But I have a very supportive wife and family that was with me all the time”.
“I stayed active in the gym, but I still had to reintroduce myself to the physical pounding on my body. I feel like I stayed mentally strong and the decision made me feel vindicated and I think I got my point across to the WBA”.
Now Simms looks to remain undefeated, regain his crown, and hopefully get a shot at a good payday down the road. “I would like to unify my division and prove to everyone that I’ll be a force to be reckoned with”, Simms said.
Simms also has political aspirations as well. He helped on the gubernatorial campaign of Connecticut Democrat Dan Molloy last year. The mayor of Stamford received the convention endorsement of the Democratic party in May, but lost in the primary election to New Haven mayor John DeStefano in August.
Simms sees himself as the being the mayor of Norwalk down the road. One thing is for sure, given the history of championship fighters that have come out of the Nutmeg State (i.e., the late Willie Pep, Marlon Starling), Simms seems to be ready to continue on that same path.