The “What if fight of 1984” David Gutierrez vs Mark Breland

April 28, 2013 No Comments
(L-R) Standing: NYSBOF & Ring 8 president Bob Duffy, Tony Graziano, James "Buddy" McGirt, Mark Breland, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, seated: Junior Jones, Shelly Finkel, U.S. Congressman Peter King, Bobby Cassidy and Iran Barkley. Photo: Peter Frutkoff

(L-R) Standing: NYSBOF & Ring 8 president Bob Duffy, Tony Graziano, James “Buddy” McGirt, Mark Breland, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, seated: Junior Jones, Shelly Finkel, U.S. Congressman Peter King, Bobby Cassidy and Iran Barkley. Photo: Peter Frutkoff

Back in 1984, in the semifinals of the Olympic Trials held in Fort Worth, Texas, Mark Breland won a controversial points decision victory over David Gutierrez of San Diego. In the match, the much shorter Gutierrez had gotten inside Breland’s defenses and continued to work over Breland’s midsection.


 

USA Olympian Mark Breland from the Bronx, New York

USA Olympian Mark Breland from the Bronx, New York

In 1984, the young David Gutierrez, a top USA Amateur, was both a good boxer and big puncher.

In 1984, the young David Gutierrez from South San Diego, a top USA Amateur, was both a good boxer and big puncher.

As it turned out, it was all for naught. Short of knocking Breland flat on his back, there was no way that Gutierrez was going to get the decision. 

Why? At that time, Breland was the celebrated five-time New York Golden Gloves Champion with a record of 21-0 in this competition with 19 KOs, 14 of those knockouts coming in the first round. His overall amateur record stood at 110-1. He was the anointed one and considered a shoe-in to win the Gold Medal for the US team in the 1984 Olympics being held that year in Los Angeles. After getting passed Gutierrez, Breland defeated Louis Howard on points, at the Olympic Box-Offs in Las Vegas and then it was on to fame and fortune as he defeated six opponents in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics to win that Gold Medal.

November 8, 1984, Gutierrez turned pro and went on to win 16 straight fights, then came a draw versus Al Long followed by his 17th win over Steve Little on September 3, 1987.

After sustaining a serious neck injury in the Little fight, Gutierrez (17-0-1, 9 KOs) was forced to end his promising career. As luck would have it, there was a fork in Gutierrez’s bumpy road and he headed off to college. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, San Diego followed by a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, he was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1995. Soon after he opened up a successful law practice in Chula Vista, CA.

When “El Peleador” – the fighter – is not defending his clients in Court, he helps train future champions at the Bound Boxing gym in Chula Vista, CA where he is a part owner. The thriving Mr. Gutierrez is happily married and has three wonderful children.

Breland, Gutierrez’s former rival turned pro seven days after Gutierrez, and went on to win his first 18 bouts before losing on August 22, 1987 to Marlon Starling in his first defense of the WBA Welterweight Title he won October 7, 1987. Breland again won the vacant WBA Welterweight Title in 1989 and made three successful title defenses before losing to Aaron Davis in a thrilling 9-round contest that was nearly called off twice because of injuries to Davis’ eye before Breland was knocked out in round 9. Interspersed with the boxing, Breland gave Hollywood a shot and even appeared in several TV series like Miami Vice. After getting snubbed by the Academy of Arts and Sciences, he left that medium. He retired from boxing in 1997 with a professional record of 35–3–1, 25 KOs. He’s currently a Bronx, New York boxing trainer who often attends various fundraisers and lends his support to local charities.

Why are we revisiting the background of these two gentlemen?

On Sunday, April 28, 2013, Breland was back in the news. On that day, more than 300 people attended the second annual New York State Boxing Hall of Fame induction dinner, sponsored by Ring 8, at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, New York, as 20 inductees from the Class of 2013 were honored.

Among the inductees were promoter Bob Arum, trainer Teddy Brenner, manager Shelly Finkel, Tony Graziano, sports journalist Larry Merchant, play-by-play announcer Don Dunphy, and boxers Jack Dempsey (61-6-9, 50 KOs), Johnny Dundee (83-32-20, 17 KOs), Sandy Saddler (144-16-2, 103 KOs), Maxie Rosenbloom (207-39-26, 19 KOs), Joey Archer (61-6-9, 50 KOs), Iran Barkley (43-19-1, 27 KOs), Bobby Cassidy (59-16-3, 27 KOs); Doug Jones (30-10-1, 20 KOs), Junior Jones (50-6, 28 KOs), James “Buddy” McGirt (73-6-1, 48 KOs), Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (50-8-1, 39 KOs), and last but not least Mark Breland (35-3-1, 25 KOs).

Each inductee spoke to the audience and then received a custom-designed belt to signify their induction. To be eligible the boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years and all inductees must have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers.

Here are some of the highlights from that event.

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 5.52.41 PMIran Barkley spoke of his trainer: “Teddy Brenner basically asked me, ‘You think you can fight.’ I told him I was going to be champion of the world and he said, ‘You’re never going to be champion.’ You don’t know how mad he made me that day. I then beat everybody he put in front of me.

“When I fought (Thomas) Hearns, nobody thought I could beat him, but I wasn’t afraid. I’m a Bronx guy and I was used to getting hit by bricks and bats. I won with blood, sweat and tears. I said to get ready to pick him up and carry him out.”

(left to right) New York State Boxing Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member Steve Farhood, manager Shelly Finkel and Bob Duffy.

(left to right) New York State Boxing Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member Steve Farhood, manager Shelly Finkel and Bob Duffy.

Shelly Finkel: “Anyone in the sport knows there are two families – one at home and the fighters. Somebody once asked me, when all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered? I said: ‘That I cared about my fighters.’ There have been so many incredible moments in the ring. I’ve had the greatest career with my fighters in the ring, but after the fighting, it’s important that I could help my fighters.”

(left to right) New York State Boxing Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member Steve Farhood, manager Shelly Finkel and Bob Duffy.  

(l to r) U. S. Congressman Peter King, Bobby Cassidy, son Chris Cassidy, son Bobby Cassidy, Jr. and his two children at the April 28, 2013 Hall of Fame banquet.

Bobby Cassidy: “I truly appreciate and I’m honored to be standing here today. I started boxing in 1963. Teddy Brenner said I was a million-to-one shot but his long-shot paid off. Like a lot of guys, boxing saved me. It was go in the ring or go to jail. Everything I have is through boxing.  I was sent all over the world. I was a fighter; just tell me where to show up. I never turned down a fight. I fought six opponents who fought for the title and beat four of them.  All I ever wanted was a shot at the title. I never fought for the title and that really hurt me more than anything. I had 80 pro fights and 500 stitches. I’m a fighter and always will be. Standing up here makes up for never getting a title shot. I’m truly honored.”

Photos above show Mark Breland (l) waving to the cheering fans at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Then top right we see Breland with Ed "Too Tall" Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (below) with basketball great, George "The Iceman" Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs and later with the Chicago Bulls.

Photos above show Mark Breland (l) waving to the cheering fans at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Then top right we see Breland with Ed “Too Tall” Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and (below) with basketball great, George “The Iceman” Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs and later with the Chicago Bulls. Being a celebrity, Breland travels in exclusive circles.

David Gutierrez was also doing great things as a local boxing coach and later part owner in a brand new gym, Bound Boxing in Chula Vista, CA. Photos above have Gutierrez posing with some of his best fighters, in one he is with his son, David Gutierrez Jr.

Like Mark Breland, David Gutierrez couldn’t leave the sport he loved. Every chance he gets,  he’s in the gym working with local youths and boxers like his son, Adrian Gutierrez and Homer Palomino (top left) who have done well in the Nationals. He coached top flyweight Amaris Quintana (bottom left), opened a gym with long time friend Juan Medina Jr. (bottom right). Top lightweight Mercito Gesta gladly helped out and came to their grand opening.

 

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