Street fighter set to make it legal in ring


His name is Carson McCaurry. We think.

"That's what it says on the poster, anyway," says Don Elbaum, the fight promoter. "It's the third spelling I've gotten."

If there's confusion, it's because Carson McCaurry is really Skippy -----, which is the name he goes by, but which I was asked not to use on account of any possible outstanding lawsuits. McCaurry is the name he was born with, however, if that is indeed how it's spelled.

"Could be McCurry," says Larry Lowry, who is his handler.

Whoever he is -- let's call him Skippy -- he's sitting in a crab house in Pasadena eating the catch of the day. Skippy's got a black eye, a scar over the bridge of his nose and a lot of mangled knuckles decorated with slashes that closely resemble teeth marks.

He is introduced by Lowry as a local legend whose fame is derived from busting up bars and busting up faces. And now Skippy's going to make his debut in the ring on March 4 at the Arena on the undercard for the Eddie Van Kirk-Vincent Pettway fight.

"The difference between a street fight and fighting in the ring is that, in the ring, the other guy has a chance," Skippy says peaceably enough.

In the bars, he punches first, and one punch usually does it. Or so the legend goes. The legend goes as far as a dozen assault charges, the last of which landed him in jail, he says, for five days, convincing him that he should find another outlet for his penchant for punching folks out. Skippy wants to make it legal.

"Let me tell you about this kid," says Elbaum, a veteran promoter who is never without some angle (as the IRS learned, Elbaum having plead guilty Friday to tax evasion to the tune of $150,000). "He's never had a fight. No amateur fights, no pro fights, nothing. But he is a legend. He's barred from half the bars in town for starting fights.

"Here's some background on him: His father went to jail for killing a guy. And then he killed another guy after he got there. The kid has been up on at least 12 assault-and-battery charges. He's raw, but he's going to come out swinging. He's selling tickets like crazy."

Just your basic fun-loving kid, huh? He has pedigree, and in the boxing game, nothing sells like a rap sheet. If only there were some way to get Dad on the card. Elbaum would if he could. He's semi-famous for his promotions, the most memorable of which came in Johnstown, Pa., where he had Sugar Ray Robinson fighting.

The year was 1966, and Elbaum figured out it was the 25th anniversary of Robinson's first pro fight. Elbaum called a news conference, ordered a huge cake and then, for the coup de grace, made a dramatic presentation.

"Don't ask me how I got these, Ray," is how Elbaum remembers the story, "but here are the gloves from your first fight."

It was a very touching moment until it was pointed out that both gloves were right-handed.

Presumably, Skippy will get one of each, although he's accustomed to going bare knuckles.

"He's not a bad kid," says Lowry. "Look at that face. It's a baby face. But he goes to the bars and has a few drinks and look out."

Lowry laughs. He's got a little gym in Pasadena, and he thinks maybe he has something in Skippy, although he's 25, which is a wee bit late to get started in this business.

"I don't know why I get in so many fights," Skippy says. "Maybe it's the drinking. When a guy says something to me or if he puts his hands on me, things happen. I'm not big [5 feet 8 1/2 , 180 pounds], so people don't expect me to do much. I love it when a big guy messes with me, because I know exactly what's going to happen. I'm going to knock him on his butt."

He laughs. You believe him.

And then in walks a friend, Chris Poe, who played high school football with him and recalls that they met when they were about 10 and "Skippy knocked me to the ground.

"I remember we went to football camp together one year, and this big guy, a huge guy, spit in Skippy's bed," Poe is saying. "He hit the guy so hard it knocked his teeth out. Skippy's hand was swollen, and you could see the teeth marks."

"Hey, I'd forgotten that one," says Skippy. "I don't remember half the stories."

Skippy leaves to go to work, and Joanne Valentine, who identifies herself as a co-owner of Network, a bar, comes in. This is how it works in the fight game: The promoter brings in witnesses.

"That boy," she says, "is every mother's nightmare. For him, it's always, 'It's Saturday night, let's go beat people up.' I would consider him a very dangerous person. I've seen a lot of fights in bars, but nothing like him. He goes crazy. He goes berserk.

"I don't know what sets him off, but I'd love to go to the fight to see him get knocked on his butt. You can't believe the damage he's done to my bar. I told him if he comes back again, I'm calling the police."

So, it's a heartwarming story of a 25-year-old bar fighter going four rounds for $250. His opponent, by the way, is Jeff Schmude (presumably his real name) of Erie, Pa. Schmude is, according to Elbaum, 33 or 34 years old and had 10 amateur fights about 10 years ago, winning half of them.

"He came to me begging for a fight," Elbaum. "So I got him a fight."

Actually, he's gotten him three, including this one; in the first two, Schmude was knocked out in a total of three rounds.

That's your matchup -- a street fighter who's never been in the ring against a thirtysomething, part-time fighter who in two pro fights has yet to make it to the third round.

"The fight is scheduled for four rounds," says Elbaum, "or less. This one ain't going four."

This one appears to be a setup.

"Yeah, it looks like a setup," says Lowry. "The thing I worry about is which fighter is being set up."

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