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Like father, like son

McCalls pull the old 1-2 punch as Oliver win’s IBA title in his return


Steve Marcus

Heavyweight boxer Elijah McCall celebrates his victory over Chad Davis with his father, center right, Oliver McCall. The elder McCall claimed the IBA heavyweight title in his first bout in 19 months Friday, May 22, 2009 at The Orleans. At far left is referee Joe Cortez, far right is Crown Boxing matchmaker Frank Luca.


Oliver McCall walks around the ring as referee Joe Cortez calls off the fight with John Hopoate of Australia during a heavyweight bout at The Orleans Friday May 22, 2009. McCall beat Hopoate, a former rugby player, with a second-round knock out. Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun


  • Cruiserweight: Henry Namauu def. Patrick Liles by TKO (5th)
  • Lightweight: Jorge Carasco def. Johnny Fraizier by majority decision
  • Welterweight: Robert Guillen and Brian Battease fight to draw
  • Super Middleweight: Isiah McFadden def. Caleb Caldwell by unanimous decision
  • Jr. Welterweight: Lawrence Hughes def. Joel Gonzalez by TKO (3rd)
  • Heavyweight: Carlos Fletes def. Mike Goins by unanimous decision

Former world champion heavyweight Oliver McCall’s entire professional career — really his entire life — can be summed up by highs and lows.

While McCall has reached higher peaks, few views may be sweeter than the one from Friday night’s summit — especially considering the rocky ascent it took to get back to the top.

Following a 19-month break from boxing, along with a well-chronicled battle with drug abuse and brushes with the law, the 44-year-old McCall once again became a world champ when he knocked out John Hopoate in the second round of Crown Boxing's main event at The Orleans.

Sweetening his shiny new IBA heavyweight belt, was the fact that McCall’s 21-year-old son, Elijah, also knocked out his opponent in the same ring, the same night of his father’s comeback.

Elijah (3-0-1, 3 KO) flattened Chad Davis in the first round with a body shot.

“We’ve got to talk about who had the better knockout,” joked the elder McCall afterwards in the dressing room. “You won with a nice body shot but man, I crushed him.”

Eventually though, dad relented.

“Okay son, you’re number one,” he said. “Dinner’s on me.”

It was a night that many wouldn’t have believed could happen during other parts of McCall’s tumultuous past. Known as “The Atomic Bull”, McCall’s career was defined as much by his problems outside the ring as his successes inside it.

McCall (52-9, 36 KOs) was arrested several times on drug possession, as recently as 2006, and suffered an infamous mental collapse in 1997 during a rematch with Lennox Lewis — who he stunned to earn his heavyweight championship in 1994.

During the second fight, McCall demonstrated what could only be described as bizarre behavior. He wandered around the ring in between rounds before eventually crying uncontrollably in his corner, forcing referee Mills Lane to stop the bout.

According to McCall those days are long behind him now.

“I want to be a world champion not just in the ring,” he said. “In public as well.”

But boxing fans thinking Friday would be McCall’s farewell appearance were in for a surprise. Afterwards his team announced that he has no intention of calling it quits, instead he’s looking to call out the biggest heavyweights in the world.

“My dad’s goal is to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” Elijah said. “He got taken out of the ring from being inactive not because he was getting beat. He’s still up there with the top contenders. Chris Arreola, the Klitschko brothers, Eddie Chambers – my dad will whoop them all, no problem.”

Whether McCall can turn back time and earn a shot at any of the top contenders may seem like a long shot.

But McCall’s proved doubters wrong before and again on Friday night.

“Heart,” says Elijah, of the biggest thing he’s learned from his pops. “His whole life in general has taught me that. He had his highs and lows and he kept striving to be the best. I’m always going to have those memories of the hard times he went through, but it’s all about perseverance.

“We’re all about staying strong and getting back to the top.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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