Although he has only fought there twice, the state of Michigan will always define the career of Emanuel Augustus.
It is the site of his biggest opportunity, his most notable loss, his most entertaining moments and his most frustrating of moments as well.
So, it’s fitting that Saturday night on the undercard of Devon Alexander vs. Timothy Bradley at the Pontiac Silverdome, Emanuel Augustus will look to step through the ropes for the very last time when he takes on junior welterweight Vernon Paris.
More fitting is that he has also taken his final bout on last minute notice, just as he has done throughout his career.
“Nobody ever wants to call me ahead of time. Nobody wants to give me that time,” said Augustus. “That’s another reason why I’m trying to retire, because nobody wants to respect me enough to give me enough notice. You’re only gonna take so much of it before you finally act on it. And now I’m tired of it. I’m 36 years old, and nobody did nothing to respect me in boxing.”
Indeed, we have heard “do or die” proclamations from Augustus before — in fact, almost every time he was on ESPN cameras prior to his many Friday Night Fights and Wednesday Night Fights appearances that made him famous. But we’ve never heard “The Drunken Master” talk of settling his tab.
Because the truth is, those particular fights weren’t do or die for him whatsoever. By the time fans had heard of Emanuel Augustus (née Burton), his record was void of the precious “0” in the loss column, and far beyond a set of numbers that would look appealing on a Chyron graphic for a television bout. The damage had already been done, both by his own hubris that caused him to make decisions like taking three bouts in as many countries in a 22 day span in 1998, and an endless list of judges, referees, matchmakers and promoters whom he understandably feels held him back.
“It is funny how fighters really can’t make no mistakes, but yet everybody else who’s in the position to put the fighters in the fights, they can do no wrong,” says Augustus with a chuckle.
The most egregious injustice undoubtedly came in July of 2004, when Augustus suffered a nationally televised robbery on ESPN against then-junior welterweight contender Courtney Burton in Muskegon, Mich. The peculiarities of the seemingly one-sided bout for Augustus included a point deduction for spinning out of a clinch, an absurd 99-90 scorecard in Burton’s favor turned in by Robert Paganelli, and a “majority decision” announcement for the split decision result that was corrected on-air by an irate commentator Teddy Atlas.
But even the Burton fiasco happened last minute, just 18 days after a contest with Tomas Barrientes in Texas.
“I’ve actually been cussed out by a few members of my family because I don’t know much about the people that I’m fighting,” said Augustus of his tardiness. “My family has been on me hard and vicious because I’m just not interested in knowing who they are. I’ll know everything I need to know about them when I go in and fight them.”
The Chicago, Ill. native’s biggest break in the sport came in 2000, when he was granted a bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Detroit, Mich.
Augustus, whom “Money May” would describe as his toughest opponent, was knocked out in the ninth round.
On Saturday, the sport’s consummate entertainer is willing to go out the same way.
“I want there to be a knockout. I don’t care, I just want there to be a knockout so it can be definitive who wins. I’m tired of getting losses behind questionable decisions. If I knock him out, if he knocks me out, then nobody can say he got robbed, or that I got robbed,” said Augustus.
In a sport that has seldom treated him with honesty or fairness is where the veteran of 77 tilts would like to bestow those neglected values on his way out.
“I just want to go out in a blaze of glory, but respectfully. Hopefully the next Emanuel Augustus will get more respect.”
Corey Erdman is a freelance boxing writer and television commentator, and a producer and host at theScore on SIRIUS 98. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman or email him at email@example.com.