By Declan Warrington
IF THE Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia fight week proved the peak of a lengthy period of hype, the well-groomed figure of Joe Goossen consistently flanked Garcia like he was immune to the near-hysteria that was enveloping so many of his colleagues.
It was close to inevitable that the then-24-year-old Garcia would react to Davis’ menace, but where Leonard Ellerbe and those around the fighter they referred to as “Tank” attempted transparent mind games built on suggestions of “spies” in Goossen’s gym and bragged of being the “A-side” of the promotion as though the battle was already close to won, Goossen, wearing his wealth of experience, remained entirely unmoved.
More than any other he appeared to recognise at all times the certainties that a competitive match-up existed to create a winner and a loser, that the winner would soon need to prove himself again, that the loser could be rebuilt, that a week later Las Vegas would barely show a trace of what had unfolded, and ultimately that life would go on.
One of 10 children born to a homicide detective committed to fighting the crimes of the Los Angeles mafia, Goossen’s grounding was vastly different to not only many of those whose paths he had already repeatedly crossed, but those whose profiles owe to their association with Floyd Mayweather – an individual not only often short on substance but who perhaps more than any other fighter defines the era of hype.
When Goossen was in June inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame he joined not only – and unmistakably most importantly to him – his late brother Dan there, but among his former fighters, Shane Mosley and Riddick Bowe. Far more than for his work with Mosley and Bowe, however, he is recognised for his contributions towards one of the finest fights in history – the likes of which give someone the type of perspective that typifies the professionalism not necessarily common in his profession, and which complemented a grounding that guaranteed that Goossen would forever be unlike his peers.
“Most of the criminal activity happened later on in the night,” he starts, reflecting on the influence of his father Al’s occupation on their family of 12. “He’d have to leave at late hours to go to the scene of the crime. When I grew up in the 50s and 60s it was a different world – obviously. Where I grew up [in the San Fernando Valley] was a sleepy town – it’s anything but that now. Doors were unlocked.
“I was the only one I knew [related to] someone in law enforcement. People knew who he was. The expectations from my parents were a little different to my friends whose parents didn’t deal with the underbelly of the world like my dad did. He worked over the hill at Los Angeles, where a lot of the mafia strongholds were – Hollywood, and Sunset Boulevard. Everything he saw was on the other side of the universe to us – we just stayed in our community.