Al Ice Cole’s 22 Year Ring Journey

By: Robert Brizel, Real Combat Media Correspondent

 Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1964, the 22 year cruiserweight and heavyweight journey of the man they call ‘Ice’, Al Cole, began quietly in 1989, when Cole stopped Lorenzo Thomas in the third round of his professional debut at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. Two years later in March 1991, Ice Cole defeated Leon Taylor by twelve round decision to win the vacant United States Boxing Association cruiserweight title. In 24 months, Ice Cole had defeated all of the first 17 opponents he had faced and was already an established world class 12 round fighter!


After winning another five bouts, Ice Cole won the International Boxing Federation World Cruiserweight title by decisioning James Warring over 12 rounds at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey.  Cole defended his IBF world four five times, including twice against Uriah Grant (who stopped Thomas Hearns), Nate Miller and Vincent Boulware.


Cole then moved up to heavyweight, eventually relinquishing his cruiserweight world title. His first bout at heavyweight was unsuccessful, a ten round decision loss to former World Boxing Association Heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon in New York City’s Madison Square Garden in January 1996. After knocking out Matthew Charleston in Tampa, Florida, Ice Cole fought for the International Boxing Council’s version of the World Heavyweight title, losing to 24-0 Michael Grant on a corner retirement before the tenth round when Cole’s eyes were swollen.


In 1998 and 1999, Ice Cole drew a ten rounder, then lost a ten rounder, to heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson of Canada. Cole’s career at heavyweight somehow forged on, though he quickly was reduced to journeyman trial horse status. Cole’s heavyweight losses amounted to a ‘who’s who’ of heavyweights, including the late heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders, and contenders and prospects such as Hasim Rahman, Sherman Williams, Juan Carlos Gomez, Jameel McCline, Lance Whittaker, Suultan Ibragimov, Timor Ibragimov, Terrence Lewis, Sedrick Fields and David Bostice.


As a heavyweight, Ice Cole actually defeated some very good heavyweights, though they were considered ‘B’ level heavyweights when he fought them. Those Ice Cole defeated included Vinny Maddalone, Joey Abell, Joe Lenhart, Brian Nix, Carlos Monroe, David Izon, Mike Dixon and Derrick Roddy. Ice Cole also drew with Jeremy Williams and Franie Swindell.


Ice Cole fought his last three bouts in Karlstad, Sweden, perhaps because the Swedes were willing to medically clear him and give him a boxing license despite his advanced age, when Cole might not have been cleared to fight in other jurisdictions. After losing a controversial six round split decision to former British Heavyweight champion Danny Williams (the guy that beat Mike Tyson) in Karlstad on September 3, 2011, Cole retired at age 47.


Not too long back, I ran into Ice Cole while I was ringside at a boxing card at the Prudential Center in Newark. Cole explained he had embarked on a new career as a trainer, and could not fight anymore because one of his eyes needed an operation, and it would be senseless to fight again after doing an eye operation. I never inquired about what injury Cole had incurred, but I agreed with his logic that the time had come for ‘Ice’ to hang up the gloves for good and move on to the next phase of his boxing life.


Al Ice Cole finished his professional boxing career with 35 wins, 16 losses and three draws, with 16 knockouts. From my viewpoint, Al Ice Cole should have never fought at heavyweight, where he was mostly ineffective, and his heavyweight draw with Kirk Johnson in 1998 was more an indicator to Ice Cole that he was still a talent boxer, just in the wrong division. As a cruiserweight, in my view, Al Ice Cole could have beaten everyone, and he did. Ice was a greatly underestimated fighter, he just did not live up to the potential he showed as a cruiserweight when he went up in heavyweight. Not every Evander Holyfield and Johnathon Banks wannabe can successfully transition from cruiserweight to heavyweight. Fighters like Al Ice Cole,  Rob Calloway and Jean-Marc Mormeck probably belong in the IBA’s mysterious and misunderstood Super Cruiserweight division, which could go up to 210 pounds.


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