Derailed Heavyweights Part 2
By Mel Dixon: In the first part of this fictionalised boxing tournament, eight fighters were introduced. The eight fighters were all deemed to have lost their way in the heavyweight division after showing some early promise in their professional careers. This knockout tournament offered those fighters an opportunity for redemption and a path towards a previously unlikely world title shot..
Article posted on 02.11.2008
Each of the following fights will be set at ten three-minute rounds. Let the battling commence…
Quarter Final Match-ups:
Audley Harrison v Chazz Witherspoon: The two big men have fear sewn inside their saucer-wide eyes as they listen to the referee’s instructions. Finally they’re sent back to their corners and the bell sounds for the beginning of round one.
Both fighters begin by circling each other and exploring their enemy’s territory with the jab. As the round progresses, it is Witherspoon who starts using the jab with increased purpose whilst Harrison is happy to just paw and parry. They are similarly unwilling to mix it but it is Witherspoon who has started to win the battle of the front foot chess match. The first few rounds follow a similar pattern as the crowd starts to get a little restless of the safety first style of the two fighters. In round four, this pattern is dramatically changed. After a roasting from his corner men Harrison comes out with greater urgency, and Witherspoon, who has seen no reason to be concerned thus far, allows his opponent to tee off on him. Harrison lets his hands go and punctuates a swift combination with a short, sharp uppercut. Witherspoon wobbles, and the Brit puts him down with a straight right. He gets up on wobbly legs, but the referee has seen enough.
Harrison TKO 4
Travis Walker v Alonso Butler: This match-up between two American heavyweights with knockout resumes was always going to be a crowd pleaser - and that’s exactly how it turned out. From the first bell Butler goes straight on the offensive with heavy jabs but Walker will not be pushed back easily and fires back with his own considerable weaponry. They manage to shake one another up in the first stanza but by the end of it Walker seems to be getting into his stride and steals the round on the basis of his cleaner punching. The fight becomes a give-and-take contest largely fought at close quarters which Walker appears to edge. Then in the fifth a cut opens up over Butler’s eye, and with blood pouring out Walker looks to finish it, but Butler refuses to back down and Walker seems to tire in his efforts to halt the fight. It goes the full ten with both fighters exhausted. Walker wins by UD.
Faruuq Saleem v Tye Fields:
This is a fight between two heavyweight giants who have both been on the receiving end of much derision. Saleem at 6,7 and Fields at 6,8 glare at each other across the ring. Both have brought along a considerable fan base. Fields comes out of his corner like a human windmill, flailing huge arm punches at his startled opponent. Saleem finds himself backed into a corner and Fields connects with a clubbing right hand to the chin. The Dream is up at five but on shaky legs. The referee allows it to continue but Fields quickly pounces and Saleem is down again. This time it’s all over.
Roman Greenberg v Shane Cameron: Or ‘The Pride of Israel’ v ‘New Zealand’s Heavyweight Hope.’ Greenberg is hoping to prove that his slick boxing skills are too much for the more cumbersome Cameron, whilst the New Zealander is looking to show that a big heart can overcome technical prowess. From the opening round it is Cameron who goes on the offensive forcing Greenberg on the back foot, who in turn tries to keep his adversary at range with a crisp jab. Greenberg hurts Cameron in the second round with a well timed uppercut which leaves The Mountain Warrior on unsteady legs, but the Moldovan-born man can’t capitalise as Cameron wards him off with his own punches. In the next round he looks to have recovered and is more successful in closing the gap, and lands some meaty shots to Greenberg’s soft-looking undercarriage. As the fight wears on, Greenberg’s flashy combinations become more irregular as Cameron’s inside work gradually brings him to a standstill. By the seventh round Greenberg is taking a battering against the ropes until a white towel flies into the ring.
Harrison v Walker: This time Harrison enters the ring with a more steely look in his eyes whilst Walker looks as determined as ever. Harrison begins aggressively and there is noticeably more pop behind his jab as he looks to establish his superiority early on. Walker is trying to get on the inside but every time he gets close Harrison’s long arms wrap him up. The second round follows a similar pattern as Walker looks increasingly frustrated with the Britain’s spoiling tactics. In the third, Harrison starts to get through with some good right hands but Walker takes them well and keeps coming forward. As the fight progresses, both show a disappointing work-rate, though it is Walker who begins to get through with more single shots. At the end of ten disappointing rounds it is Harrison who is awarded a hotly disputed split-decision victory.
Cameron v Fields: Cameron resembles a snorting bull as he listens to the referee’s instructions, and Fields looks similarly pumped-up. When the action gets under way, it is Fields who comes out firing, using a heavy, albeit pawing, jab. Cameron employs a high guard whilst trying to bob and weave beneath the bigger mans punches, and although Fields is throwing a lot (trying to tee-off with big clubbing punches), a lot of his attacks are either hitting the air or finding Cameron’s guard. First round to the bigger, more aggressive fighter. The second round follows a similar pattern until the New Zealander counters with a right hook to the jaw whilst Fields is winding up with his own big right. Big Sky wobbles as Cameron follows up with a left and another big right which sends Fields crashing to the canvas. He struggles with all his might to get back to his feet, but his equilibrium has gone and as soon as he’s up, he falls back down again. The referee waives it off.
The final presents two real contrasting styles. Harrison; the tall, upright and technically superior boxer - against the shorter, stockier and more aggressive fighter in Cameron.
Once again it’s the Brit who starts better by using his jab and showing better mobility. He exudes confidence early on, whilst Cameron is looking to get on the inside and explode from close-quarters. No early drama unfolds but Harrison is controlling the fight during the first few rounds and, like he did against Walker, the A-Force is clinching when Cameron gets close.
In the fourth and fifth, Audley starts letting his hands go. Cameron is wobbled in the fourth and toppled in the fifth, but he gets up and survives the round. Harrison tries to finish it in the sixth, but the New Zealander holds on and deters the former Olympic champion with some wild hooks. The shorter man’s nose is trickling with blood and his left eye is now swelling up. But over the next two rounds Harrison is looking increasingly tired and it is Cameron who becomes the busier fighter and starts connecting with hooks to the body. In the ninth, Harrison finds a second wind and the referee’s attention is further drawn to the bloodied battered features of the Mountain Warrior as Harrison connects with straight one-two’s. In the last round, Cameron offers up three minutes of desperate pressure as he looks to produce a come-from-behind knockout victory. Harrison is forced to hold as he gets shaken up with hooks to the head and body, but manages to see out the final round on exhausted legs.
As the referee brings both fighters together in the centre of the ring, it is the hand of Audley Harrison that is raised. Harrison holds aloft the golden ‘Choo-choo Train Trophy’ (so-called because the winner of the tournament has got their boxing career back on track) and tells everyone in the post-fight press conference that he will now go on to become undisputed heavyweight champion. He babbles on out beating the Klitschko’s in the same night, and then something about taking ‘Haye to heavyweight school’.
Post-script: Take it for the screwball fun that it is. But on a serious note, despite the dearth of heavyweight talent today, there are still enough match-ups to keep the division interesting. Wouldn’t it be great to see more of the fringe contenders pitting themselves against each other?
previous article: Derailed Heavyweights: The Path to Redemption - Part One
next article: Klitschko/Rahman - Hasim Rahman: how long can a boxer dine out on one punch?
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