King Puts Together End of the Year Fireworks!
21.11.03 - By Carl M. Rice, Jr.: This has been a good year for boxing. There have been several fights that should be candidates for fight of the year, namely Toney v Jirov, Dorin v Spadafora, Gatti v Ward III, Freitas v Barrios, and Casamayor v Corrales. There have also been a number of upsets, such as Perez v Machado, Mayorga v Forrest, Marquez v Austin (which could also be a candidate for fight of the year), Sanders v Klitschko, Gonzales v Michalczewski, and just last Saturday, Pacquiao v Barrera. There are also new faces in boxing, including Ricardo Mayorga, Antonio Tarver, Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. However, on December 13, which is less than 23 days away (I’ve been counting them down), the year comes to a magnificent close as one of the biggest and best pay-per-view cards that I have ever seen will be presented to boxing fans around the world. The sheer thought of getting five world-class fights in one night makes me want to cry with joy. Don King has certainly outdone himself this time, as even his mountain-like hair and nonsensical words can’t overshadow this night of boxing.
Article posted on 21.11.2003
Where do I begin? How about starting with the fights that will NOT be see on this PPV extravaganza. Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite from Guyana, undefeated in 19 fights with 16 punchouts, will be taking on lightly regarded Luis Pineda from Panama, who has amassed 17 victories against 3 losses with 15 punchouts. Braithwaite, the WBC cruiserweight beltholder, will be looking to show people that he belongs in the ring with current heavyweight and cruiser kingpin James Toney. Big Truck (and the name is appropriate as this guy is probably the biggest cruiser in the division) had to go through hell just to get the title he lifted from Vincenzo Cantatore.
The October 2002 bout was in Italy, Cantatore’s home, and even after bouncing Cantatore all over the ring, a rematch was scheduled due to the “circumstances of the end of the fight”, which consisted of Cantatore complaining to the referee apparently because he was getting punched in a boxing match. Braithwaite seized this opportunity and KOed Cantatore with a two-punch combination. Cantatore has repeatedly postponed the rematch, which was mandated by the WBC (or We Be Corrupt in boxing circles), and the postponements has freed up Braithwaite to fight other guys. In his last fight in February, he pounded the usually durable Ravea Springs in 4 rounds and now is looking for Toney. Although it is unknown if Toney plans to come back down in weight, one would suspect that he enjoys being able to eat as much as he wants and make the most loot of his career in the heavies. Vassily Jirov is still there to contend with, and with all but one of the sanctioning organizations moving the cruiser limit to 200 pounds, Big Truck could be the next big thing in the division.
Rather upsetting to me is the fact that the rematch between super flyweights Luis Alberto Perez (21-1-0, 14 KOs) from Nicaragua vs. Venezuelan Felix Machado (23-4-1, 12 KOs) will not be shown on the PPV show. This was an excellent fight between two little warriors. In their January 2003 meeting, Machado came into the ring as the champion, but looked suspect in his last fight against Martin Castillo when the fight was stopped in the 6th round because of a deep cut sustained by Castillo in the previous round. Perez, on the other hand, was fighting for his first world championship, and he would not let his chance go to waste. Each fighter got as much as they gave, but Machado looked much worse as his right eye was grotesquely swollen at the end of the fight. Perez was given the unanimous decision and the first major upset of the year, but it was agreed on by most that this was a candidate for fight of the year and worthy of a rematch.
Now for the fights that will actually be on this marathon card. Nicaraguan jr. flyweight champion Rosendo Alvarez (32-2-1, 21 KO), the two-time conqueror of Bebis Mendoza, will be taking on tough Mexican veteran Victor Burgos (35-13-2, 21 KO). This is a unification fight as Alvarez holds the WBA playtoy (and is The Ring champion) and Burgos just won the IBF version in his last fight, a 12th round TKO of Alex Sanchez (this was an immediate rematch; the first fight ended in a draw). Alvarez is most remembered for his three battles with Bebis Mendoza, in which he lost the first fight by being DQed for low blows, but won the final two by decision. Alverez will be the overwhelming favorite, and if he does indeed win this fight, perhaps a superfight with one of the flyweight champs, Eric Morel (who appears to be moving up to jr. Bantam, maybe looking for a fight with newly rejuvenated Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson in the near future), Colombian Irene Pacheco, or Thai Pongsaklek Wonjongkan, could be a possibility.
Hasim Rahman (35-4-1, 29 KOs) has been in meaningful fights ever since disconnecting Lennox Lewis’ feet from the canvas in South Africa. Since that fight he was destroyed in the rematch with Lewis, given a boulder sized lump on his forehead, as well as a defeat, courtesy of the noggin of Evander Holyfield, and then came in grossly overweight against the typically overweight David Tua. Although most people thought that Tua had once again been jabbed into submission, the judges had different ideas and scored the fight a draw. Rahman v Tua III was scheduled, but because of managerial problems with Tua (he recently sacked longtime manager Kevin Barry), “The Rock” will now fight John Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 KOs).
The last time anyone saw Ruiz, he and his trainer/manager Norman Stone were getting beat up by Roy Jones and his trainer Alton Merkerson. “The Quiet Man” was quite silent in this lame performance against Jones, and no one would have possibly envisioned that Ruiz would once again be lined up for a shot at a title. Yet that is exactly what this fight is for; the winner is the mandatory for Jones’ WBA chewtoy. Ruiz has had all type of excuses as to why he lost to Jones, but none of them had anything to do with Jones. He and his manager’s lack of class have made most fans root against him, but to come back and try to redeem his name is admirable. I’m not sure which is worse, Rahman v Tua or Rahman v Ruiz, but one thing's for sure: this may be the least interesting fight on the card.
Perhaps I spoke too soon about Rahman v Ruiz being the least interesting fight on the card. Zab “Super” Judah, with 29 victories with 25 quickies, which includes his crushing KO loss at the hands of Kostya Tzsyu, is coming off his July 12 decision victory over DeMarcus Corley. The plan is for him to fight his way back to prominence by defending the WBO jr. welterweight “belt” he won from Corley against Colombian Jaime Rangel, who sports a record of 29 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw and also has 25 quickies. Judah, as of late, has been in a war of words with WBA regular titlist Vivian Harris (Tzsyu is the WBA “Super Champ and The Ring Champ). Both have appeared on New York’s #1 hip-hop station, Hot 97, to bicker about having a fight for the 140 pound championship of Brooklyn (and the meaningless titles they both hold), but the fight did not come off. Although Judah said that he was looking for the perfect stiff and Harris would fill the bill, apparently Harris was not stiff enough, as Judah is looking for some REALLY soft touches before that fight comes off. Enter Jamie Rangel. Rangel has fought his entire career at lighty and the biggest name opponent is Hugo Pineda in 1992. Everything points to this being an early night for Judah and an early night’s sleep for Rangel, but with Judah’s chin, anything could happen.
The fireworks really get ignited whenever Undisputed Welterweight Champion Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga steps into the ring. With a record of 26 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw with 22 quickies, his last three fights have been nothing short of spectacular. He crushed Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis in their rematch (the 1st fight ended in a no contest due to severe cuts to Lewis’ eyelids-OUCH!) to win the WBA title, then proceeded to blast out WBC champion Vernon Forrest in 3, and defeated Forrest again in the rematch by decision, a conclusion that not many thought the cigarette tokin’, beer guzzlin’ Nicaraguan could achieve. Although his style is crude, it is also very effective, as many boxers just do not know how to cope with his aggression.
Now he will attempt to put together the final piece of the welter puzzle when he takes on IBF champ Cory “Next Generation” (what a weak nickname!) Spinks, son of one time Ali conquer Leon Spinks and nephew of the man who beat Larry Holmes twice (some would say once), Michael Spinks. Spinks is a good technical boxer who only has two losses to Antonio Diaz and Michele Piccrirllo, but he avenged the loss to Piccrirllo in his last fight, in which he also was awarded the IBF trinket for his trouble. However, of his 31 victories, only 11 have come by KO, which helps to explain why Mayorga will be an overwhelming favorite going into this fight, as he should be. It will terribly difficult for Spinks to control the ring in a way that will lead to a decision in his favor. At some point he will have to stand with Mayorga and that is when it will become interesting for Spinks. If a boxer like Forrest was given all kinds of problems dealing with this style, then it is tough to imagine anyone short of Oscar De La Hoya or Shane Mosely coping with it either.
Finally, fans will get to see the Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins (42-2-1, 31 KOs) fight against someone with a pulse in William Joppy (34-2-1, 25 KOs). The last time we saw “the Executioner” in action he was chasing French distance runner Morrade Hakkar before he finally caught up to him in the 6th to drop him and his corner saved him from taking a further beating in the 8th. Hopkins certainly has let the victory against Felix Trinidad go to waste as there was a rematch against Jones on the table, but he felt he should receive more than $6 million. Then there was the fight with James Toney that fell through because he did not feel he should take less than the contracted amount that he was to receive from Don King. Hopkins must be respected for his resolve but at the same time some boxing fans that he gained after the Trinidad fight are getting fed up with his antics.
Joppy, on the other hand, has been totally overlooked after being detonated against Trinidad in 2001. After that debacle, he went on to fight the then undefeated Howard Eastman from Great Britain. Eastman gave an outstanding show of himself, even knocking down Joppy on the way to a highly disputed loss. Maybe Joppy underrated Eastman; maybe Eastman is better than we all thought, maybe Trinidad pounded the fight out of Joppy. Whatever. The result of that fight was that Joppy was named WBA champ and Hopkins was designated “Super Champ”. Joppy then went to Japan, where in 10 rounds he TKOed Naotaka Hozumi in October 2002 and has not fought since. In the aftermath of that fight, Joppy has been running his mouth about how Hopkins is afraid to meet him (which sound ludicrous after seeing both of them fight Tito). This began a war of words and even a bet; Hopkins is wagering $50,000 against only $25,000 of Joppy’s purse that Joppy will be KOed. This will be an interesting fight not just because of the back and forth gum-bumping of the two combatants, but the winner will be the WBA Super-Duper Mega-Conjoined Ultra Champion.
This night is a boxing fans' dream. Five big fights on one night. There are so many people that will say boxing is dead, and if that is indeed the case, then the fireworks that will be produced on December 13 will bring the dead back to life and send out the year with a big bang!
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