Boxing


Does Fres Oquendo Deserve Another Shot At A World Title?

By James Slater: 36-year-old "Fast" Fres Oquendo, who KO'd former WBA heavyweight champ Bruce Seldon in the 9th-round last night in Chicago, is a fighter who seems to have been around forever. Back in the 1990s (he turned pro in May of '97) the Puerto Rican-born boxer was busily building up an unbeaten record with decent points wins over the likes of Bert Cooper and Phil Jackson, while in the early 2000s he tangled with Obed Sullivan, David Izon and David Tua - coming up short against the latter..

Stopped in the 9th-round against "The Tuaman," whilst being ahead on the cards, it could be argued that - his 11th-round TKO loss to John Ruiz in 2004 aside - Oquendo has yet to be truly beaten since. Sure, the loss to "The Quiet Man" was a disappointment, but prior and subsequent losses to Chris Byrd, Evander Holyfield and James Toney hurt Oquendo a whole lot more. Why? Because, as many fans will agree, the Puerto Rican didn't really deserve to go home with an L added to his record against either of those three guys.

The loss to "Lights Out," back in December of last year really angered Oquendo, who improved to 31-5(20) with last night's win over Seldon; to the extent that it may have made him a more determined and focused fighter. The losses he suffered against Byrd and Holyfield were debatable decisions; the loss against Toney was looked at with genuine scorn by a number of experts. Since the split decision loss, Oquendo, a fighter who looked to be winding down in the summer of 2007, has been keeping himself busy.

Desperate for a rematch with Toney he doesn't look like getting, Oquendo instead defeated the reasonable Mark Brown inside 3-rounds in June of this year, and last night he punished Seldon on the way to a 9th-round stoppage victory. If Oquendo is more determined these days, it could also be argued he is setting himself and punching harder, too.

Okay, wins over Brown and Seldon are hardy earth shattering, but at least Oquendo - a guy who is always in shape, coming in in the 220s his entire career - is staying busy and looking to get fights. The question is, will the 36-year-old be rewarded with a meaningful fight before he does finally call it a day, maybe even a world title fight?

In a way one of the most unlucky fighters in recent heavyweight history (imagine how much fuss people would have made about Oquendo's three highly debatable losses if he'd been a huge name or a real crowd-pleaser) it could be argued Oquendo at least halfway deserves one more shot at a belt before he's through. After all, both Hasim Rahman and Sam Peter were given shots at major title after drawing with and out-pointing Toney, respectively. It could be argued that Oquendo beat Toney clearly than either Rahman or Peter did in their first crack at the future Hall of Famer - even though Fres went home empty-handed.

The problem is, which title could Oquendo get a crack at? All the belts are tied up at present, and unless Vitali Klitschko, in need of a challenger for September 12th, surprises us and looks Oquendo's way, the 36-year-old's chances look slim. But would Oquendo getting a shot at a Klitschko be any worse than Rahman having got himself one? Judging by his recent mental makeup, "Fast" Fres would at the very least go in with determination and desire, something "The Rock" failed to do in December of last year Vs. Wladimir K.

He may not be your favourite fighter, he may not be an explosive fighter and he may not be a boxing master, but Fres Oquendo is an honest pro who has paid his dues. Do you think he deserves one last shot at glory before he calls it a career?

Article posted on 25.07.2009



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