Cruiserweights Wayne Braithwaite and Jean-Marc Mormeck will both enter the ring this Saturday with world championship belts. When all is said and done, one of these men will be left empty-handed.
A slight betting favorite this weekend, undefeated WBC title holder Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite has rolled over 21 straight opponents with 17 of those victories having come via the short route. In his past sixteen bouts not a single opponent has been able to last the distance without first tasting the canvas. As a matter of fact, only his most recent opponent, Louis Azille, has heard the final bell, but not before being dropped in the third. Braithwaite injured his hand during that fight and that may be the only reason Azille survived the distance.
In facing France’s Jean-Marc Mormeck, Braithwaite will be taking on his toughest challenge to date. Mormeck has not lost a fight in eight years, after suffering consecutive losses early in his career. Undefeated in his past 27 bouts, the 32-year-old WBA champion has fought, and beaten, top rated opposition such as Virgil Hill, Dale Brown and Alexander Gurov. While the edge in experience clearly tips towards the Frenchman, he has been inactive of late, having fought twice in 2002 and just once in 2003 and 2004. Originally scheduled to take place on October 2nd, a Mormeck injury forced the delay until this weekend.
A native of Guyana, Braithwaite has been breaking opponents and beating them down with his effective aggression and coming at them from a southpaw stance. Mormeck fights in much the same style, but as an orthodox fighter, which means this bout may come down to who hits harder and which fighter takes a better punch. It likely won’t be difficult for these two to find each other, so it could be fireworks right from the opening bell.
Saturday night represents a great opportunity for one of these two champions to emerge as the star of the division. An impressive knockout victory by Braithwaite, in particular, could energize a division that has been without a star for many years. Being younger, undefeated, and a knockout artist which fans flock to, “Big Truck” has the ingredients to rule the cruiserweights for quite some time. At 29 years of age he is young enough to enjoy a lengthy tenure, as opposed to a fighter like Mormeck, who has been inactive as he ages and has been fighting professionally for ten years. Being a gentleman outside the right and bringing all-action excitement inside it, Braithwaite must pass the roadblock ahead to continue on to success and the riches that come with it.
While the fight scene has been domestically dominated, Mormeck is at a disadvantage as he resides in France and many fight fans have only seen him the one time he battled on U.S. soil - a TKO 8 victory over Alexander Gurov. Johnny Nelson faces the same challenge as the WBO champion; he doesn’t like to travel outside of Europe, fighting predominantly in his native England. A 19-year veteran with twelve professional losses, Nelson is at the end of a career that has just recently come to life. In terms of capitalizing on the world scene, it seems to be a case of too little too late for the 38-year-old, who will likely stay in Europe to close out his career. Stateside, only O’Neil Bell and IBF belt-holder Kelvin Davis are in a similar marketable position to Braithwaite, with Canadian veteran Dale Brown looking for one last kick at the can.
For Braithwaite this Saturday is as big an opportunity as he has had since leaving Guyana. The chance to unify the division for the first time since 1988 (when Evander Holyfield became the undisputed cruiserweight champion) will reward the winner with greener financial pastures in the future. While Braithwaite has defended his title three times since stopping Vincenzo Cantatore in Italy in 2002, defeating Ravea Springs, Luis Andres Pineada and Louis Azille during his reign, a win Saturday could set-up a bout with IBF champion Kevin Davis - a fight Braithwaite would be favored to win.
The recent trend of the best fighters fighting the best continues; and this weekend either Mormeck or Braithwaite will be in a position to claim their spot as the best cruiserweight in the world.
Wayne Braithwaite has been rolling over a division that has been running on cruise control for too long. “Big Truck” earned his moniker in Guyana for the way he crushed his opposition with the force and strength of an 18-wheeler. This weekend on Showtime we will see if Braithwaite keeps on truckin’ or if Jean-Marc Mormeck is more than just a speed bump in the road to stardom.