This guy is a well-kept secret.
It’s not his fault, that’s just the way it is. You fight at cruiserweight, you have to expect to be treated like a stranger. Cruiserweights don’t get front row seats, don’t get invited to grand openings, and don’t have to sign autographs. No one ever asks.
Be a cruiserweight champion and live in France, well, that’s a double whammy. It’s like being the fifth Beatle, or the first guy voted out on Survivor. No one really knows who you are.
So if you don’t recognize the name Jean-Marc Mormeck, don’t feel bad. The popular consensus is he’s a cyclist in the Tour de France.
He’s not. He’s the WBC and WBA cruiserweight champion, and he’s getting ready to fight IBF cruiserweight champ O’Neil Bell on Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden (SHOWTIME) for the undisputed cruiserweight championship.
Don’t know anything about O’Neil Bell? See.
But these guys should be more popular. Between them, they’ve fought 53 consecutive fights without a loss. Mormeck is 31-2 with 21 knockouts, his two losses coming back-to-back a long time ago in his fourth and fifth fights.
Bell, a Jamaican now living in Atlanta, is 25-1-1 with 23 KOs, his only loss coming in his second pro fight.
Both Bell and Mormeck were on a recent national conference call promoting their fight. It was a fairly civil call, but that’s only because there was a cooling off period between questions. Apparently, Mormeck doesn’t speak English, and it’s tough to call a guy a bum when you have to do it through a translator.
Still, both guys sounded like they’re supposed to sound. Confident, prepared and anxious.
Bell, it turns out, has an odd way of training. He kind of senses how he feels in the morning and takes it from there.
“I’m a boxer who goes day by day,” he said. “I listen to my body. Today, maybe I need running. Or I don’t need it because my knees hurt or my lower back hurts. OK, let me spar six or seven rounds today. Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off. Let me sit in the sauna or the whirlpool for the day. Let me just meditate, do some skull practice. I visualize myself winning. I visualize the referee raising my hand.”
Mormeck, who is training outside of Cleveland, said he doesn’t have a strategy for fighting Bell. And he doesn’t think he needs one.
“O’Neil Bell is talking a lot,” he said. “If he fights like he talks, it’s going to be boring for everybody. He keeps repeating and repeating and repeating. He says he needs to get known, to get respect from everybody. But he shouldn’t be trying to get known here because he’s not going to get known fighting me. If he wants to get known, he has to go somewhere else. Work for human resources. O’Neil Bell should just train and not talk so much.”
Like most cruiserweights, both fighters are looking forward to that special day when they grow up and become heavyweights.
“I definitely want to be a heavyweight,” said Bell, who fingered James Toney as the heavyweight he’d most like to fight. “But my focus right now is on the (cruiserweight) unification so I can make a name for myself. Then I’ll step up to the heavyweight division. I want to move up and conquer that division as well. Bring the limelight back to the heavyweight division.”
Mormeck said his dream has always been to move into the heavyweight division. He’s already picked the champion he wants to dethrone.
“I have great respect for (WBO champ) Lamon Brewster,” he said. “If I had to choose one, it would be Brewster because he’s very strong and that’s the one I want to fight.”
Bell, who recently changed his nickname from “Give ‘em Hell,” Bell to “Supernova,” because hell isn’t a very nice place, said this is the fight he’s been waiting for all of his career. The winner will become only the second undisputed cruiserweight champ of all time. Evander Holyfield was the first.
“I love it. I’m walking around with a smile on my face,” Bell said. “It’s a joyous thing. To fight in Madison Square Garden. To fight on a Don King card. To fight on Showtime. That’s a big thing for me.”
Hey, that’s a big thing for any cruiserweight.
Would you pay to see Manny Pacquiao vs Saul Alvarez?