Dan Rafael of ESPN says that the undisputed cruiserweight championship fight between Jean-Marc Mormeck and O'Neil Bell is the reason Showtime bought Saturday's doubleheader, which is headlined by Judah vs. Baldomir. Both Mormeck and Bell believe a victory Saturday would be a springboard to the more lucrative heavyweight division. Mormeck even singled out a prospective opponent: It is kind of a dream to go up to heavyweight. If I would have to choose someone to fight, it would be Lamon Brewster because he is really strong. The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting column on Philly cruiserweight Steve Cunningham, who appears on the non-televised portion of Showtime's Saturday night card.
Something that will likely go largely unnoticed is the announcement that US cable channel Showcase Networks is launching its first interactive TV application for Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre in the first quarter of this year. I see a lot of debate amongst boxing fans about the role of video on demand etc. and the role technology might play in the future of professional boxing. This is something to keep an eye on.
The BBC reports that Ricky Hatton will map out his fight plan for 2006 by the end of January. Ray Hatton, Ricky Hatton's father and manager, said win or lose, America wants Hatton. The casinos have been calling us. They know he'll put bums on seats in Las Vegas, New York or Atlantic City. Hatton has been widely linked with fights against Arturo Gatti and lightweight Diego Corrales, with Floyd Mayweather being Hatton's ultimate target, possibly before the end of 2006.
In a telephone conference call, trainer Freddie Roach admitted there were some tactical lapses when Manny Pacquiao met Erik Morales the first time: I don't think we fought a great fight the first time. Manny was overanxious and a little left-hand hungry. There are definitely adjustments that can be made to fight a much better fight this time. We're also studying the tapes of Morales' loss to Raheem. He had trouble with Raheem's speed and Manny has that type of speed. Ring magazine editor-in-chief Nigel Collins concurs: I think the Zahir Raheem fight showed how vulnerable Morales is to movement. If Manny can use his legs to dart in, score, and then get out, he can win. Bob Arum, Morales' promoter, added some intrigue when he said Morales fought Pacquiao a certain way and he may change and fight him a different way.
Despite Matt Skelton missing a schedule press conference, the war of words in the UK between Skelton and Danny Williams continues.
SHOWTIME will launch a special feature on Sho.com/boxing on Monday, Dec. 19, whereby participants can vote on one of the five nicknames that Mormeck has selected. Voting will remain open until the night of the undisputed cruiserweight unification bout – Saturday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on SHOWTIME. The nickname with the most votes will be revealed to Mormeck and the rest of the world as the WBC & WBA Champion enters the ring for his bout with IBF Champ O’Neil “Supernova” Bell.
"Americans have always asked me why I don't have a fighter nickname," said Mormeck. "So, I have decided they will choose for me."
With several submissions from his American fans, Jean-Marc Mormeck has chosen these top five as his favorites and is asking online participants to help pick out his nickname.
"THE MARKSMAN" courtesy of Tyson Marshall - Waynesfield, OH
"MIGHTY" courtesy of Jarrod Phillips & Catherine - San Francisco
"THE WRECKER" courtesy of Andre Mac Mahon
"THE BLACK THUNDER" courtesy of DJ Kretzz
"HIT THE DECK" courtesy of Blandin LeBrec - Metarie, La.
In addition to defending his NABC light welterweight title, which he won December 3 with a unanimous 10-round decision against Vladimir Khodokovski, Johnston also faces Quinonez for the vacant IBO belt in one of five 12-round championship matches in “Collision Course, A Night of Champions.”
Johnston-Quinonez plus a minimum of three other fights will be shown on the pay-per-view card promoted by Star Boxing, in association with Silverhawk Boxing and Guilty Boxing, and sponsored by Xyience. The special pay-per-view event is offered in the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Indonesia and Greece at a suggested retail price of only $24.95.
Johnston is a crafty boxer who captured the WBC lightweight championship twice between 1997 and 2000, including seven successful defenses. At the age of 33, he’s reaching for the brass ring one more time. The Denver native has won two in a row, seven of his last eight, and an impressive triumph against Quinonez may set the stage for a “Lil’ But Bad” showdown later this year against one of the light welterweights stars such as Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, or Miquel Cotto.
“Every fight I have is the biggest fight for me,” Johnston said. “I have to get past this one to get to my next big fight. I’ll fight any of the 140-pound champs – Hatton, Floyd or Cotto. Everything at training camp has been perfect – sparring, running, even jumping rope.”
In 2000, Johnston lost the WBC belt to Jose Luis Castillo and three months later they fought to a draw in which Johnston originally was declared the winner by majority decision, but a scoring error was revealed resulting in the draw. Stevie’s list of victims includes Jean Baptiste Mendy, Saul Duran, Cesar Bazan and Angel Manfredy.
Battle-tested veteran Quinonez’ most significant victory was against Lovemore N’dou. Steve also went the distance against Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales Steve Forbes and Michael Clark. Quinonez is coming off a 10-round decision against previously undefeated James Armah (14-0) last May.
Johnston was inactive for more than two years due to injuries suffered in a 2003 car accident. “I’m lucky to be alive, never mind fighting,” Stevie explained. “I went through the windshield, woke up in the hospital, and ended-up with more than 100-stitches in my face.”
Now fighting out of Vero Beach (FL), Johnston is part of famed trainer Buddy McGirt’s stable of warriors that also includes Antonio Tarver and Arturo Gatti. “Buddy has made me box more,” Stevie noted. “He’s turned me into more of a boxer-puncher. I’m training hard, listening to Buddy, and doing all of the right things in training camp.”
Johnston is promoted by Silverhawk Boxing and managed by Rider Boxing.
A total of three-world title and five regional championships will be on the line in “Collision Course, A Night of Champions.” Also appearing on the guaranteed minimum four-fight PPV card is former three-time world champion Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill (49-5, 23 KOs) -- Silverhawk Boxing has a marketing agreement with him – versus unbeaten Russian challenger Valery Brudov (20-0, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBA cruiserweight belt in the 12-round main event; IBF minimumweight title-holder Muhammad “The Rock Breaker” Rachman (50-7-7-4, 22 KOs) defends his title against No. 1 contender Omar “Lobito” Soto (14-2-1, 10 KOs), while “Mighty” Mike Aranoutis (14-0-2, 6 KOs) fights for the NABO/USBA super lightweight crowns versus TBA.
Johnston’s Silverhawk Boxing stablemate, Prince “The Boxing Prince” Badi (24-2-1, 13 KOs), WBC No. 11 rated light heavyweight, defends one of his four title belts – WBC Continental Americans light heavyweight in the 12-round PPV “swing bout.”
Tickets, priced at $200, $150, $100, $75, $50 and $35, may be purchased at the Tropicana box office (800.526.2935, 609.340.4020) or by calling Ticketmaster (800.736.1420).
Unbeaten junior middleweight Yuri Foreman (19-0, 7 KOs), rated No. 29 by the WBC, is slated to fight in the 10-round co-feature. Foreman, born in Belarus and now living in Brooklyn, is a true rising star in boxing.
In 1894, the famed “Boston Strong Boy” – John L. Sullivan – fought an exhibition at Cyclorama and two-time heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz fought there 100 years later.
“We’re so excited to be promoting our second show with John Duddy headlining, especially his first fight in Boston,” New England Ringside Promotions president Rick Brutti said. “With Yuri Foreman also fighting here it gives us a real major league fight card in Boston for the first time in many years. This will be a continuation of our plan to bring major league boxing and major league fighters to Boston.”
Duddy, already rated No. 5 by the North American Boxing Council, is one of the hottest prospects in boxing. Last September, he fought in Mansfield, Massachusetts, but this will be his first appearance in Boston.
“The reception I received in Mansfield was amazing and I’m even more excited about fighting in Boston for the first time,” Duddy said. “I’m expecting an even bigger crowd and I want to put in a better show (Duddy KO’d Joe Brady in a little more than one minute of the first round at Mansfield).
“I’ve been gaining valuable experience. In my last fight I used more head movement and threw more jabs. This year I’m looking forward to, as the months pass, becoming more of a professional fighter. Last year, I started out like an amateur and started fighting as a pro. I’m starting this year as a professional. I want to go deeper in water and meet the challenge as the standards rise. I always take one fight at a time. That’s never going to change and right now all I’m thinking about is February 4 in Boston.”
Scheduled to fight on the Feb. 4 card undercard, in separate bouts, are 4-time New York City Golden Gloves champion Jorge Teron (9-0, 7 KOs), Quincy super middleweight Chris Traietti (2-0, 1 KO) and Port Richey’s junior middleweight “Bazooka” Joe Linenfelser (2-0, 2 KOs), the youngest boxer (17 years old) in the United States. All bouts and fighters are subject to change. Opponents will not be announced until they sign and are approved by Mass. Boxing Commission.
Tickets, priced at $100.00 (VIP), $60.00 (ringside) and $30.00 (general admission), are available by going to www.ticketweb.comor calling NER (781.932.1190). Doors open at 6 pm. First bout is at 7:30. Due to the venue’s licensing restrictions, all patrons must be 21 years of age or older.
The "Season's Beatings" card, taped on December 15, featured Brooklyn junior welterweight Dmitriy "Star of David" Salita (24-0, 14 KOs) and fellow junior welterweight Edgar "El Chamaco" Santana (16-2, 11 KOs) of Spanish Harlem. The broadcast also showcases the knockout artistry of Brownsville super middleweight Curtis "Showtime" Stevens (10-0, 9 KOs) as well as featherweight Gary "Kid" Stark Jr. (13-0, 6 KOs) of Staten Island.
MSG will air Broadway Boxing's latest installment on Monday, January 9th at 8 PM, Tuesday, January 10th at 12 PM, and Saturday January 21st at 5 PM. The bouts can also be seen at 8 PM on Monday, January 16th on FSNY.
The broadcast will feature Salita's bout against punching machine Robert Frankel (12-5, 1 KO) of Denver Colorado, Santana's matchup with Missouri's Jeremy Stiers (9-6, 6 KOs), Stevens taking on Kia Daniels (5-3, 3 KOs) of Louisville, KY and Stark stepping into the ring against Jose Hernandez (8-3, 4 KOs) of Atlanta, GA.
Along with Turning Stone Resort and Casino, the site and title sponsor, Broadway Boxing is also sponsored by HBO Sports, Locatestock.com and Gallagher's Steak House.
For more information about the next Broadway Boxing event please visit www.dbe1.com.
On Saturday, the 9 p.m. opener of a Showtime card from The Theater at Madison Square Garden features a cruiserweight unification bout between WBC-WBA champ Jean-Marc Mormeck and IBF counterpart O’Neil Bell. The bout is typically being overlooked. But it may surprise some.
Mormeck became the first unified cruiserweight champ of any kind since Evander Holyfield when he decisioned Wayne Braithwaite in April. Braithwaite seemed ticketed for superstardom before being thoroughly defeated by Mormeck. And Bell won the vacant title by decisioning the always tough Dale Brown. He’s also beaten former champ Arthur Williams.
So the cruisers have been disappointing you? Take a look through the short history of the division and you’ll find that there have been some pretty good offerings.
December 8, 1979. Marvin Camel vs. Mate Parlov. Perhaps it was fitting that the first cruiserweight title fight in boxing history ends in a draw. They rematch four months later and Camel wins the first cruiserweight title. The weights for that first bout were 183½ for Camel and 189 for Parlov, a former light heavyweight champion.
June 15, 1986. Smokin’ Bert Cooper vs. Henry Tillman. Cooper is the protégé of Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Tillman is the man who bounced Mike Tyson from the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials. This is before Cooper succumbs to drugs and bloats up to heavyweight. Tillman is still basking in the glow of his Olympic gold medal and in his previous fight captured the NABF cruiserweight crown with a first-round knockout of veteran Bash Ali. Cooper enters this fight with a record of 11-1 while Tillman is 10-0. Fighting out of a crouch and setting a furious pace, Cooper drops Tillman twice early and wins a 12-round decision for the NABF belt.
July 12, 1986. Evander Holyfield vs. Dwight Muhammad Qawi. It is Holyfield’s 12th pro fight and Qawi’s 30th. Qawi had already reigned as a champion at 175 and won his second title at cruiserweight. Holyfield was just two years removed from an Olympic bronze medal. It didn’t show. Holyfield set a blistering pace. They fight like lightweights. Of that bout, Holyfield said he prayed in the corner for the strength to keep fighting. He would deliver an astonishing 1,290 punches and capture a split decision over 15 (not 12) rounds.
Qawi has said: “I fought my heart out. I don’t know why, but I predicted that I’d win in the 9th round. He was like slow motion in that ninth round. But then he came back. He got his second wind. But you don’t get a second wind like that. We threw so many punches. It was non-stop action and he was bouncing around like nobody’s business. I’m still puzzled on how he could take that kind of pressure and go the distance.
Holyfield would go on to immortality at heavyweight while Qawi would rise in weight and become an opponent. Qawi was inducted into the Hall of Fame two years ago and Holyfield will follow once he retires. Thus, this will be the first – and perhaps last – cruiserweight match in which both participants were hall of famers.
April 9, 1988: Evander Holyfield vs Carlos DeLeon.Not a distinguishing bout, but Holyfield wins by 8th-round TKO and becomes the division’s first undisputed champion and it’s biggest star. DeLeon, however, has won and lost the WBC cruiserweight title three times.
March 8, 1991: Bobby Czyz vs. Robert Daniels. Czyz wins a split decision to become a two-division champion. In what may have been his final premiere performance, Czyz neatly outboxes Daniels to earn the belt. Czyz is composed and experienced and outsmarts the champion much of the way. He resists each temptation to brawl and instead puts on a boxing clinic. Daniels, though, closes strong to make it interesting over the final three rounds. It is a case of too little, too late. Immediately after the bout, Czyz calls out Thomas Hearns but the match never materializes. As is the case with many cruisers, they both end up at heavyweight.
February 21, 1998: Juan Carlos Gomez-Marcelo Dominguez. Gomez becomes the first Cuban defector to win a professional world championship. Gomez, fighting primarily out of Germany, makes a division record 10 consecutive title defenses. Along the way he beats, Imamu Mayfield, Guy Waters and Al Cole. At 34-0, he relinquishes the title and moves up to heavyweight.
February 12, 2000: Wayne Braithwaite vs. Dale Brown. Braithwaite emerges with an eighth-round TKO and looks like he’ll conquer the division. The bout is waged for the NABF title. Brown, a former Canadian Olympian, enters the fight 20-1-1 and having lost only to the elite of the division – Vassiliy Jirov. Braithwaite, who is 10-0 with eight knockouts, is thoroughly dominant, blitzing Brown with startling combinations. Brown is the only man to have met Jirov, Braithwaite, Mormeck and Bell. Braithwaite goes on to win the WBC title and then is upset by Mormeck.
December 9, 2000: Virgil Hill vs Fabrice Tiozzo. Perhaps the division’s greatest upset. Hill, as a light heavyweight champion, gave Tiozzo his first career loss in 1993. The rematch takes place in Tiozzo’s native France and Hill enters the ring at the age of 36. Tiozzo was making the fifth defense of his WBA cruiserweight title. Hill, a 15-1 underdog and a notorious light hitter, drops Tiozzo three times in the first round to claim the title.
"He touched me once and I didn't think it was very strong, but he touched me twice and I couldn't wake up," Tiozzo explained after his second career loss.
"He was looking for the jab, so I hooked him and then went over the top with the right hand," said Hill, a converted southpaw whose main power comes from his left. "In boxing anything can happen and you are only one punch away from success."
April 26, 2003: James Toney-Vassiliy Jirov. The champion Jirov is relentless in his attack and Toney is all class and guile. How is this for background, Jiro won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics and was named outstanding fighter of the games. In facing Toney, Jirov may have been baffled but was never discouraged. He presses the action while Toney counters and – BOOM – in the 12th finally drops Jirov to cement his unanimous decision win and the title. The fight was closer than the scorecards suggested. This win, followed by a triumph over Holyfield, earns Toney “Comeback of the Year” and “Fighter of the Year” awards by The Ring. Both men head to the heavyweight division.
He was preparing for his January 7 unification bout against IBF titlist O’Neill “Supernova” Bell of Atlanta at Madison Square Garden. The fight will be televised on the Judah-Baldomir undercard Saturday night on Showtime.
There is not a nick or a scar on his broad, friendly face. His unique bleached sideburns and goatee make him look more scholarly than athletic. And when he speaks, his demeanor is more like a Zen master or yoga instructor than the ferocious power puncher that he is.
But don’t get lured in by Mormeck’s façade. As his 31-2 (21 KOs) record will attest, he is a fighter through and through.
If you have any doubts, just ask former champion Wayne Braithwaite, whom he beat by 12 round decision in his last fight in April, former champion Virgil Hill, whom he has beaten twice, once by TKO, or Dale Brown and Alexander Gurov, both of whom he stopped while making successful title defenses.
Or you can just ask the hard-punching, fast-talking, extremely intense Bell, whose record going into Saturday’s fight is 25-1-1 (23 KOs).
“He’s the bull, but I’m the matador,” said Bell. “I have a lot of respect for him. He is a real warrior who comes to fight. He wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t deserve to be a champion. I know he wants to fight. But I want it more. It will be a war of attrition that I will win.”
Not so, says the soft-spoken Mormeck, whose feathers seem hard to ruffle.
“I do not care what he is saying,” Mormeck said through an interpreter. “I didn’t come to the United States to lose. He talks a lot about blood, but I don’t like blood. I only love to win.”
Although Bell talked a good game, he seemed much more tightly wound than Mormeck. Moreover, although Bell is a supremely gifted boxer/puncher, he is known for fighting a lot more dangerously than he has to.
That was obvious when he won the vacant title in a bout against Dale Brown earlier this year. Most observers thought that Brown easily deserved the decision.
That opinion was only exacerbated when Bell had a tougher time than expected against South Africa strongman Sebastian Rothman in his first defense. He wound up stopping Rothman with one punch in the 11th round of a fight he was losing.
“I’m diverse,” said Bell. “I can adapt to whatever situation arises. I can back [Mormeck] up or I can go toe-to-toe with him. If I need to, I can score a devastating knockout. Whatever the fight calls for me to do to win, I will do. ”
Devastating knockouts seem to be Bell’s forte, but that might not happen against the thick-trunked, extremely strong and resilient Frenchman.
Most people expected Braithwaite to beat Mormeck, but Mormeck rolled over Braithwaite with ease. In that bout, Braithwaite, whose nickname is “Big Truck,” seemed more like the road than the truck as Mormeck steamrolled him.
“I was surprised by his strength,” said Braithwaite, now 21-1 (17 KOs). “He was much stronger than I expected.”
By beating Braithwaite, Mormeck, who already held the WBA crown, added the WBC title to his collection. He also moved one step closer to becoming the first undisputed cruiserweight champion since Evander Holyfield reigned supreme nearly two decades ago.
“I have great respect for Holyfield’s career, for the warrior, the man, for everything he has done,” said Mormeck. “It would be a great honor and something magic to do what Holyfield did.”
Like Holyfield, Mormeck has discussed the possibility of moving up to the heavyweight division in the not too distant future. He has publicly stated that he would most like to fight WBO champion Lamon Brewster because he is so strong.
However, in the days leading up to the Bell fight, he only had Supernova on his mind.
“Since I was a kid back in France, America has always been a dream,” Mormeck said. “Today I have a chance to fight at Madison Square Garden. It is a dream come true for me. That is all I am focused on. Right now, I think of Bell.
Don't know much about Baldomir, except that he rarely gets knocked out and isn't afraid to fight in other people's backyards. The excitable Judah will most likely try and give his fans a quick knockout, which might be a problem if he runs into a counter, which he has been known to do when he tries for these quick KO's. Since I heard that Baldomir isn't much of a puncher, I'll bet Judah gets rid of him in under two rounds even if he absorbs a couple of shots in the process … I was shocked when Mormeck destroyed Wayne Braithwaite, one of my favorite fighters, last year in a performance that reminded me of the old Tyson. Mormeck has scary power and he if he lands on Bell, who was once stopped early in his career, it could be over in a heartbeat. Mormeck TKO 5. Mitch Abramson
Whenever I hear the name "Judah" I think of Goober Pyle on "Andy Griffith." Judah, Judah, Judah ... If you don't get it, then check out some more B&W television. Never saw Aunt Bea or Mrs. Cleaver put up for anybody named "Mormeck." Judah in a cakewalk. Tim Graham
There are welterweights who will always figure to give Judah trouble (see Spinks, Pineda, Chop-Chop, and don't even mention Floyd), but Carlos Baldomir does not appear to be one of them. If he doesn't lose focus over the impending Mayweather fight (or get caught up in showboating for his ever-expanding posse), Judah should win a comfortable decision. If Zab stops his Argentine foe, he'll be the first guy to do it. Baldomir has been around to hear the final bell in all 57 of his professional fights … Mormeck impressed us in his fight against Wayne Braithwaite, and by any measure we can devise, Braithwaite was a more formidable foe than O'Neill Bell figures to be. Many witnesses don't think Bell beat Dale Brown, and he looked to be on the way to losing to Sebastian Rothman before he took him out with one punch. Bell might not even be the second-best cruiserweight on Don King's card Saturday night (See Cunningham, Steve). We like Le Grenouille Sauvage by a mid-round stoppage. George Kimball
Unless Judah looks past Baldomir to a potential fight with Mayweather I see Judah being too fast and too strong for the limited Baldomir. Judah is blessed with so much natural talent the question is only how he beats a fighter with 9 losses and 6 draws on his record (Carlos Baldomir). Baldomir doesn't have much power and throws wide shots which leave his solid chin exposed. Defensively his chin has saved him in the past, but it won't be enough as Judah overwhelms him to help sell the superfight against Floyd. With a good chin but questionable defense it says here that Judah gets a stoppage win on cuts or an unanswered barrage that forces a referee’s stoppage … Mormeck vs. Bell is an awesome fight on paper and it should be an excellent one in the ring. Neither fighter knows how to take a backward step and to call either a defensive wiz would be a stretch. Bell has been stopped and dropped in the past but has demonstrated great courage and heart in winning tough fights. Mormeck is a tough cookie who seems to thrive as fights wear on and his opponents get weaker. It will be bombs away as the two end up trading; boxing fans win, but I think Bell losses. Joey Knish
Judah is extremely dangerous to anyone in the first couple of rounds. We all know that. And he's going to try to make "short work" of Baldomir so he can be as boastful as possible when hyping his mega-match with Mayweather. But if Baldomir can survive the early onslaught, and time the fastest hands in Brooklyn, I wouldn't be shocked if he gives the champion a hard night, going the distance. I've never seen Baldomir fight, but he hasn't lost in seven years, fighting mostly in other guys' backyards (Denmark, England, Germany, Mexico). He won't be intimidated by his surroundings Saturday. While I can't really talk styles, I suspect Baldomir is as good or better than Omar Weis, DeMarcus Corley or Rafael Pineda, all three of whom went the distance with Judah in '02, '03, and '04, respectively. In spite of his great victory over Cory Spinks, I'm not sold (yet) on this supposedly "mature" and "focused" Zab. Judah by majority decision … Mormeck's relentless pressure, strength, and sound fundamentals will quickly exploit Bell's technical shortcomings. "Le Tank" (Michael Katz's invention, not mine) will trap him in the corners and do serious damage. Bell will last into the middle rounds do to his grit and formidable punching power. TKO 7 Mormeck. Welcome to the heavyweights Jean-Marc! Have you met Lamon? Zachary Levin
You obviously have to go with Judah. I'd pick Judah with one hand tied behind his back, which may very well be the case. Zab hurt his hand while training last week (something few people know about). Because of that I'll say this one goes the distance. Judah by unanimous decision … Mormeck-Bell could be a barnburner. However, I think Mormeck's tenacity will be too much for Bell to handle. While Bell possesses one punch knockout power, the accumulation of blows early on will slow him down and perhaps make him hesitant to pull the trigger. Mormeck by unanimous decision. Marc Lichtenfeld
Zab Judah is not going to look past Carlos Baldomir. Judah fights up or down to the quality of his opposition, but he's out to make a statement to Mr. Mayweather. A blow out of Baldomir may or may not have any affect on Mayweather's non-so fragile psyche but it doesn't hurt to plant the seed. Judah will be in tip-top shape and show exactly why he's to be feared. Baldomir is game but by the 4th or 5th round, the speedy combinations of Judah will take their toll on his face, forcing the referee to step in and stop the slaughter. Baldomir is tough and will be there to win, however he lacks the firepower to keep off a determined Zab Judah. Judah TKO round 6 … In Jean-Marc Mormeck's last five fights, he's defeated Dale Brown, Alexander Gurov, Virgil Hill (twice), and most recently, undefeated prospect, Wayne Braithwaite. O'Neil "Give 'em Hell" Bell has defeated Kelvin "Concrete" Davis, Derrick Harmon, Dale Brown, Ezra Sellers and Sebastian Rothman. Not exactly Murderer's Row for either fighter but both have faced decent opposition. Mormeck, a native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated in the last nine and a half years. Bell, of Jamaica, has his own winning streak of eight years. Odds makers have installed Bell as a 3½ to 1 underdog and make no mistake; he's a very live dog, and definitely has the capability to pull off the upset. Bell via SD12/ Scott Mallon
Very little is known about Baldomir, but a look at his record indicates that he is strong and sturdy. His lack of punching power will probably hurt him against Judah. Although Baldomir will probably survive a few heavy volleys, he will likely get stopped about midway through the bout. Judah TKO 6 Baldomir … Jean-Marc Mormeck is extremely strong and focused and seems much more mentally relaxed in the ring than Bell, who fights a lot more dangerously than he has to. This is a tough call, but I expect Mormeck to survive a few Bell onslaughts and stop him late in the fight. Mormeck TKO 9 Bell. Bob Mladinich
Mormeck, the man who's done well to imitate Evander Holyfield's expansively chiseled physique, showed significant skill and power in stopping Braithwaithe. Now he gets Bell, who was losing handily against the lightly touted Sebastian Rothman until he landed that big punch in the eleventh round to the end the fight. Bell didn't impress me and shouldn't last against a more talented fighter in Mormeck. Look for an early knockout in this one … As for Zab Judah, he'll likely have a harder workout in the dressing room before the fight. His opponent, Carlos Baldomir, is the WBC's number one ranked mandatory challenger for Judah even though he has nine losses and is unranked by RIng magazine. He gets this title shot because he's a Don King fighter, not because he deserves it. I'll be generous and give him two rounds. Judah needs a better warm-up before for his mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he'll have to settle for an average sparring partner. Good ol' Don King. Benn Schulberg
Judah-Baldomir: Well traveled challenger finds the end of the road with this reality check. Baldomir may stick around for a while, but Judah should have him reeling within a few rounds. If Judah doesn't win big he's either playing possum or somebody on his team better rethink the Mayweather affair … Mormeck-Bell: Bell will hope to smother Mormeck's assault until Bell can land a big shot, but Mormeck will apply enough pressure to earn a decision. If Bell tries to force the matter or thinks he can hurt Mormeck it could turn in to a two way thriller where Bell has a puncher's chance. More likely, Mormeck grinds him down in a slow paced waltz. Phil Woolever
Robert Mladinich reports that four days before his showdown with undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah at Madison Square Garden on January 7, Argentinian Carlos Baldomir exuded mucho confidence as he worked out before the media at the Church Street Gym in downtown Manhattan. It is an honor for me to be fighting at Madison Square Garden. I am happy that Judah is confident, but after two or three rounds I will rip his head off. He is in for a surprise. It may not all be false bravado, as by all accounts, Baldomir is coming to make a fight of it. Joey Knish runs down the other fight of note on Saturday's card, O'Neil Bell v. Jean-Marc Mormeck.
Previewing the potential Mayweather vs Judah matchup, the Press Assocation in the UK points out only three men in boxing history - Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns - can claim to world titles at five or more different weights, yet all have taken advantage of the proliferation of alphabet titles to do so. The PA compares the achievements of these modern day pugilists to the great Henry Armstrong: there is no clearer way to put such modern day achievements in perspective than by comparison with the great American multi-weight champion of the 1930s, Henry Armstrong. Armstrong was a human buzz-saw who battled his way up from abject poverty and shrugged off three defeats in his first four professional contests to establish himself as one of the greatest fighters in history.Mayweather, says the PA, still has some way to go to match the man they called 'Homicide Hank'.
For the gamers out there, Electronic Arts announced today that Oscar De La Hoya will serve as cover athlete and spokesman for EA SPORTS Fight Night Round 3. Not much more I can say given I don't game myself, but good to see the Golden Boy teaming up with EA.
Mark “Poison” Suarez (24-2, 12 KOs), from Riverside, Calif., will meet undefeated James “Spider” Webb (18-0, 15 KOs), from Columbia, Tenn., in a scheduled 12-round match for the IBF No. 1 welterweight ranking.
Suarez is already the North American Boxing Organization welterweight champion and has become the IBF’s leading contender. An all-action fighter, Suarez doesn’t mind taking chances while reaching for greatness.
Webb is a Southern gentleman who was a military champion before turning professional. In his last appearance, he earned the right to fight for the No. ranking by scoring a huge upset over highly regarded Jose Celaya.
The best prospect boxing in New York today, undefeated (and Felix Trinidad look-alike) Elio “The Kid” Rojas (14-0, 10 KOs), from Brooklyn, will face Tiger Smalls (17-9-1, 6 KOs), from San Diego, in a featherweight attraction scheduled for eight rounds.
Rojas has displayed precocious skills—tremendous punching power and blazing speed—in an extensive amateur background and in his early professional career. The former Dominican champion is rapidly approaching a world title appearance.
Smalls, approaching eccentric Californian status after recently appearing on the cover of High Times magazine, is tall, rangy, skillful and is a threat to anyone he opposes.
Undefeated, No. 1-ranked IBF cruiserweight Steve “USS” Cunningham (18-0, 9 KOs), from Philadelphia, will take on Lloyd “Jabba” Bryan (21-11, 9 KOs), from Memphis, in an eight-rounder.
Cunningham, an All-Navy boxer while in the military, served notice on the cruiserweight division last year that he is a force to be reckoned with by winning a split decision over the legendarily tough Panamanian boxer Guillermo “El Felino” Jones and scored a lopsided unanimous decision over former IBF cruiserweight champion Kelvin “Konkrete” Davis.
The slick veteran Bryan will attempt to spoil Cunningham’s plan to face the winner of Mormeck vs. Bell, which will take place later in the evening.
Three-time WBA middleweight champion William Joppy (35-4-1, 26 KOs), from Washington, D.C., will attempt to regain his status in the division against Erik “The Hurricane” Howard (11-9-1, 6 KOs), from Crossville, Tenn., in a scheduled eight-round bout.
Owen “What the Heck” Beck (24-2, 18 KOs), from Nashville via Jamaica, will meet fellow heavyweight Darnell Wilson (18-2-3, 15 KOs), from Middleton, Md.
Beck surprised many last year when he wobbled Monte Barrett early in their match but was unable to finish “Two Gunz” and succumbed to his more experienced foe by technical knockout – although he was ahead on one of the judges’ scorecards.
He met Ray “Rainman” Austin in his last appearance and suffered a narrow split-decision loss.
He will face a huge puncher in Wilson, who would love nothing more than to further his career by handing Beck his third loss in a row in a match scheduled for eight rounds.
The best heavyweight prospect in boxing, Bermane “B.Ware” Stiverne (4-0, 4 KOs), from Las Vegas, will make his New York debut against John Turlington (5-7-1, 4 KOs), from Sullivan, Mo., in an attraction set for four rounds.
This will be Stiverne’s coming out party to display his quick hands and devastating power in front of a huge media contingent assembled for the first major boxing event of 2006.
Zab Judah’s brother, Josiah “Gorilla” Judah (4-0, 1 KO) will attempt to keep his record unblemished when he meets super middleweight contender Franklin Armstrong (3-7-3, 2 KOs), from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Tickets are priced at $505, $305, $205 $105 and $55 are on sale now at the Garden box office and all Ticketmaster locations or by calling Ticketmaster at 212-307-7171, 201-507-8900, 631-888-9000, or 914-454-3388. Ticket prices include a $4.50 facility surcharge. Ticketmaster purchases are subject to a Ticketmaster service charge. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with the first bout shortly thereafter.