“It is an honor for me to be fighting at Madison Square Garden,” said the rugged looking 34-year-old Baldomir, whose record is 41-9-6 (12 KOs). “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.”
While the knockout ratio of Baldomir’s record indicates that he might not be ripping anyone’s head off, an examination of the rest of his record shows that he is not to be taken lightly.
He has more than held his own against local fighters in Denmark, Germany, England, Italy, and South Africa. He stopped previously undefeated Alpasian Aguzum, 21-0, in Germany. He also stopped Aguzum in a rematch, when Aguzum was 29-1.
Baldomir also won a 12-round decision and fought to a draw with Hassan Ali in Denmark; beat Joshua Clottey by 11th round disqualification in England; stopped Dejan Zivkovic in eight rounds in Italy; and fought to a draw with Dingaan Thobela in South Africa.
“Carlos is the personification of heart,” said Michael Marley, an advisor for the San Diego-based Suycuan Ringside Promotions, who promote Baldomir as well as Jorge Paez Jr., Joan Guzman, Israel Vasquez, and Julio Diaz.
“This guy is a real road warrior whose passport has been punched more than he has. This is the first time he has had a promoter looking out for him, so don’t be surprised if he surprises you.”
Marley said you don’t have to look past Baldomir’s last fight, a 12-round decision victory over the Don King-promoted Mexican Miguel Angel Rodriguez in Chicago to realize he is not in New York to just pick up a check.
Rodriguez, who was 26-1 (21 KOs) going into the title elimination bout, was heavily favored to win. “Carlos beat him on heart, experience and balls,” said Marley. “Rodriguez was a great prospect, but Carlos shut him down.”
Baldomir admits that Judah is quick and strong, but says he is unconcerned with all the hoopla surrounding him. Nor could he care less about fighting in Judah’s hometown.
“I fought a lot of local fighters in their hometowns,” said Baldomir. “For me it is great that people think Judah is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But who has he beaten? Cory Spinks? He hasn’t beaten anyone else at 147 [pounds].”
When asked about the throat-slashing gesture that Judah displayed to him at a previous press conference, Baldomir just shrugged.
“For someone of my age and with my experience that means nothing,” he said. “The fact that he did it in front of other people only encourages me more. I’ve fought lefties and righties, punchers and boxers. Judah brings nothing that I haven’t seen before.”
One thing that Judah might be underestimating is the rich legacy of Argentinean fighters, many of whom are known for being inhumanly rugged.
Who can forget the great middleweight champion Carlos Monzon, who was Baldomir’s childhood hero, heavyweight contender Oscar Bonavena, multi-division champion Jorge Castro, who also engaged in well over 100 fights, or Juan Domingo Roldan, the only fighter to ever knock Marvin Hagler down?
“They were all my heroes and some are or were my friends,” said Baldomir, the married father of four children who range in age from 16 to three. “They are why I started boxing.”
Baldomir engaged in his first amateur pro fight at the age of 14. There has been nothing else he has wanted to do ever since. His wife Graciella was initially reluctant to support her husband’s choice of a vocation, but has since grown accustomed to it.
“She knows that I do it for the family,” said Baldomir. “I want my children to have an easier life than we have had. I want them to go to college and to be book smart. I fight for their future, so I can’t disappoint them.”
Marley says that regardless of what Judah brings to the table Saturday night, the fans won’t be disappointed with Baldomir’s performance.
“This kid has a real legend on his team,” said Marley. “Amilcar Brusa is one of the most respected trainers in South America. He walks on water down there because he has worked with so many champions. He wouldn’t be working with Carlos if he didn’t think he had championship potential.
“I’m not going to make predictions, but I’ll say this,” deadpanned Marley. “If the fight goes 12 rounds, Carlos will be on his feet at the end.”
But the place where Juan Carlos Duran got his biggest success is Europe. He fought mostly in Italy (where he married, had children, got the citizenship and was awarded the title Cavaliere by the President), but he was also booked to main event cards in England, Germany, Denmark, France and Austria. From 1960 to 1972, Juan Carlos Duran won the Italian and European middleweight titles, became European light middleweight champion, and faced such all-time greats as Nino Benvenuti. Juan Carlos Duran had 84 professional fights: 66 wins (21 KOs), 9 losses, 8 draws and 1 no-contest.
The fact that he became a superstar without winning a world title says it all about the quality of competition in his era. Today, most boxing fans don’t know the names of the four major champions in most weight divisions. Juan Carlos Duran had a spectacular style and his left hand was one of the best in the business. According to his son Alessandro: My father was very fast in throwing combinations and was good in keeping the rythm very high. He had also great mobility and used it to avoid his opponent’s attacks. Some journalists used to write that my father wasn’t a power puncher; that’s true, but his left jab was always on his opponent’s face. This explanation helps us understand why Juan Carlos Duran’s fights were so exciting that thousands of people paid good money to see him in action. He was also in the news for his rebel attitude, which led some people to conclude that he didn’t train properly.
That wasn’t true, as Alessandro points out: Just look at my father’s record. He fought 7, 8 even 10 times in the same year. He couldn’t do that if he wasn’t in top shape. Back in those days, boxers didn’t have as much information about training methods anddiet and didn’t go to the doctor regularly. But, they could fight often without getting seriously injuried. Almost all of them didn’t have health problems after they retired.
Juan Carlos Duran also made history for a tragic episode. On June 12, 1968 he went to Cologne (Germany) to defend his European middleweight crown against local favorite Jupp Elze. The two men had already faced each other on April 30, 1965, also in Cologne. Elze had won on points after ten rounds. The second match was supposed to be more intense because a major title was on the line. Duran won by 15th round TKO. Elze never got up; he went into a coma and died eight days later. Duran was so distraught that he went to Germany to give Elze’s wife part of the purse. Later, he invited Elze’s family to spend some days in Italy and they accepted.
A second fatal accident was avoided thanks to Duran on June 25, 1969 in Montecatini (Italy). Duran gave such a serious beating to Hans Dieter Schwartz that he asked his opponent’s cornermen to throw in the towel. They didn’t. During the 13th round, Duran pulled his punches against Schwartz. In the 14th stanza Schwartz couldn’t take it anymore, so Duran looked at the referee, genuflexed with his hands united (like he was praying) and asked him to stop the fight. Finally, the referee did it and probably saved the German’s life.
This sounds like a movie, right? Well, the life of a great champion is more unbelieveable than any movie. Given the punishment that Duran administered to his opponents, Juan Carlos’ punches must have hurt, even if he scored only 21 K0s. Anyway, Duran provided plenty of action and that guaranteed him a place in the hearts of the Italian fans who packed arenas in any city where he fought. Duran was also respected for avenging his losses. On September 11, 1969, in Copenhagen he lost the European middleweight belt against Tom Bogs. On December 4, 1970 Duran got it back, defeating Bogs on points. Bogs was one of the best fighters Denmark ever produced. He compiled a record of 77 wins (25 KOs), 8 losses with 1 draw. He became European middleweight and light heavyweight champion, challenged WBA/WBC world middleweight king Carlos Monzon (losing via 5th round TKO) and battled twice legendary Don Fullmer (1 win and 1 draw).
Incidentally, Juan Carlos Duran’s son Alessandro also had an hard time in Denmark more than 30 years later losing two split decisions to Thomas Danmgaard and Christian Bladt. Both fights were supposed to be easy for Alessandro since he had much more experience than the two Danish boxers. Obviously, Denmark brings bad luck to the Duran family. Juan Carlos Duran’s greatest accomplishment was getting back on top after everybody considered him history. He lost many pounds to make the light middleweight limit and won the European title. This made big news in Italy, since nobody thought that a 6’1” tall and 36-year-old fighter could lose weight and be competitive in the inferior division. The only episode that enraged the Italian fans happened on March 11, 1964; the fight against Emile Griffith. The two warriors were supposed to put up a great show, in Rome, but they didn’t.
Let’s hear the story from Alessandro Duran: Griffith couldn’t hit my father because there was too much difference in terms of height: Emile was 5’8”, my dad was 6’1”. The referee officially warned Griffith (twice) to be more aggressive, but he kept doing nothing. The Roman crowd thought it was a fix and started throwing objects toward the ring. Soon, the ring floor was full or bottles, glasses, oranges and everything else you can think of. In the seventh round, the referee sent the boxers to the dressing room and the fight was ruled a no-contest. My opinion is that the Romans wanted my father to murder Griffith, but he refused to do it and the match became boring.
Juan Carlos Duran retired after his loss against Jacques Kechichian (9th round TKO) on July 4, 1973. He kept in touch with the boxing world, however, bringing his sons to the gym and training them to become professionals. He was successful in that. HMassimiliano fought from 1986 to 1994 compiling a record of 19 wins (8 KOs) and 6 losses. He became Italian, European and WBC world cruiserweight champion. Alessandro fought from 1985 to 2002 (he also had one match in 1983) compiling a record of 51 wins (16 KOs) and 12 losses. He won the Italian, European and WBU world welterweight titles. Juan Carlos Duran died in a car crash on January 2, 1991. He is still considered an idol in Ferrara, where he always lived and where both his sons still live today.
Juan Carlos Duran
Born on June 13, 1936 in Rosario (Argentina)
Record: 66 wins (21 KOs), 9 losses, 8 draws and 1 no-contest
Italian middleweight champion
from July 22, 1966 to August 16, 1967
European middleweight champion
1st Reign: from November 17, 1967 to September 11, 1969.
2nd Reign: from December 4, 1970 to June 9, 1971.
European light middleweight champion
from July 5, 1972 to July 4, 1973
In 1972, he received the title of Cavaliere (Knight) by the President of Italy.
The World Boxing Council chose Floyd Mayweather as its boxer of the year on Tuesday, one of several annual awards announced by the WBC. Jermain Taylor received honorable mention and Corrales vs. Castillo I was voted fight of the year.
Tim Smith of the New York Daily News says that although Judah-Baldomir is the main event, the real fight of the night will occur between Jean-Marc Mormeck and O'Neil Bell. Bell is using the Holyfield 'Six Degrees of Separation' angle and his underdog status to help fuel him for his match against Mormeck, says Smith.
Nice column on the late Eddie Futch at itv.com. ITV says Eddie Futch is perhaps the greatest boxing 'teacher' the game has ever known. A list of his pupils seems to support the claim: ITV lists Bob Foster, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Alexis Arguello, Michael Spinks, Marlon Starling, Riddick Bowe and Joe Frazier amongst the fighters Futch trained. Futch, of course, may be best remembered for his part in the Thrilla In Manilla.
Since Nicolay Valuev defeated John Ruiz, readers of TheSweetScience.com have been looking for info on the giant heavyweight. Today Robert Mladinich interviews Showtime's Steve Farhood and trainer John Scully (both who have seen Valuev close up) about the new WBA champion. It's worth checking out to see what Farhood and Scully have to say about The Beast from the East.
Speaking of the readers of the this website, there are clearly readers of TheSweetScience.com who are interested in mixed martial arts, kick boxing etc. as well as boxing ... so today Luca De Franco provides an account of some kick boxers who have tried their luck in the sweet science. He even asks the readers to contact him and let him know if you would like to see a match between a kick boxer and a boxer. Luca - put me down as a NO.
Gone are the days of the out-of-shape who ate their way just south of the heavyweight division. Today’s cruiserweight is a heavy-handed, in-shape boxer-puncher with power to turn out the lights, yet nimble enough to demonstrate that the science of boxing is still sweet.
Saturday night from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, Showtime will bring us one of the best matchups in the biz as Jean-Marc Mormeck and O’Neil Bell unify their collective titles. The Frenchman Mormeck will bring his WBA and WBC titles into the ring, while IBF champion Bell brings his title to the table. These top two cruisers will start the year off with a bang.
Mix together the fact that neither fighter employs a tight defense, both throw bombs, and each has demonstrated the heart of a lion, and this fight adds up to one explosive affair.
The 33-year-old Mormeck currently rides a 26 fight winning streak dating back to 1997 and is the type of a fighter who typically becomes stronger as the fight drags on. Wearing out his opponent is exactly what the 31-2 (21 KO) WBA/WBC champion does, as the 5’11½” Frenchman believes his strength and durability are superior to that of his competition. And for 8 years now he has been correct.
Mormeck has been beating the best of the best with recent wins over Wayne Braithwaite, Virgil Hill (twice), Alexander Gurov and Dale Brown, and on Saturday he takes on as tough a customer as the division will offer in “Give ‘em Hell” Bell (aka Supernova). While Mormeck isn’t the most technical boxer around, he is a guy who will take shots in order to land his own and is very effective when he can cut off the ring and work with his opponent backed up to the ropes. He took some big blows from the big-punching “Big Truck” Braithwaite to prevail in his previous bout and faces a similarly dangerous opponent here.
IBF king O’Neil Bell has stopped the opposition in 23 of his 25 professional victories while suffering just one defeat (a KO 4 loss in just his second fight). His style is similar to Mormeck and he has found ways to win late as his power eventually takes over, but defensively he is suspect. The great equalizer for Bell is a searing right hand that has pulled victory out of defeat in previous bouts. Most recently, the Jamaican-born fighter was being outboxed by challenger Sebastian Rothmann for most of ten rounds. Just short of the upset, Rothmann found himself face down and out of the fight in the eleventh round as he never fully recovered from a crushing right cross in the previous round. From the jaws of defeat, Bell had found the power to steal a fight.
It will be a chess game played with explosive pieces this weekend when Bell bangs away with his heavy right hand and, in exchange, exposes his suspect chin. The 6’2” bomber was legitimately dropped by the light-fisted boxer Rothmann (ruled a slip) in the fourth round of his last fight and was stopped by heavy-handed Mohamed Benguesmia in four rounds for his only loss. Bell’s average defense and lack of movement can be costly against an accurate puncher.
On the other side of the ring, what Mormeck lacks in one-punch power he more than makes up for with his incredible durability and strength. He can crack well with both hands and will wear down an opponent while he gets stronger as the bout grows longer. Similar to Bell, opponents who use an effective jab-and-move strategy can give Mormeck problems, but that will not be a problem for either fighter Saturday night. This fight will be a battle of wills when Bell taps Mormeck on the chin and the Frenchman cuts off the ring in order to get inside and do his best work. Bell has the better one shot power of the two, but Mormeck boasts a sturdier chin and excellent durability. There are many questions going into the bout – but an exciting fight is guaranteed.
If the slow pace of today’s heavyweights counters your appetite for fisticuffs with meaning, look no further than today’s sub-200 pound division. There is no cruising allowed, as Saturday night’s unification bout promises fast-paced action and all the drama a fight fan can ask for. A few bumps and bruises are definitely in store for both fighters as the top two cruiserweights collide.
Its pedal-to-the-metal as Jean-Marc Mormeck and O’Neil Bell get set to crash head-on.
Whether or not he can capitalize on it is yet to be seen. What is apparent is that the likeable poetry-writing, 32-year-old Valuev – who passed through New York in June 2001 while en route to Atlantic City for his lone United States appearance – is without question the biggest heavyweight you will ever see.
Although he was billed as being 7’0” against Ruiz, his former American promoter Don Elbaum insisted he was 7’2”. After seeing him up close or in action (he made the 6’2”, 237-pound Ruiz look like a middleweight), you can’t help but marvel at his tremendous physical size.
While Ruiz quipped that Valuev’s head was the size of a Volkswagen, ShoBox announcer Steve Farhood was even less conservative in his estimation.
“From purely physical dimensions, he is scary,” said Farhood. “My image of him is just sheer enormity.”
Valuev, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but now lives in Germany, is so big he makes both Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko look small. With a record of 43-0 (31 KOs), it would seem natural that a pairing between him and either of the Ukrainian brothers would be a natural, especially in Germany where all three enjoy immense popularity.
“This guy is going to bring Vitali out of retirement,” said John Scully, who unsuccessfully challenged IBF light heavyweight champion Henry Maske in Berlin and also fought another local favorite, Graciano Rocchigianni, in the same city.
Scully, who now trains heavyweight contender Lawrence Clay Bey, accepted a bout for his fighter with Valuev, only to see Clay Bey turned down by Valuev’s management. Clay Bey wound up battling Sinan Samil Sam on the same February 2005 card in which Valuev destroyed onetime prospect Attila Levin.
“Valuev sent Levin into retirement,” said Scully. “He beat him up really bad and stopped him in the third round. Levin is a really big guy (6’5”) and he looked tiny next to him. He said he got exhausted trying to reach him. And when he did, it was like hitting a brick wall.”
While Scully was impressed with Valuev against Levin, he was not so impressed by the way he looked against Ruiz. However, he explains that nobody looks good against Ruiz, so you can’t use a fight with him as any kind of parameter.
“You could watch anyone against Ruiz and think he’s terrible,” said Scully. “Then in his next fight, he would look great.”
Farhood is not even close to being ready to anoint Valuev the savior of a moribund division. “What’s not a good sign is the fact that he struggled with Larry Donald, who he barely beat on his home turf,” said Farhood, referring to the bout immediately prior to the one against Ruiz.
“He’s painfully slow and he can’t punch, but he jabs well, paces himself well, and doesn’t get exhausted after three rounds. For the most part those are good signs.”
It has already been announced that Valuev’s next fight will be against an opponent to be determined in April in Berlin. With the number one and two WBA spots vacant, the number-three rated Wladimir Klitschko is Valuev’s mandatory challenger.
While Scully thinks that fight would be a perfect pairing, Farhood thinks accepting such a bout right now would be a mistake on Valuev’s part.
“I think the boxing skills of both Klitschkos would enable them to walk through Valuev,” he said. “If [Valuev] is a novelty act, I suggest he stay in Germany. If he is capable of beating the best heavyweights, I’d say bring him to the United States. My guess is that right now he is the former, not the latter.”
Farhood believes that Valuev could probably handle such second-tier opponents as Evander Holyfield, Jameel McCline, Dominick Guinn or Owen Beck, but suggests that he steer clear of the top fighters in the division.
Scully, however, is a bit more optimistic about Valuev’s future. He mentions that Valuev stopped some fairly decent fringe contenders and former prospects on his way up. Among them were Richard Bango, Paolo Vidoz, Gerald Nobles (W DQ 4), Levin, and Clifford Etienne. He didn’t stop Donald, but few people do.
“All things considered, I’d pick Valuev to [beat either of the Klitschkos],” said Scully. “A lot of people think of [him] as a slow, goofy guy, but he’s more fluid than he gets credit for. He’s got a good work rate and he’s consistent. He does little things well. He’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
JE Grant offers his January, 2006 Top 25 Heavyweights list today. I always enjoy looking at Grant's list, but the impoverished nature of the upper echelons of the heavyweight division is alarming. Wladimir Klitschko at number 3? Wladimir Klitschko has some tools, but a win over Sam Peter (in which he spent a lot of time clutching and grabbing) after some shaky recent performances (Sanders, Brewster and even Williamson) and he's the number 3 heavyweight in the world? Actually, he might be. Other than James Toney, I couldn't necessarily put anybody else above him. And how about Shannon Briggs at number 17? Maybe Shannon Briggs is the number 17 heavyweight in the world. But that says it all about the current state of the heavyweight division. When was the last time Briggs defeated a credible opponent? (Please don't say Ray Mercer.)
Nikolai Valuev will make the first defence of his WBA heavyweight belt during April in Germany. Don King wanted Valuev to fight in the United States, but Valuev wants to remain in Germany for the time being.
Of course this trend could be a mirage. Hasim Rahman, Chris Byrd and Lamon Brewster are Americans after all and they have the other belts. James Toney was stripped of the WBA belt after testing positive in the post-fight urinalysis after he dominated Ruiz. Minus the steroid failure he would likely still be a belt wearer looking to unify. Further, Calvin Brock has as much talent as anyone in the division and anyone facing him will be hard-pressed to figure out how to get past him.
2006 could add some clarity. By the end of the spring, it is hoped, all of the belt holders will engage in defenses. If Don King and others can pull it off, we may have some semblance of unification by year’s end. He owns partial rights to Valuev, he controls Brewster, he has a (very) loose grip on Byrd, and of course he recently lost rights to Rahman. Who knows what this all means?
* * *
Here are my heavyweight winners of 2005:
Best fight – Wladimir Klitschko vs. Samuel Peter. Many pundits and fans alike wrote off Klitschko following his losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. Many also thought the big power of Peter would doom the weak-chinned Ukrainian to a sure KO loss. Klitschko’s boxing skill and physical strength prevailed and he is clearly back in the hunt.
Best Progress – Sultan Ibragimov. Stoppage wins over Lance Whitaker and Zuri Lawrence, as well as three other victories for the year, puts him firmly in the ratings and makes him a potential title challenger this year. Sure Whitaker and Lawrence aren’t exactly Louis and Walcott, but his dominance of both should give the division notice that he’s on the prowl.
Biggest Upset – Danny Williams vs. Audley Harrison. Harrison had the Olympic pedigree, the physical tools, and the undefeated record. Williams was trounced in his WBC challenge against Vitali Klitschko. Harrison figured to have the technical and potentially the power edge. What he didn’t have is the grit that Williams had in abundance – and that’s what counted most.
Most Likely to Succeed – Calvin Brock. This man has real talent. He’s also the kind of guy who could command a big following if he could be seen by the big crowds. Put him on a major network for three or four fights and he would have legions of fans pouring out for PPV fights down the road.
1. Hasim Rahman, USA– WBC Champion (Last Month #1) James Toney is up next and Rahman will surely be tested. There is money to be made fighting the bevy of eastern Europeans who are suddenly moving to the forefront – but getting past Toney isn’t a given.
2. Lamon Brewster, USA– WBO Champion (Last month #2) Like his cousin Chris Byrd, he awaits a decision on whether his next opponent will be the mandatory Wladimir Klitschko. If the decision is Klitschko it will mean another trip to Germany. Better not let it go to the scorecards Lamon.
3. Wladimir Klitschko, Ukraine(Last month #3) Still waiting word on whether he gets a deserved shot at either Lamon Brewster or Chris Byrd. The fact is he should not have been skipped over by James Toney against Rahman. In any case, he will prove a major hurdle for any of the belt holders and anyone who thinks his weak chin represents an easy victory will be in for a rude awakening.
4. James Toney, USA (Last month #4) With Valuev’s win over Ruiz, suddenly Toney’s overrated win (later ruled a no-contest) against Ruiz doesn’t look like such a major feat. Toney has had flashes of brilliance but he is not definitively a world-beater just yet. Beating Rahman would put him in the lead position among heavyweights. It’s easier said that done.
5. Chris Byrd, USA– IBF Champion (Last month #5) The only money fight possible for him right now is Wladimir Klitschko. Byrd has been most unwilling to step in the ring with Klitschko, perhaps remembering the thrashing he took last time out. If not Klitschko, who knows when he’ll return to the ring? Hopefully he won’t take a year between bouts this time.
6. Calvin Brock, USA (Last month #6) David Tua is out and Zuri Lawrence is in. Lawrence, you may recall, outworked Jameel McCline recently. Still, in 35 fights he has never scored a knockout. Brock better win big – and remain upright throughout.
7. Samuel Peter, Nigeria (Last month #8) He was lackluster against Robert Hawkins on Dec. 5. Sometimes this happens after a big fight. He’ll have to keep winning against above average opposition in order to again position himself as a top contender.
8. Nicolay Valuev, Russia – WBA Champion (Last month #11) The new titlist, with his razor-thin win over John Ruiz, says he is going to fight in the United States next. The controversy in the Ruiz match won’t hurt much here because no one saw it on TV and John Ruiz was not all that popular. Fair or unfair, the big guy will gain more American fans that Ruiz did in no small part due to his massive size. Keeping the title is a matter of whom he chooses to defend it against. He is scheduled to defend in March against an opponent to be announced.
9. Danny Williams, England (Last month #14) His win over Audley Harrison is far more impressive than he will be given credit for in the U.S. Harrison is a skilled fighter and Williams had to show tremendous resourcefulness and fortitude to take the win. He’s making the most of his talent and will undoubtedly reap another major payday against Matt Skelton.
10. John Ruiz, USA (Last month #9) You can almost be guaranteed there will be a protest filed following his loss to Nicolay Valuev. There was lots of talk on the blogs – mostly by folks who did not see the fight – that suggested a bad decision in Germany. It should be noted that there were no German judges for the Berlin-held fight.
11. Monte Barrett, USA (Last month #10) Nothing on the boards. Now is the time to be active as a heavyweight. Multiple titles mean multiple chances for something to come along.
12. Audley Harrison, England (Last month #7) His showdown with Danny Williams could not have been more disappointing. He was not able to take advantage of the slower and limited Williams and instead pooped out at crunch time. He will have to go for broke and challenge top names right now if he is to recover from this. He sure did not leave himself much wiggle room by waiting until the age of 34 to make his big move.
13. David Tua, New Zealand (Last month #12) His match with Brock is now kaput so he’ll venture one more time to Florida to face another opponent to keep busy. No word yet on the name of that opponent.
14. DaVarryl Williamson, USA (Last month #13) With word that Joe Mesi is coming back, you can almost bet that that is the fight Williamson wants. Whether he gets it remains to be seen. He is back in training following elbow surgery.
15. Oleg Maskaev, Uzbekistan (Last month #15) Due to the incoherent rantings (I mean ratings) of the WBC, he is established as the next-in-line challenger to the winner of the Rahman-Toney March contest. Why he would choose to accept this situation without a trip to court is puzzling.
16. Sultan Ibragimov, Russia (Last month #21) The big Russian has to think he is now very much in the mix with a stoppage of Lance Whitaker (and a recent stoppage victory over Zuri Lawrence as well). Add to that the fact that his fellow countryman Nicolay Valuev is the new WBA titlist and you can already see the stars aligning for an all-Russian world title match. Who would’ve believed such a thing was possible????
17. Shannon Briggs, USA (Last month #16) Staying busy is the name of his game and he returns to the ring in Miami in January against Chris Koval. Eventually he’ll get a big shot if he keeps winning on the club tour.
18. Serguei Lyakhovich, Belarus (Last month #17) Returns to action on the Judah-Baldomir undercard January 7th, against a yet to be named opponent. He’s been off for more than a year due to injuries.
19. Ray Austin, USA (Last month #18) He has an opportunity to quickly move into contention for an alphabet belt with a win or two.
20. Matt Skelton, England (Last month #19) An easy winner over John McDermott in defense of his British crown in December. In February he takes the big (English) plunge against the rejuvenated Danny Williams. A win would certainly propel him to a major fight.
21. Ruslan Chagaev, Uzbekistan (Last month #20) He replaces Alexander Dimitrenko against Rob Calloway in January. Calloway has long been a star on the club circuit and this is a solid steppingstone type of fight.
22. Juan Carlos Gomez, Cuba (living in Germany) (Last month #22) Reports are in the Gomez failed a drug test following his win over Oliver McCall. He’s looking at a possible ban in Germany if the reports prove true.
23. Luan Krasniqi, Germany(Last month #23) He’s set to return in March on the undercard of Arthur Abraham’s next main event. We’ll see if he has any juice left.
24. Zuri Lawrence, USA (Last month #24) He gets to capitalize on his recent win over Jameel McCline by taking on top-ten resident Calvin Brock.
25. Jameel McCline, USA (Last month #25) The big guy has been busy lately, though with mixed results. He’ll have to maintain a torrid schedule – and win repeatedly – if he is to return to the top ten.
Others on the fringes in no particular order:
Tye Fields, USA– Another really big man in the division at 6’9” and about 270. We can’t read too much into his recent win over a terribly faded Bruce Seldon but he’s worth watching.
Joe Mesi, USA– Who would’ve suspected that Mesi would get mentioned again? Through some courtroom maneuvering he may actually get to return to the ring despite his past medical woes. No ranking, though, until he reenters the ring and scores some meaningful wins.
Dominick Guinn, USA– Hopefully 2006 will be the year when this talented prospect gets his act together.
Lance Whitaker, USA– You won’t see his name here next month. His 7 round stoppage loss to Sultan Ibragimov puts the big guy way at the end of the line. Coupled with his KO loss to Luan Krasniqi in 2005, we have to suspect the big fade has set in.
Alexander Dimitrenko, Ukraine – He pulled out of a January date with Rob Calloway for unknown reasons.
Troy Dorsey – Born on November 19, 1962 in Mansfield (Texas), he was nicknamed The Destroyer because he was just that ... at least in the kickboxing ring. Not many people know that his first big success was in Europe. In 1985 he participated at the world amateur championships organized in London by the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations and won the gold medal in both point fighting and full contact competition. He was the only man to accomplish two big wins in two kickboxing styles during the same event and the news was widely covered by European ring sports magazines. That same year he even came to Italy as special guest to a martial arts show. Two years later, in 1987, he won again the WAKO world amateur title, in Munich (Germany). In 1989, when he started having success in boxing – winning the NABF featherweight title – European magazines wrote many articles about him. In fact, my very first boxing article was a portrait of Troy Dorsey; it was published on November 1990. During his kickboxing career, The Destroyer compiled a professional record of 33 wins (24 KOs) and just 2 losses. He won his first world title on August 8, 1987, beating Felipe Garcia for the ISKA bantamweight championship. In 1989 Dorsey moved to Gothenburg (Sweden) to add the PKO belt to his collection. In 1994 he became a three-time champion defeating Mechell Rochette for the ISKA lightweight crown. But in 1994, Troy was already more famous as a boxer. His style was so exciting that promoters always booked him for major fights. Troy Dorsey threw hundreds of punches without ever taking a breath. This strategy put pressure on his opponents but also made him easy to being hit. That’s why his boxing record is not as good as could have been: 18 wins (13 KOs), 11 losses and 4 draws. His two battles against IBF featherweight champion Jorge Paez were so close that some big names of the kickboxing community talked about a plot to prevent a kickboxer from winning a world title in the noble art. The first Dorsey-Paez fight took place on February 4, 1990 in Las Vegas. The judges scored it 114-113 for Paez (twice) and 115-113 for Dorsey. The second match took place on July 8, 1990 always in Sin City. The IBF and WBO titles were on the line. This time, the judges called it a draw: 115-113 (Paez), 116-112 (Dorsey) and 114-114. On June 3, 1991 at Caesars Palace, The Destroyer decided to let the judges out of the process by KOing Alfred Rangel during the opening stanza to claim the vacant IBF featherweight crown. The win was celebrated in the whole world of kickboxing and also in Dorsey’s hometown, whose Mayor declared the last week of August the ‘Troy Dorsey Week’ and gave the new IBF champion the keys of the city. That was the highlight of Troy’s boxing career. He lost the title on his first defense, against Manuel Medina. Later he lost to Kevin Kelley, Jesse James Leija, Calvin Grove, Oscar De La Hoya (1st round TKO) and littleknown Eddie Hopson. He got a significant win on October 18, 1996 in Denmark defeating (8th round TKO) local idol Jimmi Bredahl for the IBO super featherweight title. That put Dorsey in the European spotlight, but in the United States nobody cared about the IBO belt. His last three fights resulted in one win (against Rudy Zavala) and two losses (at the hands of Jesus Chavez and Gabe Ruelas). After that, Dorsey opened his own Karate school in Mansfield, where he still is considered a big star. On his website, Dorsey claims to have set the record for punches thrown in a boxing match (1527 in twelve rounds), but he doesn’t specify what fight it was.
James Warring – Warring had competed in just 23 professional boxing matches between 1985 and 1997. His record was 18 wins (11 KOs), 4 losses and 1 draw. You could say that Warring was no big deal, but he won the IBF cruiserweight title and that is enough to grant him a place in history. Being the second kickboxer to become a world champion in the sweet science turned Warring into a big star. It happened on September 7, 1991 in Salemi (Italy), where Warring knocked out James Pritchard to claim the IBF crown. He successfully defended it against Donnell Wingfield (5th round TKO) and Johnny Nelson (unanimous decision) before losing it to Alfred “Ice” Cole (on points). Before the IBF title win, Warring decisioned Nate Miller to become NABF cruiserweight champion. In kickboxing, Warring won the WKA world title. In 1982, he lost a decision to legendary Don Wilson in Tokyo. In 1984, Warring was named best fighter in the world by Paul Maslak’s Star System. Four years later he was rated number one among heavyweights in PKO rankings.
(I’m taking this information from an old article of mine, because it’s very hard to find them on the internet. When a sport is perceived to be minor, it is that way in everything. Kickboxing doesn’t have a website where you can find the records of the fighters. The websites of the sanctioning bodies don’t have a section with the list of their world champions in each division. Only some of the champions, on their own websites, publish their records. I would like to tell to the major players in the kickboxing world: wake-up!)
Going back to James Warring, today he is a respected boxing referee.
Khalid Rahilou – He had much more success in boxing than Troy Dorsey and James Warring, but Rahilou fought only once in the United States and that’s why so few people have ever heard of him. Born in Morocco in 1966, Rahilou spent most of his ring career in Europe. In 1987, he became world amateur kickboxing champion during the WAKO tournament held in Munich (Germany). As a professional, he won the French and European titles. He was famous in Italy for regularly defeating the best Italian kickboxers and nobody was surprised to see him succeed in the sweet science. As an amateur, he participated at the 1988 Olympics with the Moroccan boxing team. As a pro he compiled a record of 37 wins (14 KOs) and 5 losses. He became French, European and WBA world light welterweight champion. He gained respect keeping busy. He won the Euro belt on June 4, 1994 with a split decision over Valery Kayumba in France. Rahilou successfully defended the title against Gert Bo Jacobsen (twice), Patrick Ballesta, Pasquale Perna and Soren Sondergaard. On January 11, 1997 Rahilou beat Frankie Randall (11th round TKO) becoming WBA world champion. Rahilou successfully defended the title against Marty Jakubowski (TKO 7) and Jean Baptiste Mendy (unanimous decision). On October 10, 1998 Rahilou was defeated on points by Sharmba Mitchell. Almost three years later, Rahilou became WBA international light welterweight champion destroying Ferenc Szakallas in one round. Rahilou’s next fight was a points loss to Souleymane M’Baye, in 2002. After that, the Moroccon superstar decided to hang up the gloves.
Boxer vs Kickboxer: Art Jimmerson vs. Don Wilson
It happened in Cocoa Beach, Florida on June 22, 1987. Boxer Art Jimmerson agreed to fight kickboxer Don Wilson. I don’t know if Jimmerson was allowed to throw kicks, but it was a mismatch from the start because Jimmerson was a mediocre cruiserweight while Wilson was one of the best kickboxers in the world. How could Jimmerson hope to beat him? In fact, he didn’t. Wilson won by 6th round KO. In the following years, Jimmerson kept being a nobody. Don Wilson became one of the best kickboxers in history. Their records, say it all. Between 1985 and 2002, Art Jimmerson fought 51 boxing matches: 33 wins (17 KOs) and 18 losses. Don Wilson competed in kickboxing between 1974 and 1991, then fought one match in 1999 and a last one in 2000. His total record is made of 81 fights: 71 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws and 3 no-contests. He scored 47 KOs, 41 with his punches and 6 with his kicks. He became world champion in three divisions: light heavyweight, super light heavyweight and cruiserweight. Don Wilson made a name for himself in the Americas, Europe and Asia. I remember his fight in Milan, in 1989: he destroyed Giuliano Grillo in two rounds. It was my first ringside experience and Don Wilson was the first world champion of any sport that I interviewed.
I’d like to know what you readers think about kickboxing and if you would like to see a boxer vs. kickboxer match. In that case, who would you pick to fight a kickboxer?
Scheduled to face Jeff Lacy in March it's now or never for Joe Calzaghe. Calzaghe feels confident as he looks towards the Lacy showdown: I've the fight I have craved for ages and then every fight afterwards will be a massive occasion. 2006 will be my second coming. It seems like forever that the Welshman has been making the headlines in the UK, but never making his mark in the US. Writer Phil Woolever expects the power-punching Lacy to have his way with Calzaghe. I'm not so sure. Lacy has undoubtedly been impressive in powering through opponents, but he hasn't yet met a fighter of Calzaghe's (alleged) caliber. Despite Robin Reid and Scott Pemberton being bigger names, I'd suggest Syd Vanderpool might be the best fighter Lacy has defeated - and Vanderpool proved that Lacy can be hit, before - it should be said - wilting under the pressure of Lacy's heavy hands. Regardless, full marks to Jeff Lacy for his willingness to go across the Atlantic to face Calzaghe. This game needs more Jeff Lacys. And the bout is undoubtedly one to look forward to.
Ahead of the cruiserweight showdown this weekend, O'Neil Bell has likened Jean-Marc Mormeck to a bull: He's the bull, I'm the matador. We've been working on stepping side to side. And if it comes down to it where we have got to go toe to toe, I'm able to do that because of my past history. But right now we're working to box, to be a boxer-puncher.
Interesting column in the San Diego Union Tribune on the perennial question of when weigh-ins should take place. The California State Athletic Commissioner is instituting a study meant to determine whether weigh-ins should be conducted on the day before a fight or on the day of the fight. Beginning yesterday, the commission's intention is to chart what boxers weigh when they weigh in, what they weigh on the night of their appearances, and what they weigh after their bouts. It's a tough one. At the elite level athletes will always search for every edge possible, and in this case it can sometimes mean endangering either their own health or that of their opponent.
Despite Manny Pacquiao being the betting favorite, Ring magazine tips Erik Morales to defeat Pacquiao again when they meet on Jan. 21st.
Finally, the Cleveland Plain Dealer runs down the top fights of 2005. Looking ahead to the year in boxing to come, Scott Mallon says The Glass Is Half Full For 2006 and asks: Where would boxing be without the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and every other alphabet organization? That really is an interesting question. Without the alphabet soup, what would fill the void? Surely something better, but what exactly would that be?