This past Saturday night a trio of heavyweight fights took place in Buffalo, New York. The goal: to create some fresh new faces on the heavyweight scene. Joe Mesi, DaVarryl Williamson, Juan Carlos Gomez, Sinan Samil Sam, Dominick Guinn and Dunkin Dokiwari would all get an opportunity to make an impression and burst onto the scene over the HBO airwaves.
It was a concept much like the 'Night of Young Heavyweights' that HBO televised back in 1996, which introduced us to fighters like David Tua, Andrew Golota and John Ruiz. This time around, HBO really couldn't call it 'young' considering that the youngest fighter on the card, Guinn, was already 28 years old.
But this show was important. The old saying applies: ”As the heavyweight division goes, so goes the game of boxing”. With that being the case, then it is imperative for everyone involved (from promoters to the networks) to try and replenish the heavyweight division. Guys like Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and even Mike Tyson can't last forever, although at times it does seem that way.
At the end of the night, the fans were treated to a pretty damn good show. And guess what? A heavyweight or two that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Joe Mesi KO1 DaVarryl Williamson: 'Baby' Joe came into the bout with a reputation of being, well, babied, throughout the first 26 bouts of his career. With his complexion and ability to draw huge throngs in his hometown of Buffalo while fighting cadavers, he was looked upon by his supporters as a great attraction with huge upside. On the other hand, by his detractors, he was viewed as a closely guarded, highly protected, regional fighter who was destined to be another in a long line of “Great White Hope's”.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. While it's true that Mesi is a great ticket seller, he isn't really being developed any differently than any other young heavyweight prospect. He's fighting 'has-been's' and 'never-were's' like David Izon and Robert Davis, just like anyone else would. The difference being, he was getting a lot more acclaim and notoriety for it.
Williamson, who's nickname is 'Touch of Sleep' because of his powerful right hand was supposed to be Mesi's first real fight. But he was chosen as Mesi's opponent because of his shaky chin- he had been stopped cold in his fourth professional bout by journeyman Willie Chapman and had to come off the canvas to beat Corey Sanders. It was a calculated risk by Mesi's people and it turned out to be the perfect equation.
Williamson would try to control the center of the ring with his jab but as soon as Mesi opened up, he would catch his taller opponent with some good, hard punches. Instead of backing up and protecting his suspect whiskers, Williamson would try and trade with Mesi and it would lead to his quick downfall. A big left hook would catch Williamson on the chin and just like that, he would be on the canvas knocked out cold.
In proving something, Mesi may have proven nothing at all.
Juan Carlos Gomez UD 10 Sinan Samil Sam: It raised a few eyebrows that Gomez was included on this show since he already had quite a pedigree. It was just a few years ago that he was winning the WBC cruiserweight title and making ten successful defenses of that crown. Because of that, Gomez, who goes by the nickname 'Black Panther' was the one fighter on this card who was the most difficult to pair up.
The bottom line is this, if you have a good, strong, big young man, would you want to face a guy that was already a world champion and had a huge amateur career back in Cuba? Didn't think so, but former stablemate, Sinan Samil Sam was willing to take on the slick southpaw.
And over ten rounds, Gomez showed why the others may have been reluctant to face him. Gomez, like most lefties, can be very difficult to find, and the joke among the ringsiders was that Juan Carlos Gomez is the Spanish way of saying 'Chris Byrd', which isn't completely fair or accurate. Gomez actually throws a lot more punches – although I'd be inclined to say that Juan Carlos Gomez is another way of saying 'Rod Carew', since he seems to be a slap hitter – and he's not as defensively sound as the Flint, Michigan native.
Gomez will probably never be a great puncher as a heavyweight, but you do get the sense that Angelo Dundee, who's working with him in Miami, will try to get him to turn over his punches a bit more and sit down more on his shots.
The key for Gomez's future success will depend on just who will have enough guts to face his somewhat awkward style. Just look at Chris Byrd, that guy still can't get a fight after winning a heavyweight belt.
Dominick Guinn UD 10 Duncan Dokiwari: I saved the best for last as it was clear that both Guinn and Dokiwari are legitimate top 20 heavyweights right now as we speak.
Guinn would show a sturdy chin, powerful left hook and veteran poise to down the well built Dokiwari, who landed several clean, hard punches to Guinn throughout the night. It was a very close fight that Guinn took over in the second half with his quick left hook that buzzed Dokiwari a few times, along with his ring generalship. But you can't overlook the effort of Dokiwari on this night. Even in defeat, he may have been the second best heavyweight on this card. Fighting with a bad cut over his left eye, he fought on valiantly and gamely against a highly skilled opponent.
The best thing about Guinn, a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is that he's a throwback to an age of heavyweight boxing where heavyweights looked like boxers, not power forwards. Guinn, by todays standards, is a rather small 6'2, 220 pounds. But as Guinn proved against the much bigger Nigerian, boxing is a game of skill, not size. Guinn isn't like your recent brand of American heavyweights that only began boxing after finding out they couldn't hit curveballs, didn't have enough post moves or couldn't tackle well enough to play football professionally.
Guinn is a boxer first, second and third. He didn't one day just walk into the gym after his college eligibility had run out. He has been boxing from a very young age and has put together a highly decorated amateur career. And it shows. Guinn is a lot like a young Evander Holyfield. Yes, he may be at a size deficit many times throughout his career, but the bottom line is while big guys may look like statues, the problem is they also fight and move like them. Guinn can flat out box and fight when he has too.
He may not be your first choice in a pick-up basketball game, but he should be your first choice when looking at the game’s best new big man.
Once again on the HBO broadcast, Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward tossed around the idea of creating a new 'super heavyweight' weight classification. Great, just what this sport needs more of, new weight divisions.
The thinking being that some of these hulking new big guys are simply at too much of an advantage over smaller heavyweights like Guinn – who was coming off a thrashing of Michael Grant, thought to be at one time one of these 'new millennium' heavyweights – and anyone else not 6'5 and at least 245-pounds.
Well, there's one problem with that, outside of Lennox Lewis, who of that ilk can really be considered a really good heavyweight? In fact, to go further, outside of Lewis and the Klitschko brothers, could you even formulate a top ten of guys in that new weight class? Seriously, by the time you get to eight, nine and ten, you'd be listing Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Karl Malone.
The reality is that in this sport, size does not equal skill and there simply aren't enough guys of that size who are good enough to even pose a real threat.