The last time heavyweight suspect Dominick Guinn stepped into the spotlight he froze under the bright lights and hometown crowd as the pressure of the big time seemed to stop his momentum cold. On that night Monte Barrett simply out-worked and out-classed the 29-year-old Arkansas prospect.

Fortunately we get to find out if the rising star has burned out and fizzled or whether he is set to shine bright once more when he meets 21-1-0 Serguei Lyakhovich Friday, December 3rd on ESPN. The pressure on Guinn may be even greater this time around as a second career loss to a relative unknown like Lyakhovich could send his once-promising career spiraling – can he bear it?

Guinn burst into the media spotlight and favor of boxing fans with his seven round dismantling of  Michael Grant. The hard-hitting Adonis with a chin of china fell to the canvas four times before the beating was stopped. While we knew Grant was found wanting, we discovered what a talent Dominick Guinn was. Or did we?

After a victory over fellow prospect Duncan Dokiwari that could best be called “workmanlike,” Guinn decisioned ten-time loser Derrick Banks over ten uneventful rounds. Then came Monte ‘Two Gunz’ Barrett. While Barrett has always been difficult fighter, called ‘Two Gunz’ because he uses both hands well and can switch up from orthodox to southpaw on a whim, he was supposed to be a name added to Guinn’s growing resume.

Instead, Barrett simply took advantage of Guinn who seemed either unmotivated or simply unable to do much on the night. While the decision was officially recorded on the books as ‘split,’  only a case of home-cooking and bad math could have put Guinn ahead on any of the judges’ scorecards.

In a day when heavyweights swim in a pool of mediocrity, Guinn can make his case as well as any, but not if he fails his test against Lyakhovich.

The ‘White Wolf’ from Belarus has also only suffered one loss in his professional career,  but has built his 21-win reputation on journeymen. If you could call a snooze fest against Friday Ahunanya the peak of Lyakhovich’s career, well you get the picture of the type of career he has had so far. Still just 28 years old and with one ugly ninth round knockout loss to Maurice Harris blemishing his resume, maybe Lyakhovich can stake his claim to a spot on the heavyweight mantle. Maybe not.

Friday night is supposed to be a showcase of the 25-1-0 Guinn’s superior hand speed and combination punching, just not in the pressure-packed environment of a hometown crowd. He can punch as his 18 knockout victories will show, and can take a decent shot as well. Perhaps as important as anything these days is that Guinn has a pleasant demeanor that makes him marketable.

So the table is now set for Dominick Guinn to make amends and continue on the road to a heavyweight title shot that seemed paved for him as he closed out 2003 going 5-0 on the year to bring his mark to 24-0.

Learning from defeat is part of being a professional and in due time we will see if Dominick Guinn truly belongs in the thick of the heavyweight mix.

Success is a double-edged sword and if Guinn is victorious against Lyakhovich he will once again find himself dealing with the pressure that comes with that triumph.