When the great French champion Georges Carpentier landed on these shores from Paris, first in 1920 and again in 1924, his arrival was met with tremendous anticipation. This man was a fighter. He had captured European titles from welterweight to heavyweight and his ability to knock larger men out enthralled fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
It also helped that Carpentier was a war hero.
Jean-Marc Mormeck has arrived for his cruiserweight unification bout against Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite with far less fanfare. He fights Braithwaite on Saturday in the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in a bout to be televised by Showtime.
Perhaps if he were a war hero . . . Ah, but this is France in 2005, so it is best to move onto the unification match.
Will Jean-Marc Mormeck make us forget Georges Carpentier? Will he make us forget Wayne Braithwaite for that matter?
Mormeck lost his fourth and fifth professional fights. Since then, June 13, 1997 to be precise, he has not lost a professional prizefight. He enters this showdown with a record of 30-2. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that he hasn’t fought anyone. In his last fight, Mormeck scored a narrow unanimous decision over 40-year-old Virgil Hill. So don’t expect a bout here that is the proportion of Carpentier-Jack Dempsey, which drew more than 80,000 in 1921.
Mormeck, who holds the WBA version of the title, is the fourth Frenchman to reign as a cruiserweight champion, joining Anaclet Wamba, Taoufik Belbouli and Fabrice Tiozzo. Perhaps he will be more successful. Wamba made seven title defenses, Tiozzo made four and Belbouli made one. Mormeck has already made three successful defenses. But being the best French cruiserweight champion is a bit like being the best Jamaican bobsledder.
Mormeck was a soccer player and kickboxer before embarking on a career in the sweet science. He is full of confidence, saying in a conference call to promote the fight, “Big Truck will be Baby Truck and I will return to France because it is my country and I will return with both belts.”
In boxing, confidence is a plus. The problem with Mormeck’s confidence is that there is too little substance behind it. Twenty one fighters have failed to go the distance with Mormeck and that is an impressive statistic. Records and statistics and press-conference boasts can allow one to justify a scenario for any fighter’s success. But here is the reality, and Braithwaite said it best: “I am not going to be easy. You have never fought anybody like me.”
Mormeck did score an 8th-round TKO over rugged Dale Brown in a 2002 title defense. Braithwaite, however, stopped Brown in the 8th round two years earlier. For Mormeck, two wins over Virgil Hill hardly prepares him for Braithwaite.
Braithwaite, like another former cruiserweight champion, is the Real Deal. Last April, at the Garden, he injured both hands and still dominated Louis Azille over 12 one-sided rounds. Braithwaite has all the tools to be a special fighter.
To be fair, a glance at Braithwaite's ring record is not exactly a roll call of greats. But don't look at the fighters he's beating. Look at how he is beating them. There is little doubt when he fights and there is little doubt as to the outcome of this contest.
Jean-Marc Mormeck will be going back to France after the fight – but not with two title belts.