The roadway leading to the top of the cruiserweight division is marked with signposts clearing stating this is strictly a No Cruising zone.
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.
Something has to give.