The mavens of the message boards have gotten a ton of mileage in the last couple years out of Dominick Guinn’s nickname.

The Southern Disaster is the handle the Arkansas heavyweight answers to.

Since Guinn (25-3-1, 18 KOs) is 1-3-1 in his last five outings, and his reputation as a comer in the division has been virtually destroyed with listless outings against Monte Barrett, Friday Ahunanya and James Toney, the wiseguys on the message boards declared that no boxer had a more fitting nickname than Guinn.

The fighter, who is in training to fight Audley Harrison on April 14 in Rancho Mirage, CA, shrugs off the cracks. In fact, Guinn, 30, readily admits that his head hasn’t been where it should in recent years. The fight with Harrison, Guinn knows, is by far the most important of his six-year pro career. If he loses, his career prospects are pulseless. You can get out the paddles and shock ‘im with a million votes, to no avail. His career, if he loses to Harrison, is six feet under.

“It’s do or die,” Guinn, age 30, said. “I’ve gone out there in every fight and put my life on the line. But now my back is up against the wall.”

Harrison, age 34, who’s coming off a split decision loss to Danny Williams on Dec. 10, is 19-1. The Big Brit southpaw can bounce back from a little slide. Not Guinn. He’s slid as far as one can, and still be considered even a marginal prospect. If his fortunes continue to slide, he’ll be forced to become a steppingstone punching bag, or get into a new line of work. He’s not willing to seriously entertain either notion.

“I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “But it has come across my mind. Harrison can afford to lose. I’m the one who has to do it.”

So what caused the decline? How did Guinn go from Must Watch Future Champion to Must Win Underachiever? Remember, Guinn made a big splash when he beat Michael Grant (TKO7) on June 7, 2003, who was on a seven-win streak after his back-to-back losses to Lennox Lewis and McCline. And Guinn didn’t do anything to diminish his standing as a heavyweight hopeful of the near future when he beat Duncan Dokiwari three months later.

Want to take a guess what prompted the slide? If you guessed the number one reason for couples fighting and for causing divorce, if you guessed MONEY MATTERS, then take a bow.

Boxers literally put their lives on the line when they perform for the paying public, and, strangely enough, believe they should be well compensated for their toil. They’re like the rest of us, always of the mindset that we’re underpaid and underappreciated. Only, in their case, much of time it’s true.

Guinn, now fighting for Dan Goossen’s promotional outfit, battled under the Main Events banner. A month before he was to fight Monte Barrett, on March 27, 2004, in his native Arkansas, Guinn came to the conclusion that he wasn’t being paid like he thought he should be. He started perseverating on the matter, and concluded that his purses for the Grant and Dokiwari bouts weren’t up to par either. The fighter talked to Main Events matchmaker Carl Moretti and then-manager Shelly Finkel about his worries, and, he recalls, they said he shouldn’t worry, that if he won, an HBO deal would be richly rewarding.

He didn’t win. Barrett came away with a split decision.

But Guinn got back on the horse, and smacked down Phil Jackson in July 2004. But then he fell off again, this time against Sergei Liakhovich on Dec. 3, 2004 in Atlantic City.

Guinn couldn’t shake the notion that he wasn’t being compensated like he should have been, and that colored his performance against Friday Ahunanya on April 22, 2005. It was a listless performance, in which he came away with a draw. It was also his last fight for Main Events.

A jump to the Goossen stable, and working with the talented Joe Goossen in the corner instead of Ronnie Shields, didn’t provide the hoped-for catalyst for Guinn. His outing against James Toney on Oct. 1, 2005 was a thorough disaster, Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern. The fight was in Reno and, really, his catatonic plodding showed all the verve of an Off-Strip slot-machine degenerate at the tail end of an all-night arm-pulling bender. Burnt-out. Busted. Hopeless, but still going through the motions.

His head was screwed on a little tighter, Guinn explains, but this time his body betrayed him. He had an injury coming into the fight which worsened during the bout. The boxer won’t specify the nature of the ailment but he says it kept him from showing his true colors.

“As the fight went on, it made me lessen my punch output,” he said. “If it happens this time against Harrison, this fight I’m going to dig down.”

He won’t go as far as to say it, but Guinn does admit that subconsciously, he may have been competing at less than 100% effectiveness in recent years because he was eager to break with Main Events. “Subconsciously, those four or five fights with Main Events, my mind wasn’t right,” he said. “The last time my mind was right was against Michael Grant.”

And now?

“I’m happy,” he answered. “I have nothing to boohoo about. The losses I have, I lost. Nobody beat me.”

Guinn watched the Brewster/Liakhovich bout and promises that he and Harrison will work to surpass that benchmark. “That was a great fight for heavyweight boxing,” he said.

With financial concerns in the past and his body cooperating fully, Guinn says that fans will see a Southern Delight, not a Disaster, on April 14.

“I’m going to put my balls on the line,” he said. “I’m willing to die.”

NOTE: As of press time, I wasn’t able to get in touch with Carl Moretti of Main Events to get his side of the Main Events/Dominick Guinn relationship.

Guinn to this day says good things about Shelly Finkel.