In Italy, there are some fighters who compiled a good record, got a big following in their region and received at least an opportunity to show their talent in a major international event. These guys never won the world title or the European belt (like Silvio Branco, Cristian Sanavia, Gianluca Branco, Paolo Vidoz, Pietro Aurino and Michele Piccirillo did), but are at an higher level than the kids of the new generation. In Northern Italy, the top attractions are Luca Messi, Antonio and Giuseppe Lauri. These three boxers are very popular in the Lombardia region and in the part of Switzerland that is close to the Italian border. It has to be said that Milan is just one hour from the Swiss frontier, Como is 5 minutes away. In fact, Northern Italians use to go to Switzerland during weekends to see the beautiful mountains and lakes and to play at the casinos. Italians also like Swiss food, cheese and beer. That’s why the Swiss are familiar with Italians and welcome our fighters into their arenas.

Luca Messi
In eight years as a professional, he compiled a record of 30 wins (11 KOs), 6 losses and 1 draw. He became Italian welterweight and light middleweight champion and faced a good number of decent opponents. On August 13, 2005 in Chicago (IL), Messi got the opportunity of a lifetime against WBA light middleweight king Alejandro Garcia (24-1). Many Italian journalists predicted a first round KO win for the Mexican, but Luca surprised them all with an excellent performance: he landed many good combinations and was never in danger (even if Garcia knocked him down once). At the end of the 12 rounds, Messi was jubilant, as if he had won, even though he knew that he had lost on points (117-110, 118-108 and 117-110), but he proved to his enemies that he could hold his own against the world champion. The criticism toward Messi is due to losses to Michele Orlando (KO 6), Pasquale Perna (TKO 2) and twice to Mustapha Bouzid for the WBA international welterweight crown. At the time, Bouzid was unknown to the Italian fans and press and was taken lightly. He should have been treated with more respect since he had a record of 22-9-1 and was good enough to win the French welterweight title. The first time they fought, the Algerian won by TKO 3. The second time, Messi lost on points by split decision. The rematch took place in Bergamo where Luca is an idol and draws big crowds. It looks like everybody can get a partisan verdict but the Italian fighters. Since then, Bouzid drew with Michele Orlando in Palermo and won on points against Joseph Guendi in Reims (France). Today, Bouzid is not unknown anymore. Going back to Luca Messi, he will soon receive a shot against the European light middleweight champion Michele Piccirillo. On paper, it looks like a mismatch since Piccirillo has beaten foes like Cory Spinks, Rafael Pineda, Andrew Murray, Juan Martin Coggi and Frankie Randall. The point is that styles make fights and Messi could score an upset. Also, Piccirillo is 36 years old, while Messi is 31 and is probably more motivated. The fight should be promoted in the Bergamo area, so Messi will be in front of his fans. They always come in big numbers to see him: 2,000 or 3,000 paying customers are unusual in Italy, but are a regular at Messi’s fights. If Luca becomes European champion, he could draw even bigger crowds.

Antonio Lauri
Nicknamed The Ruler, he compiled a record of 27 wins (9 KOs), 4 losses and 2 draws. He won the Italian and European Union welterweight titles, fighting many times in Switzerland and three times in France. His first big win happened on April 5, 2003 against French Antonio De Brito
(13-8) for the vacant European Union belt. Lauri lost it on points to Stephane Jacob (28-4) on October 18, 2003. The Ruler got the title back on July 9, 2004, scoring a unanimous decision over Rafal Jackiewicz (12-5) and defended it against Stephane Jacob (TKO 1) and Miguel Angel Pena (on points). Last April 14 in Reims (France), Lauri received the opportunity to win the vacant European welterweight championship against respected Frederic Klose (36-5). Lauri hurt his opponent on the left side of the head and under the right eye, forced him to spit the mouthpiece, but lost on points. Klose’s experience was too much for Lauri: the Frenchman placed many good combinations, kept the rhythm very slow and clearly won most of the rounds. Klose also had a strong finish and this is always good to impress the judges. They gave Klose a unanimous decision:
117-111, 116-114 and 114-112. It has to be said that Antonio Lauri and Luca Messi were brave enough to fight each other twice: Messi won both times on points (after 8 and 10 rounds). This rarely happens in my country; when two boxers can draw good crowds, they don’t want to risk their popularity facing each other. That’s also why boxing is not as popular as it used to be, Italian fans love rivalries and now don’t have them.

Giuseppe Lauri
Since 1997, Giuseppe Lauri compiled a record of 40 wins (24 KOs) and 4 losses. He fought many times in Switzerland and twice in England. He won the Italian light welterweight title twice. On September 14, 2001 he defeated in eight rounds respected Franco Palmiero. On May 14, 2004 Lauri got back on top with a TKO 9 victory over Massimo Bertozzi. Giuseppe also won his share of minor titles, always in the light welterweight division. On March 17, 2000 he dispatched in eight rounds Sammy Sparkman for the WBA international championship. On June 14, 2002 Lauri defeated Vasile Herteg for the WBO intercontinental crown. On July 2, 2004 Lauri beat Farid El Houari for the IBF intercontinental belt. Giuseppe Lauri is also famous for his two losses to Ricky Hatton (TKO 5) and Junior Witter (TKO 2). While a rematch with Hatton is unlikely, the second fight against Witter is scheduled for next April 28, in Varese (Italy). It will be for Witter’s European light welterweight championship, which is much more prestigious than any WBA/IBF/WBO minor strap. This will give an extra motivation to Giuseppe, who will be fighting in front of his fans and therefore will give 100%. It has to be noticed that Antonio and Giuseppe Lauri are sons of a prizefighter: Augusto Lauri. Like Augusto said many times to the press, he was a journeyman who was hired to improve the record of promising boxers. In fact, Augusto scored 9 wins, 23 losses and 6 draws. But it has been long proven that a mediocre fighter can turn into a great trainer and Augusto certainly did a good job with his sons.