Jaidon Codrington will face Carl Daniels on August 5 at Madison Square Garden, in what his supporters are describing as the kairotic moment of his career. Codrington’s trainer, Nirmal Lorick, said that if Codrington doesn’t perform well against Daniels, “He should begin to look for other things to do with his life.”
Daniels is a former junior middleweight champion who at 35-years-old has lost five fights in a row, three by knockout. He is an unlikely guide to measure any fighter with, but he could prove vital in determining Codrington’s future.
Such is the precariousness of boxing, where prospects rise and fall as often as internet stock.
Codrington, a 22-year-old super middleweight from Queens, was once lauded as the second coming of Muhammad Ali, minus a few pounds. He was handsome, amicable, and skilled, and he quickly cobbled together a record of 9-0 with 9 knockouts.
His world was undone, however, on November 4 when he fought Allan Green in Miami, Oklahoma on Showtime. He was flattened in just 18 seconds in what Ring Magazine and ESPN.com called the best knockout of 2005.
Codrington’s career instantly went from thriving to adrift, much the same way that another New York City product, Tokunbo Olajide, who was knocked out by Epifanio Mendoza in the first round, went from a potential superstar to an underachiever. Olajide never regained the promise he showed early on. He last fought on November 20, 2004, losing a majority decision to Ian Gardner.
Eight months after losing to Green, Codrington is back: he fought twice in a span of eight days,on June 24 against Robert Marsh, winning a six-round unanimous decision in Columbia South Carolina. Seven days later on July 1, he knocked out Roy Ashworth (4-4, 0 KOs) at 1:36 of the third round in Manistee, Michigan.
Codrington didn’t flout any laws by fighting twice in eight days. The state of Michigan allows a boxer to engage in a match seven days after he has fought; the New York State Athletic Commission has a similar rule.
Nonetheless, for a fighter such as Codrington (11-1, 10 KOs) who was knocked out the last time he fought, participating in two boxing matches seven days apart might seem excessive.
And if one of the opponents was 20 pounds heavier, the situation might raise a red flag.
Codrington was facing a boxer on June 24 who was 9-40-2 and had lost 19 of his last 20 matches. What should have been a cakewalk for the New Yorker turned into a date with the dentist when Marsh, 30, entered the ring at 195 pounds, while Codrington weighed 176 pounds, according to Fight Fax, which received an unsigned fax from the South Carolina Athletic Commission after the show, indicating the weights, as did Boxrec.com.
Technically, both fighters were cruiserweights, but a 19 pound weight differential seems a bit gratuitous.
The South Carolina Athletic Commission disputed the weights, explaining the discrepancy as nothing more than a clerical error, according to a commission spokesperson, Jim Knight, who wrote in the following e-mail:
“It was reported to Fightfacts” – Fight Fax – “Codrington's weight was 176 and Marsh's weight was 195 for fight of June 24, 2006 in Columbia, SC. After review of the actual application, it appears the weight of Marsh was 186, and we have spoken to the promoter, and his records indicate a weight of 185.5 for Marsh.”
The South Carolina commission never sent Fight Fax the revised weights. The show’s promoter on June 24, Andrew Stokes, said in a phone conversation that Marsh was maybe 10 pounds heavier than Codrington, although he admitted to not having any official documentation at the time to support this.
Codrington’s bout in South Carolina was negotiated by Chris Gotti, his manager, and Lorick, his trainer, outside the sphere of influence of his promoters, Lou DiBella and Damon Dash, who released Codrington from his promotional contract to fight Marsh.
DiBella was unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the bout, casting blame on the state commission.
“If the weights were 20 pounds apart, then that’s a sure sign that the South Carolina commission is an oxymoron,” DiBella said in a phone conversation. “I had no knowledge that the guy was bigger. I had no knowledge of basically anything other than the guy’s record. I did not promote that fight. It was what the manager wanted. We let them do it outside of the contract, and I didn’t want to be involved with a South Carolina comeback fight against a sparring partner. I had nothing to do with selecting the opponent [for the first fight]. I knew he would fight seven days later, but when I saw the record of the opponent in South Carolina, I realized what the fight was likely to be. I made a couple of phone calls [after the fight] and heard that he didn’t get hurt at any point. If I had known about the weight difference in South Carolina, I’m sure I wouldn’t have allowed that fight to happen. Getting hit by a guy 20 pounds heavier seems inherently dangerous to me.”
Lorick, who said the difference in weights was around 10 pounds, and Gotti agreed to the bout on June 24 because they didn't want Codrington fighting on a big show like the one in Michigan, which DiBella promoted, without having the opportunity to perform at a smaller venue first. The card on July 1 in Michigan was televised nationally on Showtime and featured the sons of three former champions: James “Buddy” McGirt, Aaron Pryor and Thomas Hearns. Codrington's fight was not televised, but the atmosphere was still electric, according to Lorick, because Showtime was doing the card and Codrington’s dramatic loss to Green aired on Showtime.
The weigh-in for Codrington and Marsh was the same day as the fight instead of the day before, because Codrington's original opponent, Roosevelt Walker, was rejected by the commission and Marsh was a last second replacement. Codrington’s bout with Walker was supposed to be at 168 pounds.
Codrington doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. In the amateurs, he fought five times in eight days to win the 2002 National Golden Gloves, and he won the 2004 New York Golden Gloves weighing 178 pounds.
“Fighting twice in a week is no big deal,” Codrington said during a phone conversation after the first fight. “I need to get back on the horse and start galloping away. That’s why I want to start fighting so often. I’m not putting my body through much. I didn’t take any punishment in my last fight [against Marsh]. He hit me with a couple of good shots, but it made me feel good, made me feel like the fight wasn’t a fluke, or I didn’t have a glass jaw. I moved around and boxed him. I hit him with everything. He was heavier than me, so he could take a punch.”
Codrington was scheduled to fight on April 20 at the Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom, but he withdrew from the card, seeking a more relaxed environment to fight in. Before his dramatic loss to Green, six of his first nine fights were held in New York.
“We didn't feel he was ready for New York yet,” said Lorick. “You know in New York, you have a hostile crowd, and we didn't want him fighting there. Now [after these two fights] he's ready.”
Against Marsh, Codrington angered his corner by soaking up several hard shots to the head. Stokes said it appeared Codrington was making himself a hittable target. “Jaidon got hit because he wanted to get hit,” said Stokes. “His corner started yelling at him to stop doing that. There were a lot of opportunities where he could have really hurt Robert, where he had him all turned around, but he let him regain his composure and pick up his head. He could have hurt him really bad if he wanted to. He's a really classy guy.” Codrington is now scheduled to fight August 5 at Madison Square Garden. After not fighting for eight months, Codrington will have fought three times in 43 days.
For DiBella, the episode in South Carolina crystallized why a national boxing commission is necessary.
“The idea that in the United States of America there aren’t uniform health and safety standards for a combat sport is preposterous,” DiBella said. “The government is getting involved with the steroid issue in sports, ok? I understand that. How do you allow men to earn a living by getting hit and have a number of states that ignore their well being? More than anything, we need uniform health and safety standards in boxing.”