In the United States, the cruiserweight division is considered a minor one. In Italy, it is very important because some of our best and most popular boxers are cruiserweights. Pietro Aurino, who draws large crowds in the Campania region, built a record of 37 wins (16 KOs), just 2 losses and is rated #4 by the WBC. On November 26, 2005 in Rome, Vincenzo Cantatore drew 3,500 paying customers for his challenge to WBO champion Johnny Nelson (who won on points). That’s a big number by Italian standards. On May 20, 2006 in Rome about 10,000 supporters filled Piazza di Siena (the show was free of charge) to see Cantatore defeat mediocre Jean Claude Bikoi. Vincenzo’s record is 32 wins (27 KOs), 4 losses and 1 draw, and he is rated #10 by the WBC and #5 by the WBO.
In Milan, no boxer is more loved than Giacobbe Fragomeni. Every time he fights, thousands of people chant “One of us, Giacobbe is one of us!” Recently, Fragomeni participated to a primetime show on national television and became famous even outside the Lombardia region. Born in Milan on August 13, 1969 Fragomeni built his fan base when he competed as an amateur. He had an outstanding career, becoming European champion and winning the bronze medal at the 1997 world championships in the heavyweight division. Among others, he faced DaVarryl Williamson. It happened in Milan, more than six years ago. Williamson had won the U.S. title three consecutive times (1996-97-98), so everybody was expecting a spectacular battle between top-rated amateurs. Maybe that was the problem, the two guys knew each other’s reputation and kept on the waiting stance to avoid trouble. The judges had no choice but to call it a draw.
When Fragomeni turned pro, he decided to pursue glory in the cruiserweight division and built an impressive record of 21 wins (9 KOs) in 21 fights. On November 13, 2004 in San Martino Siccomario (Province of Pavia), he defeated Frederic Serrat (who was 23-3) by majority decision for the vacant WBC international championship. He defended it on March 12, 2005 against undefeated Daniel Bispo (15-0). Fragomeni proved to have good stamina going the twelve rounds again. This time, he got a unanimous decision. The problem is that Fragomeni hit the Brazilian hundreds of times, from every angle, but never put him down for the count of ten. That’s why so many people wonder if Giacobbe has real punching power. Currently, Fragomeni is rated #3 by the WBC and #4 by the WBO.
Next Friday 17, in London, he will challenge European champion David Haye. Born in London on October 13, 1980 Haye is eleven years younger than Fragomeni and proved to have a dangerous punch getting 16 of his 17 victories by knockout. The only loss in Haye’s record happened on September 10, 2004 against IBO champion Carl Thompson (who was 32-6). The more experienced Thompson destroyed Haye in five rounds proving once again that KO artists get KOed easily. Probably, that’s because they don’t pay attention to defense, thinking that their power will be enough to win the fight. Fragomeni never looks for the one-punch solution, he prefers to throw dozens of consecutive punches to make his opponent weaker after the end of every round. That’s a strategy suggested by his trainer Patrizio Oliva, like Giacobbe said: “The first time Oliva saw me in the ring, he didn’t like what I was doing. He worked to turn me into a punching machine and that’s what I became. Even when I competed among amateurs, my characteristic was throwing hundreds of punches. That’s how I won my medals. I also beat David Haye in the Olympic trials. I think the score was 12-1. I humiliated him. I plan to do the same next Friday.”
It has to be noticed that Patrizio Oliva is one of the few men who really did it all in the boxing business: he won the gold medal at the Olympics, built a professional record of 52 wins (20 KOs) and 2 losses, became European light welterweight and welterweight champion and won the WBA light welterweight title. As a coach, Oliva trained the Italian national team and was given the award of “Trainer of the Year” by the EABA (European Amateur Boxing Association). Having a man like Oliva in his corner will help Fragomeni a lot in England. Giacobbe knows that it won’t be an easy night: “David has the power, but look at the names of his opponents. The only impressive win in his record is the one against respected Alexander Gurov, whom he KOed in one round. Gurov was 38-4-1 with 33 KOs. I give David a lot of credit for destroying Gurov, but he won’t do the same to me. I will be European champion on Friday.” The winner of the fight between Fragomeni and Haye will be mandatory challenger to WBC champion O’Neil Bell. When asked about him, Fragomeni said: “I consider him better than WBO champion Enzo Maccarinelli. I saw Maccarinelli in action many times and he is nothing special. I would fight him anytime, everywhere. David Haye is more dangerous than him.”
Giacobbe Fragomeni left for London accompanied by trainer Patrizio Oliva and manager Christian Cherchi who is Vice President of OPI 2000. About Fragomeni’s future, Cherchi said: “I’m confident that he will beat David Haye. Right after that, I’ll start working with my father to promote the world title fight between Giacobbe and WBC champion O’Neil Bell. There’s no limit to what Giacobbe can achieve. He is talented and hungry of success.”
Born in Milan, Italy
Height: 177 cm
Record: 21 wins (9 KOs) in 21 fights
On November 13, 2004, he became WBC international champion defeating on points respected Frederic Serrat (who was 23-3).