|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- AUGUST 11:2001|
“Little Fighters, Big Action”|
by Dave Iamele
From the Utica Observer-Dispatch. Reprinted with Permission
After watching Clarence "Bones" Adams and Paulie Ayala wage 12 rounds of war at 122 lbs., I came up with a great idea. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, Don King should be quite flattered that I suggest a tournament of boxing's "little stars."
King used the potential boxing superstar Felix "Tito" Trinidad, who won titles at 147 and 154 lbs., to solidify a round robin of the current 160-lb. titleholders (Keith Holmes, William Joppy, and Bernard Hopkins). First Hopkins dominated Holmes to add the WBC title to his IBF belt, then Trinidad KO'd Joppy to gain the WBA title—his first at 160 lbs. Now, Trinidad and Holmes will meet September 15 at Madison Square Garden in a mega-bout that has the potential to rival such super-bouts as Ray Leonard vs. Hagler or Mancini vs. Arguello. As an added incentive, the winner is promised (for what that's worth in boxing) another huge match with light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones who would move down in weight for the potential big payday. As I've stated, hat's off to The Don. He used his young gun (Trinidad) to provide the interest and money to unify a division that has been mired down in a quagmire of isolated, no-name champions refusing to fight one another.
My brainstorm is slightly different. First, I propose a series of four bouts:
1. A rematch of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales at 126 lbs.
2. Bones Adams vs. Johnny Tapia at 122 lb.
3. Paulie Ayala vs. Derrick Gainer at 122 lbs.
4. Mark Johnson vs. Tim Austin at 118 lbs.
Every one of these eight fighters either is a current champion or has been a champ in the recent past at 126 lbs. or less.
Although there is not a superstar of the "Tito" Trinidad type currently among this group of pugilists, I believe the man who would be considered the dark horse to win the tourney, Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson, to be a potential great. Johnson would be at a double disadvantage from the beginning:
* He's matched up against Tim Austin who is a little- known, undefeated, dangerous foe and a long- time titleholder.
* Johnson won world titles at 112 and 115 lbs. and currently is fighting at 118 and already talking about fighting at 122 lbs. But could he fight at 126, if necessary, and still be able to utilize his speed and carry his power up in weight?
Well, since I concocted this event, I may as well foretell the results:
Bout 1 - Barrera wins rematch with Morales
Bout 2 - Bones vs. Tapia is a toss-up, but I'll go with Johnny
Bout 3 - Ayala beats Gainer
Bout 4 - Johnson over Austin
Bout 1 - Barrera over Tapia in a classic (first semifinal)
Bout 2 - Johnson KO's Ayala (second semifinal)
Johnson surprises most experts and boxes to a relatively easy 12-round decision. Besides getting wobbled a couple times by the naturally bigger Marco, Johnson uses his speed and sharp shoots his way to victory.
I'm sure many people would argue for any of the other seven fighters competing in these invented match-ups. But that's the beauty of it—all these guys are at the least very good boxers; all have the potential to break out. What they need is some of the aforementioned bouts or some combinations thereof. I chose Mark Johnson because I believe he is the total package for a great fighter: good fundamental skills, trains hard, good people in his corner, and great heart and determination. Like Sugar Shane Mosley and Hasim Rahman, Johnson was formerly (mis)handled by Cedric Kushner but now has James Prince guiding his career. Big- time promoters and cable giants HBO and/or Showtime—you need to wake up to "Too Sharp"! He's for real—believe me!
UPCOMING BOUTS: At least there is enough real boxing action happening in the near future to keep us fans from wasting too much time pining over fantasy matches.
September 15: Bernard Hopkins (WBC/IBF) vs. Felix Trinidad (WBA) for the unified middleweight title
Oct. 10 or 17: Hasim Rahman (IBF/WBC) vs. Lennox Lewis II for 2/3 of the heavyweight title
November 3: Kostya Tszyu (WBC/WBA) vs. Zab Judah (IBF) for the unified 140-lb. title
December 8: Oscar De la Hoya (WBC) vs. Fernando Vargas (WBA) for 2/3 of the 154-lb. title
After September 15 we will have one middleweight champion for the first time since Marvelous Marvin Hagler held the belts. After October is over we will know if Hasim Rahman merely capitalized on Lennox Lewis' unprofessional nonpreparation or if he will shock the boxing world once again. Also, the rescheduled Evander Holyfield vs. John Ruiz WBA heavyweight title bout should take place in October. Hopefully, the heavyweight titles can be reunited, but don't hold your breath.
After November 2 we will know if the new, unified 140-lb. king will be a puncher (Kostya Tszyu) or a boxer (Zab Judah). And after December 8 (providing Fernando Vargas beats Shibita Flores for the vacant WBA title in September) we will know if Oscar really is back or how much Trinidad's beating took out of Vargas. Plus, Tyson should feed on another stiff if he can manage to stay out of jail.
TURNING STONE GATHERING MOSS:
Local boxing is MIA at The Turning Stone. The last boxing card was in June, and their media- relations person tells me that nothing is scheduled until at least November! What happened? I thought The 'Stone was committed to hosting boxing matches at least four times a year.
On September 28 ESPN2 will televise Ronald Wright vs. Robert "Push Up" Frazier for the vacant IBF junior-middleweight title. Robert Frazier is from the Central New York area and has fought several times at The Turning Stone. So why is the fight taking place in California? Because Frazier's promoter, Mike Acri, and The Turning Stone wouldn't put up the cash to host this title fight here. I guess they believe the female Ali/Frazier bout is more suited to this area. I sincerely hope they are wrong.
Final Thought: Once again I'll go out on a limb with a prediction. I'll pick the underdog Bernard Hopkins to upset the upstart Felix Trinidad. "Tito" looked impressive destroying Joppy; however, Bernard Hopkins will prove to be a much more formidable foe.
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