|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire|
December 19, 2000
Oliveira to Hit and Not Be Hit - by JD Vena
the realm of boxing, having an exceptional ability to hit and not be hit
usually determines that you are a good fighter. To some pundits,
it's a lost art or an art mastered by few. Though most fighters who
possess this treasured ability tend to have lasting careers, they have a
more difficult time in mustering respect from their observers than
flaunting their rare talent. New Bedford's "Sucra" Ray
Oliveira (41-7-1, 19 KO's) is one such|
fighter who will hope to attain a higher level of respect by defeating "Cool" Vince Phillips (41-5-1, 30 KO's) Friday night at Foxwoods Resort & Casino. He'll need that respect in order to secure a third chance at
something he covets most - a world title.
Oliveira and Phillips will be meeting for the vacant North American Boxing Federation jr. welterweight title, a title once owned by Oliveira until losing the belt via close decision to Reggie Green in August of '97. Along
with that title went a margin of respect that many had for Oliveira following his one-sided, second victory over the highly regarded, Charles "The Natural" Murray four months prior.
Shortly following his loss to Green, Oliveira took on unbeaten welterweight sensation, Vernon Forrest on just 5 days notice and lost a 12 round decision. Though Oliveira was dominated in their fight, he was the first
man to extend the much bigger Forrest the 12 round limit. Forrest was able to deck Oliveira on one occasion but unable put the finishing touches on a man who has never been stopped. Despite the top-notch opposition that Oliveira has faced in his decade-long career, he is one of three active pugilists to have fought over 350 rounds without ever being stopped. Only James "Lights Out" Toney and Hector "Macho" Camacho have fought more rounds and kept their lights on throughout their careers.
"Ray is one of the real fighters out there," said friend and fellow contender "Irish" Micky Ward. "There are a lot of things to admire about him: he fights everyone, he keeps coming at you and throws a lot of punches.
I don't think he's ever backed down from anyone"
Indeed, backing down is something Oliveira has never done. In one of his most significant triumphs, his first victory over Murray, he took on the former IBF champion despite breaking his nose in a sparring session four
days prior to the fight. In possibly his most impressive and career defining fight Oliveira not only showed tremendous resilience and discipline but also, unrelenting offense. But Murray could tell you that first hand.
"Oliveira has a lot of good skills and you've got to have good skills to beat me," remarked Murray. "Ray is always in condition, he takes a great shot and he doesn't let you breath."
In one of Oliveira's more memorable fights he and former WBO jr. welterweight champion, Zack "Attack" Padilla nearly suffocated each other with a CompuBox record of 3,020 punches thrown. It is this style that
Oliveira hopes to employ to wear down the older Phillips who turned 37 this past July.
"With Vince being the older fighter, the pressure from Oliveira is going to give him problems," predicts Murray. Three weeks ago, Murray was on the losing end of a 10 round welterweight bout to the lesser known, Larry Marks. While Phillips is attempting to recapture his youth and the stomping ground he ruled three years ago, Murray is painfully familiar with this losing battle.
"There's something inside you which makes you think you can still fight," said Murray. "You can tell yourself all you want but your body doesn't respond. As every day changes, so does your body. Time is a friend to no one."
Since the loss to Vernon Forrest in 1997, time has been kind to Oliveira who is unbeaten in his last 12 starts. In February, Oliveira tallied his most significant victory since defeating Murray by taking "Vicious" Vivian Harris to school for 10 rounds. Though Oliveira scored a minor upset over the power-punching upstart, he wasn't able to summon the respect he feels he deserves.
"I honestly think that beating Harris did nothing for my critics," remarked Oliveira. "More than ever, I have to prove that my critics are still wrong about me. If anything, their criticism has allowed me to focus more on my
training. I'm more dedicated now than when I was younger."
Though Oliveira has lost a degree of the speed
that he used to retire hard hitting Tracy Spann, he still combines a high
work rate and fights for three minutes. He also seems to have
learned from all of the mistakes he made early on when coming up short in
close losses to Jake "The Snake" Rodriguez, Ricky Meyers and
Sergei Artemiev. Entering his 50th bout Friday night, Oliveira at 32
may be in his prime.