Virgil Hill vs. Henry Maske: Is Maske Making a Mistake by Returning to Boxing?

28.03.07 - By Ron Hansen: Former light heavyweight champion Henry Maske (30-1, 11 KOís) makes his comeback on Saturday night, when he meets Virgil Hill (50-5, 23 KOís), the WBA light heavyweight champion, for a scheduled 12-round bout at the Olympiahalle, in MŁnchen, Germany. The fight is a rematch of their championship bout fought 10 years ago, on November 23, 1996, a bout in which Hill won a split decision by the scores of 116-113, 115-113, 112-116, to take Maskaevís IBF light heavyweight title and send him into retirement. Though he was only 33-years-old at the time, Maske decided to call it a career rather than seek a rematch with Hill, and try to regain his title. No doubt, it was an odd decision at the time, considering the closeness of the bout.

However, itís not that hard to understand, when you consider that Maske, a former Olympian, was totally unused to losing, having been previously undefeated in his 30 professional bouts, along with winning an Olympic gold medal in the 1988 Olympics. To some people, Maskeís decision to retire was caused by, perhaps, due to bitter feelings of shame and anger from the loss to Hill. Nonetheless, Maske has maintained that he retired to pursue other things, such as his business interests, which he has done very well at, owning four McDonaldís fast food stores.

Surely, Maske, didnít need the money a longer, at least the time of his retirement, reportedly making 10 million in the three years that he held the IBF light heavyweight title. Now, however, at age 43, itís unclear why Maskeís willing to risk his solid reputation, including his health against Hill. There have been rumors which point to Maske needing money, that his businessí havenít been doing well as of late. Whether thereís any truth in those rumors remains to be seen. One thing is clear, however, and that is, Maske showed no interest in a rematch with Hill, 43, until shortly after learning that Hill had won the WBA light heavyweight champion with a win over previously unbeaten Valery Brudov (33-1, 25 KOís).

Outside of a few die hard fans, not too many people give Maske much of a chance at winning on Saturday night. The time away from boxing, the lack of training, most people point to be as the biggest things going against Maske. Another fact, most miss, is his lack of power. Even in his prime, Maske was more of a pure boxer, and relied a great deal on his jab to win his fights. It worked well against fighters with less boxing skills, like Leslie Steward and Iran Barkley, but against a boxer/puncher like Virgil Hill, Maske had clearly met his match. Without the ability to match Hill with an occasional power shot, Maske had it tough and was almost doomed for failure. Now, ten years later, without so much as a tune-up fight, Maske, all of a sudden, has decided he wants revenge against Hill, and doesnít want to wait.

Frankly, I can understand where Maske is coming from, as neither of them can wait at this point, since both are at an advanced age where one loss can spell the end of their career. For Maske, heís not indicated that he wants to continue to pursue his boxing career should he win or lose. Itís doubtful, however, whether Maske will be able to put out the win over Hill. The problem is, Hillís been active all these years, and though heís only fought 11 times in the past 10 years, heís been competitive throughout, winning 7 and losing four to good fighters, such as Roy Jones jr., Darius Michalzewski, and Jean Marc Mormeck. I predict an easy win for Hill, possibly by knockout in the mid rounds.

Article posted on 28.03.2007

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