Boxing

The Next Generation or Bust? Harrison, Guinn, Rahman and Peter

02.09.04 - By Coach Tim Walker: Let’s face reality. The current crop of heavyweights sucks! We are exhausted with Tyson, in fear that Holyfield is going to end up a vegetable, and any many ways feel relieved that Lennox retired. Byrd and Ruiz never put on good shows, Mesi is out and for that matter Vassiliy Jirov should follow him, and we have no confidence in McCline, Golota, Whitaker, or Kirk Johnson. Most don’t think Danny Williams or Lamon Brewster will be remembered beyond tomorrow and by the way, who the hell is Nicolay Valuev?

Personally I don’t think the next great heavyweight has even turned pro yet and won’t until after the 2008 Olympics but that is my personal stance on things. If those guys are in the past then who is in the future? Let’s take a look at some of the REAL contenders by the numbers: Audley Harrison, Hasim Rahman, Dominick Guinn, and Samuel Peter. Let’s start with youth.

Samuel Peter – After a disappointing showing in the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he lost in the quarter final round this Las Vegan by way of Nigeria turned pro the following year. The now 22 year old is trained by legendary fight man Lou Duva and parades a 20 win record with no draws or losses. He is being touted by many as the next best thing to a real heavyweight champion. Many boxing fans don’t even care that he isn’t a champion because he brings excitement to the ring. Known as the “Nigerian Nightmare” he might want to seriously consider changing his name to “Mr. Excitement” because that is exactly what he brings to the table. Now that he is equipped with an outside boxing style to compliment his interior attack know that when you are watching a Peter fight you are watching a guy who fears nothing. His 6’1” frame is all muscle and he isn’t afraid to use all of them to get the victory. He obviously used them quit a bit given that he has 17 knockouts in the 20 victories.

Besides his physical persona, heavy-handed approach and charismatic smile, his greatest asset is youth. When you look at the current heavyweight makeup you see rows and rows of fighters ages 34, 35, 36, and up. They can’t hang around forever. He must be patient and not get suckered into boxing one of these relics on the way out. More than any other division the heavyweight division is full of old guys who can still punch. They probably can’t move as well as they once did but they can still punch and all it takes is one punch to change the landscape of the heavyweight division. His last two bouts which came against more experienced competition afforded him victories but no knockouts. This is another sign that there is room for growth. Against Pudar, his last opponent, he dominated but looked a bit sluggish so his management needs to make sure he doesn’t get bored in the ring. It may be time to get him a bigger challenge.

Audley Harrison – Olympic Gold Medalist! It comes with certain rights and privileges and is also well earned in the trenches of day to day bouts over a two week period. As a professional his best showings have come against Richel Hersisia and Rob Calloway. Calloway you might remember couldn’t continue because of a broken jaw. Harrison is a big dude. Standing 6’6” and coming into the ring around 255 pounds his presence can be pressuring. But, Audley is not a banger. He is a tall guy and he fights tall. With a very clean right jab and quick straight left behind it he uses his size and giraffe-like reach to paralyze opponents from a distance.

The knock on Harrison is that he does not have the killer instinct inside the ring. He doesn’t fight with desperation or urgency and he doesn’t peak the average person’s interest. The BBC television network contracted Audley to an exclusive contract after his Olympic medal win but eventually dropped him because there was reportedly little interest in his televised bouts. He wins convincingly but not amazingly. When you see a guy of his size and ability you expect him to demolish his competition. When he doesn’t you are left wanting. He, unlike Samuel Peter, does not have time on his side. At 32 years of age he better make a move really soon. The only problem is that many boxers in line for bigger paydays will avoid him because of the risk reward factor. He is nominal draw at best and may have to pull a Jamel McCline vs. Chris Byrd type payday to get a credible bout. And when he does get that defining bout he’d better destroy his foe or he may be stuck with smaller paydays.

Dominick Guinn – Forget about his lose to Monte Barrett. Put that one in the whoops category for now because this kid has the stuff. Hand speed, power in both hands, ring generalship, footwork, solid defense and definite hunger. He is probably the purist boxer-puncher of the younger heavyweights. Michael Grant, Otis Tisdale, and Duncan Dokiwari will all attest to that. So what happened on March 27th against Monte? Well it seems that Monte found the Full Monty that night. Without making excuses for Dominick’s performance Monte fought the fight of his life that night.

Guinn is a fundamental boxer and sets up everything off the jab. You will never hear me say this again so pay attention. Sometimes it seems as though he jabs too much. He needs to be more willing to pop some of these guys up side the head. A big time inside guy will take a few of his jabs to get one or two of his bombs in. There are real occasions where he must lessen the boxing and do a little more punching. At 6’3” and about 225 pounds he isn’t your typical modern heavyweight but neither is his skill. Against the likes of Samuel Peter and Hasim Rahman he better bring a bit more of his bang.

Hasim Rahman – The busiest heavyweight contender on the planet. He has fought 4 times this year and it is only September. Obviously Hasim is being ducked…a lot! Still, in his last ten bouts he bolsters a mediocre 6 win, 3 loss, 1 draw record but that is a little misleading. In the midst of those ten bouts he won and lost the WBC, IBF and IBO titles to Lennox Lewis, lost a close bout to Evander Holyfield because of swelling caused by the intentional head buts of Evander, had a draw to the Tua-Man, and a lackluster performance against the Quietest Man in the heavyweight makeup. All the others he beat like they owed him money.

With a mediocre record like that why is he in here? Two handed power, experience, age and hunger, the greater being hunger. Hasim after his loss to John Ruiz had an epiphany that he wasn’t living up to his potential. He is anxious to get another title shot and realizes that he is being ducked. So he took a die hard approach to boxing. He decided to put himself in the position where he couldn’t be ducked by fighting the best available boxer that he could force into the ring. He is doing this on a regular basis and though it is not wise to associate activity with skill in Rahman’s case it is appropriate. He isn’t breaking box office records but he is racking up wins and it might be working. Tentatively he has a November 13th bout scheduled at Madison Square Gardens. All he needs is a top level opponent.

My advice to Harrison, Guinn and Peter is to not become that opponent. Nothing against your skills but Hasim’s willingness to take a punch to land a punch is a new development that’s working in his favor.

There is a virtual cornucopia of new and seasoned talent that is salivating at the chance to get at the heavyweight crown. The sooner some of the remnants of boxing let go the sooner we can get started on pruning and condensing the contenders of the heavyweight landscape. There may be others who are worthy of the opportunity but these four have time, skill and experience on their side. Hopefully it won’t take long before the boxing retirement halls fill and the upper rooms of the heavyweight division empty. Maybe then we can have a heavyweight champ that is worth our while. Maybe then we will get interested and tune in.

Oh, James Toney might just beat all of them. Just figured I’d a little controversy with that one.


Article posted on 02.09.2004



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