Derailed Heavyweights: The Path to Redemption - Part One

By Mel Dixon: In this subjective piece of screwballing around in the realms of fantasy, I propose an eight-man boxing tournament between once-promising heavyweights whose careers have been somewhat derailed. The winner of the tournament gets to lift a golden choo-choo train trophy where a boxing glove replaces the steam coming out of the nozzle. What does it represent? It represents the fact that the winner has got themselves ‘back on track’ towards a world title shot. Yes, they’re ‘steaming’ ahead once more. Enough of that, here are the contenders.

Audley Harrison: Booed throughout his last contest against Brazilian tough-guy George Arias, Audley’s had a tough time lately. The Sydney 2000 gold medallist has been defeated three times as a pro, most significantly losing by kayo against fellow Brit Michael Sprott. They say he has no heart, and he has no cajones , and he has no chance of being a world champ. Audley wants to prove them wrong…

Shane Cameron: The ‘Mountain Warrior’ was the big hope for New Zealand boxing before coming unstuck against the ever-dangerous Friday Ahunanya. It was a hard, punishing defeat. Cameron cuts easily and there will now be serious questions over whether he can make it at the highest level. The rugged Aucklander is certainly tough enough to come back, but is he good enough?

Roman Greenberg: The first billion-dollar man of boxing they cried. Well his hyperbolic promoters were certainly brought to tears when he first ran into a fighter who didn’t belong on a shelf of canned tomatoes. Cedric Boswell stopped him in two. Was this an unfortunate one-off? The likeable Israeli (based in London) will be looking to prove that it was.

Tye Fields: Throughout his career, this skyscraper of a man has been heckled by doubters. They say his record was padded out on corpses, and even lost to one who performed a post-mortem twitch and knocked him out in the opening round. Fields avenged the defeat, and looked to have got himself on course for a title shot of some description. All he had to do was defeat perennial gatekeeper Monte Barrett, but once again he was stopped in the first.

Alonzo Butler: The man from Tennessee had built up a 27-fight unbeaten record albeit against sub-standard opposition. Unfortunately he suffered a detached retina in sparring, and lost in a subsequent fight with Friday Ahunanya. He showed plenty of bravery in defeat, and there is certainly no shame in losing to Ahunanya. Butler will be out to prove that he’s over his injury worries.

Chazz Witherspoon: ‘The Gentleman’ had a stellar amateur career and was progressing quite nicely in the professional code, until he came unstuck against fellow undefeated prospect Chris Arreola. He was down and hurt before his corner men entered the ring mistakenly thinking the round had ended. Result? LDQ3. He would have been fine… He didn’t lose the fight, his corner men did! Age is on his side…

Travis Walker: As an amateur, Walker was always overshadowed by fellow American Jason Estrada - and was defeated by him three times. He avenged those amateur losses by beating Estrada via a majority decision in the professional ranks. Things took a turn for the worse, though, when he was stopped in one round by TJ Wilson. He avenged the somewhat controversial defeat, but doubts still remain. Only victory in this tournament will see those doubts disappear.

Faruq Saleem: Okay, so Saleem has yet to taste defeat as a pro, but his inactivity and the pitiful level of his opposition has turned ‘The Dream’ into ‘The Joke’. And the joke goes something like this:

Man talking to God: “God, God, I really want to be an undefeated heavyweight boxer, but I don‘t have any talent…”


Such jokes have left Saleem mildly offended… Will the 0 in his 36-0 go? Or will ‘The Dream’ have the last laugh?

Now it’s time for the draw… The names go into a bowl. The first name drawn out goes into a secondary bowl which represents hometown fighters. And then there is an auxiliary bowl to assist in deciding… Okay enough of that. Here is the randomly selected draw:

Chazz Witherspoon v Audley Harrison

Travis Walker v Alonzo Butler

Faruq Saleem v Tye Fields

Roman Greenberg v Shane Cameron

Check out Part 2 where all the action will begin in earnest, and where we will discover the winner of this fictionalised oddity. You wouldn’t want to miss it.

Article posted on 02.11.2008

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