Cruiserweights compete on The Contender 4

the contenderBy Ron Scarfone - The cruiserweight division had long been derided for a lack of talent ever since Evander Holyfield vacated his cruiserweight titles to seek fortune and glory in the heavyweight division. Holyfield became the first unified cruiserweight champion in 1988. In 2008, unified cruiserweight champion David Haye did the same thing as Holyfield by vacating his titles and is currently a heavyweight contender. Unlike when Holyfield left the cruiserweight division two decades ago, the division is still in good hands even with the departure of Haye. IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham has no plans of leaving the division and may be the best champion in this weight class since Holyfield. A marquee matchup between Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek will be televised on the Versus network on December 11. Cunningham and Adamek are considered to be the top two in the cruiserweight division. WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones lost by split decision to Cunningham in 2005.

The cruiserweight division was created in 1979. There have been Hall of Famer heavyweight champions who would actually have been classified as cruiserweights such as Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Ezzard Charles, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney if their was such a division during their careers.. The division had originally been at a weight limit of 190 pounds which later changed to 195 pounds. The current weight limit is now at 200 pounds. Like the cruiserweight division, The Contender television show has also had changes. Along with boxers in a different weight class, it is also on a different channel. The Versus network will air the first episode of the new season on December 3. Sugar Ray Leonard has been replaced as host by former TV sitcom star Tony Danza who used to be a pro boxer himself. Tommy Brooks and John Bray are the new trainers. The show was filmed in Singapore instead of the United States.

You can see some of these boxers on I have attended three fights of Alfredo Escalera Jr. that were in Florida. Escalera Jr. won against an opponent he was supposed to win against, but then he had a draw and a loss when he stepped up in competition. My prediction is that Troy Ross and Darnell Wilson will be in the finals. Ross and Wilson have had four common opponents. Ross defeated Sam Reese (KO 3), John Battle (TKO 5), Robert Marsh (TKO 4), and Will Little (UD 4). Wilson defeated Sam Reese (KO 3), John Battle (TKO 4), Robert Marsh (TKO 6), and Will Little (KO 2). I give a slight edge to Ross because he is a little younger than Wilson and has less wear and tear, but this fight could go either way if this is indeed the matchup for The Contender Championship.

There are 16 cruiserweight boxers in this tournament. I have ranked them from highest to lowest based on their record, age, rating, and quality of opposition. Length of inactivity and if their usual weight class is not cruiserweight were also taken into consideration. Before The Contender 3, I correctly predicted that Sakio Bika, Jaidon Codrington, and Sam Soliman would be first, second, and third respectively. Will my predictions come true for The Contender 4?

1. Troy Ross (17-1, 12 KOs), Residence: Brampton, Ontario, Canada via Guyana, South America, Age: 33, Rating: No. 15 BoxRec, No. 35 IBO, No. 23 WBC, No. 15 WBO
Quality of Opposition: Ross defeated former light heavyweight contender Sam Reese by KO in the third round. Ross lost to Willie Herring (SD 8). Herring had a draw against light heavyweight contender Shaun George during his career.
Comments: Ross won the Canadian cruiserweight title in 2005 and the Commonwealth (British Empire) cruiserweight title in 2007. Ross represented Canada in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. He portrayed former light heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis in the movie Cinderella Man. Ross is a southpaw.

2. Darnell Wilson (23-7-3, 20 KOs), Residence: Takoma Park, Maryland via Cleveland, Ohio, Age: 34, Rating: No. 24 BoxRec, No. 15 IBO
Quality of Opposition: Wilson has by far fought the best opponents out of all the participants in The Contender this season. Wilson has wins against Sam Reese (KO 3) and Emmanuel Nwodo (KO 11). Wilson has losses against Felix Cora Jr. (UD 10) and BJ Flores (UD 12). Wilson also lost to Firat Arslan (UD 12) in a WBA cruiserweight title fight.
Comments: Wilson won the Maryland State light heavyweight title in 2002, the TAB (Trans America Boxing) cruiserweight title in 2007, and the USBA cruiserweight title in 2007. Wilson lost to Felix Cora Jr. who is also in this tournament. Wilson is known as the “Ding-A-Ling Man” because, as he so eloquently describes it, “I’ll ring your bell. I’ll knock you out.”

3. Lawrence Tauasa (30-5-1, 17 KOs), Residence: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia via Samoa, Age: 29, Rating: No. 39 BoxRec, No. 44 IBO, No. 29 WBC, No. 6 WBO
Quality of Opposition: For the most part, his opponents have been mediocre, but Tauasa does have a loss against heavyweight contender Albert Sosnowski (MD 12). Sosnowski defeated heavyweight Danny Williams in his most recent fight.
Comments: Tauasa is a former Rugby champion. Tauasa won the Australian cruiserweight title in 2003, the IBF Australasian cruiserweight title in 2007, the WBO Oriental cruiserweight title in 2008, and the PABA (Pan Asian Boxing Association) cruiserweight title in 2008.

4. Felix Cora Jr. (18-2-2, 9 KOs), Residence: Galveston, Texas, Age: 28, Rating: No. 38 WBC
Quality of Opposition: Cora Jr. has a win over Darnell Wilson (UD 10), but since then has had two consecutive losses by knockout to Vadim Tokarev (TKO 4) and Matt Godfrey (TKO 2).
Comments: Cora Jr. won the USBA cruiserweight title in 2004 and the NABF cruiserweight title in 2005. Cora Jr. is a southpaw. His nickname is “Bad News.”

5. Richard Gingras (8-1, 4 KOs), Residence: Claremont, New Hampshire, Age: 27, Rating: No. 55 BoxRec
Quality of Opposition: Most of Gingras’ opponents have had losing records.
Comments: Gingras’ trainer is Peter Manfredo Sr., the father of super middleweight boxer Peter Manfredo Jr.

6. Rico Hoye (20-2, 15 KOs), Residence: Detroit, Michigan, Age: 33, Rating: not rated due to inactivity
Quality of Opposition: Hoye has a win over light heavyweight contender Montell Griffin (SD 12). Hoye lost to Clinton Woods (TKO 5) in an IBF light heavyweight title fight and lost to Adrian Diaconu (TKO 3).
Comments: Hoye won the IBA Continential light heavyweight title in 2003, WBO NABO light heavyweight title in 2003, and the WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight title in 2004. Hoye is moving up in weight class from light heavyweight to cruiserweight.

7. Akinyemi Laleye (10-1, 5 KOs), Residence: St. Petersburg, Florida via Lagos, Nigeria, Age: 27, Rating: No. 77 BoxRec
Quality of Opposition: Laleye has not fought anyone noteworthy, except in sparring.
Comments: Laleye served in the U.S. Navy in Iraq. Laleye has been a sparring partner for Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver, Jeff Lacy, and Roy Jones, Jr. His nickname is “AK 47.”

8. Erick Vega (8-2-1, 6 KOs), Residence: Phoenix, Arizona via El Paso, Texas, Age: 29, Rating: No. 74 BoxRec
Quality of Opposition: Vega has had two losses by TKO, but he avenged one of those losses by defeating JJ McAllister by KO in a rematch.
Comments: Vega is a former wrestler and competed in the Olympic Trials in boxing. His nickname is “Dynamite.”

9. Joell Godfrey (9-0-1, 5 KOs), Residence: East St. Louis, Illinois, Age: 28, Rating: No. 83 BoxRec, No. 90 IBO
Quality of Opposition: Godrey has a draw and a win over DeLeon Tinsley (SD 6). Other than that, Godfrey has not fought anyone noteworthy.
Comments: Godfrey looks like former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. If he can fight like Lewis, then he has a chance to win this tournament, but I doubt that will happen.

10. Alfredo Escalera Jr. (15-1-1, 11 KOs), Residence: Winter Springs, Florida via San Juan, Puerto Rico, Age: 28, Rating: No. 91 BoxRec
Quality of Opposition: Escalera Jr. has a draw against Derrick Brown and a loss against DeLeon Tinsley (UD 6).
Comments: Escalera Jr. is the son of former WBC super featherweight champion Alfredo Escalera. His nickname is “Salsero.”

11. Ehinomen Ehikhamenor (12-3, 7 KOs), Residence: Queens, New York via Benin, Nigeria, Age: 28, Rating: No. 111 BoxRec, No. 81 IBO
Quality of Opposition: Ehikhamenor lost to former WBO heavyweight champion Herbie Hide (UD 12).
Comments: Ehikhamenor has lost three of his last four fights. His nickname is “Hino.”

12. Mike Alexander (12-2, 8 KOs), Residence: Columbus, Ohio, Age: 34, Rating: No. 86 IBO
Quality of Opposition: Alexander lost to heavyweight contender Chazz Witherspoon (UD 10) and cruiserweight contender Alexander Frenkel (UD 8).
Comments: Alexander was a Golden Gloves national runner-up as an amateur. Alexander usually fights as a heavyweight, but he was a cruiserweight a couple of times.

13. Tim Flamos (20-4-1, 8 KOs), Residence: Brockton, Massachusetts, Age: 41, Rating: No. 65 BoxRec, No. 92 IBO
Quality of Opposition: Flamos has not fought any notable opponents.
Comments: Flamos is the oldest boxer in the tournament. Flamos won the Massachusetts State cruiserweight title in 2000, the New England cruiserweight title in 2002, and the EPA (Eastern Boxing Association) cruiserweight title in 2003. His nickname is “The Hammer.”

14. Deon Elam (9-0, 5 KOs), Residence: Van Nuys, California, Age: 28, Rating: not rated due to inactivity
Quality of Opposition: Most of his opponents were either making their pro debut or had losing records.
Comments: Elam competed in Olympic qualifiers as an amateur.

15. Ryan Coyne (9-0, 3 KOs), Residence: St. Louis, Missouri, Age: 26, Rating: No. 172 BoxRec
Quality of Opposition: Coyne has not fought anyone noteworthy.
Comments: Coyne was a high school and college football player, but retired from football because of “several severe shoulder separations” and that sounds scary to me. His nickname is “The Irish Outlaw.”

16. Jon Schneider (7-2-1, 5 KOs), Residence: Yonkers, New York, Age: 29, Rating: No. 325 BoxRec, Quality of Opposition: Schneider has not fought anyone noteworthy.
Comments: Schneider is a former wrestler and U.S. Marine, but fighting for your country is not the same as fighting in the ring. Schneider is a southpaw. His nickname is “The Fighting Marine.”

Article posted on 01.12.2008

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