Boxing


Jirov-Moorer: A Crossroads Bout for Two Heavyweights

07.12.04 - By Umar ben-Ivan Lee: Thursday night Fox Sports Net will air its second installment of its “Best Damn Boxing Show Period”. The first show, in September, featured James Toney making easy work of the young and frustrated Rydell Booker. The second BDBSP will be a much more competitive bout that will shape the future of two heavyweight southpaws as Michael Moorer and Vasilly Jirov face-off..

Moorer (37), the former light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion has seen a lot of ups and downs in his career. He began his career with twenty-six consecutive wins by way of knockout as a light-heavyweight and in his twelfth pro fight he became the first WBO Light-Heavyweight belt-holder. As a heavyweight he worked his way to a title shot against Evander Holyfield in which he recovered from a second round knockdown to defeat Holyfield by a majority-decision and take his WBA and IBF titles.

Undefeated, and the heir apparent to the title of worlds best heavyweight, Moorer went into his first title-defense against an ancient George Foreman extremely confidant, and in that fight, put on a boxing clinic for the first nine-rounds before being caught with a Foreman right in the tenth round that ended his championship reign in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history.

Moorer would not be the same after that fight. He recaptured the vacant IBF title two fights later and won four lackluster-decisions (struggling with Axel Schulz and Vaughn Bean), before facing Holyfield in a rematch in which Moorer was thoroughly beaten and dropped five times before the fight was called in the eighth round. Deciding to call it quits for a while, Moorer took three years off after the Holyfield defeat before returning to the sport in 2000. He is 8-2 since his return, his wins have come over an assortment of journeymen, and his two losses have been a thirty-second knockout loss to David Tua, reminiscent of Ruiz-Tua, and an uninspiring decision loss to the previously unremarkable Eliseo Castillo. For Moorer a loss to Jirov will mean that he can remain in boxing only as a journeyman used to build up the records of contenders or he can join the circus with Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, and Evander Holyfield.

Vasilly Jirov (30) is at an even more crucial point in his career. Twenty-months ago he was an undefeated cruiserweight champion fighting on HBO. He had the background, a former Olympic Gold medalist who defeated Antonio Tarver in the Olympics, and the aggressive style to make him a real star in boxing. To show the world his skills he agreed to take on James Toney on HBO in a fight that Jirov was expected to win, but somehow things went wrong. Instead of Jirov becoming the story in that twelve-round war, the reemergence of Toney became the story as he outboxed Jirov and eventually sent him to the canvas in the twelfth round.

Looking to recover from that loss the once promising Jirov took his hard-hitting southpaw style to Fox Sports Net where he easily stopped Ernest Mateen and Joseph Kiwanuka in two incredibly boring bouts. He returned to HBO to face heavyweight prospect Joe Mesi and once again came up short, but this time looked good while losing. Losing the ten-round decision, Jirov came out looking better as he scored three-knockdowns in the last two rounds against Mesi and finished much stronger and was able to do something Mesi was not; go twelve-rounds.

This will be the first bout for Jirov since the Mesi fight (Mesi has not fought and may not fight again) and he is looking to earn a name for himself in the lackluster heavyweight division. A win over Moorer would put him in a position to challenge a top-ten contender which if successful would put him in a position to challenge for a title. As a southpaw, Jirov could give a lot of top heavyweight’s problems, and as a Russian he is one of several top heavyweights from the former Soviet Union.

If this event is successful; look for FSN to put more boxing on the Best Damn Sports Show Period and on the “I, Max” program of FSN boxing analyst Max Kellerman. Jirov and Moorer promoted their own fight on the show earlier this week and were perfect gentlemen, and were joined by IBF titlist Chris Byrd. The event will run commercial free on your regional FSN station and the blow-by-blow will be given by Barry Tompkins, Kellerman and Sean O’Grady. The boxing broadcast regulars will be joined by the “Best Damn” crew of Chris Rose, Tom Arnold, John Salley, and Bryan Cox.


Umar ben-Ivan Lee may be contacted at keepslugging@hotmail.com

Article posted on 07.12.2004



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