Fighting Irish: Coming Out Swingin'

04.08.05 - By Chris Ireland: Welcome Eastside readers to the new weekly article, "Fighting Irish." In this weekly piece, I will look at the big issues dominating boxing's headlines over the past seven days, and deliver them to you in the heart of the week, Wednesday. This week I get my Irish up and make predictions on Peter vs. Klitschko, Jones vs. Tarver III, bash major media outlets trying to cover the sport, and ponder Zab Judah's next move.

Peter vs. Klitschko: On December 7th, 2002, I tuned in to HBO to see the fighter who was supposed to make us forget all about the increasing dominance of a certain crooked promoter, and the decreasing amount of bona fide heavyweight contenders. The man I, along with the rest of the boxing world wanted to see, was Wladimir Klitschko. His opponent was Jameel McCline, another fresh face in the division. Though the two were brought into the ring to see who would be the official wrecking ball of the future for the heavyweights, only one man delivered demolition. On that night, I watched Wladimir Klitschko make a 6'6, 270 pound man fight scared. My, how things have changed. Now it's Wladimir who closes his eyes and flinches and his opponents every move, much like McCline did three years ago. Klitschko might have merely been a product of the dry heavyweight era, a time when fans eagerly lable fighters "The Next Big Thing," in a desperate attempt to spice up a division about as dry as the Sahara. Klitschko's predecessor as the division's future savior will soon be his opponent in the ring, "The Nigerian Nightmare," Samuel Peter. If Klitschko's chin holds up, he has the kind of skill to control Peter's wide attacks and unpolished aggression. Too big of an "IF." My prediction? Klitschko starts strong, using his skills to keep Peter at bay, then tires in round 5, and is KO'd by the 6th.

Toney vs. Guinn: This might have been the most frustrating news of the week. James Toney, a heavyweight accused of cheating and a proven steroid user, makes a triumphant return against a big name heavyweight to emphatically make his statement that he is indeed a legitimate contender.....right? Guess again Toney lovers. "Lights Out" has called out Domminick Guinn, "The Southern Disaster," as his comeback opponent on October 1rst. The problem? Toney doesn't need a comeback opponent. He last fought in April, and frankly, sixth months isn't much of a break for a heavyweight today. Negotiations for a Chris Byrd fight must have broken down badly for Toney to want to fight Guinn. The predictions keep coming, and this time I'll take Toney outclassing the timid Guinn and winning a lopsided decision.

Jones vs. Tarver III: Larry Merchant's favorite quote these days is "A great fighter always has one great fight left in him." Maybe he shouldn't say it when Roy Jones is in the room. The first time Merchant used it, just weeks after his loss to Glenn Johnson, Jones made it clear that he liked the line. Now it appears the analyst's words have inspired him more than originally perceived, as Roy has inked a deal with Antonio Tarver to fight for a third time, and this fight will also be on October 1rst. In the first fight, Jones survived a spirited challenge from Tarver in November of 2003. The rematch in May of last year ended Jones' glorious reign atop the division, as Tarver KO'd the legend in the 2nd. Logic tells you the third fight goes to Tarver, since he easily won the rematch and Jones has been KO'd in his last two fights. But great fighters win in these kinds of situations. I'll go out on a limb and say Jones pulls a Sugar Ray Leonard, comes back from the dead, and beats Tarver by decision.

Mesi on CNN: And you wonder why hardcore fans hate it when major media outlets focus on boxing. They always focus on the negatives. Examples? I turned to CNN in June when they ran a depressing piece on Mike Tyson. The network gave an inside look to his forgettable past, and openly criticized his ill-fated comeback. Last week the bright lights were on Thomas Hearns. While stories about the changing of the guard in our sport were ignored, ink was being wasted on a 46 year-old man putting his health in serious danger. This week, CNN again showed the world one of our sport's black eyes, when Joe Mesi made an appearance Monday night. Yes that's right, the same man who believes that his brain injury isn't serious, and that it has disappeared and he's ready to get hit in the head again, no matter how many times he's denied by those in charge of the sport. If the major networks really want to embarrass us, I have an idea. Let's just stop beating around the bush here, and have somebody run a story entitled "Boxing: An In-Depth Look at Every Broke, Brain-Damaged, Over-The-Hill, Crooked, and/or Cheating Person to Ever Be A Part of the Game," ?

Judah's Next Move: The Zab Judah vs. Sharmba Mitchell welterweight title fight slated for later this year wasn't exactly a superfight, but most boxing fans were intrigued by the match-up. No Zab has backed out, and there are numerous rumors floating around about his next opponent. Judah says he's ready for Mayweather, De La Hoya, Tszyu, or anybody else who wants a taste. While De La Hoya has made it clear that he won't be back until May of next year and Kostya Tszyu has recently said that if he does fight again, it will be against Hatton in a rematch, Floyd Mayweather has engaged in a war of words with the welterweight champ. The Judah camp wants PBF in the ring in November, when Floyd is possibly in the ring with Antonio Margarito. If the fight were to come off, it would feature more natural talent in the ring than seen in years. The thought here is there's too much ego between the two for any kind of real negotiations to start in time for a November fight. Look for the two to take a tune-up, possibly fight each other, than the winner gets De La Hoya next year.

Lacy vs. Reid: Jeff Lacy fans have good reason to be nervous about Robin Reid. "Left Hook" will be taking on a man with a world class beard, plenty of pop, and years of experience against the best. Reid's big question mark? What's he have left? At 34, with a number of tough scraps against world class guys under his belt, Reid may not be the same guy who gave Joe Calzaghe and Sven Ottke all they could handle. It's a classic youth vs. experience match-up, and with the way things have been going in 2005, I'll take youth in this one. The ref either stops the fight late, or Lacy wins a tough decision.

Golota Out: Word is Andrew Golota will not be fighting Przemyslaw Saleta on Don King's PPV show in a few weeks. Rumor has it Oliver McCall has stepped in to replace Golota. Though the Polish may be a little upset over this, American fans can't be too heartbroken, especially after seeing Golota lose his third straight title shot, this time in under a minute, to Lamon Brewster a few months back in Chicago. Now it's time for Golota to get out. King is now reduced to using him against other Polish fighters in order to attract their countryman's interest. It's the only way Andrew will be able to generate any kind of fan interest any more.

Article posted on 04.08.2005

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