Tackie Continues Comeback - Is Campos Next?

24.12.05 - By John Way: With his recent Technical Decision win over Roberto Valenzuela, Ben Tackie has punched (pun intended) his way back in serious junior welterweight contention. By defeating the murderous punching Valenzuela-who has 31 knockouts in 35 wins-Tackie finally seems to have adapted to his newly found style of cautious boxing, featuring a more conservative punch output, crafty footwork, and judicious use of the jab. With the help of his new trainer, John David Jackson, Tackie has put together a four fight unbeaten streak against a steadily increasing level of opposition-a tread which hopefully will continue into the new year.. Very seldom is it that fighter achieve great things solely on grit and determination alone: think Greg Haugen, Jim Braddock, or Vito Antoufermo.

Ben "Wonder" Tackie is one of those precious few. Gifted with the stamina of a marathon runner, and the chin of your average tugboat, he has long graced the world championship scene despite having little in the way of punching power or deft boxing stills. Of Tackie's five losses, four have come against excellent world champions. Heady stuff for a guy who tends to leave his jab in the locker room on a regular basis!

Tackie first impressed hardcore boxing fans by easily taking the shine out of Golden Johnson, who had previously lived up to his first name by crunching Juan Lazcano in three rounds. In his next fight, Ben produced perhaps the best win of his career by flattening former champion Roberto "Grandpa" Garcia with one punch. The Garcia win cemented Ben's place in boxing history when it was dubbed the best knockout of the year in 2000 by Ring Magazine. The uncharacteristic display of crunch in his punch continued when "Wonder" looked absolutely wonderful in knocking out another former champion, Freddie Pendelton in a single round.

By this point in his career, Tackie had acquired quite a reputation as a volume puncher, often throwing upwards of 100 blows per round, so naturally, anticipation was thick when he was matched with human windmill, "Sucra" Ray Olivera. Those fans who saw the Tackie-Olivera fight will never forget the spectacle they witnessed as the two granite jawed punching machines beat each other bloody with barrage after barrage of fistic ferocity. When the smoke cleared from the scene, the final compubox count was at 2,729 punches over the span of the fight, the third highest total ever recorded. It was unreal.

After an easy five round win over wicked hitting prospect Teddy Reid, Tackie had his socks boxed off by Kostya Tsyu, hardly winning a single minute in the whole fight. When two more decision losses-to Sharmba Mitchell and Ricky Hatton respectively-followed, it seemed that Tackie's rocket had flared out, perhaps for good.

Losing three fights in a row, even to world rated opposition, is a humbling experience, and for a time, it seemed that Tackie would hang up his gloves for better or for worse. After over a year out of the ring, he finally embarked on a comeback scoring a second round knockout over badly matched Jonathan Nelson, before making his televised return against a slightly better opponent, Edwin Algarin. After chasing his terrified rival all around the ring for several rounds, Tackie suddenly stopped trying for the knockout, content to allow his victim to escape. With his once fiery fighting style looking badly labored, many hardcore fans begged for the former title challenger to quit the sport in the wake of his pedestrian victory.

Oblivious to the critics, Tackie continued to work on his craft, and stepped up the competition level again, this time facing Noberto Bravo, coincidentally the first man to beat Tackie's soft chinned countryman, Justin Juuko. The two aging warriors battled long and hard for ten rounds in a fight that was evenly matched from start to finish, though most viewers thought Tackie had done enough to nick the win. In the end, the judges disagreed, scoring a contentious majority draw.

Though he wasn't losing his comeback fights, it became clear that if Tackie failed to produce against Valenzuela, it would be the proverbial third strike. With his back to the wall, "Wonder" produced his best performance since his win against Reid over four years ago. With renewed vigor, the former title challenger bullied his rival around the ring, scoring with uncharacteristically accurate shots, and though he failed to produce a knockout, it was clear that an accidental head butt saved Valenzula from the indignity of being stopped, when the fight went to the scorecards after five rounds. With this impressive showing, Tackie has resurrected himself as a viable threat to the welterweight elite, though he'll likely take a few interim fights before facing an opponent rated in the top twenty.

The perfect opponent for Ben at this point in his career would be fringe contending journeyman Francisco Campos to further determine how much he has left in his tank. Having battled elite men like Juan Urango, Cesar Bazan, Paul Spadafora, and Carlos Quintana, the hard-nosed Campos would serve as a perfect measuring stick for Tackie's continued progress, and perhaps most importantly, he would pose a legitimate threat to the former title challenger. Comments and questions are welcome below.

Article posted on 24.12.2005

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