Duva Boxing Set For 2006

05.01.06 - While 2005 was very good, 2006 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for the Duva Boxing stable of fighters. Led by the Future King of the Heavyweights, Samuel Peter, Duva Boxing’s fighters, including undefeated heavyweight Mike Marrone, talented heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson, crowd-pleasing welterweight Oscar Diaz, smooth-boxing cruiserweight Shauna George, lightning-quick super lightweight Kendall Holt, slick southpaw lightweight Damian Fuller, and red-hot young prospect Raymond Biggs Jr., are all poised to take major steps forward in professional boxing..

The “Nigerian Nightmare” Samuel Peter, 25-1 (21 KOs), started the year by smashing then-hot prospect Yanqui Diaz to the floor five times in an HBO-televised showcase fight. He followed the impressive performance with an ESPN2-televised two-round demolition of Gilbert Martinez, followed by a SHOWTIME-televised beating of fellow prospect Taurus Sykes.

Then came the September 24 “Heavyweight Fight of the Year” showdown with former WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko. Despite being hampered by incessant holding and questionable refereeing, Peter was still able to drop the big Ukrainian three times while losing a close decision. While he may not have had his hand raised that night, Peter solidified himself as a bona fide threat to any of the belt holders and THE heavyweight to watch for the future.

Considered one of the world’s top heavyweights before a small series of setbacks, former Canadian Olympian Kirk “Bubba” Johnson, 36-2-1 (26 KOs), returned to action with

an impressive TD 5 over the aforementioned Diaz. Johnson had Diaz down three times before an unintentional head butt forced an abbreviated unanimous decision victory.

With his considerable skills, speed and power, Johnson remains a serious threat to any other heavyweight in the world and will be looking to return to contention in 2006.

The buzz around undefeated 20-year-old heavyweight Michael Marrone, 12-0 (10 KOs), continued to strengthen, as he scored no less than six career-building victories in 2005. Highlighted by a TKO 3 over 16-6 Forrest Neal, Marrone also scored KOs over Curtis Taylor, Cliff Nellon, and Andre Ivanove, won by disqualification over Adam Smith and took a unanimous decision from Joseph Kenneth.

Co-managers Lou Duva and Gus Curren have promised to begin stepping up the young prodigy’s competition in 2006, with televised showcases in the works. “I think, boxing wise, he’s really picked up; there has absolutely been a noticeable improvement over the course of the year,” said Duva. “I want to work on building his body up a little more, but he’s getting there. He’s jabbing and moving better, sitting down on his punches.”

As for a strategy in the new year, Duva says the true tests will begin in 06. “I’m going to be looking to put him in about eight fights next year and show him on national television, if possible. Once that’s done, we’ll take him up another level, and then after that, it’s just a matter of getting the right matches. I think it’s going to be a good year.”

Welterweight punching machine Oscar “El Torito” Diaz, 23-1 (11 KOs), had a big 2005, solidifying himself as one of the most exciting television fighters in the world. Diaz’s ShoBox-televised victory over “Speedy” Gonzalez and his thrilling punch-out with Jessie Feliciano were two of the most action-packed battles of the year.

After five impressive victories over the course of the year, Diaz will be looking to secure his first world title shot in 2006.

Brooklyn, New York’s Shauna George, 11-0-2 (5 KOs), had a title-winning year, picking up the North American Boxing Association and IBC Americas Championships via 10-round decisions over respected contenders Chad Van Sickle and Jermell Barnes.

George also fought to an ESPN2-televised draw with fellow up-and-comer Willie Herring.

2006 will be a breakthrough year for George, as he is clearly positioning himself for his first try at a world title.

Another Duva Boxing prospect sitting on the verge of his first career-defining fight is New Jersey junior welterweight Kendall “Rated R” Holt, 20-1 (12 KOs). Holt had a big 2005, winning the WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight Title over Jaime Rangel and scoring a nationally televised TKO 8 over highly touted fellow prospect David Diaz on SHOWTIME’s ShoBox “The New Generation.”

Holt’s publicity campaign to land a fight with WBO champion Miguel Cotto could very possibly prove successful in 2006.

Sharp punching lightweight veteran Damian “Damo” Fuller, 25-4-1 (12 KOs), stayed active in 2005, fighting to a controversial nationally televised 10-round draw with respected contender John Brown in June and then trouncing tough Oklahoman Jerry Cooper in September.

Fuller is ready wiling and able to capitalize in 2006 and is actively pursuing a fight with fellow contender Demarcus Corley.

Early in his career, Raymond Biggs Jr., 3-0 (3 KOs), is already drawing comparisons to some of brightest lights in the sport. With quickness, punching power and a strong amateur pedigree, Biggs will keep an active schedule in 2006, looking to establish himself as the one the watch in the welterweight division.

Biggs will be back in action in January.

“We have big hopes and plans for these kids in 2006,” says promoter Dino Duva. “Obviously we feel that Sam Peter will be world champ by the end of the year, but also several of our young fighters will be breaking out into becoming contenders. Kirk Johnson is back on the trail and he still has the talent to become champ. Watch for us to be making a big push with Mike Marrone and moving him up in class as well.

Article posted on 05.01.2006

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