This Saturday night Lajuan Simon, 18-0 (9 KO’s), headlines a Rising Star Promotions fightcard at the Showboat Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, taking on Indiana native James Morrow, a loser in four of his last five bouts. Morrow, to his credit, compiled an 8-0-1 record before getting knocked out by former Olympian Dante Craig (TKO2) in August of 2005. Since that time the thirty-one year-old Hoosier has managed three wins, to go along with nine losses, one draw and a no-contest..
“No one wants to fight Lajuan,” notes Rising Star Promotions president Greg Azar.
“Lajuan is ready to take on anyone, and the worst part is, the guys in the IBF’s (International Boxing Federation) top 15 won’t fight Lajuan, nobody will fight him.” Azar added “We might have to take the long road, but at 18-0 I think the middleweight division will be forced to reckon with Lujaun Simon very soon.”
Obviously, Simon and his promotional team are frustrated with the fact that the dangerous Philadelphia fighter is not a highly sought after opponent, making fights for the current USBA champion nearly impossible.
Too dangerous and risky for a higher ranked contender to challenge, the affable twenty-nine year-old simply uses his current dilemma as motivation.
“I’m willing to take on whoever is in front of me, to get to Kelly Pavlik. My goal is to be world champion!” Simon, who now works full-time at the IRS building, in Philadelphia, constructing cubicles and modular offices, has taken notice to the IBF rankings.
“I see this guy Lorenzo (Giovanni Lorenzo, currently the IBF’s # 4 ranked contender), and John Duddy (ranked # 10) ahead of me, I’ll fight them.”
Simon began his professional career in 2002 and was a relatively busy until suffering a broken jaw during a grueling eight round battle against Levan Easley. Suffering the damaging blow early in the fight, Simon showed the will and heart that has guided him throughout his fistic career and gutted out a hard fought split-decision win. Forced to tentatively slow his pace, Simon boxed his way to two unanimous decision victories in 2007. His September 13th win over Detroit, Michigan veteran southpaw Corey Johnson yielded Simon the coveted USBA belt, as the title was vacant.
This led to Simon’s impressive win over the heavy-handed Elco Garcia, this past February 15th, in the very same Showboat Hotel & Casino ring that Simon will enter tomorrow evening. That commanding victory, over the Mexican brawler whose fists have earned him the nickname “The Animal”, solidified Simon as a bona-fide world title contender.
Simon still calls Philadelphia home, and lives in the City of Brotherly Love with his long-time girlfriend Taleka, and her daughter Sanaa, age 7. Lujuan and Taleka celebrated the birth of their daughter Jakiya last year. Obviously Simon fights to support his family, and his family is there in support of his fighting – to achieve his goal of becoming a world champion.
Watching Marvin Hagler on TV was all it took to get Simon hooked on boxing. From that moment on, Simon went to the gym, looking to emulate his idol.
While Simon may be correct in thinking of Hagler as the “hardest working fighter ever”, the three minutes of non-stop action and pressure that Simon, a self-described boxer-puncher, engulfs upon his opponents every round is a testament to his own work ethic and dedication.
“I don’t do anything different in training than other fighters, it must be the extras. The extra mile or two of running, things like that”
Simon has all the tools to reach the pinnacle in boxing, to be a “great” fighter and become a world champion.
If this likable Philly fighter overcomes all the obstacles and achieves what so very few who enter the squared circle can only dream of, it won’t be his ever constant jab or his never ending body attack that will one day make him a boxing great – it will be what is already making this full-time worker, full-time struggler and full-time father great…his heart – in, and out, of the ring.
Also featured on the Rising Star Promotions fightcard will be former WBA World Heavyweight Champion Bruce Seldon.
Seldon. 37-6 (33 KO’s), returns after over 14 months of inactivity and will look to give it one more shot, facing fellow Atlantic City resident Livin Castillo, 14-4 (9 KO’s), in an eight rounder. The thirty-two year-old Ecuador-born Castillo, whose claim to boxing fame is his getting quickly knocked out by former world champions Oleg Maskaev (TKO3-2005), Jorge Castro (KO 4-2003) and Jean Marc Mormeck (KO3-2000), will look to keep the powerful Seldon from adding his name to Livin’s KO list.
The come backing “Atlantic City Express” is said to be in championship-form physical condition. If so, Castillo must be prepared for a rib crunching body attack and a truly debilitating jab. If Bruce, now at the age of forty-one, can get his mental condition into that same “championship-form”, he can be a dangerous fighter in a heavyweight division that is not filled with many dangerous fighters. Ever since Seldon’s confidence shattering debacle of a defeat at the hands of Mike Tyson in 1996, the former champ’s most destructive opponent has always been himself.
One disappointing note to an otherwise exciting five-bout fightcard is the unfortunate absence of former two-time Olympian Patrick Lopez.
The thirty year-old Lopez, 12-1 (10 KO’s), had yet another contracted opponent abruptly pull out just days prior to fight night. The Venezuelan welterweight, trained by Oscar Suarez, one of boxing’s best trainers and best people, apparently faces the same misfortune as does Lujuan Simon, of being too good for his own good, which in turn equates to no one wanting to fight you. The real loser in this is the boxing fan, as Patrick Lopez is a superiorly gifted fighter, and his knockout power is something to behold. A future star in the 140-pound division – if anyone will step up to face him!
Tickets are still available by calling Ticketmaster at 1(800) 736-1420 or online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling the Showboat Hotel & Casino House of Blues Box Office at 1(609) 236-Blue.
Mike Indri can be contacted at RBFNJMIKE@aol.com