Shilstone sees value in Hopkins-Jones rematch
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Feeling sluggish? Need a quick energy boost?
Call Mackie Shilstone.
In fact, just 30 minutes on the phone with the ever-ebullient health guru has me pledging drastic change to a physical fitness train that's veered flabbily off track since New Year's resolutions faded.
And the 59-year-old's impact isn't reserved for over-the-hill writing wannabes.
Our Monday evening chat was crammed into a schedule chock full of world-class athletic names, including a late-night Louisiana visit from NFL tight end Alge Crumpler that preceded Shilstone's Tuesday flight to South Florida to work with tennis great Serena Williams.
"When I'm working with a pro athlete I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel," he said. "You can't carry the equipment with you, so you have to develop a program that they can take with them that will have the same impact on the road."
An author of six books -- including the recently released "Body Plan for Kids" -- Shilstone became a household boxing name in 1985 when his tutelage was instrumental in 175-pound champion Michael Spinks' upset toppling of long-time heavyweight kingpin Larry Holmes.
Bernard Hopkins (pictured) and Roy Jones Jr. will meet in a rematch on April 3.
Spinks weighed 199 3/4 pounds to Holmes' 221 1/2 on fight night in Las Vegas and won a unanimous decision over a then 15-round championship limit.
Spinks won the rematch seven months later and was unbeaten at heavyweight until his final career bout -- a one-round KO loss to Mike Tyson in June 1988.
"That was really the fight that put me on the map, but what a lot of people don't realize is that I'd been working with Michael for years," Shilstone said. "I was the first to have fighters lifting weights and doing circuit training. We took off the Army boots and had him running on the beach."
Shilstone worked division-jumping magic to great success again two decades later, first helping Roy Jones Jr. unseat WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz in 2003 and then assisting Bernard Hopkins' leap from 160 to 175 to dethrone Antonio Tarver in 2006.
The rivals will meet April 3 in a rematch of their 1993 middleweight bout -- won by Jones via unanimous decision in Washington, D.C.
And though it's a match that's drawn widespread criticism in light of Jones' 5-5 record with three KO losses since 2004, Shilstone insists the 45-year-old Hopkins and his 41-year-old foe are poised for a classic.
"If you watch and see, you're going to see a war in there," he said. "Roy is going to be at his best. Certain teams just get up for other teams. That's the way it'll be here. When the Saints play Atlanta in the NFL you can't explain it, something just happens. It's just very different when they get together."
Still, classic or not, he won't watch it.
"They're both my friends and I can't watch my two friends fight," Shilstone said. "I'm an only child, but I have two sons and I'd never want them to fight. You're supposed to take care of your brothers, not fight them. And that's the way I feel about Bernard and Roy. I couldn't deal with it."
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBF mini-flyweight title -- East London, South Africa Raul Garcia (champion) vs. Nkosinathi Joyi (No. 1 contender) Garcia (27-0-1, 16 KO): Fifth title defense; First fight outside Mexico Joyi (20-0, 15 KO): Fifth title fight (4-0, 4 KO); Held IBO title from 2006-08 Fitzbitz says: "Long road trip. Tough, experienced opponent. Garcia's in for a rough night." -- Joyi by decision.
Vacant IBF lightweight title -- Las Vegas, NV Ali Funeka (No. 3 contender) vs. Joan Guzman (No. 4 contender) Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KO): Third title fight (0-1-1, 0 KO); Lost only career fight in U.S. Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KO): Eighth title fight (6-0-1, 2 KO); Nine fights since last KO win
Fitzbitz says: "Funeka gave Guzman all he wanted the first time, and he's about due for some good luck in a title fight. He gets it here." -- Funeka in 10.
Vacant IBF junior featherweight title - Rama, ON Takalani Ndlovu (No. 1 contender) vs. Steve Molitor (No. 2 contender) Ndlovu (30-5, 18 KO): Seventh title fight (4-2, 2 KO); Held IBO title from 2005-06 Molitor (31-1, 12 KO): Eighth title fight (6-1, 3 KO); Held IBF title from 2006-08
Fitzbitz says: "Molitor won by a stoppage last time and little has happened in the interim to prompt belief that it won't happen again." -- Molitor in 10.
WBA bantamweight title -- La Guaira, Venezuela Anselmo Moreno (champion) vs. Nehomar Cermeno (interim champion) Moreno (28-1-1, 10 KO): Sixth title defense; Unbeaten since 2002 (22-0, 8 KO) Cermeno (19-0, 11 KO): First title fight; First fight in native country
Fitzbitz says: "Cermeno's two wins over Cristian Mijares probably trump anything on Moreno's resume. That's good enough for me." -- Cermeno by decision.
WBC strawweight title -- Tokyo, Japan Oleydong Sithsamerchai (champion) vs. Yasutaka Kuroki (No. 4 contender) Sithsamerchai (33-0, 12 KO): Fifth title defense; First fight outside Thailand Kuroki (23-3-1, 15 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2004 (17-0-1, 11 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Sithsamerchai has fought better foes on bigger stages, at least in terms of championship fights. But I'm feeling an upset vibe here." -- Kuroki by decision.
WBC flyweight title -- Tokyo, Japan Koki Kameda (champion) vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (interim champion) Kameda (22-0, 14 KO): First title defense; Ninth fight in Tokyo (8-0, 5 KO) Wonjongkam (74-3-1, 39 KO): Twenty-first title fight (18-1-1, 8 KO); Held WBC title from 2001-07
Fitzbitz says: "The streaking youngster at home against the decorated veteran. In this case, at least, I'd rather be 23 than 32." -- Kameda in 9.
Last week's record: 1-0
Overall picks record: 177-61 (74.3 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.