Brock using tourney as path to rematch
By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Boxing Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The same opponent. The same title. A much different result.
Once-beaten contender Calvin Brock is expecting all three -- but especially the third -- as by-products of entry into a proposed four-man heavyweight elimination tournament, drawn-up to put the winner in a ring with IBF/IBO champion and universally recognized division kingpin Wladimir Klitschko.
The 32-year-old Brock will join ex-IBF champion Chris Byrd, a two-time Klitschko victim, unbeaten Philadelphia prospect Eddie Chambers and largely untested Russian slugger Alexander Povetkin in a three-bout series that's tentatively scheduled to begin in late October and end some time next year with the winner's title shot.
Brock, of course, is also painfully familiar with the towering Kazakhstan-born Klitschko, having fallen in seven rounds in a challenge for the giant's belts last November at Madison Square Garden. The loss was the first of his six-year pro career, which began in February 2001 with a three-round TKO of Zibielee Kimbrough in Elgin, Illinois.
"It would go a lot differently next time, a whole lot differently," said Brock, in a Monday afternoon phone interview. "I was over-trained last time. I peaked in my training three weeks too soon and by the time I came into the ring I was only 50 percent. At the opening bell, I was nowhere near where I was supposed to be. And it only got worse."
Brock has fought twice since the Klitschko loss, stopping Ralph West in one round in Corpus Christi, Texas and sweeping the scorecards against Alex Gonzales in an eight-rounder at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. He dispatched trainer Tom Yankello after Klitschko as well, and has since worked with both Pernell Whitaker and his father, Calvance.
Calvin Brock has fought twice since his loss to Wladimir Klitschko.
The elder Brock will run the corner in the bout with Chambers, now penciled in for November 2.
"I know I didn't lose because I wasn't good enough. That wasn't the reason why," Brock said. "I had everything I needed and I didn't bring it into the ring with me. It wasn't me out there. And that was the most heartbreaking part of it all."
Byrd, who held the IBF title for four years before losing it to Klitschko via brutal seventh-round TKO in April 2006, will face Povetkin -- now 13-0 with 10 KOs -- on October 27 in Germany at a site to be determined. He's fought once since the title-bout loss, stopping overmatched Paul Marinaccio in seven rounds last April in Nassau, Bahamas.
Povetkin's most significant win came in his last fight, a unanimous 10-round decision over veteran fringe contender Larry Donald in Moscow in June.
The 25-year-old Chambers, meanwhile, actually turned pro two months before Brock, defeating Tyrone Austin via second-round TKO three months before turning 19. His list of victims is similar to Povetkin's in its anonymity, highlighted by a unanimous 10-round decision over former prospect Dominick Guinn at Palms Casino in Las Vegas in May.
"I don't do a lot of studying about my opponents," Brock said. "I see his style and his size, but that's really about it. I go into a fight thinking he's got to worry more about what I'm going to do than the other way around."
If it all actually happens, that is.
"That's the thing about boxing, nothing is ever guaranteed. It should be set in a couple of weeks, but you never know. Just look at Evander Holyfield and the way he got his title shot out of nowhere," Brock said. "Things can change all the time. This is all being talked about as the best way to go about getting toward my goal of winning the undisputed heavyweight championship.
"I'm training as hard as I can and doing everything right, and that's all I can do."
Fans waiting several years since their last wins of significance will have to hold off a while longer before sliding ex-154-pound champions Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga try for career-defining victories against each other.
Labeled "The Brawl" and eagerly anticipated by the same rough-and-tumble crowd that prefers Arturo Gatti to Floyd Mayweather Jr., the scheduled September 8 matchup between Vargas and Mayorga was postponed when a routine blood test showed the 29-year-old Vargas to be suffering from a severe iron deficiency.
According to a release from promoter Don King, Vargas' doctor advised him to pull out of the fight to undergo "the necessary weeks of treatment to correct the problem." A new date will be announced after requisite calendar-shuffling by King, co-promoter Main Events and the planned venue -- Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The bout earned its contentious tag following "spontaneous" (read: attention- getting) verbal and physical confrontations between the fighters at early press tour stops in Los Angeles and New York. Both men have been good for pre- fight antics in the past, especially Mayorga, who was particularly vulgar prior to a six-round beatdown by Oscar De La Hoya in May 2006.
The 33-year-old Nicaraguan has not fought since and is 2-3 in his last five fights overall, including a majority decision loss to Cory Spinks in December 2003 and an eighth-round TKO defeat at the fists of Felix Trinidad in the Puerto Rican's first "comeback" fight in October 2004 at Madison Square Garden.
Vargas, who has claimed he will retire -- win, lose or DQ against Mayorga -- hasn't fought since the second of two consecutive losses to Shane Mosley in July 2006. He's 4-3 in his last seven fights and just 6-4 in his last 10, including an 11th-round TKO loss to De La Hoya in September 2002 and a 12th- round stoppage against Trinidad in December 2000.
Exhaustive research for one man will now mean extensive pool-side reading for me.
Allen Rosenfeld, a long-time fixture on the Michigan boxing scene with a resume that includes coaching during a stint in the Army in the 1950s and later work with both Boxing Illustrated and The Ring magazines, was kind enough to send me a copy of his recent full-length project, entitled "Charley Burley: The Life and Hard Times of an Uncrowned Champion."
The 680-page gem goes the distance and beyond on Burley, a Pittsburgh native who packed 98 professional bouts into a 12-year career that stretched from 1938 to 1950.
The 5-foot-9 right-hander was 83-12-2 overall with a no-contest, including wins over Archie Moore and Fritzie Zivic, a pair of close decision losses to Ezzard Charles and a memorable seven-bout series with Holman Williams -- in which Burley won three times, lost three times and battled to the 10-round no- contest.
The book's reviewers read like a who's who of the sport's biggest names.
"In addition to thorough coverage of Burley's career, (Rosenfeld) gives you a panoramic view of the exciting middleweight picture of the late '30s and '40s," said Angelo Dundee, legendary trainer of Muhammad Ali and Ray Leonard, among many others. "I have read lots of boxing books, but this one was hard to put down."
Emanuel Steward, who rose to prominence with the emergence of Detroit slugger Thomas Hearns in the early 1980s, said, "Charley Burley and his peers were among the greatest fighters of all time. Rosenfeld's research is extraordinary. And the writing is beautiful. In my 52 years in boxing, this is one of the most unforgettable books I have ever read."
And lastly, noted historian Hank Kaplan chips in with, "Burley's boxing adventure has all the ingredients of an emotional drama. Rosenfeld's book is a dream come true. It is doubtful if a boxing career was ever treated in such depth."
Gentlemen, start your sun block.
Title fights, schmitle fights... my hometown is back on the boxing map!
Dear old Niagara Falls, New York -- site of my birth in 1969, and my residence of record until I bolted for suburban Philadelphia some 28 years later -- will be home to its first professional boxing card since the halcyon Joe Mesi days on Friday night at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel -- formerly the city's Convention & Civic Center.
Say what you will about the city's state of disrepair compared to my own not- so-far removed high school, college and early professional years, the return of the fight game to the downtown area just a few blocks away from the thundering rapids and majestic waterfall can't help but be a good thing.
Johnnie Edwards and Jose Hernandez headline the seven-bout show with a 12- round match for the NABA featherweight championship, while unbeaten welterweight Mike Jones faces useful veteran measuring stick Martinus Clay -- who fought super prospect Andre Berto just three months ago -- in an eight- round feature.
The card marks the initial dip into boxing waters for the new Seneca Nation Athletic Commission, a tribal organization formed to sanction matches on sovereign lands. The Seneca Nation now runs casino and hotel operations in the facility that housed the Convention & Civic Center, where Mesi fought in April and July of 2001.
The Buffalo-born Mesi has been barred from competing in New York since suffering brain bleeds during a victory over Vassilly Jirov in Las Vegas in March 2004. His last fight in New York was a 10-round majority decision over Monte Barrett on December 6, 2003 at Madison Square Garden -- his last outing before the Jirov fight and subsequent two-year layoff.
As mentioned here in an interview with Jack Mesi -- the fighter's father and manager -- two weeks ago, the commission has declared its support for Joe Mesi's career and could play a role in him returning to fight in his home state.
Native American commissions throughout the U.S. have held cards on sovereign lands, including the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Manistee, Michigan -- where Mesi was licensed to fight Jason Weiss in September 2006. Mesi won via four-round decision in the fourth bout of his six-fight return.
"It's an option that we'll surely be looking at," Jack Mesi said.
The Buffalo News reported Sunday that Mesi is in negotiations to meet fringe contender Brian Minto this fall, a match that could take place in Niagara Falls should the primary site -- Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in West Virginia -- not be available.
"That news is very, very exciting to me," Mesi said. "It's been tossed about with the Senecas and my team. It's been talked about, but nothing set in stone. It's all just ideas right now."
Meanwhile, in this weekend's battles for belts, incumbent South African belt- holder Mzonke Fana will defend his IBF super featherweight crown on Friday when he faces Argentine veteran Javier Osvaldo Alvarez in a scheduled 12- rounder at James Motlatski Hall in Klerksdorp, South Africa.
On Saturday in Colombia, hometown champion Ricardo Torres defends his WBO light welterweight title for the second time against well-traveled Paterson, New Jersey export Kendall Holt in Barranquilla. Torres is 31-1 overall, with the only loss coming via seventh-round KO to Miguel Cotto two years ago in Atlantic City.
Also on Saturday, WBA minimumweight title-holder Yutaka Niida makes championship defense No. 6 against Filipino interloper Eriberto Gejon at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Niida won the crown in July 2004 with a 12-round unanimous nod over Noel Arambulet and most recently defended it with a split decision over countryman Katsunari Takayama in April.
Lastly, unbeaten Russian-turned-Australian super middleweight Victor Oganov meets Colombian veteran Fulgencio Zuniga for the IBO's vacant 168-pound belt at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington. Oganov is 26-0 with 26 straight knockouts, while Zuniga is 19-2-1 overall -- 2-0 since a ninth-round TKO loss to Kelly Pavlik in October 2005.
Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a periodic contributor to the Dave Smith Show, broadcast weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on Sporting News Radio (radio.sportingnews.com).