Sportsbook.com, which bills itself as the largest betting and casino site on this planet, lists a fight between Ann Wolfe and Valerie Mahfoud. Don’t quote me, it might be the rubber match from Biloxi, Miss.
Now, that’s pretty thorough. But sportsbook.com, wisely I might add, lists none of the matches on a pay-per-view card Aug. 26 from Florida. That should tell us is the $30, or whatever Cedric Kushner is charging for a show, is an outright ripoff.
David Tua, remember him, was supposed to be on the card in a tuneup. Tua was scratched because of an injury in training. O’Neill Bell, someone’s idea of a cruiserweight champion, is defending against a South African. You don’t need to know anything more, even if Bell should get upset. That’s always a possibility.
Jameel McCline is on the card, fighting one of those stiffs that populate the heavyweight division, in an obviously off-the-board matchup. What makes it so sad is that maybe seven or eight years ago, the affable Kushner could have gotten away with Shannon Briggs vs. Ray Mercer as a main event. I know, I’d have paid to see it. I will be watching Aug. 26 because I’m a boxing writer and this is my job, even if it’s not always enjoyable.
Back when, these two guys were actually roommates for a while in the Marc Roberts managerial collection and may have fought for nothing. I mean, they didn’t like each other. I always suspected one of them wasn’t putting the cap back on the toothpaste. The animosity was so sincere. And back when, each guy had some talent.
Briggs was the third straight big-name heavyweight to emerge from the rough Brownsville section of Brooklyn, after Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe. He was a tall, athletic fighter with an orange do, who would play chess with other hustlers in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. He could box and punch, but had breathing problems.
His first pro trainer, Teddy Atlas, used to say Briggs acted as if he were satisfied with his title "the future heavyweight champion of the world." Atlas was not the only one who surmised that Briggs’s ambition was not all in boxing.
Once upon a time, Briggs laid claim to the "linear" heavyweight title. He beat the "linear" champion George Foreman, who had been stripped of all titles for refusing to fight any serious contenders. Actually, he didn’t beat Foreman — just got the decision. In reality, it wasn’t close.
Long ago, Mercer held the WBO heavyweight title. A 1988 Olympic champion and undefeated as a pro, he was a tough puncher with a superior chin. Okay, he didn’t know how to box. Nobody’s perfect. He won his "title" from the great Francesco Damiani, who quit when Mercer landed a painful uppercut to the nose. Mrs. Damiani was so livid, it almost became another example of divorce, Italian style.
Mercer also exposed Tommy Morrison, taking a beating very early before turning the
table and leaving The Duke helpless on the ropes. But just when people were beginning to take Merciless seriously, he went for an easy payday against the aged Larry Holmes. That was one of the most beautiful nights boxing ever had. The Atlantic City crowd chanting "Lar-ry," as the old master put on a clinic. Afterwards, when someone asked the Old Sarge what he would have to do to win a rematch, Mercer succinctly replied, "Learn how to box."
He never really did, though in my eyes he beat Lennox Lewis, seven rounds to three, at Madison Square Garden. He was always dangerous. But he’s 44 now and a shell. Briggs is a decade or so younger and should be able to beat Mercer now. Except Shannon always had little stamina. He blames asthma. Maybe, but he runs out of gas very quickly. This would make Mercer a good long-shot bet if you can hustle one of your buddies into it.
After picking Monte Barrett — got to admit, I gave him a draw against Hasim Rahman in one of the dullest heavyweight fights without John Ruiz I’ve ever seen (Henry Akinwande-Scott Welch remains No. 1) — I wouldn’t blame anyone for not trusting my heavyweight handicapping. I maintain, Barrett "should" have won. All he needed to do was fight.
Despite a good right hand, Hasim should have little chance against Vitali Klitschko whenever that fight happens (word is Nov. 12, but Rahman’s cuts have to heal quickly for that to happen). But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.