There’s a busy week upcoming with a plethora of action at three sites on two continents. Let’s break the bank.
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, in case you forgot to send a card, it is Max Schmeling’s 100th birthday. Of course, you didn’t have to put a stamp on it, anyway, since Germany’s great sports hero died at 99. Still, there’s going to be a big party in Hamburg, near where the former heavyweight champion was born, and the candle on the cake is supposed to be a German from Rottweil, that great dog-producing town in the south, winning another heavyweight championship.
From the odds I’m hearing quoted, even money, pick ’em, it seems Luan Krasniqi is the heavy favorite in reality. I mean, this guy — yes, it is a guy — lost to that Polish clown beaten by ancient Oliver McCall on one of Don King’s circuses from Chicago. And he is facing a man, Lamon Brewster, who has already beaten one of Germany’s better heavyweights — Wladimir Klitschko (okay, he’s Ukrainian, but he fought out of Germany). If this fight were kosher, Brewster should be a 5-1 favorite, even granting the challenger home-court advantage.
But there have been too many horror stories about robberies in Germany, especially with no American TV watching, to have any confidence in Brewster. All we can do is hope he comes back with the title; he’s one of the nicest guys in the business.
On Saturday, Oct. 1 if you’re keeping score, there are two big cards competing for our time and dollar. Showtime subscribers get a triple-header from Reno; HBO will cost you pay-per-view to see Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones Jr. in a rubber match not too many of my colleagues believe will be competitive.
Jones, the longtime No. 1 in most pound-for-pound ratings until he was knocked out in the second round by a single Tarver left hand last year, is coming off two KO losses. After Tarver, he was beaten down and eventually knocked unconscious by Glencoffe Johnson. He’s 36 and there is a fear that the magic is gone.
Tarver, whom I bet on both times he was an underdog to Jones (yes, I’m brilliant), is -200 or so. Jones is about +170. I like the underdog here. First, I don’t believe Jones would come back unless he thought his old Florida rival could be defeated. Second, for the first time since early in his career, he has been reunited with the man who originally trained him, Roy Jones Sr. Third, in two fights himself with Johnson, a disputed loss and a clear if close victory, I believe I have noticed some slippage in the tall southpaw. Remember, Tarver is also 36.
Most of all, I had been hearing reports that Big Roy did not like how his son was looking in camp until recently. Now I’m told Little Roy has come on strong and is, and I can ”˜t buy this, as good as ever. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s worth a flyer.
I have not seen any lines on any of the three fights in Reno. Doesn’t matter. This is one of those nights where, if I were a gambler, I might bet all three underdogs and if one wins I might show a profit. If two win, steak is on me. If three win, catch me in Hawaii.
Let’s start with the so-called main event, which is strange since that makes a heavyweight title fight a semifinal. James Toney, in his first bout since testing positive for steroids, takes on the underachieving Dominick Guinn, who not long ago was considered one of the bright young prospects. If Guinn ever decides to fight, he could be a nice price.
So is DaVarryl Williamson, the unworthy IBF mandatory challenger for Chris Byrd’s heavyweight belt. Williamson can smack a bit and his questionable chin should be of concern against Byrd’s light hitting. Byrd is 35 and has been dispirited all these years under Don King’s thumb. This is a situation ripe for an upset.
In the opener, and best fight since it’s not between heavyweights, bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez — No. 7 currently on my personal pound-for-pound list — faces unknown danger in Silence Mabuza, who is undefeated and, according to some opinions, the best fighter to come out of South Africa.
If that is true, he is certainly worth any price you can get because there have been some mighty fine fighters from down there.