McCall 'never better' at 44?

May 19, 2009 6:53 PM
by Mark Mayer |

A heavyweight fighter making a comeback: So what else is new?

Well, it’s a first for Friday Night Boxing at the Orleans, which has seen heightened interest with former heavyweight champ Oliver McCall (pictured) coming out of retirement at age 44 to face Australian champ John Hopoate in the main event.

"Oliver has been in the gym training and looks like a million bucks," said Frank Luca, promoter for Crown Boxing, which is handling the 8-bout card this Friday at the 2,000-seat Mardi Gras Ballroom. It’s a great opportunity for Hopoate to fight a former champion and give him major exposure."

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McCall told East Side that he is in his best shape in years. The last fight for McCall was in June 2007 when he blamed a shoulder injury for a loss to Juan Carlos Gomez that derailed a possible title shot with the Klitschko brothers and forced his retirement from boxing until now. McCall reportedly wants a fight with undefeated heavyweight Chris Arreola, who he called "a pussy."

McCall won the heavyweight title back in 1994 when he knocked out heavily-favored champion Lennox Lewis. But McCall may be most remembered for his crying episode during the second Lewis bout in Las Vegas in 1997. Referee Mills Lane eventually stopped it in the fifth round when McCall refused to fight.

McCall has been a presence at the Orleans fights for the past few months, training his son Elijah who is also on Friday’s card. Oliver is 51-10 with 36 knockouts, while Hopoate is 11-2 with all 11 wins by knockout. Elijah, also a heavyweight, has won both his fights by KO.

Crown Boxing will hold a noon press conference Wednesday at the Orleans to introduce the fighters before an audience and media that figures to be much larger than usual with the interest surrounding McCall’s return to the ring.

A supervisor for the Orleans race and sports book said that there was no betting line for the main event at this time, but that one would be posted later in the week. There will be no betting for the other seven fights on a card that begins at 7 p.m.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer