Croatian Mario Preskar (op-ed)not somehow, but through his reputation
Hopkins vs. Joppy Promises to Highlight Long Night of Boxing
By MICHAEL KATZ
Published: December 13, 2003
ATLANTIC CITY, Dec. 12 — An even 100 rounds of boxing are scheduled here for Saturday night, including eight 12-round title fights, which are being called a record. The promoter Don King is billing the card as an Atlantic City Marathon and boasting of setting a record for most southpaws on one card (six) and most world champions from Managua, Nicaragua (three).
Somehow, a four-round heavyweight bout, featuring a Croat, Mario Preskar, with a 1-0 record, was also squeezed into the event at the 12,000-seat Boardwalk Hall, which is sold out.
Yes, the $34.95 pay-per-view card, with only five of the title bouts scheduled to be broadcast, starting at 8 p.m., could be a bargain for those who like boxing in the jumbo economy size.
There are a couple of potential gems in there, like Bernard Hopkins defending his undisputed middleweight title against a capable challenger, William Joppy, and a welterweight unification battle between the exciting Ricardo Mayorga of Nicaragua and Cory Spinks, the 25-year-old son of Leon.
The chance of an upset in either of the two fights is slight. Hopkins is an overwhelming favorite, and Mayorga, who has twice beaten the 2002 fighter of the year, Vernon Forrest, is the comfortable choice against Spinks.
Joppy, a three-time winner of the World Boxing Association's 160-pound title, including its current version, was knocked out in five rounds by Felix Trinidad Jr. in King's 2001 middleweight tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Hopkins, on the other hand, stopped Trinidad, who until then was unbeaten. But Hopkins has done more fighting in court than in the ring since then. Joppy rebounded with a 12-round victory over a respected Briton, Howard Eastman.
Mayorga, the World Boxing Council and W.B.A. champion, also needs to get past Spinks's pesky southpaw stance to move on to major fights. Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali five days before Cory, the I.B.F. champion, was born, and his uncle Michael upset Larry Holmes.
Father and uncle will be in the corner Saturday, but unless this is tag-team boxing, the light-hitting Spinks will have to be almost perfect in order to win. King has already negotiated a deal for Mayorga, who guzzles beer and chain smokes cigarettes, to face Shane Mosley on March 13 in Las Vegas.
There is also a bout between a couple of former titleholders, Hasim Rahman and John Ruiz, for the interim heavyweight W.B.A. title, and a rematch of junior bantamweights, Luis Perez of Nicaragua defending the International Boxing Federation 115-pound title he won in January from Felix Machado of Venezuela.
The notion that eight title fights will be taking place is a little dubious. In the case of the Rahman-Ruiz fight, the W.B.A. heavyweight champion is Roy Jones Jr., who has no intention of facing the Rahman-Ruiz winner. So Rahman-Ruiz is only a title fight in the sense that the winner will get Jones's title when Jones sits tight.
These are the other title fights starting at 5 p.m.:
¶Zab Judah, who claims the World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight belt, in the opening TV bout against Jaime Rangel of Colombia.
¶Alejandro Garcia is fighting another undefeated fighter, Travis Simms of Norwalk, Conn., ranked No. 1 by the W.B.A.
¶Wayne Braithwaite, of Guyana and Brooklyn, defending his World Boxing Council cruiserweight title against Luis Pineda of Panama.
¶Victor Burgos of Mexico, the I.B.F. titleholder, vs. Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua, the W.B.A. champion, in a 108-pound junior-flyweight unification bout.