For all the criticism I aim at the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones and Evander Holyfield for their unwillingness to accept the passing of time and talent and for all the disappointment I feel hearing Marco Antonio Barrera and Chris Byrd are set to return to action it conversely provides great comfort to learn plucky veteran Manuel Medina is still performing close to his best well into his thirties. James Toney and Vitali Klitschko may garner more attention but neither has contested the number of world-titles the 37 year old Mexican has.
Famous on these shores for beating Scot Harrison in an upset for the WBO Featherweight title and for a gallant effort versus the then incomparable Prince Naseem Hamed in 1996 and again to Paul Ingle in 1999, the gnarled veteran will compete in a third consecutive IBF eliminator for the Super-Featherweight belt on August 29th. In total, as far as boxrec.com record, he has fought in 21 world-title fights as sanctioned by the four leading bodies; WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO and is a particularly favourite son of the IBF. He’s 8-7 in IBF title fights over a career which began in 1985 aged just 14.
He has faced an exhaustive list of leading contenders and champions between 126 and 130 pounds, variously including Tom Johnson, Johnny Tapia, Cassius Baloyi, Victor Polo, Luisito Espinoza, Derrek Gainer, John John Molina, Juan Manuel Marquez as well as the British trio of Ingle, Hamed and Harrison. And though the illustrious career paths of Barrera and Morales never led to his door, it would be cruel to entirely dismiss the achievement of winning world-title belts on 5 different occasions simply because he was never the consensus champion. Medina has always demonstrated incredible resolve, grit, fearlessness, was always fit, eager and ambitious.
His next venture takes him back to South Africa to face Malcom Klassen, the former IBF Super-Featherweight champion who has conducted his entire career in his homeland. It will be a return for the globe trotting Mexican, who challenged Baloyi for the title in July 2007, a cut leaving a unsatisfactory technical draw on his record.
More than a year of inactivity, uncharacteristic for a busy fighter with more than 80 contests and 600 rounds on his slate, is hard to ignore. And with home support the presumption is the fresher Klassen prevails over the distance. Its unlikely Medina will accept that fate easily.
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