To casual fans of the sport in polite conversation in the office or across the pool table I can appear to know everything about boxing. Of course I don’t, in fact I can barely scratch the surface if really pushed on fighters of the modern era or times gone by in comparison with true boxing historians. I just appear, in comparison to those for whom boxing is a by-gone curiosity or a console game, to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the noble art. I state this to alleviate the disappointment I felt on realising Cedric Boswell would not be the dangerous watershed for Roman Greenberg I presumed he would.
Perhaps it is simply the ease with which the mediocre heavyweights America has produced over the past 15 years can be confused with each other. When I summoned the mental file on Boswell, was I picturing a thundering amalgam of Boswell, Owen Beck, Gerald Nobles, Danell Nicholson and Calvin Brock? Maybe I was mentally combining the powers and record of Monte Barrett, Malik Scott, Taurus Sykes and Terry Smith. Had I simply accrued the relative merits of Lance Whittaker, Ed Mahone, and Charles Shufford into a solitary fighter? Whichever it was, I was a long way wide of the mark.
Because I really did believe. I didn’t check, I didn’t dig into Boswell’s record. I just accepted that finally, after 14,000 sycophantic press releases, 27 essentially meaningless contests and seven years as a professional Roman Greenberg was taking a fight he could lose. Yeah! I’ve heard of Boswell, he’s been around, he must be pushing 40 by now but he’s a hard, rounded fighter. A good yardstick for Greenberg I thought, a fighter spoon-fed hollow opponents in Europe and the US for far too long.
His handlers always point to his youth to excuse the painfully careful matchmaking, and true he has always had age on his side. But it is a theory exploded by Alexander Povetkin, a fighter on the cusp of a title shot in the half the time and fewer fights. Gym rats relay numerous tales of Greenberg being flattened in sparring by everyone from Michael Sprott to Herbie Hide to Terry McCann and the lack of progress in Greenberg’s career has done nothing but fan these flames. A whisper last year that he was on the short-list for a Klitschko bout suggested his management team didn’t believe it was worth risking their not-insignificant investment against a contender to whom he may lose, much better to take the bigger pot and cash in against a Klitschko. Even if Greenberg would have been a lamb to the slaughter.
The fight didn’t materialise of course, and now we have Nobles, I mean Beck, no sorry, Boswell. Who on closer inspection isn’t the top 20 gatekeeper I’d instinctively believed him to be. In reality Boswell has stepped out of the circuit and into the limelight with a fully-fledged contender just once; being stopped by tentative Jameel McCline in 10. Beyond that his 27-1 slate is essentially bereft of quality, ambition or value.
At 39, with just 16 rounds banked since that defeat to McCline in 2003, and all against the type of journeyman opponents usually the preserve of younger prospects like Greenberg – Cliff Couser the most recent – there is little to tempt punters into backing an upset victory. [Although SecondsOut.com report Boswell has weighed in at his lightest, 223lbs, since 1999. Greenberg has been encouraged enough to tip the scales at 231lbs.]
What Greenberg really needs, sooner rather than later, is an opponent more akin to the only man to put an L in Boswell’s otherwise pristine resume. Jameel McCline.
I’m just pleased I will at least be able to put a face to the name of one of America’s straggling herd of heavyweights. Every cloud…
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