Sunday, July 31, 2005

Who are THE Prospects Along The Beltway?

Many people ask me about the state of boxing along the Beltway. Where are we now?

My answer is that boxing along the Beltway is in what I call a "transitional" state. What that means is that we have passed through the time where we had major champions and contenders. Back in the mid-90's, DC had four world champions AT THE SAME TIME!! Keith Holmes and William Joppy held two-thirds (WBC and WBA respectively) of the middleweight title, Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson was IBF Flyweight champ and Sharmba Mitchell held the WBA junior welterweight championship.

When you add Baltimore's contribution of Vincent Pettway as IBF Junior Middleweight champion, that's five world titles along the Beltway from 1994-1999. A couple of years later, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley won the WBO Junior Welterweight title and of course, Hasim Rahman shocked the world by winning the world heavyweight title.

But although everyone mentioned (except Pettway) are still active in the sport, most people, myself included, believe that their best days have past.

The area still has contenders like Jimmy Lange and Darnell "The Ding-A-Ling Man" Wilson, but they have yet to step up to the higher eschelon of the sport.

So where's our next wave coming from? Fortunately, the Beltway does have a number of prospects that you should keep your eyes on. With that in mind, here's my list of the top 10 prospects in the area. The list is in alphabetical order.

1. Ishmail "The Arsenal" Arvin -- This Baltimore junior middleweight is truly something to watch. He is 13-0-1 with six knockouts. He has great speed and is a solid ring general. His power is also improving.

2. Henry "Sugar Poo" Buchanan -- Buchanan has been fighting as a light heavyweight but this Capitol Heights, MD native is better as a super middleweight at this stage. Buchanan is 11-0 with 10 KO's. He has great hand speed and solid power. He won his first 10 bouts by knockout before a unanimous decision win in his last contest. Buchanan also has shown a very strong chin. Can be a little too cocky, but so far he has backed up his cockiness.

3. Corey "Black Ice" Cummings -- This Baltimore cruiserweight has been fighting under the radar for awhile but this guy's legit. A power puncher who is always in shape, Cummings is 13-0, 10 KO's and has won his last six bouts by knockout.

4. Tony "Cyclone" Cygan -- A super middleweight from Middle River, MD, Cygan is showing some serious talent. He is showing power and great skill. In his last bout at Martin's West in Woodlawn on July 21, Cygan put on a clinic on how to throw body shots. Cygan is 7-0 with five KO's.

5. "The American Dream" Mike Dietrich -- This rapidly improving heavyweight from Dundalk, MD is really coming on strong early in his career. Dietrich is just 6-0 with two knockouts but for his last two bouts, he has been trained by former Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney and his talent is starting to show.

6. "The Persecutor" Mike Paschall -- A super middleweight from Baltimore, Paschall may be one of the most exciting boxers seen along the Beltway in quite some time. People are STILL talking about his pro debut in May 2004 which was one of the most exciting debuts I've seen in years. Paschall is 5-0 with two knockouts and is rapidly becoming a crowd favorite.

7. Anthony Peterson -- This heralded junior welterweight from DC is powerful and exciting. Peterson has been very impressive throughout his short career amassing a record of 11-0 with eight KO's. Peterson fought on the undercard of the Kevin McBride-Mike Tyson bout and may have been the most impressive boxer of the entire night. Not bad for someone just 20 years old.

8. Lamont Peterson -- Anthony's older brother (21 years old) came into the pro ranks with a tremendous amateur record, narrowily missing a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. Doesn't have the power of his brother, but is a slightly better ring general. His record is 12-0, six knockouts and he has already gone 10 rounds in his career.

9. Orazio "The Razor" Robinson -- This young welterweight from Woodbridge, VA got off to a rough start losing his pro debut, but he has really turned his career around, going 5-0-2 with four KO's in his last seven bouts. Robinson is scheduled to be on the Sept. 17 card at the Patriot Center. He could steal the show there. Robinson has really improved his power and overall talent.

10. Russ "The Hammer" Shiflett -- A cruiserweight from Baltimore, Shiflett is another fan favorite who is improving with each bout. May be a couple of years away from contending but he could be a comer in the near future. Shiflett is 7-0-1, four KO's.

So these are the boxers to look out for in the coming months. I will keep you updated on their progress. If you think there is someone that should be or shouldn't be on this list, let me know.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Can Virginia Make it Happen?

I will have a complete boxing schedule for the Beltway coming up for the next few weeks, but there is one card that is getting some attention.

The first significant card to take place in Northern Virginia in years is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 17 at George Mason University's Patriot Center. Junior middleweight Jimmy Lange of Great Falls, VA is challenging Perry Ballard of Leesburg, VA for the World Boxing Empire (WBE) Junior Middleweight title in the main event.

I will try to explain what the WBE is later in this post. The focus should be on the card itself. In a recent Washington Times column ("Virginia has no Fighting Chance") the card was immediately shot down by my boxing writing colleague Thom Loverro. In fact, the first thing Thom said to me when I arrived at the press conference for this event was "ambitious, aren't they?"

Yes, this is a very ambitious card, done at a very ambitious location for what truly is a glorified club show. But at least it's something. I agree with Thom in saying that the promoters (Keystone Boxing) won't get anywhere near the 10,000 needed to fill the Patriot Center. As a matter of fact, they are scaling the Patriot Center for around 7,000. If this card draws half of that, I'll consider that a success.

Let's take a look at the main event. Jimmy Lange will make his first appearance since his time on the NBC reality series "The Contender" in a bout he really doesn't want. Lange is on a totally different plane than Ballard. Arguably, he is the most popular boxer in the area and that was the case even BEFORE "The Contender." He draws very well and he will put butts in the seats because of his new-found notoriety and because of his talent.

The problem is Jimmy needs this bout for two reasons: One, he needs to stay busy and two, he hasn't truly had a good in-ring performance in his last three outings. On May 1, 2004 in his last fight prior to the TV show , Lange fought terribly but won a split decision over Sammy Sparkman. In his two fights on "The Contender," he lost to Joey Gilbert in a bout he had NO business losing and he defeated Tarick Salmaci in a bout that was tougher than it should have been. So not only does Lange need work, he needs to look good in this next bout.

Against Ballard, Lange will have an opportunity to achieve both goals. Ballard is a 38-year-old boxer with a undergraduate degree from Fairmont State University and a masters from West Virginia University. He boxes truly for the love of the sport. He doesn't need to do this.

Ballard is undefeated (17-0, 13 KO's) but Lange will be the FIRST person Ballard faces that has a winning record. As a matter of fact, if you look on Ballard's record, you'll notice that there are people he has faced who were 0-22 and 0-25 at the time he faced them.

Ballard is a showman and is also very popular. As a boxer, Ballard is a good showman. If this scheduled 12-round bout reaches double digits in rounds, Jimmy Lange needs to find something else to do with his life.

As far as the World Boxing Empire, they actually do exist and have been around for a few years and they have sanctioned bouts as far away as the Philippines.

Also on this card are Lamont "Bay" Pearson and debuting George Mason University graduate Mike Sawyer. More about them in a future post.

Joppy and Corley -- WHO KNEW?

Here's an interesting situation. Former world champions William Joppy and DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley were involved in bouts in Charleston, South Carolina on July 28.

According to my new Fightnews colleague, Trey Horres (welcome aboard!), both Joppy and Corley were successful against substandard competition. Joppy defeated Rashan Abdul Blackburn by TKO in the third round (Blackburn came in with a record of 8-35) while Corley won an eight round unanimous decision over Kevin Carter (9-45-1).

Where did these bouts come from? Talking about desiring to stay busy!

There has been some talk about former NABF Welter and Junior Middleweight champ Teddy Reid challenging Joppy in the near future. The talk is coming from Reid's new manager, Felix Dialosio. We'll see what happens with that.

But right now, both Joppy and Corley seem to be off the radar!

Welcome to Boxing Along The Beltway

Hi everyone! I'm Gary "Digital" Williams. I finally decided to write a blog to talk about what is going on in the boxing world along the Beltway!

For those who don't know, the Beltway consists of Washington, DC, Maryland and the northern section of Virginia. For many years, this area has been one of the best in the country for boxers. There is suddenly a lot going on in the area and you'll be able to read about it right here. I will try to be as current as I can with this blog.

I have covered the area for many different media for the past 17 years. I currently write for But there will be posts here that you won't find anywhere else.

I plan to have fighter profiles, interviews, information on upcoming events, results of boxing and rankings of the top 10 fighters in the area.

You'll also get my feelings on what I think is going on in the area -- good and bad. These comments you will only find here.

Feel free to write in with comments. I definitely want to read your thoughts.

We'll talk soon!