The great thing about the Beltway Boxing scene is that there are many potential matchups are available. The ideal scenario would be if the bouts took place with something, say a title, were on the line.
Such probably would be the case if two of our 154/160 pounders would meet in the ring. I thank Chris Nicholson, a great writer of boxing and other subjects, for looking into a potential matchup between Jimmy Lange and George Rivera.
Is “Jimmy Lange Vs. George Rivera” On The Horizon?
By Christopher P. Nicholson
It seems like whenever there is a full boxing card, there is an undercard bout that generates nearly as much discussion as the main event. Jimmy Lange’s fight against Grover Wiley at George Mason University’s Patriot Center last November was one of these. As expected, Lange prevailed with a unanimous decision over Wiley, after a rough and tumble battle. But what wasn’t expected and is still being discussed was George Rivera’s victory over Jessie Nicklow.
Just two months prior, Nicklow won a unanimous decision over Rivera in Baltimore, and the smart money was predicting a repeat. Most recently, Rivera won a unanimous decision over Ike Ezeji in Fluvanna, Va., raising Rivera’s record to 10-4, with 3 KO’s.
Then this month, Lange stopped Frank Houghtaling in the fifth round of another Patriot Center main event, winning the WBC USNBC Light Middleweight Title and raising his record to 30-3-2, with 21 KO’s. Ever since, speculation has revolved around a possible Lange-Rivera light middleweight match-up.
But given the technology and tone of the times, much of this speculation has been online, often anonymous as well as personal and, at times, borderline abusive. For every step forward that the Internet has given to the freedom of speech, it has taken two steps back on the freedom to face one’s accusers. And nowhere has this been more evident in the local boxing scene than this “Boxing Along The Beltway” (BATB) blog.
“It is a fine line on which I have tried very hard to balance,” said BATB blogmeister Gary “Digital” Williams. “For a brief time I tried blocking all anonymous postings, but all that achieved was a drastic reduction in comment participation, and a screeching halt to just about any discussion with any spirit.”
Johnny Lange, Jimmy Lange’s father and manager concurs. “While I don’t begrudge anybody’s right to state his or her opinion, it sure is hard to respond to attacks from people hiding behind their anonymous postings. A prime example was the barrage of comments suggesting that we were afraid of George Rivera and were ducking a fight with him. The truth is that I discussed it in depth with Rivera’s camp, shortly after the Nicklow rematch.”
Joe Hensley, head of Major League Boxing and promoter for Rivera, confirms these discussions. “We talked for a while, but the bottom line was that the timing wasn’t right for either of us, and we never got into specifics. But now, George is at his prime and I’d go as far as saying he could take any fighter, not just in the Virginia/Maryland/D.C. area, but in the whole Mid-Atlantic region.
“We would love to meet Jimmy Lange in a Patriot Center bout,” Hensley continued. And there lies the rub. While I.C.E. Promotions has a Jimmy Lange card scheduled at the Patriot Center on September 26th, Lange’s camp would like a possible Lange-Rivera match-up to be earlier.
“We could be ready as early as mid-June,” said Johnny Lange. “Joe [Hensley] has been putting on some super shows in the Greater Charlottesville area, and we’d welcome being part of one of those.”
From Hensley’s perspective, the barrier is purely business. “If it were cost-effective to host Jimmy down here, I’d jump on it in a heartbeat. But I just can’t see that matching up Jimmy and George in a 1,000-seat venue would make financial sense or serve the best interests of either fighter.
“I’ve promoted two shows with the Langes,” continued Hensley. “I made good money both times and have nothing but good things to say about that experience. I would be eager to work with them again if we could make it work from a business perspective, which would probably have to be a larger, Northern Virginia venue like the Patriot Center.”
While Johnny Lange declined to get specific about what would preclude a Jimmy Lange/George Rivera main event on the next Patriot Center card, conventional wisdom centers on two factors. First, those arena shows have been slowly adding national sponsors, which would be more difficult to recruit for a card headed by two local fighters.
But perhaps more significantly, the September 26th card would almost certainly have to be a title defense with a WBC-approved contender. Lange’s Houghtaling win moved his ranking up to number 11. Lange lost his WBC Continental Americas Title Belt due to inactivity, when he had shoulder surgery in 2007. And the chances would be nil of him risking that same fate by taking on a non-title fight in September.
Hensley disputes that WBC sanctioning would be an obstacle for Rivera. “Look, George has gone eight rounds twice, and has had victories over two impressive fighters, Jessie Nicklow and Clarence ‘Sonny Bono’ Taylor. If and when Jonathan Reid gets added to George’s list of quality wins [on June 12th] WBC sanctioning of a Lange/Rivera title fight should be a non-issue.”
As far as Rivera is concerned, he’ll take a closer step toward contender status, literally, with the Reid fight on June 12th in Caroline, Va. Reid was featured with Lange on Season I of The Contender on NBC.
So, back to the question, “Is a Lange vs. Rivera fight on the horizon?” It’s been said that whenever a headline takes the form of a question, you can be sure that the article will not actually answer the question. So the qualified non-answer here would be, “Yes, it’s likely on the horizon, but don’t expect that horizon to appear before June 12th, and probably not before Sept. 26th.”
Chris Nicholson is a full-time independent writer based in Sterling, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org