Posted: Friday November 4, 2005 1:25PM; Updated: Friday November 4, 2005 3:20PM
Pemberton may be a decided underdog, but he's making the biggest payday of his career ($150,000) and the Sandman (Pemberton's gently evocative nickname that's a welcome counterpoint to the usual garish monikers) is unlikely to sleepwalk through what is certainly the last, best opportunity of his career. Though he hasn't fought in a year, Pemberton, who holds a TKO win over Omar Sheika from January '04 (Lacy beat Sheika on a close decision 11 months later), sounds ready to give Lacy a test.
For his part, Lacy insists that he is not looking past Pemberton to Calzaghe or any other superfight. I'm pretty sure that his longtime trainer, Dan Birmingham (who must be a versatile instructor, given that his other prize pupil, slick-boxing southpaw Winky Wright, is in many ways the fistic opposite of Lacy) will keep Lacy focused on the task at hand. And I'm sure that both trainer and fighter would very much like to produce a spectacular knockout Saturday night. Which ought to make for an exciting brawl. And, you know what? That's enough for me.
On Friday night, I'm headed back to the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City for what promises to be an interesting card. Unfortunately, Matisyahu, the Hasidic reggae superstar, won't be leading any ring walks this time. But there are a couple of other attractions.
First, promising Irish middleweight John Duddy (12-0, 11 KOs), now fighting out of New York, will be in action against Canadian Bryon Mackie (25-11, eight KOs). Duddy is a promoter's dream, a handsome kid who can really punch, but he also has a tendency to stand up just a little too straight. I'll be interested to see if his defense is catching up with his formidable offense -- something that had better happen if he hopes to continue developing into a contender.
The real attraction, though, as far as I'm concerned, is the presence of the greatest lightweight of all time -- maybe the greatest pure fighter of all time. Roberto Duran, now several weight classes past his 135-pound days, will be on hand with his protégé, welterweight Richard Gutierrez (16-0, 10 KOs) of Colombia. The 27-year-old Gutierrez will face Edson Aguirre (11-3-1, two KOs) in an eight-rounder. ...
I'd like to extend best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery to longtime radio and television boxing announcer "Colonel" Bob Sheridan. The Colonel, who has called more than 10,000 fights (including 700 title bouts) during a career that goes back to 1966, suffered what was described as a minor heart attack and is recovering in a Las Vegas hospital. I'm sure he is regaling the doctors -- and especially the nurses -- with some entertaining, ribald tales. As a young reporter hanging out with the old fight crowd many years ago, I was lucky enough to hoist more than a few jars with Sheridan, who truly is -- in every sense -- a larger-than-life character. ...
John Oden, the hard-punching 50-something hedge-fund maven and author of White Collar Boxing, whom I wrote about last week, clearly is a man of prodigious energy. Barely a week after organizing the F.I.S.T. Fights for New York benefit, Oden will be taking on another heavyweight -- namely, the New York City Marathon. I have no doubt that the Pecos Kid, as the Texas-born Oden bills himself, will go the distance. ...
I've heard it said that next week's Hasim Rahman-Vitali Klitschko fight promises to be "another heavyweight dud." I don't think so. I'm not saying it's going to be Ali-Frazier III all over again, but these are two big, strong pros, both of whom can punch and both of whom have shown they can be hit and hurt. To me, that sounds like the recipe for an action-packed -- and not very long -- evening. Which, to hammer home the theme of this column, ought to be enough.