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Howard Eastman: Lost in Translation
By Jim Cawkwell (June 9, 2004) 
Howard Eastman
Reigning king Bernard Hopkins holds court in his middleweight fortress, while outside its walls grand plans are at work to overthrow his mighty grasp upon all he surveys. A line of successors has emerged; some are endowed with mighty riches but are without physical superiority while others are strong in body but lack the experience or the mental strength to realize their challenge. Across the Atlantic Ocean the United Kingdom is home to a hidden force. It has been revealed once but was temporarily repelled back into obscurity, and yet, it remains as one that may step forth once more and wield its power of considerable reckoning.

Howard Eastman’s native home, the former British Guiana, earned its liberation to be independently known as Guyana to the rest of the world. Now Eastman looks to earn his own liberation from that of being an unknown quantity to finally becoming a world champion of international renown. That task should have been completed in November of 2001 when he was matched with twice former WBA middleweight champion William Joppy.

Joppy’s efforts that night earned him his third championship, but those efforts appeared to represent the last forced stand of a once vital figure. In his loss it is my estimation that it was Eastman’s own performance which cost him. He stood like an immovable tower, swatting away Joppy’s speed, power and craft like an irritating pest while conducting affairs largely at his own pace and when he decided the need for urgency, he had Joppy on the canvas at his mercy. But his most authoritative work came too late and after too much posturing while Joppy’s desperate work-rate had bought him enough rounds to earn the decision.

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Howard Eastman is a man of an eccentric disposition and you need not look long to witness it. His dark Guyanese features are unusually interrupted by a beard dyed blond. His appearance may have prompted some wonder or amusement when first viewed by an unfamiliar world audience but his punches demanded respect and his performance swayed the affections of the Las Vegas crowd; they cheered him and expressed their sympathy and dissatisfaction over his defeat.

But that relationship has not yet had the opportunity to be rekindled. Lightly regarded as he previously was in America, Eastman entered the fight as a highly favored entity in the United Kingdom and the loss was a bitter one to accept. It was another year before Howard Eastman returned to action in a boxing ring.

Upon his return he quickly set about his own re-establishment and gathered to him once again the European championship. Soon his work ethic soared as he conquered four successive challenges in 2003. His decision win over world rated Sergey Tatesvoyan earlier this year could act as a springboard to another world championship attempt for the 'Battersea Bomber'.

Not long ago, Eastman’s manager/promoter Mick Hennessy released promotional material of Eastman dressed as a cowboy, a Guyanese gunslinger if you will. The poster read like a wanted sign and the most wanted individual on any middleweight’s agenda saw it. Hopkins was mildly amused at the advert and after he collects his generous share of the multi-millions that will flow from his September clash with Oscar de la Hoya, perhaps he will indulge his amusement one step further and grant Eastman a chance.

A last chance perhaps, for Eastman is thirty-three years of age and time is of the essence for him but also because Hopkins is considerably older and will likely dictate the manner of his farewell tour even more carefully than he has managed his career to date.

Guyanese representation on the modern world boxing stage is enjoying a healthy resurgence. The light first ignited by the likes of Raul Frank and Andrew 'Six Heads' Lewis has been fueled into a fine blaze thanks to the success of Wayne Braithwaite (undefeated WBC cruiserweight champion), Vivian Harris (WBA light-welterweight champion), heavyweight contender Andre Purlette and of course middleweight hopeful Howard Eastman.

The road to total domination for each of these fighters will be long and perilous to travel, with Eastman’s perhaps being the boldest of all. But as Hopkins ages, though he is no less prepared, time and the natural way of things as they are in boxing threaten to make him vulnerable at some time. And if that time is the hour when Howard Eastman is sharing the same ring, the 'Bomber' may be able to realize his dream, no longer condemned to be a little known import lost in translation.
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