Around the World in 80 Days
By Bobby Jones (August 18, 2005)  
Everybody get your tickets now! If you hop on board now you will get to the majority of the world in just 80 days. The itinerary, so far (this is boxing after all), has us going coast to coast in America and everywhere in between: Australia, England, Germany, and perhaps some non-expected stops on the way. Sorry for the short notice, but the tour starts Thursday, and we’re leaving whether you are ready or not.

August 18 – San Jose, California

Here we’ll get to see if Audley Harrison has the tools to become a major factor in the heavyweight division, or if he will fall down the wayside like so many others. Also, while visiting San Jose will get to see two of the biggest former Olympic contenders to come along in quite some time: Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell. But we have to move quickly because we have to go halfway across America with only one free day.

August 20 – Rosemont, Illinois

Fernando Vargas takes a major step up in competition as he takes on Javier Castillejo, where the winner will more than likely fight Ricardo Mayorga. A lot of fans wonder, how much does Vargas has left after already being in some brutal fights with Tito Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya? After this fight, we’ll have a few days to go into Chicago if we wish, maybe check out a Cubs game, or maybe we’ll just take this time to rest up because we have a long flight ahead of us.

August 24 – Sydney, Australia

Vic Darchinyan is also a prospect worth keeping in eye on in the lower weight classes. On this night, he’ll be taking on Jair Jimenez in his toughest fight yet, as they do battle for the Australian-based Armenian’s IBF flyweight title. Luckily, Sydney is a beautiful city, because we are going to be here for about a week. We better all get plenty of sleep though, because I have a feeling jetlag is about to be a major problem.

September 3 – Berlin, Germany

In a meaningful super middleweight title fight local hero Markus Beyer will take on exciting fighter Omar Sheika. Sheika fought a game fight in losing a decision to Jeff Lacy, and Markus Beyer could be a possible opponent for Lacy also. We’ll have a couple of days to see the sites in Berlin before we head off to our next destination.

September 9 – Sheffield, England

In a battle of former Roy Jones Jr. opponents, Clinton Woods will be fighting Julio Gonzales. Both of these guys are right near the top of the light heavyweight division rankings and could make good possible opponents for the winner of the Roy Jones Jr.-Antonio Tarver rubbermatch. Or they could be next in line to fight for the Ring championship if Jones Jr. wins then subsequently retires, which win or lose, many people expect him to do. Now, you guys are going to kill me, but we have no time to spend in England because, well, we have about a 20 or so hour flight ahead of us. But I think you’ll forgive me when we get there.

September 10 – Los Angeles, California

I’m sorry about the long flight, but a fight card with Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao should cut me some slack. Sure, they aren’t fighting each other, but they are fighting formidable opponents: Zahir Raheem for Morales, and Hector Velazquez for Pacquiao. Raheem nearly beat former Olympian Rocky Juarez and probably would have if it hadn’t been for some questionable points being deducted by the ref. Either way, hopefully neither Manny nor Eric is looking past their opponents because a mega-million dollar rematch between the two might not be so far away. I think we might get to our next destination a couple days before the fight to take in some sights and sounds of this exciting city.

September 17 – Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but Robbie Peden is hoping that isn’t true. Peden hopes what happens in Vegas is that he relives Marco Antonio Barrera of his WBC super featherweight championship and adds the title to his IBF belt before heading home to Australia an instant megastar. No doubt this would be a huge upset because Barrera continues to be one of the best on the pound for pound list, not to mention the most exciting to watch list. Peden has his work cut out for him, but he has the opportunity and he’s proven before he’ll take advantage of what’s given to him (ask Nate Campbell). If you guys lost all your money gambling here in Vegas, then you are out of luck as we head to our next destination.

September 24 – Atlantic City, New Jersey

This is a crossroads bout of careers that are going two separate ways. One down, and one up, but with one devastating knockout they can trade roles just like that. Samuel Peter has been touted as the heavyweight savior, a title once reserved for his opponent on this night, Wladimir Klitschko. If Peter beats Klitschko he catapults to the top of the rankings and earns a title shot while Klitschko just keeps falling like many fans think he will continue to do. If Klitschko wins, he probably earns the ‘comeback of the year award’ and can continue his dream to be a world champion along with his big brother, Vitali. This fight will decide the future of the heavyweight division for the next couple of years. At this point though, you guys have probably felt like you’ve been traveling for years. The fun has only begun because we have four days to cross this ocean again to get to our next hot spot.

September 28 – Hamburg, Germany

Lamon Brewster has guts. That’s all there is to it. It’s hard to imagine there will be a more biased crowd in any fight this century, let alone this year. Luan Krasniqi and Lamon Brewster will fight for Brewster WBO title on what would have been Max Schmeling’s 100th birthday. Schmeling is a legend in Germany the same way Babe Ruth is in America, probably even more so. This fight won’t be on TV back in the States, so coming on this trip is the only way to see it. It should be worth it, if only for the atmosphere. Krasniqi is an underrated boxer with good skills and pretty good power. Which Brewster will show up? The one who fought tooth and nail with Kali Meehan, or the one who blew out Andrew Golota in front of the Polish community in Chicago earlier this year? Brewster, as you see has been in a similar situation, but to me, nothing can top what awaits him in Hamburg on September 28th. Speaking of awaits, what awaits us next?

October 1 – Tampa, Florida

We may witness here possibly the last match of one of the all time greats in our sport, Roy Jones Jr. Skill wise, it’s hard to name a handful of fighters that had more than Jones Jr. Larry Merchant said, “All great fighters have one great fight left in them.” And I believe this is what Roy Jones Jr. is banking on.

He’s going to have to block out two brutal knockouts in a row when he goes up against the man who gave him his first one, Antonio Tarver. Tarver is probably going to come into this fight in the same shape he came into the second fight. I’m guessing, along with many others, that this is going to be Jones Jr.’s last fight and he’s going to train like it is. I don’t expect him to do to Tarver what he did to Montell Griffin in their second fight, but I also don’t expect Jones Jr. to go out on his back, win or lose. Well, we are going to have a week down time here after this fight, but you won’t have to worry about room and board here since my uncle lives in Tampa, and I’m sure he won’t mind housing a few thousand boxing fans for the week.

October 8 – Las Vegas, Nevada

This is the last scheduled stop on our long trip but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting finishing point. It’s hard to imagine the rematch between Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo can live up to what many fans are calling the best fight they’ve ever seen. First of all, they took so much out of each other the first time they fought, what possibly could they have left? Also, historically rematches of great fights have generally been good, but well below what happened the first go around (they usually save that for the rubber match.) Either way, it promises to be an electrifying night. The first fight had only 5,000 or so spectators. This fight will be closer to 15,000 and is already pulling in record amounts in the box office and the fight is still the better part of two months away.

Technically the 80 days isn’t up until November 3rd, but I’m guessing some other fights will be made between now and then and we’ll be able to sneak them into our trip. A possibility is Hasim Rahman vs. Vitali Klitschko, if the cuts heal up fairly quickly on Rahman. That’s probably pushing it though. If you guys feel like sticking around though an extra two days after our 80 days is up we can probably go to Cardiff, Wales and watch Jeff Lacy and Joe Calzaghe fight for the undisputed 168-pound title. Either way, the next 80 days should be one of the more memorable times in the history of professional boxing. Enjoy!
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