|Lajuan Simon, USBA Champion, and Man with No Takers!
By Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (April 23, 2009)
Philly’s Lajuan Simon, 21-1-2 (12), is one of the nicest men you will meet “outside” of the ring. Inside, the USBA middleweight champion will box your ears off. Ask IBF champion Arthur Abraham who on March 14th of this year narrowly escaped losing his title in Germany.
Since winning the USBA title from Corey Johnson, 34-3-2, on September 13th, 2007, Simon had won 4 straight prior to the Abraham fight. The list of opponents who said “thanks, but no thanks” is growing
each day per his promoter Greg Azar of Rising Star Promotions. “We have challenged #7 Sebastian Sylvester, #8 Peter Quillen and #13 Brian Vera who is also the top rated USBA contender. Former light middleweight champion Bronco McKart is #6 and Andy Lee #5 in the USBA who have turned us down,” said Azar. #6 John Duddy seems more interested in the light middleweight title. “The only possible opponent right now is #9 Dionisio Miranda of Colombia hopefully by the end of June,” he added. Azar stated “the IBF notified me today (4/20) that we can begin negotiating with Roman Karmazin for the IBF I/C title! Karmazin has to defend his title and we are the highest available,” he added. Karmazin is #4 in the IBF.
In talking with Simon, he would like nothing better than a rematch with Abraham or else fight any of the other top contenders. “I would love to fight Giovanni Lorenzo the #1 IBF contender,” said Simon. He has sparred with Aaron Mitchell of Philly who is the USBA #11 and world rated #6 WBO and #13 WBA contender. “He came in one day to spar and we never saw him again,” added Simon.
When Abraham scored a 3rd round knockout over Canadian Sebastian Demers who was then ranked #15 in the IBF in May of 2007 Demers remained #15. He has since worked his way up ahead of Simon at #11 winning 7 of his last 8 against ordinary opposition and losing to Dionisio Miranda. When Simon lost to Abraham he dropped from #11 to #12. Abraham knocked out 6 straight opponents in title defenses up until the Simon fight. Included in those wins were #3 Khoren Gevor who was stopped in 11 on August 18, 2007.
“One of Abraham’s cornermen told me after the fight to stay at this weight class because he’ll (Abraham) move up and you’ll become champion,” said Simon. And that was in the ring after the decision was announced. This writer had Simon the winner in a close fight even though he dropped the last 2 rounds. “I was winded at the end but thought I did enough earlier to win,” said Simon. “He covered up most of the fight waiting for me to get winded,” he added. Abraham only fought in spurts while covering his face with both gloves throughout the bout. “He was the strongest opponent I have ever fought,” said Simon. One mistake in the bout was when Abraham was credited with a knockdown. “He threw his jab which I avoided by moving to his right and then pushed me with his right hand to the canvas,” added Simon. They did not show the replay on the screen. The referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. seemed to pick-up the count from the timekeeper or alternate referee at ringside as Simon jumped up immediately. Though Esteves works out of New Jersey primarily, all 3 judges were from outside of the United States.
Simon seemed to control the fight with his jab and left hooks to the body since Abraham kept his guard up. Simon’s trainers Wade and Randy Hinnant encouraged him to press forward since Abraham was so defensive and fighting on his home turf in Germany. “I am going back to the gym and preparing for my next bout the end of June. I hope it’s a USBA title defense,” said Simon. One possibility besides Miranda may be Daniel Edouard who is #13 USBA and #9 WBA contender. Speaking of the WBA, Simon would love to challenge their title holder Felix Sturm who main weapon is a jab as he proved in his fight with Oscar DeLaHoya. That decision in favor of the latter was so bad Sturm has never returned to the United States. It’s hard to think Sturm would have a quicker of more effective jab than Simon’s.
Simon’s manager Dave Escalete and Azar are hard at work trying to hold onto Simon’s USBA belt and break into the top ten of not only the IBF but the other organizations. Since Simon made such a strong showing in the Abraham bout it won’t make it any easier obtaining another title bout or moving in on Sturm’s contender list or even the WBO and WBC title holder Kelly Pavlik’s titles. Sturm will be defending against his #14 Japanese opponent who only has 14 bouts to his credit. Pavlik the prime champion of the belt holders is defending against his #1 opponent in Atlantic City in June. Possibly Simon can be introduced into the ring only hoping to someday be in the opposite corner when being introduced. Let’s hope nice guys don’t finish last. Because like Pavlik, Simon is one of the nicest boxers you will meet as long as it is outside the ring!
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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