By: George H. Hanson Jr., Esq.
Vampires do exist. In 1897 Dr. Abraham Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters made the long trek from London to Transylvania— the Carpathian Mountain near the Borgo Pass—in hot pursuit of Count Dracula, the Prince of Darkness and Romanian aristocrat. Sedulous in their endeavor they brought an end to the vampire’s reign of terror by slitting his throat and impaling his heart. Dracula, the undead, disintegrated to dust, hurled into hell for eternity— over four centuries of evading sunlight and feasting on blood terminated.
Next Friday, February 15th Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson (13 wins – 5 losses – 1 draw – 7 kos), the USBA and NABF cruiserweight champion, his trainer/manager Rodney Rice and photographer Chris Toney will be boarding a plane at Philadelphia International Airport—final destination—Galati Romania. Absent will be Uncle Russell—J. Russell Peltz—Wilson’s promoter who has a show in Atlantic City the following weekend. No, there haven’t been any recent sightings of the infamous Count. But, like Van Helsing and his cohorts, they are going to Romania to render another mortal hapless, only not permanently.
On Friday, February 22nd, Wilson, ranked #3 by the International Boxing Federation (“IBF”) will face the #4 ranked contender—Germany’s Alexander Alekseev (23 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw – 20 kos) in a 12-rounder. The winner will become the mandatory challenger for the IBF cruiserweight title currently head by Yoan Pablo Hernandez of Germany. Instead of garlic, wooden stakes and silver bullets the weapons of choice will be left hooks, uppercuts and overhand rights.
Allow me to reach in my bag of clichés and retrieve one of my own—Wilson and Rice are like butter in a restaurant—they are on a roll! Since hooking up in the summer of 2010 they have gone 6 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 5 knockouts. With Rice at the helm Wilson scored a spectacular first round one-punch knockout of Reshawn Scott on July 30, 2010. Their second fight was a highly controversial draw against Andres Taylor on September 11, 2010 in Taylor’s hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. One judge scored it a draw, one for Wilson with Greg “Little But Bad” Sirb, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission—in what appears to be an egregious conflict of interest—serving as a judge, scored in favor of Taylor. Vampires do exist— and they come in all sizes.
Wilson’s meteoric rise is primarily attributed to what transpired on the night of November 5, 2010. Coming off the draw with Taylor, Rice took a huge gamble by accepting a fight with highly touted cruiserweight contender Aaron Williams (20 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw – 13 kos) in his backyard of Mayfield, Ohio. Hardly anyone gave Wilson (8 wins – 5 losses – 1 draw – 3 kos) a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating the more accomplished slick boxer. Williams had racked up almost as many knockouts as Wilson had fights. The rest is history as the Philly fighter won by technical knockout in the seventh round requiring a police escort to make it back to the dressing room away from the animus of Williams’ flabbergasted fans.
I was ringside for Wilson’s last fight on April 14, 2012—the rematch with Taylor for the vacant NABF cruiserweight title. The fight was held on neutral ground at Bally’s in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Wilson toyed with Taylor for eleven rounds putting him in dire straits on several occasions. In the final round a murderous six-inch left hook anchored Taylor to the canvas fast asleep sending chills and shockwaves throughout the audience—many believing that the fallen fighter was unconscious contemplating whether or not to walk towards the white light of the world beyond. Fortunately, after a five-minute nap, the medics revived Taylor.
“He ain’t fighting Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns,” I retorted after someone asked me about Wilson’s chances of beating Alekseev. This has become my standard response when giving my thoughts on upcoming fights particularly those involving pugilists from my city—Philadelphia—The City of Brotherly Love, the boxing hotbed of America. The landscape has changed tremendously and there are only a few boxers with the array of skills close to those of Arguello, Benitez, Duran, Hagler, Hearns, Holmes, Leonard, McCallum, Pryor, Sanchez and the many great fighters from the Golden Age of Boxing—the 80’s. And those two guys, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez are both several divisions south of the cruiserweight limit.
Alekseev is a six-feet-two southpaw with only two losses—both by knockout. He suffered his first setback on January 17, 2009 when he was stopped in the ninth round by Victor Emilio Rodriguez for the WBO interim title—please don’t ask me to define “interim title.” Then on July 17, 2010 he was knocked senseless in the second round by Denis Lebedev in a WBO cruiserweight title eliminator. Moral of the story—Dracula can avoid sunlight when stalking an alluring pulchritudinous damsel, but Alekseev can’t elude being separated from his senses when the stakes are high.
Garrett Wilson is a family man who understands the significance of securing a shot at a world title. This will be the first time in a few years that his wife Jenae won’t be at ringside cheering wildly as he wreaks havoc on his opponent. She will be staying home in Philadelphia with their four children: sons Dean (age 11) and Legend (age 2); and daughters Ajalon (age 7) and Legacy (age 4). These little ones are Wilson’s motivation for fighting with every ounce of energy and with all the fibers of his body in the squared circle. Boxing will fund his precocious children’s college education and provide them with a better life.
I hope Chris Toney gets a picture of Alekseev the first time Wilson cracks him in the body. I want to examine his expression because I am confident that it will show consternation, disbelief and trepidation. I doubt that there is another cruiserweight that is as strong or punches harder than Wilson. If such a fighter exists he is competing on a planet in another galaxy. Wilson’s feats of strength are legendary. Last month, after his workout I witnessed him bench-press 305-pounds as though it were a 20-pound sack of potatoes. Rice wears another layer of protection—a pair of leather punch mitt— under the Gel Shock Super Body protector that he dons for Wilson to work on the art of body punching. I am sure Alekseev will complain that Wilson has his wraps encased and fortified with plaster of paris similar to the infamous Antonio Margarito. But, there won’t be a shred of evidence.
Wilson has gone into the lion’s den, slew its inhabitants and strolled out unscathed. I don’t believe that he would have been awarded a decision over Aaron Williams had the fight gone the eight-round distance. And I am convinced that I have a better chance of beating Usain Bolt in a footrace than Wilson has of getting a decision in Romania. A technical knockout will not suffice. I recall Librado Andrade dropping IBF super-middleweight champion Lucien Bute of Romania in the twelfth round of their October 24, 2008 title fight. The bout should have been over, but they were in Quebec, Canada—Bute’s adopted home. In an inexplicable, admissible, despicable display of incompetency referee Marlon Wright gave Bute what seemed to be an eternity to recover, delaying the count allowing the champion to make it to the final bell. Bute retained his title by unanimous decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if every year there is a Christmas present under Bute’s tree bearing Wright’s name. Wilson will have to take a page out of Van Helsing’s manual and leave his adversary motionless on the floor. History is on my side—he will have to knock Alekseev out cold.
“This guy is a speed bump on the road to me fulfilling a promise to Garrett of him becoming a world champion,” stated Rice during our recent interview. He further added, “This has been a long time coming and it is a golden opportunity for a fighter such as Garrett who is explosive and puts fear in his opponents’ hearts. It’s unfortunate that this isn’t on American television.” Both fighter and trainer displayed wry smiles in response to my proclamation that Wilson can only win by a knockout. They indicated that they have no prediction except that Wilson’s hand will be raised in victory. Call it gamesmanship or being politically correct. It is easy for me to indict the officials, since I am not going to Romania. Besides, the pen is mightier than the sword and in a war of words call me Jack the Ripper.
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!