One week from Saturday the next "big fight" takes place when Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis square off in a heavyweight title unification fight.
When the fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is over, we should - in theory anyway - have just one heavyweight champion of the world. But since we know what happened in their first fight, there is always the possibility we could get another bad decision, draw or some sort of disqualification type ending that will leave things unresolved.
While I don't think that will happen this time around, it should be noted that those famous "Las Vegas decisions" from the past are still happening and could easily happen again.
A case in point, Oscar De La Hoya's loss on points to Felix Trinidad in the last "Big Fight" in Las Vegas was wrong, in my opinion. And I believe those Vegas judges got it wrong again, calling Trinidad the winner,
so anything is possible.
However, in this case, the fight and all the publicity from their first fight should be a warning that the judges - if the fight goes to a decision - better get it right or they will feel the heat from the media and many others in and out of boxing.
A bad decision for this fight will sink boxing even lower than it has gone in the past few years.
As for the fight itself, I look for Holyfield to fight a much improved fight against Lewis. Not only did Holyfield lose that first fight, he didn't fight a very good or smart fight against Lewis. I'm sure Holyfield has studied the tape of that fight many times and will fight a different and better fight this time around.
Will that be enough to win? Holyfield, the WBA and IBF champ. is listed at $+1.40 for the fight. Lewis, the WBC champ, is the favorite at $-1.80.
The temptation here is to take Holyfield, since Lewis fought what appeared to be his best fight to date . I doubt he can change much while Holyfield can alter his fight style and plan to respond to Lewis.
I'll wait until next week to give you my prediction. I do favor Holyfield a little bit, but he will be spotting Lewis some 25 pounds (245 to 220, roughly) and three years in age. Holyfield may not be able to overcome that, especially the age factor, as he is an "old" 36 in fight years while Lewis is 33 and hasn't taken the poundings in the ring that Holyfield has.
One other note. The fight is available on pay-per-view TV but remember, that first fight wasn't a barn-burner by any means and don't expect to see a classic this time, either. Not only was the first fight a tad boring with little real action, Lewis is a cautious fighter and doesn't mix it up much with his opponents. Just a fair warning not to expect a classic fight, but if we do get one, so much the better!
TYSON GETS LUCKY - The Nevada State Athletic Commission decided last week to do nothing regarding Mike Tyson's foul punch against Orlin Norris and released his reported $8.7 million purse for the fight.
The commission did tell Tyson to "leave town before sundown" like they used to in those old western movies, however.
"My advice is for Tyson to pack his bags and take this act on the road," commissioner Lorenzo Feritta said after the decision was made to give "Iron Mike" his loot. "I'm not so sure we need him in the state of Nevada any longer."
Basically, that's what the rest of the commission's five members said, too.
"We're not prepared to have hoodlums fight in the state of Nevada," added commission chairman Dr. Elia Ghanem.
As for their decision, the commission was probably right although they could have, and in my opinion should have, fined Tyson a fair amount because he did commit a foul that ended the fight. But that would have meant overuling their own referee, who called it accidental while penalizing Tyson two points for the flagrant foul.
Just for the record, I believe referee Richard Steele made the right call at the time, but he was a little slow in getting between the fighters when the bell rang and that helped cause the situation. A split-second quicker and Steele would have been between the fighters before that late blow was ever thrown. That's just my opinion, after all, and I won't argue the commission's decision because it wasn't that far out-of-line.
In any case, Tyson will fight someone again, hopefully not only outside of Nevada, but out of the country and, maybe he'll get his block knocked off. Then we can be rid of Tyson once and for all.
Probably just wishful thinking on my part though ....
ALI'S DAUGHTER FIGHTS AGAIN - One week from today at Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort in West Virginia, Laila Ali will fight her second professional fight against an unnamed stiff as they continue to build her up as a future champion. The 21-year-old daughter of "The Greatest" has a long way to go but in women's boxing and at her weight - 168 pounds - there isn't much competition out there and she may well prove to be championship material in women's boxing. The fight won't be televised, but all the sports shows will have highlights of it.
-- There is TV for a couple of good fights this week. Friday night the weekly ESPN2 live fight card features Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza giving a rematch to Dana Rosenblatt as the main event.
Pazienza, a former three-time world champ, is 46-7 with 29 KO's. He beat Rosenblatt in their first fight by stopping him in round 4 of their super middleweight (168-pound limit) fight after Pazienza lost the first three rounds. They fight for the unknown IBO super middleweight title.
Rosenblatt (35-1, 23 KO's) has only that loss on his record and wants revenge. It should be a good match because Pazienza comes to fight and likes to mix it up with his opponents. Rosenblatt is no slouch in the ring, either. Telecast begins at 6 p.m. Repeats Monday at 9:30 p.m.
-- Saturday nigh on HBO, two heavyweight fights are on tap. Hasim Rahman takes on Oleg Maskaev and Lance "Mount" Whitaker fights Derrick Jefferson. The action starts at 11 p.m.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.