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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
December 19, 2000

Oliveira to Hit and Not Be Hit   - by JD Vena 
 In the realm of boxing, having an exceptional ability to hit and not be hit usually determines that you are a good fighter.  To some pundits, it's a lost art or an art mastered by few.  Though most fighters who possess this treasured ability tend to have lasting careers, they have a more difficult time in mustering respect from their observers than flaunting their rare talent.  New Bedford's "Sucra" Ray Oliveira (41-7-1, 19 KO's) is one such
fighter who will hope to attain a higher level of respect by defeating  "Cool" Vince Phillips (41-5-1, 30 KO's) Friday night at Foxwoods Resort & Casino.  He'll need that respect in order to secure a third chance at
something he covets most - a world title.

 Oliveira and Phillips will be meeting for the vacant North American Boxing Federation jr. welterweight title, a title once owned by Oliveira until losing the belt via close decision to Reggie Green in August of '97.  Along
with that title went a margin of respect that many had for Oliveira following his one-sided, second victory over the highly regarded, Charles "The Natural" Murray four months prior.

Shortly following his loss to Green, Oliveira took on unbeaten welterweight sensation, Vernon Forrest on just 5 days notice and lost a 12 round decision.  Though Oliveira was dominated in their fight, he was the first
man to extend the much bigger Forrest the 12 round limit.  Forrest was able to deck Oliveira on one occasion but unable put the finishing touches on a man who has never been stopped.  Despite the top-notch opposition that Oliveira has faced in his decade-long career, he is one of three active pugilists to have fought over 350 rounds without ever being stopped.  Only James "Lights Out" Toney and Hector "Macho" Camacho have fought more rounds and kept their lights on throughout their careers.

"Ray is one of the real fighters out there," said friend and fellow contender "Irish" Micky Ward.  "There are a lot of things to admire about him: he fights everyone, he keeps coming at you and throws a lot of punches.
I don't think he's ever backed down from anyone"

Indeed, backing down is something Oliveira has never done.  In one of his most significant triumphs, his first victory over Murray, he took on the former IBF champion despite breaking his nose in a sparring session four
days prior to the fight.  In possibly his most impressive and career defining fight Oliveira not only showed tremendous resilience and discipline but also, unrelenting offense.  But Murray could tell you that first hand.

"Oliveira has a lot of good skills and you've got to have good skills to beat me," remarked Murray.  "Ray is always in condition, he takes a great shot and he doesn't let you breath."

In one of Oliveira's more memorable fights he and former WBO jr. welterweight champion, Zack "Attack" Padilla nearly suffocated each other with a CompuBox record of 3,020 punches thrown.  It is this style that
Oliveira hopes to employ to wear down the older Phillips who turned 37 this past July.

"With Vince being the older fighter, the pressure from Oliveira is going to give him problems," predicts Murray.  Three weeks ago, Murray was on the losing end of a 10 round welterweight bout to the lesser known, Larry Marks. While Phillips is attempting to recapture his youth and the stomping ground he ruled three years ago, Murray is painfully familiar with this losing battle.

"There's something inside you which makes you think you can still fight," said Murray.  "You can tell yourself all you want but your body doesn't respond.  As every day changes, so does your body.  Time is a friend to no one."

Since the loss to Vernon Forrest in 1997, time has been kind to Oliveira who is unbeaten in his last 12 starts.  In February, Oliveira tallied his most significant victory since defeating Murray by taking "Vicious" Vivian Harris to school for 10 rounds.  Though Oliveira scored a minor upset over the power-punching upstart, he wasn't able to summon the respect he feels he deserves.

"I honestly think that beating Harris did nothing for my critics," remarked Oliveira.  "More than ever, I have to prove that my critics are still wrong about me.  If anything, their criticism has allowed me to focus more on my
training.  I'm more dedicated now than when I was younger."

Though Oliveira has lost a degree of the speed that he used to retire hard hitting Tracy Spann, he still combines a high work rate and fights for three minutes.  He also seems to have learned from all of the mistakes he made early on when coming up short in close losses to Jake "The Snake" Rodriguez, Ricky Meyers and Sergei Artemiev.  Entering his 50th bout Friday night, Oliveira at 32 may be in his prime.

"I think at this point in Ray's career, he's sitting down more on his punches and he's more comfortable and confident about his abilities," said Oliveira's brother, Reinaldo Jr., a one-time fighter himself who fought
former middleweight champion, Vito Antuofermo.  "I think he has a lot left in his body because he doesn't take beatings the way other fighters do.  You rarely see a guy hit him twice in a row.  Ray is a master fighter and I'm very proud of him."

As a former IBF jr. welterweight champion, Vince Phillips was once regarded as a master fighter and owner of one of the deadliest right hands in the business.  Those skills were evident when he hammered the division's premier fighter, Kostya Tszyu three years ago.  Tszyu who now holds the WBC title has since reestablished himself as one of the best fighters in his weight division, something that Phillips plans to reclaim.  Though he is a year and a half removed from holding his cherished title, Phillips has shown flashes of his vaunted abilities in recent performances.  Like Oliveira, Phillips lost a forgivable 12 round decision earlier in the year to Forrest.  Since the defeat, he drew with top rated Ricky Quiles and destroyed former title challenger Pedro Saiz in five rounds this past August.

"Vince is a strong fighter," said Ward, who was stopped on cuts in his title fight with Phillips three years ago.  "I don't know how much he has left especially trying to get down in weight (to 140 pounds) but I'm sure he'll
still be tough to beat."

For now, time has befriended Oliveira and given him the opportunity to carry with him what he'll need when he faces the fearless Phillips on Friday night - the ability to hit and not get hit.

More New England Chatta

 Oliveira isn't the only fighter trying to re-map his career path to a world title on Friday night.  In the 10 round co-feature, Hartford's Israel "Pito" Cardona (33-4, 25 KO's) will try to inch his way back into the lightweight
picture when he takes on Gerald Gray (17-4-1, 9 KO's) of Queens, NY. Cardona, a former USBA and NABF lightweight champion lost a unanimous nod to current IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora last year and had an even bigger setback when he was stopped by Julio Alvarez in January.  Since the loss to Alvarez, he has scored two knockouts over nondescript opposition and hopes that a win over Gray will add more color to his career.

 Also featured on the card will be a few of New England's brightest prospects.  One of those prospects just happens to be the next best women's fighter after Lucia Rijker.  Unbeaten in only five fights, Liz Muehler, of
Niantic, CT will face another feared Hollander in Marischa Sjauw.  Sjauw (17-4-1) has had a phenomenal year in acquiring four world title belts in a span of 8 months.  Mueller's resume isn't too shabby either.  On August 19th, she decisioned former WIBF welterweight champion, Jane Couch of Great Britain, the last fighter to defeat Sjauw.  Middleweight amateur star Peter Manfredo Jr. (2-0) and knockout lightweight sensation Gary "The Tiger" Balletto (16-0-2, 16 KO's), both from Providence are also slated for Jimmy Burchfield's 6-bout show.  For ticket information, call (401) 724-2253.

 Another significant jr. welterweight title fight comes to the gambling grounds of Connecticut when IBF title holder Jab "Super" Judah defends the title for the fourth time since acquiring the vacant title in February when
he got off the canvas to destroy South Africa's Jan Bergman at the Mohegan Sun.  Many felt that the title winning effort was tainted since he failed to register a victory over Terronn Millett, the man who won the title from Vince Phillips, but Judah took care of business at the Sun in August when he destroyed Millett in four rounds.  In that fight, Judah had to again pick himself off the canvas to win in spectacular fashion.  Judah (25-0, 19 KO's) hopes that his return to the Mohegan Sun on January 13th won't be as rocky when he defends the title against the determined Reggie "Showtime" Green (33-4, 16 KO's).  In Green's only shot at a world title, he lost a majority decision to WBA boss Sharmba Mitchell.  For tickets call toll free (888)

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