February 24, 2000
Being dubbed "the second-coming of Tommy Hearns," is a pretty heavy
burden to heap on a fighter with a 16-0 record with 13 knockouts. There are
only a select few who would remember the Hit Man for just flailing
helplessly from the right hand that ended his epic battle with Marvin Hagler
in April of '85 (the antithetical happy thought to cure a Bostonian of a
Bill Buckner attack). Most boxing fans who remember Hearns, would imagine
"the second coming" as a fighter possessing an abundance of speed and power
within a broad-shouldered, yet slender frame.
For up and coming prospects such as Vivian Harris, there comes a time
and place when a "next coming of" must live up to his prestigious nickname.
Three years ago, Shane Mosley had his opportunity to prove that his name
deserved a "Sugar" in front of it. That chance arrived when he dethroned
Phillip Holiday via 12 round decision.
Though Holiday lost his title that night, his performance managed to
suggest that "Sugar" Shane would require a little more seasoning before the
accolades would deservedly be thrown at him.
This Friday night at the luxurious Rhodes-On-The-Pawtuxet in Cranston,
RI long time-time contender "Sucra" Ray Oliveira of New Bedford, MA will
hope to erase the zero in Harris' record and the notion that he is the next
"He's an ambitious kid, but all he has is four good rounds," said the
Former NABF Jr. Welterweight Champion of Harris. "After four rounds, he's
"They say that he's the next Tommy Hearns and he's got a nice build to
him. If you notice though, most guys have a little fat around their sides.
This kid has none. He's got a waist like my girl."
Despite owning some impressive victories over the likes of Tracy Spann
and Charles "The Natural" Murray, a win for Oliveira at this stage in his
career would be prove to be his most significant and could lead to a third
shot at a world title. In his two previous attempts, Oliveira lost 12 round
nods to Zack "Attack" Padilla and a then-streaking Jake "The Snake"
"I'd love to fight Kostya Tszyu (the WBC belt holder)," said Oliveira.
"Even though some say that Zab Judah has the bigger name, Tszyu is the
biggest name in the division and has been around longer. Besides, I'd get a
lot more recognition beating him."
Oliveira has also expressed interest in facing fellow New England
veteran, "Irish" Micky Ward of Lowell, MA. Ward will challenge Shea "The
Shamrock Express" Neary for Irish supremacy and Neary's WBU Jr. Welterweight
Title underneath Prince Naseem Hamed's March 11th title defense against
"I honestly think Micky will have no problem with (Neary). He'll finish
that guy in 5 rounds. I would love to fight Micky with or without a title
and take over New England. I want the respect I think I deserve."
Oliveira's crusade for respect begins 10:30 PM EST on ESPN'' Friday Night
Co-featured that night will be welterweights Andrew Murry (26-4-1, 18
KO's) against Larry Marks (19-2, 12 KO's). Murry was last seen snatching
the unbeaten record of Michael Covington in brutal knockout-fashion on the
undercard of the Rosenblatt-Pazienza rematch.
Also scheduled are unbeaten prospects Bobby Tomasello (8-0, 3 KO's) of
Saugus, MA, Gary "Tiger" Balletto (15-0-1, 15 KO's) of Providence, RI and
New York heavyweight, Joe Mesi (14-0, 12 KO's). For ticket information,
call Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports, at (401) 724-2253.
Twenty-four hours later be sure to catch the return of former IBF Jr.
Lightweight Champion Arturo Gatti against Lewiston, ME's Joey Gamache.
Gamache a former two-division WBA Champion is a winner of nine straight
fights since his hard-fought loss to Julio Cesar Chavez in 1998. That year,
as you may recall, was Gatti's worst. "Thunder" Gatti lost all three of his
rock 'em sock 'em wars to Angel Manfredy and Ivan Robinson.
The Gatti-Gamache bout is the co-feature attraction to the Oscar de la
Hoya-Derrell Coley match. The bouts will be televised by HBO live at
Madison Square Garden.
The noose just got tighter around the neck of Undisputed Heavyweight
Champion, Lennox Lewis. So tight in fact that Lewis may have two of his
belts pried from him if he doesn't defend against his mandatory challenger,
John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz. Ruiz, of Chelsea, MA the WBC #1 contender was
recently named the top dog of the WBA when Henry Akinwande's #1 ranking was
stripped from him due to being unavailable. Akinwande has had an
unsuccessful bout with hepatitis B for nearly two years. Thus, Ruiz who
last fought January 8th when he knocked out Thomas "Top Dawg" Williams has
now inherited the WBA's #1 distinction.
In an effort to coerce the champion into fighting Ruiz with one organization
backing him, Ruiz' management will now receive the assistance from another.
"There are no excuses now," Ruiz' manager Norman 'Stoney' Stone said. "Lewis
has to fight John (WBA mandatory title defense). According to WBA rules,
Lewis has to fight John before (Michael) Grant. We're (as the WBA's No. 1
contender) the first available for a mandatory title defense."
As this scribe hinted two weeks ago, look for one the two
sanctioning bodies to strip Lewis and have Ruiz fight Evander Holyfield for
the vacant title this spring.