By Derek Bonnett: There are many different categories of fighters out there in the professional ranks. You have your world champions, your top contenders, guys on the fringe, and your opponents, just to name a few. Every type of fighter is important in the boxing world and the one thing they all have in common is that activity is in their best interest. Busy champions are recognizable champions. Active contenders get title shots. Fringe contenders climb up the rankings. It even benefits the opponents because they get more paychecks.
Colin Morgan, a boxing trainer based out of New York, has a talented stable of fighters, who fit into one of the aforementioned categories in some way shape or form, and he’s looking to get them to be more active as 2010 rapidly approaches.
Morgan currently trains such world class fighters as Elio Rojas, Guillermo Jones, Peter Quillin, and Ehinomen Ehikhamenor. However, his work takes place in the gym and in the professional prize ring. He can get the fighters in shape, but he doesn’t get his fighters their fights.
Morgan took a breather at the end of the summer months after he coached Elio Rojas to the WBC Featherweight championship with a unanimous decision over Takahiro Aoh. Now, he’s ready to get back to work and share what’s been on his mind boxing-wise.
"I’ve been enjoying the summer and training my champs," Morgan stated. "It’s always good to catch up with the boxing world. Elio is back training in the USA. When he went back to his home country, the Dominican Republic, they had him very busy with a public parade, meeting with the Prime Minister, and making several TV appearances. Now it’s up to him to hold his title for as long as possible so he can make some money and have a better life."
Rojas is among the newest young champions in the sport of boxing and his time is now. With excellent opposition all around him --Chris John, Cristobal Cruz, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Steve Luevano--, Rojas could find himself in a major featherweight contest by early 2010. The fighter Morgan would like to prepare Rojas for is Rocky Juarez. Juarez has faced the best opposition among all the featherweights in the top ten and is still a tough assignment for anybody. Rojas would certainly benefit from a victory over Juarez and pick up some valuable experience before challenging one of the bigger names out there at 126.
Another fighter that Morgan has brought to a world championship is the 200 pound Guillermo Jones of Panama. Jones, inactive for over a year, is scheduled to meet Valery Brudov on October 24 to make the first defense of his WBA Cruiserweight championship.
"Guillermo is very focused. He has been in camp for the last four months," Morgan explained. "As always, we are taking every opponent very seriously. Brudov is a good fighter, and that just makes Guillermo and the team more focused on the win."
Jones appeared the very image of focus personified last September when he savagely wrested the title from Firat Arslan by tenth round TKO. However, that win did not translate into the pathway to the land of opportunity as Team Jones had expected. Instead, it confirmed his place among boxing’s more unfortunate fighters, as his many controversial verdicts on the scorecards against Steve Cunningham, Johnny Nelson, and Laurent Boudouani suggested.
"Neither [Tomasz] Adamek nor any of the other cruiserweights want a part of Guillermo," Morgan asserted. "Not once, over the past year, has any of them made a call-out to him. After this fight, Guillermo wants to move up to heavyweight and fight Samuel Peter."
Jones already has three victories at heavyweight over the last few years while he was keeping busy between cruiserweight bouts. With David Haye moving up to heavyweight recently and Adamek in preparation to meet Andrew Golota above 200 pounds, Jones may have no other choice but to move up if he really wants to prove himself against the best of his era.
"Throughout the history of the heavyweight division, guys like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Rocky Marciano fought below 200 pounds," Morgan recalled. "It wasn’t until the 1980’s that guys started weighing in at 250 pounds that they needed to create a new weight class. This was necessary. However, I just think that they should have added the next weight as a "SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT" class as opposed to reclassifying the heavyweight division as cruiserweight."
To quote the Bard, "What’s in a name?"
Well, Morgan thinks there’s enough to help or hurt the popularity of a new boxing weight class. We all know what a heavyweight is and we can easily surmise what a super heavyweight would be. But, in truth, what is a crui-ser-weight?
We may not know what one is exactly, but one thing Morgan knows sure is that he’s got two of them. Morgan also works with, fringe cruiserweight contender, Ehinomen "Hino" Ehikhamenor. Hino put together an excellent run on season four of The Contender and scored two surprise wins over Darnell Wilson and Rico Hoye, but has been absent since losing in the finale to Troy Ross.
"Hino, like many of the previous boxers who fought on The Contender, would like to be released from his contract," Morgan explained. "He feels the promoters of the series are not putting on enough shows, so he and the others are stuck. He wants to fight; he needs to make a living."
Morgan’s comments about Ehikhamenor’s situation prompts one to ask if similar circumstances are keeping one of boxing’s most promising prospects inactive as well. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen unbeaten Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin in the ring. Just as he seemed ready to break into the world class level of opposition, he vanished. In the meantime, in its search for the next promising middleweight, HBO has taken a liking to Daniel Jacobs. Could Quillin be missing out?
"I wish I could answer that question, but I’m just his trainer," Morgan said in a disappointed tone. "The clock is ticking though and I hope Peter will get back in the ring soon. Daniel Jacobs is a promising young fighter and I wish him well."
Morgan attempted to explain why perhaps some young unbeatens find themselves playing the waiting game as opposed to staying busy and building up their level of experience.
"Boxing today puts too much pressure on fighters to stay unbeaten. Once you accumulate a good record, the problems start: nobody wants to lose their fighter’s perfect record," Morgan reasoned. "So, it becomes a chess match. Things slow down, frustration steps in, and, just like that, it’s over. One year ago, Andy Lee was the young hot prospect; he had one loss and then disappeared. Boxers fight for peanuts thinking that if they stay unbeaten, they will one day get paid. It’s totally false. Only one percent of boxers make any real money and it’s the TV ratings that decide who gets that chance."
Fighters of yesterday did tend to be more active overall. They also tended be a whole lot less "undefeated" by the time they rose high enough in the rankings to receive their first world title shots. Hall of Fame New Yorkers like the late Joey Giardello had almost thirty-five professional bouts in his first two years as a professional. He also picked up four losses and two draws. Maxie Rosenbloom had nearly fifty bouts in his first two years of prizefighting. Five of those were losses and six were draws.
Today, we feel blessed to have seen guys like Cristian Mijares, Ulises Solis, Edgar Sosa, and Humberto Soto fight four times a year!
"If we compare professional boxing to other professional sports, boxing simply doesn’t get as much airtime," Morgan stated. "Activity is important to a fighter in every way from maintaining skill-set and peak performance to providing viable incomes for a fighter and his team. Boxing is on HBO and Showtime once a month and on ESPN2 once a week from mid-January to mid-October. Boxing just needs to get on TV more. The money the networks pay for boxing is a joke compared to other sports."
Colin Morgan’s boxing stable is just a microcosm of professional boxing. While he readily enjoys the good -- and there has been plenty of that-- , he is not one to sweep problems under the rug. He certainly isn’t one to keep quiet about the flaws he sees in the sport he loves. Morgan can only train the fighters he’s responsible for. It’s up to the managers and promoters of the world to make the fights and keep fighters active.
Morgan has become a vocal and very conscientious member of the boxing fraternity that we should all be grateful for. A rebel, if you will. Without rebels like Colin Morgan, our world--the world of professional boxing-- would never experience change.
September 20, 2009