By Peter Lerner: Secondsout recently caught up with Christian Cherchi of Italian promotional outfit OPI2000 and knockout artist Luca Giacon about their trip to the Wildcard. Together with another OPI fighter, Antonio Moscatiello (a 12-0-0 welterweight and nephew of Giacobbe Fragomeni), they went out there from 30th August to 15th September.
The objective of the trip was to give the two prospects quality, competitive sparring with international fighters. As Cherchi explained, "It’s important for them at a mental level. A new environment helps you grow mentally. It’s not that you come back and all of a sudden you’re a better fighter, but the difference in sparring makes the fighters grow."
Given that Italian boxing is very much a small world in terms of active pros (just to give you an idea, the last Italian heavyweight title fight took place in 2002), one of the big obstacles facing Italian boxers is the lack of quality sparring. It’s not rare at all for a professional to be the only pro in his gym, or for pros to spar just with amateurs for big fights. This is what makes thriving gyms such as Franco Cherchi’s in Sardinia, Biagio Zurlo’s in Naples or ProFighting in Rome such welcome exceptions. The depth in quality here in Italy is simply not comparable with other, more vibrant countries.
Giacon, a lightweight whose impressive record stands at 17-0-0 with all wins coming within the distance, is one of the luckier fighters in Italy - he’s based in Franco Cherchi’s gym and gets to train alongside the likes of upcoming title challenger Andrea Sarritzu or unbeaten pro Phil Lo Greco. Yet he too recognises the importance of such trips.
"It was a very good experience. You have to adapt to good boxers, new faces and new training. Most of all you have boxers who are good at different things - ones with good reflexes, or hit hard, or are physically strong - and it brings out the best in you."
Unfortunately they were not able to see any of the big guns such as Manny Pacquiao andAmir Khan, and Freddie Roach was away in Colorado working with the American amateur team, but they were still able to take part in some quality sessions. Moscatiello sparred with, amongst others, Roberto ’La Amenaza’ Garcia (the teak-tough Mexican and Wildcard stalwart whose only loss in the last seven years was the points defeat to Antonio Margarito), unbeaten Ukrainian Viktor Postol and Shane Mosley Junior. Giacon’s most notable sparring partners were Paulie Malignaggi, Joel Diaz Junior and Andrey Klimov. Cherchi says that both the Italians did well, though Giacon was not quite himself on the first day of sparring with Klimov (who is 11-0-0 and made his American debut back in May on the undercard of Andre Ward-Arthur Abraham) and Moscatiello found Postal quite tricky (the Ukranian hasn’t yet fought outside of Europe but has got a couple of wins over known names in Sam Rukundo and dangerous Felix Lora).
Cherchi and Giacon were particularly impressed with Diaz Jnr. "He’s a very hard hitter, especially with the left hook in close," revealed Giacon. He’s won all of his five fights so far, the last three in the first round. The Italians agree that he’s a fighter who could go places.
The trip was rounded off by a visit to Vegas to see Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz. This was particularly satisfying for Giacon, who cites Mayweather, along with Pernell Whittaker, as one of his biggest influences. "He’s even better when you see him live," he said of Mayweather, "On television it looks like his opponents manage to land every now and then, but up close you can see just how much he makes them miss." About the much-talked about ending, neither Cherchi nor Giacon were in any doubt as to the correctness or not of Mayweather’s actions. Cherchi couldn’t have been straighter to the point: "Protect yourself at all times," and Giacon also had little sympathy - "The referee said ’Time’ and Mayweather simply did what he had to do."
There are plans to make a return visit some time early next year. Giacon and Moscatiello will next be in action at the end of the month. They will appear on OPI’s double-title bill in Sardinia on 28th that sees Andrea Sarritzu challenge Moruti Mthalane for the IBF flyweight title and Simona Galassi face Nadege Szikora for the vacant women’s IBF super flyweight title.
October 13, 2011