Sparring with Calzaghe, Fighting with Manoocha

Kerry Hope, who is scheduled to fight “Golden” Caleb Truax on Friday night in Saint Paul, has been getting pretty good press lately.  I’ve published Truax’s complimentary remarks about Hope, my friend and colleague  Todd Bechtold has posted a nice interview with Hope on his blog (read it at http://www.mnboxingleague.com/?p=5288), and much more impressively, the BBC gave him a nice little writeup today (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/boxing/8365496.stm).

It’s that last item that’s got me thinking tonight.

Kerry Hope

Kerry Hope

In the BBC article, Hope is quoted saying this: “I’m looking forward to the fight, I’ve been training hard and I’m in great shape…The fight is at 168lb, a little higher than normal, but I feel strong.  After doing a few rounds with Joe Calzaghe in the past and with him being the number one 168lb fighter in the world – I don’t think Caleb’s credentials can even compare to this level.”

Well, that’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?  (Or as they say across the pond, innit?)  But behind the big talk, something’s missing.  That something is credibility.

Kerry Hope brings a nice record of 12-2 into Friday’s fight with Caleb Truax, but on closer scrutiny the record proves illusory.

First of all, there’s the puzzling matter of the knockout total – one.  That just doesn’t seem right for one who, as Truax has observed, is a monster in the gym.  One kayo among twelve professional wins?  I don’t want to imply that Hope isn’t tough and strong, only that he may be missing something in his game (POWER!) that Ron Lyke could help with.  You know, the Ron Lyke who owns the ACR gym – that’s right, the gym where Truax works out.  ‘Nuff said about that.

Second, there’s the matter of how that record was compiled – more specifically, against whom that record was compiled.  I had a simple idea the other day, I was going to compare the most impressive wins for each man (Hope and Truax) to get an idea what each had accomplished so far in their careers.  Keep in mind that Hope has been a pro fighter for nearly five years and has had 14 pro fights while Truax has been a pro for about two and a half years and has had 13 fights in his career.  I began to scan Hope’s opponents for an impressive win and found…he only has one win against an opponent with a winning record, ever.  The opponent was Manoochi Salari and the record was 3-1-2.  The rest of Hope’s fights have either been wins against opponents with losing records, or losses to opponents with winning records.  For the sake of fair comparison, Truax got his first win against a plus opponent in his third pro fight, against 17-9-1 Terry Tock.  In his sixth bout Truax dispatched 34-27-2 James Crayton.  To date eight of Truax’s twelve opponents (he has fought Jeff Osborne twice) have been net winners, and his last two fights have been against 11-2 and 25-6 stock.

In the rodeo game they have a word for an animal which has earned a reputation for being tough to ride: the call it rank.  That’s rank as in smelly or malodorous.  Of course in professional bullriding, the cowboys are competing against the animals as much as against each other.  Maybe looking at Truax’s last opponent, a rodeo cowboy would characterize 25-6 Patrick Perez the same way.

I’m tempted to say that Kerry Hope’s competition has been rank too, but for a completely different reason.

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