Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boxing returns to Greenville

GREENVILLE — Throughout the rich history of boxing, the sport has birthed two brands of fighters: those whose words are just as powerful as their punch, and those who speak by watching their opponent lie battered and bruised on the ring floor.
Without a doubt, Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter falls into the latter category.
Standing around 5-foot-6, weighing around 120 pounds, the Philadelpia, Penn. native – with an accent unparallel to any below the Mason-Dixon Line – does his talking after the bell has sounded.
And so far, so good.
The 23-year-old holds a 12-1 record including five knockouts. His last fight, which was Feb. 5, lasted only one round.
Although only 23, Hunter has been surrounded by boxing since a young age.
“My uncle Apple got me into boxing when I was maybe 2 or 3 years old,” said Hunter, who is scheduled to fight Jose Hernandez Friday at Harlows Casino Resort, which will be broadcasted on Fox Sports South. “Since then, I’ve just sticked to it.”
Hunter, who said he was 8 at time of his first amateur fight, said he finds solace in the sport.
“That’s the only time I’m at peace, so I gotta box. If I don’t box, I’m stressing somewhere. That’s how I get my piece of mind,” he explained.
Asked whether he had any predictions for Friday night, like predicted, “The Outlaw” said: “Nope, just want to put on a good show.”
Hunter and Hernandez’s fight will be the headline of three bouts, including a matchup between Brittany Glendenning and April Ward – which is believed to be the first-ever female fight in Greenville. Another match will put Bahamian boxer Taureano Johson up against Anthony Bowan.
If Hunter is the Shane Mosley of Friday’s night lineup, then Johnson is left with the Mayweather comparison.
Although Johnson didn’t provide a concrete prediction for Friday’s bout, he said the right plans are in order.
“In any boxing match, nobody goes in to lose,” said Johnson, who recently turned pro in February.
“We have a gameplan,” he continued. “We’re looking to take it to two rounds. If not, three rounds, but we’re going in with a good gameplan.”
Like Hunter, Johnson said he was introduced to boxing at an early age. He first got a taste of the sport at 6 years old when he went to the gym with his younger brother.
What has he accomplished since that day? In 2008 Johnson competed in the Beijing Olympics where he became the first Bahamian to qualify in the last 20 years.
The 26-year-old said he grew up admiring Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson and Joe Frazier, among others.
“If you want to do a study on me, just check (out) those guys; I try to idol my boxing style towards them, but there’s nobody who can be a better Taureano than me.
“I just want to be the best me as possible,” he added.
Hunter’s opponent, Hernandez, holds a 11-7 record with five KO’s. Although Hernandez doesn’t have the most highly touted record, he has been known to perform gracefully on the big stage. Most recently, Hernandez defeated 15-0 Rasheim Jefferson for the USBA Featherweight title in the 12th round with a crushing left hook.
As for the outcome in the main event between Hernandez and Hunter, Hernandez said, “Basically, I’m ready. I can’t say what I will or won’t do. I’m going to do my best.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rivals Nelson, Bolden join forces at MDCC

GREENVILLE — For the last four years Cadarrius Nelson and Danny Bolden have been bitter rivals, playing on high school basketball teams in the same county only about 10 miles apart.
Nelson, a 6-foot-6 forward from O'Bannon High, and Greenville-Weston's 6-foot-2 go-to man Danny Bolden have helped their respective teams reach new heights over the course of their high school careers.
Nelson has become synonymous with color green, suiting up for the O’Bannon Greenwaves. And the black and gold of GWHS has ran deeply in Bolden's veins for numerous years.
But when the fall rolls around, they both will have to get accustomed to new colors, a new environment and each other.
On Thursday, Nelson and Bolden signed scholarships to play at Mississippi Delta Community College.
“We were rivals, but now we can come together and play harder as teammates,” said Bolden, who averaged 13 points as a senior at GWHS.
Nelson, who showed flashes of dominance throughout the year, had his best game against St. Joe Jan. 12 when he scored 23 points.
MDCC coach Derrick Fears believes Nelson’s ability to score will go a long way for the Trojans.
“He brings an outside jumpshot that was missed this past year from a bigger buy,” said Fears. “He has a nice 15-foot jumpshot and he has a shotblocking presence that can help us.”
Nelson, along with highly touted recruit Lakendrick Evans - who said he will make his college decision public next week, was known for roaming near the basket lurking to block an opponents shot.
As long as Nelson stays hungry and disciplined, he will continue to improve, said OBHS coach George Christian.
“He’s a late bloomer — he only recently started playing basketball — so he has all the potential in the world,” said Christian.
But Fears and Christian aren't the only ones joyous about Nelson's accomplishments. His family is just as proud.
“It means a great deal to me that he’s going to college because most young men these days aren’t going to school. They’re either hanging out on the streets or selling drugs,” said Shatina Neslon, Cadarrius' mother. “I can truly say I have a good son and it’s a honor for him to be chosen to get a scholarship to go to MDCC.”
While Nelson is associated with locking down the inside, Bolden’s all-around game will be immediately put to use, said Fears. Bolden will be playing the shooting guard position, while returnee DeMario Calvin will move to the small forward spot.
“He’s going to be in a position where he’s going to have to shoot the ball more,” Fears said. “But at the same time, he brings something that my No. 2 position doesn't have — a defensive mindset.”
Greenville-Weston coach Ernie Watson, who recently took the head coaching position at Hattiesburg High, echoed Fears’ statements regarding Bolden.
“Coach (Fears) is getting a work-a-holic,” said Watson. “He loves to play defense. He strives at it. He’ll guard the best player on the other team.”
Amanda Elzy’s Eric Davidson, Xzabian Ramiz of Cleveland High and Laquavius Cotton of East Side High are scheduled to sign scholarships with MDCC today, said Fears. And other recruitment is in the works.