Boxing: Kimbrough making a name for himself
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In the truest of boxing measures, Aliquippa's Verquan Kimbrough has arrived. How can you tell? Well, he refers to himself in the third person.
Who: Jose Gonzalez (12-2, 5 KOs) vs. Verquan Kimbrough (14-0-1, 7 KOs).
When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, Chester, W.Va.
What's at stake: The IBA featherweight championship.
Tickets: $20 for general admission to $125 for ringside seats. Available through Ticketmaster or at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort.
Notable: Gonzalez holds the belt. The Mexican upset Marcos Licona in October in Las Vegas to secure it. ... This will be Kimbrough's first 12-round fight.
"Everyone wants to be in the position Verquan is in right now," said Kimbrough, a featherweight. "Verquan is living a dream right now."
That might be, but the undeniable reality is that the biggest fight of his professional career is directly in front of him.
Kimbrough (14-0-1, 7 KOs) will take on Mexico City's Jose Gonzalez (12-2, 5 KOs), the IBA featherweight champion, in the headlining bout of a fight card that begins at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in Chester, W.Va.
While Kimbrough holds four different professional Americas title --and he won five national championships as a highly decorated amateur -- this bout will offer the first chance at harnessing a world title. It will also be Kimbrough's first bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
That Kimbrough will step into the ring with a little more in the balance isn't lost on his trainer, Tommy Yankello.
"You want to treat this as another day in the office and you want to say that it is the same as the rest of the fights, but the reality is that it isn't," Yankello said. "There is more on the line here. But, at the same time, Verquan has been in a lot of big situations before and I think he knows that he is the better fighter than Gonzalez. Verquan is faster, both with his hands and his feet, and he is stronger. He has that one-punch power not a lot of 126-pound guys have."
The game plan going in is that Kimbrough will use a biting jab to create space for his heavier blows.
"This guy is going to have to eat some jabs. I mean, I'm going to feed him jab after jab," Kimbrough said. "I'm coming to play, I know that. And, you know, my jab is what is going to dictate whether I win or lose this fight. I know I have better boxing skills."
Kimbrough also knows he has a lot left to accomplish, but right now he is teetering on that cusp of being mentioned among the world's elite. Gonzalez must be beaten if the Kimbrough's stardom -- and pocketbook, for that matter -- is going to continue to grow.
"My full concentration is on this fight," Kimbrough said before breaking into third person again. "But, for Verquan, this is a steppingstone. Verquan is grateful now, but he wants to be the greatest fighter in the world."
IBA super featherweight champion Monty Meza-Clay (19-0) will headline the undercard. Meza-Clay, a Rankin native, will fight an eight-round, non-title bout against Columbus, Ohio, native Leo Martinez (8-7, 4KOs). The West Virginia super middleweight championship will be contended tomorrow, with West Virginian James "The Heat" North (7-9-2, 2 KOs) defending against Durrell Richardson (6-0, 4 KOs) of Youngstown. The vacant NABC America's heavyweight title bout will pit Akron's Nicolai Firtha (9-1-1, 5 KOs) against "Dangerous" Jim Northey (10-1, 7 KOs). Two local heavyweights, McKeesport's Dan Harvison (13-0, 8 KOs) and North Side's Mike Carr (15-1-2, 8 KOs), will fight in separate six-round bouts.
First Published April 12, 2006 12:00 am