Vernon Forrest Is Back!

By Francis Walker
Updated: December 11, 2007

NEW YORK — WBC super welterweight champion Vernon Forrest (40-2, 29 KOs) is back and is ready for action. The 36-year-old from Augusta, Ga. continued his successful comeback with an emphatic TKO win against No. 2-ranked Michele Piccirillo (48-4, 30 KOs) at 2:21 seconds in to the eleventh round.

The victory marked Forrest’s first successful defense of the WBC 154-pound title and his fifth consecutive victory following a two-year layoff. The fight was part of a Showtime Championship Boxing triple-header from Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, Ct. back on Saturday, December 1st.

Forrest, a tall 6-foot boxer with good defense, hand speed, a strong left jab and a solid right was one of the best fighters in the world. He was also one of the most feared fighters in boxing when he was a welterweight. Forrest was dodged by Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, and Pernell Whitaker.

Forrest’s career-defining moments occurred in 2002. In January 2002, he nearly starched an unbeaten Sugar Shane Mosley inside of two rounds at Madison Square Garden. Forrest went on to dominate Mosley through twelve rounds not once, but twice that year.

Forrest’s reputation as a solid boxer came to a crashing halt when he was knocked out in his quest to unify the WBC/WBA welterweight titles by the wild Ricardo Mayorga (KO by 2) in 2003. He was dominated again by Mayorga, losing a 12-round decision six months later in an immediate rematch and disappeared from the sport.

“I would love to have a rematch with (Ricardo) Mayorga,” Forrest said afterwards. “I have all my weapons now, my whole arsenal. Another Mayorga fight would be a much different result.”

Very few can dispute Forrest’s claim. Since recovering from shoulder surgery on his troubled shoulders during a lengthy layoff (2003-2005), Forrest has not lost since the Mayorga disappointments. His biggest victories include unanimous decisions over against former WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey at 154 a WBC 154-pound championship in his last bout. He was also dominant in a points victory over former WBC welterweight champion Juan Carlos Baldomir in July.

A Forrest-Mayorga fight at 154 pounds could be very interesting considering 1) there are not too many meaningful fights in the super welterweight division. Also, 2) Mayorga dealt Fernando Vargas a TKO loss in his final fight of his career last week. Mayorga is an exciting fighter and although another fight between Forrest and Mayorga would be their third, it’s more intriguing because Forrest has returned to his old, dominate form at age 36.

In Forrest’s first title defense, he dominated Piccirillo, 37, Modugno, Italy, through eleven one-sided rounds. Forrest kept Piccirillo fighting backwards and trapped against the ropes. Picirillo quickly became a magnet for Forrest’s quicker jabs and punishing combinations.

“I got hit a bit more than I expected,” Forrest added. “I began to feint left and come in hard with the right hand. It’s an old school move.”

Forrest scored scorching knockdowns in rounds six, nine, and eleven. The finish was perhaps the most impressive knockout of Forrest’s entire career. The end occurred after Forrest landed a straight-right to Picirillo’s chin that dropped him on the canvas. The delivery and impact of Forrest’s right was so tremendous, Picirillo sprained his right ankle.

Tarver KOs Santiago

Forrest vs. Piccirillo was the chief-supporting co-featured attraction to Antonio Tarver’s fourth-round TKO win against Danny Santiago (29-4, 19 KOs) in the main event. Tarver (26-4, 19 KOs) was sporting around an unrecognizable and highly disregarded IBO light heavyweight-belt. If a fighter does not have a WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, or a Ring Magazine Belt, then that fighter is not a world champion.

Make no mistake; Tarver is not a world champion. But don’t tell him that. “If anyone wants to dispute this division, they need to come see me,” Tarver said.

Tarver, 39, from Tampa, Fla., could have written his own ticket. He became the hottest ticket in boxing after the knocked out Roy Jones, Jr. in two rounds to reclaim the world light-heavyweight championship in April 2004.

After a repeat victory against Jones and a win against Glen Johnson in 2005, Tarver filmed the movie Rocky VI with Sylvester Stallone in early 2006. Tarver quickly lost credibility months after a dismal showing against Bernard Hopkins (L 12) in June 2006. Tarver claimed that he was poisoned, which affected him during the bout against Hopkins.

Since the loss to Hopkins, Tarver has reeled of two consecutive victories – a majority decision against Elvir Muriqi and a KO of Santiago. Tarver looked slow, flat-footed, and lethargic. However, Tarver was able to knock Santiago, 34, from Ocala, Fla., down twice in the fourth round. The bout was waved at the 2:53 second mark.

The real fight that everyone wants to see is Tarver challenging a legitimate world light-heavyweight champion in Chad Dawson for the WBC title.

Donaire Returns With Impressive KO

Nonito Donaire (19-1, 12 KOs) successfully defended the IBF flyweight championship he won from Vic Darchinyan in July by stopping Luis Maldonado (37-1-1, 28 KOs) at 1:19 seconds into the eighth round.

Donaire seriously cut Maldonado around both eyes in round two and floored him in round seven. The victory marked his 18th consecutive victory since his only professional loss dating back to 2001.