Knocking Off The Rust

By Francis Walker
Updated: January 28, 2008

NEW YORK — Elvir Muriqi put the light-heavyweight division on notice with his dramatic 12-round performance against Antonio Tarver last year. Although Muriqi came up short on the losing end of a majority decision, he hasn’t fought since.

During Muriqi’s inactivity, Tarver has fought once. Bernard Hopkins fought for millions against a “stuffed” Winky Wright and will face Joe Calzaghe next. Glen Johnson earned a title shot against WBC champion Chad Dawson.

Recently, Roy Jones Jr. proved too slick for an outmatched and overweight Felix Trinidad. Muriqi (34-4, 21 KOs) will end his seven months of inactivity on Star Boxing’s Punching at the Paradise Theater fight series in the Bronx, N.Y. on Thursday.

Muriqi, a 28 year-old from Yugoslavia, is very surprised that he hasn’t returned to television especially for a rematch against Tarver which was aired on Showtime.

“You see, I never though I’d fight club shows anymore after the Tarver fight,” Muriqi added. “I watched the fight 100 times. He simply didn’t do enough to win that fight. I was the busier fighter and I out hustled him.”

“Some people thought I won the fight,” Muriqi added. “Some people though Tarver won. Some people say he won it. Some others thought it was a draw. That’s reason enough to do it again. Why not give me a shot?”

Muriqi believe fighters like Tarver, Hopkins, Jones, and Dawson are unwilling to give him a shot is because he’s too dangerous an opponent. The risk of losing to an upcoming fighter like Muriqi, as opposed to losing to a more established fighter with a bigger name doesn’t make sense.

“These guys want big money fighting against smaller and older guys,” Muriqi added.

Muriqi didn’t appear bitter, but he is anxious to fight a world championship caliber fighter soon. Muriqi is, however, looking forward to a pair of light heavyweight bouts that will occur on April 12th on both HBO and Showtime.

Hopkins, the former undisputed world middleweight champion, will fight unbeaten WBO super middleweight champion of 11 years, Joe Calzaghe on HBO.

“Hopkins-Calzaghe is a healthy fight for boxing unless Hopkins makes it an ugly fight. “Calzaghe throws enough punches and will put out a decision.”

Showtime has already announced that WBC light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson will defend against Glen Johnson. This fight figures to be the most difficult of Dawson’s career.

Johnson, a former IBF light heavyweight champion, knocked out Roy Jones, Jr. in 2004 and has fought Tarver twice.

“It’s a good fight,” Muriqi said of Dawson-Johnson. “Glen has been fighting all these with good records and winning. Glen deserves it. He’s been on the road and has fought tough fights. This is a true test for Chad Dawson. It’s the toughest test of Dawson’s career.”

“Dawson doesn’t have a good chin” Muriqi added. “In the amateurs he didn’t have that good a chin. It hasn’t been touched that much in the pros though. He has good hands and good skills.”

Muriqi wasn’t impressed with the previous light heavyweight encounters Hopkins-Winky Wright and Jones-Trinidad.

“Why look for 154 pound fighters?” Muriqi asked. Muriqi was not impressed with Hopkins’ multi-million dollar move to fight a former junior middleweight champion at light heavyweight on HBO Pay-Per-View last year.

Muriqi also believes that if Jones is truly back, then he’d prove it against a young light-heavyweight contender such as himself.

“Jones-Trinidad, why were they fighting?” Muriqi asked. “They want big names for big money. They want nothing rough. If Roy Jones is truly back, let him prove it. Let him beat me. He should fight me. I always wanted to fight him. He was my idol coming up.”

Muriqi added: “I think that if I were to fight Roy, I’d either knock him out or simply outwork him all the time.” He simply has to keep winning. Unless Hopkins, Jones, Tarver, or Dawson accepts his challenge, Muriqi simply has to keep winning.

“God willing these guys give me a title shot, or I’d have to be a No. 1 contender in a sanctioning body, Muriqi concluded.”

Lou Del Valle Returns

In addition to the return of Elvir Muriqi, The Paradise will also feature former WBA light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle (33-5-1, 22 KOs). The 39 year-old New Yorker will fight Newton Kidd (6-6-1, 4 KOs), loser of 3 of the last 4 bouts.

Del Valle won the WBA 175-pound title in September 1997 when he stopped Eddy Smulders in Germany before losing it in a unification fight with Roy Jones, Jr. in August 1998. Del Valle became the first fighter to knock Jones to the canvas, but lost a lopsided 12-round decision.

Del Valle also went 12 rounds in a losing effort with Virgil Hill in 1996 for a world title.

Del Valle, who has recorded only one knockout in the last seven years, has lost his last two fights. He’s been inactive, fighting only once in each of the last three years.

Del Valle has never been knocked out, but has gone from losing to the likes of Jones and Hill to younger and inexperienced fighters be would have beaten six-seven years ago.

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