Boxing: Minto a tough proposition

By Paul Lewis

Brian Minto has faced top boxers. Photo / AP
Brian Minto has faced top boxers. Photo / AP

Tough, brawling US heavyweight Brian Minto (known as "the Beast") will be Shane Cameron's opponent at the top of the Fight For Life card next month - a boxer who has taken on some top contenders.

The 38-year-old Minto will be a difficult opponent for Cameron, 36, who has not fought for a year since his world IBO cruiserweight title fight in Australia, where he lost to Danny Green.

There is also a lot hanging on this fight for Cameron, who becomes New Zealand boxing's senior pro with the retirement of David Tua. The money-making potential of a bout between Cameron and rising heavyweight star Joseph Parker has been lost on no one and, if Cameron loses against Minto, his box office appeal will significantly reduce.

Minto, like Cameron, is at the smaller end of the heavyweight scales and, also like Cameron, has flipped between the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions.

Cameron has since said he finds it difficult to get under the 90kg cruiserweight limit and wants to fight as a heavyweight - and was looking for someone credible to announce his return to the ring.

He's found that in Minto, whose best-known scalp was that of Axel Schultz, the well-performed German heavyweight who fought world champions in George Foreman, Michael Moorer, Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis' world title challenger, Henry Akinwande. Schultz was 38 at the time and had been out of the ring for seven years following his loss to Klitchsko - and a strong performance and TKO by Minto sent him immediately back into retirement.

However, that was 2006 and Minto has lost five of his last eight fights, some to credentialled boxers. One of those defeats was to serious heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (who fought Vitali Klitschko for the WBC world title in 2009, immediately before his bout with Minto - and he is still a prospect for a bout with brother Wladimir, who holds all the other major world titles). Another defeat was to 29-year-old WBO world cruiserweight champion Marco Huck. A third loss was to UK journeyman Michael Sprott who nonetheless has been in the ring with heavyweight contenders like Robert Helenius (Sweden) and Kubrat Pulev (Bulgaria).

On bare statistics, it looks like Minto is at a bit of a crossroads in his career and needs a win. Cameron, until his loss to Green, was beginning to figure higher in the rankings with his win over Tua conqueror Monte Barrett. Altogether, Minto has had 45 fights for 38 wins (21 by knockout) and seven losses. Cameron (1.88m, 90kg) and Minto (1.80m, 100kg) have similar, all-action, trading blows styles.

"Shane Cameron is tough - but I am tougher," said Minto. "I'm fighting away from home and I don't intend to leave it up to the judges. Danny Green couldn't put him away and I would spank Danny's arse if he ever had the courage to face me."

Cameron said: "I know what I am up against. The media tagged Minto as 'the Beast' early in his career - fitting because of his brawling walk forward, stand and trade style.

"Yes, I have my work cut out for me and I am preparing for a long, hard battle but I am confident I have his measure."

There is little doubt that Parker is waiting in the wings. Promoters Duco worked with Cameron's connections to find an opponent for Fight For Life; they also handle Parker.

The title of New Zealand's best heavyweight will be attractive to both fighters now Tua is gone and Parker's next opponent in March, Brazilian and South American heavyweight champion George Arias, seems tailor-made as a warm-up for Cameron. Like Cameron, the Brazilian is a durable opponent, he's 39, 1.81m and about 100kg - a boxer of similar dimensions.

The Cameron-Minto bout and the rest of the Fight For Life card is scheduled to take place on December 14.

- Herald on Sunday

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