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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Outlook for the Rest of 2011

The years 2009 and 2010 were memorable ones in the annals of Jewish boxing history. Those two years included numerous title fights involving Jewish contestants. The prospects for more relevant bouts featuring Jewish pugilists seemed bright at the outset of 2011.

Unfortunately, this year has been a bit disappointing so far. More worrisome, the rest of 2011 looks rather bleak from the vantage point of August 16. Let's start with the positive.

Alexander Frenkel, Dmitriy Salita, and Ran Nakash could have impactful fights during the second half of the year. The other rays of light come in the form of two undefeated prospects, Cletus Seldin and Boyd Melson, who will hopefully stay busy.

Frenkel has been part of 2011's disappointment. He was injured at the start of the year. He trained to fight Silvio Branco, first in June, then in July, before Branco backed out of the bout. Frenkel had created some momentum in KOing Enzo Maccarinelli almost a year ago, winning the European cruiserweight crown and big things were expected from him in 2011. It hasn't happened. Frenkel is scheduled to face Enad Licina, a capable fringe contender, on October 22. If Frenkel can get passed Licina, big fights lay ahead for the Ukrainian-German Jew in 2012.

Salita's first round loss to Amir Khan in December of 2009 for a sanctioning body's belt has been well-documented. Since, Salita has defeated three journeymen with winning records. Now a welterweight, Salita is looking to fight in the fall.

Salita, who has been training with Emanuel Steward, is likely to step up his competition in his next fight. That could set the stage for a number of intriguing bouts featuring the Ukrainian-American Jew. Fans surely hope that he works his way up to a big bout, instead of feasting on inferior opponents and waiting for the one lucrative shot. That would not only provide his supporters with a string of important contests involving their man, but would better prepare him for his next title shot.

Salita has also been active in promoting boxing events in New York City. He has featured both Melson (junior middleweight) and Seldin (welterweight) in his shows and has served as a meaningful promotional voice for Jewish boxers.

Ran Nakash acquitted himself nicely in a title shot against Marco Huck in April. Nakash is scheduled to face a faded Lou Del Valle this month. While Del Valle is a former world title holder, he is well passed his prime and should be considered a heavy underdog against the ferocious Israeli. One hopes Nakash will have another relevant fight in 2011; the cruiserweight division is loaded and the fights are out there.

Now, the bad news for fans of Jewish boxing. We've already discussed Frenkel's setbacks and Salita's and Nakash's substandard opposition coming off of title shots. Yuri Foreman won't decide his boxing future until some point in 2012 after suffering his second straight loss this past March. Max Heyman was given an opportunity to resurrect his boxing career last month against the undefeated Gayrat Ahmedov, but injured his hand in training and had to bow out. Hopefully, Heyman will get another shot against a good opponent. And former heavyweight prospect Roman Greenberg remains inactive. It has been three years since he last fought, when he endured his only career loss.

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