Promoters and undercard fighters for Saturday's bouts were in attendance.
By BOB ROTH
YOUNGSTOWN -- The promotional caravan for Saturday's "Heavyweight Mayhem at Mountaineer" came to Rachel's Steak & amp; Seafood Restaurant Wednesday for a press conference.
Promoters Cedric Kushner and Mike Acri, formerly of Youngstown who now resides in Erie, Pa., were part of that caravan. What was missing were the two main event fighters, Fre Oquendo and David Tua, who, after attending a press conference in Pittsburgh earlier, felt that another press conference was an infringement on their training times.
To the rescue: A saving grace was local manager Pat Nelson, bringing his local boxers, Roland Commings and Etianne Whitaker. Both are in six-rounders on Saturday's undercard.
Also on hand was George "Da Butcher" Klinesmith from Steubenville, Comming's opponent in a middleweight battle.
"When this fight [Oquendo vs. Tua] was made, I didn't believe it, nor did I even feel it could take place," said Kushner. "I asked myself many questions about it such as why would Oquendo, one of the hottest heavyweight prospects in the world, give David Tua the opportunity to get back among the top five contenders in the world? Why would he risk his lofty ranking against one of the hardest hitters in the heavyweight division?
"The answers will come Saturday night, but with the bout made I wanted to be part of this classic matchup of a puncher and a boxer, because this is the kind of fight that could be staged in any major boxing locale in the world."
Replacement: Cleveland's Ray Austin (17-3 12 knockouts) has replaced David Izon in the heavyweight co-feature against Van Nuys, Calif. bomber Lance Whitaker (24-2 20 KOs).
Warren's Etianne Whitaker (23-5-2), recently crowned IBC lightheavyweight champion, will fight Dale Robinson (14-2 10 KOs) from St. Petersburg, Fla. in a six-rounder.
Whitaker, who has stopped 13 opponents, talked about his conditioning. "I am using this bout as a tuneup for a 10-round main event with Rashid Lee from Detroit, next Friday, April 19 at the Palace in Detroit."
Klinesmith (11-5-1, 7 KOs) said that he respected Commings, even with the Youngstown fighter's lengthy layoff. This is a scheduled middleweight six-rounder which will be Commings' first ring action in nearly four years.
Started in 1985: The last bout for pay for Commings (22-20-2, 14 KOs), who began fighting as a pro in 1985, was against Chuckie Strum in Baltimore in the fall of 1998.
Commings said he stopped fighting because of a bad eye which he says has since been surgically repaired. "With that giving me problems and my bad training habits contributing to my losing, which I didn't like, I quit. I liked fighting, but I surely didn't like to lose."