By Robert Coster reporting from Amneville-les-Thermes, France
The small town of Amneville (pop. 25,000) in the beautiful Moselle region, 25 kilometers from the German border, is feeling the crunch of the world economic crisis as steel mills are closing and people losing their jobs. This week however, the hard hit people of Amneville have something to cheer about. On Friday two former world champions clash in a dramatic bout that will send one of them into definitive retirement. French hero, former WBA junior featherweight champion Mayhar Monshipour (30-3-2, 20 KOs) squares off against former IBF jr bantamweight champion Felix Machado (25-9, 12 KOs) of Venezuela.
The French-Iranian Monshipour will fight for the third time since he returned to the ring last year after a nearly three year layoff. He says he returned not for money but “for honor.”
Machado had retired last year but decided to lace up the gloves because he was offered to fight a former world champion. “I wouldn’t get back into the ring if it weren’t against someone like Monshipour. Even if I win, I may never fight again but I left boxing on a sour note– losing to a nobody but now I am offered a possibility of redemption against a former world champion.”
The dramatic “do or die” battle will be held at the modern Galaxy Ice Skating Rink in Amneville which holds capacity for 11,000 people. The event will help focus on Amneville as French Channel 9 TV station will be transmitting the battle between the short (5’3) all-offense Frenchman and the tall (5’7) stylish Venezuelan southpaw.
“The bout is a contrast in styles and should be a dandy considering that both warriors are coming into the ring with a will to win bordering on despair,” says French journalist Olivier Monserrat Robert. “The fight is bound to be dramatic, a heartbreaker because both boxers are good, proud warriors with a great past. The question will be: which of these two has a future?”