Photo: Reynaldo Sanchez/ Acquinity Sports
Webster’s dictionary defines dedication as: “an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use.” (Note the root word in both dedication and dictionary comes from the Latin stem decire meaning to speak or to say.) What a boxer truly says during a prizefight is often not audibly heard. Rather, it is recognized by those who understand the depth of self-sacrifice endured before and during this rite.
Devotion is measured in brooks of blood and seas of sweat. Despite ridiculous odds and outrageous aspersions, the best fighters find a way to overcome fear and face the bell. They rise again and again, leveraging their will to that sacred use. When 36-year old former seven-time two-division world champion Joan “Little Tyson” Guzman (33-0-1, 20 KOs) of the Dominican Republic steps into the ring at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on Friday, November 30th he has just one goal—to reclaim a world title.
The weight of his past professional blunders and personal battles are squarely behind him as he squares off against IBO light welterweight champion Khabib “The Hawk” Allakhverdiev (17-0, 8 KOs) for the vacant WBA World light welterweight crown in the main event of Acquinity Sports’ “Beatdown 2012” card.
Whatever difficulties Guzman faces in those twelve championship rounds pales in comparison to what he’s overcome in the past few years. Plagued by weight issues and promotional strife after a spectacular ascent through the super bantamweight and super featherweight divisions, Guzman suffered charges of unprofessionalism and lack of respect for the sport.
What many failed to acknowledge though was Joan’s crushing loss of his beloved mother Juana Amaro, who passed away in September 2009 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Despite the personal tragedy, he moved forward with a scheduled November fight against Ali Funeka for the then-vacant IBF lightweight crown.
In that fight Guzman survived a broken nose and cuts around his right eye as well as a hellish right hand from Funeka in the eighth round. After failing to make weight in the rematch and testing positive for a banned substance following another fight, the conventional wisdom screamed Guzman was washed up. His promoter at the time (GBP) seemed to agree and released him from contract last year.
Yet, undefeated in the ring and unbowed outside of it, Guzman rose and signed with Deerfield Beach-based Acquinity Sports last January. Acquinity promoter Henry Rivalta prophesized during the signing: “We just hope the big names at 140 will give him the opportunity to fight them. If given the chance he beats them all.”
Recently, former WBA World light welterweight titleholder Amir Khan admitted as much when he quashed rumors of a possible December showdown with Guzman, stating: “I want someone who is a bit more credible than him, I’ve come from world title fights and he [Guzman] might be a little below that.”
Moving from Brooklyn to train in South Florida with Acquinity trainer Herman Caicedo, Guzman quickly revitalized his body and his commitment to find a way back to the top. Guzman’s physique speaks volumes about the positive changes made in the name of his personal quest.
He’s come in on weight during his two fights under the Acquinity banner. Despite suffering a broken right hand following his Telefutura-televised eighth-round destruction of Jesus Pabon in March, “Little Tyson” was back in July doing the same to Jorge Pimentel in just one round.
Now he prepares to claim what he feels rightfully belongs to him. No matter what is said to disparage him or what obstacles are placed in his path, Joan Guzman continues to rise.
Sometimes that is the biggest statement of all.