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Is it the end for Joan Guzman?

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By Robert Coster

Joan Guzman did it again. Last week in Kissimmee, Florida, Guzman came 8.2 pounds overweight for his WBA interim 140lb title fight against Vicente Mosquera and was not allowed to fight his much lighter opponent who made the weight. Coming in overweight and out of shape has become a recurrent problem for Guzman in a career that has been on a downward spiral for the past five years. Last December, in a losing effort for the vacant WBA title against Khabib Allakhverdiev, Guzman (33-1-1, 20 KOs) did make the weight but looked drained and listless. After the latest giant misstep on Friday, the question has to be asked: is it the end of the road for the former two division (WBO jr featherweight and WBO jr lightweight) champion? If such is the case, it will be a sad end for a boxer who in the opinion of many experts had the talent to be a boxing superstar.

Indeed, Joan Guzman seemed to be endowed with great pugilistic gifts. Dazzling handspeed, great footwork, and defensive moves of the torso and head that would mystify his opponents.

“Joan’s skills and ability were God-given, in the same league as Floyd Mayweather,” said Rafael Guerrero, a lawyer who managed Guzman from 1998 to 2004. “He did crazy unorthodox things that only he could do. As a jr featherweight he was just so fast and big. In 21 victories he scored 17 knockouts. I really think he would have beaten Manny Pacquiao at 122lbs.”

Adds Dominican boxing expert Carlos Nina Gomez, “Under Guerrero’s stewardship Joan Guzman’s talent was in full bloom. When they broke up Guzman was still an excellent boxer, but he was left on his own. He lost two important elements in his career, discipline and absolute dedication. It was never quite the same even though he went on to win another world title. He lost his killer instinct and power.”

As he entered his 30s, Guzman became unable to control his weight. On two occasions “Little Tyson” Guzman missed the opportunity to win a third world title. His title fight bout against Nate Campbell was scrapped at the last minute, and against African boxer Ali Funeka he did win the bout but did not win the vacant IBF crown because he was nine pounds over the division limit.

“It’s all very sad,” says Guerrero, “because Joan could have been a 5 division titleholder. He could have been in with the likes of Barrera, Marquez, Morales and Pacquiao. It’s a great case of wasted talent.”

Now, at 37 and after the Friday night disaster, will any promoter take a chance with Guzman?

Said one notable Dominican journalist, “I really think this was Joan Guzman’s last opportunity to be the first Dominican boxer to win a title in three divisions and he blew it again, big time!”

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