Boxing: Graham finds that time is running out

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The Independent Online
Herol Graham cannot realistically afford to wait too much longer for a third world title opportunity. That crucial point was recognised by his promoter, Frank Maloney, even though the 38-year-old enjoyed clear superiority over Vinnie Pazienza to retain his World Boxing Council international super-middleweight title at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.

The biggest and most lucrative encounters would be against his British rivals, Robin Reid, the WBC champion, and World Boxing Organisation holder, Joe Calzaghe.

But Malony's rival promoter, Frank Warren, said last week that neither of his two young charges will be entertaining the Sheffield veteran. Instead, a fight against the International Boxing Federation champion, Charles Brewer, could be made for next March or April, according to the American promoter, Art Pellulo, who has close ties with Brewer's management.

Brewer has won 29 fights, losing five and, while being a good puncher, is not renowned for taking a big shot himself. More importantly, he is not a major draw in America and might be persuaded to defend against Graham in Sheffield.

"Let's face reality, time is not on Herol Graham's side, so we have really to force things ahead," Maloney said.

Graham could be faulted for not being positive enough on Saturday, while a fading Pazienza could hardly land a shot in the opening six rounds. These factors combined to make an untidy spectacle saved only by Pazienza's barnstorming finish, which came too late to influence the scoring.

"I beat him, maybe, by running away, but I used my best ammunition, which is moving and jabbing," Graham said. "Jab is virtually all I did throughout the fight. I thought, `What was the use of doing anything else?' He wasn't changing.

"Pazienza didn't hurt me in the 10th round. It was stupid old me, being in the wrong position at the wrong time, but I got out of it."

Maloney's sex and violence build-up theme to the fight will be discussed at the British Board's meeting on Wednesday, when the Board's stewards will decide whether to take action against the promoter.

Pazienza has been fined $3,000 [pounds 1,800] by the World Boxing Council for arriving 95 minutes late for Friday's weigh-in.

l In Atlantic City, Oscar de la Hoya retained his WBC welterweight title with an eighth-round stoppage over the Puerto Rican, Wilfredo Rivera.