Boxing: Hide aiming high to secure his future

Harry Mullan says the 'other' world heavyweight contest is a stepping stone
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The Independent Online
While Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield settle the real world heavyweight championship in Las Vegas, two men dispute the World Boxing Organisation version of the title in the homely surroundings of the Sports Village, Norwich, on Saturday night.

The local favourite Herbie Hide, WBO champion for eight days short of a year in 1994-95, will be taking on the veteran American Tony Tucker, International Boxing Federation champion for two months in 1987, for a title which was left vacant by Henry Akinwande.

The fact that Akinwande relinquished the belt in order to challenge for Lennox Lewis's World Boxing Council version is an indication of where the WBO stands in boxing's pecking order, but the action in Norwich will be no less intense for that.

Even fringe champions can make heavyweight money: Hide has built himself a palatial house in Norwich with the pounds 1m he earned for losing his title to Riddick Bowe, and beating Tucker will enable him to add a few more luxury cars to his growing fleet.

The business has not been quite so kind to Tucker, whose cleverness inside the ring was never matched by shrewdness outside it. At one stage, his management position was so muddled that he had sold 120 per cent of himself to assorted individuals and disentangling the mess was a costly, demoralising process which prevented him achieving his potential and kept him in the ring past his prime.

However, he is still a decent fighter despite losses to Lewis (for the WBC title), Akinwande and Orlin Norris. At his best he was durable enough to take Mike Tyson at his peak the full 12 rounds despite breaking a hand early in the fight. And the way he staggered Tyson in the final round was the first, ominous indication of Tyson's vulnerability.

Hide showed courage in surviving repeated knockdowns against Bowe before the mismatch was halted in the sixth round. Sensibly, he took a long rest and has not been tested severely since his return. He will concede more than two stone to 39-year-old Tucker, but is 14 years younger and a lot more mobile than his opponent.

He is also the one with the future. There are not too many good young heavyweights around and Hide should take advantage of this chance to establish himself as a front runner in a division overloaded with creaking veterans.