Schwer relies on family and friends : Boxing

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Billy Schwer is determined to turn his attempt to win the International Boxing Federation lightweight title on Saturday into a family occasion.

He has used a considerable amount of the £6,000 compensation he received when the John Daly promotion in Hong Kong fell through to pay for his relations to watch him fight Rafael Ruelas. He has flown his mother, two sisters, two brothers-in-law, an aunt an uncle, his girlfriend, and his main sparring partner to Las Vegas.

Ruelas is so confident of spoiling the party that he has already lined up his next bout. He intends to fight the World Boxing Organisation champion, Oscar De La Hoya, on 6 May.

The local bookmakers also think that Ruelas will have no trouble in disposing of Schwer, who they rate as no better than a 9-2 chance. But being labelled the underdog does not worry Schwer, who has staked a total of £2,250 on himself. As well as the title, Schwer now stands to win more than £10,000.

"It was a terrible shock when my family came to Hong Kong only for the show to be called off at the last minute," Schwer said. "I got the compensation and I've spent a lot of it bringing my family. I wanted them here. This Las Vegas trip is a once-in-a-lifetime thing so I may as well enjoy it."

Both Schwer and Ruelas have had warm-up fights since leaving Hong Kong, and Schwer believes his performance was the more impressive. He beat the Mexican Manuel Hernandez in six rounds in a bout he had two minds about taking. But his manager, Mickey Duff,thought it would be the right thing to do.

"I wasn't sure about it," Schwer said. "But the win helped my morale. The body punching pleased me, and I feel my showing was more encouraging than the one Ruelas is reported to have put up."