Tucker's size will trouble Hide

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The Independent Online
We're talking Norfolk not Nevada, the sanction of the World Boxing Organisation rather than the World Boxing Association, and a combined purse closer to pounds 1m than $40m (pounds 24.1m). Of tonight's two fights for versions of the "Richest Prize in Sport", Herbie Hide versus Tony Tucker at the Norwich Sports Village is a poor relation to Holyfield versus Tyson in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the main event of Frank Warren's East Country promotion has its share of intrigue.

Hide, 26, is not far wrong when he claims: "I'm the only young heavyweight out there who can fight." Talent is spread thinly among the division's up-and-comers and Hide is comparatively well-endowed. But doubts persist regarding the temperament of the former WBO champion, born in Nigeria but raised in Norfolk. A series of court appearances, the most recent three days ago for alleged kerb crawling, hardly suggest a surfeit of psychological stability.

Hide won this championship by stopping Michael Bent at Millwall's New Den in March 1994, losing it 12 months later to Riddick Bowe in his first defence. After taking 14 months out to regroup after the only defeat of his career, Hide is back winning and says he is ready to deliver on his promise.

Tucker's only win in four world title fights came when he stopped "Buster" Douglas for the International Boxing Federation crown in May 1987. But the quality of his challengers has diminished. Tyson called Tucker his toughest opponent after their unification match almost 10 years ago. But Tucker was floored twice by Lennox Lewis in their May 1993 WBC title fight, and in April 1995 Tucker was stopped for the only time in his career, by Bruce Seldon for the WBA title.

At 6ft 5in and 17st 8.75lb, the 38-year-old veteran of 60 fights (54 wins, five defeats and one no contest, with 45 KOs) is ominously more reminiscent of Bowe than any other of Hide's 29 past opponents (27 of whom failed to last the distance). Hide, 6ft 2in and 15st 12.25lb, fell apart when the far bigger Bowe challenged him for this title in 1995 - he was down six times before the referee's intervention. A similar fate may await him tonight.