Thursday, February 21, 2002

Williams speaks highly of Philly foe

Washington could hand him 1st defeat

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It would not be an upset of Rocky-esque proportion if Anthony Washington were to beat Ricardo Williams Jr. Sunday in a 140-pound bout at Cincinnati Gardens.

        “Rick's a great fighter with hands like lightning, but he has to remember it's a Philly fighter coming in there,” said Washington's manager, Joe Hand Sr., who managed former heavyweight great Joe Frazier.

        “I don't bring "opponents' into a fight, and they (Williams' handlers) didn't ask me to,” he added. “They asked me to bring a fighter who can fight, and that's what they're getting. You don't get to 15-0-1 by being a patsy.”

        Washington, 26, who like Hollywood's mythical underdog boxing champ Rocky Balboa is from Philadelphia, will be making his fifth national TV appearance (ESPN, 4-6 p.m). The seven-fight card includes Williams' Olympic teammates Brian Viloria and Dante Craig, and Cornell Shinholster, who like Craig is a Greater Cincinnati native.

        “I can get out of the way of punches, and I can also dig down and fight,” said Washington, who figures he'd have logged twice the number of bouts if not for a motorcycle accident and an infection from a cut suffered in one of his matches.

        “I'm aware I'm fighting the Olympic silver medalist,” he said. “That just gets me more up for it. I don't have a big name like Rick's, but I can fight.”

        Williams (6-0-1, 5 KOs) describes Washington as “slick, elusive, able to slip a punch” and the possessor of “fast hands and feet.” He says it's possible the bout could go all 10 rounds. It's the first time Williams, 20, has spoken this highly of an opponent.

        Washington promises to do a front flip in the ring if he upsets Williams. As a youth, Washington trained in gymnastics, as well as basketball, baseball and football.

        “But I was so competitive in those other sports that I turned everything into a fight,” he said. “That's when I took up boxing.”

        Tickets are available at Ticketmaster (562-4949), LaRosa's (347-5677) or in person at the Gardens box office (631-7793).

        Ticket prices are $100, $60, $40 and $25.


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