Ex-champ Oliver McCall fights in New Mexico Sept 28

By David Finger

It’s a story as old as the sport of boxing itself: the former heavyweight champion on the comeback trail. Far removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas he makes a pit stop in some smaller venue hoping to create enough of a buzz to position himself for one more shot at the title. And yet, it’s a story that has never before been told in New Mexico. Sure New Mexico once hosted a heavyweight title fight in 1912, and two future heavyweight champions fought early in their career in New Mexico. But never had a former heavyweight champ stopped off in New Mexico while on the comeback trial.

Until now.

On September 28th boxing history will be made as a former heavyweight champion will step into the ring in the State of New Mexico for the first time ever. Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall (59-14, 38 KOs) is slated to take on the durable journeyman Grover Young (13-27-3, 9 KOs) as he tries to position himself for one more run at the title, and he will do it in Hobbs at the Corral Arena.

At 54-years old the likelihood of another world title shot is miniscule, but McCall is still regarded as a durable and competent fighter despite his age. In fact he is a fighter who has earned a reputation of possessing the best chin in boxing history, having never been dropped in a career that started in 1985. In that time he worked as Mike Tyson’s chief sparring partner before scoring a monumental upset in 1994 when he stopped Hall of Famer Lennox Lewis in the second round to win the WBC heavyweight title. McCall would defend his title once against another future Hall of Famer in Larry Holmes before he dropped a decision to Frank Bruno in 1995.

The McCall-Young clash will be an intriguing featured fight on a loaded card that features several other talented heavyweights, several of whom were in town during a press conference Friday night at the Corral Arena.

Martinez Valenzuela

Undefeated Mark Martinez (1-0, 1 KO) of Hobbs promised fans a chance to not only see a former world champion in action, but a future world champion as well.

“I want to be champion of the world,” Martinez told the press and the fight fans in attendance. “I want to carry all of the belts. I want to have all the title belts. I feel if you do this you should go all out. Hard work pays off and hard work shows.”

Martinez showed talent in his professional debut when he stopped fellow Hobbs native Ruben Sanchez in the 4th round back on July 20 in Midland, Texas. It was a back and forth brawl that had many fans cheering, and Martinez promised another brawl as he takes on debuting Xavier Valenzuela of Roswell.

“I’m ready to put on a show,” Valenzuela said of his opportunity to fight in the main event. Although this will be Valenzuela’s first professional fight as a boxer he is a former MMA fighter with seven MMA fights.

Sanchez Villa

In another heavyweight fight undefeated prospect Richard Villa of Roswell (2-0-1, 1 KO) looks to comeback after a two year layoff as he squares off against Ruben Sanchez (1-1, 1 KO) of Hobbs. Sanchez, who came up short against Martinez in his last fight, promised fans that he learned an important lesson from that loss.

“I learned a couple of things, first was conditioning, conditioning, conditioning.” The visibly slimmer Sanchez said during the press conference. “I’m looking forward to showing what happens when I come in shape.”

Also featured on the card is another heavyweight fight featuring Midland Texas’s Nick Tipton (1-1, 1 KO) as he squares off against Clovis New Mexico’s Corey Gilmore in a four round fight. Tipton, an all action brawler, came up short in his last fight in Midland on July 29th. He also promised fans that, like Sanchez, he learned several important lessons from his last fight.

“I’m highly disappointed in my last performance,” Tipton said. “But I learned a ton.”

Tipton admitted that “outside interference” distracted him during his preparation for his last fight and promised a different fight on September 28th.

Several other fighters spoke during the press conference including the 45-year old Kelly Harrison, a kickboxer who will be fighting Bryan Butler of Midland, Texas. Although somewhat older than most of the fighters on the card, Harrison was still almost ten years younger than the former heavyweight champion. Despite his advanced age Harrison is a fighter with over 20 years of experience in combat sports including wrestling and Muay Thai.

Also speaking during the press conference were Hobbs fighters Oscar Espinoza (2-1, 2 KOs) who is fighting for the first time in over two years as he steps into the ring with Midland’s Mark Sanchez. Four MMA fights and four other professional boxing fights will be featured on the September 28th card.

Tickets are on sale now with general admission starting at $35 and ringside starting at $75. Tickets can be obtained by calling promoter Isidro Castillo at 1-575-263-4942. Doors will open at 5PM with the first fight set to kick off at 6PM.

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    • Yep, Anatomic Bullshit is what it is! The New Mexico Boxing Commission should be ashamed for letting a 54 -year-old fight in their state! I still remember ref Rocky Burke letting Holly Holm receive one of the worst ass-kickings I’ve ever witnessed!

    • McCall will never be in the Hall of Fame. Winning a world title and defending it one time does not put you in the Hall of Fame. His victory over Lewis was a fluke, as the Brit proved in the rematch. Beating an ancient Larry Holmes by decision doesn’t mean anything either.

      • Maybe so, but he actually beat Frank Bruno that night. Bruno was basically out on his feet at the end of that fight, but still the “British favored” judges in England gifted that fight to their beloved Franky. Despicable!!

  • Even tho he’s won his last 2 fights, one in 2018 and one this past May, he needs to be careful. I mean the man has NEVER been stopped! The rematch with Lennox Lewis looked like he was having a meltdown because it looked like he didn’t want to hurt Lewis, so the referee just waved the fight over.

    • Never bein stopped is working against the guy now, he will take more damage standing upright. This is not the type of ‘history’ anyone or state should be proud of.

    • Come Arturo…. you remember Don King was shorting McCall money, that is why Oliver didn’t want to fight. McCall found out right before the fight and that was his protest.

  • Man, irresponsible of the writer of this article to suggest that McCall is on the comeback trail to a world title. Let me make something perfectly clear, McCall will never ever even be in contention for a world title and to commission him is very irresponsible.

    • Yes he was good in his prime! You need to go watch McCall vs Seldon, McCall vs. Lewis 1, McCall vs. Maskaev, McCall vs. Akinwande!! Look them up on YouTube.

  • His comeback would make the most sense if Fred Oquendo won the WBA regular heavyweight title. But there’s nothing wrong with people who are trying to achieve their goals and dreams regardless of what a person’s age.

  • you are correct, an intriguing match. who knows if he will fight, he will cry or at the moment of the fight he walks out of the ring. You never know what to expect from this person.

    • The number of boneheaded commenters willing to give McCall a pass despite being 54 and therefore susceptible to brain injury is shocking. The fans are as much of the problem as the commission is.

  • In an exceptional case like this one, Fightnews (or anyone else) should have interviewed McCall, so that the world can understand why the man still wants to fight.

    On paper, McCalls fight at this age make no sense, but he may have some reason that we don’t know about.

    I wish him only the best and I hope that he will retire before he will get serious physical damage.

  • When the will is hungrier than the collective pessimasts energy, there is nothing the human won’t be able to accomplish.

    • Luis: as idealistic and romantic as this may sound, its insane to pit an old man against a young pit bull in a combat sport. Its even unfair to a boxer in his prime having to fight an old washed up fighter, because he will always have to worry in the back of his mind about injuries he will cause to the old man.

      McCall’s comeback is a mistake and has no meaning in terms of boxing history. The worst that can happen to McCall is to win the next fight because it will motivate him to continue….until he will get brutally knocked out and will retire with a permanent injury to his brain.

      There is a world of difference between negativism and realism. I like McCall, and that’s why I am against his comeback. You don’t care about McCall and that’s why you think its “negative energy” to advise McCall to call it quits.

  • If it was streaming I would watch, I hope he has prepared properly and has stringent medical exam. Always been a big fan. Good for him trying to turn back the clock. I still believe every combat sport needs a seniors league that adjusts glove sizes and round times for them, Why not………

    • A seniors league is an intriguing concept and I am sure it works for some sports, but definitely not for all. Combat sports are more dangerous than most other sports, and I think we would see a lot more life threatening injuries or deaths than we already witness.

      If it weren’t so dangerous, we could dig up Ali again for another round with Foreman and Frazier :))

      • The same as amateur boxing though, as soon as your are over forty there are different rules, times, age of opponent and glove sizes. At least if athletic commissions across the US agreed on that there would less damage and better matches for older fighters

    • A seniors league……? I think is good idea, especially the way you presented RMCK. How many of them are a penniless retired, not longer with the strength and abilities of their younger better days, but in the 50’s or 60’s still in decent shape? They can be included as an attraction in a big card with their own safe rules, facing others legends that could never faced. Like Tommy Hearn vs Pavlik and many others.

  • Mccall was a helluva fighter!! Yes he is old, but he is one tough bastard, and can still crack!! He hits hard. Ask lennox lewis! Show a little respect guys.

    • Eddy: I think most of those who advise McCall to hang up the gloves respect him. What most people express here is no disrespect but a concern for his health.

      The current match ups won’t generate much cash and at the same time are just a huge risk to his health, especially if he picks a ranked fighter.

  • I am sure that one of the scumbag sanctioning bodies will create a belt for McCall to fight for, providing they can suck a sanctioning fee out of it.

  • Someone please stop this maddness for the sake of the mans health,,,,,in the old days the saying “punch drunk takes many forms”,,,,,,,,,, so sad !!!

  • this is what is wrong with boxing and the commissions, to allow a 54 year old heavyweight to fight is gross negigence at least

  • At 54 getting back into boxing. That is what call mental illness. In his prime he said and did things, such as not throwing a punch in a round, comparing himself to Willy Pep, crying during a fight. Oliver all due respect, stay on your meds. Live and be well.

  • Wow! Lots of Hispanic fighters have been inspired by Andy Ruiz Jr! But after the name Oliver McCall, the rest of these guys on the card are no names.

  • Durable opponent? He’s 1-12-2 in his last 15 fights. He’s been stopped 6 times in his career. McCall is 54 years old and 4-4 in his last 8 fights. His lone stoppage was when he cried between rounds forcing the referee to stop the fight. He had a history of drug abuse.

  • McCall looking to round off his win stats with win number 60. Maybe then he will retire as no title shot will be his, could still get some paydays though against up an comers looking to add a name to their record. Though not sure if TV would agree to show such a bout with him being 54.

    • Mark: thanks for the plausible explanation of McCalls motivation to fight again. Makes sense to me, but he’s still risking his health.

  • It’s amazing how many hits this has gotten…..Let him fight as long as he wants , as long as the fights are matched according to his skill level….What will he make ?…10K ?…..If he gets KO’D…Then take his license…..If not, let him fight….

  • I guess with the pathetic state of the heavyweight division, why not? I hope McCall doesn’t get hurt, fight that one fight too many and end up like Greg Page.

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