In a World Boxing Council (WBC)/International Boxing Federation (IBF) 12 round eliminator, former WBC cruiserweight champion Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite will take on Guillermo Jones in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). The 12-round heavyweight co-feature will pit once-beaten WBC No. 6/World Boxing Association (WBA) No. 11/IBF No. 12 contender Owen “What the Heck” Beck against Cleveland’s own Ray "The Rainman" Austin. Austin, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) No. 13, is a late substitute for Sergei Liakhovich, who withdrew due to injury. Don King Productions will promote the explosive doubleheader from Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Braithwaite (21-1, 17 KOs), of Brooklyn, N.Y., by way of Georgetown, Guyana, made the most of his initial world title appearance. Following an 11-month layoff, the undefeated fighter captured the then-vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) cruiserweight crown with a hard-fought 10th-round TKO over local hero, Vincenzo Cantatore, on Oct. 11, 2002, in Campione, Italy.
After winning the world title, Braithwaite became a national hero in his native Guyana.
“I was treated like royalty,” Braithwaite said. “The President met me at the airport. I had a motorcade and received gifts.”
Braithwaite retained his WBC title for the first time by registering a fourth-round TKO over Ravea Springs on Feb. 21, 2003, in Miccosukee, Fla.
Nearly 10 months later on Dec. 13, 2003, in Atlantic City, N.J., Braithwaite stopped Andres Pineda at the 1:27 mark of the opening round to successfully defend his title for the second time.
In his lone 2004 start, Braithwaite retained his crown for the third and final time by registering a 12-round unanimous decision over previous victim, Louis Azille, on April 17, 2004, in New York. The defending champion dominated the early rounds with fierce power shots and an aggressive attack en route to winning by the one-sided scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 118-107.
Following 21 consecutive victories and three title defenses, the next logical step for Braithwaite was to fight in a world title unification match. The opportunity arose when the WBC champion stepped into the ring against World Boxing Association (WBA) titleholder, Jean Marc Mormeck, on April 2, 2005. SHOWTIME televised Mormeck’s 12-round unanimous decision from Worcester, Mass. The judges scored it 116-110, 115-111 and 114-112.
Jones (32-3-2, 25 KOs), of Colon, Panama, is a veteran fighter who turned pro at welterweight, twice fought for the World Boxing Association (WBA) junior middleweight title, and now makes his home at cruiserweight.
After defeating 22 out of his first 23 opponents, Jones took on then-WBA 154-pound champion Laurent Boudouani in consecutive world title bouts during the 1998 campaign. The first on Feb. 13 in Albuquerque, N.M., ended in a draw. In the rematch the following May 30 in Las Vegas, Jones lost a 12-round split decision to the Frenchman on SHOWTIME.
Jones made his cruiserweight debut in his initial 2002 outing on April 13 and recorded a 10-round split decision over previously undefeated Tim Williamson (13-0, 11 KOs going in) on the SHOWTIME boxing series, “ShoBox.” The former WBA/LA welterweight and junior middleweight utilized an effective left hand to win 96-93, 95-94 and 94-95.
Exactly three months later on July 13, 2002, Jones returned to “ShoBox” and SHOWTIME to register a 10-round unanimous decision over Sione Asipeli in Warren, Ohio. Two of the judges’ scored the fight 99-91, while the other judge scored it 99-92.
In his third shot at a world championship, Jones fought to a controversial 12-round draw against World Boxing Organization (WBO) Cruiserweight Champion Johnny Nelson on Nov. 23, 2002, in Derby, England. One judge scored the contest for Jones (115-113), another ruled in favor of the champion (116-113), while the third had it 114-114.
Beck (24-1, 18 KOs), of Nashville, Tenn. by way of Kingstown, Jamaica, will make his first start since suffering his lone defeat on a ninth-round TKO to the more experienced Monte Barrett on Feb. 5, 2005, on SHOWTIME. Beck fought hard in the IBF eliminator and landed many solid shots. After going down in the second round, he rallied to perform exceedingly well to make the battle of top-10 fighters close. However, Beck began to falter down the stretch and got floored twice in the ninth. The bout was stopped at 2:52.
“That fight was a great learning experience,” Beck said. “I learned more in that one loss than in my 24 wins combined. I have worked harder since that fight than I ever have worked before. This will be a good fight with Liakhovich, but I am ready to go. I will be a legitimate force in the division.
“My goal and dream is still to win the heavyweight championship of the world.”
Beck compiled a 73-5 amateur record. A natural middleweight, he won the Caribbean Championship three times and was the national champion six times. He also captured the Central American & Caribbean silver medal and earned a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia as a super heavyweight in 1998. It was in Jamaica that Beck picked up his nickname.
“‘What the Heck’ was mentioned as a possible nickname, so my brothers and I took a vote and it won,” Beck said. “It was not my choice. I did not like the name. I did not think it was tough enough.”
Austin (22-3-3, 15 KOs), of Cleveland, will attempt to win for the fourth time in as many hometown bouts when he faces Beck on Sept. 3. After splitting his initial two pro outings, Austin scored a second-round TKO over Lincoln Luke on Jan. 22, 1999, in Cleveland. Two months later, Austin registered a first-round TKO over Kevin Wilson in front of friends and family on March 19, 1999. In his last Cleveland appearance, Austin captured a six-round decision over Ken Murphy on June 25, 2004.
"I have not had too many chances in front of the local fans," Austin said. "But every time I have fought in Cleveland, I made a statement. Nobody expects me to win because I came into this fight so late, but I train all year round for opportunities like this. I am ready to go today. On Sept. 3, Beck will wonder 'what the heck' hit him."
In his most recent outing, Austin fought to a 12-round draw against Larry Donald on April 30, 2005, in New York. The judges scored the battle 114-114 twice and 115-113 for Donald.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING’s Steve Albert and Al Bernstein will call the action from ringside with Jim Gray serving as roving reporter. The executive producer of the SHOWTIME telecast will be Jay Larkin, with David Dinkins Jr. producing and Bob Dunphy directing.
Tickets priced at $100, $50 and $25 went on sale Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the Gund Arena ticket office (where there is no service fee), all TicketMaster locations or online at www.ticketmaster.com
. Fans can charge tickets by phone in Cleveland at (216) 241-2121 and in Akron at (330) 945-9400. For more information, log on to www.GundArena.com
, or call the Gund Arena event information line at (216) 420-2200.
For information on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecasts, including complete fighter bios and records, related stories and more, please go to the SHOWTIME website at www.sho.com/boxing