On November 25 in Sydney, Australia, heavyweight Kali Meehan will be fight an opponent to be named later in what he hopes will be his last tune-up. With the heavyweight division wide open the big -punching Meehan is optimistic that a title fight is around the corner. Meehan’s last high profile bout was a fourth-round beating against Hasim Rahman at Madison Square Garden, New York last November. Anyone who saw that one-sided bout are justified in wondering how Meehan, trained by "Magic" Mark Janssen and managed by Ted Allen, believes he can go from such a disappointing performance to contending for a heavyweight title.
"I was barely able to sleep for the last week before that fight," said Meehan. "My neck was injured in training and I wasn’t able to perform anywhere near 100%. Rahman is a strong guy, I wanted to go through with the fight because I knew the opportunity was not something you get every day. Now, I would love a rematch to prove that when I’m right it would be a different story."
In his previous bout, Meehan lost a controversial split decision in a WBO title fight against Lamon Brewster. It was a career-best performance that surprised boxing fans all around the world. The taller meehan boxed from the outside and used his reach to maximum advantage over Brewster. For the first time in his career, Meehan showed the skills and conditioning of a world class heavyweight, but Mark Janssen was still a little disappointed. “Even though we thought Kali had won the fight, and it was a great experience, he only showed 50% of what he is capable of. I was not surprised to see Kali outbox Lamon. In previous sparring sessions between them it was clear that Lamon had trouble with Kali’s style," said Janssen.
Ten months after the Rahman fight, Meehan knocked out American Tommy Connelly in Germany, shaking off any ring rust. In boxing though, you’re only as good as your last performance in a meaningful fight, and at the age of 35, taking things slowly is probably not an option for Meehan. But in the ever aging heavyweight division, Meehan believes the best is yet to come. "I am taking better care of myself now. When I was young I didn’t care so much, but now I’m eating better and living cleaner," Meehan said. "I’m 35 and haven’t been in many tough fights so my body is still in good shape. I feel like everything has come together in the last year and I have at least three more years left."
With Meehan bursting on to the scene in the Brewster fight, many people wondered why they had never heard of the big heavyweight from Down Under who had built-up a good record against a bunch of no-names. If it wasn’t for Allen and Janssen taking an interest in the stalling career of the talented yet inconsistent Meehan, he may have remained anonymous. But with a trip to Boston to serve as a sparring partner for John Ruiz, and a few impressive gym sessions, Meehan’s career received a huge boost when promoter Don King offered him a promotional deal.
It wasn’t the first time Meehan had traveled to America to chase his world title dreams. In May of 2000, Kali came over to meet big time heavyweight promoter Cedric Kushner, and fight journeyman Ron Brown on one of Kushner’s Heavyweight Explosion cards. "We met before the fight and they had already drawn up the contracts to sign me up, the fight was a mere formality, " Meehan said. But I was suffering from jet lag and even though I won a clear decision, it was not an exciting performance by me. After the fight the contracts disappeared and there was no interest, but I understand, I know that’s boxing."
After experiencing the highs and the lows of boxing, Meehan is ready for one last run at the big prize, his lifelong dream, the heavyweight championship of the world. "People in boxing will always talk bad even if you’re a champion, but all I can do is do what my good friend Lamon did, keep believing and keep knocking my opponents out.” Meehan said.
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