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Bosco’s Corner: Maddalone can shake first defeat

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I sat down with Maddalone on Monday of last week, five days...

By Anthony Bosco

I wanted to go to Atlantic City this past weekend to catch Bayside boxer Vinny Maddalone on the undercard of the Wladimir Klitschko-Ray Mercer heavyweight bout, but things just didn’t work out.

I sat down with Maddalone on Monday of last week, five days before he was to fight Russell Chasteen, a boxer who figured to give Maddalone the toughest test of his young boxing career. Chasteen was supposed to be the perfect opponent for Maddalone, boxing in front of a decent sized crowd — many of his loyal fans in attendance — at the Trump Taj Mahal Saturday night.

But something happened between Monday and Friday. Chasteen fell off the card, leaving Maddalone, who is no stranger to last-minute opponents, looking for a fighter to fill the bill. As fate would have it, opportunity handed him Al “Ice” Cole, the former cruiserweight champion of the world.

Cole, now campaigning as a heavyweight, brought a big name to the table. He has been in the public eye for most of his career, becoming perhaps the most marketable and certainly recognizable cruiserweight since Evander Holyfield. And while he never quite lived up to the hype, he always was a good, solid professional fighter with a durable chin.

I can understand why Maddalone and his people believed Cole would be easy pickings. The New Jersey-based boxer had not won a bout since 1999, losing six and earning one draw in that span. Cole was still a live body, though. Anyone who had seen him fight recently would tell you that.

What Maddalone got with Cole was a heck of a lot more than he bargained for, that’s for certain. What should have been a stepping stone fight on the way to the top 10 turned out to be a disaster for Maddalone. Instead of coming home to Queens a conquering hero, the Holy Cross grad came back with a fair share of bruises, 20 stitches in his face and his first professional defeat.

This kind of thing has played itself out countless times throughout boxing’s checkered history. Maddalone seemingly had everything to lose by stepping into the ring with Cole, who, quite honestly, was probably expected to fold under and sink to the canvas like so many of Maddalone’s opponents before him.

But in boxing, nothing or close to it ever goes according to plan.

Instead of fighting a big, stationary fighter like Chasteen, Cole steps in with his long reach and more than a decade of experience fighting some of the best boxers in and around his weight. The bout had disaster written all over it.

Of course, hindsight is 20-20. It’s easy for me to write these things after the fact. Maddalone has looked every bit the wrecking machine his people have played him up to be in recent bouts. The problem with that is he wasn’t fighting anyone.

With that said, no way would I have put Maddalone in with a guy like Cole on such short notice. I don’t care how ready I thought Maddalone was. One mistake can cost millions of dollars down the road, one loss can derail a fighter’s march toward the title for years, even permanently.

Cole has too many tools, too good a jab and certainly too good a chin to have been Maddalone’s stepping stone. In a couple of fights maybe, but at this stage of his development, I really don’t think Maddalone should have been in the ring Saturday.

And that’s not a knock against Maddalone. Unlike a lot of white heavyweights, Maddalone can scrap. And given the right amount of time, who knows how far he can go. But Cole was wrong for him. Unfortunately, no one noticed, Maddalone included.

Maybe it was overconfidence on the part of Maddalone and his handlers or maybe they thought too little of Cole. Probably both.

The bottom line on this fight is that Maddalone, while still a very viable prospect, just wasn’t ready for a fighter of Cole’s experience and physical skills.

I have seen Maddalone fight numerous times and each time I came away thinking that, yeah, he can hit, but what happens when the guy he’s hitting punches back?

To his credit, Maddalone was still on his feet when the final bell sounded, even though some ringside observers reported the Queens boxer was out on his feet in the waning moments of the sixth round. What is even more encouraging was his demeanor when I spoke with him Monday. He was disappointed, for sure, but by no means deterred.

Now what? If I were holding the strings, Maddalone would be back in the ring as soon as possible, this time against an opponent who is not even a household name in his own house. A quick knockout would rebuild confidence quickly.

I would step it up quick and find Maddalone an older boxer with a name custom made for him, a short guy with not too much pop on his punches who isn’t going to run. After that, maybe another fight or two in the same vain and then perhaps Cole again in a rematch, this one televised.

If at that point Maddalone can’t get by a fighter 10 years past his prime, he probably never will. But I don’t believe that will happen. Maddalone will bounce back from his first loss. The only thing that remains to be seen is how far.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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