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Maddalone faces biggest test of career

More difficult then Al Cole, who defeated...

By Mitch Abramson

Bayside’s Vinny Maddalone is preparing for the biggest fight of his career against Brian Minto, an unknown, undefeated heavyweight, which potentially makes him the most difficult opponent of Maddalone’s career.

More difficult then Al Cole, who defeated Maddalone at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which is the site of his fight with Minto on July 23. ESPN2 is televising the fight.

“We’re going back to the scene of the crime,” said Maddalone’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia.

An impressive win by Maddalone, 30, would put him on the path toward a potential title shot and possibly land him a coveted date on HBO, where Oleg Maskaev, once a dominant force in the division used to fight all the time.

Maskaev (28-5) is making a last ditch comeback against David Defiagbon (21-0) in the card’s main event. DeGuardia says representatives from HBO will be watching to see if Maddalone has the star-power required to become a network celebrity. That is all the incentive Maddalone needs to get his motor running.

“I need to look good,” he said before a recent workout at Gleason’s. “This is going to give me national exposure and a stage to show my skills. HBO is in the picture, and with [Joe] Mesi not being active [from a head injury], I guess they are looking for someone else to step up. I need to look impressive.”

The barren landscape of the heavyweight division is ripe for a charismatic and exciting fighter like Maddalone to step in and make a financial killing if he can put together a string of exciting wins.

To do so, Maddalone (21-1, 15 KO’s) will have to get through Minto, a small heavyweight by today’s standards at 5-foot-11 and 210-pounds from Butler, Pa. Minto, 29, is unfamiliar to most observers and carries the unwelcome burden of having fought all but two of his fights in the Midwest, where competition is considered soft.

“The difference between my Philadelphia fighters and the guys on the western side of the state is that the Philly fighters have amateur backgrounds,” said Greg Sirb, the executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. “Brian doesn’t have the greatest hand-speed and he isn’t fleet of foot, but he has a good chin, and he always comes into shape.”

Sounds like a healthy description of Maddalone, which led DeGuardia to compare Minto’s style to a young Mike Tyson in an effort to hype the fight. Minto, who has been sparring with former 2000 Olympian Calvin Brock under trainer Tommy Yankello — Paul Spadafora’s former coach — has been working on his boxing skills and will look to take the hard-charging Maddalone into the later rounds like Cole did.

“I like that I am being underestimated,” said Minto, a former Division II football player at Slippery Rock University. “People think that I’m just going to go in there and stand right in front of him, but I’m going to use my boxing skills. I’m not going to lie down. I need this fight. If I beat the next great white heavyweight, then I will be a great American heavyweight myself.”

The common opponents between Maddalone and Minto (17-0, 10 KO’s) are journeyman Joe Lenhart, who has a record of 12-23-3. Maddalone TKO’d him in the fifth and Minto won a six-round unanimous decision. And Mike Middleton, whom both fighters knocked out in two rounds.

Maddalone’s cut man for the fight will be Dave Tenney, a student of Maddalone’s regular cut man, Al Gavin, who died of complications from a stroke on June 8th.

“I’ll be wearing my Al Gavin T-shirt underneath my Vinny Maddalone jacket for the fight,” said trainer Bob Jackson, who was a partner and friend of Gavin’s for over 40 years. “We’ll feel him in there.”

Reach Sports Reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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