By Jackie Kallen
Who says that boxing is a young man’s sport? The retirement age for fighters seems to be getting older and older. The senior statesme of the sport continue along, taking on the youngsters and fighting well into their forties. This weekend is the perfect example.
photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
In Montana on Saturday night, California heavyweight Hassan Chitsaz (24-1) will take on Chauncy Welliver (55-8-5). The fans present at the Broadwater County Fairgrounds may or may not realize that Chitsaz, who is 56 years old, is 25 years Welliver’s senior. The fact that Chitsaz, an affable , heavy-hitting native of Iran is fighting at all is remarkable. He has won 24 fights, all by knockout, and has only lost once. Not a bad record for an older gentleman. who could be Welliver’s father.
I know Chitsaz well and he is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. He is strong, young for his age, and he loves the sport, Apparently the powers-that-be in Montana have no problem with him fighting, so the audience will see a man closing in on 60, facing off against a 31 year old. One would assume a ringside physician will check Chitsaz out thoroughly before the fight starts.
Across the country in Virginia, also on Saturday night, Mia St. John, who will be 47 next month, takes on 10-years younger Tori Nelson. Nelson is 8-0 and has never fought anyone with the experience of St. John. Mia has racked up an impressive 47-13-2 record. 62 fights vs 8 fights. This could only happen in female boxing where the talent pool is so thin.
I can’t see any commission allowing Bernard Hopkins to fight an 8-0 kid who never fought anyone of consequence. But this is Annandale, VA–not Las Vegas. Admittedly, Mia is not a serious threat at this stage in her career. But her experience alone will serve her well. Since this an all-female card, Mia being the main event makes sense. She is a well-known and popular name in the sport.
Juan Manuel Marquez, at 40, seems like a baby compared to Mia and Hassan. He’ll be fighting Mike Alvarado this weekend at the Forum in LA. Forty seems to be the new thirty in boxing. I remember signing a 25-year old fighter back in the late ’80s and being told “He’s way too old.”
Marquez is a hell of a boxer and with his 55-7-1 record, he is still a threat to anyone. Thirty three year-old Alvarado, with a record of 34-2, only has about half the number of fights under his belt. Both men have solid punching power so who knows which way this will go. Boxing has been strange lately. Upsets, questionable decisions, and unexpected performances.
With three of the fighters in main events this weekend being 40 and over, what does that say about the state of boxing in 2014? Does it mean that fewer young fighters are entering the sport so the promoters have to allow the older boxers to compete? Or are fighters staying better and stronger longer in this era?
What do you think?