With the kind of blazing hand speed that can turn opponents into mulch, Meldrick Taylor has forged a reputation as one of the greatest boxers in the world pound for pound.
Taylor, who holds the World Boxing Association version of the welterweight title, would like to cement that status when he meets Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown on Jan. 18 at the Philadelphia Civic Center.
Taylor, of Philadelphia, is 28-1-1 with 15 knockouts; Brown, of New York, is 34-2 with 25 knockouts.
Although Taylor has fought in Philadelphia before, this will be his first title bout in his home town.
"This time it's much different," said Taylor, who fought Jaime "Rocky" Balboa in a non-title bout on Nov. 20, 1989, in the same arena. "I think I have a bigger following now, but if there's any extra pressure, I'll use it to my advantage. I think I thrive on pressure situations."
Although he said he was not taking Brown lightly, Taylor already has made a list of resolutions for the coming year, one of which is unifying the welterweight title.
He would like to start with James "Buddy" McGirt, who wrested the World Boxing Council version of the title from Simon Brown, of Mt. Airy (Md.) on Friday in Las Vegas.
It was McGirt whom Taylor beat for the International Boxing Federation junior-welterweight championship on Sept. 3, 1988.
Now, both men have climbed to the welterweight division, and both men have won titles in their new home.
"I saw the fight, and I knew right away that McGirt would win," Taylor said. "He looked calm and relaxed, and Brown looked nervous and wary. I wasn't surprised that McGirt won. He's a very underrated fighter."
In a bout that boasted all the competitive tension of a turkey shoot, Philadelphia junior welterweight "Rockin'" Rodney Moore battered Greg Cadiz last week at Philadelphia's Blue Horizon arena.
Expect Moore to face similar opponents in the future, heavy bags masquerading as fighters.
"We're going to get Rodney six more fights like this until he gets a title shot," said Fred Jenkins, who trains Moore. "Six more stiffs. The kid has proved he can fight. If the champions don't like what we're doing, tell them to come out and fight Rodney."
Moore, who is rated in the top 10 by all three major sanctioning bodies, has won 12 straight bouts, including victories over tough opponents such as Jerry Page, Sammy Fuentes and Alfredo Rojas.
"The champs are ducking Rodney," Jenkins said. "Why should we take tough fights when he deserves a title shot right now?"
Prince Charles Williams, who had been scheduled to defend his IBF light-heavyweight title against Frank Tate on Dec. 13, pulled out of the match after breaking his left hand in a sparring session two weeks ago.
Williams, who trains at Champs Gym in Philadelphia, was sparring with Dave Tiberi, the World Boxing Organization middleweight champion.
After Evander Holyfield almost lost his crown and his senses to Bert Cooper on Nov. 23, the top heavyweight contenders screamed for a shot at the undisputed champion.
Rock Newman, who manages Riddick Bowe, went so far as to proclaim his fighter "the next champion of the world," saying that he could guarantee Holyfield and Bowe a total purse of $36 million for a bout this spring.
Hank Johnson, who trains Ray Mercer, said he had been telling "everyone all along" that Holyfield is not a "true heavyweight."
And George Foreman, the baron of bulk who lost a decision to the champion in April, said he deserved another shot.