A fighter with a big name to live up to

Beethoven Scottland faces IBF's No. 2-ranked fighter

March 23, 2000|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

What's in a name? Take Beethoven Scottland, the Maryland super middleweight who battles title contender Thomas Tate in the 10-round main event at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie tonight.

You just know there has to be a story behind the unusual name.

"Actually, I was christened `Beethavean,' " Scottland explained. "But it was spelled wrong by a Maryland boxing official when I started fighting professionally in 1995, so I'm still listed as `Beethoven' in the ring record book."

But like the building of a great symphony, the story gets better.

"My father is a professional piano player who appears regularly at a club in Alexandria, Va., under the name Sherlock Holmes," the fighter said. "But his real love is music, and that made him name all his kids after great composers. My older brother is named Bach, and my sister is Mozetta, a variation on Mozart."

The children all played musical instruments at an early age, but Beethoven soon gave up the trumpet for boxing, turning pro at age 19.

He enjoyed early success, winning his first six bouts before fighting to a draw with Robert Thomas and then being stopped by Alan (Boogaloo) Watts.

Managerial problems and being forced to fight repeatedly out of town resulted in consecutive losses to Eric Harding in 1997, when Scottland began to wonder if he had a future in boxing.

"It had gotten to the point where I was just fighting anyone, anywhere trying to pay my bills and take care of my wife and kids," said Scottland, the father of three, the youngest named Beethavean, II. "I was fed up with boxing and needed time to clear my mind."

He found a job in a Prince George's mall bookstore, working for Simba Sana, who had trained at the same Mitchellville gym with Scottland.

"I thought `Bee' was extremely talented but just wasn't being handled correctly," said Sana, who signed an agreement with Scottland in 1998. "I made sure he wouldn't take fights on short notice or be overmatched. I wanted to rebuild his confidence."

Some may question the wisdom of matching Scottland (18-5-2) against Tate (36-6), a veteran ranked No. 2 by the International Boxing Federation who has traded punches with Roy Jones, Julian Jackson and Merqui Sosa.

Only Jones, perhaps the best fighter pound-for-pound, has succeeded in stopping Tate, who lasted only two rounds in challenging for the middleweight crown six years ago.

"Tate is a crafty veteran," said Scottland, "but I think the timing is right. I respect him, but he's just a person in my way. I want to do the things he's done -- fight for a world title. I've been told by people involved with the ratings that I'll get a high ranking if I beat him."

Although he has not fought the same caliber of competition as Tate, Scottland says his regular sparring sessions against World Boxing Association middleweight champion William Joppy and title challengers Andrew Council and Derrell Coley have prepared him to fight the best in his 168-pound class.

"I'm ready and confident," said Scottland, who has a big name to live up to, no matter how you spell it.

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