Local heavyweight Rich Power gets a second shot at fame and fortune

That’s right, San Diego; we have a top heavyweight living in our midst. It’s been a long, long time since the town, known more for it’s champions in the lighter weights, has had a local heavyweight get a shot at fame and fortune. You might say we’d have to go all the back to Ken Norton during the period 1967 to 1981.


Ken Norton made this town proud. It was on March 31, 1973 when Norton broke Mohammad Ali’s jaw at the Sports Arena in Point Loma to win the NABF Heavyweight Title. Norton retired in 1981 with a record of (42-7-1, 33 KOs). Even though the great Archie Moore fought six times as a heavyweight, we’d have to classified him as a light heavyweight.

On Sunday, November 20, Rich “Super” Power, who trains and coaches at The Arena Gym on Sports Arena Blvd., adjacent to the same Sports Arena where Norton fought Ali, will be facing the undefeated Magomed Abdusalamov of Russia, at the Texas Station Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada on the undercard of the Stacey Reile versus Dahiana Santana IBF female featherweight title fight and the co-featured Ada Velez versus Melinda Cooper IBF female super bantamweight title.

At 6'9" and 263 pounds, Tyson Fury, shown here with his two bodyguards, was a quite formidable foe.

I mentioned it was his second shot at stardom because back on September 10, 2010, the 32 year-old Power got on a fast plane to London to fight Tyson Fury, the 23 year-old, 6’9″, 263 pound giant who is now ranked #9 in the world. Fearless, ambitious and perhaps hurting for money, Power unwisely took the fight on just four days notice. At the pre-fight press conference, Fury arrogantly told Power he was going to take his head off. According to him, Power wasn’t even going to get out of the first round. Their bout, a closely contested eight rounder, went the distance at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, London.

What bothered Power most in that match was not the disparity in height, (six inches), or weight (42 pounds), it was the incredible nine inch reach advantage. Since he had trouble closing the distance between them, a comparison could be drawn with the Chris Arreola versus Vitali Klitschko match.

After that bout, Powers remembers Fury giving him a kiss on the cheek and then inviting him to his late night celebratory dinner. At that dinner, Fury told Power he was the toughest opponent he’s ever faced and he couldn’t believe Power’s stamina.

If you were to ask a local boxing scribe to give you his thoughts on Power, they’d likely begin by mentioning he’s always in excellent shape. That’s not your norm in the heavyweight division.

When the other heavyweights are huffing and puffing, he’s still fresh. What’s also unique, is the fact he loves to fight. When he can’t get a boxing match, you’ll see him fighting MMA.

This time around, Carlos Linas, Power’s manager contracted to have Power fight Abdulsalamov with a more comfortable 20 days to prepare.

What’s makes this fight different than past outings? For one, Power’s management team had the good sense to bring in Derek “the One Man Riot” Bryant (20-6-1) from Philadelphia to spar with Power. Bryant, now 40 years-old, was trained by Emmanuel Steward and like Power’s opponent on November 12, Bryant is 6’3″ tall and a southpaw. Also, Bryant has a reputation for getting people ready for the big fights. He’s worked with Larry Holmes, Shannon Briggs, and the Klitschko brothers.

Power has fought twice this year. On July 15, he was back at the Royal Oak Music Theatre for a rematch against the 280 pound, Cleophris Glover (3-15).  Glover has won just three times in the past seven years. Power’s opponents haven’t been what you’d call stellar. Only three of his opponents had a winning record when facing Power.

No one has lasted long against Magomed Abdusalamov.

Abdusalamov is ranked #136 of 1110 in the world and #6 of 21 in Russia. The majority of Power’s bouts (10 of 16) have been fought at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, Michigan. He has also fought at the Motor City Casino, Majestic Theatre and the Joe Louis Arena all within the state of Michigan.

One of his coaches, Cosmo Cala, mentioned how Power had been signed very early in his career, earlier than most. After seeing Power’s talent, his management team couldn’t wait to begin the grooming process. “He’s so unique,” said Cala at The Arena. “He’s got knockout power in both hands. He’s one of America’s next, great white hopes, big and with all the tools. I think he can beat Abdusalamov. His chances improve the longer the fight goes. Having said that, Power realizes Abdusalamov was a great Amateur champion, Russia’s National Champion in 2005 and 2006. Since that time we feel he’s untested. Of the 11 boxers he’s faced only one took him into the second round.

The man helping Power with his training and conditioning is Rob Garcia. Garcia, who is from Hawaii, has an extensive resume. He’s worked with many great boxers, notables to include, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins.

Asked to describe Power’s style, Garcia said, “Rich is a crafty boxer who picks his shots and has exceptional footwork. He’s always working on something to perfect his style. Since he trains everyday, he’s always in shape.”

Where did this “always prepared” attitude come from? Power had what many would call a disruptive childhood. He told me he’s lived in no less than 30 states. For instance, in high school, his family moved three times within the same school year. Why did his family move so much? His father was in the Military for 27 years, the Air Force. After retiring, he went to work for a defense contractor and he’s now working in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“He’s very intelligent too,” said Garcia. “He has a college degree. He’s one of those guys who can quote other people. The one he used the other day put one of his more lackadaisical students in their place. He quoted this professor from Boston College. “If there’s anyone in this room that thinks they know everything, could they please hang around after my class, because I have a million questions for them.”

Like that professor, Power knows he still has a lot to learn and he’s a good listener. Garcia is pleased with their recent mini-training camp and feels certain his fighter is ready.

“Power’s opponent, is more of a plodder,” said Garcia. “He bends down well to stay small and not since (Mike) Tyson has any big man exhibited such speed. His downfall? He hasn’t gone that many rounds and he’s never been pushed. Never gone through the pace that Rich will set. He’s going to tire him out.”

Magomed Abdusalamov of Makhachkala, Russia (11-0-0, 11 KOs), Power’s opponent on Sunday, has KO’d everyone he’s faced in the very first round, all except 5’9” Jerry “Big Daddy” Butler, a 294 pounder from the Bahamas, who managed to go 2:39 seconds into Round #2.

In 2005 and 2006, Abduslamov dominated the Russian Amateur ranks and was their National Champion. When facing the rest of the world he didn’t do so well. In the qualifying stages for the 2008 Olympic games, he failed to qualify after being defeated by David Price, an English boxer from Liverpool, England.

According to the world rankings, Abdusalamov is ranked #6 out of 21 amongst the heavyweights in Russia and #265 of 1110 in the world. Power is ranked #103 out of 400 in the U.S., and #265 of 1110 in the world.

To demonstrate how important a bout this is. On Wednesday, November 9, 2011, in the same heavyweight division, Albert Sosnowski (46-4-1, 28 KOs) defeated Hastings Rasani (23-61-4, 16 KOs) and Mike Perez (17-0-0, 12 KOs) defeated Zack Page (21-36-2, 7 KOs) at York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, United Kingdom.

And then tonight, Friday, at the North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, Yorkshire, U.K., Dereck Chisora (15-1-0, 9 KOs) defeated Remigijus Ziausys (19-44-3, 9 KOs) of Klaipeda, Lithuania.

The three matches were never in doubt. The one on Sunday night in Las Vegas between Power and Abdusalamov has significantly greater ramifications.

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