TYE FIELDS vs KENDRICK RELEFORD

TOWERING TYE: time to take him seriously? / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Location: 
The Orleans casino hotel, LAS VEGAS, Jan. 25
Graham's Odds: 
Fields -1200; Releford +800
Over 7.5 +110; under 7.5 -120

Tye Fields is big enough, but is he good enough? The huge heavyweight has been regarded with scepticism in some quarters, but he has been overpowering opponents consistently, he has a well-respected trainer in Jesse Reid, a shrewd manager in the veteran Billy Baxter — and now he has the promotional clout of promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation behind him. So maybe we should now be taking Fields a bit more seriously.

Fields returns to mainstream TV on Thursday with a 10-rounder against trial-horse Kendrick Releford.

The bout, on Versus, gives us a chance to have another look at the 6ft 9ins, approximately 260-pounder, who moved from the midwest to train in Las Vegas and has an impressive-looking record of 37 wins in 38 fights, with 34 KOs.

Look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Fields’s record is well-padded. He has lately been battering ageing and overweight types. Former champ Bruce Seldon went down very easily and was told by the commission that he would not be welcome back in Las Vegas. But Fields has been doing what he should have been doing, getting rid of the opposition placed in front of him.

Jesse Reid has told me several times that Fields can really fight and that he has improved vastly. Fields’s image problem in the industry stems in large part from a first-round knockout loss against a fellow named Jeff Ford, but that was six years ago and he blew out Ford in one round in a rematch. One-round KOs can happen. Jesse Reid feels what happened to Fields was probably a combination of inexperience, overeagerness and perhaps simply a case of not really being used to getting hit (16 one-round wins in 17 previous appearances in a Lamar Clark-type build-up).

Reid has told me that since he has been training Fields he has had him sparring with good punchers (including Samuel Peter no less) with never a hint of a chin problem.

There is another worrying fight of Fields’s, though, that should be addressed — his widely scored 12-round decision over Sherman “Tank" Williams, a usually reliable journeyman who was expected to put up a good fight. Williams acted as if he was reluctant to throw punches. There were some very harsh things said about Williams’s performance — or lack of one — and some not so thinly veiled inferences were made.

Yet Williams had previously had fights in which he seemed to have had a crisis of confidence — I think he could have beaten Taurus Sykes had he been prepared to gamble a bit, for instance. My notes on the Fields fight describe Williams as looking “intimidated" — maybe on the night he decided he just did not want to risk getting knocked out.

What is clear is that Fields has heavy hands. In recent glimpses I have seen of him he has been showing clear improvement in the basics, and the former college basketball player has good athletic ability. It seems that he is hard-working and earnest and really wants to succeed. Fields came to boxing late and with no amateur background; he has been learning on the job. He will be 32 next month. The fight with Releford should give an indication of how Fields is progressing.

Releford, 24, has only been stopped once, when he went into the ninth round before hard-hitting DaVarryl Williamson could land the fight-ending blows. He pulled off a couple of upset wins in Florida over the Cubans Ramon Garbey and Eliecer Castillo, but in recent appearances Releford has been essentially a durable survivor, with four losses in his last five fights.

I would think that the Fields camp would want the big man to make a bit of a statement here — but Releford is cagey and not easy to hit flush. Maybe he can move, cover up, counter now and again, and go some rounds, or even the full distance — the way that sturdy opponent-type Sedrick Fields managed to do when he met towering Tye in April 2005. Maybe, but probably not. I like Fields to win this fight inside the distance although it will probably take him several rounds before he can start to break down a defensive-minded opponent.

Last Updated: 
January 22, 2007 - 3:12pm