By Peter Lim
A couple of foreign imports will take center stage at the latest Savarese Boxing card at the Bayou City Events Center tonight. Ruann Visser, a heavyweight from South Africa, will make his pro debut in the main event and undefeated welterweight Craig Callaghan (5-0, 3 KOs) of England will fight on the undercard.
Standing at 6-foot-10 with flaming red hair, Visser is an imposing figure by any standard in any sport. The towering inferno was 16-0 as an amateur and also played rugby before moving to the United States to launch his pro career.
Historically in boxing, anything over 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds proved more of a liability than an asset; boxers above a certain size simply lack the coordination, speed and explosiveness to be effective in 20x20 foot ring. But 6-foot-7 Vitali and Vladamir Klitschko, and 6-foot-5 Lennox Lewis before them recently bucked that trend to dominate the heavyweight division for the better part of the last three decades.
Visser, 6-foot-8 Deontay Wilder (31-0, 31) and 6-foot-9 Tyson Fury (22-0, 16 KOs) alongside two imports from China, 7-foot Taishan Dong (1-0, 1 KO) and 6-foot-6 Zhang Zhilei, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist scheduled to make a imminent pro debut, are among the behemoths who will determine whether bigger men will continue to dominate or whether the Klitschko/Lewis era was merely an aberration in the history of the heavyweight division.
Visser, 23, will take on Sugi Foxx (1-9,1 KO) in a four round bout. Curiously enough, Foxx's record is upside-down in sequence from the typical fighter with his win-lose ratio; he was stopped in all nine of his bouts prior to scoring his first win via second-round TKO last year.
Callaghan, at 6-foot-1, dwarfs in comparison to Visser, but is nevertheless on the tall side for a welterweight. A native of Liverpool, Callaghan, 26, represented England in several prestigious international tournaments before departing the amateur ranks with a 71-9 record.
Callaghan likens his mode of combat to that of fellow-stringbean Thomas Hearns. He fought his first two pro bouts in Australia before relocating to Texas where he is trained by Bobby Benton and managed by Jay Johns.
"I moved to America because this is the best country to be for the sport of boxing," Callaghan told The Houston Chronicle. "My ultimate goal is to win a world title. I don't do things half hearted. I would never put myself through so much pain and frustration for nothing. There is something in boxing for me. I can feel it in my gut."
Callaghan faces southpaw Booker Arthur (1-5) over four rounds on tonight's card.
Also on the card:
Middleweight Paul Guitierrez (5-1-1, 3 KOs) takes on Andrew Sosa (0-2).
Cruiserweight Josh Garza (1-0, 1 KO) faces Darnell Pierce (debut).
Heavyweight Thomas Hawkins (3-0) fights Raymond Brown (3-2, 1 KO).
And junior welterweight Aaron Willis makes his pro debut against Willie Miller (0-8).