By Jake Donovan
They’re known as spoilers in the sport – guys with reputations as tough challengers, but whom are supposed to fall short against a promoter’s prized possession.
Every so often they come up with a performance that leaves other matchmakers second guessing whether or not to give him a call for a future fight against their own fighter. If the call comes, it certainly won’t be in timely fashion, looking for any edge to provide their guy before biting the bullet and securing the fight.
Such has become the life of Detroit-raised welterweight Lanardo Tyner.
His fights are no longer scheduled or come with the benefit of a full training camp. Instead, the veteran trialhorse spends his days waiting by the phone, wondering when it will ring and how soon he has to prepare for his next fight in the event that someone calls with such a request.
In that vein, Tyner happened to be in the right place at the right time – Houston, where he is now based – when undefeated welterweight prospect Wale Omotoso (19-0, 17KO) was slotted to appear on tonight’s card and was in need of an opponent.
The bout serves as the chief support to tonight’s main event at Reliant Arena in Houston, where Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. makes the first defense of his middleweight belt against Peter Manfredo Jr., in a bout to air live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
Many have tabbed the main event as a can’t miss action fight, but Tyner believes the outcome of his own fight will be the main topic of discussion by night’s end.
“Omotoso’s in over his head; he just doesn’t know it yet,” Tyner (25-4-2, 15KO) confidently predicts of his chief support bout tonight. “It’s another last minute opportunity, but you do what you have to do. I was in the gym already and in shape, so I took it. I can’t complain. I took the fight knowing what’s up, but I’m ready to show him what I’m capable of.”
Tyner showed his full capabilities in front of a televised audience last summer. The always chiseled welterweight gatekeeper was brought in as the latest test in the career of Antwone Smith, who one year prior emerged out of nowhere to become 2009’s fastest rising prospect.
That run came to an end when Tyner took him into deep waters and drowned him, scoring an upset 9th round knockout in Atlantic City.
The win remains by far Tyner’s biggest in a career now entering its eighth year. What’s missing so far, is the snatching of an opponent’s ‘0’, with Omotoso representing his third chance to turn that trick.
Previous effort against Saul Alvarez and Lamont Peterson fell well short. Tyner is often cited as having given Alvarez the most trouble to date, despite the lopsided scores in their December ’09 encounter.
The fight with Peterson was a much different story, one that came on the back end of a two-fight losing streak. The lopsided loss made him realize that jumping in the ring on a whim doesn’t always provide opponents with the element of surprise.
“Lamont Peterson was by far my toughest fight to date. I got tired in the second round from it being my first fight in Vegas. Canelo is a good up and coming fighter, but Lamont Peterson was a much tougher fight for me.”
It’s been suggested that Omotoso – a Nigerian-born and Australian-raised welterweight fighting for just the second time in the United States will provide a change to the aforementioned statement. Tyner – always in peak condition and never one to shy away from a brawl – believes otherwise.
“It’s a perfect fight. We should go toe-to-toe. That’s what I like. I’m not a fan of fights against the running types. He’ll be there in front of me and I’m looking forward to trading with him.”
By his own admission, Tyner doesn’t know very much about Omotoso besides what’s been mentioned in the press releases – unbeaten and having recently hooked up with world class trainer Freddie Roach, who also has Chavez Jr on the card.
Given that he’s known even less about several other past opponents, it should be enough to get him in the ring where he believes he can handle the rest.
“I just know he’s undefeated and that I’m his toughest opponent to date. Welcome to the big leagues.”
Tyner gave Omotoso a quick lesson in professionalism, showing up at Friday’s weigh-in at a sculpted 145.7 lb. Omotoso also appeared to be in superb condition, but was forced to sweat off additional weight after showing up one pound above the contracted 147 lb. limit.
Under most circumstances, it’s not uncommon for a promoter to try to claim options on a fighter like Tyner in the event that he pulls off the upset. Hooking up with an established leader such as Top Rank would undoubtedly be beneficial to his career, but he prefers to remain a boxing nomad.
“I’m going to keep doing my thing. I don’t want no promoter, so if I have to keep doing it this way in order to get noticed and become a contender, ain’t no thing,” Tyner insists.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]