By Chris Robinson
Earlier this week, some pretty solid sparring took place at Floyd Mayweather's personal gym in Las Vegas as welterweight contender Mark Melligen continued to push towards his February 19th showcase at the Mandalay Bay by engaging in some action with one of the area's top middleweight amateurs, Kevin Newman. Melligen fights on the Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire undercard against Gabriel Martinez and his work with Newman was the type of spirited fire he needs ensure he is ready for that assignment.
Melligen is a strong and sturdy southpaw with deceptive power and speed. He is coming off of an impressive 2010 campaign that saw him reel of four convincing victories and may find himself in against a big name if successful next month. Newman, a Golden Gloves champion last year who is angling for a spot on the 2012 Olympics, has learned various aspects of the sport from the Mayweather family, with Uncle Jeff serving as his chief trainer.
The two pugilists put in six rounds of work today and the action was brisk and fast-paced. Newman has nuances about him that beguile his 19 years of age and his slickness is always evident, with his unorthodox attack making him the type of fighter that keeps you on your toes at all times.
Melligen, at 24 years of age and into his fifth year as a professional, is definitely more seasoned between the two at this point and he had success by applying calculated pressure and attempting to land with his stiff left hand. Newman was clearly the bigger presence inside of the ring, as he outweighs Melligen by nearly twenty pounds, but Melligen is accustomed to going into deep waters in the professional ranks and that seemed to tilt the odds in his favor on certain occasions.
Watching Newman in the ring you can tell where his pedigree comes from, as he has been learning the ropes from Jeff, Uncle Roger and Floyd Sr. for several years now. He hasn't even scratched the surface in regards to his potential but he is extremely fleet of foot, fast with both fists and extremely athletic. If he has other essential intangibles about him then he will be one to look out for after his Olympic push.
Melligen is someone I would describe as a dark horse at 147 pounds. It's hard to point to one certain characteristic that defines him but he can do a little bit of everything inside of the ring, from boxing tactically, going to war in the trenches and showing serious snap and pop with his left hand.
Each man took turns controlling the action, as Newman's speed shined through while the two men boxed from a distance while Melligen upped the ante and seemed more comfortable firing away on the inside. It wasn't exactly a Philadelphia-type of gym war in there but each man was lively with their attack and when the final bell tolled they both had crept closer to their eventual goals in the sport.
Somewhere in the fifth round Roger Mayweather began chanting something from ringside to Newman, claiming that he was backpedaling instead of of standing in front of Melligen as he should have been. Newman insisted otherwise afterwards, claiming he was standing his ground while trying to pick his elder apart. No matter how solid a fighter looks it is a trainer's job to highlight the need for improvement and that's why Roger spoke his mind.
As professionals it's highly unlikely that Melligen and Newman's paths will ever come close to one another but such is the sport of boxing when two roads can come to a head in cases like this. Afterwards each man was cordial to the other and the respect was apparent. Melligen bout next month is crucial to his career while Newman has a Golden Gloves Tournament -Olympic qualifier in less than two weeks' time at Barry's Boxing.
All in all it was just another day at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Nevada.