PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             June 07, 2012


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Boxing manager Doc Nowicki has a big weekend coming up. He's in Las Vegas for the biggest fight card of his life. Three of his fighters, Mike Jones, Teon Kennedy, and Jesse Hart, all box on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley undercard. Two of them are in world title bouts.

Nowicki has been a boxing manager for about fifteen years. When he started, he wasn't the biggest boxing fan in the world, but after going to some live fights, boxing put the bite on him. His longtime friend, Jim Williams, an old boxing salt from Camden, NJ, also helped to nudge Nowicki into the business, planting the seed that the sport could be more than just a pastime for Doc. Williams was right, and this weekend, boxing just may take center stage in Nowicki's life.

Nowicki had some success with his first fighter, Miguel Figueroa, a Camden welterweight who made it to a couple of regional title bouts and an overall record of 24-6-2 with 14 KOs. After that Doc signed a group of boxers who had relocated from the country of Georgia, most notably Koba Gogoladze (20-3 with 8 KOs) and Ramazan Paliani (14-1- 1 with 8 KOs), both of whom made it beyond the local scene but came up short before getting to the world stage.

Now of the ten or so boxers Nowicki handles, along with various management partners like Joe Hand, Dave Price, and Williams, three of them have a chance to not only bolster their own careers, but Nowicki's as well.

"I've been pretty successful in my life," Nowicki said in Las Vegas two days before fight night. "I'm 65 years old. I've had a car-related business for 40 years. I've been a musician since I was 12. I always worked two or three jobs all my life. But I've never been involved with three guys like these, and it's probably one of the highest points of my life."

Based on the strength of his stable, Nowicki is the top manager currently on the Philly scene. Just imagine his status if he comes home Sunday with two world champions.

"With Mike Jones, we did not rush him," Nowicki said. "We wanted to get him seasoned, give him the right fights, and keep stepping him up. We thought we were stepping him up, and he was knocking everybody out in two or three rounds."

But eventually Jones' seasoning came.

"When Jones fought Germaine Sanders, he was sick before the fight," Nowicki said. "That was the first time he went the distance. That was a learning experience for him. It showed him that you're not going to knock everyone out."

If going the distance provided Jones with his first real ring lesson, his first battle with Jesus Soto Karass really taught Jones an even more important lesson.

"Mike told us after the fight that he can tell in a guy's eyes whether he's got him or not," Nowicki recalled. "He said, 'I saw that I had him'. What he didn't know was how tough that guy was and how much he could take."

Jones almost completely punched himself out trying to KO Karass in the second round of his first high-profile, PPV undercard appearance. Jones struggled before the world, but managed to regain his composure and went on to squeak out a 10-round decision.

"That was another learning step," Nowicki said. "And you need to have those steps to get to this point in your career."

Mike Jones takes on Randall Bailey on Saturday for the vacant IBF welterweight title, and most feel that it is Jones who represents Nowicki's best chance to bring home a belt. But Doc has another horse racing on Saturday night.

Super bantamweight Teon Kennedy is that second entry. When Kennedy started his career in 2007, it didn't take long for the local fans peg him as a future champion. Kennedy came to the pros with a fine amateur pedigree and looked to have everything necessary to succeed in the big leagues. Kennedy stacked up victories against increasingly tough competition, but eventually traded his stylish boxing approach for the more fan-friendly brawling method he's become known for. His fights became wars that were perhaps harder than they should have been for such a talented boxer.

"He's been in a lot more tougher fights," Nowicki said. "You've seen the punishment he's had to take. He's going to stay in there and take whatever he gets. He just wants to give you more than he takes. That just goes to show you what heart Teon has. He wants to be a real champion."

The experts say that Kennedy's opponent on Saturday, WBA champ Guillermo Ringondeaux, has the ability to dish out plenty of punishment. He's a dangerous fighter that does everything right. But Nowicki feels that Teon is fully prepared for battle.

"It's a really tough fight for him," Nowicki said. "He has to work his way inside, put pressure on the guy, and turn it into a fight, not a boxing match. Teon's in the best shape that he ever been in, and his attitude is the best it's been in the five years I've had him."

Kennedy is a talented fighter who has the ability to pull off the upset, but he'll need a near-perfect performance to surprise the heavily favored champion. Conversely, Mike Jones is the favorite against Randall Bailey, in a fight that most expect him to win.

"I thing Jones might take six-seven-eight rounds," Nowicki said. "But believe me, when Mike tags him, it's going to be like he's never been tagged before."

If Jones - or Kennedy - can do that, Doc Nowicki will also get tagged - as the manager of a world champion. And his entry into boxing will have paid off in ways he never imagined it could.

"It would be a feeling of accomplishment like I've never had in my life," Nowicki said.

Two days to go.




John DiSanto - Las Vegas - June 07, 2012