- Michael Woods, Boxing
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NEW YORK -- I watched his eyes. He didn't once look at the bread basket, or the french fries on my plate during a get to know you lunch at the Palm in midtown on Tuesday. No, light heavyweight Blake Caparello, an Aussie who's decided he wants to make his stamp here in the U.S., and will seek to make an impression on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" against vet Elvir Muriqi, came off as dialed in, ready to rumble and rebuff the seductive power of carbs.
The 27-year-old, who was just signed by NYC promoter Lou DiBella, told me he's fit and sharp, having been the main sparring partner for Canada-based 175-pound ace Jean Pascal, who won a superbout against rival Lucian Bute on Jan. 18. Asked if he'd like a real-deal crack at Pascal, Caparello (18-0-1 with 6 KOs) answered immediately, "Absolutely!"
First things first, though, he'll need to take down the 34-year-old Muriqi. He spoke respectfully of his foe, who will enter with a 40-5 (24 KOs) mark. "Muriqi is strong, a walk forward type, he's solid," the Aussie said. "But I can use angles on him, control the distance."
Promoter DiBella said that Caparello is "not a brawler, he's a very good boxer," and a good athlete. Lou was sold on signing him, he said lightly, when he found out the kid's dad's parents came from Italy. "I have a soft spot for Italian heritage fighters," he said. Caparello recently beat a boxer DiBella used to promote, so he had a good idea of the boxer's skills.
"I want to be known," Caparello told me, while I chewed fries which he ignored. "This is where you gotta do your thing. America is the boxing capital of the world. If you're big there you're big around the world. And my ultimate goal is to win a world title."
DiBella doesn't want to get ahead of himself, but likes Caparello's stuff in a lively division. "A win puts Blake in the picture," DiBella said.
Sergey Kovalev is building a rep as a dark destroyer, and fellow titlist Adonis Stevenson is also a building block at HBO. Would Caparello take a bout with Kovalev, who is gaining a rep as a guy foes shy away from? "Those guys are on my radar," he said. "I don't think they are fighting each other any time soon, so why not?" He said that he's seen Kovalev foes back straight up, make themselves easier targets, and believes he has a distinct mobility edge on the Main Events bomber. As for Stevenson, he thinks he could perhaps set a trap for him, and test his whiskers.
But first, Muriqi. Caparello told me wins are great, but a win, with buzz, is better. "It's about how you win," he told me.
Smart guy. Avoids the carbs, and understands, it seems, that boxing is the sports entertainment business. Purists dig the master pugilists, but to snag that widespread appeal, you'd best be a hungry, aggressive sort, who punches hard, in volume.
The FNF card will unfold at the Codey Arena in West Orange, N.J., and portions will be shown on ESPN2 on Friday evening, live.
NEW YORK -- I watched his eyes. He didn't once look at the bread basket, or the french fries on my plate during a get to know you lunch at the Palm in midtown on Tuesday.