Schwer set to light up HK

Donal Scully

ALL the hype has been about Sunday's two heavyweight clashes at the Hong Kong Stadium but those in the know tip the best bout will be further down the bill and a lot further down the weight scales.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight title contest between Mexican/American holder Rafael Ruelas and British challenger Billy Schwer has all the hallmarks of being a fight to remember.

'High Noon in Hong Kong' represents Luton-based Schwer's first shot at a world crown.

'I believe this will be the best fight of the day. I've watched Ruelas a lot on video and he's very tough. But there are ways we can beat him - by not fighting his kind of fight and by being my usual aggressive self without leaving myself open,' said Schwer.

Schwer's trainer Jack Lindsay is more specific how he'd like to see the fight develop.

'I have looked at Ruelas in, out and round the corner. What you have to watch with him is the way he doesn't just throw one punch but four or five together. He moves quickly from foot to foot. You might dodge his first one or the second, but he'll land a few.

'Billy has to fight a counter-puncher's fight, to draw him, shift and make him lead. Billy's best wins so far have been by counter-punching but he doesn't like to fight that way. He likes to come in.

'But he can follow a plan. He's very good at thinking in the ring.' Schwer has suffered one defeat in 26 pro fights. After beating Carl Crook for the British Commonwealth title in February last year, Schwer gave up the belt on a knockout loss to Paul Burke before regaining it from the same fighter.

In the process he has built a loyal and vociferous following in Luton, attracting up to two thousand fans whenever he fights - and a hardcore group of 50 have made the trip to Hong Kong.

His one career loss he puts down to a brief experiment with transcendental meditation. 'I tried the TM as taught by the Maharishi thinking it would help me focus. But it just made me mellow. I lost my edge and that was when I lost the title.' Both fighters have one thing in common - a family history in boxing. Schwer's father was an amateur who fought for England as well as being Irish featherweight champion.

And Ruelas, one of 13 children, has two older brothers who are boxers. Gabriel, a year older than 22-year-old Rafael, is a highly-ranked junior lightweight.

Ruelas, who has 41 wins to one loss, won his title with a decision over Freddie Pendleton in February this year and defended it for the first time in May.

British heavyweight Frank Bruno became the last fighter to work out in the actual fight ring yesterday. When his training session finished the canvas came off and the ring at the Happy Valley parade ring was dismantled for removal to the Hong Kong Stadium where it will be used for the fight proper.

Bruno and the other British Isles fighters will be using another ring for the final five days before 'High Noon'.