HEAVYWEIGHT prospect Joey "Minnesota Ice" Abell makes history of sorts on Saturday, when he appears on the first professional boxing card to be staged in Sweden in 37 years.
Abell (10-1, 10 KOs), who has fought six times at the Blue Horizon, takes on Argentina's Cesar Acevedo (6-7-2, 1 KO) in a scheduled four-rounder in Gothenburg, Sweden, for rookie promoter Robert Nordman, a Swede and former cruiserweight whose last five bouts in a 3-3-1 ring career were at the Blue.
The link between Abell and Nordman, aside from their multiple appearances at the historic fight club in North Philadelphia, is Don Elbaum, the veteran matchmaker who lives in Exton and advises both.
"It should be interesting," Abell, speaking last week from his home in suburban Minneapolis, said of his impending visit to the land of the Nobel Prize, Ingrid Bergman, Bjorn Borg, Volvo and little meatballs. "I'm looking forward to it."
Interestingly, Abell, who lives in the Upper Midwest, a region densely populated by persons of Scandinavian descent, says his ancestry is mostly Polish.
"They've been asking me if I have any Swedish blood," Abell said of inquiries by Gothenburg reporters into his ethnic background. "I said I don't think so, but my grandfather is looking into it."
But if Sweden can't claim kinship to him, at least Abell has been more or less adopted by Blue Horizon regulars, who don't lavish their affection on just anyone.
All of which makes Abell's Feb. 9 rematch with Aaron Lyons (5-0, 4 KOs) at the Blue even more compelling to him than his European adventure. Against Lyons, Abell will attempt to put an eraser to the only blemish on his record.
It was Lyons, from Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulfport, Miss., who stunned a pro-Abell crowd, not to mention Abell himself, by scoring a first-round technical knockout on Dec. 1.
A three-punch combination rocked Abell, who instinctively backed into a corner, when referee Hurley McCall leaped in and waved the fight off after an elapsed time of only 77 seconds.
"He landed some good punches," Abell said of Lyons. "I felt one more than the others. It was to the back of my head. But I've been hit with punches like that before, although, thankfully, not too often.
"I definitely think it was a premature stoppage. I think I should have been given more of an opportunity to fight my way out of trouble. It's been on my mind ever since that night."
But it was Lyons' actions after the fight ended that have lodged in Abell's throat like a chunk of tainted sturgeon.
"The way he was acting afterward, like I was nothing, I didn't appreciate that at all," Abell said. "It does make you want to go in there and make amends."
Lyons said wishing won't make it so for Abell, which is why he has no qualms about returning to Abell's quasi-home turf.
"He's so easy to beat," said Lyons, a diehard New Orleans Saints fan. "I know the same thing will happen again. What makes me mad up there is that the people don't want to give me my props. What are they going to say when I beat [Abell] again?"
Cauthen in paradise
Terrance Cauthen (32-3, 9 KOs) defends his newly won USBA junior middleweight championship against Raul Frank (27-5-3, 13 KOs) Thursday night in the main event at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx, N.Y.
Cauthen, the Trenton, N.J., southpaw who was a bronze medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said he sees this bout as another step in his progression toward a shot at a world title.
"Frank is a gamer. He's been around for a while now and has a good reputation," said Cauthen, 30, now ranked No. 7 by the IBF and No. 14 by the WBA. "I'm very excited. This is another chance for me to move on to bigger fights, bigger paydays, bigger everything."
Speaking of bigger everything, Cauthen said he is comfortable fighting at 154 pounds after years of trying to starve himself down to the junior welterweight limit of 140.
"At first, the division seemed a little big to me, but I'm more accustomed to the weight and have grown into it," Cauthen said. "I also think the added weight has made me a bigger and more effective puncher."
Cauthen's fleshed-out body, his stylistic revisions and a more positive mental outlook have served to reinvigorate him.
"I'm like a newborn," he declared. "My mind is still open. I'm willing to soak up all the knowledge I can."
Randy Griffin (24-1-2, 12 KOs), the Northeast Philly middleweight who now lives in and fights out of Atlanta, is now the WBA's No. 1-ranked 160-pounder. Griffin, 30, says he'd like to mix it up with 42-year-old Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins (47-4-1, 32 KOs), the longtime former middleweight champ and Philadelphia icon who has indicated he is interested in coming out of retirement. Hopkins, however, is angling for a rematch with Roy Jones Jr. (50-4, 38 KOs), who outpointed him in 1993 . . . Camden's Prince Badi Ajamu (26-3-1, 15 KOs) so battered 39-year-old former contender Craig Cummings (53-7-1, 43 KOs) that he did not come out for the third round of a scheduled 12-rounder Friday night in Olive Branch, Miss. *
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