Just when you thought boxing had become irrelevant…
There was a time when Verquan Kimbrough and Monty Meza-Clay were fast friends, training and sparring together at the World Class Gym in Ambridge.
Kimbrough was considered the rising star, Meza-Clay a fan-friendly brawler. Both were trained by Tom Yankello, who also worked Paul Spadafora’s corner when the McKees Rocks boxer became the International Boxing Federation lightweight champion.
Where Kimbrough is immensely talented, Meza-Clay was viewed as one-dimensional. Yankello worked with Kimbrough for more than a decade, groomed him into a U.S. amateur champion and Olympic hopeful. When Yankello took on Meza-Clay, he was a hard-luck fighter looking for a second chance. Never would you have guessed that if Yankello had to someday pick between the two, he would take Meza-Clay.
Yet that’s the direction their relationship appears to be heading, as Yankello casts his lot with Meza-Clay while Kimbrough starts his own promotional company and hints at including Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward in his future plans.
The careers of Kimbrough and Meza-Clay are headed in opposite directions, as Kimbrough has moved up from the 126-pound featherweight to the 135-pound lightweight while Meza-Clay plans to drop from lightweight to featherweight.
Neither camp has had a bad word to say about the other (at least not publicly), but it’s the nature of boxing – where fame, fortune and egos can divide even father-son relationships (see: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sr.) – for scores to be settled in the ring.
Kimbrough v. Meza-Clay?
Now that would be a fight that could draw a crowd.