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Bell's no-show baffles boxing world
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
The failure of Jamaican-born, former world boxing champion O'Neil 'Supernova' Bell to re-launch his career as a heavyweight has knocked boxing observers cold with a combination of disappointment and bewilderment.
The enigmatic former undisputed cruiserweight king, in a bid to step up from the 200-pound class to the more lucrative heavyweight division after a shocking and uninspired loss last April, had been billed to fight American Domonic Jenkins in one of the main events on the 'Hard Knocks at the Hard Rock' card here last night.
Pulled out of bout
Bell's photograph was prominently displayed on posters and the website of Seminole Warriors Boxing, which promotes his fights. But it later had to be removed after Bell pulled out of the bout.
Warriors Boxing claimed it had agreed to terms for the fight with Bell, including his fee, and sent a contract to his Atlanta, Georgia, base late last year for him to sign.
However, the promoters said they received a call from a member of Bell's camp recently, stating that the hard-hitting 34-year-old from Montego Bay would not participate.
"He decided not to fight," Chico Rivas, matchmaker for Seminole Warriors Boxing, said on Tuesday. "He didn't give a reason. He just said he's not fighting."
Leon Margules, executive director of Warriors Boxing, who later announced Bell's absence as being linked to "personal reasons," said he too was puzzled as to why Bell's backed out.
"I don't know why," Margules admitted on Tuesday, following a press conference to announce the nine-fight card.
It was not the first time Bell, according to promoters, had failed to follow through on a possible bout staged by Warriors Boxing. Bell, who manages his own ring career, once pulled out of a planned nationally televised fight due to dissatisfaction with the fee he would be paid.
Margules called Bell's latest no- show "disappointing, very disappointing". He also said he was considering cutting promotional ties with the Jamaican.
"My contract with (Bell) expires next month," said Margules. "At this point, I can't say I'll promote him again."
Several efforts to contact Bell over the past couple of weeks have been unsuccessful, as the fighter has not returned telephone calls. The mystery surrounding his decision to pull out of the Jenkins fight has also left some of his biggest admirers feeling let down.
"I was looking forward to seeing him fight and it's disappointing for him to not be fighting here," said Jamaican Glen Johnson, a Florida-based former world light heavyweight champion.
Johnson, whose fights are also promoted by Warriors Boxing, said he had high regard for Bell's ability and praised the boxer for rising to the top of the sport while remaining true to his roots, a situation similar to his own.
"He's such a great talent," Johnson said. "If a man can come from where we come from in Jamaica and be a world champion, he must be a great talent."
Bell, who has won 26 fights, lost three and drawn one, became undisputed cruiserweight champion by knocking out Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck in January 2007. He lost a rematch, and the crown, in a controversial decision. Last year, he refused to continue his title elimination bout with Tomasz Adamek and lost on a technical knockout.
Bell has also had a run-in with law enforcement after he allegedly attacked a sparring partner with an axe while preparing for the second Mormeck bout. He was later acquitted of the charges. His latest actions have left observers again saddened that he may not fulfill his potential.
"(Bell's) probably the most talented fighter I've worked with," Margules lamented.