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November 14, 2018

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Columnist Dean Juipe: Couser accepts tough bout against Etienne

Dean Juipe's boxing notebook appears Thursday. His sports column appears Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at [email protected] or 259-4084.

Give Cliff Couser credit for taking a fight on relatively short notice that few in his position, or in the heavyweight division, would touch.

It wasn't until Monday night that Couser was solicited and signed for a Sept. 9 fight with the dangerous Cliff Etienne. The bout will be held in Chester, W.Va., and will be televised as part of HBO's KO Nation series, provided America Presents doesn't exercise an option it claims to have to promote Couser's next two fights.

Couser is stepping in for Orlin Norris, who cited "family reasons" for withdrawing from the card last week.

Couser, of Las Vegas, is 20-5-2 with nine knockouts and is coming off the biggest win of his career, a third-round TKO victory over Jorge Luis Gonzalez Aug. 5 in Mississippi.

Etienne, of Baton Rouge, La., is 17-0 with 12 KOs and saw his stock skyrocket after conquering Lamon Brewster in May.

"I love to fight and I'm not going to turn anything down right now," Couser said Wednesday. "But I'm not fighting any more bums. I want the best and taking out a guy who has been getting the kind of hype he has can only help me."

Etienne, who got a late start in boxing after serving a 10-year prison sentence, is a hot commodity who claims defeating Couser will help him in more ways than one.

"I want to fight Mike Tyson someday," he said. "Couser is the same size as Tyson and he has the same style in the ring. I plan to beat Couser and learn how to beat Tyson at the same time."

Apprised of that comment, Couser chose his words carefully.

"OK. Well, so that's the reason he took the fight," he said. "But he's got a big mouth for saying that and he doesn't know how tough this fight is going to be.

"I'm going to be the first man he's fought who will back him up. We'll see how he likes that.

"I hope he doesn't run."

Couser, who got back in the gym Tuesday, doesn't mind being the underdog.

"That's nothing new," he said. "I've come a long ways and it's always been against the odds."

Marquez, 31-2, has won two fights since losing to WBA featherweight world champion Freddie Norwoord last year at Mandalay Bay. Marquez, who turned 27 Wednesday, is a veteran out of Mexico who has fought most of his career in Southern California.

He's in with Jimenez, a late replacement for another late replacement, who is 30 years old and 28-8-1. Since losing consecutive fights to Antonio Diaz and Augie Sanchez last year, Jimenez has won his only fight. He is also a former WBO champion at 122 pounds.

Also scheduled: Julio Diaz, 16-0, vs. Awel Adbulai, 7-9-1, eight rounds, lightweights; Terrence Churchwell, 17-0, vs. Jose Luis Baltazar, 28-17-1, six rounds, lightweights; Daniel Felix, 2-0, vs. Rafael Ramirez, 2-1-2, four rounds, junior welterweights; Adrian Lott, 7-4, vs. Juan Meza, 10-8-1, six rounds, cruiserweights; and Larry Mosley, 1-0, vs. an opponent yet to be determined, four rounds, welterweights. Of note: Diaz is the brother of junior welterweight contender Antonio Diaz; Top Rank is very high on Churchwell and his punching power; Felix is a Las Vegan; and Mosley is the brother of WBC welterweight champion Shane Mosley.

HBO's Seth Abraham wasn't pleased with Prince Naseem Hamed's showing against Las Vegan Augie Sanchez last Saturday in Connecticut and has told the fighter better things are expected. "He has to fight opponents who can give him a fight," Abraham said in USA Today, getting in a dig at Sanchez along the way. Hamed has three fights remaining on his HBO contract. ... Turns out that former heavyweight champ Tommy Morrison, who is HIV positive and is serving a 10-year prison sentence for possession of drugs and firearms in Arkansas, has also been simultaneously married to two women. "I couldn't figure out which one I loved the most," Morrison told a Kansas City radio station. "So I thought I'd marry them both."

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