When Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki met on June 25, 1976 in Tokyo, Japan, to finally settle the wrestler vs. boxer debate they, well, didn’t settle anything. As everyone knows, that match turned out to be a total farce. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t the first time a promoter booked a wrestler vs. boxer match and it certainly won’t be the last. Naturally, every one of these bouts proved to be less exciting than a Great Khali vs. Kane match but, nevertheless, the New York State Wrestling Federation is hoping April 5th will turn out to be a little different.
That night in New Rochelle, NY, the NYSWF will present the latest boxer vs. wrestler matchup when they pit former light middleweight Larry Barnes (44-3-0) against Ring Of Honor star Larry Sweeney. Obviously, the JarryPark faithful have all heard of Sweeney but here is the skinny on Barnes: His biggest claim to fame was a fourth round TKO loss to Felix Trinidad in 1995 and his last fight was on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez in 1998 when he lost to Luis Ramon Campas via TKO in the third round.
Ten years later, he steps back into the ring for the first time to face one of the true rising stars in professional wrestling. I am always intrigued when a promoter takes a gamble and signs a match like this one so I invited NYSWF’s John Miele to talk about how this match came about and what fans can expect come April 5th. An interesting listen.
Ask any professional wrestling fan about Larry Sweeney and their eyes instantly light up. That’s because 26-year-old Sweeney is regarded as one of the true rising stars of the business.
While his work in the ring is solid its his delivery on the microphone and “managerial skills,” for lack of a better word, that has reminded many wrestling fans of some of the greatest performers ever. Some have even labeled him as the second coming of Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. For a wrestler with only three and a half years of experience under his belt those are some pretty big shoes to fill but Sweeney appears ready for the challenge.
He can be found wrestling on many Indy wrestling cards across the country – most notably for Chikara Pro and ICW. However, its his work in Ring of Honor as the leader of “Sweet ‘n’ Sour Inc.” – a stable of wrestlers reminiscent of the classic Heenan Family – that has made him one of the most talked about performers of 2007.
If you have yet to see Sweeney’s work in ROH don’t fret. The promotion offers up their latest pay-per-view offering, Man Up, beginning 11/30. Sweeney’s role on the card will be managing one of his top clients, Chris Hero, in a Four-Corner Survival Match against Nigel McGuinness, Claudio Castagnoli and Naomichi Marufuji. An impressive quartet to say the least.
I had the chance to speak with Sweeney about his young career, the lost art of the promo, his future in Ring of Honor and his one-time appearance on Monday Night Raw. Not surprisingly, he was a great interview.