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Sheppard, Echard ready to fight

November 23, 2013 - Jay Bennett
I guess the next best thing to being there live is watching it on television.

That's what I'll be doing on Tuesday night when Wirt County's Mike Sheppard takes on Antonio Tarver in Florida on FOX Sports 1.

Just because I wondered if there was even one out there, I decided to look for a betting line on the fight. Finally, through oddschecker.com, I ran across a line on bet365.

However, Tarver is set at 1-100 and Sheppard is only at 16-1. Needless to say, few are thinking the ex-Tiger has much of a shot.

"I've had seven weeks for this fight and I'm in the best shape of my life right now," Sheppard said. "He likes space and I'm going to try and get up close to him.

"I'm the bigger, stronger man. I should be. I'm going to try and muscle him around a good bit, but he's got a really good left hand."

Sheppard, who will have trainer Leon Ramsey in his corner — the same man who groomed the Glenville State College graduate during his world kickboxing championship days, said he's "throwing combinations better than ever and putting them together better.

"Some of those guys I've fought and who have stopped me are big men and are huge punchers. They are not 175-pounders."

Even if Sheppard fails to win, he doesn't think Tarver will make it long in the heavyweight division.

"I don't see it," Sheppard admitted. "He's just not big enough. He's not been in there with those guys like I have.

"I know he's a good fighter, but they are too big and he's too old. His pride must be getting to him and he wants to test himself out."

Also of note, Parkersburg South graduate Dustin Echard will be back in action this coming Saturday at the Mountaineer Casino.

Although nothing is set in stone quite yet, it appears likely Echard will face Eric Watkins for the vacant West Virginia state light heavyweight title on Jan. 25 in Morgantown.

"I've been training so much and it's been driving me nuts because I haven't had a fight," Echard said.

As far as his new nickname "The Clean Coal Assassin" goes: "I was telling some people at work (Consol Energy) about it and they got a big kick out of it.

"It's different. It can be catchy, especially in this region with West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. There are a lot of coal miners."

 
 

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