The citizens of Whiting, Ind., nearly all 7,247 of them, have been buzzing for weeks in anticipation of today, when their Marty Jakubowski slips through the ropes in Las Vegas to face Julio Cesar Chavez.
The next time Whiting sees Jakubowski, he probably will have several new things:
--A check for about $20,000.
--A pair of dark glasses.
--And a headache.
"I'm not a religious man, but a thing like this can make you religious," Jakubowski said. "My friends are saying they're praying for me. One guy said he went to church and lit a candle for me. I told him, 'Why didn't you light the whole church?' "
Chavez, the World Boxing Council's super-lightweight champion, is 83-0 with 71 knockouts and has long laid claim to being the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in the world.
Jakubowski brings a 23-0 record into the non-title fight, having fought a long lineup of club fighters in and around the Whiting-Chicago-Gary, Ind., area.
Jakubowski has scored only four knockouts in his 23 fights.
"All I've got to do is what the other 83 people who fought Chavez didn't do," Jakubowski said, laughing. "There's nothing to it."
And if the Chavez-Jakubowski matchup isn't lopsided enough, Terry Norris, the WBC super-welterweight champion who dominated Sugar Ray Leonard and Meldrick Taylor, will fight San Francisco's Irish Pat Lawlor, who was soundly beaten three years ago by Drafton Bunch and, in his last two bouts, was knocked out by John Jackson and beaten by Hitoshi Kamiyama in Tokyo.
A third bout brings together Julian Jackson, the WBC middleweight champion with a 45-1 record and 42 knockouts, and club fighter Eddie Hall (21-9-1) of Uniontown, Pa. It, too, is a non-title fight.
The bouts form one of the most unevenly matched cards in boxing history, one that includes WBC super-middleweight champion Michael Nunn (38-1) vs. little-known Tim Johnson (12-4) of Nashville; former International Boxing Federation lightweight champion Greg Haugen (31-4-1) vs. little-known Armando Campas (16-4-2) of Mexico, and heavyweight Tony Tucker (47-1, 37 knockouts) vs. little-known Anthony Wade (17-3 with only four knockouts).
So why this lineup?
A reason put forth by many is that Chavez, Norris, Jackson and Haugen all need a bit of exposure to build up their \o7 real\f7 fights Feb. 20 in Mexico City. On that card, Chavez will take on Haugen; Norris is scheduled to fight former champion Simon Brown, although that fight is in jeopardy because of an eye injury to Brown; Jackson will fight hard-punching Gerald McLellan (26-2, 24 knockouts), and WBC super-featherweight champion Azumah Nelson of Ghana will fight top-ranked contender Gabriel Ruelas of Arleta.