F. Dale Lolley's Sports Column
Bergman will put title on line at The Meadows
Washington resident Jason Bergman will put his North American Boxing Association heavyweight championship belt on the line July 26 at The Meadows Casino and Resort as the headliner for Madness at The Meadows.
Bergman (23-10), who won the NABA – the North American Division of the WBA – championship earlier this year with a win over former Olympian Devin Vargas, will fight Justin Jones, a Texas heavyweight who brings a 15-0 record with nine wins by knockout into the fight.
Jones figures to be a good test for Bergman, who owns 16 knockout victories and has won 14 of his past 15 fights.
“Eh... Maybe,” said Bergman, a 6-3, 250-pound heavy-handed southpaw. “I don’t plan on it being a test.”
Bergman lives about a mile from The Meadows and the casino is interested in a four- or five-fight series almost in his backyard depending on how well the July 26 event works out.
“I’d really like to do that,” said Bergman, an Albert Gallatin High School graduate. “Eventually, though, I’ll have to travel to fight.”
That could be sooner rather than later if Bergman beats Jones. A win could give him a considerable bump in the overall WBA rankings. He is currently rated 58th in the world among heavyweights in all divisions in the iboboxing.com computerized rankings.
Bergman won’t be the only local fighter on the card. Borthers Tommy Karpency and Dan Karpency, who are also Albert Gallatin graduates, will be on the card. Tommy Karpency has fought for the IBO and WBO light heavyweight championships.
• The Steelers are in the process of wrapping up the final week of their three-week OTA sessions. They’ll hold a mandatory mini-camp next week and then break until July 25, when training camp opens at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
From what they have displayed in their coaching sessions, the team has seriously upgraded itself in one area where improvement was definitely needed – team speed.
The downside to that added speed is that most of it, with the notable exception of free safety Mike Mitchell, is in the rookie class. And you never know exactly what to expect from rookies.
• Speaking of rookies, those touting Gregory Polanco, who was called up to play in Tuesday night’s game against Chicago, as the savior for the Pirates’ season, might want to cool their jets just a little bit.
Yes, Polanco was tearing the cover off the ball in Class AAA this season. And fans still have memories of Garrett Cole and Starling Marte coming up in recent seasons and making big contributions.
But remember that Barry Bonds batted .311 in 44 Class AAA games in 1986 before being called up to the majors. He batted .223 in 113 games with the Pirates that season, though he did hit 16 homers and steal 36 bases.
Success in the minors doesn’t always translate to immediate success in the majors.
Yes, Polanco is a big-time prospect. But baseball is a game of adjustments. It will be interesting to see how pitchers attack him early on and if he can adjust to what they are trying to do to him.
After getting 167 at bats in 2012, which would amount to a cup of coffee in the majors, Marte batted a solid .280 in 2013 in 510 at bats. But that average has dipped to .240 going into last night’s game as he has struggled to lay off all of the offspeed pitches out of the zone he had seen this season.
That doesn’t mean Marte is a failure. He’s just going through a rough stretch.
Polanco is sure to have those as well.
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at email@example.com.