Local heavyweight Fields ready for biggest test of his career

Tye Fields thinks he is ready to take the next critical step in his quest to become heavyweight champion.

Fields, 33, will face the stiffest challenge of his career June 28 when he meets veteran Monte Barrett on the undercard of the WBC world lightweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and David Diaz at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

A win for Fields (40-1, 35 knockouts) would keep him on track for a title shot down the road. A loss to Barrett (33-6, 19 KOs) probably would dash Fields’ dream.

“This is a big opportunity for me. I’m going to feed off the energy, and I’ve been dreaming about this for eight years,” said Fields, who has lived and trained in Las Vegas for the last six years and will be on the televised portion of the undercard on HBO Pay Per View.

Top Rank president Bob Arum, who promotes Fields, said it’s time for the fighter to show he belongs among boxing’s best.

“It’s like a baseball player,” Arum said. “He’s been in Double A and Triple A. Now, he’s going to the major leagues. Can he hit major league pitching? We’ll see on the 28th. If he beats Barrett, we’ll keep him in the big leagues.”

A 6-foot-8-inch, 275-pound southpaw fighter, Fields played basketball at San Diego State from 1996 to 1997.

A promoter saw Fields while he was playing semipro ball in Iowa in 2000 and suggested he try boxing. Fields was burned out on basketball and figured he had nothing to lose.

Eight years later, he’s on a major boxing card.

“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Fields said. “I wish I had started sooner, but you can’t control time. I’m still learning, but I’ve made a lot of progress.”

Fields’ trainer, Jesse Reid, said the fighter’s inexperience actually has worked in his favor.

“He doesn’t have those bad habits you have to break,” Reid said. “Tye’s a great athlete, and he’s got all this natural strength and size. I’m trying to use that to his advantage, and I want him to be an intimidator.”

Fields has swarmed his opponents, mauling them into submission. Only four of his last 15 fights have gone beyond seven rounds.

“He’s not a boxer, he’s a fighter,” Reid said. “Boxing is for defense, not for offense. I want Tye to attack. We want him throwing 150, 250 punches a round. He does that, he’ll have no problem with Barrett.”

• PACQUIAO-DIAZ OFFICIALS — The Nevada Athletic Commission has approved Vic Drakulich as the referee for the Pacquiao-Diaz title fight and Paul Smith, C.J. Ross and Gary Merritt as judges.

• COTTO-MARGARITO COUNTDOWN — HBO, which will televise the July 26 WBA welterweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito on pay per view, also will air a “Countdown to Cotto vs. Margarito” special beginning in mid-July.

The fight has done well at the box office, with 12,000 of the MGM Grand Garden’s 16,271 seats accounted for in early sales.

• LEONARD-HAGLER BOOK — The classic fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler at Caesars Palace has been chronicled by former Boston Globe boxing writer Steve Marantz in “Sorcery at Caesars — Sugar Ray’s Marvelous Fight.”

The 233-page book, published by Inkwater Press, tracks the careers of both fighters, explains what led to their April 1987 showdown and details the fight itself along with the aftermath, which saw Hagler retire from boxing after Leonard took a 12-round split decision victory.

• ORLEANS CARD — Super welterweight Vanes Martirosyn (19-0, 13 KOs) will fight on a Top Rank card June 26 at the Orleans Arena.

Welterweight Lamont Peterson will make his debut for Top Rank on the Versus-televised card.

Tickets are $50, $35 and $15.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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