Scouting Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon

OK, I might as well just admit it.

Until the other night when I watched the last 15 to 20 minutes of the ending, I never had seen the 2006 movie “Rocky Balboa.”

Actually, I’m not even sure I knew there was a movie called Rocky Balboa – although I’m pretty sure I watched the first four in the series of six – until I was talking to Wirt County’s Mike Sheppard last week about his upcoming fight in Florida in late November against Antonio Tarver.

Tarver, of course, was the undefeated champion known as Mason “The Line” Dixon in the movie.

I have to say I honestly think it’s one of the best, or perhaps one of the worst, movie character names of all-time. I haven’t made a final ruling on that yet.

Nonetheless, I’ve been watching a lot of sporting events lately and sometimes I just don’t think the kids playing today have their hearts fully into it.

One thing I can say without question about this heavyweight boxing match is both Sheppard and Tarver will be fully vested in it with everything they’ve got.

When I was walking the Williamstown sideline at Friday’s night football game in Elizabeth a couple of people asked me about Sheppard. Sure, he looks intimidating and 100 percent can be when he so chooses that route, but like I told them he’s the kind of guy who would give the shirt off his back to someone in need.

As long as I’ve known Sheppard, and Marietta boys track coach B.J. Mayer probably could vouch for this, he always has been the type of person that no matter the task at hand he’s going to go tackle it full speed ahead.

That’s just the way Sheppard is. However, that’s true of all champions and Sheppard has made that known from the time he was a high school state wrestling champion to when he’s won world kickboxing crowns.

I happened to run across an interview Tarver recently gave Damon Gonzalez of LatinBox Communications.

It was funny because during the interview he was talking about his next opponent and had to get the last name of Sheppard from a bystander after he said Mike and couldn’t remember Sheppard’s last name.

Tarver kind of smirked and just said his return to the ring against Sheppard is a “tune-up fight. I’ve been out for a year and a half and it is what it is.”

What this fight actually represents is a great opportunity for Sheppard, who could be the first boxer to hand Tarver his first pro loss via knockout.

Another thing Sheppard and Tarver have in common is the fact they do things their way.

“The naysayers, I’ve heard it all before,” Tarver said. “They call me crazy. They call me nuts, but one thing about me, my dreams come true.

“I never had a goal I didn’t accomplish and I don’t think I’m going to change now. It doesn’t matter if I’m the only one who believes. That’s good enough for me.”

Contact Jay Bennett at