Boxing ‘outs’ Caesars

Apr 19, 2005 2:35 AM

We disposed of the heavyweights in our last classroom discussion — a strong lean toward Calvin Brock, as a 7-5 favorite over the more established Jameel McCline. The best bet being to avoid all contact with the Wladimir Klitschko-Eliseo Castillo fight on HBO.

It is time to get down to the real fighters participating this Saturday. All are on the pay-per-view outdoors from Vegas that includes McCline-Brock and, goodness gracious, there may even be a worthwhile wager.

Let’s save the best for last, the welterweight "title" fight between Antonio (The Silencer) Margarito, who holds the spurious WBOgus title (Zab Judah having knocked out Cory Spinks last Feb. 5, of course is the bona fide 147-pound king), meeting an undefeated bomber from Puerto Rico and Reading, Pa., named Kermit (Killer) Cintron.

That’s the main event on a four-bout pay-per-view card from Caesars Palace. the erstwhile oasis in the desert for boxing, and when you have such nicknames as "The Silencer" and "Killer" you should not expect too much dancing. There will be even more action in a lightweight title bout on the card between the undefeated Juan (Baby Bull) Diaz, the college student from Houston, and the frenetic southpaw from Georgia, Ebo Elder.

Diaz vs. Elder

I imagine Diaz must be a considerable favorite (-430) and deservedly so. He won the WBA 135-pound title by outhustling the tough Mongolian, Lakva Sim, and has already made two defenses. Diaz, for all his studious ways, is more brawler than boxer. He just keeps coming and coming, all the while throwing punches.

Elder (+330) is similar, except off the other foot. He’s more experienced than the 21-year-old champion, but I think his betting value may be over-rated because of the spectacular nature of his last victory, a 12th-round knockout of tough Courtney Burton. This is going to be fun for as long as it goes, but I don’t expect it to last 12 rounds because I suspect Diaz may be a level or two better than Elder.

Elder says that he has been ordained to win by God himself. However, because I am a great believer in the separation of church and ring, I have not asked him whether God spoke to him with a Southern accent, or any other speech impediments. In any case, I think it’s safe to lay the odds and take Diaz. The WBA champion may not be in the same league as the REAL lightweight title showdown May 7 between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego (Chico) Corrales. But Elder isn’t quite in Diaz’s league, either.

Mosley v Estrada

Class is the difference in an intriguing welterweight clash on the card. The intrigue is to see Sugar Shane Mosley back down at 147 pounds to see what he has left. He’s listed, last time I noticed, as a 9-1 favorite (opened -950, now -700) over David Estrada, the tough kid who has the great Angelo Dundee in his corner. Estrada (+500) is coming off a dismantling and stoppage of the previously undefeated Chris Smith and if Mosley has any trouble making his old weight, he’s probably worth a look to longshot lovers.

But John David Jackson, Mosley’s third trainer in three fights (father Jack Mosley, then Joe Goossen, worked the two losses to Winky Wright), reports Sugar is both Sweet and Low. Jackson, one of my favorite fighters when he was winning a couple of world titles, said he has Mosley once again concentrating on speed and defense. As gritty as Estrada might be, I don’t think Angelo’s kid can successfully make this big a step up in class. This is a "scouting" fight, to get a line on just how good Mosley still is and how he might fare against such as Zab Judah, Oscar de la Hoya and, more probably imminent, the winner of the best fight on the Caesars card.

Margarito v Cintron

Margarito, who has faced better and beaten better than anyone Cintron has opposed, is the natural 8-5 chalk. There are many in boxing who believe the tough Tijuana native is the best 147-pounder in the game. I think that flatters him a bit too much; he certainly is dangerous with his hellbent attacking style that leaves opponents little time to breathe. And, when he feels it necessary, he can play a little defense.

He’ll find it very necessary against Cintron. The Killer, who left Puerto Rico for Reading, Pa., has scored 22 knockouts in his 24-0 pro career. He can punch with either hand, though he may not be as great a single-shot power fighter as the record would indicate. It usually takes a few of Cintron’s blows to put away the opposition.

On paper, Margarito has to be the choice. But the romantic in me, always hoping that boxing comes up with a new star, has a hunch that Cintron may be someone special. He showed a good chin against the hard-punching Teddy Reid and, with his own power I expect him to score a resounding upset and put some real excitement back in the welterweight division.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.