All these cancellations,
make me turn to Joan!

Mar 21, 2006 4:42 AM

You can’t put a Band-Aid on torn tendons, muscle pulls or whatever injuries sideline fighters and make it even more difficult to earn money gambling on boxing by postponing, or canceling, matches.

I thought we had a chance this Saturday to score some major points on fights as far apart as Glascow and Las Vegas. Alas, they have been postponed. So between now, their re-scheduling, and before I change my mind (as I have been to do), let me go on the record.

I like Joan (yes, Joan) Guzman against Scott Harrison in a featherweight contest. Don’t let the first name fool you. "Joan" is a very male name in Spanish and Guzman, a 122-pound title-holder, is about as feminine as a Sherman tank.

It doesn’t matter that he was going to be fighting in the featherweight titleholder’s backyard. Guzman is just a superior talent. By the time this match comes off (perhaps May), try to either make friends or marry some Scot. That way you could place money on Guzman over there, where the odds will probably favor the gritty Harrison.

Guzman was, of course, no sure thing and neither was Jesus Chavez in my other postponed matchup. That’s because Chavez was going to take on the great Marco Antonio Barrera. But I thought at about +300, Chavez would have a marvelous chance at one of the greatest Mexican fighters in history — right up there with Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez and Pancho Villa.

Alas, the unlucky Chavez threw out his left arm. Now the question, after several months off, is whether he will ever recover. If he does, and the great Barrera doesn’t get himself knocked off elsewhere (like a possible rematch with Manny Pacquiao) - the gritty man from Austin, via Chicago and Mexico, will be more than a live underdog.

Chavez will be defending the lightweight title he took from poor Leavander Johnson, who died after their fight last year. At 135 pounds, Chavez will be the bigger man by far. Barrera is moving up to 135 for one reason only - to become the first Mexican to win titles at four different weight classes, especially before his arch-rival Erik Morales can try for that particular bit of history.

Chavez looked fine at 135 against Johnson. It should be noted that the Johnson family has embraced his conqueror. In fact, they will be in his corner. Remember he was a terrific combatant at 130 pounds and might have beaten Morales if not for an injured right hand in the opening round. Chavez, one of the busiest and most tenacious fighters around, hurt Morales with that hand, then fought bravely one-handed the rest of the 12-round scrap.

He also stood up to the punches of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the pressure from Carlos Hernandez at 130. Barrera was a champion at 122 and 126. I believe he was, already stretching to reach 130. I’m not sure he would have been able to really hurt Chavez at 135 and the pressure on him would have been breathtaking.

It was going to be one of the best fights of the year, and hopefully, it will still happen. But for now, we must join poor Harrison and Chavez on the sidelines.

On Friday night’s ESPN2 card (if any line gets posted) unbeaten, but mainly untested Edison Miranda, a Colombian puncher, might be a good underdog against the veteran Howard Eastman in a middleweight title eliminator of some interest. Eastman might be getting a little long in the tooth.

In saying boo to boo-boos, let us not let the money we save burn a hole in our pockets. There are some big fights coming up the rest of the spring (ah, what a nice word to be able to write!) I’m not sure Floyd Mayweather Jr. is worth -500 against Zab Judah. That seems a match made for bridge-jumpers, since I can’t recommend the +350 on Judah for that April 8 get-together.

On the other hand, Chris Byrd at around +250, might be worth a stab against his old conqueror, Wladimir Klitschko, on April 22. The fight in Germany won’t improve Klitschko’s suspect chin, even against the light-hitting Byrd.

And, I almost hate to say this, but the boorish Ricardo Mayorga might be worth plus $3 or $4 against the much more talented Oscar de la Hoya on May 6. We’ll see. Meanwhile, go easy betting on student-athletes in the NCAA basketball tournament. I’m still broken up that Winthrop lost to Tennessee.