Birthdays over betting
this weekend – Wink

Nov 28, 2006 1:05 AM

It’s a busy weekend. Showtime competes against HBO again, but it seems more conducive to celebrate 67th birthdays than betting.

Winky Wright is a prohibitive 10-1 favorite over Ike Quartey in a battle of other birthday celebrants (Winky 35, Ike 37) on HBO from Tampa. Wright has the home advantage, but he should not need it. Quartey, after taking five years off following losses to Fernando Vargas and Oscar de la Hoya, has not looked anywhere near the man who was an elite welterweight at the end of the last century.

Now, after an unlucky loss to Vernon Forrest, Quartey is fighting at middleweight. Wright, coming off his controversial draw with 160-pound king Jermain Taylor, is the bigger and taller man (5-10½ to 5-7½). He also has the greater skills and far better chin. The controversy in Wright’s loss would be to find anyone who thought Taylor won.

In other words, unless you like laying 10-1, switch over to Showtime for an attractive double-header of welterweight "title" fights from Atlantic City. Now Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the true 147-pound champion, but nontitle bouts have every right to be pertinent and impertinent. These two matchups (no betting line available) seem to be ones where the presumed underdogs are in with a chance.

In the first self-proclaimed best welterweight in the world Antonio Margarito defends his WBOgus title against Joshua Clottey, a Ghana-born fighter who now lives in the jungles of the Bronx.

Margarito, 33-4 with 24 knockouts and a loss to Daniel Santos, is the guy who has long claimed that Mayweather has been ducking him. However, his resume is hardly a reason to strike fear into one of the best boxers since the late Willie Pep. His biggest victories were over a green Kermit Cintron and Max Gomez.

Max Gomez? While the Tijuana Tornado is a rough-and-tumble hombre, his wide-arced punches leave much room for improvement and successful counters.

Clottey is also a tough, aggressive customer. His only loss against 29 victories (18 by KO) was to Carlos Baldomir, the rugged and ragged Argentine just dethroned by Mayweather in a shutout. Clottey was ahead on all three official cards of that 1999 encounter, but was disqualified for continuous head butts.

No butts, ifs or ands that he could give Margarito a fight. I do think the Mexican slugger should warrant whatever odds you can find on him. Margarito says he not thinking about Mayweather any longer, but their names will continue to be linked by promoter Bob Arum. An old gimmick is to pair the names long enough and people will think they are of equal quality.

They’re not.

Margarito would be too slow and technically imperfect to bother Mayweather, whose only worry would be whether his brittle hands would hold up after landing so often on the easy-to-hit slugger. Mayweather’s derisional treatment of Margarito as being unworthy of a shot seems reinforced by Arum’s placement of the Mexican in the semifinal in Atlantic City.

The undefeated Miguel Cotto, who is making his welterweight debut, gets top billing in a bout with the undefeated southpaw Carlos Quintana for a vacant belt. Cotto has been billed as the heir to Felix Trinidad Jr. as Puerto Rico’s next great star.

Cotto could have trouble with one of his landsmen in Quintana, who is coming off an impressive outing over the previously unbeaten and highly touted Colombian, Joel Julio. Quintana is no youngster. He’s 30, but who wants to fight southpaws who can move and box? Thus, he has only a 23-0 record with 18 knockouts.

Cotto, 27-0 with 22 stoppages, has lost some brownie points lately. He has been wobbled in several fights, most notably by Ricardo Torres, and could not stop the singles hitter Paul Malignaggi. Many no longer believe he is an elite fighter, but it is better to reserve judgment. He may well have been weakened by the struggle to make 140 pounds. Let’s see how he does with the extra seven pounds.

Quintana’s effort against Julio was not flattered when the Colombian struggled in his subsequent outing. The southpaw’s style should give Cotto fits. No matter what the odds are, the favorite is probably not worth the price. Quintana would be if you could get more than, say 5-2.

My advice next weekend is simple: Save your money for the holidays.