Forrest-Baldomir: A writer’s fight
best heard and not seen

Jul 24, 2007 3:34 AM

It’s not a betting fight and I couldn’t find odds anywhere, though it’s probably going to be for some phony alphabet title. And, it’s probably not a compelling watch.

For some reason, HBO has decided to show it next Saturday and not because the promotion hails it as "the biggest bout to ever take place in the state of Washington." HBO probably could have chosen a lot better — where are Juan Diaz or Joan Guzman or even Baby Joe Mesi when you need them? This fight will go along with the taped replay of the pay-per-view Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright epic.

Most of my colleagues are passing it up, though it is a pretty good writing fight. Their stories may be more compelling than their abilities when Vernon Forrest and Carlos Baldomir, a pair of 36-year-old former welterweight champions, meet for the WBClowns’ junior middleweight title. It’s the belt Floyd Mayweather Jr. won from Oscar de la Hoya before opting to remain a welterweight champion in semi-retirement.

The Forrest trail

Forrest should be the heavy favorite, if you find a line. Mind you, not a sure thing at his age and all the arm injuries that explains his two-year layoff after a second loss to Ricardo Mayorga in 2003. Since returning, he hasn’t been very busy. Three fights, all wins, in two years. One victory was a unanimous, but controversial, 12-round decision over Ike Quartey last time out.

At his best, though, the Viper was a tall, classy boxer with a right-hand sting. He was the guy who came along to upset then undefeated Sugar Shane Mosley. Then when Mosley couldn’t believe he was hammered like that, it happened again.

Forrest fought in the 1992 Olympics, then turned pro and won his first 37 fights before being upset by Mayorga. He got into a toe-to-toe slugfest with the wild Nicaraguan and was blasted out in the third round. He, too, didn’t believe that result, In the rematch six months later, he lost a majority decision to Mayorga.

Jerry Roth, the esteemed Vegas judge, had it a draw. The other two losers thought Mayorga won. I thought the Nicaraguan’s histrionics in the ring were entertaining, but they shouldn’t have received points and my count had Forrest coming on to win a close match.

But what makes the Viper a writing attraction is that after being voted 2002 Fighter of the Year, the following year (after the two Mayorga losses and arm problems) he was voted the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award by the Boxing Writers Association. The Viper co-founded Destiny’s Child, which helps house and support mentally challenged kids. He actually wants to be a role model.

Baldomir basics

Baldomir seemed headed for an unlikely Fighter of the Year award in 2006 when he came out of nowhere, wearing glass slippers. The role model for journeymen, he dethroned Zab Judah to win the welterweight title in January. Then he scored a nominal "upset" by knocking out Arturo Gatti. Alas, reality set in when facing Mayweather in December and not winning a round on two of the official cards.

Still, it was quite a year for the Argentine, who during his early years as a pro needed to sell feather dusters on the streets of his Santa Fe hometown, where he grew up idolizing the local legend Carlos Monzon. In fact, the 85-year-old Amilcar Brusar, who trained that great middleweight champ, helps Baldomir).

Baldo is the stereotypical over-achiever, neither fast or powerful. He is an earnest plodder, which is not to say he doesn’t succeed. He’s got a 43-10-6 record with only 13 knockouts, but beating Judah in New York and Gatti in Atlantic City was par for his journeyman’s course. As far back as 1999, he was knocking off undefeated boxers in their backyards — from London to Germany to Mexico to Denmark.

But unless Forrest’s arms fall off, he should handle the pumpkin-shaped Cinderella. The Viper is now trained by Buddy McGirt, which should be a fine fit. Both losses on his 38-2, 28 KO record were to Mayorga, and one of those I dispute.

Now that I’ve written a bit about the fight, I don’t have to watch it. Meaning, I’m not paid that handsomely.