These are the dog days, and this has nothing to do with Michael Vick.
There are fights. Boxing doesn’t take any real vacations just like horse racing, the only other adult sport. But while racing has Saratoga and Del Mar (Deauville, if you’re on the English Channel), to keep the best in breed busy, we’re going to have to wait until a power-packed fall for the real action.
But remember, as far as betting goes, you can often find better value in a $3,500 claiming race than in a Breeder’s Cup event. Not next weekend in boxing, though. By my deadline time, I couldn’t even find a line on the two best fights of this Saturday.
Whether or not I bet them, I’ll be watching them on HBO from Sacramento. These could be two doozies, whatever a doozy is. Both are part of Oscar de la Hoya’s so-called "world cup," matching fighters from Mexico and the Philippine. Both are for WBO titles, which doesn’t make them trash.
Jhonny Gonzalez, who never read why Johnny can’t spell, defends his bantamweight title against longtime Filipino superfly star, Gerry Penalosa. It should be a perfect matchup for action. The southpaw Penalosa (born Geronimo) will be spotting Gonzo three inches of height and considereable reach. He will try to force the action and get inside.
Gonzalez, who turns 26 next month, has about nine years on Penalosa, who’ll be 35 by the time they enter the Arco Arena ring. He has already returned successfully to 118 pounds after the courageous challenge to Israel Vazquez at 122 last year. In March, he knocked out the capable, if long-toothed, Irene Pacheco in round 10.
If he can’t spell, he can sure punch. He had the talented, and bigger, Israel Vazquez down twice. Penalosa, at 51-6-2, has never been stopped. At his advanced age, he remains for "little" guys, a superb boxer. Last March, he moved up to 122. Judges had him losing a unanimous decision by wide margins even if most ringsiders and televiewers thought the Filipino had done enough to dethrone Daniel Ponce de Leon.
Ponce de undercard
The powerful southpaw is in the other featured match from Sacramento, defending his junior feather title against the unbeaten and untested Rey Bautista.
De Leon, we shall soon learn, is a wild left-handed swinger, which gave Penalosa’s swifter and more accurate punches plenty of room to land. Penalosa won’t find Gonzalez as easy, though Jhonny will never be known for his defense. Gonzo is 34-5 (the only stoppage by Vazquez) with 29 knockouts. He uses his height and reach well and should be able to box expertly enough to make things extremely uncomfortable for Penalosa.
De Leon can hurt what he can hit. He began his 31-1 career (the one loss, on points, to the talented Celestino Caballero in 2005), with 21 straight KOs. He now has 38 on his resume. His opponent Boom Boom Bautista is a comparative unknown, who has been winning converts in the California gym of trainer Freddie Roach.
In his big-time debut, on the undercard of the Cinco de Mayo Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Oscar de la Hoya thriller (yes, I’m being facetious), he scored a convincing 12-round unanimous decision over Sergio Manuel Medina, who had been 28-0. Impressive? Not that much.
Medina’s record had been compiled all in his native Argentina. So how good was he and how good does that make Bautista? We shall see.
Bautista has every chance of winning against the hard-punching southpaw. De Leon, unlike in the Penalosa fight, will not have a height advantage. In fact, the swarming, busy Bautista at 5-6 is an inch taller than his Mexican opponent. Boom Boom vs. Bang Bang sounds like it will not be a so-called "chess" match.
Even if you can’t find a line on which to bet Bautista, this also should be an entertaining bout. I shy away from guys too easy to hit, even if they are promoted by Golden Boy in the Golden State.
Besides, let your money accrue some interest.
The autumn docket
There are some really nice action fights on the docket for the fall. Maybe we can find some worthy underdogs (Jorge Barrios at 7/2 against the smaller Juan Manuel Marquez, anyone?).
There are pick ”˜ems like Jermain Taylor against Kelly Pavlik and even some heavyweight interest. Sanuel Peter seems, at -500 or so a little too well-liked against Oleg Maskaev.
However, do not for a moment think I am advocating betting against the Nigerian. Just as I won’t give any consent to people wanting to take a flier on Evander Holyfield in a "title" fight against Sultan Ibragimov.
Mayweather-Hatton, Cotto-Mosley, Pacquiao-Barrera II. Yes, save your money for all those Christmas presents.