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Chavez can’t save weak boxing

Nov 27, 2007 1:28 AM

Roger Mayweather, before he became a first-class boor as the foul-mouthed trainer of nephew Floyd Jr., was a foul-mouthed two-time world title-holder with a sweet right hand.

I was ringside when he landed a perfect one to the chin of Julio Cesar Chavez more than 22 years ago in the opening round. Mayweather won the round on all three official cards, but lost the war.

Chavez didn’t blink when the right hand landed and you could see the fight leave Mayweather’s body. He was stopped in the second round.

I recall this because Saturday, on a Bob Arum pay-per-view card from Albuquerque, 21-year-old Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who hadn’t been born yet when his father’s solid chin intimidated Mayweather into defeat, is as good a reason to watch boxing on the tube this weekend.

Junior faces a local hero, Ray Sanchez in a junior middleweight 10-rounder that, as far as I can tell, is off the board.

Otherwise, I might be tempted to bet on Sanchez, a left-hander with a gaudy 20-1 record (15 KO), who will be fighting before his hometown fans.

Not that Sanchez is anything more than a popular ticket-seller. His lone loss was by fifth-round stoppage five years ago to a guy who has gone 2-11-1 since. Chavez Junior is 33-0-1 and he avenged that 2002 draw with Carlos Molina two months later with a majority decision.

Junior, at 21, unlike his father, is a tall, fairly smooth boxer type. He inherited a less explosive version of his dad’s left hook, but from the many times I’ve seen him featured on Arum cards, he seems to have his mother’s chin. He’s good, nowhere near Senior of course, but better than many of his detractors believe — and not as good as Top Rank hopes.

I mention this matchup because I can’t get excited over anything else going on a busy Saturday night. Showtime has what appears to be one of its worst cards ever. In what I believe is now the main event from Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino, and in the only match of the lost weekend on which there was an early line, Vernon Forrest should be virtually unbeatable against Michele Piccirillo. The Viper, defending a world junior middleweight title, was anywhere from 6/1 to 9/1. Despite all his arm problems, the 36-year-old Forrest should have no trouble with the 37-year-old light-hitting Italian.

Antonio Tarver, who used to be good enough to beat Roy Jones Jr., has been given a virtual walkover against journeyman Danny Santiago in a match Showtime should be ashamed of making. In the only possibility of competition in the triple-header, Nonito Donaire defends the IBF flyweight title he won by knocking out slugger Vic Darchinyan earlier this year, against Luis Maldonado. The Mexican had been knocked out by the slugging Armenian, but has a draw with Cristian Mijares, who outboxed Arum star Jorge Arce two bouts ago.

Arce, coincidentally, appears on the Arum card from Albuquerque. The colorful, but limited former junior bantamweight title-holder, is now a full-fledged bantam. I’m sure he didn’t have to work too hard to move up the three pounds from 115, but he seemingly has an easier task against Medgoen Singsurat, a Thai with a built-up 53-4 record, not all against opponents who were who they said they were. Singsurat, fighting for the first time outside Asia (all in Thailand except for a knockout loss in Japan and a victory in Cambodia), is straight from a fourth-round stoppage of — and I do not make this up — someone named Dennarong Bigshotcamp.

The best thing on the Arum card is Ivan Calderon, another guy who moved up three pounds this year to claim another title. The undefeated Puerto Rican, who made 12 successful defenses of his WBO straw-weight (105 pounds) limit, outpointed tough Hugo Cazares to win the WBO junior flyweight title (108). The speedy southpaw is perhaps the best pure boxer in the world.

Calderon has only six knockouts on his 29-0 record, but I love watching him dart in and around against usually bigger foes. His opponent here, Juan Esquer of Mexico, at 5-foot-4 has a four-inch height advantage.

Calderon is now 32 and little guys usually don’t have a long shelf life in boxing so I question his stamina. Esquer is coming off an Oct. 19 victory by majority 12-round decision against a former two-division (105 and 108 pounds) champ, Kermin Guardia.

Genetics aside, Calderon is probably the best reason for boxing fans to be in front of their TV sets Dec. 1.