The season’s tinsel, in appropriate conclusion to a vintage year, does not prevent the annual feelings of "bah, humbug!"
That’s because the last "big," and we use that adjective advisedly, television show of 2007 requires a $30 pay-per-view fee for a couple of main events no respectable oddsmaker would put on the board.
This "priceless" card is headed by a pair of young Venezuelan talents based in Tokyo. Edwin Valero, who has become almost a "cult" figure since he is banned in the United States, and Jorge Linares are two of those gym legends that come regularly to refresh and revive the game.
Their Japanese promoter’s holiday card from Cancun is filled by a couple of Mexicans with first names of Zaid and Gamaliel. So as curious as I might be to see Valero, financial prudence dictates I should pass. Besides, there’s a very good chance that Valero, 22-0 with 22 knockouts (the first 18 of which were in the first round), will not let me see too much before he stops Zaid Zavalata.
Linares, whom I am glad to say lived up to the whispered hype about a young phemom when I saw him (age 21 last July) knock out Oscar Larios to win the vacant WBC featherweight title in July. He faces Gamaliel Diaz, 22-6-2 with only nine knockouts. Diaz is a journeyman who has been stopped three times in his career, including once by another current featherweight titlist, Robert Guerrero. That was in a rematch after he handed Guerrero his first, and thus far only, defeat in 2005.
Still, I don’t think he’ll be competitive against the almost elegant Linares, who moves beautifully and has a punishing left hook to the body. So, it’s "bah, humbug!" to this show. Enough is enough.
I bought Bob Arum’s silly Julio
Cesar Chavez Jr. card this month. Last month, I sprung for Don King’s Ricardo
Mayorga-Fernando Vargas ripoff, Arum’s Juan Manuel Marquez-Rocky Juarez show
and Miguel Cotto and Sugar Shane Mosley.
That’s a lot of paying for viewing, and doesn’t include Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Ricky Hatton because I was ringside for that one. This is becoming an expensive sport to cover.
Of course, I know me. Probably, as it gets closer to fight time, and if my system allows me, I’ll probably spring for the Valero-Linares twin bill. Valero has been built up by Doug Fischer, my old editor over at thehouseofboxing.com, and a pretty fair judge of horseflesh.
Fischer was able to watch the novice Valero in some terrific sparring in southern California, some of which has made its way to YouTube.com, where he has had half a million hits. The current WBA junior lightweight champion is banned in the States because four years ago New York State Athletic Commission doctors saw a "spot" on his brain, perhaps the result of a 2001 motorcycle accident.
The other 49 states must follow New York’s ban, but the Venezuelan has passed stringent tests elsewhere and continues to press for fights against the elite of his powerful division — Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Joan Guzman.
Valero won his title against rugged Vicente Mosquera in Panama, his opponent’s home, via tenth-round knockout. He said the late KO (one in the eighth round, one in the second and the rest in the opening frame) was due to Mosquera’s "running" and his uncharacteristic too-patient attack.
He is a tall southpaw whose knockouts are hardly accidental. He told Fischer in a fairly recent interview for maxboxing.com "before 30 seconds go by, I want to have them in survival mode."
Even though this card is in December, Valero and
Linares represent the eternal spring of the sport, the constant replenishing of
talent (except, of course, in the heavyweight division). I have been privileged
to witness in the flesh many gym legends whose whispered fame was no apparition.
They fly in under the radar, especially if they have not been lucky enough to be Olympic heroes. It is always a delight to realize that guys like Thomas Hearns, Kostya Tszyu, Tony Ayala Jr., Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar de la Hoya (long before he went to the Olympics) were indeed going to be stars.
It is also wonderful when young talents are dismissed by "experts" and turn out to be the real thing anyway (see Hector Camacho Sr.). Why do I think I have just talked myself into spending $30 on another pay-per-view show?