Not much going on except for this Ding-a-Ling

Feb 5, 2008 1:13 AM

Certainly not by popular demand, February has been extended one day this year.

No one is leaping for joy that the northern hemisphere’s dreariest month on the calendar will run 29 days, but at least there’ll be some legitimate boxing action — just not much coming up this weekend.

Later, we’ll get the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor rematch and a heavyweight partial unification fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov.

But there’s nothing really tempting an interruption of a mid-winter hibernation in the immediate future. If you could find a line, next Friday’s ESPN2 main event could be a betting affair. B.J. Flores, a nice boxer who was not big enough to compete with the big boys at heavyweight, has made the move to cruiserweight and could be worthy longshot against cruiserweight puncher Darnell (Ding-a-Ling) Wilson.

On Saturday, there are two TV shows that excite less passion than a poached egg on toast. In a Bob Arum pay-per-viewer from Leon, Mexico, the continuing education of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is the featured attraction. The icon’s son (34-0-1 as a novice pro with little amateur experience) takes on a once highly-regarded California welterweight, Jose Celaya in a 12-round junior middleweight bout.

Celaya, once managed by Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan in the movie Against The Ropes) of James Toney fame, has been campaigning most recently as a middleweight. However, Celaya has not met with much success. He’s been around as a pro since 2000, but is still only 26. He’s a southpaw and the 31-3 record isn’t bad. Believe me when I say Arum and matchmaker Bruce Trampler are not risking their precocious, and limited, meal ticket.

Celaya is coming off a six-round split-decision victory over a guy he already beat in an eight-rounder. He is not a great puncher with only 16 knockouts, and he’s been stopped twice. One time came from a 35-year-old James Webb, who in his next fight was knocked out in 44 seconds. Julio II was held to a 2005 draw by Carlos Molina, though two months later he avenged the only blemish on his record with a points victory by majority decision.

In Mexico, it is hard to imagine the son of Julio losing a decision.

The main event of next Saturday is HBO’s presentation of one of the many talented welterweights, Paul Williams. The 6-foot-1 southpaw from Augusta who dethroned Antonio Margarito last year was originally to face fellow title-holder Kermit Cintron. Instead, Cintron got hurt in training (and is now getting a rematch with Margarito, the only man to beat him).

Williams can box, has a terrific chin and will be in no danger as a -600 or so favorite against Carlos Quintana, whose claim to fame is the boxing lesson he gave to previously unbeaten novice Joel Julio. That’s at one level. When he moved up, the Puerto Rican southpaw was blown away in five rounds by Miguel Cotto.

Williams and Cotto would be an interesting match. Williams, who has a 3½-inch height advantage vs. Quintana, and a 10-inch edge in reach, should be able to do almost anything he wants Saturday night. That is except guarantee a fight against one of the bigger lights in the 147-pound division. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face him, though.

Another welterweight wunderkind, Andre Berto, makes his HBO debut on the same card against a European veteran, Michael Trabant. There’s no line on this match, nor should there be.

With Cotto set to face a Contender alumnus in Alfonso Gomez in April and the division’s titular king, Floyd Mayweather Jr. taking a long vacation before going to the bank again against Oscar de la Hoya in September (the early line has Floyd -285, Oscar +225). Another bargain for Money fans.

Mayweather I believe toyed with the Golden Boy last June so as not to endanger a possible rematch. Watching Williams will suffice. We don’t have to bet, just save our hoarded acorns until Feb. 16 when Pavlik and Taylor will be tempting.

And next month, we might be able to raid the cookie jar and go wild over Manny when Pacquiao faces Juan Manuel Marquez in their long-awaited rematch.