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No line, no problem likely for this 126-pound champ

May 27, 2008 7:00 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | The pickings are slim this weekend. There are three world title fights Saturday, but only two even have odds posted on them and we’re not talking pick’em here.

The bouts do feature some of boxing’s best, if little-known, practitioners. Guess what? The biggest of the lot is a featherweight.

Jorge Linares, the 22-year-old "Golden Boy" from Venezuela, defends his WBC 126-pound title against a fellow South American, Feider Viloria of Colombia, in Chetumal, Mexico. There’s appropriately no line on what appears to be a terrible mismatch.

The 25-0 Linares is seemingly on his way to pound-for-pound greatness. He faces a man coming off a fifth-round knockout by the useful Antonio Escolante only two fights back. Earlier in his career, Viloria was knocked out by a guy with a 10-7-1 record and he’s been down in other fights.

It doesn’t appear as if the WBC will have to go out of its way to import judges for this one.

Elsewhere in Mexico, another pound-for-pound stalwart, Fernando Montiel, defends his WBO junior bantamweight (aka superflyweight) title against tough veteran Luis Maldonado. Montiel is listed at -1100, which seems appropriate considering his fellow Mexican is coming off an eighth-round stoppage by Nonito Donaire in a 112-pound title fight.

Maldonado, 37-2-1 with 28 knockouts, was also stopped in a flyweight bout by Victor Darchinyan in 2006. But his +600 buy-back rate is not without some value.

Just two years ago, Maldonado fought Cristian Mijares to a draw. Mijares is now in my Top 10 pound-for-pound list after his brilliant 115-pound unification victory over Anthony Munoz. His two knockout losses, to bona fide sluggers, ensued at 112.

It would seem having to take off those last three pounds hurt him.

While Maldonado is a very live dog, Montiel is classy chalk. In his last start, he sent the talented Martin Castillo into retirement with a fourth-round stoppage. He’s 36-2-1 with 27 knockouts and his outstanding ability is underlined by his two losses, both by close decisions.

The first loss, in an attempt to move up to bantamweight, was by split decision against Jhonny Gonzalez, who gave 122-pound giant Israel Vasquez big trouble. The other defeat, back in 2003, was a majority decision to perhaps the finest flyweight in American history, Marcellus (Too Sharp) Johnson.

Maldonado is not to be taken lightly, but Montiel is a seasoned professional who must realize he is in for a real fight. He’ll be giving away slight advantages in both height (5-5½ to 5-4) and reach (67 inches to 65), but should survive. If we’re lucky, it may set up a super superfly match with Mijares that would the appetite of any real boxing fan.

Meanwhile, in Dusseldorf, there is a bout between two guys I’ve never seen. I’ve heard much about Wladimir Siderenko, the Hamburg-based Ukrainian boxing machine, who defends his WBA bantamweight title against Anselmo Moreno of Panama.

Sidorenko, undefeated in 23 fights (21 victories, only seven by knockout, and two draws with Ricardo Cordoba), is slick enough to go to Japan, as he did in his last start, and completely outbox his Japanese challenger, Nobuto Ikehara, to score a lopsided decision.

I’ve seen him listed at -350 with Moreno at +275. Sight unseen and knowing Klaus-Peter Kohl, Sidorenko’s German promoter, has probably tilted the ring in his man’s favor, Moreno might be worth a stab.

Here is my questionable reasoning: Sidorenko is 31, Moreno is 22. The Panaman has a 21-1-1 record, with only eight knockouts, and has fought only once outside his native land (that in Haiti). However, in his last fight he scored a first-round stoppage of the usually durable Ricardo Vargas.

That is an eye-opener. Vargas not only went the distance with prime Rafael Marquez, but has two victories over Gonzalez and a draw with Johnny Tapia. Okay, Vargas is 36 now, but he had not showed his age in his previous fight, going the 12-round distance with South Africa’s Silence Mabuza – whose only two losses have been to the great Rafael Marquez.

But this information is strictly for those undisciplined readers who have yet to learn how to keep their hands in their pockets. It is not recommended gambling. On the other hand, if you must have action