Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | You canít measure chalk in feet and inches.
Okay, enough wisdom for a day, but there is a huge disparity in the two favorites of this Saturdayís featured bouts. Ivan Calderon is generously listed at an even 5 feet; Nikolay Valuev is anywhere from 7 feet to 7-2.
It is not clear if either measures up to the job.
Calderon, the undefeated Puerto Rican marvel who long reigned as the WBO strawweight champion (105 pounds), moved up a year ago to dethrone Hugo Cazares, a tough Mexican junior flyweight by split decision. For their rematch, in the very same Bayamon ring where he came off the canvas last year, the unbeaten Calderon is listed at about a 2-1 favorite.
Valuev is also engaging in a rematch over a man he already beat once, John Ruiz, the man with more lives than a litter of cats. Valuev will fight in the same home ring, The Max Schmeling Hall in Berlin, where he won the WBA version of the heavyweight title in 2005 by majority decision.
Ruiz is now 36. Itís been a dozen years since he was knocked out in 19 seconds by David Tua. He has not been stopped since and faced just about everyone in the division.
Valuev is listed at about 3-1, an seen as high as 7-2. While he should win, Iím not about to lay that kind of bread on a big stiff, who is 35 himself.
Iím not even tempted laying only 2-1 on Calderon, who unlike Valuev, is one of the fanciest practitioners in the game. The little southpaw is nicknamed "Iron Boy," but thereís no iron in his fists. He has scored only six stoppages while winning all 31 pro bouts.
But there is some heavy mettle (sic) in his chin, despite his being floored by the heavy-handed Cazares last year. The Mexican has 19 knockouts among his 26 victories, against four losses, and he will be a danger throughout.
I have long been a strong advocate of Calderon, who is in my Top 10 of pound-for-pounders. Even with Floyd Mayweather Jr. around, he may have been the best pure boxer in the game.
Calderon is not a runner; so donít begrudge his promoter, Bob Arum, from putting this on one of his Latin Fury pay-per-view cards. Calderon is worth the price of admission and it is a pleasure to report that Julio Caesar Chavez has not been inflicted on the undercard.
But Calderon is now 33 and thereís always the chance of sudden rust, or of some breakdown. I hope not for I would like to see him go on indefinitely and maybe move up again to 112 pounds. He is that nice to watch.
Ruiz, of course, is not, unless you like kvetching about alleged low blows and constant holding and rassling. But give old Johnny his due Ė he does come to, well, maybe not fight, but to try.
Valuev is not much more artistic. We know Ruiz can handle his height, somewhat, from their first encounter. Since then, Valuev defended his "title" by stopping the Murdererís Row of Owen Beck, Monte Barrett and Jameel McCline before losing his belt to Ruslan Chagaev last year by majority decision.
Thatís Valuevís only loss against 48 victories. In his only 2008 start, he handily outpointed another ex- titleholder of modest ability, Sergei Liakhovich.
Ruiz also lost to Chagaev by split decision. In his only 2008 appearance he defeated McCline. With a buyback of 2-1 to 5-2, Ruiz might be tempting. But I say pass.