The other night on the History Channel – yes, boxing writers have lives outside the ring – there was a piece about Nostradamus predicting something big (and bad) for the year 2012.
You know, the usual end of the world kind of thing because the Sun will be lined up with the Earth and the center of the Milky Way…Unfortunately, the History Channel skipped the part where the old seer looked at this year’s initial betting fights coming up this Saturday.
Maybe he knew that one of the co-features on the HBO telecast from Biloxi (did Nostradamus ever predict Biloxi?) would be scrambled by a late injury. This one was kidney stones that sidelined the undefeated super middleweight Mean Joe Greene. Mean Joe had been slated to face an interim 168-pound champion, Sergio Martinez.
This was a match, obviously, not etched in kidney stones.
Martinez, the stereotypical tough Mexican, was about a 6-1 or 7-1 favorite over Greene, who maybe should change his nickname now to "rognones de piedra." It’s hard to imagine what odds Martinez would be against 37-year-old Travis Simms, Anthony Thompson of Philadelphia or some other last-minute replacement, if one can be found.
Daniel Santos, a seldom-seen junior middleweight titlist, turned down the shot, claiming it was not enough time to prepare. Nostradamus knew that, of course.
In the so-far unscratched main event, the undefeated Andre Berto (pictured) will defend his alphabet (this one from the WBCretins) welterweight title against a former alphabet (the WBAssassins) welterweight title-holder, Luis Collazo of Brooklyn.
Nostradamus probably predicted Brooklyn – frankly, I do not recall. I am sure just three years before Armageddon he would like to start the year with a victory by going with the quick and flashy Berto here.
Me, too. But like Nostradamus, I do not believe Berto is worth laying -650 or even -550 against a southpaw who knows how to box. Collazo won the WBAssinine title back in 2005 against the capable Jose Antonio Rivera. He defended it against the shopworn Miguel Angel Gonzalez, then lost it in a close decision to the 140-pound king Ricky Hatton in 2006.
Collazo has also lost to Sugar Shane Mosley, again going the distance. He is not a big puncher with only 13 stoppages on his 29-3 pro record. But we’re not sure if Berto is a big catcher. There is a fragility to him that makes it impossible to back him, even if we think Collazo, at 27, is already on the downward slope.
His last bout, Berto outpointed Steve Forbes, but not as handily as Oscar de la Hoya had done four months earlier last year in a loss that somehow qualified Steve for a shot at the WBCrooked title. Berto is a 25-year-old Floridian, who seems destined to become an HBO house fighter (Jim Lampley is warming up his adjectives).
Berto gained his bogus title by stopping Miguel Angel Rodriguez, apparently no stereotypical tough Mexican, last June 21. Rodriguez’s claim to fame, I guess, was a loss, going the distance against Carlos Baldomir in a 2005 eliminator.
Nostradamus had Baldomir big time in that one, and parlayed it into a victory over Zab Judah.
It would be nice to see Berto get clocked by Collazo and then brilliantly recover to win. Nice, because the 147-pound division is still one of boxing’s best. But there’s a better bout one week later on HBO with the division’s true ruler Antonio Margarito facing Sugar Shane Mosley.
Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and useful former title-holders like the aforementioned Judah and Kermit Cintron could brighten the boxing firmament before the fatal year of 2012. We’ll probably all be even by then. It figures.