A real fight in hockey rink!

Feb 10, 2009 5:00 PM
Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz |

Next Saturday, it will be possible to go to the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, say you went to an ice hockey arena and saw some fights break out.

Three will be televised on HBO, which means the home of the NHL Florida Panthers isn’t exactly starting in boxing’s equivalent of the cellar. But while both blue lines and the red line will be covered any night, I have been unable to uncover any betting lines for the tripleheader.

Don King’s Ice Follies of ’09 took a major hit when Ricardo Mayorga, not exactly a good skate, tried another of his shakedowns and blew his chance at Alfredo Angulo (pictured at right), one of the most exciting prospects around. He’s still a prospect even though two of the alphabets have him rated No. 1 at junior middleweight after only 14 pro fights – a feather in his cap.

The word was that Mayorga would have been Angulo’s first "test" – but I had no doubts the Mexican slugger would not have made the ill-behaved boor his 11th straight knockout victim, and 12th overall.

Mayorga once demanded a raise from $2 million to $8 million to fight Oscar de la Hoya. King refused, of course, to give in. Mayorga fought for those $2 million in peanuts and got beaten up mercilessly in six painful rounds. He has been replaced here by Danny Perez, who is 3-0 after ending a three-year retirement, including an impressive victory at middleweight against Julio Garcia.

Perez used to be a contender, at welterweight. He lost twice on points to Antonio Margarito, an eight-round split decision in 1999, and a 12-round hammering in 2002. He’s been down, but never stopped in a 34-5 career, and at 32 should still have something left. Angulo, although he still has some proving to do, could be someone special and I can’t imagine him losing here.

The main event remains intact. Nate Campbell (pictured at left), who undressed the then-undefeated Juan Diaz to win a lightweight title, makes his first defense against Ali Funeka, his mandatory from South Africa. Campbell must be at least a 2-1 favorite here, fighting in his home state against a man who has never fought outside his home country.

Dandy Dan Rafael of espn.com says he was impressed by Funeka’s last start, a four-round knockout of the slick Zahir Raheem of Philadelphia. Despite Dandy’s scouting report, I have to give Funeka some chance (yes, I said "despite").

The rest of his 30-1-2 record was accomplished against the great unknown, but in Campbell he is facing a solid professional with a couple of large red flags attached. First, the old Galaxy Warrior is now 36. Second, and perhaps more important for a veteran, he has not fought in almost a year, since his brilliant performance against Diaz.

Campbell is one of boxing’s real victims – he was unable to cash in on his great upset because of financial and promotional difficulties. I’d love to see him win here, I’m just not sure he’d be worth backing with more than affection and good will.

The third bout is probably the closest thing to pick ’em on the card and I really couldn’t choose. Sergio Gabriel Martinez of Argentina is the "interim" world junior middleweight champion of one of those alphabets you hope itself would be "interim." Martinez faces two-time alphabet holder Kermit Cintron, from Puerto Rico and Reading, Pennsylvania, whose only two losses were to Margarito, he of the suspicious gloves.

Against the rest of the world, Cintron is 30-0 with 27 KO’s. Since his second loss to Margarito, last April, he has outpointed Lovemore N’dou over 12, perhaps his most significant victory. The 5-foot-11 Cintron should have little trouble negotiating the seven extra pounds up from welterweight. Martinez is a more difficult matter.

The 33-year-old longtime resident of Madrid is a southpaw who can catch and throw. He stopped Alex Bunema in eight rounds to make his "interim" claim to fame last October and will be a handful for Cintron, whom I still feel is a bit lacking in overall boxing skills.

Again, too close to call.