Boxing: Strike while 'Iron' is hot

Sep 8, 2009 5:06 PM
Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz |

Iron Boy most likely winner on pay-per-view

Finally, we get to discuss a fight, a real fight, though it is not one that many of us will see because who buys 108-pounders at $29.95 on pay-per-view even if it features the self-proclaimed – and heartily seconded – "best pure boxer in the world?"

He is called Iron Boy, but from the way that Ivan Calderon punches the iron must be a reference to doing his laundry. The little (an even 5-feet, counting his socks) southpaw has registered only six stoppages on his 32-0-1 record. There are grandmothers who hit harder.

There are other fighters who can punch on cards scattered around the world next Saturday, but they are in either noncompetitive or non-attractive matches. Mikkel Kessler, who most rate as the top supermiddleweight in the world, is in Denmark to defend his slice of the 168-pound kingdom against the unworthy Gusmyl Perdomo, which may explain why the Dane is about a 20-1 favorite. Showtime will pair this mismatch with an even more egregious bit of chicanery with Andre Ward’s virtual walkover against the aptly named Shelby Pudwill because the plan is for Kessler and Ward to meet soon in the network’s supermiddleweight round-robin.

On the Pudwill undercard – and, yes, I enjoy typing that name – you can find, off camera thankfully, James Toney returning against a minor leaguer named Matt Greer. In South Africa, Lovemore N’dou is about a 7-2 choice against Matthew Hatton, Ricky’s very ordinary kid brother, and so what?

Personally, Calderon is the only fighter active Sept. 12 worth discussing, even if he may not be worth betting, not at odds approaching 6-1 against a guy he had trouble with only three months ago, and especially not since he has shown some decline recently.

Calderon will be attempting to rectify the one "blemish" on his marker, the technical draw last June 13 against Manny Pacquiao-promoted Rodel (Kid Rapido) Mayol of the Philippines. For the second fight in a row, Calderon was unable to continue after suffering a cut from an accidental clash of heads

Maybe his skin is getting brittle at age 34. Maybe he is slowing down at age 34. But the man who seldom lost a round in his early days of dominating the 105-pound minimum weight (strawweight to you) division, has looked shakier and shakier since moving up the three pounds to junior fly.

He was even on the scorecards against Mayol at Madison Square Garden in June. Scores were 58-56, 56-58 and 57-57. Mayol isn’t exactly King Kong, either. This will be his fourth attempt at a world title, dating back to losing a 12-round decision at straw to Eagle Den Junlaphan in 2006. He was stopped by Ulises Solis at 108 in eight rounds back in 2007, following that up with a fourth-round stoppage at the hands of Adrian Hernandez.

But he was giving Calderon fits at the Garden. Calderon said it was because Mayol "came to box, not to go for a knockout like everybody else." He also said the Filipino had "fast hands" and was "one of the best fighters in the world right now in the 108-pound division."

He also said that he felt the pressure from his first Garden appearance – next Saturday’s bout is on his home island of Puerto Rico where he has scored many comfortable victories – and while admitting he started slowly, was "getting my rhythm."

He has heard that Mayol has said he would be more aggressive this time, citing the home-court edge Calderon has (as if none exists for Puerto Ricans in New York). Calderon said this would be fine since it would open Mayol to more counterpunches.

I am tempted to agree with the champion’s assessment. It is also worthy to note that Calderon is very aware that his place in boxing history would be severely damaged by a loss here. He wants to unify the junior fly division (such good opponents as Edgar Sosa and Brian Viloria are out there for this), then move up to 112 and retire as a three-division champion. He may not be worthy of a bet, but don’t be foolish and go against him.

And next week’s column will discuss the return of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

I can hardly wait to see what I write.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz