There are dueling cards next weekend, HBO and Showtime having done it again, but here’s the deal: HBO’s pay-per-view main event is the evening’s highlight; Showtime’s televised undercard is a dilly.
With some adroit channel switching, we should be able to survive.
One for the (HBO) money
The main event of the evening is the return, after two years, of one of boxing’s most popular stars, Felix Trinidad Jr. He faces the wild and wooly Ricardo Mayorga, who is moving up from welterweight to middle. At last spotting a couple of weeks ago in Vegas, Mayorga could have passed for a cruiserweight.
Trinidad is listed -250, Mayorga
+200 and it appears a mismatch. Mayorga swings wide, Trinidad throws straight,
is the naturally bigger man and a harder puncher. It should be easier than
promoter Don King would like us to believe.
But even if it’s a one-round mismatch (which is highly unlikely) it will be good to see Trinidad again. He is a fighter’s fighter. The present tense can be used because the belief is that two years off will lead more to rest than rust. One of my spies saw him in Puerto Rico and reported he looked "marvelous, simply marvelous."
Mayorga, on the other hand, did not look well-trained.
Stories have been popping up from Nicaragua about more than rape allegations. King had to whisk him out of Nicaragua to convince people here the fight will go on. Mayorga probably has the beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking boor under lock and key. It won’t help. He surprised everyone with his beating of Vernon Forrest. But since then, I thought he lost both the rematch to Forrest (Mayorga got the decision) and was completely outboxed by the clever Cory Spinks.
His wild misses should play perfectly into Tito’s sharpshooting counters. It’ll be fun while it lasts. Mayorga could even win, certainly he could knock down Trinidad. The underdog is talented and dangerous. But Trinidad, who has lost only to Bernard Hopkins, is a class or two above him. He should be refreshed and it will be refreshing to see him again.
The last time I looked, it was pick ’em that the fight would go the 10-round distance. Hmm. It almost looks too easy for the "under." Mayorga does have a good chin and has shown unusual stamina. No, I can’t make an argument for the "go."
Two for the Show-time
Far from Madison Square Garden, where King’s undercard has taken a couple of major hits because of injuries, Showtime returns major league boxing to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the first time since Trinidad ruined David Reid in 2000.
The erstwhile oasis of boxing is without a star attraction. The alleged main event is Wladimir Klitschko, attempting to show he has more staying power than a caterpillar, against the well-chosen DaVarryl Williamson, who once lasted all of 91 seconds against Baby Joe Mesi.
This is less a main event than the walk-out bout of a fine title double-header. Well, throw out "title," a meaningless word these days. It’s just two good matchups. First, Jeff (Left Hook) Lacy becomes the first member of the U.S. Olympic team to go for a world pro "title." He is in too tough, I believe, to win the vacant IBF supermiddleweight championship.
Syd Vanderpool, a Canadian who took Bernard Hopkins the distance at 160 pounds on short notice, should be able to survive Lacy’s power. That power gives Lacy a chance if he stays on his feet. But as the $1.75 favorite against a more experienced and superior boxer, he is not worth a bet. Vanderpool is at +$1.45.
Three years ago, Kassim Ouma won an all-action thriller against the veteran Verno Phillips. They are back together and no matter who wins, it should be another fun fight of the year. Ouma, who has become the No. 1 junior middleweight contender that no on (Winky Wright, Sugar Shane Mosley, Oscar de la Hoya as 154-pound champ) wanted to face, is the challenger. Phillips, who at 36 seems to be getting better with age, has the IBF trinket (Winky is still the real champion at this weight, of course).
Ouma opened at —$1.70 and has gone out to —$2, just because he’s younger, faster and probably hits harder. Phillips, now +$1.60, would be my bet. I always like a price, especially with a very live underdog. Phillips was under-trained when they first met. He could reverse this here. The sure thing, though, is that it will be a heck of a fight.