Holiday season’s a feast of boxing fights

Dec 8, 2009 5:08 PM


But don’t drop all the kiddies’ gift money!

There are times when I am superfluous, more times than I care to admit.

For example, you don’t need me to advise you that on next Saturday’s busy schedule, Vitali Klitschko should live up to being a 20-1 or so favorite over the undefeated, but untested and light-hitting American Kevin Johnson.

But there are other times when I am dangerous, as with the other boxing attractions on this feast between holidays. I mean, you can blow the kids’ presents in one glorious swoop. Three fights Saturday on HBO, a double-header on Showtime.

It starts the night before, next Friday night when two Montreal-based light-heavyweights have a rematch in Montreal. Jean Pascal won a vacant 175-pound title in a competitive bout against the Romanian-born Adrian Diaconu and is listed as the favorite for the reprise at anywhere from 5-2 to 3-1. I say, why not? Neither man is a particularly big puncher, Pascal’s only loss was on points to Carl Froch at 168 pounds a year ago and Diaconu’s only setback was to Pascal last June.

I wouldn’t risk tree money on such a matchup, but I think Pascal can more decisively outbox Diaconu this time around.

The next day, HBO will show a tape-delay from Berne, that’s in Switzerland last time I looked, of Klitschko’s third heavyweight title defense (don’t ask me which belt, please) this year. That will be added to what figures to be a much more intriguing double-header from Chicago.

In the main from Chicago, there is a rematch of the highly controversial bout between Juan Diaz, the Baby Bull, and Paulie Malignaggi, the Magic Man, from less than four months ago. That resulted in a hometown decision in Houston for Diaz, the former lightweight champion, that was decried as foul even before it took place by Malignaggi.

The erudite New Yorker pointed to Texas "judge" – that’s a very liberal interpretation – Gale Van Hoy BEFORE a 118-110 scorecard was turned in for a guy many ringsiders believed was thoroughly outboxed. This time, on "neutral" grounds in a town with both Mexican and Italian enclaves, the tendency might be to choose Malignaggi, the underdog at maybe a buyback rate of 6-5 or so. I lean towards Diaz, who may or may not have deserved the decision the first time, but I think has more of an upside. At least we know Diaz can compete against high-level opponents.

Malignaggi, the only times he really stepped up before, he was soundly beaten by both Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. His biggest victories came against Lovemore N’dou and Herman Ngoudjo. If I had to bet, I think laying 8-5 or less on Diaz would be the choice.

Underneath Diaz-Malignaggi II, Victor Ortiz will try to erase his abandonment while ahead on all three official cards against Marcos Rene Maidana last June 27. The highly promising Ortiz had Madisan down in the first, twice in the second, but when he was dropped in the fifth, he quickly pulled the plug on himself in the sixth.

He’s only 22, so maybe he deserves another chance when he faces the veteran Antonio Diaz (no relation to Juan, but big brother to Julio), who at 33 has such scalps as Micky Ward, Ivan Robinson, Emanuel Augustus and Cory Spinks (13-0 at the time) on his 46-5-1 record. This is a watch-only fight.

Showtime has a couple of very watchable fights on tap, too. In a battle of unbeatens, Timothy Bradley Jr. defends his junior welterweight belt against the talented Lamont Peterson from Rancho Mirage in California.

Bradley, who gave up his WBC 140-pound title to face Kendall Holt in a unification bout earlier this year, is about a 5-2 favorite over someone whose biggest victory so far was over 34-0 Antonio Mesquita (yes, that Antonio Mesquita). Peterson is untested in big bouts; Bradley has the big edge there and I lean strongly to the Californian.

In the other Showtime bout, Vic Darchinyan returns to 115 pounds, where he is a terror, to face the somewhat long-in-the-tooth Tomas Rojas, who has been around since 1996, turning pro at age 16, and is a deserved long shot here though four years younger than the Armenian-born Australian southpaw. Darchinyan is an 8-1 or so favorite. Here’s a clue, and while I don’t believe in comparative scores, this may be revealing: Darchinyan knocked out Jorge Arce in 11 rounds; Rojas was stopped by the Mexican favorite in six. Of course, that was the only time Rojas has been stopped in his 32-11-1 career and it was on a body shot. Still, while Darchinyan has taken some beatings from the likes of Joseph Agbeko and Nonito Donaire, he should have enough left to cope with Rojas.

Save some for New Year’s.