Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Weekend Review: Big night for Giovani Segura


Giovani Segura: Segura has become a remarkable story. The Mexican-born resident of Los Angeles didn’t start boxing until he was 20, which is ancient by normal standards. He isn’t a particularly good boxer, which is understandable given his relative lack of experience. Still, he beat one of the best technicians of his generation — Ivan Calderon — Saturday night in that fighter’s backyard, Puerto Rico. Amazing. Calderon, 35, outboxed Segura for four rounds but ultimately fell victim to Segura’s strengths, his punching power and relentless pressure. Segura simply broke his man down with a vicious body attack to win by an eighth-round knockout. And a new star was born.

Ivan Calderon: We probably should’ve seen this coming. Calderon struggled in three recent fights with both cuts and his opponents, going 2-0-1 against Hugo Cazares and Rodel Mayol (twice) and then going down once in his one-sided decision over Jesus Iribe in his last fight. And he’s 35, an age when most little fighters are at least beginning to decline. He certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. He showed great courage by rallying in the sixth and seven rounds but ultimately was no physical match for Segura. The loss won’t have a significant impact on Calderon’s legacy. He has a good chance of entering the International Boxing Hall of Fame one day.

Antonio Margarito: Margarito won the Texas lottery on Thursday. He was banished from boxing because of loaded gloves — one of the worst sins in boxing — and, less than two years later, is going to make a seven-figure payday when he fights Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium. I don’t have a huge problem with Margarito fighting, at least in theory. A lifetime ban would be excessive in my opinion so he must be allowed to fight at some point. The thing that bothers me most is the windfall. He’ll more than make up for any lost wages during the 15 months he was away from boxing, meaning he really will have suffered no longterm financial hardship. In effect, Margarito’s punishment was missing one fight if we consider his two-fights-per-year pattern. Somehow it seems like he got away with it.

Pacquiao-Margarito: Countless fans have said countless times over the years that they’d boycott fights to take a stand on one issue or another but never seem to do so in large numbers. It might be different this time. Comments at the end of blog items and on message boards indicate many fans are livid that Margarito was awarded a boxing license in Texas in spite of his significant transgression. And I believe some will not buy the fight on pay-per-view for that reason. I support them if that’s how they feel. There is no better way to send a message to the powers that be than hitting them where it hurts most — in the wallet.

Some boxing fans: The majority of boxing fans who leave comments at the end of boxing stories impress me every day with their knowledge of the sport and ability to express their opinions. I wish a small minority would shrivel up and blow away. I was reading comments about a column written by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports that was critical of everyone connected to the Pacquiao-Margarito fight, including Pacquiao. Some of the comments were vile. One Pacquiao fan called Iole a racist and referred to him as a “white pig.” The fact is Iole is a decent person and fine journalist who was merely expressing his opinion. Are these people nuts?

Couture-Toney rematch: Randy Couture handled his victory over James Toney on Saturday with grace, congratulating the boxer for giving it a try. Now it’s Couture’s turn to give it a try. If the MMA legend has a sense of fair play and the guts, he’ll now face Toney in the former three-time world champion’s domain — the boxing ring. Couture has had considerable training in stand-up fighting, much more than Toney received in grappling. And, because of the publicity Saturday’s farce generated, a boxing match would do big numbers. It makes business sense. OK, I know it wouldn’t be fair. Toney had his chance to win as long as he was standing up. Couture would stand no chance at all. Still, it’s a wonderful thought.

Toney’s defeat: Toney trained for months leading up to his MMA debut, working on both conditioning (more or less) and basic technique in grappling, only to survive a mere 3 minutes, 19 seconds before he submitted to Couture. Toney should’ve realized the obvious before making a chump out of himself: Boxers will rarely do well in MMA against a competent grappler. A boxer’s only chance is to catch a foolish opponent coming in, as Ray Mercer once did against Tim Sylvia. If he doesn’t, if he ends up on the ground, he’ll be helpless because it takes years to become proficient on the mat. Toney should serve as example for other boxers: Don’t get any ideas.

Maidana vs. Khan: Marcos Maidana’s victory over DeMarcus Corley on Saturday might set up a fight against Amir Khan, a matchup of THE RING’s Nos. 4 and 2 junior welterweights. The fight would be fascinating. I believe that Khan, whose boxing skills and athletic gifts dwarf those of Maidana, would win by a one-sided decision if not a late knockout. However, Maidana’s undeniable power and the lingering questions about Khan’s chin add an element of intrigue that would be gripping. And a victory would be a huge boon to both fighters. Maidana would regain a major title, which of course is his goal, while Khan would prove that he can handle a true power puncher. Let’s hope it happens soon.

Pascal vs. Hopkins: The gut feeling here is that a possible fight between Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins in December would be ill advised for the old man, who will be 46 in January and didn’t look particularly good when he fought Roy Jones Jr. in April. One would think that Pascal is too young (27) and athletic for Hopkins at this stage of the game. That said, I’m not so sure. Pascal’s skills might be just rough enough for someone as clever as Hopkins to pull a surprise. Plus, I don’t think his performance against Jones proves much because Jones didn’t want to fight. Would I pick Hopkins? No way. Would he have a chance? Yes.

Bob Arum, Margarito’s promoter, to “For me, it was like a terrible nightmare, this whole thing, and now the sun is shining. I really believe that it will be a very competitive fight. One guy is much bigger and stronger [Margarito] and the other guy [Pacquiao] is quicker and hits with both hands. It will be a fascinating fight to watch.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]