Bring on Berto & Collazo, Sugar & The Tornado, and The Little Bull & The Scamp

Antonio MargaritoBy Paul Strauss: Thankfully, the mercy execution of Hasim Rahman by Wlad is over (yawn). Another yawner was Yuri Foreman's best impression of a boxer with AD&D. He used his "I'll go this way, no that way", style to almost shut-out club fighter James Moore. Yuri's style is more like an ailment than it is a planned strategy. And even when he lands big, nothing big happens. The Belarus tapper just doesn't have the wallop to make him an exciting fighter. It's a shame, as he is likable. I But, thank goodness these two fight cards weren't pay-per-view, because they might have set a new record for fewest customers.

It's not The Steel Hammer's fault, either, as he and his brother Dr.Iron Fist are fighting whoever is out there in the heavyweight division. Unfortunately, the pickings are pretty slim, including David Haye. If the Hayemaker gets his wish for a fight with Vitali, he might end up doing his best imitation of the original Golden Boy, Art Aragon. Art once said, "I hit him as hard as I could, right on the chin, and down I went."

A little brighter spot was Kendall Holt's successful title defense against Demetrius Hopkins. It was an exciting fight, mainly due to Holt's aggressiveness, especially with body shots. Surprisingly, the judges were split, with two correctly scoring a one-sided victory for Holt. Julie Lederman, who is normally a very good judge of the action, somehow saw the fight for the (reluctant) Gladiator on a slim margin. She must not have been listening to announcer Nick Charles, who admittedly couldn't envision, " Why I (he) gave Hopkins rounds on my (his unofficial) score card. Hopkins definitely did not try to take the title.

Next up we have Evander Holyfield versus giant Nikolay Valuev. It's difficult for fans to muster up any real interest for this one. First off, no one really wants the popular Real Deal to risk his well being by continuing to fight. He's too old and has had too many tough fights. As far as Valuev is concerned, he's probably a very nice (huge) man, and one who is genuinely trying to make himself into a respectable champion, but it isn't going to happen. Regardless, he should be defending his WBIT (what belt is that?) against one of the Ukrainian brothers. If you taped any of his fights for later viewing, you probably thought your machine was stuck on slow motion when you finally got around to viewing it.

The next matchup of any interest is Andre Berto versus Luis Collazo. Berto should be the big favorite against Collazo if for no other reason than he's been more active and successful against much better competition. Collazo hasn't met a decent opponent since his one-sided loss against Sugar Shane Mosley 2-7-07. On the other hand, Berto, over the same period of time, has chalked up seven victories against tough competition. He will be sharp. Berto is also a harder puncher, and is about as fast and clever as any boxer out there. Things aren't looking good for Collazo, but he too is not without skills. Just ask The Hitman. But, in retrospect, everyone knows Ricky's venture into the welter ranks was ill advised. Hatton is not a full-fledged welterweight, which enabled Collazo to match or better Ricky's strength and rough-house tactics. However, Collazo will not be able to do so with the slick, stronger Berto. It's also unlikely Collazo's southpaw style will be a problem. Still, there should be a lot of fast paced, highly skilled action, which should be fun to watch.

The Sugar Shane Mosley and the Antonio Margarito (Tijuana Tornado) fight promises to be an action packed war. To no one's surprise, Antonio will be the favorite. He is younger, bigger, stronger than Shane, and tougher than just about anyone out there. Plus, he is still riding high (confident) after his great victory over the then undefeated Miguel Cotto. A side-bar that could be a distraction is the resurfacing of his name in connection with the Balco trial and his 2003 testimony. He has been mentioned in an article recently published in the International Herald Tribune (AP) Apparently documents have been released, including his testimony about injecting himself with EPO. According to Shane, he did not know he was using an illegal substance. The question now is will this renewed publicity be a distraction? Will it adversely affect his preparation for the bout? In the past, Sugar Shane has demonstrated the ability to block out potential distractions and remain focused. He has been involved in many championship fights, and knows how to stay focused for the big show. That will probably be the case with this big fight as well. The fact that this fight might be Shane's last real shot at a title should be enough incentive for him to block out everything that is not important to his preparation.

On the other hand, Margarito's fans can't help but wonder whether their hero can maintain his single-mindedness for victory, as he did against Cotto. They might be thinking, “Has the big win influenced Antonio's tremendous will to win?” Has he become complacent in any way , as in the fight against Paul Williams? Might he be vulnerable for an upset? It will be interesting to see if Margarito has anything close to the success he had against Cotto with his left. He used it so effectively against Cotto, so much so that he nullified Cotto's good left hook to the body. Cotto scored very well to the head, as I'm sure you remember, but those punches didn’t slow down the Tornado at all. Shane has a good left hook as well. He used it to score a last second knockout of Mayorga, and he used it well in his fight against Cotto too. It would seem Shane will have to punch often and strongly to the body to beat the champ. Can he score early and effectively enough to keep the onslaught of the Tornado from uprooting him? After witnessing Antonio's destruction of Cotto, it's hard to imagine anyone can slow him down enough to come away with the victory; although, I believe Shane is going to give him a tougher fight than Cotto, and I expect Shane to be around to hear the decision announced in Antonio's favor.

The next big one involves the little guys. They're little, but both are big hitters and action packed fighters. I'm talking about Vic, The Raging Bull, Darchinyan and Jorge, Travieso (loose translation Scamp), Arce. The little version of the Raging Bull has been extremely impressive since suffering the only loss of his career to Nonito Donaire. That was a one-punch (left hook) knockout, and involved him walking right into the punch. It so devastated the little Armenian that he didn't even realize the fight had been stopped. But, he shook off the ill effects of both losing and being knocked out to come back strong and prove the experts wrong in his matchup with Cristian Mijares. He utterly destroyed Mijares, even though the experts felt Mijares would be too slick and technically sound for the Little Creeper (If you've ever watched Vic, you know what I mean.). The little Raging Bull dropped Mijares in the first round, even though Mijares had never before been decked.

Jorge got a stoppage in his last fight against Isidro Garcia, but it took a while to get going. Initially he looked off balance and his timing was off, and to make matters worse, it was against a relatively light puncher. However, once the little scamp got his left hook going, the end quickly arrived with a TKO in the fourth. Both of these guys are stylists in the sense that they do not fight in the traditional way. They will lower their hands, and taunt with an exposed chin, and in Vic's case, he moves in with one and sometimes both elbows raised parallel to the canvas! Anyone seeing him for the first time would have to ask, "What the hell kind of style does this guy have?" But, once you see his opponent lying prone on the canvas, the oddity seems to become less important, and you start wondering how in the world this little man can generate so much power. His unconscious opponents wonder that too.

So who is going to win this one? It a safe bet Vic will, if only because he's had only the one defeat, as previously mentioned, and even though Jorge is equally as exciting, he is more hittable. Arce has scored more knockouts that Darchinyan (39 vs.25), but the little Raging Bull’s percentage is much higher. Besides, numbers don't quite describe Vic's power. Anyone Vic can hit experiences lights out, and it happens in dramatic fashion. Both of these guys are very likable, and fans love to watch them perform, but I think this is going to be as Vic says to Jorge’s Mexican fans, "They can kiss their Arce goodbye!"

Article posted on 17.12.2008

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