by Cliff Rold
He’s younger. He’s bigger. He hits harder.
He’s fighting in his home country.
He already won by knockout on his opponent’s national turf.
Is there any reason to think Giovani Segura doesn’t win the second time around? After seeing him beaten into surrender in eight rounds last August, is it too much to think Ivan Calderon has a chance to reverse his only defeat and reclaim the World Championship at 108 lbs.?
It’s a tall order.
In 2011, it was the BoxingScene and Ring Magazine Fight of the Year.
That makes it damn sure worth finding out.
Let’s go to the report card.
Title: Lineal/Ring World Jr. Flyweight Championship (2010-Present, 1st Attempted Defense); WBO Jr. Flyweight (2010-Present, 1st Attempted Defense); WBA Jr. Flyweight (2009-Present, 4 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 107.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 109.95 lbs.
Hails from: Bell Gardens, California (Born in Guerrero, Mexico)
Record: 26-1-1, 22 KO)
Record in Championship Fights: 4-0, 4 KO (5-1, 5 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 4 (Carlos Tamara, Daniel Reyes, Cesar Canchila, Ivan Calderon)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 1 (Cesar Canchila)
Title: Lineal/Ring/WBO Jr. Flyweight (2007-Present, 6 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBO Strawweight (2003-07, 11 Defenses)
Weight: 107.7 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 107.05 lbs.
Hails from: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Record: 34-1-1, 6 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Jr. Flyweight
Record in Title Fights: 18-1-1, 2 KO, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 9 (Eduardo Ray Marquez, Alex Sanchez, Edgar Cardenas, Roberto Leyva, Daniel Reyes, Issac Bustos, Hugo Cazares, Nelson Dieppa, Rodel Mayol)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 1 (Giovanni Segura)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Calderon A; Segura B
Pre-Fight: Power – Calderon C-; Segura A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Calderon A; Segura C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Calderon A; Segura A
In beginning to take a look at the rematch, it’s best to begin with the past. As observed in the post-fight report card following the first Segura-Calderon clash :
The speed and skills advantages for the now former World, Ring, and WBO Jr. Flyweight titlist Calderon were easy to assume going into the contest. They played out in the early going but the WBA titlist and new king in wait Segura was never far away. He took his pounds of flesh in a way often described but less often utilized.
Segura hit whatever was available. Lots of hard body stuff was getting through (even more evident in a repeat viewing) but Segura’s commitment meant hammering shoulders, elbows, forearms, and hips. He wasn’t going to get anywhere head hunting and didn’t waste much time trying after round three. If he went upstairs, it was only after going down first.
The feeling before the fight was that Calderon might be, at age 35, on the brink, but Segura needed a relentless assault to make it happen. Had he been like most Calderon foes over the years, the frustration of the chase and the sharp, accurate punching of Calderon might have made him hesitate. Instead, he tried harder.
It was a credit to his game planning and to the mastery of his own rugged style over the course of a now 6-fight knockout streak. There are some easy comparisons to be made with the 2008 Antonio Margarito win over Miguel Cotto (and not just because Segura is trained to a similar approach by Javier Capetillo). Calderon, like Cotto, was thoroughly beaten in the end, not knocked out for ten but forced into surrender on his knees.
It’s hard to criticize because of what came before. Calderon enters every fight knowing that a knockout is the least likely scenario. At 5’0 and natural in weight to his divisions, he’s small even for small men. He has been the anti-Jimmy Wilde.
And yet, as he had done to survive rough waters in the first Hugo Cazares fight, Calderon fought back harder when pressed, landing with accuracy and fire. Taken for granted as a fancy dan, Calderon managed to stun Segura in spots. He didn’t have the hammer to turn the tide with finality and the 28-year old Segura brought him off his toes faster than anyone who had come before. The rallies in rounds four and six sandwiched a survival game in the fifth, a three round stretch as thrilling as anything boxing has seen in 2010.
Given the physical toll of the first fight, the rematch is entered with two new factors. Calderon is older. Segura is growing. One of these could be the deciding factor in the fight.
Calderon’s age is critical because, as a fighter whose legs always mattered as much as his fists, the wear of time could make it impossible to employ the movement he’s stated he knows he needs on Saturday. Factor in as well that he’s got to be cognizant of scoring. The crowd in Mexicali is going to be wildly pro-Segura and it’s fair to say most Mexican fight fans have never loved the sort of style Calderon uses.
Why does that matter?
It matters because Calderon, in the close rounds, wasn’t getting the benefit of the doubt in Puerto Rico last year. If the rounds are close, the internal mental pressure of knowing scorers can be swayed by the crowd, and the physical pressure of Segura, could make Calderon go into the trenches again. He probably can’t win there.
Probably is the operative word because no one can be sure if the struggle to make weight for the fight is a genuine problem for Segura. His only other fight since Calderon (and Calderon has fought none since) was contested almost two pounds above the Flyweight limit. Segura is a big Jr. Flyweight and not long for the class. If he gets behind early, will be have the stamina to dig in and press harder? If Calderon can get any sort of rhythm early, he has the countering ability to frustrate Segura that would only add to any lingering fatigue from making weight.
The hope for a Segura drained enough to slow his charge is probably a long shot. Calderon is going to try to box more but, in the end, the greater height and reach of Segura is going to mean contact. Calderon fought his heart out against Segura last August and it wasn’t enough. He was showing signs of fade before the fight. What is there really left to give?
The world will find out Saturday and it’s certain to be enough to entertain. It might not be another Fight of the Year caliber contest, but that won’t mean a low quality outing. It’s probably going to mean a slightly earlier end for Calderon though. Let’s say Segura begins catching up a little sooner, sending Calderon out on his stool around the seventh round.
Report Card Picks 2010: 7-1
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com