By Cliff Rold, photo by Joel Colon/PRBBP
We remember the remarkable rematch turnarounds.
Evander Holyfield made technical adjustments, and got his wind up thanks to one “Fan Man,” and got past Riddick Bowe the second time around. Rocky Graziano snared the Middleweight title when Tony Zale made the fateful decision to give him a second crack at it. Joe Louis nuked Max Schmeling before the Manhattan Project changed the world.
We remember the nights when special fighters seized legendary moments, quenching the blood thirst of revenge.
And why wouldn’t we?
Those nights are not that common.
Most of the time it seems, and if memory serves it’s been quantified somewhere, rematches go the way of the first fight, if shorter. It makes sense, especially when first fights end by knockout. As the pressure increases, as the heat rises in the ring, the man who won the first time around knows he can finish.
The previously vanquished hopes he can but draws only on the knowledge of failure.
Failure in boxing isn’t like failure elsewhere. Former Straweight and, more recently, World Jr. Flyweight Champion Ivan Calderon (34-1-1, 6 KO) of Puerto Rico felt the bruises, the aches, probably had trouble with a deep breath or two, after he found out last August.
In the BoxingScene and Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 2010, Calderon gave everything he had. It wasn’t enough. The heavy hands, relentless pressure, and focused body assault of Mexico’s Giovanni Segura (26-1-1, 22 KO) was too much. The end came in the eighth round, Calderon forced to his knees by the strength of a man just shy of seven years younger. Segura, already the WBA titlist, added Calderon's lineal, Ring, and WBO honors.
Calderon was 35 then, 36 now. Segura will celebrate his 29th birthday Friday.
This rematch is a forgone conclusion, right?
In a classic match of pure boxer versus pressure brawler, the calendar and previous results certainly point that way.
This being boxing, sometimes things go differently than logic dictates. Both Calderon and Segura can look to history and find plenty of reasons to believe victory is only days away. Fans wondering if this weekend’s 108 lb. main event is worth their approximately $40 can look to the same history to make their own minds up.
Calderon can see a roadmap to victory in…
Willie Pep-Sandy Saddler II: It’s been said pure boxing brilliance of Willie Pep was never quite the same after a 1947 airplane crash. He was still enough to post the greatest win of his career, a 15-round decision over Sandy Saddler in February 1949. What made it his greatest win? Pep was coming back from being shelled in four rounds by Saddler in October 1948. Legend of the contest has Pep building a lead and then surviving hell late to hear the bell to end round fifteen. Calderon can take comfort that, while he’s older than Pep was then, he’s never had the same sort of injury, has been in at least 100 fewer fights, and Segura is no Saddler. Sure, okay, Calderon is no Pep either, but this is Calderon’s analogy.
Segura can scoff at such comparisons and point to the power of ethnic inspiration with…
Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor II: Where Mexico’s Chavez was concerned, time was never good to Taylor. The 1984 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist came up in two seconds short in their epic March1990 Jr. Welterweight title classic. The rematch would wait until 1994. Again Taylor would win the early rounds, if fewer of them the second time around. Chavez broke him down and stopped him in eight. Calderon can blow off the comparison because, while neither man was undefeated anymore by then, Taylor had faced more violent defeats at the hands of Terry Norris and Crisanto Espana than Chavez had to Frankie Randall (officially) and Pernell Whitaker (a draw my ass). Segura can nod and figure, ‘hey, Chavez just had Taylor’s number and I have Calderon’s.’
One of the interesting side stories of Segura-Calderon II is that Segura is almost certainly in his last fight at Jr. Flyweight. The weight is a struggle and he’s been active while Calderon’s legs picked up a rest. Calderon can wonder if he can mimic…
Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran II: After a fantastic, fight for the ages, sort of affair in June 1980, Ray Leonard had earned respect as a fighter but lost the Welterweight crown to the great Roberto Duran. Like Calderon against Segura last year, Leonard fought it out and played to his opponent’s strengths. In the rematch, Leonard played games, boxed, clowned, and generally frustrated the living hell out of Duran until the great “Manos de Piedra” threw up his hands and quit. Calderon has the ability to move, to make Segura miss, to win by not fighting. Segura won’t quit, and he has been active enough for fans to know he hasn’t spent the time living it up Duran did after the first Leonard fight, but a struggle with the scale could sap some of the intensity Segura had last time around. Whether Calderon has it in him to make that matter for twelve rounds at age 36 is up for debate.
For fighters who use their legs as much as their fists, once they go the fists just don’t matter much anymore. If the legs aren’t there, the fighting heart often goes quickly. Segura could pull out a tape of…
Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott II: Their first fight, in 1952, was one of the best ever waged in the Heavyweight division. Walcott had the lead, despite being much older, but Marciano kept chipping away. He didn’t break Walcott down the way Segura did Calderon, at least not to the naked eye. All those body shots, those wild, heavy swings, though set the stage for the bomb that ended the reign of Walcott in the 13th round. When next they met, May 1953, the first major shot Marciano landed was enough to let Walcott know just how long their return engagement would be. He didn’t have the tools to win anymore and he sat out the count, a warrior of great heart finding that heart broken.
Whether these ghosts of fistiana past mean anything in forecasting the Saturday evening ahead remains to be seen. All we know for sure is that the two best Jr. Flyweights in the World gave us a classic the first time around and they are set to lock horns again.
When the final bell sounds, the world will have a new analogy to turn to for the rematches of the future.
But wait, there’s more…
Lara Doesn’t Win: http://www.boxingscene.com/lara-comes-down-earth-majority-draw-result--37436
Perez Scorches Escalante: http://www.boxingscene.com/alejandro-perez-steps-up-upset-from-east-eden--37435
Weekend Report Card: http://www.boxingscene.com/yuriorkis-gamboa-getting-closer-review-ratings-update--37575
Divisional Ratings Update: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--37526
Cliff’s Notes… Just finished Matt Taibbi’s “Griftopia” and recommend it to everyone. It’s a hell of a read no matter one’s political slant…Amy Adams as Lois Lane? Intriguing. It would have been better to roll the dice on TV’s current incarnation, Erica Durance. She’s the best screen Lane ever and messing with perfection is never wise…In defense of director Zack Snyder, I actually got Sucker Punch, appreciate it, and can’t wait to see what he can do with Superman…What’s that? This is a boxing column. Well then…Chad Dawson-Adrian Diaconu was almost a title bout between undefeated rising stars a few years back. Now it’s a must win fight for a pair of guys looking to get into the hunt for another title opportunity. That storyline results in better fights most of the time…Is Robert Helenius for real? We might not know with a victory this weekend, but if the Heavyweight hopeful can’t get past former titlist Sam Peter, we just might.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]