by Cliff Rold
It was the 2010 Fight of the Year.
Giovanni Segura traveled to Puerto Rico to upend national hero Ivan Calderon, unifying Calderon’s WBO belt to his WBA strap while adding the Ring belt and lineal claim to the throne. In a back and forth game of can you top it, the younger and stronger Segura set the bar too high in the eighth round.
For certain, it was the action standard of the year behind us.
At least according to the staff voting at BoxingScene and Ring Magazine.
ESPN and Yahoo nodded higher on the scale, casting their lot with the Lightweight barnburner between WBC titlist Humberto Soto and valiant challenger Urbano Antillon.
The assembled Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) voted in favor of the Jr. Welterweight thriller between WBA titlist Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana. With the benefit of an HBO stage, rather than the limits of independent pay-per-view the other two bouts played out on, Khan-Maidana was certainly the most seen of the contests.
That couldn’t have hurt it on BWAA ballots.
In a year without a clear-cut choice for the top honor, all of the above earned a place in the conversation.
It says here the choice of Segura-Calderon was the right one and nothing celebrates a Fight of the Year like doing it again.
Headline followers know.
Segura? Calderon? They’re doing it again.
But can they do it again?
That’s the question that will hang in the air as the rematch builds to April 2nd. Calderon (34-1-1, 6 KO), at 36, has never been one to win with firepower. Heading into the first bout with Segura (26-1-1, 22 KO), he was showing signs of slowing down. While he battled courageously in what would become his first professional defeat last August, it was his legs that ultimately betrayed him as Segura swarmed with a relentless body attack.
That he did it on the road, that he did it willing to walk through a flurry of leather from Calderon in the early rounds, and again after a sixth round where Calderon responded to a Segura beating in the fifth with flourish, spoke to how badly the 28-year old Mexican warrior wanted it.
It was an honorable addition to the long history of Mexico-Puerto Rico ring clashes. The feeling of a divisional torch passing at the end was unmistakable, Calderon thoroughly beaten. The rematch, on paper, appears one of those obligatory moments of defiance in the face of defeat that boxing sometimes serves up.
Every fighter is bound to happen upon the opponent they can’t get by if they stay long enough. All men, in any walk of life, stumble into the waning seconds of the clocks that tell them moments in their lives have passed. That they often ignore them, struggling to hang on to what they know and what was good, is human.
In the case of a (once?) brilliant little boxer like Calderon, struggling means going to Mexico.
There are crazier ways to go down swinging.
Fans of westerns can think to the closing moments of the classic “Wild Bunch.” William Holden, Ben Johnson, and company, lost one of their crew in Mexico. They decide not to leave without him but face long odds.
They’re licked and they know it.
They say their farewells to the red light ladies who loved them and, with the foreboding sounds of mariachi music all around, march towards a fully armed militia to make their stand.
Bloody carnage ensues.
And, hey, it’s a Bill Holden flick. They kick up some dust and go down swinging.
But they do go down, the final shot fired from the youth that will carry on.
Go ahead and throw a cowboy hat on “Iron Boy” for this one, if only in the mind’s eye, to finish the effect.
Calderon has never fought in Mexico. His passport is getting a stamp. After all, Mexico is where Segura is, where the belts he once wore reside, where potentially the last flickers of his prime are already embedded on the gloves Segura worked him over with last year.
Unlike Holden and crew, Calderon might have a shot to make this rematch a thrillogy.
Since their first fight last year, Segura has fought only once and that above the 112 lb. Flyweight limit. Standing four inches taller than the 5’0 Calderon, Segura reportedly struggles to make the limit of 108 lbs. If that struggle catches up to him in April, Calderon could have the occasional split seconds Segura would not allow last year to establish contact and slip away.
Or, even sans weight issues, Calderon could seize on a final great night no one sees coming. He’ll have to be almost perfect but the pressure to perform in front of the hometown crowd won’t be on him this time.
For the first time in some twenty professional title fights, Calderon is the underdog.
If there is still brilliance in him, Calderon could make that work for him.
If he cannot, he will join the long list of men who had great runs until someone caught up to them and took their place in the race. It is enough for the fans to know that a Fight of the Year has a sequel in the offing.
But wait, there’s more…
Franco-Miranda Entertains: http://www.boxingscene.com/shobox-report-franco-squeaks-past-miranda-10-rd-war--35598
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--35706
Can Bernard Hopkins get his body up for what promises to be another long night with Jean Pascal? Of course he can. He’s a freak. The real question is whether Pascal can fight better than he did last night. The younger Light Heavyweight champion showed growth after a loss to Carl Froch and needs to do the same after the December draw with Hopkins should this rematch come together…BoxingScene’s Jhonny Gonzalez reports on speculation that Juan Manuel Marquez-Erik Morales blowing up was a result of the Lightweight champion trying to get free of Golden Boy Promotions in pursuit of Manny Pacquiao. File this under less than shocking…Also file it under “suck.” Morales-Marquez is a missing piece of an era. This might have been the last, best chance to see it. Definitely. Suck.
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]