By Cliff Rold

Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey should be good enough on its own to make HBO’s Saturday night show worth watching this weekend.

It better be.  Nothing else is making the air.  Fans in side Madison Square Garden could end up faring far better should the Welterweight main event fall short.  The Puerto Rican day weekend festivities are buttressed by two of their own plying their trade.

It’s rare that two fighters with strong claims to stand amongst the ten best fighters in the world share a bill.  It’s happening this weekend.  Cotto is a given for most.  The hardcore faithful also recognize the man who headlines the chief support bout for the remarkable skill and ability he has shown in his professional tenure. 

34-year old World Jr. Flyweight champion Ivan Calderon (32-0, 6 KO, Lineal/WBO/Ring) will be attempting to make the fourth defense of the crown he won from Mexico’s Hugo Cazares in 2007.  Across the ring from him will be 27-year old Rodel Mayol (25-3, 19 KO) of the Philippines.  While he’s lost three of his last six, Mayol enters a live underdog.  His aggression and youth could end up a serious test for a Calderon whose legs threaten to betray him as each day passes on the calendar.

The world at large will have to settle for recaps and the hope for something like a YouTube posting.

So, what is it that could keep arguably the most skilled Puerto Rican in all the sport off the air against a Filipino who proved a crowd-pleasing warrior in defeats against Eagle Kyowa and Ulises Solis? 

About 14 pounds.

Like it or not, HBO rarely ventures below the magic line of Jr. Featherweight.  Showtime has invested in some quality action as low as Flyweight but rarely anything lower since the days of Ricardo Lopez.  Divisions below Jr. Featherweight are just a tough sell in the U.S. market.

With those pounds, and Calderon’s credentials as one of the sports overall elite, the fight would have certainly been a strong candidate to stand as the bottom half of a doubleheader.  Instead, the size stands as a risk that some might change the channel before the bigger boys come out to play.  Broadcasting is a business after all and quick trigger remote control fingers are no good for bottom lines.

Some might ponder if the style of Calderon is an impediment.  The 2000 Olympian has been in his share of sleep inducing bouts.  Many of his opponents have found his speed, countering, and defensive prowess beyond their class so low on the scale.

History says even single shot power wouldn’t save him.  As well remembered as they are by serious fight lovers, even the great Lopez, Michael Carbajal, and Humberto Gonzalez struggled for air time from major U.S. outlets.  Carbajal was on some big-time pay-per-view HBO undercards, as was Lopez, but Carbajal’s main event turns often came via independent Top Rank shows.  Lopez rose to Showtime main event status for his rivalry with Rosendo Alvarez almost a decade after he entered the championship ranks.

Calderon has seen the same fate.  Should he get past Mayol, and he is favored to, the possibility exists for a showdown with IBF 108 lb. titlist Brian Viloria.  Like Mayol, Viloria (25-2, 15 KO) will bring interest from the Filipino fans and the added ‘oomph’ of a U.S. Olympic pedigree.  Perhaps it will be the fight to garner some real, mainstream U.S. TV.

Time will tell.

For now, the Garden will be rocking for both fights and those on hand can count themselves among the lucky few who are seeing what is likely the twilight of a special fighter.  But for a few pounds, they could be joined by so many more.

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at