By Graham Houston
One of the sport’s best pure boxers, Puerto Rico’s Ivan Calderon (33-0-1, 6 KOs), is on TV on this quiet boxing weekend, defending his junior flyweight title against Jesus Iribe, a strong Mexican fighter who went the full 12 rounds with Brian Viloria and Edgar Sosa in prior world title attempts. The fight, to be televised on Fox Sports Espanol, is something of a showcase for Calderon, but this talented southpaw is 35 years old, which is getting up there in age for a 108-pounder. Calderon, I fear, is getting near the time when he could be ready to lose. Iribe doesn’t look likely to be the one who will push him over the edge, so to speak, but, at this stage of Calderon’s career, one cannot be certain.
Calderon was under pressure in his last three fights, against Rodel Mayol (twice) and Hugo Cazares. He was cut in these fights, and although he was twice a winner and got out of the contest with a technical draw in the first fight with Mayol there is a sense that he isn’t quite as quick and elusive as he once was.
A consistent, competent fighter who will seek to stay on top of Caldron and keep pressing him will have a good chance of beating him: Mayol was doing very well in each of their fights.
Iribe, to me, isn’t that type of fighter. He was simply too defensive in the fight with Viloria and seemed content to go the distance, although when Iribe let his hands go he looked capable. Iribe’s only losses in the last three years were to world champions: Raul Garcia, Sosa and Viloria.
I believe that Iribe will be more aggressive in Saturday’s fight than he was against Viloria. He knows that Calderon is not a seriously hard hitter and he might decide to go right at his slick opponent and let his punches go.
Iribe certainly can be competitive, but I don’t think he has the necessary talent to win. I can picture Calderon doing what he does so well, slipping and sliding away from punches and peppering Iribe with well-placed shots from his southpaw stance.
I always look forward to watching Calderon. He is not a big hitter, of course, but he possesses the boxing skills that please the purists among us and he still seems to enjoy his boxing, which is important for an older fighter.
Calderon has been a world champion for seven years, first as a 105-pounder, then at 108 pounds, and even if he isn’t quite what he was I think he will still have too much experience and talent for Iribe, outboxing and outsmarting him for a comfortable win on the cards.