By Graham Houston
There usually comes a time when great champions with long winning runs suffer their first loss and it always comes as something of a surprise. Antonio Cervantes losing to Wilfred Benitez, Eder Jofre to Fighting Harada, Pascual Perez to Pone Kingpetch, Ruben Olivares to Chucho Castillo, Wilfredo Gomez to Azumah Nelson, are all fights that come to mind in which champions who had been winning title fights almost as a matter of routine left the ring as ex-champs.
One wonders if Ivan Calderon might be coming to the end of his long winning sequence. The Puerto Rican southpaw is a magnificent boxer but at 35 he is at an age when a fighter in the lighter weight classes can suddenly not so much grow old overnight but become old enough to lose a fight they would once have won.
Calderon faces what I think is a dangerous fight in Puerto Rico on Saturday when he meets Mexico’s Giovanni Segura in a junior flyweight title unification match.
The sportsbooks have Calderon a clear favourite. I would have made the odds a bit tighter, but this is obviously a fight that Calderon is expected to win. He is at home in Puerto Rico, he will have a big crowd right behind him and he is accustomed to dealing with the aggressive, slugging types such as Segura.
Calderon is vastly more experienced, including his high-level amateur career that included boxing in the Olympics. Segura was a late starter in boxing, with little amateur experience. He has always been a natural puncher, but being a big hitter isn’t much use if a boxer can’t hit the target. As have so many of the Puerto Rican’s opponents, Segura could find himself seeking Calderon here, seeking him there, seeking him everywhere, the way the French Revolutionaries sought the “damned elusive Pimpernel” of fiction, and never finding him.
Segura does hit very hard, though, and he keeps throwing. If he can catch Calderon, he can hurt him. Segura must be prepared, though, to take punishment and to accept the fact that he is going to be made to miss, maybe even to look foolish. He mustn’t make the mistake that Jihoon Kim made in his fight with Miguel Vazquez, when the Korean went “right-hand crazy” as old-time trainers used to say and simply tried to blast out his slippery Mexican opponent with just one mighty right hand. Segura must try to mix up his punches — which he usually does anyway. It isn’t easy throwing combinations against a cagey craftsman such as Calderon, who is so good at slipping and sliding away from blows, but I think that Segura must try to put some shots together from time to time, doing his best to keep on top of Calderon. Of course, so many have tried, so many have failed.
If Segura could use the jab every so often it would help him in this fight, but he is essentially a puncher who relies on swings, hooks and uppercuts, mostly from a southpaw stance although he will also go to the orthodox posture during a fight. I am thinking, though, that Segura just might try a more restrained approach than usual, not lunging in the way Calderon probably is anticipating.
It is of course essential for Segura to be able to get Calderon in his sights long enough to pull the trigger. He must hit Calderon when he can and try to slow him down. If Calderon’s punch-anticipation is just a little bit off, Segura can succeed. Logically, this is Calderon’s fight to lose — the difference in boxing ability is so pronounced — but, still, 12 rounds is a long way to go against a fierce aggressor such as Segura without running into some sort of trouble along the way.
Note: On fightwriter.com I posted a betting suggestion for this fight and a prediction in the subscribers’ section earlier in the week; Matthysse-Castaneda and Lowther-Lundy previews were posted in the subscribers’ section on Thursday; while a parlay suggestion is also available for subscribers.