PASCAL: ready for fight of his life
Pascal -140; Hopkins +120
Over 11.5 -285; under 11.5 +195
As ever when a rematch takes place we have to figure out which fighter will be able to fight better the second time around. The eternal conundrum presents itself again on Saturday in Montreal when Jean Pascal defends his light-heavyweight title against Bernard Hopkins.
If you look at their first, drawn fight last December, it is at first glance no-brainer that Hopkins wins this time. Down twice in the first three rounds, Hopkins finished the bout by chasing his much younger opponent all around the ring. Hopkins looked the stronger, better, tougher fighter in most of the rounds. If it hadn’t been for the knockdowns, he would have won a unanimous decision.
PACQUIAO, MOSLEY: Phenomenon meets proud veteran. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Pacquiao -800; Mosley +500
Over 11.5 +125; under 11.5 -155
The seemingly unstoppable force that is Manny Pacquiao faces a living legend in Sugar Shane Mosley, and the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday has captured the imagination. Pacquiao is the wide betting favourite in the welterweight championship bout that will be televised on Showtime PPV, but great fighters sometimes have one last great fight left in them, and it is the possibility that Mosley might be able to reach down within himself and produce a performance for the ages that has in part led to the fight’s appeal.
Then again, there is the sense that in Pacquiao boxing has one of those fighters who come along once in a lifetime.
BERTO, ORTIZ: Closer than the odds suggest. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Berto -180; Ortiz +140
Over 9.5 +110; under 9.5 -120
Victor Ortiz, who has earned the reputation of being a reluctant dragon, vows to show the fire that has lately been lacking when he challenges Andre Berto for the WBC welterweight title at Foxwoods resort tonight.
We’ve heard it all before, of course — bold words uttered before a fight that too often are followed by a disappointing performance when the bell rings — so it will be interesting to see how Ortiz performs in the HBO main event.
MORALES, MAIDANA: Tough fight for the ex-champ. / Photo: Gene Blevins, Hoganphotos/Golden Boy
Maidana -800; Morales +400
Over 8.5 +140; under 8.5 -180
There comes a time when a great fighter takes that one fight too many, and this might be the case in Las Vegas on Saturday night when Erik Morales steps through the ropes at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to meet Marcos Maidana in a junior welterweight title bout.
Morales, 34, has had many marvellous nights in the ring, but he looked a fading fighter when Manny Pacquiao blasted him out of the fight in three rounds in their rubber match. That was more than four years ago. A two-year break from boxing allowed Morales the chance to rest his body and regroup mentally for one last charge towards championship glory, but can he really have improved with age? I very much doubt it.
Segura -350; Calderon +280
Over 9.5 +115; under 9.5 -135
Last August Giovani Segura and Ivan Calderon waged one of the greatest fights seen in the lighter weight classes in years, a searing battle of almost non-stop action that the younger, bigger, stronger Segura won in the eighth round.
That fight was on Calderon’s home turf in Puerto Rico. They meet again on Saturday but this time in Mexicali, in Segura’s Mexican homeland. Everything — the result of the first fight, the location, the ages and the size of the fighters — points to another win inside the distance for Segura. It might not be quite that simple, though, and I am eagerly anticipating the rematch, which will be televised on PPV.
GAMBOA, SOLIS: Will the Cuban star shine tonight? / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Gamboa -650; Solis +400
Over 9.5 +105; under 9.5 -115
There’s a saying in boxing: “Win this time, look good next time.” Yuriorkis Gamboa didn’t exactly “look good” when he won his featherweight title fight against Orlando Salido last September but I wonder if it will be the “next time” part tonight when the undefeated Cuban makes a title defence against Mexico’s Jorge Solis on HBO from Atlantic City?
It was interesting that the Gamboa camp decided not to take part in the IBF’s fight-morning weigh-in today. Under IBF rules, a fighter can gain no more than 10 pounds between the day-before weigh-in and the second weigh-in the next morning. Gamboa thus relinquishes his IBF belt while retaining the WBA title.
REMILLARD, GARCIA: Unbeaten fighters meet on HBO. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Garcia -300; Remillard +240
Over 9.5 +120; under 9.5 -140
Unbeaten featherweights meet on HBO tonight in the biggest test for either of them when Miguel Angel Garcia, of Oxnard, CA, faces Matt Remillard, of Connecticut, in a 12-round NABF title bout.
Garcia, trained by his ex-champ brother, Robert, has been steadily progressing, with the calibre of his opposition getting slightly higher. He blew out Tomas Villa in a striking 67-second victory over a fighter known for toughness, overwhelmed capable southpaw Cornelius Lock in the 11th round and, in his last fight, easily rolled over Olivier Lontchi in five rounds. Lontchi had, in his last fight, managed to get through nine rounds against heavy-handed Juan Manuel Lopez in a 122-pound title bout, but Garcia was too big and too strong.
KLITSCHKO weighed 249.5, SOLIS 246.9. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Klitschko -450; Solis +300
Over 9.5 -135; under 9.5 +115
Coming in at his lightest weight in three years must, I believe, enhance Odlanier Solis’s chances of pulling off the upset when he challenges champ Vitali Klitschko in Saturday’s heavyweight title fight in Germany.
Solis has had probably his longest training camp, starting off with roadwork at high altitude in snow-covered mountains near Granada in Spain. He looked a bit soft in the middle at 247 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in, but this isn’t a Mr. Universe competition.
MAGEE, BUTE: Quebec superstar has Saturday date on Showtime. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Bute -850; Magee +550
Over 9.5+140; under 9.5 -160
Many people in boxing wondered why Lucian Bute was not included in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament in the super middleweight division. Undefeated, hard-hitting and talented, the Montreal-based Romanian southpaw seemed a natural for the innovative event. All’s well that ends well, though. Showtime has signed Bute to a multi-fight contract, and the Quebec superstar appears on the network on Saturday night in a championship defence against fellow-southpaw Brian Magee, the European champion from Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Bute is a massive favourite, as high as -1400 at some books. These odds are a little surprising, because Magee is experienced and capable.
COTTO stayed calm at the weigh-in despite Mayorga's taunting. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Cotto -800; Mayorga +550
Over 8.5 +120 under -8.5 -150
There are fights that look good on paper but fizzle out in the ring. Meetings between technicians delight the purist but can be lacking in drama. The most talented fighters don’t always make the best fights. Then we have Miguel Cotto. The impassive-featured Puerto Rican national superstar can box and fight and he is never boring. Pair Cotto with the wild and wacky Ricardo Mayorga and you have the ingredients for a junior middleweight contest that should be captivating for as long as it lasts.
Mayorga has been taunting Cotto since the fight was first announced. He seemed genuinely affronted when Cotto steadfastly refused to take part in the now-traditional staredowns.
FIELDS: size can be intimidating.
Grant -220; Fields +188
Over 6.5 +145; under 6.5 -165
What could be called a “fun fight” tops the bill at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Friday night when huge heavyweights Tye Fields and Michael Grant meet in a scheduled 10-rounder.
No odds have been offered, which I suspect is because Fields has been involved in a couple of fights in which his opponents seemed to be, shall we say, non-combative. One trainer told me, though, that the heavyweight he seconded against Fields was simply intimidated by the size and bulk of the big fellow and was too apprehensive to make a fight of it.
ALVAREZ: HBO showcase for rising star. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Alvarez -1000; Hatton +600
Over 8.5 +140; under 8.5 -180
Mexico’s new rising star, Saul Alvarez, makes his main event HBO debut on Saturday night and it is difficult to envisage Britain’s Matthew Hatton spoiling the intended showcase. Hatton is a worthy opponent. The European champion, he’s a competent boxer with a nice variety of punches, but the flame-haired “Canelo” has a star-quality look about him.
The impression one has is that Alvarez possesses advantages in strength, firepower and natural talent. Although the fight is for the WBC’s vacant light-middle title in reality this is a catchweight bout at 150 pounds between a welterweight — that’s Hatton — and a fighter who has outgrown the 147-pound division, as shown when Alvarez came in 1.4 pounds over the agreed limit.