There’s been a bit of a lull for fight fans since the amazing trifecta of FOY candidates in March (Vazquez/Marquez III, Pacquiao/Marquez II and Casamayor/Katsidis) but that all ends tomorrow night with FOUR title fights. All of these fights have interesting consequences for future bouts, making it a banner night for fistic enthusiasts everywhere, and quite an appetizer indeed for the Calzaghe/Hopkins mega-fight next week. So, ah, let’s get right into it:
Miguel Cotto v. Alfonso Gomez
It is what it is. You know when Vegas has a stoppage at about -200 that you are looking at a one sorryass mismatch, and that’s what you have here. The odds on Cotto by stoppage is 5/11, and even that seems a bit conservative to me. Yes, Gomez beat Arturo Gatti, but come on – Gatti is a shadow of his former shadow (if Gatti shadowboxed with his shadow from 1997, his shadow would knock him out in 5). This is still the same Alfons Gomez who boasts a loss to Peter Manfredo on his record, and a draw to Jesse Feliciano, the same Jesse Feliciano that Kermit Cintron stopped in November. So, you know, by the commutative property, what do you think Cotto does to Cintron right now. I say he knocks his ass out in under 8. Cotto is suffering through some Money May-like drama with his uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto, but he’s just not the kind of dude to let that get in his head. In that Cotto is a 15-1 favorite right now, about the only way to make money on this thing is to bet the under on rounds at 9 1/2 at -150. Seems like a very safe bet to me unless Cotto breaks a hand or something.
Antonio Margarito v. Kermit Cintron
I watched the first fight between these guys a few days ago, and I was again struck by what a sorry showing it was for Cintron. If you’ve never seen it, the video of the conclusion is below, a 5th-round stoppage in which Cintron effectively gave up. The hardest thing for him to swallow afterwards must have been realizing how in the fight he was when he started to lose his cool around the third round. Margarito frequently has assessed this fight by saying that as soon as Cintron caught him a few times with his right hand and saw that they didn’t faze Tony at all, it was over. And on a second viewing, that’s pretty much how it looks to me. Cintron suffers a nasty cut in the fourth, but even before the cut he looks like he’s out of it, like he’s given up.
Many questioned Kermit’s mettle after this fight, but I think he answered that doubt with his heroic throwdown with David Estrada in 2006. Myself, I’ve always liked Cintron and I think he’s a very talented guy who found himself psychologically defeated by Margarito in their first go-round. But now Cintron knows that he’s not going to knock Margarito out with his straight rights, no matter how flush he connects (Margarito is a Carlos Baldomir-level of hardhead who has never been KO’ed) and he’s also working with Manny Steward, who no doubt is preparing Cintron to win this thing by decision. And I think he has what it takes to do that. He has a speed edge and he’s an accurate puncher. Margarito starts slowly and I could see this going very similarly to his bout with Paul Williams – where Tony comes on late and just runs out of time to make up for a points-deficit. On that score, it may all come down to Cintron’s conditioning, because Margarito is definitely an insistent fighter who won’t go anywhere over the course of a 12-rounder. But I like Cintron to hang on in this one. He’d got the skills and more importantly he’s got the experience to know what it takes to beat Margarito. On the whole I think he’s the superior athlete, and if he sticks to what I imagine should be his gameplan, I see him getting a close decision.
Clinton Woods v. Antonio Tarver
The ante was upped considerably on this bout earlier in the week with the news that much-anticipated Clinton Woods/Joe Calzaghe bout is in the works, provided of course that Woods beats Tarver and Calzaghe beat Bernard Hopkins next week. I like both of their chances, but honestly, I’m feeling better about Woods than Calzaghe, though I base that more on Tarver’s condition rather than Woods’ prowess. I simply think that Tarver is shot, pasychologically and physically. I certainly don’t see him having enough pop left to knock Woods out. I mean, Clinton Woods is one rugged son of a bitch. Anybody out there remember the beating he took from Roy Jones in 2002? Let me take you back…
Yes, Roy tarred and feathered him, but that was pre-Ruiz Roy at 175. He tarred and feathered everyone back then. The point to me is that after a full round of Roy’s punishing razzle-dazzle, on that last haymaker that he lands on Woods before Woods’ cornermen throw in the towel, Clinton points to his chin in true Jake LaMotta fashion. “Do it again, mate, go on…” And yes, yes, that was six years ago, but the fact remains – given what we’ve seen of Tarver lately, there is just no way he’s going to knock out Clinton Woods (who has never been stopped by anyone but Jones). I honestly think it’s more likely that Woods stops Tarver. Maybe there’s some magic left in the Magic Man, but I’d be very surprised to see him pull a winner out of his hat. I see Antonio gettting the better of the action early but without hurting his man. Then I see him wearing down quickly, and barely making it to the finish. With a huge all-British megafight with Calzaghe in the offing, I think Tarver would have to kill Clinton Woods to win this one, and he just doesn’t have the ammo anymore.
Chad Dawson v. Glen Johnson
2008 already has seen a fair share of older fighters schooling highly touted younger ones – Carlos Quintana over Paul Williams, Nate Cambpell over Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor over Michael Katsidis. So the question is, does Glen Johnson have enough left in the tank to add his name to that list? Is Chad Dawson as good as we think he is? It’s not that I think that Dawson is over-rated necessarily, but I will say this – his record doesn’t look as solid to me as Juan Diaz’s did at lightweight. But is Glen Johnson capable of going all Nate Campbell in there? Doubtful, admittedly. But look, with the way this year is going, anything seems possible, and at +275, Johnson is definitely an interesting longshot.
(For more Largination, check out my weekly boxing notes over at the new and improved Sporting Blog. I give some more thoughts on tomorrow night and discuss the demise of The Contender on ESPN.)