Besides Miguel Cotto – Joshua Clottey, Boxing This Week Features “Fight Night Club,” Ivan Calderon And Robert Guerrero

Event-23096-28-05132009-0.jpgRest assured, we’ll soon have a full preview of the very exciting welterweight clash Saturday between Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey. But there are some other noteworthy bouts this week, and while I’d usually save discussions of those until Friday’s Quick Jabs column, one of the noteworthy events is Thursday night, when Versus debuts “Fight Night Club.” So that won’t work.

Anyway, you got Fight Night Club at 9 p.m. EST on Versus (and, then Robert Guerrero making his ring return from an embarrassing showing last time out on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights against modest opposition, then Saturday on the untelevised undercard of Cotto-Clottey one of the best fighters in the world, Ivan Calderon, taking on a stiff challenge. Let’s take a moderately deeper look.

Fight Night Club

Just because I’ve been a tad skeptical about this new venture doesn’t mean I’m not excited about it. Maybe having DJs at a boxing match will draw a younger crowd to boxing, maybe it won’t; maybe Golden Boy Promotions having a deal with Versus will work out, and maybe it won’t; and maybe I’m slightly weirded out by Ring’s website airing a boxing product produced by its GBP owners, from a journalistic perspective.
On the plus side, though, it’s another outlet for boxing on television; it’s a way for younger fighters to develop while making a little TV money, outside of FNF and ShoBox; Golden Boy insists it won’t limit participation to its own prospects, which is good if true (the two televised main events this week, anyway, feature GBP fighters); I applaud any effort to bring new fans to the sport, which requires a little creativity that GBP is making a stab at; I celebrate any effort to broadcast boxing over the Internet; and tickets have reportedly been selling well, so perhaps the idea is going to succeed.
The two main televised events feature featherweights David Rodela and Charles Huerta.
Rodela has an interesting story: He has had a long road back from a near-fatal car accident, and has served as a sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao, among others. Pacquiao was said to consider him among his favorites and Rodela says he’s learned a lot from the pound-for-pound king, although Rodela, it must be said, was one of Pacquiao’s many body punch knockout (or at least knock down) victims in his most recent camp. In his biggest win, Rodela defeated a shopworn Kevin Kelley by a split decision, and although he was shopworn, Kelley didn’t at the time have but one loss on his record that wasn’t to an elite foe. Huerta, for his part, has six knockouts in 10 wins, but he appears to be gathering steam even as he steps up in competition; four of those KOs came in his last five fights.
Neither are matched super-soft, as their opponents have decent records, albeit against weaker competition, but it would be surprising if either Huerta or Rodela lost. Two “special televised attractions,” according to a GBP news release, feature lightweight Luis Ramos and featherweight Ricky Lopez in four round bouts. Four prospects on one card sounds like decent television (or Internet) to me.
Robert Guerrero – Efren Hinojosa, Ivan Calderon – Rodel Mayol
When last we saw junior lightweight Guerrero, he was appearing to beg out of continuing a tough fight against Daud Yordan after suffering a truly nasty cut. We’ve hashed and rehashed Guerrero’s action’s in this space, so I won’t do it again. But it’s fair to say that he made a few skeptics that night. Me, I didn’t like his behavior, but I was high on him before and I’m willing to jump back on the bandwagon fully. Fortunately for him, the peculiar no contest result didn’t keep him from getting a headlining event on FNF, and now he’s got a chance on a relatively big stage to prove everyone who criticized his heart wrong. Well, sort of.
Efren Hinojosa is his third choice of opponent, what with two relatively decent foes having bailed out previously. Hinojosa’s beaten some good opponents in his career, like Ivan Robinson, but he’s 1-3-1 in his last five fights, and that win was a dubious disqualification. In other words, he’s a downgrade from Johnnie Edwards and Jackson Asiku, two opponents who would have passed the smell test of stay-busy opponents, although none of that is Guerrero’s fault. If Guerrero doesn’t thrash Hinojosa like he doesn’t exist, then it would be a disappointing performance. And hopefully, afterward, he’ll either give Yordan another shot, or he’ll take on Humberto Soto in a highly intriguing and meaningful bout.
The next night, junior flyweight champion Calderon — who’s in just about everyone’s top 10, pound-for-pound — gets a slot on the undercard of Cotto-Clottey, taking on Rodel Mayol, a borderline top-10 junior fly, one of the better divisions in the sport if you ask me. There are some people a little bummed about this fight not being televised by HBO, and I’m somewhat sympathetic. But Calderon just wanted to get back into the ring, and he wanted to do it in the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade tie-in in New York City, and his promoter Top Rank did the right thing to accommodate him, whether it was televised or not.
Calderon is a tremendously skilled boxer and Mayol is a puncher who can box some, but I don’t give Mayol much of a chance of pulling off the upset unless Calderon has aged overnight — and some have said they think Calderon is on the downward turn of his career. I’m not belittling Mayol, who’s a legitimate opponent for Calderon, but if Calderon is still near the top of his game, he wins. Exacerbating the age effect is that Calderon, at 34, has been out of the ring nearly a year after spending a good long while recovering from a cut, and rust accumulates faster on old 108-pounders. Still, it’s my hope Calderon emerges victorious, because I’d really like to see him in against Brian Viloria in about the biggest-money fight you could make at junior flyweight. Maybe HBO, which tends not to care about boxers this tiny, wouldn’t televise it, but I bet somebody would.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.