Ivan Calderon retains title!
By Vikram Birring at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 22, 2009)  
Watching Ivan Calderon is similar to observing a matador engage a bull. Beautiful footwork, masterful head movement, sharp instincts, and quick reflexes allow him to make a mockery out of world-class boxers.

It is as if he sees the punch coming before the opponent even thinks about it. He stands only a few inches away, yet is nearly impossible to hit. To understand the frustration, one can take a fly swatter and swing at a fly, sitting so calmly, yet manages to escape just before the fatal blow. And the exercise repeats, over and over again, until the killer just gives up.

Rodel Mayol of the Philippines was determined to win after a disappointing draw in June. Unfortunately, he was made to look like a fool, as most of his punches hit nothing but air. With each miss, the sellout crowd roared “Ole!” in approval. At times Calderon would go minutes without landing a punch, but his masterful defense and ring generalship won him rounds, bringing to mind stories of Willy Pep.

Mayol 25-4-1 (19) began to catch up Calderon 33-0-1 (6) in the later rounds, occasionally landing straight rights, but then in the seventh round, the unthinkable, yet inevitable happened. A head butt opened up a severe laceration on Calderon’s forehead, and the doctor immediately halted the bout.

The scorecards read 68-65, 65-68, 68-65 for the hometown hero Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon. After the match he showed interest in a meeting with fellow titlist Brian Viloria. One hopes that the result doesn’t end in a cut for Calderon, whose bouts have been stopped by cuts in his last three appearances.

Roman “Rocky” Martinez, fresh off a scintillating victory over Nicky Cook in Manchester, England, returned home to make the first defense of his super featherweight championship.

His original opponent dropped out due to his inability to secure a work visa, and the last minute replacement was Colombian Feidor Viloria.

Martinez 23-0 (14) is a pressure fighter, and constantly stalked Viloria 22-5-1 (15), but at the same time picked his punches wisely. He won the first three rounds with an assortment of body and head punches.

In the fourth, Viloria made an adjustment and threw the jab occasionally followed by a right cross, not allowing Martinez to reach in far enough to land anything of authority.

But boxing is like a chess match, and over time Martinez made enough adjustments to figure Viloria out. The ninth round was the time of calling as Martinez rocked Viloria with a vicious right cross as Viloria’s back was against the ropes, whipping the Colombian’s head back. He followed with a flurry of punches, but Viloria escaped and wandered across the ring. Unfortunately Martinez followed him, pulled his right hand back, and landed a thundering right cross, sending Viloria crashing to the canvas. He did not make it up in time and the bout was stopped at two minutes, fifty-nine seconds.

Upon first glance, six foot six inch Carlos Negron looks like he walked into the wrong arena. But his hook of choice is not a sky hook, but instead a left or right hook, as Larry Carter of Detroit unfortunately found out.

Negron 5-0 (5) doesn’t use the jab at all, instead he sticks his arm forward as a gauge to measure distance, and then leads with power punches. After a couple of minutes, he trapped Carter 3-5 (3) in a corner and blasted him with shuddering punches to the skull. The referee himself was afraid to jump in, in fear of getting hit, but after a small break by Negron stepped in and saved Carter’s life at two minutes, forty-nine seconds.

Juan Mercedes of the Dominican Republic has a money punch, an excellent left hook, and Robert Daluz found out the hard way. In the second round, Daluz 12-21 (9) flew backwards as Mercedes 24-2 (17) landed a hook. For some odd reason, Daluz thought he was pushed, and protested to the referee, to no avail.

Daluz did have a decent jab, but with no punches behind it, his fate was sealed, not a matter of if, but when. In the sixth round, he met Mercedes’s hook again, faltering to the canvas. Upon rising, his nose was a bloody mess, spouting as if it were a faucet. The doctor immediately stopped the match at one minute, forty-five seconds.

Hato Rey turned into Arecibo, Puerto Rico, when Alcides Santiago made his way to the ring to avenge a defeat to “Pito” Cruz of Caguas. The match was stirring, as both men intensely focused and determined to win. Santiago 4-1 (3) had the better technique, but had one glaring deficiency as well. He could not move his head out of the way of Cruz’s 5-5 (1) awkward left cross.

In the second round, Cruz landed the punch numerous times, but did not maximize its potential. Instead of bringing his arm all the way back, he only cocked it halfway, thus not releasing the full force of the punch. This may have saved Santiago.

The rest of the rounds were back and forth, Cruz’s left against Santiago’s everything. Santiago grew visibly angry at each punch landed on him, and fought back each time, the sign of a true fighter. After six fiercely contested rounds, Santiago gained revenge with a unanimous decision: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56.

Questions or comments,
Vikram at: vikram.birring@gmail.com

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