by Dafydd Thomas
Reigning junior flyweight world champion Ivan Calderon has had his work cut out for him over the past two years. In boxing, guys that cut frequently have an uphill battle before a fight even starts, and Calderon has had more than his fair share of cuts over the past two years.
In his past fight with Rodel Mayol, Calderon showed signs that he was slowing as many fighters his size do near his age, but given that it was his third straight fight to end early on a cut, we can safely say that Calderon has a little problem on his hands.
The first blemish on his record came twelve months ago when he met Mayol the first time. The bout was stopped in the sixth due to an accidental headbutt lacerating “Iron Boy”s forehead, and the judges produced a draw. In the rematch, the fight went one round further before the bout was stopped. Calderon escaped with two cards in his favour. But what if the other two judges had seen the fight the way Carlos Colon did, scoring it for Mayol? Who would have predicted that the largely unheralded Filipino would take the Hall of Fame-bound’s “0”, and not Brian Viloria, Hugo Cazares, Edgar Sosa and Ulises Solis.
Anyway, that didn’t happen, and Calderon still has his unbeaten record intact. As usual, Calderon came out saying that he’d like to unify titles in his next fight. Nine months down the line, he’s defending his WBO junior flyweight title against two-time title challenger Jesus Iribe, who is a refugee version of Giovanni Segura.
It’s not just the cuts either. Calderon has lived on his breathtaking, downright spectacular grasp of the sweet science. It’s been said a lot, but for those that think Floyd Mayweather Jr. is slick, prime Calderon still tops him. His critics will say he didn’t face the best competition, but you can’t take away his talent. When it came to his fights, the details were not a necessity. The Puerto Rican jabbed, moved, barely got hit and won decisions.
But now he’s getting old, and its showing. He’s slower, both offensively and defensively, and when you have feather fists, guys will relentlessly come at you hard, similar to what Hugo Cazares did in the rematch. A guy that will get in his face and test those declining reflexes has a real chance now, where once upon a time even winning a round against Calderon was a moral victory.
But Calderon’s decline has got me wondering, will Calderon lose his “0” before he retires? Have his skills slipped to the point where a puncher like Viloria or Segura might even be considered as having a 50/50 shot against Calderon.
One thing that’s in his favour is that he’s taken minimal punishment over his career, but you still can’t take away the worry that a punch will open that cut. Calderon’s little problem might be bigger than we all thought.