Tomorrow is the big fight--or rather the two big fights ... or is it three?
Everyone (except some grumbling Margarito fans) agrees that pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fight against undisputed Argentinian welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir is a big fight. Most people (except the most ardent of heavyweight haters) agree that Shannon Briggs' fight against WBO heavyweight champion Sergei Lyakhovich is a big fight. And a few people (count me in) agree that the undercard fight for Mayweather/Baldomir between IBF featherwieght champ Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero and the relatively unknown Orlando Salido should at least be pretty interesting.
Follow me below the fold for predictions and more.
Guerrero is coming off an impressive eighth round stoppage against Eric "Mighty Mouse" Aiken. The one loss on his 19-1-1 record was a controversial split decision against Gamaliel Diaz. I've heard some fans say that this is a gimme fight for Guerrero based on his opponent's 27-9-2 record. Conventional wisdom says they're right, but conventional wisdom didn't give another fighter with nine losses a chance against Zab "chicken dance" Judah, and we know what Baldomir did to that punk. And Salido, like Baldomir coming into the Judah fight, has been boxing pretty well lately. His one loss in the last four years was against the mighty Juan Marguez, against whom he went twelve solid rounds. It's not a great undercard, but it's not as bad as some people think. I predict a solid action-packed fight: Guerrero knocks him out late, let's say round ten.
The Mercury News has a good story about Robert Guerrero, by the way. And the superb, undefeated up-and-comer Paul Williams is also on the card. That fight, however (against a hapless Mauro Lucero), isn't even going to be close.
The Mayweather vs. Baldomir fight is one most of us have been eagerly anticipating. I'm no Mayweather-hater, but I'm going to be cheering my ass off with every punch Baldomir gets through. Baldomir is one of my favorite fighters right now. Coming into a match regarded as so lopsided that there weren't even Vegas odds for it, Baldomir did the seeming impossible, soundly beating a man who gave him so little respect that he refused to touch gloves before the first bell. Then, still underestimated, he rocked Arturo Gatti's world by knocking that warrior out solidly in the ninth.
Now, he gets more respect, but again, not many give him a chance. By Vegas odds, it's about 4 to 1. Though those odds are too high, I agree that Mayweather is more likely to win. Nevertheless, big head Baldomir--a physically stronger and tougher man--certainly has a chance. Floyd ain't gonna knock him out unless the ref stops it. I see Baldy pressuring Floyd early and getting some winning rounds in before PBF adjusts. But he WILL adjust. Mayweather is the most versatile fighter alive right now. Let's say Mayweather by a fairly close but unanimous decision.
As for Briggs and Lyakhovich? Briggs is over-the-hill and hasn't shown a lot of motivation lately. His only marquee win since beating an ancient George Foreman in '97 was against an ancient Ray Mercer. If Jameel McCline and--worse--Sedreck Fields can beat Briggs, then Briggs sure isn't going to beat Lyakhovich, who showed the world he's got something in an exciting come from behind victory against Lamon Brewster last April. My call? Briggs looks OK for the first three, then tires pretty fast. Lyakhovich stops him late--let's say round 10. With Vegas odds only at 2 to 1 in favor of Lyakhovich, I'll probably slap some green down on this one.
These fights are all tomorrow night in competing time slots (9:00 PM Eastern). Briggs vs. Lyakhovich is free on Showtime. Mayweather vs. Baldomir (and Guerrero vs. Salido) is a $50 pay-per-view fight on HBO and will be rerun for free next week.
So what do you say? Predictions?