Well, we're here. November is upon us, and that means it's time for Calzaghe-Kessler to really, really, really happen. I had doubts all the way -- doubts that we'd ever see it, doubts that we'd see it once it was being negotiated, and doubts that Calzaghe wouldn't pull up lame in camp.
But it's happening tomorrow. And it is, again, one of the biggest fights of 2007.
But there are other marquee fights this weekend, too. OK, so Friday's aren't marquee, but they have names. Let's take a quick look at the fights, and I'll even go ahead and put some picks out there.
Tonight: Calvin Brock v. Eddie Chambers, IBF heavyweight title eliminator semifinal (Showtime)
I've talked about this fight before, and I haven't changed my mind. I still think Brock is going to win. The only thing that has changed is I think Brock is going to beat the hell out of Chambers. Something tells me this isn't going to be competitive. Chambers doesn't have the power to scare Brock, and again, Brock's power is overlooked. I think we could see the Banker score a TKO win, maybe in the 9th or 10th round. I don't think either guy can beat Povetkin, who proved his maturity against Chris Byrd. Josesito Lopez faces Tyrone Harris on the undercard in a lightweight eight-rounder, and I'll be rooting for Michigan boy Harris, but I don't know enough about either fighter to really make a pick.
PICK: Brock, TKO-10
TONIGHT: Kassim Ouma v. Saul Roman
It would appear that Ouma is moving back down to 154 pounds for this fight. He's been out of the ring for 11 months since his loss to Jermain Taylor, and he's had some recent legal problems (more driving violations), but if his head's on straight, he should have no trouble with the glass chinned Roman, who has been knocked out in his last two fights, and four times in his career. Kassim the Dream doesn't have big power, but he punches, and punches, and punches, and punches, and punches, and...well, you get it. It should build up.
PICK: Ouma, TKO-6
TOMORROW: Joe Calzaghe v. Mikkel Kessler (HBO)
It's been talked up, and now it's time. I don't know how much more I can really offer.
It's a clash of styles, and a clash of legitimate champions. Both guys are the real deal. The truth is, any one of these scenarios would not surprise me:
1. Calzaghe and Kessler have a rousing, impossible-to-score war for the ages, and both men gain ground no matter what the scorecards say.
2. Calzaghe uses his smarts and his unique style -- punches in bunches from the outside, neutralizing Mikkel's power -- to fluster and dominate Kessler, the same as he did to the stronger, younger, more predictable Jeff Lacy. Along with Wright, Hopkins and Mayweather, I consider Calzaghe one of the smartest fighters in boxing, and I put those four to be way ahead of everyone else. It's why I really want to see a Calzaghe-Hopkins fight in 2008. Talk about a chess match.
3. Kessler drops Mighty Joe and takes control of the 168-pound division, leaving no questions. Calzaghe is tough, but he's been put down before. Kessler has dynamite in both hands, and is an accurate puncher.
One thing I don't foresee is the fight disappointing, even if the No. 2 is the outcome of the fight. The Welsh crowd will be fanatical. This is a true boxing event.
I've flip-flopped on this one (along with next week's Cotto-Mosley encounter) a million times. But I'm going to make my pick.
PICK: Calzaghe UD
TOMORROW: Juan Manuel Marquez v. Rocky Juarez and Robert Guerrero v. Martin Honorio (Showtime)
Marquez-Juarez does interest me, because I quite like Rocky Juarez. His three losses are notable -- two to Barrera (one of which I, along with many others, thought he won) and one against Humberto Soto, which was a huge upset at the time but has proven to be less so as the years have passed. And he was competitive in that fight, anyway.
Juarez is not a guy to look past if you're waiting for the Pacquiao-Marquez II announcement. Marquez is no spring chicken at 34, and Rocky was once one of the sport's best prospects. He hits hard, though he tends to stand and trade, which Juan has proven to be up for over his career. And if Marquez can survive a lethal onslaught from Manny Pacquiao, he can take some shots from Rocky Juarez. Marquez is and should be a big favorite. And I wouldn't even consider Rocky to be quite a "live" underdog, but I don't think you can totally overlook that he could win this fight.
As for the undercard bout, I really like Robert Guerrero, but he's no world-beater. His loss was to Gamaliel Diaz, and he put in a poor performance against Orlando Salido in what was briefly his second defeat, though that one was changed to a no-contest. That one has upset special written all over it, but I'm not picking it.
PICKS: Marquez UD, Guerrero TKO-8
Make sure you join us tomorrow night for our live coverage of Calzaghe-Kessler. It's a strong weekend for boxing, and we're still just getting started this season.