(This column is written with prayers for those hit by the mudslide disaster in the Philippines. Over recent months I’ve gotten many e-mails from some great people there – our thoughts are with you.)
One of the latest megabuck trends in Las Vegas is a widespread condominium craze, as developers double up on the glowing skyline. Planet Hollywood is launching a project which high rises into the platinum clouds over the Aladdin Casino, where Saturday night the fists shall fly.
Back down on that piece of altered reality pavement known as the Strip, near the corner of Paradise Boulevard, welterweight Antonio Margarito and junior flyweight Brian Viloria will further their attempts to elevate themselves into the penthouse level of boxing attractions.
The two will share a bill on a Top Rank pay per view card.
Twenty-seven-year-old Margarito, 32-4, 1 NC, (23), plans on building up the accolades he gained after his last fight, against Kermit Cintron in April. It was Margarito’s biggest victory, but definitely not his toughest fight. The relative ease with which he handled the unprepared, undefeated, but highly heralded Kermit Cintron made a resounding impression on the boxing community.
Margarito will be defending his WBO belt against Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez, 28-10-2 (20), of Laredo, Texas.
“I’ve shown what I can do against good fighters,” said Margarito. “I want to fight the best. Right now I’m focused on Gomez.”
The implication sounded as if he felt more than ready for bigger game, and anxious to make another move in the paying public eye. Margarito added to his fistic credibility with the Cintron stoppage, but he may have also raised the dangerous stakes in the eyes of beholding potential opponents.
Margarito has blasted out the usually durable talents of Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis and David Kamau, but keeps butting heads with junior middleweight Daniel Santos. Their first meeting, in 2001, was ruled a No Contest after a first round clash of cabezas. The rematch went ten of a scheduled twelve rounds before going to the cards after another such contest ending collision. Santos took a split decision.
“I have wanted to meet Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a long time, but he won’t fight me,” said Margarito with conviction.
In terms of action that might be a great fight, but in terms of risk and reward it’s not the best business move for Floyd considering Mayweather’s more lucrative options. A more likely scenario may involve Margarito against Miguel Cotto, another Top Rank performer.
Twenty-five-year-old Viloria makes the initial defense of his WBC belt against Jose Antonio Aguirre, 33-4-1 (20), from Tabasco, Mexico.
Viloria, 18-0 (12), has been in plenty of recent photo- ops with his rising star pal and stablemate, Manny Pacquiao. Viloria was a radio commentator on the Philippine broadcast of Pacquiao–Erik Morales last month. The two are switching assignments Saturday, as Pacquiao will be on the other side of the mike this time.
His latest chore may not last too long. “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria has seen his punching power grow into the moniker and the biggest question in this fight may be whether or not Aguirre can last even half the distance. Take the under, unless trainer Fred Roach wants to get some rounds in.
Viloria captured the WBC title in his last fight, a first round TKO of Eric Ortiz.
The toughest moment by far as a pro for Viloria was the prayer filled time period after his TKO of Ruben Contreras, who went into an extended, medically induced coma to prevent brain damage. Contreras came out of it with medical blessings of future good health and was ringside for the Ortiz contest.
Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon, 24-0 (5), is on the same mission for glory as Margarito and Viloria, and every other fighter on the card for that matter. Calderon faces Isaac Bustos, 24-7-3 (13), Mexico City. Calderon probably won’t emerge from any of his counterparts’ bigger shadows tonight, but you’ll see a lot more from him than just shadowboxing.
Also appearing on a very solid undercard are Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Kid Diamond.
This is the type of card where the winners are pretty easy to pick, but it also fits the profile for one big surprise. What action you can get at the ticket counter doesn’t offer any odds for much profit margin.
You can bet Margarito and Viloria will have their feet firmly on the commercialized canvas come fight time. But you can’t blame them, with more realistic hard-earned hope, for thinking about joining a new horizon with the colonizing Clooneyists, bobbing and weaving, heads in the clouds.