Carlos Baldomir continues to beat them where they breathe.

Welterweight world champion Baldomir walked into a hostile arena and strong-armed Arturo Gatti like a New Jersey mugger in the night while silencing an overwhelming pro-Gatti crowd last Saturday. The only weapons he had were his Santa Fe fists.

It was the second time in a row Baldomir had silenced a crowd, battered an opponent and taken a title. Last January, in New York City, he roughed up Zab Judah like a small boy slaps his sister’s Barbie doll.

This guy has no fear.

“I want Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton,” said Baldomir after dropping Gatti twice in defense of the WBC title he kept after stripping Judah of all three major welterweight belts. Mayweather grabbed the vacant IBF and Hatton the vacant WBA after Baldomir refused to pay sanctioning fees to keep those titles. But he is the true linear welterweight world champion at this point having beaten Judah.

The rather small world champion impressed a lot of his comrades in the Los Angeles boxing gyms.

“He’s an old school kind of fighter,” said Macka Foley, a trainer at the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. “That guy doesn’t care who he fights or where he fights, he just shows up and takes care of business. He’s a real professional like the old guys used to be.”

At the LB4LB Boxing Club where Baldomir regularly trains and where he prepared for his two title fights, Terry Claybon, the owner of the gym, said Baldomir is the real deal.

“He comes in and asks that we turn off all the fans,” Claybon said of the Argentine’s request, where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees. “Every day he just comes in and works hard. He doesn’t fool around. He’s for real.”

Baldomir’s victory has boosted hope for many pro boxers in the Southern California area who are aware of the Argentine’s struggle for a title fight after years of marching into battle for little money and lesser fanfare. A few felt he would never amount to anything but a tough journeyman fighter who would take a punch. Now he’s the true welterweight world champion.

“He has a real awkward style,” said Art “Handsome Slim” Carrillo, a trainer in Mira Loma, California. “Gatti couldn’t figure him out, neither could Zab Judah. You didn’t see Judah asking for a rematch.”Now who does he fight?

How about Tijuana’s Antonio Margarito or Riverside’s Mark Suarez?

The rugged Baldomir fears no one in the ring, so why not seek a fight with Margarito or Suarez who both train in Southern California… just like the Argentine.

Margarito said he has no preferences.

“I’m ready for war or whatever they put in front of me. Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Carlos Baldomir, Ricky Hatton too,” said Margarito by telephone. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We can talk about unifying the titles.”

Bob Arum, president of Top Rank that promotes Margarito, says the options are open for his fighter, but Baldomir does not fit into the plans.

“My fighter is a Mexican from Tijuana and Baldomir is from Argentina, who is going to watch the fight?” Arum said while in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Look, Margarito is the most feared man in boxing,” Arum said during a telephone press conference last week. “He’s this era’s Marvelous Marvin Hagler. I remember when no middleweight would dare get in the ring with Hagler.”

With a no-nonsense aggressive fighting style Margarito has scared off most opponents like Judah, Mayweather and Hatton. His man versus child win over Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez made a believer over those doubters.


It was several years ago when I asked Gatti what he learned from his fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2001.

“I’m not a welterweight,” he told me. “They hit too hard and they’re too big.”

That’s what I thought of as Baldomir battered Gatti for nine rounds. I barely gave Gatti one round in the shortened affair. But one thing is clear, Gatti is a lock for the boxing Hall of Fame. He just fought at a weight division a little too heavy for him.

Gatti is a class act. Those who met him will tell you, the Human Highlight Film had a lot of class in and out of the ring.

Suarez Wants Margarito

Just down the 60-Freeway in Riverside, Suarez has been waiting for his turn, but not patiently.

After beating seven consecutive opponents by knockout, Suarez was ranked number one welterweight by the IBF and was supposed to fight for the world title, but instead, Don King, who promotes Suarez, put him on standby and let Judah fight Mayweather for the vacant belt.

“We’re still ranked number one,” said Cameron Dunkin, Suarez’s manager, adding that the only offers coming from King were fights in New Jersey against Carlos Quintana for little money.

Suarez has quietly moved along in his training, just waiting for the signal that he’s fighting for the world title. Several months ago Suarez said he doesn’t care who he fights.

“I’ll fight anybody, even Antonio Margarito,” said Suarez who at 6 feet in height matches Margarito. “I don’t care who I fight.”

With Top Rank (who used to promote Suarez before Don King) challenging all welterweights and claiming no one will fight Margarito, it’s a natural fit to have Suarez meet the WBO titleholder from Tijuana. Margarito trains in Los Angeles. That fight would be a natural for Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Fans of both would fill up the arena.

But on Tuesday, members of Suarez’s team said the Riverside boxer signed to fight Kermit Cintron in late September. A venue was not revealed.

The Contender

Now on ESPN, The Contender reality boxing series returned two weeks ago on Tuesday nights with a roster of mostly veteran welterweight fighters including a former world titleholder Steve Forbes.

The first show featured a match between Ohio’s Michael Clark and Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage. At the beginning of the show Clark is seen ridiculing Bundrage’s technique and eventually picked him as his opponent. Bad choice. You see Clark was a natural lightweight and Bundrage a natural junior middleweight. Of course the much bigger guy won.

In the second episode Arizona’s Norberto Bravo challenged Chicago’s Rudy Cisneros and edged the younger fighter by split decision. It was one of the best bouts ever shown on The Contender series including last year. Cisneros looked like a new version of Diego Corrales and Bravo like this year’s Alfonso Gomez. It was quite a battle.

Speaking of The Contender, last year’s winner Sergio Mora of East Los Angeles does the analysis with Sugar Ray Leonard. He does a pretty good job. Mora is a well-spoken ambassador for boxing. He faces Eric Regan a 6-4 tall middleweight out of the Sacramento area on Aug. 25.

Fights on television

Wed. ESPN2, 6 p.m., David Tua (44-3-1) vs. Ed Gutierrez (15-2-1)

Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Sultan Ibragimov (19-0) vs. Ray Austin (24-3-3)

Fri. Showtime 11 p.m., Jean Paul Mendy (21-0) vs. Dallas Vargas (21-2)

Sat. pay-per-view 6 p.m., Roy Jones Jr. (49-4) vs. Badi Ajamu (25-2-1)

Sat. HBO, 10 p.m., Vivian Harris (26-2-1) vs. Stevie Johnston (39-3-1)