A LOST DESERT SPORTSBOOK – Logical odds on Kelly Pavlik – Jermain Taylor II were 2-1 Pavlik.

Logical Odds on Bernard Hopkins versus Joe Calzaghe :  7-5 Calzaghe.

My picks : Taylor and Hopkins, barely but verily.

Extremely durable and hard working Oleg Maskaev should be slightly favored over strong Samuel Peter and I’m getting a strong Maskaev vibe, but I may end up picking Peter for sentimental reasons from his early Arizona days.

My deepest hope for the upcoming spring of great, pick’em fight cards is as always : may the best man win. And in the boxing world, all men are created equal in each other’s eyes. As I’ve said before, after decades of association with the sport, I have rarely seen a negative or divisive racial factor. That’s why I love the scene.

Still, I did some inner reflection after an enjoyable phone call with a knowledgeable old school boxing gent named Lou, who contacted me not long after Pavlik’s initial stoppage of  Taylor, to determine if there was any particular reason I rarely picked white fighters to win in major, racially diverse contests.

I hope there’s no subconscious prejudice lurking in my predictions so I probed my prevailing pugilistic preferences. I’ll admit, excepting cases like Jorge Paez or Jamaican Bobsleders, I always pull for USA athletes or teams. That comes down to nationalism, not skin.

An analyst might look for self-loathing from my formative high school and college days.

I grew up in the times of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier or George Foreman meeting Jerry Quarry or George Chuvalo. Larry Holmes defended against foes like Scott Ledoux. Marvin Hagler met Alan Minter and Vito Antuofermo.

Randy Shields was an excellent welterweight, but other guys in his division at that time were named Leonard and Hearns.

Tex Cobb was tough as thick pavement but he wasn’t going to challenge Holmes.

So I picked Jeff Lacy over Joe Calzaghe. It wasn’t exactly the worst call I’ve ever made, especially considering that it wasn’t that long since I’d picked Chris Byrd over Wladimir Klitschko.

I tried to give subtle warnings to Vassiliy Jirov about fighting James Toney but that was just a realistic view of where each was at in that stage of their respective careers. Prior to that I knew the rock hard disciplined Jirov would be hard for anyone to beat.

I knew Ricky Hatton would give Floyd Mayweather trouble as promised, but I called the TKO because Mayweather is one of the best fighters I’ve ever seen.

In fact, over the years most of the best boxers I’ve ever admired were black, but anybody who can’t look past it in terms of color should pull their craniums out of their cracks.

The only time I’ve witnessed a pile of prejudice was in Vegas, by my own peeps in the case of Gerry Cooney against Holmes. Pro-Cooney goons made the only ugly fight crowd I’ve ever seen. It was the polar opposite of the rainbow coalition at Mayweather- Hatton.

Just before the Cooney fight, I was staying in north Philly. All my summer street pals figured I secretly rooted for Cooney but told them I liked Holmes. I felt sad about that, and felt guilty and pissed when SI chose to put Cooney, already an earlier cover feature, alone under their masthead with undisputed champion Holmes relegated to the inside flap. Cooney wanted the race card less than anyone at any end of the promotion, and has since proved his own true colors as a credit to the game.

Lou also felt Rocky Marciano was a victim of revisionists like myself, who underestimate Marciano as a white heavyweight. I will simply say that Holmes or Evander Holyfield would TKO Marciano before 10. If there’s any bias there its solely generational. But I’ll add that some senior sages wiser than I who actually saw Marciano said he could hold his own with anybody, anytime, and those sources usually turn out golden. I’d guess the same goes for Jack Dempsey, but I still know who I’d bet on in hypothetical matchups against the likes of Holmes.

I also figure Harry Greb could handle anyone in any era.

The prevailing history preached to me said Sugar Ray Robinson was the best boxer ever because of his triumphs over fistic heroes like Carmine Basilio, Jake LaMotta, and Rocky Graziano.

I believe the archives, I usually believe my eyes, and I believe some times can change or remain the same.

If the finest boxers on the planet around the middleweight division these days turn out to be Kelly Pavlik and Joe Calzaghe, I won’t be surprised or disappointed a bit. If the true heavyweight champ has a tan like a Russian snowman, so be it as the best men win. Almost all boxers are best men.

Anyone who has a problem with that, to paraphrase the great Mr. Holmes, can kiss my white-mex behind. When they say that green is the only color that matters in boxing, it’s always been a saving grace I pray remains true.