It's Just Everything for Calderon
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (March 30, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing

Last summer, Ivan Calderon suffered the first loss of his distinguished career as he was stopped under a torrent of leather that came from the raw-but-heavy-hitting Giovani Segura. Coming into their initial bout in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, conventional wisdom said that the classy southpaw would be too much for the rock-handed Mexican, who makes up for what he lacks in technique with sheer volume and velocity. Instead, for the first time, Calderon’s then-35-year-old legs faltered and he succumbed to the pressure and punching power of Segura.

As he recalls their first encounter, as they head into this weekend’s rematch in Mexicali, Mexico, there isn’t anything specific that stands out. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

"Everything," said Calderon, back on February 19th in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay (the same night Nonito Donaire halted Fernando Montiel in two rounds), where a press conference was held for this match-up. "It was a hard fight; it was a fight that I didn’t use my skills like a lot of people like to see me do; box, don’t try to get hit. [Segura] did a good job. He came in; he did what a lot of boxers didn’t do- work my body. He hit me with a good shot."

In round eight, Calderon took a knee after a hard shot to the body. It wasn’t just that one particular blow but really, the last of a multitude of punches that first weakened his legs, then his resolve. You knew this wasn’t his kind of fight, when it was an all-action affair. In short, the more back-and-forth exchanges there were, the better it served Segura, whose philosophy is: swing hard and often; you just might hit something. It was a victory for the uncluttered mind. While Calderon, in the past, has been able to slow the tempo and make fighters think almost too much, Segura just kept coming with his two-handed assault.

Eventually, Calderon had no choice but to get into an old-fashioned donnybrook. There was a train of thought that he had decided to fight Segura’s fight but that doesn’t seem logical; a guy with one of the lowest KO percentages in the sport doesn’t suddenly just get into a slugfest with a guy who brings a Louisville Slugger to the dance.

When he’s asked if he got sucked into the wrong fight, Calderon explained, "The thing is, in the first round, he hit me with a good body shot, then he caught me with a good body shot and then he caught me good in my legs and he stopped my movements and I couldn’t move and I had to stand and fight. I couldn’t do more than just stand there and go toe-to-toe."

And what do they say about bringing a knife to a gunfight?

In prior outings, Calderon had begun to show some wear and tear on his wheels. There were some signs of vulnerability in bouts against Hugo Cazares, Rodel Mayol and Jesus Iribe. Segura is the type of prizefighter that can make you turn old with his style and temperament. Calderon says that wasn’t the case. "It had nothing to do with my age," he insisted. "I still feel good. I’m a boxer that don’t smoke; I don’t do nothing. I just train. I just was not prepared like I was for that fight with Hugo Cazares."

His promoter, Peter Rivera, says, "What I really believe is that- and that’s the specific fight when he lost against Segura, without taking any credit from him- Calderon was so dominating in that division, that a certain moment, I believe, he lost the love for boxing and he didn’t really prepare himself and be focused the way he supposed to be for that specific fight. But then when he lost the fight and he woke up about that, he saw how important it’s to train hard and focus, to love what you do. He’s hungry again to win back his title, to get that back to Puerto Rico and I believe that’s his motivation, right now. I believe that’s one of the facts that might really change this rematch."

This time around, it is Segura who will enjoy the home canvas advantage at the Auditorio del Estado. It seems each side made a concession for this return bout. Calderon got to stay at 108 pounds; Segura got to fight on his turf. But it speaks volumes on the fighting character that Calderon possesses that he would so willingly go to Mexico to avenge his loss. To him, it was an easy decision.

"Because that’s what they wanted and that’s what they want to do and I said, ’Yeah, sure, no problem.’ It’s an opportunity for me to show a lot of people that I don’t only fight in Puerto Rico. If I gotta go and fight in people’s houses, I’ll go and fight there," said Calderon, whose record is 34-1-1 with six knockouts.

"Ivan is one of the most professional athletes that I’ve met in my life," said Rivera, who has promoted him throughout his career. "He really understands the business of boxing; he understands everything around this business. So when he fought Segura and he saw that he went to Puerto Rico to fight him, he said, ’If I need to go to Mexico, I’ll go because he came to my country.’ So after this loss to Segura, we made plans to make the rematch and they said to do it in Mexico. [Calderon] said, ’I don’t have any problems. If I need to beat a guy and I want to be world champion again, I need to beat him no matter where the fight is.’"

There was some speculation on the island that Calderon would call it a day after his lone loss but that was probably never truly the case.

"I still got unfinished business," said Calderon, who for a better part of a decade went undefeated. "I was one of those people to have big fights. I don’t care where, Puerto Rico, Mexico; I just wanted the fight."

So what changes on Saturday night?

"Everything," he stated. "My kind of fight, do my fight that I know how to do and don’t get hit. And work and train hard for this fight, like I didn’t in my last fight."

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