On August 28th, Giovani Segura traveled to Puerto Rico to face the long-reigning junior flyweight champion Ivan Calderon on his island. Many tried to topple the slick-boxing southpaw- all of them had failed. On this night, however, the young man from Bell, California, who speaks softly and carries a big stick that he swings wildly with both hands, just simply beat down Calderon over eight rounds to win the title.
It was a watershed victory for this slugger; yet on Saturday night, while there are two high-profile cards being broadcast on both Showtime and HBO, Segura will be performing on a much smaller stage in Tijuana against Manuel Vargas in a ten-round, non-title flyweight contest. And he will be pocketing a bit less than he did in his last fight.
But Segura didn't hesitate in putting his name on the dotted line.
"I wanted this fight; I want to be active; I want to be as active as I can be because all those first-round knockouts, all those fights have gone fast. And I don't want to go too long without doing nothing," Segura said last week at the Azteca Boxing Club in the city of Bell before his day’s work at the gym.
In an era when most world-class performers fight bi-annually, it's refreshing to see fighters like Segura, who, y' know, actually get out there consistently.
"Yeah, I mean, the people ask for it," said Segura, who will be participating in his fourth outing this year, which by today's standards, is considered to be Henry Armstrong-esque. "They want to see me; they want to know what's going on with me and I'm young right now. I'm strong and I feel I'm able to beat anybody."
Part of this schedule is born out of necessity. The reality is that being in this weight class means that not only is the money much smaller but interest from the premium cable networks is almost nil. Still, ask any manager and they will tell you that once a boxer has a defining victory like Segura did over the summer, the attitude of a fighter can change drastically.
But Ricky Mota, whose family handles Segura’s career, says, "Not just because I manage him but he is a real fighter. He wants to fight all the time; he wants to stay active. He's getting an OK payday in Tijuana and he's ready to go."
The conquest of Calderon was career-changing but it didn't alter the core of Segura.
"People ask me all the time, 'Has he changed?' I see the same guy, same humble person," Mota says of his client. "He tells me, 'I feel like I haven't done anything yet.' He wants to have a better 2011." He adds, "He's well known now; before the fight, he was just like a beltholder kinda guy, had a strap. Now, he's a real legitimate champion. As far as his work ethic, he's still very committed, does all his roadwork; he's working hard in the gym. He's looking great. He had a great camp. He's stronger now than ever."
In the aftermath of that victory, Segura told Maxboxing, "Now people see me different. So far, personally, it's something that will be history and it will be something that I accomplished. So many fighters were not willing to go over there to fight him and that was one of the biggest things I have done. Go over there without fear and do my thing."
Again, that's just a fighter being a fighter. While too many others worry about ancillary issues and find excuses not to make fights, Segura went all in. No guts, no glory, right?
"Some of them, they think about, like, with me with Calderon, 'Oh, they're going to take the fight away because he's local,' this and that. They have too many issues that stop them from being what they want. They don't feel able to do those things. In my case, right now, I feel like I'm ready for everything. So I got no fear facing nobody at whatever time and whatever opponent they put with me," explained Segura, whose record stands at 25-1-1 with 21 knockouts.
There is a chance that Segura could be going back to face Calderon on his home turf next April. This means that Saturday night’s fight, in gamblers’ parlance, is a “sandwich fight,” a bout that sits in the middle of two more significant match-ups. Could there be a letdown?
"I mean, anything can happen when there's two men," said Mota, "but I highly doubt it that there's a letdown."
April 23rd is the target date to make Segura-Calderon II but there is one issue that needs to be resolved. Mota is adamant that his fighter can no longer make the junior flyweight limit of 108 pounds.
"Giovani, even before this fight, he's been wanting to go to 112 already. And then, Calderon came up, so he took the big unification. Now, [Segura] beat [Calderon]; now he wants to fight any of the champions at 112."
So if there is no compromise struck, is the return bout in jeopardy?
Mota says flatly, "Yeah, I think it could be. It's all up to Calderon now, if he wants to fight Giovani. We'll go to Puerto Rico and fight him again. It's all up to Calderon and his team if they want to fight him at 112. Then we'll fight him again. If not, I guess it's a dead issue. We can't make Giovani make 108."
When asked if the rematch clause is slated for a certain weight class, Mota answered, "It does not specify [108 pounds]. There's no money; it just specifies that if Calderon would lose, there was a rematch. Everything would be up to negotiations. That's all there is. But there is no weight issue, no money; everything is up in the air."
So who will Manny Pacquiao face next? It looks like there could be three prime candidates.
Bob Arum told Maxboxing on Monday afternoon, "We got terms for [Shane] Mosley. As far as [Andre] Berto, we'll get terms from Lou DiBella. I'll negotiate and get terms. And then I'll get terms, maybe, on [Juan Manuel] Marquez because I'm not doing any co-promotions. And I'm bringing the three proposals; I'll have two or three to Manny in mid-December. He's going to pick the guy and we're off and running. Because it looks now like [Floyd] Mayweather is not going to make himself available."
Both Marquez and Berto have fights to win this weekend at the MGM Grand. Marquez faces Michael Katsidis and Berto takes on Freddy Hernandez on HBO.
Arum told me on Tuesday outside the Wild Card Boxing Club, where Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. held on open workout, a few of Top Rank's plans for 2011.
- He says that the February 19th fight between Nonito Donaire and Fernando Montiel is a done deal and will take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on HBO.
- The next week, at the Palms in Las Vegas, the winner of the December 4th fight between WBC lightweight titlist Humberto Soto and Urbano Antillon will take on Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios on Showtime.
- Arum also mentioned that the return of WBO featherweight king Juan Manuel Lopez will take place in either March or April on Showtime. Some of the names I'm hearing that are being considered for Lopez are Elio Rojas and Jorge Solis.
- Finally, Arum says he has wants to stage the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade at the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.
Arum told me that a rematch between welterweights Mike Jones and Jesus Soto-Karass is a distinct possibility. Both camps have agreed to this and pending the final approval of HBO, it will land on the Nonito Donaire-Fernando Montiel undercard on Feb. 19th...Olivier Lontchi will now face Mikey Garcia on Dec. 4th in Anaheim in place of Alejandro Perez on Top Rank's pay-per-view show...The Segura-Vargas fight will be broadcast on Fox Sports Deportes. Also on that show is IBF lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez, who faces Ricardo Dominguez. That's a pretty good looking show…I'm hearing the expected talk of Sergio Martinez landing a “lucky” punch vs. Paul Williams. Folks, over the course of 14 rounds together in the ring, “Maravilla” had been landing a lot of those kinds of shots on Williams. What he connected on this past weekend in the second inning was a “perfect punch”...I just have to say this; Veronica (and you know who you are, out there) makes the best guacamole I have ever had. It's the GOAT. Yes, even better than what they have at my beloved Rafael's. So when it comes to this, like Pacquiao, you're the best around (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBktYJsJq-E )...Long live the Spectrum of Philly...