Calederon-Segura bout a mix of styles
Saturday’s junior flyweight unification bout in Puerto Rico, between Giovanni Segura and Ivan Calderon, goes beyond a simple Champion vs. Champion battle for two of the four recognized divisional titles. And it even goes beyond the legendary Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing rivalry.
The contest, simply labeled “Unification,” will be the type of battle that can take place only when two polar opposites, both in style and temperament, meet in the ring.
Segura (24-1-1, 20 KOs), aka “The Aztec Warrior,” was one of seven children raised on the unforgivingly hot and dusty streets of Ciudad Altamirano in the state of Guerrero. Like many young, able-bodied Mexicans looking for a way out of the chaotic poverty, Segura made the dangerous trek into the United States via Baja California.
Segura eventually won his first world title against Colombian Cesar Canchila in Mexicali, the same city where, years earlier, he trudged through abandoned sewage tunnels en route to a better life in the United States.
In the time between his arrival in the U.S. and his first title, Segura worked a series of odd jobs, making ends meet while training at the Azteca Gym in Bell, Calif. The idea of being a full-time fighter was only a pipe dream for the 5-foot-4 brawler until he was signed by Top Rank Promotions.
Segura’s raw aggression and flailing style reveal a fighter with very little amateur experience (His official bio says he had 40 amateur bouts, but he has since confessed to exaggerating his experience and that the actual number is 12).
With only one blemish on his record, a 2008 decision to Canchila that was avenged with a fourth-round TKO eight months later, Segura overwhelms opponents with pure, unrelenting aggression and has had three blowout title defenses to prove his dominance since winning the WBA junior flyweight belt.
He makes no apologies for his lack of technique, but more than makes up for an absence of finesse and precision with a primal drive to attack from bell to bell and handcuff an opponent with relentless pressure.
Segura also makes no apologies for his co-trainer, the now infamous Javier Capetillo, former trainer of Antonio Margarito and key figure in the hand wrap scandal that led to Capetillo and his fighter getting their licenses revoked by the California State Athletic Commission in February 2009.
Regardless of the difficulty presented by fighting in Calderon’s back yard, Segura approaches this unification with the same careless savagery that characterizes his fighting style.
“I don’t care if the fight is in his house, in front of his people. In the ring, there’s only him and me," Segura says. "The people don’t intimidate me. They can scream and support him all they want…
"I’ve heard that Calderon has said that I’m only a ‘rock thrower.’ Well, I’m also a world champion. Watch out if one of those rocks hits their mark.”
Calderon, in sharp contrast to Segura’s raw brutality, is a paragon of technical excellence. He is regarded by experts as one of the sport’s very best technical boxers, and his defensive prowess has been mentioned alongside that of Hall of Fame stylists like Pernell Whitaker and Willie Pep.
Also coming from humble beginnings, the native of Guaynabo was educated in the art of boxing and seasoned on the international amateur circuit. The 2000 Olympian compiled an amateur record of 110-20 before turning pro in 2001 with a mature, polished style that garnered praise and attention.
With a record of 34-0-1 (6 KOs), Calderon has been a world champion since 2003. He held the WBO minimumweight title from 2003 to 2007, making 11 successful defenses before moving up to junior flyweight to capture the WBO version of that title by beating Mexican slugger Hugo Cazares. Saturday’s unification bout with Segura will be Calderon’s seventh defense of his belt.
Calderon prides himself on his hit-and-move style and his ability to make opponents miss. He’s definitely cut from a different cloth than Segura, working with speed and precision to befuddle and confuse his rivals while scoring with sharp counter punches to win rounds.
He hasn’t scored a knockout in over four years, but that’s not what Calderon is all about. Calderon is about style, technique and the bona-fide art of hitting while not getting hit.
History suggests that the technician usually has the advantage in these brawn vs. brains contests, but this could very well be a bout that defies convention.
Calderon is 35 and has been showing signs of slowing down. Segura, on the other hand, has been looking stronger and sharper with each fight, stopping his last five opponents (and eight of his last nine) in under 12 rounds.
Segura’s unorthodox style also will be a key factor. Switching from orthodox to southpaw and throwing at strange angles, Segura is the type of dynamo who often confuses and frustrates well-schooled, polished professionals, even those, like Calderon, who are on the fringe of most pound-for-pound lists.
Calderon, however, is as calm and collected as always, categorizing Segura as “disorganized, but strong.”
Calderon has seen it all and definitely will be bolstered by fighting in front of a mega-partisan hometown crowd at the Coliseo Mario ‘Quijote’ Morales in Guaynabo,. To Calderon, guys like Segura are open books.
But “The Aztec Warrior,” who has gone from sewage tunnels to a world title, makes for a tough read and just may produce an unpredictable ending Saturday.