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PUERTO RICO HERALD
Calero Deserves Shot At Big Leagues, Plus Boxing, San Blas Half Marathon Notes
By Gabrielle Paese
February 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
It aint over til the fat lady sings, but the Mayaguez Indios sure made it look like they had the Caribbean Series all wrapped up earlier this week when the Puerto Rico winter league champions handed the major league Dominican squad, the Aguilas Cibaenas, a 10-0 drubbing in their first encounter.
Mayaguez starter Enrique Calero allowed two hits over six innings, fanning six batters in his last start of the winter league season. He shut down a Dominican lineup that featured AL MVP Miguel Tejada and New York Yankees outfielder Raul Mondesi as well as big leaguers Rafael Furcal, Luis Polonia, Felix Jose and Tony Batista.
Calero, 28, who signed in the off-season with the St. Louis Cardinals, is expected to finally get a shot at spring training later this month. Its an opportunity he richly deserves after languishing in Triple A Omaha and AA Wichita for too many years in the Kansas City organization.
The 6-1 right-hander has put up great numbers both in the minor leagues and in winter ball. Calero finished up the regular season with Mayaguez with a 5-2 record and a 2.25 ERA. He pitched more innings than any other Indio starter. Mayaguez had won its last nine games with two left to go in the Series. To give you an idea of just how good the Indios rotation is, consider this: under the direction of Mayaguez pitching coach Guy Hansen, the Indios have allowed just eight runs over those nine games.
The Caribbean Series finishes up Friday at Carolinas Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium.
Top Rank junior welterweight prospect Miguel Cotto did not disappoint last weekend, scoring an 11th round TKO over Mexican Cesar Bazan during their fight in Las Vegas. Cotto is now 14-0, 11KO and right on pace for four more fights in 2003 en route to a title opportunity in 2004.
Meanwhile WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz continues to prepare in Boca Raton, Fla., for his March 1 bout against the undisputed world light heavyweight champion, Roy Jones Jr. in Las Vegas.
Ruiz (38-4-1, 27 KO) will be defending his title for the third time in the Don King-orchestrated event that nearly died at the negotiating table.
Jones Jr. is vying to become the first light heavyweight boxer to defeat a heavyweight since Michael Spinks beat Larry Holmes in 1986.
Ruizs manager, Norman Stone, called the fight a "win-win situation" in an interview this week and said Jones Jr. was the most lucrative alternative for his fighter.
"Heres the situation. Lewis didnt want us, he offered us $1 million so you know where that was going and Tyson said no. We offered to fight the Klitschkos -- one of them in the morning, then a basketball game with Roy in the afternoon and the other Klitschko in the evening and they still said no, so this was our best alternative," said Stone. "Were getting the money plus, as my trainer [Gabe La Marca] said, were going against the greatest fighter pound-for-pound right now. Its going to be an exciting fight."
Jones (44-1, 36 KO) will make a guaranteed $10 million against 60 percent of the net proceeds for the pay-per-view date. Ruiz and King will split the remaining 40 percent. The fight is part of a heavyweight series dreamed up by promoter Don King.
Vegas bookmakers list Jones Jr. as the odds-on favorite, despite the fact that 1988 Olympian will be spotting the 6-2 Ruiz at least 45 pounds. Jones Jr. has held belts at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight over his 13-year career.
"It doesnt bother us. Weve been the underdog our whole lives. I hope he comes in as a 10-1 favorite because then Im going to make more money," said Ruizs manager, Stone. "Were going to rewrite history. I see Johnny knocking him out in seven."
Khannouchi Readies To Defend San Blas International Half Marathon Title
On Sunday, U.S. runner Khalid Khannouchi will by vying for an unprecedented fifth San Blas International Half Marathon title when the 41st edition of the venerable 13.1-mile race gets under way in the southern town of Coamo.
Khannouchi is sure to get some competition from a strong Kenyan contingent that includes 2002 runner-up Henry Tarus as well as Philip Rugut, but anyone who thinks the Kenyans can team up and out-run Khannouchi is underestimating the former Moroccan citizen.
Khannouchi made history last year at San Blas when he won a fourth title. If he looked unstoppable in the 90s, consider that in this millennium, Khannouchi has already twice run a sub-2:06 marathon and has already set the second standard for the 26.2-mile distance with a world record pace at London last year in 2:05.38.
Whats most impressive about Khannouchi is that hes never forgotten Puerto Rico. He won back-to-back races in 1995 and 1996 here early in his career at the Modesto Carrion Half Marathon in Juncos and won the 1996 and 1997 editions of San Blas. Those victories started him on his way to road running fame. Since then he has made annual pilgrimages to Puerto Rico to run in various races, much to the delight of Puerto Ricans, who mob him on the street and ask for autographs.
Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at email@example.com.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.