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May 6, 2005
Puerto Rico lost two world boxing titles last week as World Boxing Association heavyweight champ John Ruiz dropped a unanimous decision in New York to former cruiserweight James Toney while World Boxing Organization 108-pound champ Nelson Dieppa's belt went to Mexican Hugo Cazares via technical decision in San Juan.
Ruiz announced his retirement following the loss, but Dieppa's sights were set on a rematch. Cazares, whose record improved to 20-3-1, 14 KO, accidentally butted Dieppa in the forehead during the seventh round, opening up a nasty cut over the Vieques native's hairline. Dieppa's trainer, Alex "Cano" Matos, stemmed the bleeding for the eighth round, but Cazares again knocked heads with Dieppa in the ninth, this time opening a bloody cut over Dieppa's right eyebrow. Referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight in the 10th because of the blood. At the time, Cazares was ahead on all three judges scorecards, 96-94 on two and 98-92 on the third. Dieppa, who was trying to defend his title for the sixth time, dropped to 22-2, 13 KO.
"When Cazares would come in for a punch, he would duck his head and that's when we would butt heads," said Dieppa following the fight. "I don't agree with the decision."
Dieppa was furious during the post-fight press conference and taunted Cazares. He provoked the Mexican into saying no to a rematch. Cazares' team, however, said later in the evening that they would hear out any offer P.R. Best Boxing promoter Peter Rivera made for future bouts. Those options include a Cazares-Alex "Nene" Sanchez fight as well as talk of an Ivan Calderon-Cazares matchup.
Dieppa looked anything but convincing in the first four rounds versus Cazares as the Mexican confused the Puerto Rican with a brawling style of roundhouse punches that came at Dieppa from all sides. Cazares mocked Dieppa throughout the fight, even changing to a southpaw stance in the sixth to further confuse Dieppa. Dieppa did his best to avoid Cazares' blows while trying to throw some of his own. The former champ began to make headway in the fifth and sixth rounds, but could find no way inside Cazares' movements.
"Because he was coming at me with this crazy flying stuff, I had to be careful against it," said Dieppa, who added that he had expected Cazares to move forward in the typical Mexican style. "When he would get close to me, he would run again. I was trying to slowly get to him, had I been able to finish the fight I would have won. I deserve the rematch."
Dieppa is likely to get it, although promoter Rivera said he's yet to make any plans. However, of the four fights on the May 1 pay-per-view card in San Juan, Dieppa-Cazares was the most exciting and made up for a lackluster but efficient performance by WBO minimum weight champ Calderon.
Calderon (22-0, 5 KO), was the only Puerto Rican to retain his belt in action this past weekend. The 105-pound technician scored a TKO victory over Philippine fighter Noel Tunacao in the eighth round of their headliner at the Puerto Rico Coliseum in San Juan. It was Calderon's fifth defense of the title he won on Nov. 22, 2002 via a 12-round unanimous decision over Nicaragua's Lee Sandoval. Calderon, not known for his knockout punch but rather for his technical expertise, didn't get much of a fight from Tunacao, whose face was expressionless. The Philippine fighter (38-8-2, 18 KO), who was fighting outside of Asia for the first time in his career, mounted only a half-hearted attack of Calderon, preferring to spend most of the eight rounds with his gloves up absorbing Calderon's fury. Tunacao had not fought in 16 months prior to his test versus Calderon and the inactivity, coupled with a 32-hour flight and a struggle to make fighting weight, seemed to take its toll in the ring.
Calderon said he wasn't sure about a fight versus Cazares, although he admitted he wouldn't mind a title at 108.
"It's not in my best interests to fight Cazares because he was just crowned champion and he'd have to defend his title two or three times before he makes a name for himself in Mexico and Las Vegas," Calderon said. "My dream is to get another title. I want to win everything I can at 105 and then I'll go up to 108."
Calderon, who turned pro following the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, is scheduled to defend his title again on July 25 on the Floyd Mayweather-Arturo Gatti fight card. He said he expects to make four defenses this year.
Meanwhile, in New York, Ruiz looked to be in better shape than Toney, but could not convince in the ring. Toney won 116-11 on two of the judges' cards and 115-112 on the other.
Toney, who was never at a loss for words prior to or after the fight, gave little credit to Ruiz. Ruiz dropped to the canvas early in the seventh round in what looked like a slip.
"I didn't expect much from John, because he is an average fighter. John Ruiz is stupid, he can't change his style, he only knows how to fight one way," Toney said.
Ruiz, who announced his retirement from the sport, said he didn't agree with the decision.
"He's a tough guy to fight, he moves around a lot," Ruiz said. "I connected a lot, I finished stronger and I won the fight."
His manager, Norman "Stoney" Stone, confirmed the Puerto Rican's decision.
"John's done. Farewell," Stone said. "This kid has never ever said anything bad about the things that have been said about him."
P.R. versus Indonesia in Fed Cup playoff
Indonesia will be Puerto Rico's rival for the Federation Cup World Group II playoff, which Puerto Rico will host July 9-10 at a venue yet to be determined.
The team headed by 86th ranked Kristina Brandi and 150th ranked Vilmarie Castellvi is one victory away from moving up to World Group II play.
Puerto Rico drew Indonesia out of a pool of World Group losers that also included Slovak Republic, Thailand and Japan. All three of those teams had players ranked in the top 75.
"It's good news that we'll play Indonesia, although they are not a rival to be taken lightly," said team captain Juan Carlos Escudero. "They have eight players ranked in the top 1,000 in the world, which says good things about their tennis program. We have only two players with world rankings. They have had more exposure than we have. But of the four options, they appear to be the easiest rival."
Puerto Rico will host the playoff, which features two singles matches July 9 followed by two more singles matches and a doubles match on July 10.
Bayamon's Honda Tennis center as well as San Juan's Parque Central and Dorado's Hyatt Cerromar hotel are potential venues. Har-Tru is the surface Puerto Rico has chosen, Escudero said.
Indonesia's top player, Widjaja turned pro in 1998. She hastwo Women's Tennis Association (WTA) titles to her credit, the first in 2001 (Wismilak Open in Bali, Indoneisa) and the second in 2002 (Volvo Open in Pattay, Thailand).Ranked as high as 55th (2003), she crashed to 132nd in 2004 and took time off for surgery.
Gabrielle Paese is a sports reporter in San Juan. She was 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.