Numero uno: IBF's top-ranked Rafael Marquez
Numero uno: IBF's top-ranked Rafael Marquez
Phil Soto

Belt Way

Phoenix doesn't get to see a lot of top-drawer boxing, but on Saturday, January 31, we're going to see what could be one of the most exciting cards of the year, especially since it features two belt matches between four lively fighters.

That's right, we'll be privy to two -- count 'em -- two championship boxing bouts, even though some jokers are calling it the "white guys can't fight" fight because there's a rumor that the underdogs are pretty far under. Not true.

Antonio Margarito (29-3), who hails from Tijuana, took the WBO world welterweight title away from Antonio Diaz last March.


Championship boxing

Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington

Starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, January 31. Tickets, $25 to $75, are available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.

But Canadian Olympian Hercules Kyvelos, the underdog, is undefeated in 22 fights, half by knockouts. Margarito sees Kyvelos as someone he can step over to get to other top contenders -- De La Hoya, Mosley, Mayweather -- but Herc is waiting to be underestimated.

There could be an upset. This could be a war between fighters who both like to tear down the house a brick at a time.

And that's only half of it.

Mexico City's Rafael Marquez and his brother, Juan Manuel, are busy and brutal fighters. Marquez took the IBF bantamweight title away from Tim Austin within two weeks of his brother's featherweight title win over Manuel Medina last winter, which makes them members of a very exclusive club of brother title-holders.

Florida's Peter Frissina (27-3-1) has his work cut out for him, and he's likely more than a little outmatched, but he's the IBF's No. 1 contender (and not exactly chopped liver), and he could see this as a major opportunity, which it is.

The fun part is that one year ago Marquez was a 5-1 underdog, and now Fessina is in the same boat.

There's an undercard as well. Phoenix middleweight Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales is back for a four-rounder, and he's unbeaten in six professional fights, all by knockouts. You could, of course, stay home and watch it on HBO, but this would be a fun night to see a great crowd and a couple of real bouts. Your choice.


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