Boxing
 
               === In boxing and life ... the wife knows best ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons
 
 Next time, dammit ... I'm listening to my wife.
 
 Because she's been around me nearly every day for nearly seven years and has
 endured work trips that have sent me from the Cayman Islands to the Nevada
 desert and many places in between, the lovely lady Danielle has gleaned a bit
 of knowledge about the fight game.
 
 She knows the guys I like. She knows the guys I don't like.
 
 And she knows how much it irritates me when I miss a pick I should have
 nailed.
 
 Especially, that is ... when she's smart enough to have seen it coming.
 
 Case in point: Saturday night in Oakland.
 
 Anyone who's read me is aware of my affection for Andre Ward. I did a piece on
 him early in his career several years ago, hopped the aforementioned flight to
 the Caymans to see him dismantle Jerson Ravelo and was so taken that I'd not
 picked against him since -- correctly forecasting the breakout upset of Mikkel
 Kessler, the intermediate wins in the Super Six and the crowning defeat of
 Carl Froch.
 
 A win that, incidentally, looks a helluva lot better now thanks to Lucian
 Bute.
 
 Anyway, the man-crush I'd developed on the former U.S. Olympian was so
 complete that I'd chosen him as the guinea pig in 2011, when my inaugural
 year-opening crystal ball column revealed that he'd be the consensus choice as
 the sport's fighter of the year when December rolled around.
 
 And when it did, I'll be damned if it wasn't spot on.
 
 Problem is, when the chance arrived to follow through on all the ground-floor
 prognostication I'd laid ... my good sense took a powder.
 
 In spite of lessons recently taught by Roy Jones Jr. and Chris Byrd, who'd
 clearly been diminished when traipsing down from one weight to another, I was
 in the minority believing that another of my faves -- Chad Dawson -- would
 retain the role of bully when dumping seven pounds to face 168's king.
 
 I picked him in spite of a long history with his foe. I picked him in spite of
 the dubious logic of a precipitous scale plunge. And I picked him in spite of
 the last thing my wife said to me before I typed out my column last week,
 "You're gonna be smart and say Ward by TKO, right?"
 
 Turns out that come Sunday morning, I wasn't the only one feeling regret.
 
 "I will never again in my life work with a fighter moving down in weight,"
 said Dawson's trainer, John Scully. "His next fight will be at 175 pounds,
 guaranteed. He's disappointed, yes, but it wasn't him in there. Andre Ward did
 a great job in there, don't get me wrong.
 
 "Andre Ward is a tremendous fighter, and based on his recent resume you can
 make a strong case for him being number one pound for pound. But that
 obviously was a weight-drained Chad."
 
 I wish I could make an excuse as simple as his, but it turns out my error was
 just dumb.
 
 Next time -- as the inkling of a Chavez Jr. upset for this weekend randomly
 crosses my mind -- maybe I'll just let the wife write the friggin' thing.
 
 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 
 SATURDAY
 IBF bantamweight title - Las Vegas, NV
 Leo Santa Cruz (champion) vs. Eric Morel (No. 14 contender)
 Santa Cruz (20-0-1, 11 KO): First title defense; One decision win since 2009
 (10-0, 9 KO)
 Morel (46-3, 23 KO): Tenth title fight (6-3); Held WBA title at 112 (2000-03,
 five defenses)
 Fitzbitz says: "Ex-flyweight king has lost three straight title fights, is
 nearly a decade older and naturally smaller than his unbeaten foe, which makes
 this a bruising going-away gift." Santa Cruz by decision
 
 IBF cruiserweight title - Bamberg, Germany
 Yoan Pablo Hernandez (champion) vs. Troy Ross (No. 3 contender)
 Hernandez (26-1, 13 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten since 2008 (12-0, 5
 KO)
 Ross (25-2, 16 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Third fight in Germany (1-1)
 Fitzbitz says: "Old man from Canada is the definition of a live underdog, but
 Hernandez may be a guy who gets better the longer he holds onto the belt."
 Hernandez by decision
 
 WBC super welterweight title - Las Vegas, NV
 Saul Alvarez (champion) vs. Josesito Lopez (No. 4 contender)
 Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KO): Fifth title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0, 1
 KO)
 Lopez (30-4, 18 KO): First title fight; First fight above welterweight limit
 Fitzbitz says: "The parade of 147-pound pastry continues for Alvarez, who
 could make Lopez wish it was he -- and not Victor Ortiz -- who'd wound up with
 the broken jaw." Alvarez in 6
 
 WBC featherweight title - Las Vegas, NV
 Jhonny Gonzalez (champion) vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon (No. 6 contender)
 Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KO): Fifth title defense; Held IBO title at 126 and WBO
 title at 118
 Ponce De Leon (43-4, 35 KO): Ninth title fight (7-1); Held WBO title at 122
 (2005-08, six defenses)
 Fitzbitz says: "An intriguing battle of reinvented 30-somethings who've
 returned from thudding losses. Seems like incumbent is a better fit at 126
 with a better class of wins there." Gonzalez by decision
 
 WBC middleweight title - Las Vegas, NV
 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (champion) vs. Sergio Martinez (unranked)
 Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KO): Fourth title defense; Ninth fight in Las Vegas
 (7-0, 3 KO, 1 NC)
 Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO): Sixth title fight (5-0); Held IBO title at 154 and
 WBC/WBO titles at 160
 Fitzbitz says: "This initially seemed a Martinez rout, but the more thought
 given, the more ways it appears Chavez can rally to chop down an aging and
 much smaller foe down the stretch." Chavez in 11
 
 Vacant WBO junior lightweight title - Las Vegas, NV
 Miguel Beltran Jr. (No. 6 contender) vs. Roman Martinez (No. 8 contender)
 Beltran Jr. (27-1, 17 KO): Second title fight (0-0, 1 NC); First fight outside
 Mexico
 Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KO): Fifth title fight (3-1); Held WBO belt at 130
 (2009-10, two defenses)
 Fitzbitz says: "Puerto Rican ex-champ has been in with better over a longer
 stretch of time at 130, which should be more than enough to yield a second
 title reign." Martinez by decision
 
 Last week's picks: 2-1
 Overall picks record: 421-145 (74.3 percent)
 
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 
 
 09/13 17:29:28 ET

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