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Boxing In America: WBO Champ Calderon vs. Iribe In Madison Square Garden Tonight

Puerto Rican superstar Ivan Calderon headlines New York's famed Madison Square Garden for the first time as the southpaw WBO light flyweight champion puts his crown at risk against hard-nosed former two-time world title challenger Jesus Iribe of Mexico.

At 33-0-1 (6), Calderon has never lost a professional fight and during his reigns as WBO light fly and minimumweight champion, has made 17 title defenses. The only non-title bout for "Iron Boy" over the last seven years occurred when opponent Edgar Cardenas failed to make weight for a WBO minimumweight challenge in 2004.

But Calderon is now 35 years of age in a division that thrives on youth, quickness and high rates of activity and the Guaynabo resident has seen his last three bouts end in victorious technical decisions when he could not continue due to cuts suffered from headclashes.

Hoping to end Calderon's long run will be iron-chinned Mexican veteran Iribe, 16-6-5 (10), who is coming off a sixth round stoppage of journeyman Valentin Leon in December.

Culiacan based Iribe challenged for the WBC light fly belt in 2008, losing via wide points decision to Edgar Sosa before faring better but still losing by unanimous decision against Brian Viloria for the IBF strap last summer.

Iribe will likely look to press the champion and wear the light hitting Puerto Rican icon down in hopes of forcing a stoppage in the later rounds but Calderon has faced and handled that strategy successfully for years.

The champion must look to protect against cuts and punish Iribe on the way in, outworking the challenger but also conserving enough energy to handle Iribe's inevitable late fight surge.

Calderon is definitely the favorite to walk out of Madison Square Garden with the WBO title still around his waist but must not allow the challenger to set too hot of a pace.

About Richard Eberline

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