(Israel Vazquez at an open workout last week; Gene Blevins, Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions)
It’s good to see Izzy again, ain’t it? His return to the ring this week is naturally the highlight of the boxing schedule, thus his giant photo highlighting a blog entry about the week’s schedule. We get started early this week because there’s a meaningful fight Tuesday. But for reasons I’ll explain momentarily, I might have updates on the televised/webcast schedule in the Twitter feed at right and/or in Friday’s Quick Jabs column.
- Israel Vazquez-Angel Priolo, Saturday, Los Angeles, HBO Plus (and maybe elsewhere?). There was some talk of ESPN Deportes picking this up as well, and the last time ESPN Deportes did that, they broadcast it on ESPN’s website, so if you don’t have either channel — and that’s just about everybody — you may still get to watch, and I’ll post any updates on this via Twitter/Quick Jabs per the note above. Vazquez, a staple of pound-for-pound top-10 lists and the premier action fighter in the game prior to a long injury layoff, returns as a featherweight and with the promise of an improved defense. Even a half-dead, bad-on-D Vazquez should be able to beat Priolo, who’s moving up two weight classes and has suffered knockout losses in five of his six straight losses. I’ve expressed some support for Vazquez taking a soft opponent to return to boxing, but there’s soft and there’s borderline criminal, and I didn’t realize Priolo was more like the latter. I guess, though, if Vazquez doesn’t go clean through Priolo like wet toilet paper, we’ll know if reports of him recuperating from a career of wars and multiple eye surgeries are overblown, and I guess we’ll get a chance to see what a defensive-minded Vazquez looks like. Some of Golden Boy’s fave prospects, such as Fight Night Club staple David Rodela, will appear on the undercard.
- Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis, Saturday, New York, Top Rank pay-per-view. I love Lopez, really, and I love Gamboa, definitely, and I even kind of like Solis, but this card is pretty much all mismatch. It’s the fifth fight in a row I can describe that way for junior featherweight Lopez, although I thought the Gerry Penalosa match-up was not necessarily so on paper and obviously Olivier Lontchi proved better than expected. Rogers Mtagwa is a tough, game opponent, but since Lopez beat Daniel Ponce De Leon last June, he hasn’t fought anyone who could honestly be called a top-10 junior feather. This is the last time anyone should tolerate Lopez in a mismatch, and I’m unlikely to buy the card; Top Rank is clearly milking Lopez for every easy dollar they can get out of him, and I don’t care to participate, although maybe by the weekend I’ll be itching for boxing, any boxing. Gamboa’s mismatch is Whyber Garcia, who’s been knocked out by the likes of Jorge Linares and even Roinet Caballero. Heavyweight Solis has the most defensible opponent, hard-luck Fres Oquendo, but if Kevin Johnson hadn’t pulled out of his bout with Solis for this card, I woulda bought it, because that’s a real cool fight. Also on the card: middleweight John Duddy, coming off a loss, so as to be set up as a Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. opponent.
- Denkaosan Kaovichit-Daiki Kameda, Tuesday; Toshiaki Nishioka-Ivan Hernandez/Jorge Linares-Juan Carlos Salgado, Saturday; Japan. Kaovichit is the #3 flyweight in the world per Ring magazine and Kameda is an eccentric character in the colorful Kameda family who became famous for body slamming Daisuke Naito during a fight in 2007 and losing his license for a year. When Daiki wins — which he’s done in every fight but the Naito fight — he sings to the audience. Nishioka is the #5 junior featherweight in a pretty stacked division, having knocked out Jhonny Gonzalez spectacularly in his last fight, and in so doing he became one of the rare Japanese fighters to fight outside his home country. Hernandez has been knocked out by the aforementioned Izzy in 2006 and Fernando Montiel in 2005, but he owns a 2004 knockout win over Mark Johnson; I don’t see him doing much impressive of late, however. As for the ultra-talented Linares, I’d expect this is his last fight against a so-so opponent (Salgado is undefeated but hasn’t fought anyone of note) before he begins fighting in America via his Golden Boy Promotions deal.
- Fernando Guerrero-Ossie Duran, Saturday, Salisbury, Md. No word as of now about whether this one will air on pay-per-view at PrizeFightTV.com the way the last couple Guerrero cards have, but I’ll keep you posted. This event isn’t as stacked with quality young fighters as recent such cards, but Guerrero is facing the toughest opposition of his fledgling middleweight career. Duran is winless in his last three, but he fought David Lopez and James Kirkland fairly close and drew with Eromosele Albert. I probably give Guerrero a little more attention that he warrants at this point in his career because he’s in my backyard, and because I find him interesting — he’s an exciting fighter with a huge fan base in a small town and who’s being moved fairly quickly as a prospect and promoted in an unconventional way. [UPDATE: David P. Greisman of BoxingScene informs below that the Guerrero fight most likely will not be online. Sadly, I say. But check out David’s piece on Guerrero, which explains the phenomenon he is in Salisbury better than any I’ve previously seen.]
- The rest. Denis Boytsov is viewed by some as a top-10 heavyweight who at 23 is very young for the division, and he’s beaten some OK trial horses, but that’s not what I’d call his opponent for Saturday in Germany, Jason Gavern; Gavern has five losses but none by KO… Juan Carlos Burgos, the #1-ranked featherweight according to the WBC but the #16 featherweight in the opinion to FightNews.com, stays busy in Cali Friday with an opponent who has six straight decision losses… There’s a certain kind of U.K. fighter who gets some heat in his homeland, like say a John Murray, that I’m skeptical of until I see them fight a top-10 level opponent or away from their home soil, and light heavyweight Nathan Cleverly, who’s fighting Friday, is one of them — in case you wonder why I never mention those guys.