TQBR Prediction Game 2.0 is in effect for Michael Katsidis-Kevin Mitchell! Repeat! It’s in effect! Don’t forget the rules. We’ll hit a short Katsidis-Mitchell preview first then cover the rest of the packed weekend schedule besides the HBO doubleheader, for which the game is not in effect.
- Katsidis-Mitchell, Saturday, United Kingdom. It’s upsetting this fight isn’t being televised anywhere in the United States, because both men are pretty fun to watch. It’s also perhaps a bit surprising that Mitchell is the slight betting favorite. I thought he might be a popular upset pick because he’s a better technical fighter and more versatile than the come-forward Katsidis, but Katsidis, an Aussie, is ranked #1 at lightweight by Ring magazine and Mitchell, a Brit, is #9. Katsidis has been in there with the likes of Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Vicente Escobedo, Jesus Chavez and Czar Amonsot, while Mitchell has been in there with Breidis Prescott and that’s about it. Stylistically, it’s not strictly brawler vs. boxer. Katsidis has developed his boxing game slowly over time, and only has one knockout in his last six fights. Mitchell has shown some power when he decides to go for broke. Give me Mitchell by unanimous decision, but Katsidis always finds a way to force a firefight at some point, and Mitchell won’t find it anything like having a spot of tea. If you live in the United States and can find an Internet stream of this fight, you should. And because I can’t get enough of this poster, here it is again:
- Krzysztof Wlodarczyk-Giacobbe Fragomeni II, Saturday, Poland. These two top-ranked cruiserweights (Wlodarczyk #2, Fragomeni #5) fought to a draw in an honorable mention for 2009 Fight of the Year. Fragomeni recently lost a hard-fought decision to Zsolt Erdei, who quickly vacated the belt he took from the man whose name translates from the Italian to “fragmentation grenade,” or at least that’s what it should be. Now Frag gets another shot at the vacant belt in this fight. The first time these two met in Italy, and some thought Fragomeni’s draw was a mild gift. Now they fight in Poland, home of Wlodarczyk, who has 19 letters in his name but only three vowels. Fragomeni’s a stocky brawler, while Wlodarczyk is a bit more of a rangy boxer-puncher. If you can find a stream, you should.
- Cristobal Cruz-Orlando Salido II, Saturday, Mexico. Cruz is a featherweight who late in his career has gone from “tough journeyman with 11 career losses, two of them by Francisco Lorenzo” to “authentic featherweight titlist good enough to be ranked #3 in a loaded division.” That’s an extremely rare transformation. Salido once beat Robert Guerrero but tested positive for steroids, resulting in the result being changed to a no contest, and hasn’t done much since losing a close fight to Cruz in 2008. Their first fight was ugly and awkward. If you can find a stream, as much as Cruz is a minor favorite of mine, I’m not sure you should watch it.
- Friday Night Fights, Friday, ESPN2, Nevada. There are a whole slew of smaller cards on television this weekend, but the main event in this fight is probably the most competitive match-up of them all. Julio Diaz and Herman Ngoudjo are two junior welterweights who have been top-10 men in the past but now desperately need a win. Ngoudjo is fresher and his most recent loss came to a better opponent in Juan Urango than the men that have beaten Diaz, who’s lost two in a row, to Victor Cayo and Rolando Reyes. I keep thinking Diaz’ next loss will be the end of his days on TV, but he keeps getting back in the mix somehow.
- ShoBox, Friday, Showtime, California. Sergiy Dzinziruk is a talented junior middleweight who has been locked up in promotional feuds over in Germany and has missed out on fights like a bout with Paul Williams, but now he’s under Gary Shaw’s banner and that means he’s getting exposure on Showtime. If not for inactivity — he hasn’t fought since beating Joel Julio in November of 2008 — he would be ranked in the top 10 of the division, and a lot of boxing people are really high on him. Daniel Dawson is an Aussie with a record of 34-1, but the 34 came against no one of note and the 1 came against Daniel Geale, the current #8 man at middleweight, where judges awarded Geale 35 of the 36 scored rounds. Curt Menefee joins the ShoBox broadcast team, replacing Nick Charles, who continues to battle cancer.
- Top Rank Live, Saturday, Fox Sports Net, Mexico. This is Humberto Soto’s obligatory soft lightweight title defense, with his opponent, Ricardo Dominguez, owning a 1st round KO loss against light-hitting Zahir Raheem on his record but who’s known in Mexico, apparently, from a tournament in Mexico similar to the U.S. show The Contender. Soto, the #8 lightweight, primarily exists to annoy me, so far as I can tell, but everyone’s expecting this fight to be good. We’ll see. That’s the story of the rest of the card, too — some good names but against lesser opponents expected to produce nice action, including junior featherweight prospect Robert Marroquin and bantamweight Francisco Arce. I’m not sure how much of it will air, or if it’ll air on Fox Sports En Espanol or what.
- The Rest. On Friday, Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo features lightweight prospect Adrien Broner against an opponent, Rafael Lora, who is coming off two straight knockout losses to another prospect, while Telemundo features streaking junior featherweight prospect Jesus Ruiz against Cuauhtemoc Vargas, who hasn’t fought in more than three years since a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Lopez… On Monday, not exactly the weekend, #5 junior lightweight Takashi Uchiyama makes a soft defense of his belt… On Saturday, Omar Narvaez moves up from flyweight — where he showed talent when he fought anyone worth much of a damn in one of his gazillion title defenses but rarely did — to junior bantamweight, where I imagine the pattern will continue, because he’s already got an interim title shot… On Friday, NESportsTV.com handles the latest from Hector Camacho Sr., for some reason… Other names you might know in action over the weekend, on various undercards: featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez, middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs, Prescott, heavyweight prospect Tor Hamer, and Brits James DeGale (super middleweight) and Frankie Gavin (welterweight).