It’s Paul Williams weekend as far as I’m concerned, but there’s a man fighting Saturday who connects Williams (left, photo credit Jan Sanders/Goossen-Tutor) and his opponent, Kermit Cintron. Williams beat him; Cintron lost to him twice. He’s fighting south of the border since he’s not licensed to fight in the United States, as that right to fight was revoked here after the California State Athletic Commission determined he had elements of plaster of Paris — an illegal substance — in his hand wraps prior to his January, 2009 fight with Shane Mosley. And them’s just the facts. The only editorializing you’ll get about it is in the headline.
- Antonio Margarito-Roberto Garcia, Saturday, Top Rank pay-per-view, Mexico. This is Margarito’s first fight since Mosley, so there are some questions about whether he’ll be the same Margarito he once was. Was that the first time a foreign substance had made his way into his gloves? Now that his previously unbreakable chin has been broken once, can it be put back together again? Will he be good moving up to junior middleweight, where he’s had mixed results in the past? And if Mosley was hampered by his own long layoff in the Floyd Mayweather fight, might Margarito be? The question about Garcia is whether he’s the man who can take advantage of it. He’s got trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, which says something about what Roach thinks the answers might be to the questions about Margarito. He hasn’t fought many major fighters (a no contest with Freddy Hernandez and a win over Tyson Brunson conqueror Carson Jones are the highlights), but he hasn’t lost since early in his career and he has a nice KO record — 21 in 28 wins. From the looks of this video, Garcia is willing to mix it up and has some heart, which he’ll need if he’s mixing it up with the Margarito of old — and if he can be knocked down by someone with that record, then maybe even the worst imaginable version of Margarito can beat him.
- Top Rank PPV undercard. This was going to feature a pair of excellent fights, tempting even to those who object morally to paying for any card that featured Margarito. One of them, Jorge Solis-Mario Santiago at junior lightweight, is still on the card. Both men recently moved up to the weight after suffering close losses at featherweight; both are good boxers. The winner could become a real player in a division that has become very barren. He gets Solis’ interim belt, which presumably gets him a shot later at full titlist Takashi Uchiyama, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell, then I’d refer you to my comment about the division being barren. The fight that isn’t happening is a lightweight clash between Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon, which would have been a corker, but Antillon remains on the card, albeit off-TV. The other TV fight features flyweight Alfonso Lopez — son of the legendary Ricardo — in his fourth fight.
- Nobuo Nashiro-Hugo Cazares II, Saturday, Japan. This is a rematch of a closely fought draw between the two junior bantamweights last year. From the clips I saw it looked like a nice scrap the first time around. Nashiro is ranked #2 in the division by Ring magazine, while Cazares is ranked #4, so its got heat in that way, too. That’s right! There are other junior bantams besides Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire.
- Jean-Marc Mormeck-Fres Oquendo, Thursday, France. I still doubt Mormeck can become a player at heavyweight, but he isn’t dialing back the competition after a reportedly shaky outing against tough-but-undertalented Vinny Maddalone. Oquendo always is up for playing spoiler, having lost decisions in 2008 to James Toney and in 2006 to Evander Holyfield that many believed he deserved to win, and he beats journeymen like Bruce Seldon when he’s not doing that.
- Solo Boxeo, Friday, Telefutura, Pennsylvania. Junior welterweight Danny Garcia is more of a prospect than Mormeck, who’s getting old and can’t really afford to dial it back after a shaky outing. Garcia can. From Ashley Theophane, he goes to minor TQBR favorite Chris Fernandez, who’s not as good as Theophane but is usually no pushover despite losing four of his last six. Fellow Philly prospect Karl Dargan, a lightweight trained by Naazim Richardson and who sparred with Mosley for the Mayweather fight, is also featured; he has talent, especially on the speed/boxing ability end, but he lacks power and last time I saw him I thought his composure needed some work. His opponent, Jorge Ruiz, has the kind of record you’d expect from someone taking on a prospect with seven fights.
- Friday Night Fights, Friday, ESPN2, New Mexico. This card fell apart when action hero featherweight Antonio Escalante pulled out with an injury. Now it’s headlined by Yordanis Despaigne, a 2004 Cuban Olympian, and as much as I love the Cuban Olympians, I can’t say I’d heard of him before he became the man to lead this card. Also featured is heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell, who fights out of my backyard. Boxing Along the Beltway scribe Gary “Digital” Williams is the freaking man; you can learn everything you need to know about Mitchell here; he’s been featured as an up-and-comer by Maxboxing, so he’s got some credibility.
- Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron undercard, Saturday, California. Martin Honorio, once filed under “done as a contender,” has really revitalized his career at lightweight with two straight wins over undefeated prospects. He’s taking on another youngster in Argenis Mendez, who’s under the tutelage of ultra-hot trainer Robert Garcia (Donaire, Rios, etc.) but hasn’t fought anyone of note. Could be interesting, if the pattern of Honorio’s last two fights holds. Also on the card is junior middleweight prospect Jeremiah Wiggins, who looked somewhat promising when I saw him live.
- The Rest. NESportsTV.com webcasts a fight Friday featuring junior middleweight Billy Lyell, coming off a defeat to Sebastian Sylvester but most famous for giving John Duddy his first loss… John Murray, a well-regarded lightweight from the UK ranked #10 in the division by Ring, fights Friday.