(Nonito Donaire, right; stereotypically decent opponent Hernan Marquez, left. Credit: Showtime)
Whatever you think of the Showtime main event Saturday evening, you aren’t without other boxing options this weekend, some of them promising. Especially on Friday. My DVR can’t handle a night like Friday.
- Nonito Donaire-Hernan Marquez, Saturday, Showtime, Puerto Rico. The undercard features Donaire in a staple of his career since 2007, i.e. fights against non-elite opponents. Thankfully, Donaire has begun to make a racket about his treatment by promoter Top Rank, as has his manager, Cameron Dunkin. A few years ago Donaire was agitating for apparently no good reason under the guidance of Gary Shaw, but his grievance against Top Rank is legit. Check out the informative piece by Mike Rosenthal here. (It may not leave you with encouraging hopes for Todd DuBoef taking over Top Rank someday.) Marquez lost his last fight against a Filipino prospect with a fraction of Donaire’s talent — Donaire’s the #2 man of his heritage right now, behind only pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao — but the argument is that it’s because he was struggling to get down in weight, and will be comfortable at 115. Donaire is increasingly uncomfortable at the weight, and the only realistic chance for Marquez to win is if he catches a weakened and distracted Donaire with something big. [UPDATE: Some other undercard fights, including perhaps a bout featuring Filipino bantamweight Eden Sonsona, will be on TRLiveStream.]
- Mike Jones-Irving Garcia/Antwone Smith-Lanardo Tyner, Friday, Showtime, New Jersey. Jones and Smith are the welterweight prospects in the ShoBox spotlight, and both offer attributes to like. Jones has more natural talent and better skills, and Garcia — last seen on ShoBox in a thrilling brawl with Luis Carlos Abregu, on the losing end — should be his last fight at about this level. If he makes it through, he graduates to a potential bout with Andre Berto, or maybe even a bout with Smith. Some see him as a future star. I’m not entirely convinced, but I like some of what I’ve seen. Smith is a hard-nosed type who’s exceeded expectations repeatedly and fights like a smaller Glen Johnson, all annoying pressure and hard-hitting if not a major KO artist. Tyner is also described as a tough sort, but he has ultimately lost wide, near-shutout decisions to his best opponents, Saul Alvarez, Lamont Peterson and Mike Arnaoutis.
- Henry Lundy-John Molina, Friday, ESPN2, Rhode Island. This figures as a lightweight brawl to some, but from what Lundy’s saying, I think he’ll eschew his usual engaging style in favor of moving to confuse the flat-footed and more powerful Molina, who was flustered by movement in his only loss to Martin Honorio. Lundy is most certainly the boxer of the two, although he can’t resist going on the attack sometimes, and that’s where things could get fun. Another thing to watch is the size difference; Molina is 5’10 1/2″, to Lundy’s 5’6″, although he claims his long arms will neutralize the gap. Despite my doubts, this still has a strong chance of being the fight of the weekend.
- Erislandy Lara-William Correa, Friday, TeleFutura, Colorado. The junior middleweight headliner is a late replacement for what may have been the best Solo Boxeo show since its revival, a lightweight bout between Vicente Escobedo and Raymundo Beltran. There’s a growing sense that Solo Boxeo hasn’t shown much since its revival, and maybe the fact that Escobedo-Beltran is about as good as it’s gotten is evidence. That said, getting Lara to step in at the last minute is a decent save; it would be a better save if his opponent, Correa, hadn’t lost to three fighters nowhere near as heralded as Lara.
- Brian Viloria-Omar Soto, Saturday, Philippines. Viloria returns — for the first time since a grueling knockout loss — as a flyweight, returning to a division where he hasn’t yet proven he is as effective as at junior flyweight. And he was only sporadically effective at 108, showing flashes of brilliance between surprising losses. Soto lasted 11 rounds against Omar Narvaez last year before succumbing, and he’s lost to lesser men than Narvaez, so on the surface he seems to be a safe but experienced foe for a step up in weight. P.S. Viloria’s in a feud with his trainer, so that’s not good.
- Saul Alvarez-Luciano Cuello, Saturday, Mexico. Alvarez appears to have decided to make a home at 154, where he’ll be battling Cuello for a vacant interim alphabet title. Cuello only has one loss, a nip-and-tuck affair with Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. last year. It’s also the only fight against a name opponent on his record. But all in all, this may add up to Alvarez’ toughest fight to date. After the scare he got from Jose Cotto in May, Alvarez better be ready. [UPDATE: This one’s airing on WBCBoxing.tv.]
- The Rest. Middleweight Jimmy Lange and junior welterweight DeMarcus Corley are featured on a card in my region — in Fairfax, Va. — but I’m not going to be able to make it out there and I anticipate going… NESportsTV.com airs a fight featuring heavyweight Kevin McBride (remember him?), but if you’re looking for a reason to order a better one might be the appearance of featherweight Luis Del Valle, who had previously impressed TQBR contributor Scott Kraus.