It’s another inch deep, mile wide kind of February week for boxing, as the ratings giant (I’m not kidding) Winter Olympics surge forward. Maybe HBO and Showtime did know what they were doing not to go head-to-head with the likes of “The Flying Tomato,” although I’d reason that the only overlap in audience for boxing and Winter Olympics would be that both ice dancing and middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik share a love of Linkin Park.
- Marvin Sonsona-Wilfredo Vazquez Jr./Rodel Mayol-Omar Nino, Saturday, Integrated Sports Pay-Per-View, Mexico/Puerto Rico. I’d originally considered this for the kickoff of our new round of Prediction Game, but thought better of it, so never mind. That said, despite a shuffle of the lineup, this isn’t a bad card, albeit one I doubt will be worth $34.95, with a pair of Filipino-Latin headlining bouts (sounds familiar). Sonsona-Vazquez is a meeting of talented youngsters going for a junior featherweight title. Vazquez, 25, is coming off a string of wins — Genaro Garcia, Cecilio Santos, the like — that has people a little high on him. Sonsona, 19, has the biggest win of the pair, over Jose Lopez, but that was two divisions south at junior bantamweight, and since Sonsona has done all kinds of things — missed flights, missed weight — that make you wonder how dedicated he is, plus he’s the one moving up. Mayol-Nino at junior flyweight is another interesting one. Mayol is coming off the biggest win of his career, a knockout of Edgar Sosa that certainly was abetted by a head butt but that was in character with an improving boxer who’s under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. Nino, meanwhile, is coming off a win over Juanita Rubillar last summer that avenged a loss the previous year. Mayol’s ranked #2 in the division by Ring magazine, and Nino’s #9. Mayol says he is worried about the judging going against him in Mexico, and I know it’s not PC to “blame the victim” after the Paulie Malignaggi debacle in Texas, but once again, I say that if you’re worried about hometown advantage, don’t take fights in other people’s homelands, even if the payday’s better there. [UPDATE: Commenter Atlas informs that Mayol locked himself into this deal with the promoter who gave him his title shot against Sosa. I checked it out; that’s been reported as the case. So allow me to “blame the victim” for agreeing to something that puts him over the barrel then complaining about it.]
- Mike Jones-Henry Bruseles, Saturday, Fox Sports Net, New Jersey. At long last! Jones, a talented welterweight who’s been as deserving as any young fighter of his first big TV exposure, gets a bit of it against Bruseles. Bruseles is probably best known as the worst of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s opponent choices since leaving the lightweight division, in a fight where Mayweather was so coasting so easily he swapped football picks with the HBO broadcast team mid fight. But he’s just about right for Jones, given his recent level of competition, and may even be a bit of a step up.
- Antonio Escalante and Danny Garcia, Friday, ESPN2, Texas. Escalante is a helluva fun fighter who’s pretty good, too, but he must be deciding to ease into his new division, featherweight, because his opponent for the evening Miguel Roman doesn’t have much on his record that points to him being a threat. Garcia, a junior welterweight prospect who impressed me tremendously when I saw him in his last fight in Philly, is taking the more credible foe of the evening. Ashley Theophane owns a 2008 win over DeMarcus Corley from when Corley was slumping, but that’s still a good win, and he fared pretty well in a loss against the ferocious Ali Oubaali the same year. Hey, and super middleweight Andre Ward is in the studio; neat.
- Fight Night Club, Thursday, Fox Sports Net/RingTV, California. If the idea of Fight Night Club was to build young talents into ticket sellers while matching them in tough bouts, this only stands a chance of doing the former. Victor Ortiz — scheduled to fight Nate Campbell in May in a meeting of legit junior welterweights — is fighting Hector Alatorre, loser of eight of his last 10, while less advanced prospects featherweight Charles Huerta and junior lightweight Luis Ramos are taking on opponents with similar records. Unless I’m just completely missing something, this isn’t a sterling season debut.
- The Rest. Talented but erratic junior welterweight Kendall Holt (ranked #7 by Ring) fights in a title eliminator on the FSN card against Kaizer Mabuza, who was pretty far down the list of people they considered for the honor… London’s doing its interesting “Prizefighter” tournament again Friday, this time with the junior middleweights; this time, though, there’s nobody who’s really cracked the division rankings or earned much attention outside Great Britain… The newest episode of Showtime’s ongoing Super Six doc premieres Saturday… Names you might recognize who will be in action this weekend — Rubillar, Travis Kauffman, Rayonta Whitfield.