Even though the boxing schedule for the week lost its marquee attraction, the canceled welterweight showdown between Shane Mosley and Andre Berto once booked for Saturday, the schedule is still jam-packed to the point of being a Heironymus Bosch painting — on Friday in particular — with nice little fights.
- Jesse Brinkley-Curtis Stevens, Friday, ESPN2, Nevada. If there’s a fight I’d pick to be the best brawl of the weekend, it’s this fight between a pair of super middleweights on the cusp of making a splash in that deep division. Brinkley is a proven action fighter, and Stevens is too — it wasn’t him who stunk out the joint when he and Andre Dirrell fought in that historically bad bout on HBO a couple years ago, but Dirrell. It’s a title eliminator for a shot at some alphabet belt or another, and it’s a nice spotlight for two men who haven’t had it in a while (Brinkley not since he was on “The Contender” and Stevens not since the aforementioned Dirrell bout). I might favor Stevens’ skill level here, but they’re fighting in Brinkley’s home base of Reno and he’s the more experienced boxer, so…
- Gabriel Campillo-Beibut Shumenov II/Erislandy Lara-Grady Brewer, Friday, Fox Sports Net, Nevada. Over in Las Vegas is the most meaningful of the weekend’s fight cards. I’ll get to the main event in a second, but I’m most interested in seeing how junior middleweight Lara fares in a dramatic leap up in competition. Lara’s a wonderful-looking talent who’s passed every test with ease, but Brewer’s a more proven commodity, having won a season of “The Contender” and beaten the better opposition of the two. It may not be the most exciting fight of the weekend, but it’s the one I’m looking forward to most. The main event is a rematch of what was said to be a close fight that most thought Campillo won to keep his light heavyweight alphabet title belt over the boldly matched young Shumenov. This fight, too, has some significance.
- Chris Avalos-Jose Nieves, Friday, Showtime, New Mexico. All right, so anytime Avalos is in the ring, it stands a chance of being the most brawl-y fight of the weekend, so don’t be surprised if Avalos-Nieves trumps Brinkley-Stevens. It looks to me that the bantamweight prospect Avalos is taking another small step up in competition in Nieves, who has beaten dangerous journeyman Tomas Rojas and fought another prospect, Victor Fonseca, to a very close decision loss in his only career blemish. Also on the card will be junior lightweight Archie Ray Marquez, who’s cracked most people’s list of the most promising prospects in boxing these days. He’ll be fighting Derrick Campos, who once gave Dmitriy Salita hell, which might not be saying much unless you consider that this is just Marquez’ tenth fight. Lastly, Nick Charles makes his return to the Showtime broadcast team, his cancer 80 percent in remission.
- The Rest. Telemundo is going head-to-head-to-head-to-head with the packed Friday schedule, and there’s not much to speak of on the card, other than maybe the return of Luis Melendez, the bantamweight against whom Z Gorres collapsed last year… More Friday, but untelevised: Peter Manfredo, Jr. fights middleweight trial horse Matt Vanda, and Darnell “Ding-A-Ling Man” Wilson reemerges at cruiserweight against “TBA,” which, given his recent streak of losses, is about right… On Saturday on Fox Sports Net, worn-down Jorge Arce inexplicably gets yet another title shot at junior bantamweight against the likewise-undeserving Angky Angkota, on a card that also features featherweight prospect Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia… In Germany Saturday, Ring’s #3 middleweight Sebastian Sylvester makes a defense of his alphabet belt against Billy Lyell, a late sub and about as good as his team could have done under the circumstances, while heavyweight prospect Robert Helenius takes on the faded Lamon Brewster.