We gotta do this mostly lightning-round style, cuz my week plum got away from me.
- Felix Sturm vs. Matthew Macklin, Saturday, Epix/EpixHD.com, Cologne Germany. Ring’s #1-ranked middleweight, Sturm, will be facing his best opponent in about two years in Macklin, who’s desperately tried to fight a top 160-pounder only to see a number of fights fall through. Good for him for challenging himself, and a polite golf clap to him for fighting the #5 man in the division. Sturm fights are often a dreadful bore, but Macklin has shown a tendency to put presure on his opponent early, which could force Sturm to engage, something he doesn’t like to do. If Macklin can build a definitive early lead and win a couple more rounds on the cards — something that will be hard to do in Germany — he can beat Sturm. But I suspect Sturm will get the job done, alas. And he’ll talk then about facing true middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, then not do it because he can take easy fights in Germany all-life long.
- Tavoris Cloud vs. Yusaf Mack/Bermane Stiverne vs. Ray Austin, Saturday, HBO, St. Louis. It’s good to have Cloud, an exciting and top-ranked light heavyweight, back on HBO. Mack isn’t the ideal opponent, though, since Mack is only ever good enough to beat the schlubs then lose to the top guys. Stiverne has the look of a promising heavyweight, but that Austin is a step up says how unproven he is, and I read somewhere that he might soon be in line for a Klitschko brother. Although I do like that his trunks say “BWARE.” Anyway, did I mention that our Gautham Nagesh will have coverage of this card — headlined by Devon Alexander-Lucas Matthysse, previewed earlier today — for us live from St. Louis? It’s true.
- Cornelius Bundrage vs. Sechew Powell, Saturday, St. Louis. Anytime you can get an undercard fight pitting two top-10 guys against each other — the way these two are at junior middleweight — then you’re off to a good start. I might actually have preferred this one on the HBO undercard over Stiverne-Austin. This was going to be a pretty loaded untelevised undercard but a cruiserweight fight between Guillermo Jones and Ryan Coyne fell through. And this kind of untelevised card in general would be a great reason for Don King to revive his totally dormant webcast site. Wassup, DK?
- Fernando Montiel vs. Nehomar Cermeno, Saturday, Culiacan Mexico. Montiel ain’t screwing around coming off a devastating KO loss to Nonito Donaire. He’s moving up to junior featherweight and taking on a dangerous cat in Cermeno. This fight might be a bit tactical and/or ugly, but I still would try to find a stream of it because I wonder how Montiel will rebound from that Donaire KO, which was, to quote myself, devastating.
- James Kirkland vs. Dennis Sharpe, Friday, TeleFutura, Frisco Texas. On Solo Boxeo Tecate, Kirkland is trying to rebound from his own devastating KO loss earlier this year, which probably will hold up as the biggest upset of 2011. He’s back with trainer Ann Wolfe, the subject of an updated Real Sports feature this past week, which I recommend just because listening to Wolfe talk is awesome. But obviously it’s good to recombine him with the person who got him as far as he got prior to his latest jail stint. If Kirkland can’t handle Sharpe — who, holy Christ, hasn’t won a fight since 2004 — then he definitely should just go ahead and retire. Also on the card is the always lovable super middleweight Brian Vera.
- John Molina vs. Robert Frankel, Friday, ESPN2/ESPN3/ESPN 3-D/ESPN Deportes, Temecula Calif. I also find Molina lovable. The lightweight is in against an opponent who has a couple decent wins — Bobby Pacquiao, Ramon Montano — and a good many more bad ones, but he’s basically been in there with everybody, like Lamont Peterson and Dmitriy Salita. As much as I like Molina, and as much fun as his fights usually are, Friday Night Fights has been a fair bit uneven, with too many cards of this caliber on the schedule or recently concluded. But hey, it’s in 3-D!
- Kell Brook vs. Lovemore N’dou, Saturday, Sheffield England. Brook is a good physical talent and could be in line for an alphabet title shot sooner or later, perhaps against Mike Jones, so N’dou strikes me as someone to keep busy against who’s credible but safe. N’dou looked very unwilling to engage with Saul Alvarez in his last fight, so I wonder if at 39 he’s really just playing out the string. The only real issue here is whether Brook stays unbeaten (he should) and whether he can KO N’dou, who’s never been stopped in 12 losses.
- Mike Jones vs. Raul Munoz, Saturday, Fox Sports Net/Fox Deportes, Philadelphia. What does Top Rank Live have against Munoz? They fed him to Alfonso Gomez, who knocked him out in one round, and now they’re feeding him to Jones, who’s significantly more talented than Gomez. And it was probably just meant to promote this fight, but Top Rank boss Bob Arum recently said Jones could be a future opponent for Manny Pacquiao. He’s better than some options, anyhow.
- The Rest. There’s a Telemundo show Friday, which is usually the best thing I can say about them… Lightweight Humberto Soto stays busy Saturday waiting for, well, something — his promotional situation is apparently still unsettled… AT&T U-Verse and its crystal clear streams host a Saturday card with an array of fringe types.