Maybe one of boxing’s problems is the sketchy nature of the schedule. There are often long dry patches but when it rains, it pours. This analogy is especially fitting for this TQBR correspondent, trapped at home due to a hurricane warning at the start of a rather full stretch of televised fist fighting.
What might be even more of a problem is the lack of information available to fans about where they can watch boxing. This strikes me as a pretty crucial service that promoters and television networks should provide. Yet in just the last few weeks, there have been serious problems in finding out where to find major boxing events; from Andy Lee vs. Brian Vera not being listed on the HBO website to Top Rank not being able to tell us where to watch Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Mike Oliver. That’s a pretty disgraceful failing from people who are meant to be in the “broadcasting-people-punch-each-other-in-the-head” business.
Rant over. This week isn’t amazing, but it’s a good opener for what will be an uninterrupted period of pugilistic enjoyment in the coming weeks and months. There’s Bernard Hopkins’ intriguing yet head scratching pay-per-view bout again Chad Dawson and its undercard, Nathan Cleverly and James DeGale fighting in Britain and a substantial number of lesser (and much lesser) offerings.
As usual, the video has nothing to do with anything, it’s just cool and combat sports related.
- Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson/Antonio DeMarco vs. Jorge Linares/Kendall Holt vs. Danny Garcia/Paulie Malignaggi vs. Orlando Lora, Saturday, HBO PPV, Los Angeles. As usual, Tim will take the main duties of previewing this week’s biggest fight. It doesn’t really deserve to be on PPV, even with a decent undercard, but hopefully this is an exception rather than a return to the bad old days of the late naughties, when every man and his dog could get a bout on PPV. Hopkins (52-5-2) gives everyone trouble and Dawson (30-1) is not all there in the old noggin. If he turns up, then Dawson could easily win it with his athletic gifts and skills. If not, Hopkins turns him into a sad man. The main undercard fight is really the only high quality one, between Latin American lefty lightweights Antonio DeMarco (25-2-1) and Jorge Linares (31-1). Both guys are really good fighters, slightly tarnished and held back in their career paths by losses to the late Edwin Valero and Juan Carlos Salgado, respectively. Of those losses, Linares’ to Salgado, who has subsequently revealed himself to be pretty average, is probably the less forgivable. Still, Linares seemed a great fighter and may well have been having trouble with the junior lightweight limit. DeMarco is a minor TQBR favourite with his classy left handed boxer-puncher style and excess toughness. Both men are tall for lightweights and punch straight and hard, so it could be very fun. On the other hand, Linares might manage to control the whole thing with his stinging jab and it could be kind of boring. It all depends what DeMarco does about that jab. The remaining two fights feature men as well known for their trash-talk as their exploits in the ring. Junior welterweight Kendall Holt (27-4) will have his comeback put to the test against undefeated prospect Danny Garcia (21-0). Garcia’s not devastatingly powerful like Holt, but he’s skilled and patient. He could easily frustrate Holt, who’s very frustratable. The winner is a legit player at junior welterweight. Paulie Malignaggi (29-4) has his third fight at welterweight, against Orlando Lora (28-1-1). Malignaggi is presumably setting himself up for one or two more big money fights before retiring, with Lora’s flashy record making him standard comeback fodder. The truth is, the best opponent Lora has ever faced is David Estrada, the kind of opponent that people whinge about when he gets on HBO to be pancaked by Andre Berto. The only reason that this is going the distance is because Malignaggi couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag.
- Nathan Cleverly vs. Tony Bellew/Piotr Wilczewski vs. James DeGale, Saturday, Liverpool England. The main event in Liverpool might be the most enjoyable fight of the weekend. A clash between British light heavyweight stand-outs Cleverly and Bellew has been on the cards for some time and comes to fruition right as both get ready to advance to the world stage. Of the two, Cleverly (22-0) is probably the more seasoned and the better boxer. He’s also got a degree in mathematics. Nevertheless, the less intellectually inclined Bellew (16-0) is the hometown fighter and a really hard puncher. Not that Cleverly is a pitty pat puncher, it’s just that he does damage via accumulation. If Cleverly can keep Bellew away, slip shots and dig to the body like he usually does, then he should come away with the win. But if Bellew manages to get close, he will do damage and could pull the minor upset, even by knockout. On the undercard, super middleweight James DeGale (10-1) starts his comeback after losing to George Groves earlier in the year, against Piotr Wilczewski (29-1), the European champion. For anybody else, facing a skilled and experienced, if not very powerful, boxer coming off a shock loss might not be a good idea. But the British lefty is still something of a super prospect, having won an Olympic gold medal for Britain and facing much stiffer than usual competition in his eleven fights. He should have enough to take out the cagey Pole.
- Jonathan Barros vs. Celestino Caballero II, Friday, Buenos Aires Argentina. There was a time when Panama’s Celestino Caballero was one of the most feared men in boxing. That was until he laid an egg against Jason Litzau last year. When he lost to Barros in Argentina in July, the general reaction was “meh,” despite the fact that even the Argentine commentators thought he’d been robbed. That could well have been because Caballero (34-4) fought in the same listless manner that he did again Litzau, giving away rounds and looking nothing like the miniature Antonio Margarito/Paul Williams hybrid he used to. Still, in the name of all that’s fair, it’s good that Barros (33-1-1) has given him a rematch. The scrappy Argentine will be looking to pull something new out of the hat this time, since last time he couldn’t hurt Caballero and got dropped twice. Likewise, Caballero will be looking to not repeat his mistakes and make things much easier for himself, if he’s not simply on the slide.
- Hugo Ruiz vs. Francisco Arce, Saturday, Fox Deportes, Los Mochis Mexico. If sparks somehow fail to fly between Cleverly and Bellew, come to this bantamweight fight for your action fix. Ruiz and Arce already faced off in May in an all action, four knockdown fight that Ruiz won by hotly contested unanimous decision. Francisco (31-7-3) is the not quite as good younger brother of Jorge Arce and fights in a carbon copy, swarming style. Ruiz (28-1) is an upright boxer-puncher and managed to put Arce all the way through the ring ropes and on to the floor last time. His face was badly marked by the end of their first bout and he’ll need to have learnt to keep up with Arce’s pace if he doesn’t want this to be a repeat, hard, pick ’em fight.
- The Rest. Undefeated but under-the-radar featherweight prospect Michael Franco (19-0) takes on Orlando Cruz (16-2), who’s coming off two losses, on Telemundo Friday… Lightweight prospect Michael Perez (14-0) faces Tyrone Harris (24-8), who’s lost to a who’s who of the division, on Friday night on TeleFutura… Kimbo Slice (1-0) has his second professional boxing match, in Nebraska on Saturday… Cruiserweight B.J. Flores is fighting too, in Missouri on gofightlive.tv.