Look at that adorable tiny poster for Vitali Klitschko-Odlanier Solis. This is how a blogger keeps himself amused, apparently: shrinking fight posters super small for no other reason than because he hasn’t done it before.
This weekend of boxing is a mile wide and an inch deep, on average, with a couple peaks sticking up above the rest. It’s spread out on TV from Showtime to new player Epix and on the Internet from RTE to… new player Epix. Explanations, analysis, irrational exuberence, casual disdain and more await below.
- Vitali Klitschko vs. Odlanier Solis, Saturday, Epix, Cologne Germany. Solis is one of the few remaining intriguing opponents for the heavyweight Klitschkos, which is not the same as saying he has a chance. It’s just that Solis has real speed, a decent helping of power, that Olympic pedigree and is a rare heavyweight who punches in combination. He beat the best opponent of his pro career — Ray Austin — fairly easily in his last fight, no matter what the scorecards said prior to the disqualification. On the other hand, Solis never is in good shape (why, just the other day, he was smoking and waiting for pasta), and as competent as his high-guard defense is, it’s the kind of thing that Vitali should jab through and punch around at will. With his chin, skill and power, only aging overnight threatens Klitschko. This fight marks the boxing debut of Epix, which isn’t available via some of the major U.S. cable and satellite services, but they’ll also provide access to this online with a trial subscription. Here’s how. We’ll be talking more about Epix here soon, but overall, as usual, I welcome all opportunities to see boxing on television, even stuff that requires subscriptions or payment or whatever. More options are better than fewer.
- Lucian Bute vs. Brian Magee, Saturday, Showtime, Montreal Canada. Here we are again with Bute: Looking like one of the best fighters in the world, taking on his latest fringe top-10 super middleweight contender. Showtime doesn’t make as many of these kind of mistakes as HBO, but it overpaid for a three-fight deal with Bute that starts with this somewhat meaningless bout and might lead somewhere if Mikkel Kessler is next, followed by the winner of the Super Six tournament. This isn’t a fight Bute should get paid a reported $1.2 million for, and I say that with no disrespect toward Magee. He’s an honest fighter who’s been competitive in losses to some good super middleweights, like Carl Froch (cream of the crop), Robin Reid (pretty good back in 2004) and Vitali Tsypko (always just kind of decent). But he also has a draw with Tony Oakey, for some reason. To his credit, he’s coming off a stoppage win over Mads Larsen, but Larsen always was a bit of a hype job. He’s aggressive offensively, is Magee, and he’s a leftie just coming off a win over a southpaw; Bute is a southpaw himself, and doesn’t have much experience with them.
- Roman Gonzalez vs. Manuel Vargas, Saturday, Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net, Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico. Fun fun fun. Gonzalez is nearly as big punching as a little guy gets, and Vargas has been in some great scraps recently. They’ll duke it out at junior flyweight. Gonzalez is better, sure, but this’ll probably be the fight of the weekend. I wish I had more to say about it, so that it was getting equal time. Um, Top Rank Live sure is some good programming, huh?
- Demetrius Hopkins vs. Brad Solomon, Friday, ESPN2, Hollywood Florida. Our pals at BLH rightly pointed out recently what a great season Friday Night Fights is having, and this is one example. I’m not saying this one’s going to be a barnburner, since Hopkins is boring, but Solomon and Hopkins are two welterweights on about the same level, with Solomon the rising prospect and Hopkins the former prospect who lost some juice but still has a fair deal of said juice left. I dig Solomon’s speed and craftiness, and expect him to overcome Hopkins because Hopkins is stingy with his punches. On the undercard is a heavyweight bout between aged heavyweights Cedric Boswell and Oliver McCall. Another good fight on the card fell through, unfortunately, when bantamweight Chris Avalos pulled out of a bout with Yan Barthemely, citing an injury.
- Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Willie Casey, Saturday, RTE.ie, Dublin Ireland. When last we saw Rigondeaux he was making everyone hate him in his reluctant performance against Ricardo Cordoba. It also suggested he wasn’t ready for prime time as a pro, since he struggled a bit more than expected with a guy who was a heavy underdog. But sometimes amateur glory doesn’t equal pro glory, so Rigondeaux is taking a step back. The undefeated Casey doesn’t have the look of a total pushover, having won the junior featherweight Prizefighter tournament last year, although my brief look at him suggests he’s going to wing wide punches and Rigondeaux is going to pick him to death in between them.
- The Rest. Often-useless Solo Boxeo Tecate on TeleFutura Friday features explosive junior middleweight James Kirkland on the comeback trail, so that’s kind of useful… Telemundo also has a card Friday… Saturday in Mexico, rugged, deceptive win/loss record David Lopez fights in an eliminator against Michel Rosales, most famous for beating Mark Melligen.