From one of my favourite Youtube sub genres, crazy Russian driving videos, comes this beauty. That guy must thank his lucky stars every day. Junior lightweight Vicente Escobedo might identify, with the Adrien Broner express heading straight for him this weekend on HBO. Not that I’d count Escobedo out after all the upsets in recent weeks.
Apart from Broner vs. Escobedo, it’s a big week for the junior lightweight division with top contenders Argenis Mendez and Juan Carlos Burgos in action in separate bouts. There’s a Shobox card featuring lightweights Miguel Acosta and Art Hovhannisyan and various other televised offerings, mainly in Spanish.
- Adrien Broner vs. Vicente Escobedo, Saturday, HBO, Cincinnati. Adrien Broner is a fighter with a serious push behind him. This will be the Cincinnati junior lightweight’s fifth consecutive fight on HBO. Sure, it helps that he’s “advised” by big time behind the scenes man Al Haymon, but the attention is justified. The undefeated 22-year-old is blindingly fast and frighteningly powerful. His personality is loud and risks turning some fans off but I, for one, find his schtick hilarious. Vicente Escobedo (26-3), by contrast, is anything but flashy. The Woodland, Calif. resident was at risk of slipping to journeyman status before victories over veteran Rocky Juarez and prospect Lonnie Smith. The closest thing to Broner that Escobedo has seen would be his friend Robert Guerrero, who dropped him twice on the way to a 2010 unanimous decision win. Guerrero is fast and hits hard, but I think Broner is faster and hits harder. Escobedo might be more comfortable at junior lightweight, but Broner isn’t going to slack off like Guerrero did. Once he finds a way to hurt Escobedo, he’s going to finish him. Then maybe we can see him take on fellow up-and-comer Javier Fortuna in what would surely be an explosive match up. On the undercard fellow Al Haymon client, junior middleweight KO artist Keith Thurman (17-0) takes on journeyman/gatekeeper Orlando Lora (29-2-2) who is moving up in weight. Thurman was originally scheduled to face Marcos Maidana in what would have been a huge step up in class. With Maidana’s withdrawal this fight isn’t HBO level and you can put the fact that it’s on at all down to Haymon.
- Miguel Acosta vs. Art Hovhannisyan, Friday, Showtime, Santa Ynez Calif. Shobox brings us an interesting card from California this weekend, for a change. Venezuela’s Acosta (29-5-2) is a former lightweight titleholder and very sharp boxer. He’s lost a step, though, after being chin checked by Brandon Rios early last year. In a loss to Richard Abril (who I guess turned out to be not such a slouch) in October last year the Venezuelan was on the deck three times. So he’ll have to use all his skills to avoid Glendale Armenian Art Hovhannisyan’s bombs. Hovhannisyan (14-0-2) physically resembles a larger Vic Darchinyan (though maybe I’m just saying that because they’re both Armenian) without the weird crablike southpaw thing. Anyway, like Darchinyan, Hovhannisyan comes to throw and doesn’t care about too much else. Against Cristobal Cruz on FNF last year he was eating a ton of leather before the fight was ruled a technical draw because of a cut on Cruz’ forehead. Acosta doesn’t lack for steam on his punches either, so expect a high-contact affair with at least one of these guys tasting the deck.
- Juan Carlos Burgos vs. Cesar Vazquez, Friday, ESPN2, Laughlin Nev. Friday Night Fights brings us the first important junior lightweight match up of the week, with top contender and the man with my favourite nickname in boxing, Mexico’s Juan Carlos “Miniburgos” (29-1) taking on countryman Cesar Vazquez (25-0). It’s difficult to find info on Vazquez, and this is only the third time he’s fought outside of Mexicali and his first time outside Mexico. Looking at his record, he looks to have been matched relatively softly (or as softly as you can be matched in northern Mexico). Burgos can go forward but probably prefers to counterpunch; how he fights might largely be up to mystery man Vazquez. Burgos was somewhat disappointing against Cristobal Cruz in February, so perhaps he’ll be more motivated this time. On the undercard welterweight prospect Aaron Martinez (17-1-1) faces Prenice Brewer (16-2-1), now most famous for his ill-advised but hilarious comments after losing to Ronald Cruz last month.
- Argenis Mendez vs. Martin Honorio, Saturday, TeleFutura, Hollywood Fla. The other junior lightweight match-up is a rematch, with Argenis Mendez (19-2) taking on Martin Honorio (32-7-1) for the second time. Both men are not that far removed from losses to Juan Carlos Salgado (though Mendez’ was probably undeserved). In their first meeting Mendez scraped by with a majority decision thanks to his cleaner punching. Honorio is a veteran scrapper who always comes to give it his best, but you’d have to think that the younger Mendez will be better prepared this time, start faster and take less time off. The undercard features Joan Guzman fighting absolutely nobody and welterweight contender Ed Paredes looking to continue his winning streak against Viv Harris, who should retire.
- The Rest. Saturday also brings a card on Fox Deportes, with junior welterweight Pablo Cesar Cano (24-1-1), who impressed everybody in a game loss to Erik Morales last year, facing lanky Mexican Johan Perez (15-0-1) in Cancun. Both guys are slow, but they’re also tough and hard-hitting. Should be very fun, despite being a lower level kind of fight… Welterweight sons of Mexican legends, Jorge Paez, Jr. (31-4-1) and Omar Chavez (28-1-1) face off for the second time in Tijuana on Saturday night.