Some weekend, huh? In the land of Pacman, the Star Wars arcade game is king. And in a month without big time boxing, Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass starts to look kind of awesome. There’s also a fair bit going on besides that welterweight match-up: a Top Rank show from Macau on HBO2, junior lightweight Juan Carlos Burgos on ESPN2 and various other happenings.
- Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass, Saturday, Showtime, San Antonio. As I mentioned before – it’s not often you see hardcore boxing fans greeting an Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KO) with such enthusiasm. To many, Berto is synonymous with overpaid, undertalented young boxers fighting on premium cable. His heart, however, can’t be questioned, which is why a fight with come-forward Mexican veteran Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KO) is bound to please. My brief take: I think Berto will win, but I can imagine a myriad of scenarios – Berto could romp home early or Soto Karass could drag him into a dogfight. There is a pair of showcase bouts for big punching prospects on the undercard, and neither seems particularly worthy of being on Showtime. First up, you have Texas lightweight Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KO) against Japan’s Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16 KO). Everyone’s already talking about Figueroa’s next bout, which tells you all you need to know. Then there’s Florida welterweight and ponytail enthusiast Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 KO) taking on undefeated Argentine Diego Gabriel Chaves (20-0, 18 KO). Chaves has never fought outside Argentina, so it’s difficult to tell how good he actually is – but I like this fight. Both men are relatively technically sound, orthodox punchers, which figures to be a good style mix. You’d have to favour Thurman, the “house fighter,” but let’s hope Chaves comes to make some noise.
- Zou Shiming vs. Jesus Ortega, Saturday, HBO2, Macau. Top Rank Promotions continue their push into the far east, showing off their marquee name and cash cow, Chinese Olympian and flyweight prospect Zou Shiming (1-0, 0 KO). He’s fighting Jesus Ortega (3-1, 2 KO), who you can bet is absolutely no threat. Though these fights will be on tape delay, I have a feeling the supporting bouts will be worth tuning in for. In the first, featherweight Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich (16-0, 8 KO) is set to fight Mauricio “Chucky” Munoz (26-3, 12 KO). Gradovich’s hilarious nickname says a lot about his macho style, while Munoz is more “difficult to deal with” than “relentless murder doll.” The Argentine is tough, though, and he’ll most likely alternate trading with Gradovich and stepping off. I’ve learned not to bet against Gradovich, so I’m going to stick with that policy. The second undercard bout pits flyweight action hero Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18 KO) against Filipino prospect Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 KO). Melindo is fast and skilled but Estrada, who beat Brian Viloria last time out, is a huge step up. I’m not sure whether the 25-year-old will be able to hang with him.
- Juan Carlos Burgos vs. Yakubu Amidu, Friday, ESPN2, Lincoln Calif. Another great main event on Friday Night Fights – they’re on a streak! The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s #3 junior lightweight, Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-1, 12 KO) is taking on Vince Vaughn-managed (you read that correctly) Ghanaian hardman Yakubu Amidu (20-4-1, 18 KO). Amidu is tough but limited, and Burgos should get a decision or late stoppage, seeing as he’s tough, skilled and not afraid to throw punches in bunches.
- The Rest. Australian heavyweight prospect Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne (16-0, 14 KO) fights Travis Walker (39-10-1, 30 KO) in Melbourne on Thursday… Long time middleweight fringe contender Marco Antonio Rubio (with a record of 57-6-1, 49 KO and not to be confused with the senator) fights Dionisio Miranda (22-8-2, 19 KO) in Chihuahua on Saturday.