Last week’s boxing schedule was like a thrift store painting: mediocre, boring, and unexceptional. This week is more like a thrift shop painting with monsters roaming in the background! So much more exciting — and you can buy your very own from artist Chris McMahon.
The monsters this week are guys like junior welterweights Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez, who will team up on Saturday night for one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. There’s also light heavyweight Chad Dawson against huge puncher and former pimp Adonis Stevenson. I’d make a joke about the pimp thing, but it’s actually pretty horrible and I’m far too mature. Let’s get down to it instead.
- Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez, Saturday, Showtime, Los Angeles. Maidana (33-3, 30 KO) is one of the biggest punchers in the sport. Lopez (30-5, 18 KO) is known as “The Riverside Rocky” for his determination and unlikely victory over Victor Ortiz. If this is a bad fight, I will run nude around the Rockefeller Center when I get to New York on Saturday. There’ll be a full preview later in the week, but we could just run an entire article that said “THIS WILL BE TEH FKN AWSM PLS TUNE IN,” and it would be accurate. Give me Lopez by brutal decision. In the main support bout junior middleweight Erislandy Lara (17-1-2, 11 KO) takes on Alfredo Angulo (22-2, 18 KO). This fight is a real headscratcher. Not in the sense that you don’t know who’s going to win, though. The match-up is curious because I have no idea why Angulo’s handlers thought putting him in with Lara was a good idea. Angulo has always struggled with good boxers and Lara is as pure and good a boxer as they come. Sure, Angulo has heavy hands, but I don’t see him being able to do much to the fleet footed southpaw, especially considering how shaky he’s looked against average opponents since being knocked out by James Kirkland. “El Perro” is a big puncher, though, so he’s always in with a chance. You need to actually land for that to count, though, and I don’t think he’ll be able to connect on Lara at all. Junior middleweights Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KO) and Demetrius Hopkins (33-2-1, 13 KO) will also fight in what should be a solid test for Charlo, who impressed when he knocked out Harry Joe Yorgey in January. It’s by no means an easy fight, Hopkins is skilled, if not top-tier. The rest of the undercard, which will be broadcast on Sho Extreme, features a who’s who of Golden Boy Promotions prospects, junior featherweight Joseph Diaz, Jr., junior lightweight Ronny Rios and lightweight Jamie Kavanagh.
- Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson, Saturday, HBO, Montreal. Dawson (31-2, 17 KO) gets a lot of hate from boxing fans because he’s seen as a boring fighter. Is there that much to hate, though? For better or for worse, he’s never ducked anyone. And when his opponents have been willing, he’s been in some pretty good fights. Stevenson (20-1, 17 KO) is definitely the willing type. The question is whether the Haitian born puncher will be able to close the distance on Dawson and land some bombs. I don’t think he will. Knocking out the Don Georges and Noe Gonzalez Alcobas of this world isn’t the same thing as knocking out elite competition. And Dawson has an elite chin – ignore his knockout loss to Andre Ward, as he was clearly weight drained. Give me Dawson by unanimous decision; he’s going to box rings around Stevenson. I hope he puts a bit of a hurting on the guy too, pimping and assaulting underage girls isn’t the kind of thing we should really let slide just because someone is a big puncher. The undercard is pretty good too, with lightweight YURIORKIS GAMBOA fighting Darley Perez (28-0, 19 KO). Gamboa (22-0, 16 KO) hasn’t done much lately to earn the capital letters with which we refer to him here at TQBR, but it’s exciting to see him back in the ring nevertheless. Promoted by 50 Cent, the Cuban sensation’s career seems to have stalled a bit and he didn’t look great in his last fight against Michael Farenas in December last year. Perez really shouldn’t have the tools to threaten Gamboa, despite a big height and reach advantage. The Colombian is decent, but he’s raw – he’s been an ESPN Friday Night Fights level fighter until now. That said, Farenas, Daniel Ponce De Leon and Orlando Salido have all showed that if you’re tough and determined you can stop Gamboa performing to the best of his abilities. Gamboa is chinny and perhaps a little mentally fragile, so the rangy Perez does have a chance if he can weather the storm that is “El Ciclon de Guantanamo”. French-Canadian middleweight puncher and noted T-Rex David Lemieux (28-2, 27 KO) fights Robert Swierzbinski (11-1, 3 KO) in a mismatch on the off-television portion of the card.
- Marco Huck vs. Ola Afolabi, Saturday, Berlin. Sleeper alert – this could be the fight of the weekend. Cruiserweights Huck (35-2-1, 25 KO) and Afolabi (19-2-4, 9 KO) have already fought 24 awesome rounds, with Huck winning their first fight and the second being scored a draw. Round 12 of their second fight was an honourable mention for TQBR’s Round of the Year last year. Why would this fight be any different? I have a suspicion that Huck is slowing down a bit – he’s macho as all get out and has been in some ring wars. His didn’t really deserve to win his last fight, against Firat Arslan. Then again, Afolabi was close to going down in the last round of their last fight. Whatever happens, expect this to be close.
- John Molina vs. Andrey Klimov, Friday, ESPN2, Shelton Wash. This lightweight bout on Friday Night Fights could also challenge for fight of the week honours when it’s all said and done. Molina (25-2, 20 KO) is a hard working fringe contender who was unlucky in his last fight; caught cold, he was knocked out by Antonio DeMarco before the opening bell had finished ringing in the crowd’s ears. Klimov (15-0, 8 KO) is one of a number of Russian prospects that now split their time between sunny California and their motherland. He’s not your typical European fighter, though – his uppercut is easily his favourite punch and he loves to get in there and brawl. Molina, though, knows what it’s like to go in to the trenches. I think I favour the American based on his higher quality resume, but Klimov could easily pull the upset.
- The Rest. Junior middleweight prospect Jorge Melendez (26-2-1, 25 KO) fights Luis Gradeja (14-1-1, 10 KO) on ShoBox on Friday night at Verona, N.Y… British super middleweight James DeGale (15-1, 10 KO) fights Stjepan Bozic (26-6, 17 KO) at home on Saturday night, broadcast on Wealth TV. DeGale is really spinning his wheels these days… UniMas has junior bantamweight Juan Carlos Sanchez fighting Roberto Sosa on Saturday night, with Jesse Magdaleno on the undercard.