It seems like I’m getting in the habit of starting the week’s schedule with some content from the week before, but that gif is just way too good to pass up. Looking forward to this weekend, there’s one fight that stands out, the junior lightweight duel between Mikey Garcia and Rocky Martinez. There’s also the undercard of that bout (which is, frankly, much less exciting) and fights from as far afield as Japan, the Ukraine and South Africa.
- Mikey Garcia vs. Rocky Martinez, Saturday, HBO, Corpus Christi Texas. Timbo Slice (or Tim Starks, if you prefer) will have the full preview of the biggest fight of the week later in the, um, week. But I’d like to contribute my $0.02 briefly: This is a bloody good fight and bloody good matchmaking. Will Garcia (32-0, 27 KO) carry his power up from featherweight? Will Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KO) be able to use his size and underrated skills to avoid Garcia’s patient, vice-like pressure? I see a fight that starts slowly, smoulders in the middle rounds and turns into a raging barnburner late, with Garcia getting the unanimous decision (or maybe the late KO). The chief support bout is a rematch between junior featherweights Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KO) and Vic Darchinyan (39-5-1, 28 KO). If you don’t remember the first one, it didn’t end well for Darchinyan. I don’t see what’s changed since 2007, except that Darchinyan is even more undersized in this division. Donaire has always done best when his opponent is coming straight to him, so unless he was psychologically broken by his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, I think this ends the exact same way as the first. Then there’s junior middleweights Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade. Martirosyan has copped some flack over the years for turning down some big fights, so now it’s kinda hard to feel sorry for him when his big break is against a skilled, awkward, sometimes spoiling guy like Andrade, who mightn’t make for the most TV friendly opponent. I think if you put Martirosyan in with an offensively-minded opponent, he’d be able to put on a really good show. But this isn’t going to be it. Whatever, these guys both needed to step up, so for that reason alone this match-up is kind of welcome. I really have no idea who will win, but the armchair psychologist in me thinks that there’s something not entirely right about Martirosyan’s psyche, so I’ll go with Andrade.
- Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Alberto Guevara, Monday, Tokyo. As often is the case, there are some great fights coming from the Far East on a strange day (damn time difference). In this case, we have the #1 bantamweight contender according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, Shinsuke Yamanaka (19-0-2, 14 KO), taking on a tough guy, Alberto Guevara (18-1, 6 KO) who’s only just outside the top 10. The Mexican is a tough sumbitch with some skills (he proved as much by going the distance with Leo Santa Cruz) but is cursed with a lack of power. That will probably be his undoing against Yamanaka, a hard-jabbing southpaw who gets a lot of leverage out of his lanky frame. I see the Japanese boxer earning a late stoppage or one-sided decision. The undercard is pretty packed too, with Jorge Linares forced into a bout with the dreaded TBA by the withdrawal of Richard Abril, TBRB #6 junior lightweight Takahiro Ao (24-3-1, 11 KO) facing Edgar Lomeli (14-3-2, 8 KO) and junior flyweight badass turned flyweight badass Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (36-0, 30 KO) fighting Oscar Blanquet (32-6-1, 23 KO), which might be enough to get him ranked in his new division.
- Fidel Maldonado, Jr. vs. Luis Ramos, Jr., Monday, Fox Sports 1, San Antonio. The same day as the Japanese fights, there’s a Golden Boy/Fox Sports card from San Antonio Texas headlined by junior welterweight prospects Fidel Maldonado, Jr. (16-2, 13 KO) and Luis Ramos, Jr. (23-1, 10 KO). It could actually be a pretty good scrap. Olympian Terrell Gausha (6-0, 4 KO) fights on the undercard, as does middleweight Fernando Guerrero (25-2, 19 KO), who’s looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Peter Quillin by facing Texas clubfighter Raymond Gatica (13-1, 8 KO).
- The Rest. There’s a rare televised female welterweight fight on Thursday via streaming service pandafeed.tv — it’s Tori Nelson (7-0, 3 KO) facing Kali Reis (5-1-1, 1 KO) in Maryland… UniMas has U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez (6-0, 4 KO) fighting Erick Hernandez Perez (4-4-1, 2 KO) on Saturday. Don’t expect it to be competitive… Junior lightweight Juan Carlos Salgado (26-2-1, 16 KO) starts his comeback from a loss to Argenis Mendez on Saturday by fighting veteran Miguel Roman (43-11, 32 KO) the same night…Some of South Africa’s best fighters, strawweight Hekkie Budler (23-1, 6 KO) and super middleweight Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KO), are in action on the same card in their home country, also Saturday… London heavyweight gold medallist Oleksandr Usyk makes his professional debut in Kiev the same day, at cruiserweight. He was a very fun fighter to watch in the amateurs, so I’m sure he’ll keep it up in the pros.