(photo via r/boxing)
Like this picture of David Haye, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin as horny adolescents standing next to (presumably) the first girl they’d ever seen, there’s so much boxing on this weekend, I don’t know where to look. The biggest fight of the week is the rematch between super middleweights Carl Froch and George Groves in London, which will doubtless have the highest attendance of any fight this year, with 80,000 tickets sold. But there are a couple of other offering, almost all on HBO apart from the rematch between middleweights Felix Sturm and Sam Soliman.
- Carl Froch Vs. George Groves II, Saturday, HBO, London. The biggest British fight of the year (indeed, of the decade and century) lands on Saturday night. Groves (19-1, 15 KO) and Froch (32-2, 23 KO) first did the facepunching thing in November last year in a fight in which both men were hurt before an early stoppage. There’ll be plenty of coverage around these parts, including a staff roundtable, but let me say here first that I fancy Froch to win by decision. On the undercard, former Grove dance partner and Olympic gold medalist James DeGale (18-1, 12 KO) faces off against American Brandon Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KO) in the hope he’ll fight the winner of the main event next. It’s not an easy fight, and Gonzales showed he has a few wrinkles to his game in a draw he probably deserved to win against Thomas Oosthuizen. Will his pressure be enough to deal with DeGale’s fast hands and feet? I don’t think so, especially not in front of and 80,000 strong English crowd.
- Nonito Donaire Vs. Simpiwe Vetekya, Saturday, HBO, Macau. Remember that Nonito Donaire (32-2, 21 KO) guy? He’s fighting again, against South African featherweight Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KO) as part of Bob Arum’s eastward expansion. Again, there’ll be more coverage of this later in the week, but I think it’s Donaire’s for the taking, despite the fact that he’s looked unimpressive in recent fights. Vetyeka, though solid, doesn’t have the weirdness of Vic Darchinyan, who made Donaire look bad, or the skills of Guillermo Rigondeaux, who beat him up. It looks to me like Vetyeka’s defence is too porous for a big left-hooker like Donaire. That said, maybe if Vetyeka can drag him into the late rounds he can demoralise him (it’s not like it hasn’t happened before). On the undercard, the aforementioned Darchinyan (39-6-1, 28 KO) faces highly regarded but relatively untested Jamaican titlist Nicholas Walters (23-0, 19 KO). One suspects the idea is to set Walters up with Donaire down the line, but Darchinyan’s weird crab stance and left-handedness have a way of freaking people out. Walters seems pretty unflappable, though. Earlier, fellow featherweight Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich (18-0, 9 KO), owner of one of boxing’s best nicknames, will face unheralded Belgian Alexander Miskirtchian (24-2-1, 9 KO). [Also Saturday, the 24/7 show for Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez begins.]
- Felix Sturm Vs. Sam Soliman II, Saturday, Krefeld Germany. After their first fight was ruled a No Contest due to Soliman (43-11, 18 KO) testing positive to a banned stimulant, we have a rematch. I’m not sure if Sturm (39-3-2, 18 KO) has the ability to change things up at this point in his career, and it seemed in the last fight that Soliman cracked the “high hands, jab, jab, right hand” code with activity and smarts. I think it happens all the same way, just more easily for Soliman.
- The Rest. On HBO Latino on Saturday (I know, right? Big night for HBO), we’ve got junior featherweight prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle (18-1, 13 KO) in with Luis Rosa (16-0, 7 KO) and junior lightweight puncher Javier Fortuna (24-0-1, 18 KO) in with Juan Antonio Rodriguez (26-4, 23 KO) in what could be quite a fun night… Also that night junior bantamweight Carlos Cuadras (29-0, 24 KO) and Srikaset Sor Rungvisai (27-3-1, 25 KO) do battle in Mexico City in a fight that’s guaranteed to be a firecracker.