Like Andre Berto’s weird muscle gut, the week’s boxing schedule is bloated. And not only because of Berto’s fight with boxing’s biggest star, Floyd Mayweather on Showtime Pay-Per-View Saturday. As is often the case in the week of a big fight (if you can call Mayweather/Berto a big fight), there are plenty of other cards on as well, all hoping to catch a little reflected glory. Not that there’s much glory to go around this time. In any case, the Mayweather/Berto undercard is pretty good (most likely in an effort to convince consumers to eat the shit sandwich). Let’s get to the previews.
The Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto Undercard
Roman Martinez vs Orlando Salido. A guaranteed action rematch here, with veteran badass Salido (42-13-2, 29 KO) hoping to avenge his April loss to Martinez (29-2-2, 17 KO) at junior lightweight. There’s really nothing to complain about: two good guys who can punch a bit and aren’t afraid to mix it up. Salido tasted the canvas twice last time but came on strong in the late rounds, so perhaps he’ll try to come out of the gate a bit faster on Saturday.
Badou Jack vs George Groves. Super middleweight Jack (19-1-1, 12 KO) upset Anthony Dirrell to get this fight, but I think he’ll find Groves (21-2, 16 KO) a tougher challenge. The Englishman is more versatile and active than Dirrell too—he won’t be out-hustled.
Jhonny Gonzalez vs Jonathan Oquendo. Mexican veteran and dynamite puncher Gonzalez (58-9, 49 KO) shouldn’t lose to Oquendo (25-4, 16 KO), who’s a pretty fringe-y kind of dude. But then again, Gonzalez was brutally knocked out by Gary Russell, Jr. earlier in the year and had a tough career full of ups and downs even before that. But even so…
Vanes Martirosyan vs Ishe Smith. Good on Smith (27-7, 12 KO). Thanks to his connection to the Mayweather team, the junior middleweight keeps getting fights on TV, despite being a prescription-strength soporific. There’s something admirable about that commitment to networking. Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 KO) on the other hand can be exciting in the right circumstances, though Ishe Smith is certainly the wrong circumstances. Still, if he can match Smith’s anemic work rate he should be able to get a win, even if it won’t do much for his career.
The Rest Of The Week’s Boxing Schedule
Peter Quillin vs Michael Zerafa, Saturday, NBC/NBC Sports Net, Mashantucket Conn. This free TV “Premier Boxing Champions” card will likely be one big advertisement for Mayweather/Berto. You’d suffer through that if the fights were any good, but I’m here to tell you they aren’t. That Zerafa (17-1, 9 KO) was the subject of a RingTV article titled Michael Zerafa: I’m not a stripper; I’m a boxer tells you everything you need to know. On the undercard, longtime junior middleweight contender Cornelius Bundrage is sacrificed to one of the the Charlo twins (Jermall) and former Olympian and light heavyweight prospect Marcus Browne (15-0, 11 KO) takes a step up against fragile but difficult gatekeeper Gabriel Campillo (25-7-1, 12 KO).
Adonis Stevenson vs Tommy Karpency, Friday, Spike TV, Toronto. There’s more PBC the day before, with another questionable match-up: light heavyweight champ Stevenson (26-1, 21 KO) against fringe contender Karpency (25-4-1, 14 KO). That said, I think Stevenson has looked shaky in recent fights. Karpency, a tough southpaw, has a better chance of pulling the upset than Zerafa. Not that that’s saying very much. Much-fancied welterweight prospect Errol Spence, Jr. (17-0, 14 KO) fights South Africa’s Chris van Heerden (23-1-1, 12 KO) on the undercard.
Austin Trout vs Joey Hernandez, Tuesday, Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, Hollywood. Yet more PBC, with junior middleweight Trout (29-2, 16 KO) marking the debut of the Haymon venture on Fox with what should be an easy fight against Hernandez (24-3-1, 14 KO), whose nickname is among the worst I’ve ever heard: “Twinkle Fingers.”
Oscar Valdez vs Chris Avalos, Friday, TruTV, Las Vegas. Mexican Olympian and ballyhooed Top Rank featherweight prospect Valdez (16-0, 14 KO) looks to advance his career against Avalos (26-3, 19 KO), who’s game and has only ever lost to legit contenders. Valdez is a mean dude and I don’t think he’ll have too much trouble.
(Image: Mayweather Promotions)