It’s a sneaky week of boxing, with quite a few decent scraps on. The most decent of all features Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders, which Showtime is very obligingly broadcasting from England, while HBO has an offering of their own, headlined by heavyweights Luis Ortiz and Bryant Jennings. There’s also a couple of other bits and pieces.
PS: The picture above is why you don’t eat chilli crab before officiating a world title fight (OK, maybe it’s the referee’s blood-soaked shirt after Nonito Donaire’s win over Cesar Juarez last weekend).
Andy Lee vs Billy Joe Saunders, Saturday, Showtime, Manchester. Postponed twice, this all-Traveller middleweight clash might be the pick of the week now that it’s finally set to happen. It’s a pick ’em fight — Lee will look to make the most of his height advantage and one-punch power, while the more compact Saunders will rely on his agility and skills. I think I favour Saunders to pepper Lee and possibly stop him late. But if Lee’s career has taught us anything, it’s to never count him out.
Luis Ortiz vs Bryant Jennings, Saturday, HBO/HBO Latino, Verona N.Y. A heavyweight fight rounds out the year for HBO, with Cuba’s Ortiz taking on Philadelphia’s Jennings. It could be an interesting one: Ortiz has power and amateur pedigree, while Jennings is a versatile boxer himself. It could come down to conditioning — Ortiz rarely needs to go deeper than the first few rounds (mainly a function of his competition), so Jennings may have the advantage if he can take his man into deep water. On the undercard, Jamaican puncher Nicholas Walters moves up to junior lightweight and fights less well-known Jason Sosa, a second generation Puerto Rican-American from New Jersey. I don’t see this going well for Sosa.
Denis Shafikov vs Rances Barthelemy, Friday, PBC on Spike TV, Las Vegas. “Premier Boxing Champions” ends the years with a fight that’s closer to a whimper than a bang. These lightweights are former Friday Night Fights prospects — the more things change, hey? Basically I think the story here is going to be the height and reach disparity — Barthelemy is 6″ taller than his opponent. He’s also a better boxer, which doesn’t bode well for the diminutive Russian.
Luis Concepcion vs Hernan Marquez, Thursday, Panama City Panama. Let’s party like it’s 2011! These two junior bantamweights (then flyweights) went to war twice back then, with Marquez winning both encounters, the first a Fight of the Year candidate. The intervening years have been kinder to Concepcion, however, and I fully expect the Panamanian to win easily over the punch-affected Marquez.
Joseph Diaz vs TBA, Friday, Estrella TV, Los Angeles. A former US Olympian against the dreaded TBA. You know how this ends.