“And the little ones shall lead them.” Where was that said? The Bible? Nostradamus in “Les Propheties?” Nowhere, you say? It’s the story of this week on the boxing schedule, regardless. One of the world’s biggest and best heavyweights is in action, albeit in a letdown match-up, while people under 120 pounds will either be putting on a show, delivering a competitive fight or both.
- Shinsuke Yamanaka vs Anselmo Moreno, Tuesday, Tokyo. Here’s your fight of the week. If you’re a fan of boxer-punchers, set your alarm, wake up early and see Yamanaka, the #1 bantamweight according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, take on one of the division’s other top talents. It’s not as good a fight as it would’ve been a year or so ago — Yamanaka has slowed down from his ultra-hot run that began in 2011, and so has Moreno since a pair of losses (one legit, one borderline) dating to 2012 — but it’s still a great match-up.
- Juan Francisco Estrada vs Hernan Marquez, Saturday, beIN Sports Espanol. We just keep wishing and waiting and hoping and praying that Estrada gets a rematch with flyweight king Roman Gonzalez, but instead he keeps taking entertaining fights against faded or ex-contenders, which Marquez counts as given his three knockout losses in his last nine fights (all against, it must be said, excellent talents).
- Katsunari Takayama vs Ryuji Hara, Sunday, Osaka Japan. Japan got it going on this week. Takayama-Hara is the best fight on this particular card, as it pits two strawweights with recent dings on their record who nonetheless bring worthy resumes to the ring, especially since their dings are against quality fighters. The winner looks pretty good; the loser is staring at two dings in close proximity, which gets harder to write off. Kazuto Ioka takes it easier in the flyweight main event against Roberto Domingo Sosa.
- Deontay Wilder vs Johan Duhaupas, Saturday, NBC Sports Net, Birmingham Ala. If you’re looking at Wilder as a heavyweight who’s still developing in the ring, this fight makes more sense considering Wilder in his last fight got wobbled pretty severely in a projected mismatch; this one is even worse in the mismatch department, but, you know, you get wobbled when you shouldn’t, maybe you take a step back. Whether it will help him develop his Alabama fan base is a different question; maybe they’ll get tired of the seemingly non-competitive match-ups or maybe they’ll stay backing their man. NBC is advertising it as for the heavyweight championship, which it isn’t, so it looks like the PBC series’ embrace of bogus “championships” is in full swing. At least we aren’t getting the canceled Omar Figueroa beatdown of was-retired-and-should’ve-stayed-that-way Antonio DeMarco. On the undercard, heavyweight semi-prospect Dominic Breazeale takes on a real threat in Fred Kassi, who fought Chris Arreola to a draw in his last bout.
- Julian Williams vs Luciano Cuello, Tuesday, Fox Sports 1, Bethlehem Pa. Williams feels like he’s ready for a big leap forward in the junior middleweight division — he’s cracked the top 10 mostly based on talent — but instead is taking a smaller one here. Still, it’s better than treading water. Cuello has three losses to “names” and he’s probably the best opponent Williams has faced to date. An undercard bout could still the show: Junior featherweights Moises Flores and Luis Emanuel Cusolito are prone to bang. (Wait. That sounded like I was talking about something else.)
- Fedor Chudinov vs Frank Buglioni, Saturday, London. Chudinov follows up his big win over Felix Sturm with a bout against Buglioni, who has been using a hypnotist for something or the other. Chudinov says Buglioni is out of his depth. Chudinov, the now-proven contender, is probably right. Experience trumps hypnotism, most of the time.
- The Rest. 2008 Paulie Malignaggi (Italy) and Tomasz Adamek (Poland) fight on favorable territory Saturday; both should have stayed retired, even if Adamek figures to make money against “popular countryman” Przemyslaw Saleta… Heavyweight Andy Ruiz headlines on Unimas, where we will find out if his whole “stay away from the ring, work on conditioning” plan has gotten him anywhere.