In my time doing this weekly schedule (more than two years), I can’t recall a stretch where high level boxing has been on TV as consistently as it has in the last month. I use the term “high level” fairly loosely — if you look at this week’s fights, there are a lot of big name fighters in action, but few of them are in against stiff competition. Oh well, we’ll take what we can get.
- Erislandy Lara vs Delvin Rodriguez, Friday, SpikeTV, Chicago. The initial promise of Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” venture seems to be wearing off a little, with a second straight week with a less-than-competitive main event. In this case it’s the balletic Erislandy Lara (20-2-2, 12 KO) against former Friday Night Fights regular Delvin Rodriguez (28-7-4, 16 KO), who was last seen losing to Miguel Cotto and drawing with journeyman Joachim Alcine. I think the best we can hope for is for Lara to take advantage of the talent gap and put on an impressive and entertaining performance that keeps his name in the mix with the genuine contenders at junior middleweight. The undercard is an Artur-fest, with Russian light heavyweight sensation Artur Beterbiev (8-0, 8 KO) taking on Alex Johnson (16-2, 7 KO), who has never been stopped but nevertheless is unlikely to last the distance, and Polish heavyweight Artur Szpilka (18-1, 13 KO) taking on journeyman Manuel Quezada (29-9, 18 KO).
- Nicholas Walters vs Miguel Marriaga, Saturday, HBO, New York. Though Miguel Cotto may have gone down the road to the Barclays Center last week, boxing returns to Madison Square Garden (well, the small room anyway) this Saturday, with featherweight puncher Walters (25-0, 21 KO) taking on Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (20-0, 18 KO), who reportedly beat him in the amateurs. It’s a clash of two fundamentally solid punchers — what’s not to like? Many of those in attendance will be there to see Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo (17-0, 13 KO), who many hope will be the island’s boxing idol when Cotto retires. He’s fighting Texan Ivan Najera (16-0, 8 KO), who isn’t in the same class.
- Deontay Wilder vs Eric Molina, Saturday, Showtime, Birmingham Ala. An American with a heavyweight belt is an investment worth protecting, which is why the nuclear-punching Wilder (33-0, 32 KO) is following up his breakthrough win over Bermane Stiverne by taking on Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KO), a true no-hoper. Someone should also tell Wilder that calling your opponents bums when they actually are bums only makes you look bad. The junior lightweight fight on the televised undercard, between Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza and Russia’s Andrey Klimov, promises to be more competitive.
- Jose Felix, Jr. vs Yakubu Amidu, Saturday, UniMas, Hollywood. Some of the shine came off Mexican lightweight prospect Felix, Jr. (29-1-1, 24 KO) when he lost a tough fight to Bryan Vasquez last year. He’s been on the comeback trail since, and the technique-challenged Amidu (21-6-2, 19 KO) should be more of the same. (Ed’s note: We originally gave Felix’s record instead of Amidu’s. He now has his own record.)