For a while it looked like Manny Pacquiao was getting into the trash talk spirit with Floyd Mayweather by wearing the shirt above. Unfortunately, it was not to be. We should have all have realised that Pacquiao is too polite even to trash talk via dress. Some wiseguy had Photoshopped it on to him. Still, it’s hard not to be filled with optimism about the sport as spring springs, Pacquiao and Mayweather get ready to fight and quality boxing returns to the tube. This week is absolutely chockers, with the big debut of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions on NBC and a whole lot of other fights. Let’s get to it.
- Keith Thurman Vs. Robert Guerrero, Saturday, NBC, Las Vegas. Boxing is back in prime-time on free TV, and who better to kick things off than Keith Thurman (24-0, 21 KO), a personable, ponytailed welterweight puncher. He’s up against Robert Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KO), who has become a rough-housing brawler as he’s come up from featherweight. Thurman at full steam is pretty scary, but we haven’t seem him in against anyone as tested as Guerrero, while Guerrero has definitely proved himself to be one tough dude. It has the makings of a really fun fight. On the undercard, junior welterweight villain Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KO) faces the heavy-handed John Molina (27-5, 22 KO). Molina definitely has an equaliser, and if Broner gets too cute he could get caught. I don’t see it going that way, though; I reckon Broner is going to totally dominate the slower Molina in a wince-inducing performance. Also on the undercard is Abner Mares (28-1-1, 15 KO), who has really lost all the respect for fighting a murderers row at bantamweight and junior featherweight by fighting guys like Reyes (18-4, 5 KO) after his knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez.
- Amnat Ruenroeng Vs. Zou Shiming, Saturday, HBO2/UniMas, Macau. I don’t care what people say, I have a massive soft spot for flyweight Zou Shiming (6-0, 1 KO). I don’t care that the two-time Olympic gold medallist has been paid a silly amount for fights against negligible opposition. I don’t care that he couldn’t crack an egg. He’s really enjoyable to watch and he gives it his all every time. That said, I don’t think he’s ready for Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KO), the division’s #2 contender. He’s way, way above the level of the guys Shiming has been facing. The Chinese golden boy is still very open to be hit and very inexperienced in the pro game, while Ruenroeng’s 14 fights belie major victories over top opposition. This could get nasty. On the undercard, middleweight Glen Tapia (22-1, 14 KO) faces Australian former kickboxer and curren trial horse Daniel Dawson (40-4-1, 26 KO).
- Tony Harrison Vs. Antwone Smith, Friday, ESPN2, Las Vegas. An OK Friday Night Fights, with middleweight Harrison (19-0, 16 KO), who has been absolutely running through the usual suspects, stepping up against the veteran Smith (23-5-1, 12 KO). Smith is coming of a KO loss and hasn’t fought in two years, so to say there’s a question mark over him would be a bit of understatement.
- Joseph Diaz Vs. Juan Luis Hernandez, Friday, FS1/Fox Deportes, Los Angeles. Diaz was a US Olympian in London and has an unblemished pro record of 14-0, 9 KO. Hernandez (17-4-1, 9 KO) is a Mexican club fighter. You can guess what happens next.
- Jason Sosa Vs. Bergman Aguilar, Friday, GFL.tv, Philadelphia. Some club fights on internet pay-per-view here, with Sosa (13-1-3, 19 KO) facing Costa Rica’s Aguilar (12-1-1, 4 KO). One for the dedicated fan/relatives of the fighters.
- Jonathan Oquendo Vs. Gabino Cota, Friday, Telemundo, Kissimmee Fla. Oquendo (24-4, 16 KO), last seen as one of Mares’ soft touches. He’s up against Cota (17-3-1, 15 KO), who’s coming off two losses himself.