If we don’t get a Fight of the Year candidate this week, I will shave my head into a mohawk and you can call me the ugly white Victor Ortiz. This just might be the longest weekly schedule you will ever see and it’s pretty much all quality. There’s Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II on HBO pay-per-view and its stellar undercard. Unfortunately on at the same time is Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko II and Anselmo Moreno vs. Vic Darchinyan on Showtime, with its own undercard that is not too shabby.
But wait, we’re not done. Epix continues its strange and optimistic fixation with heavyweight boxing by broadcasting Robert Helenius and Alexander Povetkin from Finland. ESPN Deportes has hard to spell but easy to watch Mexican banger Johnny Gonzalez fighting in Mexico City. Earlier in the week Krzysztof Wlodarczyk is taking on Danny Green in a cruiserweight battle in Perth with featherweight Chris John and junior lightweight prospect Will Tomlinson on the undercard. In a strange Monday fight to start next week, junior welterweight TQBR favourites Ruslan Provodnikov and Demarcus Corley are doing battle in Russia.
There’s so much more than that, but you’re going to have to read on because otherwise this intro might become so huge it starts to bend the space time continuum. The schedule itself surely will. Stay away from the (main) event horizon and make sure that this week you take a little time away from watching boxing to do important stuff like interact with your family and shower.
Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II And Its Undercard, Saturday, HBO PPV, New York
Like wayfarer sunglasses, Founder Tim is back and will have the full preview of this Saturday’s main event, even though he never really left. Suffice to say that junior middleweights Cotto and Margarito are not the boxers they once were but that their should still be competitive and action-packed. (Barring any complications related to the eye of Sauron.)
- Brandon Rios vs. John Murray. That this lightweight fight might be the least competitive of this event’s televised undercard says something beautiful about the undercard’s quality. Rios (28-0-1) is boxing fans’ action hero of choice these days after a series of brutal wars with the likes of Urbano Antillon, Miguel Acosta and Anthony Peterson. He’s a walking meat grinder who uses his adamantium chin to absorb tremendous punishment before paying it back with interest. England’s Murray (31-1) doesn’t mind applying a bit of pressure himself. In fact, it’s what he does best, rushing in with a scything overhand right. The problem is that he was stopped in his last fight by fellow Englishman Kevin Mitchell, who certainly does not hit as hard as Rios. Mitchell was boxing on the back foot though, something that Rios certainly won’t do. This is likely to be a do-over of the short but all-action slugfest that was Rios vs. Antillon. And again, you’d have to favour the bigger, harder punching and harder chinned fighter in Rios.
- Pawel Wolak vs. Delvin Rodriguez II. For a while it seemed like the rematch of Wolak and Rodriguez’ July junior middleweight draw wasn’t going to happen. Praise be to the boxing gods, both guys, Top Rank and whoever else was involved for making it happen. I don’t see how these two make a bad fight. Rodriguez (25-5-3) is an underrated boxer/puncher who’s been on the wrong end of some close decisions. The last fight seemed like his last shot. Wolak (29-1-1) is a Polish pressure machine that fought through the last fight with an eye that looked like this. No special effects, promise. What will happen this time? Roughly the same thing, one imagines. Rodriguez’ quality punching and skills will have to compete with Wolak’s activity and aggression for the judges’ attention. Expect a barnburner.
- Mike Jones vs. Sebastian Lujan. Philadelphia’s Mike Jones is a rising star in the welterweight division. Sebastian Lujan comes from the same Argentine badass factory that constructed Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthyse from a mix of old body parts, gunpowder and cement. Yet another quality bout. Jones (25-0) is a huge welterweight, has some boxing skills and can punch a bit. He got what many thought was a gift against Jesus Soto Karass last year, hurting the Mexican in the second round and then throwing a nearly 100 punch combination that left him punched out for the rest of the fight. It turned out to be a learning experience, because he took Soto Karass apart in their February rematch. Lujan (38-5-2) has had some setbacks in his career, including being stopped by Antonio Margarito, but has always shown himself to be a tough night out. He upset Mike Mellingen on Friday Night Fights earlier in the year despite coming into the fight with just a few days notice. Jones didn’t necessarily show a weakness against pressure fighters in the first Soto Karass fight, just inexperience. Nevertheless, Lujan probably punches a bit harder than Soto Karass. He’s certainly more unorthodox. It’ll be fun no matter what happens, but Jones by decision or late stoppage is the most likely outcome.
Note: Non-PPV undercard fights should be available on toprank.tv (which will also air the full card for the usual fee), on the cable and satellite previews and on the international broadcast. They include fights featuring light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee and junior middleweight Glen Tapia.
Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko II, Anselmo Moreno vs. Vic Darchinyan And Its Undercard, Saturday, Showtime, Anaheim
Again, the full preview for the main event of this Showtime show will be posted later in the week. Last time out the story was Mares punching Agbeko in the cock and getting away with it. But as this informative video points out, it was actually a pretty good fight apart from that. Let’s hope for our sake, and the sake of Agbeko’s genitals, that it’s cleaner this time round.
- Anselmo Moreno vs. Vic Darchinyan. Darchinyan is the loveable evil midget of professional boxing, a man who makes ridiculous pronouncements but tends to back them up with his weird style and big punch. Panama’s Moreno is a nifty boxer who can do a bit of everything, made the odd pound-for-pound list last year and is tall for a bantamweight. He’s a bit of a serial fight dropper; he was meant to fight Eric Morel on this card and had a bout against Nonito Donaire fall through earlier in the year. This is a better fight than Morel vs. Moreno, though. Darchinyan, (37-3-1) will be the best opponent that Moreno (31-1-1) has faced, though he’s faced his fair share of quality contenders. Defeating Yohnny Perez in April was something of a return from the wilderness for Darchinyan, who many had thought had lost his power and some of his skill. The fight could hinge on what version of Darchinyan turns up — caveman Vic or cavemanish boxer Vic. Then again, Moreno could be too good, period. I’ll go with Vic for purely patriotic reasons.
- The rest of the undercard. There are also some big name fighters on the off television portion of this card. Worst person in the world/bantamweight contender Morel (45-2) takes on Jose Silveira (12-5). We can only hope he will lose, but he probably won’t; Silveira has lost two on the trot. Noted hard case Sakio Bika (28-5-2) moves up to light heavyweight to fight Alfredo Contreras (11-12-2) who has lost eight of his last ten.
Note: Showtime is going crazy in support of the Dec. 17 final of the Super Six between Andre Ward and Carl Froch. There’s a new episode of Fight Camp 360 on Wednesday night and Staredown, Showtime’s blatant rip off of HBO’s Face Off series, premiers before Mares vs. Agbeko II on Saturday. Should be fun, as long as you can stand Carl Froch’s grating trashtalk and Ward’s calm self assuredness.
The Rest Of The Week’s Boxing Schedule
- Martin Murray vs. Felix Sturm, Friday, Mannheim Germany. British middleweight Martin Murray travels to Germany on Friday to take on long-time divisional player Sturm. He’s hoping that things will go better for him than they did for Matthew Macklin, who almost everyone thought deserved to beat Sturm in their June fight. Instead, he was one the losing end of a hometown split decision. Sturm (36-2-1) might be slowing down. Murray (23-0) will certainly take heart from the trouble that Macklin’s pressure and activity gave the German big trouble. The Englishman fights in a similar, if slightly more upright, style to Macklin. Count on Sturm to do what he always does and put on his earmuffs. Don’t count on Murray winning a decision.
- Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora and Alexander Povetkin vs. Cedric Boswell, Saturday, Epix, Helsinki Finland. Epix’ decision to get into heavyweight boxing to boost its brand was somewhat confusing at first, considering the state of the division. Hard to complain though, when it makes solid cards like this easier to see and promotes the sport by showing them live on the big screen in Times Square. They’re also bringing Freddie Roach in to commentate. The fights themselves aren’t all that bad either. Finland’s Helenius (16-0) has looked impressive in his last few outings against former contenders Samuel Peter and Siarhei Liakhovich. He’s got a good stick and a power straight right and could soon be a real player in the division. He might need to add some more foot and head movement, though, because he’s fairly hittable. Because of that, Chisora (15-1) could pose problems. The Brit is stocky, powerful and hard to discourage, even if he’s not pretty. If Helenius gets past him, it’d be good to see him against Tyson Fury or a top 10 contender. Before that is former Olympic gold medallist Alexander Povetkin (22-0) fighting the USA’s Cedric Boswell (35-1). Povetkin is fast, has good fundamentals and is powerful. He’s coming off a career best win over Ruslan Chagaev. Boswell, whose record is very inflated, looks to be just another stage in Povetkin’s frustratingly slow career arc.
- Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs. Danny Green, Wednesday, Perth Australia. This is going to be big down under. It will be, but mainly I just wanted to write that. Cruiserweights Green and Wlodarczyk are both at strange points in their respective careers. Australia’s Green (31-4) is coming off a stoppage loss to Antonio Tarver in July after a long winning streak. Wlodarczyk (45-2-1) hasn’t had a loss since 2007, but overdosed on anti-depressants in July in what may have been a suicide attempt. Both guys are relatively the same size, but the Pole will want to stand in the pocket and trade while Green will want space to unleash his hard straight shots. Based on recent form you’d have to favour Wlod in this fight, but with his possible mental health issues it’s anyone’s guess. On the undercard, Indonesian featherweight Chris John takes a break from fighting no hopers in Indonesia to fight a no hoper in Australia in Ukraine’s Stanyslav Merdov (32-7). Exciting Aussie junior lightweight prospect Will Tomlinson (17-0-1) is also fighting. If he beats Alan Herrera (26-3), which he should, he could step up his competition and make some noise in the junior lightweight division, which is really heating up.
- Ruslan Provodnikov vs. DeMarcus Corley, Monday, Ekaterinburg Russia. This should be fun and could even be interesting. It’s strange that it’s on next Monday, but maybe in post-Soviet Russia, weekend fights you. Provodnikov (19-1) isn’t in un-fun fights, thanks to his lack of nuance and forward-charging style. “Chop Chop” Corley (37-18-1) is a TQBR favourite for his style and flair in the ring and being a total road warrior. He even managed to hurt Floyd Mayweather a bit when they met way back in 2004. He hasn’t looked his best in recent outings, but some had him beating top junior welterweight Marcos Maidana last year. At a minimum, he’s a tough old bastard. Provodnikov never met a punch he couldn’t block with his face, so this could be fun. It might just end up another debatable SD on Corley’s record.
- The Rest. Fun Mexican featherweight veteran Johnny Gonzalez (50-7) fights in Mexico City on ESPN Deportes on Saturday against Roinet Caballero (31-10-1). Gonzalez is powerful and a little bit chinny, a perfect combination for good TV. Hopefully he’s in more competitive fights than this soon… Anthony Dirrell (23-0), bro of Andre, fights Renan St-Juste (23-2-1) in a super middleweight bout on Showtime on Friday night. Anthony doesn’t seem to be as gun shy as his big brother, but St-Juste might just be the best opponent of his career. Not that that’s saying much. On the undercard, junior bantamweight prospects Chris Avalos (19-1) and Columbia’s Jhonatan Romero (19-0) do battle. It could upstage the main event, you just never know with these South Americans… Junior middleweight prospect Hugo Centeno Jr. (10-0) is taking on trial horse David Lopez (3-6-3) in a Golden Boy Fight Night Club show on FSN and Fox Sports Espanol… Junior featherweight Randy Caballero (12-0) fights on TeleFutura Friday.