This week’s boxing schedule is brought to you by the earliest known photo of men drinking beer. Which is exactly what TQBR plans to be doing this weekend, while watching some of the mountains of professional boxing being broadcast. At least those of us unlucky enough not to being going to Vegas to cover the fights live. It’s a huge weekend, largely clustered around Saturday, but there are also some Friday and, strangely enough, Thursday fights.
Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Undercard
- Roman Martinez vs. Miguel Beltran, Jr. Whodda thunk it? A Mexico vs. Puerto Rico match up on a pay-per-view undercard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This junior lightweight bout should be a nice little warmup act for the main event, pitting Puerto Rican sledgehammer Rocky Martinez (25-1-1) against Mexican brawler Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-1). Martinez is a true knockout artist with a concussive right hand, while Beltran is more of a typical Mexican swarmer. The rub on Beltran might be that he’s a bit chinny and has gone down a few times in his career, including being counted out against Joksan Hernandez. He’s been out of the ring a while, too. It’s possible to outwork Martinez, though, and if he tries that we should be in for a real treat.
- Matthew Macklin vs. Joachim Alcine. Brummie hero Matthew Macklin gets a slightly easier outing after two losses, one to the man on the top of the bill. Middleweight Macklin (28-4) has drawn perennial contender Joachim Alcine (33-2-1), fresh off a career invigorating victory over noted T-Rex David Lemieux. Alcine probably isn’t at the tough and durable Macklin’s level, unless the KO loss to Martinez took something out of Brit.
- Robert Marroquin vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux. Alternatingly explosive and ho-hum Cuban body puncher Guillermo Rigondeaux gets another chance to shine on a major card against Robert Marroquin, a once hot prospect with one loss on his record. Rigondeaux (10-0) has been on and off this card a dozen times, so who knows whether we’ll actually see him on Saturday. I don’t really see anything in Marroquin (22-1) that could trouble the dual Olympic gold medallist. If Rigondeaux wants it to be, it will be a short night out. I mainly feel sorry for Alejandro Lopez, who was scheduled to face Marroquin but has now been bumped yet again. Lopez, an honest pug, beat Teon Kennedy last August and, while Lopez has fought in anonymity, Kennedy has recieved major TV exposure (against Rigondeaux, no less). Life ain’t fair.
Saul Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez Undercard
- Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon. Jesus, Maria and Jose, this battle of Mexican featherweights might even upstage Chavez/Martinez as the fight of the night. Gonzalez (52-7) and Ponce De Leon (43-4) are two of the biggest punchers in the sport, let alone their division. “Veteran” describes both these men, but not at all in a pejorative way. Over the years they’ve fought through a who’s who of the middle-lower weight classes, in the U.S.A., Mexico and, in Gonzalez’ case, Japan. Both have developed over time, too. Ponce De Leon is no longer a caveman and Gonzalez is quite an astute boxer puncher. So who wins? I have to go with Ponce de Leon for his durability. In a fight where both guys can crack, that’s the only sensible pick. Gonzalez is chinny and Ponce ain’t, and that seals it.
- Marcos Maidana vs. Jesus Soto Karass. Compared to Gonzalez/Ponce De Leon, this fight is pretty “meh.” Sadly that’s mainly a matter of timing. Maidana (31-3) and Soto-Karass (26-7-3) have been two of the most reliable action stars in boxing over the last 3-5 years, but they appear to be meeting as both their career arcs head south. Maidana isn’t particularly well suited to welterweight and it showed in his last outing, a lacklustre effort against Devon Alexander. And Soto-Karass is just two fights removed from his first ever stoppage loss. I guess we’ll see who has more left. It should be pretty action packed since neither man knows how to go backwards. Give me Maidana, who will find Soto-Karass much more receptive to his bombs than Alexander was.
- Leo Santa Cruz vs. Eric Morel. Whaddayaknow, another Mexico vs. Puerto Rico undercard bout. I see the formula. Ah well, I’ll forgive them because it’s a good one. This time we’ve got Mexican bantamweight prospect Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1) taking on 36-year-old veteran/worst person ever Eric Morel (46-3). Basically, I don’t see why everyone’s so hot on Santa Cruz. He’s really quite slow of hand and foot and isn’t particularly powerful or skilled. I’d loved to be proved wrong, but I just don’t see it. Morel has an opportunity to upset the apple cart then. Despite his very enjoyable, brawling performance against Abner Mares in his last outing, the Puerto Rican is more of a pure boxer type. Who knows how the lumbering Santa Cruz deals with that. Not to mention that if Santa Cruz does manage to get Morel where he wants him, we now know he’s not shy about punching his way out of there. I’ll take the upset.
The Rest Of The Week’s Boxing Schedule
- Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. Troy Ross, Saturday, Bamberg Germany. Germany is where the cruiserweight action is, so Germany is where Canada’s Troy Ross goes to fight the top man in the division, Cuban expatriate Yoan Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez (25-2), fresh off two wins over longtime top contender Steve Cunningham, isn’t taking a break. Ross (22-2) is a tough outing and was unlucky not to beat Cunningham himself, unluckily receiving a thumb to the eye in the same round he knocked the Philadelphia fighter down. Now he takes his hard punching back to Germany to see if he can go one better on the new champ. I don’t think Hernandez is as vulnerable as Cunningham, though. He’s certainly not as chinny. He southpaw jab and right hand are very straight and very hard. If he has a weakness it’s that he’s not active enough, something that I don’t really see Ross exploiting.
- Jessie Vargas vs. Aaron Martinez, Friday, ESPN2, Las Vegas. A strange, out of season, Thursday ESPN2 card sees former Floyd Mayweather-promoted/now Top Rank-promoted welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas (19-0) up against once beaten Aaron Martinez (18-1-1) of East L.A. Vargas outworked and beat Josesito Lopez last year, a win that’s looking better and better, but hasn’t done much since. Martinez, a FNF staple, figures to be a bit of a tougher ask but should be within Vargas’ comfort zone. Martinez will probably try to press the action, with Vargas likely mixing boxing with a little brawling. Hopefully he’ll shine under pressure and we can see him go on to bigger and better things.
- The Rest. The older and less famous of the Donaire bros, Glenn (19-4-1) faces Omar Soto (22-9-2) in a flyweight bout on Telemundo Friday… British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders goes for the Commonwealth title on Friday against Australia’s Jarrod Fletcher (12-0) in London. Fletcher is good but I don’t think he’s in Saunders’ league.