Your correspondent is in Japan and, as such, chooses to feature weird Japanese stuff at the top of the schedule. People tell you how strange Japan is, but it’s all true. Say what you like about them, though, the Japanese do all their own stunts. Everything is made here, including the awesome fights that went down on New Year's Eve. The extended monologue about Japan is over, and this week there’s only one big show – ESPN’s Friday Night Fights 2013 premiere.
- Jonathan Gonzalez vs. Derek Ennis, Friday, ESPN2, Miami. Many said that junior middleweight contender Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KO) would never be back on TV after his coma-inducing draw against Serhiy Dzinziruk on HBO last September. Well ESPN sure proved them wrong! Gonzalez is up against Philadelphia’s Derek “Pooh” Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KO), whose style is as cute as his nickname suggests. He’ll be up in Gonzalez’ grill from the start, shoulder rolling and whatnot. He’s not big enough or hard hitting enough to take the vulnerable Puerto Rican out, but I think he can take him to the scorecards and even win. On the undercard, Cuban junior lightweight Rances Barthelmy (17-0, 11 KO) takes on a rare commodity, an Afghani-Canadian boxer, in Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KO). Barthelmy is not particularly skilled or fluid for a Cuban but is huge for the weight class, at 5’11”, and that may prove the difference. Usmanee throws a nice variety of punches, but the height and reach disparity may be hard to bridge.
- The Rest. Strawweights Jesus Silvestre (26-3-0, 19KO) and Ganigan Lopez (21-5, 14 KO) do battle in Mexico City Saturday night.