Far be it from me to accuse heavyweight Deontay Wilder of having too high an opinion of himself. I’m just going to leave this picture of him driving a car with a picture of himself on the outside (while also singing a song about himself) here and you can draw your own conclusions (thanks to friend of the site Rafe Bartholomew for pointing that one out). The big fella from Tuscaloosa is fighting this weekend, along with a few other boxers of note, including lightweights Hank Lundy and Petr Petrov and junior featherweight Leo Santa Cruz. Let’s get into it.
- Willie Monroe, Jr. Vs. Brian Vera, Friday, ESPN2, Verona N.Y. The week’s first televised offering is a match-up of Friday Night Fights regulars. Monroe, Jr. (18-1, 6 KO) was the winner of last year’s middleweight Boxcino tournament. He’s a tall, awkward kind of southpaw who enjoys the close-up stuff a bit too much. Vera (23-8, 14 KO), on the other hand, is looking to save his career after losing a rematch with Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and getting knocked out by Gabe Rosado in a non-Queensberry Rules Vegas fight. Vera has a lot of miles on the clock and I think Monroe’s size and youth are going to give the Texan a real tough time. The undercard bout might be a show-stealer, with the winner of the lightweight version of Boxcino, Petr Petrov (35-4-2, 17 KO) taking on Hank Lundy (25-4-1, 12 KO) in a clash of fast, skilled and action-inclined fighters. I fancy the Russian to carry the day with his superior power and better drilling, but not with much conviction.
- Bermane Stiverne Vs. Deontay Wilder, Saturday, Showtime, Las Vegas. Maybe it’s dumb, but there’s something especially exciting about a heavyweight title fight. Even when the title in question doesn’t mean anything (everybody knows that Wlad Klitschko is the real king of the division). Even if you don’t care about the title, this is a fight between two top-10 heavyweights (#3 and #6 in the division, respectively, according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board) who come to fight. All that said, I think that Wilder (32-0, 32 KO) is in for a rude awakening here. The lanky Alabaman is seriously sloppy and Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KO) is comparatively tight, technique-wise. Sure, Wilder could land a monster right hand in the first round and drop Stiverne like a sack of shit. But if he doesn’t, he’s asking to be left hooked into oblivion. Either way, it’ll be fun as long as it lasts. Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KO) fights on the undercard against Jesus Ruiz (33-5-5, 22 KO). It’s an incredibly disappointing fight for the young junior featherweight, who should be fighting fellow contenders and not borderline journeymen.
- Jose Zepeda Vs. Rafael Cobos, Saturday, UniMas, Port Hueneme Calif. The only other American televised show of the week has welterweight prospect Zepeda (21-0, 18 KO) in with Rafael Cobos (15-5-5, 3 KO). I think you can guess how this one ends.