In the week that a futuristic (and potentially worrisome) new version of boxing debuts in Nevada, I figured I’d give you a flashback to how things used to be with this excellent snap of sailors watching a boxing match aboard the USS Oregon in 1897. Apart from the aforementioned Big Knockout Boxing card on pay-per-view, there’s also fights that are worth a look on Showtime and ESPN, so it’s really not such a bad week. Let’s get to it.
- Shawn Porter Vs. Kell Brook, Saturday, Showtime, Carson Calif. The biggest bout of the week is the oft-cancelled junior welterweight bout between Sheffield’s Kell Brook (32-0, 22 KO) and Akron’s Shawn Porter (24-0-1, 15 KO). Tim will have the full preview a bit later in the week but my opinion is that Brook has some chin issues that the heavy handed Porter will bring to our attention down the stretch. On the undercard, lightweight prospect/contender Omar Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KO) takes on Mexico’s Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KO). Estrada is no soft touch and if Figueroa is at all out of sorts after splitting with trainer Joel Diaz, he may be vulnerable. That said, I think he’s probably too tenacious for Estrada. There’s also a rematch for super middleweights Sakio Bika (32-5-3, 21 KO) and Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KO), who fought to a draw in December last year. If Dirrell has worked on his stamina, then he will have given himself every chance to win, since he faded in the later rounds last time and Bika is still going to be the same rugged package he was last time out. That rugged package is nothing to sneeze at, though, and I really don’t know who will win this. Heavyweight KO artist Deontay Wilder is probably fighting on the Showtime Extreme portion of the card against veteran journeyman Jason Gavern.
- Rustam Nugaev Vs. Denis Shafikov, Friday, ESPN2, Santa Ynez Calif. In case you haven’t noticed, Eastern Europeans are taking over the sport. It will be a Russian fighting a Russian on Friday Night Fights this week, and it won’t be long before there are no boxing matches anywhere that aren’t between Russians. If they’re all like lightweights Shafikov (33-1-1, 18 KO) and Nugaev (27-6-1, 17 KO), then we shouldn’t have too much to complain about. Neither Ruski is the retiring type, and I reckon they’ll lock horns in centre ring and go for it. I’ll also favour Nugaev, who is much bigger and has proven himself against the better competition thus far.
- Brian Vera Vs. Gabriel Rosado, Saturday, Pay-Per-View, Las Vegas. I’ve got my reservations about the debut of Big Knockout Boxing, which will see offensively-minded middleweights Vera (23-8, 14 KO) and Rosado (21-8, 13 KO) go toe-to-toe (not that they’ll have much choice in the matter). It’s difficult to predict how the shorter two minute rounds and lack of ring ropes will affect the fighters, but they’d have to give some advantage to Vera, who is doubtless the less nuanced of the pair. Whether that means he’ll win is anybody’s guess.
- The Rest. Top lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo fights on UniMas from Puerto Rico on Friday night against Oscar Bravo, whose chief distinguishing feature is that his name is also his initials in the NATO phonetic alphabet… Transnational Boxing Rankings Board #2 cruiserweight Yoan Pablo Hernandez fights the impressively moustachioed but old Firat Arslan in Germany on Saturday.