by Gautham Nagesh
It’s going to be a packed weekend for fight fans with shows on HBO, Showtime, WealthTV, Fox Deportes and Telefutura plus UFC 154 and Carl Froch vs. Yusuf Mack on PPV from Nottingham, England. Doc Oct is off watching someone get hitched this weekend, so coverage of MMA may be delayed, but you can check out a full preview of UFC 154 here.
As for yours truly, well I can’t promise much coverage of the Spanish TV cards this weekend. That’s because I’ll be ringside as usual in Atlantic City to watch Maryland’s Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell continue to ascend the heavyweight ranks. Mitchell’s step up against Detroit’s Johnathon Banks will serve as the co-feature to a tasty matchup at lightweight between rising superstar Adrien Broner and Mexican titlist Antonio DeMarco.
I’ve been ringside for Mitchell’s last few fights and expect the former Michigan State linebacker to once again thrill the audience tomorrow night. As for Broner, love him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s become must-see TV for fight fans. Full rundown and predictions for the weekend’s action after the jump:
Hopefully Atlantic City’s famous shoreline will be mostly back to normal for tomorrow night’s HBO boxing card at Boardwalk Hall. This show promises to be exciting, with Broner facing his first real test and Mitchell turning into one of the few box office attractions at heavyweight. There’s no telling what impact Hurricane Sandy will have on ticket sales for this fight, but I’m expecting a solid gate.
Broner talks a lot of noise but he’s undoubtedly got the goods to back it up. Aside from a lackluster showing against Daniel Ponce de Leon, he has flashed spectacular ability with more frequency than almost any other young fighter in the sport. Broner has yet to face a real lightweight, and it’s still too early to tell if the Ponce fight was an aberration or a worrying sign. So many are eagerly anticipating this fight in hopes the Cincinnati product finally encounters deep waters.
DeMarco is a tough customer, as Jorge Linares found out during their brutal title scrap at Staples Center last October. The top-ranked Mexican lightweight has only one loss in the past six years, when he quit on his stool against the late Edwin Valero after the 9th round in February 2010. Demarco has 21 KOs in 28 wins and brings solid pressure and good pop, but he lacks the eye-popping talent of Broner. Winning this fight will likely require 12 rounds of steady pressure and a granite chin from DeMarco.
This is undoubtedly Broner’s toughest test in 24 fights, but like most others, I believe he will pass. DeMarco has been in with the best, so he could potentially prove too much for his less experienced foe. But Broner looks and fights like he was born in the ring. He never gets flustered, and his power will probably come with him up from 130 lbs. DeMarco won’t make it easy, but our pick is for Broner to score a late knockout and leave plenty of time for hair-brushing in the post-fight interview.
Mitchell faces a similar test that I also expect him to pass. Banks is no soft touch, but the Detroiter is already preparing for his next career by serving as a trainer to heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko in the wake of Emanuel Steward’s passing. Banks is a good fighter that failed in his sole attempt to move up in class against Tomasz Adamek in 2009. Banks’ preparation has been uneven in the past, but he weighed in for this fight at a trim and ready 218.5 lbs.
Mitchell’s preparation for this fight has been predictably uneventful, as are most of his camps. It has been over six months since his thrilling win over Chazz Witherspoon in April, so rust is a concern, but Banks hasn’t fought since February. Mitchell also claims he used the time off from his right hand injury to strengthen his left. Mitchell has hurt his last two opponents with massive left hooks, so that could spell trouble for Banks. Mitchell’s size, power, and athleticism would pose problems for any fighter in the world, and his ring craft has improved steadily with each fight.
The plan has been for Mitchell to fight a few more times in anticipation challenging a Klitschko next year. That timeline might have moved up a bit recently thanks to Mitchell’s progress and signs of decline from Wlad and Vitali. Banks has power, but if he manages to catch and stop Mitchell, then Seth probably has no business in the ring with one of the Klitschkos anyway. There could be some early fireworks, but we’re picking Seth to make it an early night for Banks with the left hook followed by a right hand.
A shallow undercard features soft matchups for junior middleweights Phil Lo Greco and Demetrius Hopkins, as well as New York welterweight prospect Zachary Ochoa. Stiff Jab favorite Terron Grant (4-0, 2 KOs) will face stiffer competition at lightweight against Mexico’s Abraham Esquivel (5-2, 3 KOs), while the best scrap on paper comes at 154 between Philly’s Julian Williams (9-0-1, 4 KOs) and Jonuel Tapia (8-2-1, 5 KOs) of the Bronx.
Miami is one of my favorite cities to visit, which is why I booked tickets there on December 15 to cover the next Tim Bradley fight. That show probably won’t happen, and I’m already booked to AC this weekend, or I would have probably headed to South Beach a month early to catch a special edition of ShoBox.
This Don King-promoted card was supposed take place at Miami Jai Alai, which is pretty much the coolest venue for a card I’ve heard of yet. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and it will instead go down at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The main event is a trademark matchup of unbeaten lightweights: Angelo Santana of Cuba against Johnny Garcia of Holland, Mich. I’ve covered Garcia’s last two fights outside of Michigan, both upset wins against unbeaten prospects. In fact, in his last fight he shocked touted Cuban amateur Yordanis Ugas, perhaps setting the stage for another shocker tonight. Garcia is the epitome of the blue collar fighter, all grit and pressure and determination. What he lacks in physical gifts he more than makes up for in mental toughness. I’ve never seen Santana fight, but I know he will be in for one.
The original main event was supposed to match junior middleweight prospect Omar “Oh” Henry and “King” James de la Rosa, but de la Rosa pulled out this week. That’s a pity, because that matchup of a puncher in Henry vs. the defensively deficient de la Rosa would have been a guaranteed highlight-reel KO. Henry was then paired at 160 against Juan Ubaldo Cabrera of the Dominican Republic, but pulled out due to gallstones. That means the undercard filler between Miami’s Joey “Twinkle Fingers” Hernandez and James “Shotgun” Winchester will now take place on TV.
Hernandez, reportedly a local ticket-seller, will likely never ply his talents on a bigger stage. The rest of the card features heavyweight prospects Oleg Platov of the Ukraine and Albany’s Trevor Bryan in separate fights, and unbeaten junior welterweight Amir Imam against Tony “Sugar Boy” Walker of Cincinnati.
Polish light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara returns against Tommy Karpency in Chicago tonight…San Diego super bantamweight Chris Martin gets a breather after a run of hellish competition against Robert Guillen tonight in Ontario, Calif…Carl Froch defends the super middleweight strap he won from Lucian Bute in his hometown of Nottingham on Saturday night against Yusuf Mack. Expect Froch to dominate; Tony Bellew highlights the undercard…WealthTV continues to up its boxing game with an excellent small fighter show from Los Angeles tomorrow night. Main event is an flyweight unification bout between Hernan “Tyson” Marquez and Brian Viloria, co-feature pairs Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada at 108…Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo airs tomorrow night from Caguas, Puerto Rico and Fox Deportes has a show from Puebla, Mexico headlined by Mazatlan middleweight prospect Gilberto Ramirez.