Photo by Stephanie Trapp for Showtime
by Gautham Nagesh
Boxing has enjoyed an excellent run of late, and it should continue this weekend. Unfortunately the powers that be chose to counter-program each other as per usual, so we have two premium cable shows on Saturday but nothing on TV on Friday. Saturday night is also the regional championships of the Washington-area Golden Gloves tournament, which I’m hoping to cover live, and UFC 159 headlined by Jon Jones-Chael Sonnen from Newark.
Top billing for our fans goes to the Golden Boy show at Barclays in Brooklyn headlined by Danny Garcia vs Zab Judah at junior welterweight. The stacked card will air on Showtime and include Peter Quillen vs. Fernando Guerrero and a tape-delayed broadcast from Sheffield, England of Amir Khan vs. Julio Diaz. Sarah Deming will be in the crowd at Barclays to bring you her take on the action, which should set the stage for some mega-fights later this year.
Garcia is the top-ranked fighter at 140 lbs., yet many believe Judah is still dangerous enough to put a scare in the Puerto Rican American from Philly. I’m not one of them. Garcia may be a tad slow, but he has handled everyone placed in front of them. Judah has all the speed and power in the world, but no heart. When the going gets tough, our bet is that Zab checks out, probably around the 8th after a taste of Garcia’s vaunted left hook.
The co-feature is more one-sided in my view, as Guerrero has done nothing to indicate he ready for a world-class middleweight like Quillen. Fernando is a likable young man, but it’s difficult to argue his career has been poorly managed since his ill-fated decision to move down to 154 lbs. against Grady Brewer. Since that knockout loss he has won four fights, three by knockout, but none against anyone resembling a contender.
Quillen is very much that, ranked 4th by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a hellacious puncher to boot. We see him stopping Guerrero inside five rounds. Fellow middleweight and Brooklyn native Danny Jacobs will continue his remarkable comeback from cancer on the undercard against journeymany Keenan Collins; other prospects on the card are 2012 Olympian Marcus Browne of New York and D.C. native D’Mitrius Ballard, a super middleweight fighting out of No Xcuse.
Showtime will also air the Khan-Diaz fight, which shouldn’t take long if Khan is back in top form. Diaz is really a step or two down in class for Khan, who won a one-sided fight against Carlos Molina in December after losing two straight to Garcia and Lamont Peterson. 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo, a British middleweight, will fight on the undercard, but the best fight on the card is a matchup of former Olympic medalists at heavyweight: Audley Harrison of the U.K. and Alabama native Deontay Wilder.
Harrison never lived up to the promise of his 2000 Olympic gold, but his Prizefighter win in February showed he’s still got enough to test any young heavyweight. Wilder was the last American man to win a medal in boxing (a bronze), and boasts a perfect record of 27 knockouts in 27 fights. The 6’7” Wilder has a earth-shaking power in his right hand, but he’s also plenty raw, and has only recently begun fighting competition with a pulse. He runs the risk of becoming the latest young heavyweight exposed by a dangerous veteran this weekend, though unfortunately U.S. viewers may not get to watch.
HBO finds itself a bit overshadowed, but will still deliver the most meaningful fight of the weekend in the form of Sergio Martinez defending his middleweight world championship against Martin Murray of England in Buenos Aires. Martinez consistently fights the best available competition, which is why he’s one of the few fighters in the world that deserve to be called champion. Murray is no soft touch; the only blemish on his record is a disputed draw to Felix Sturm in Germany that most thought Murray won. But Martinez is truly great, and fighting in front of his home crowd should carry him to a decision or late knockout.
The undercard in Argentina feature a compelling matchup of once-beaten welterweights: local puncher Luis Carlos Abregu and Canadian boxer Antonio Decarie. The winner will be in position to make a move at 147; the loser may find himself on the outside looking in. The undercard includes Spanish super bantamweight Kiko Martinez and heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov (17-0, 17 KOs).
Photo by Ray Flores for Goosen Tutor Promotions
HBO will also televise a heavyweight matchup from Ontario, Calif. between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne (above). Arreola struggles with his focus at times, but in truth is probably the best American heavyweight. It has been over a year since his last fight though, so we’ll have to wait and see if Arreola shows up in shape. If he does, Arreola be able to handle Stiverne.
I’ve covered two out of the Haitian native’s last three fights, and while Stiverne can hit, he doesn’t have the boxing ability to worry a world-class fighter like Arreola. A win could make Arreola a factor again in the heavyweight division, especially with the losses sustained by David Price and Seth Mitchell. Regardless, the winner would likely be in line for a shot at a Klitschko, the ultimate prize in the division.
Thompson Boxing Promotions has a warmup show Friday night in Ontario, Calif. headlined by Aron Martinez vs. Alberto Herrera (below) at welterweight. Card will be televised by Time Warner at a later date…UniMas has a show in Austin, Texas headlined by Raymundo Beltran vs. Alejandro Rodriguez….featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez headlines a show in Mexico City against Akihiko Katagiri…Ann Arbor native James Toney inexplicably continues his career at heavyweight on Sunday in Melbourne against unbeaten Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne.
Photo by Carlos Baeza for Thompson Boxing