Saturday, September 1st
At the Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY
(HBO) Gennady Golovkin (23-0) vs. Grzegorz Proksa (28-1)
(The Ring magazine #8 middleweight vs. #9)
(HBO) Serhiy Dzinziruk (37-1) vs. Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0)
September rockets out of starting blocks like Usain Bolt with an HBO event featuring the two most exciting middleweights not named Sergio Martinez. Gennady Golovkin and Grzegorz Proksa are two of the best Eastern European middleweights, thus two of the best in the world (both rated in the top 10 at 160 pounds by The Ring magazine), who are fighting each other because none of the beltholders wants any part of them. Truthfully, I am a bit disappointed that this fight was made; I would rather see these two young lions take down more established prey like Daniel Geale and Felix Sturm. As it is, this should be a fantastic fight and I expect the loser to eventually win a title belt of his own. The Dzinziruk-Gonzalez opener is a decent match-up but is Gonzalez smart or fast enough to take on someone of Dzinziruk’s quality at this stage of his young career?
At the König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
Felix Sturm (37-2-2) vs. Daniel Geale (27-1)
(The Ring magazine #1 middleweight vs. #2)
(The WBA and IBF middleweight belts)
Unification fights are a rarity for boxing fans (I am a bit surprised EPIX has not bought this fight yet) and I believe that if Sturm had not been ducking Golovkin for the past two years, this fight never happens. Kudos to the Australian for taking this fight on the road but Geale already established his ability to win in Germany, taking Sebastian Sylvester’s title there last year. Geale will have to work twice as hard against Sturm, who became notorious last year for getting the benefit of the doubt from judges in Germany.
At the Sumiyoshi Sports Center, Osaka, Japan
Tepparith Kokietgym (Singwancha) (20-2) vs. Nobuo Nashiro (18-4-1)
(The Ring magazine #2 junior bantamweight vs. #8)
(WBA junior bantamweight belt)
Nashiro is hoping the third time is the charm in reclaiming his WBA junior bantamweight belt, faltering against two other solid foreign champions brought to Japan for him to conquer. Tepparith Kokietgym is on a roll, 17-0 since 2009 (winning twice in Japan), and is one of the unrecognized, strong, young champions at age 23. If Nashiro loses again, retirement looms. I seriously doubt his backers will spend the cash to bring a fourth titlist to the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Saturday, September 8th
At the Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
(HBO) Andre Ward (25-0) vs. Chad Dawson (31-1)
(For The Ring magazine World Super Middleweight Championship)
(WBC and WBA super middleweight belts)
(HBO) Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1) vs. John Molina (24-1)
(The Ring magazine #1 lightweight vs. #6)
(WBC lightweight belt)
A match-up between two boxers rated in many fans’ top 10 pound-for-pound lists sounds great on paper but I am afraid it will disappoint on the canvas since this duo prefers to counterpunch. With Andre Ward and Chad Dawson waiting for the other to initiate action, there could be very little in the way of action at all. Ward showed against Carl Froch that he can be aggressive but Dawson’ size advantage and playing into his game plan is likely to cause hesitation in Ward. The opener between Antonio DeMarco and John Molina will steal this show; a lithe DeMarco fights against his physical attributes, getting dragged into brawls while Molina has no other choice but to brawl.
At the Olimpiyskiy, Moscow, Russia
(HBO) Vitali Klitschko (44-2) vs. Manuel Charr (21-0)
(The Ring magazine #1 heavyweight vs. unranked)
(WBC heavyweight belt)
Why HBO bought this particular Vitali fight is a bit of a mystery…most believe they did so because this is probably the older Klitschko’s final fight. But really, why does HBO want to be part of that history when it failed to broadcast the majority of Vitali’s historic reign? Charr is a competent young heavyweight with good feet but lacks the firepower to catch Vitali’s attention or keep Klitschko at bay for the entirety of the bout. If this is Vitali’s final fight, he is likely to go out in style.
At TBA [Editor’s Note: At this juncture, it’s likely the card will be staged at “The Joint” at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV]
(Showtime) Randall Bailey (43-7) vs. Devon Alexander (23-1)
(The Ring magazine #7 welterweight vs. unranked)
(IBF welterweight belt)
(Showtime) Lucas Matthysse (31-2) vs. Ajose Olusegun (30-0)
(The Ring magazine #1 junior welterweight vs. #9)
Peter Quillin (27-0) vs. TBA
(The Ring magazine #10 middleweight vs. unranked)
I just got word Mike Jones has awoken from the kayo punch Bailey landed in June and should be well enough to watch this fight and begin taking solid foods. The hard-punching Bailey is in the midst of a late-career rejuvenation, so a sometimes vulnerable looking stylist like Alexander provides a great mix of styles, the power and experience of Bailey versus the speed and liveliness of Alexander. Argentine stalker Lucas Matthysse has achieved cult status with boxing fans, many believing he was robbed in two decision losses to Americans in America. An impressive knockout of Humberto Soto boosted Matthysse’s value even more, as he now faces another tough task in an Olusegun, who world titlists have avoided despite his mandatory status. Peter Quillin completes the card and it is good to see a young contender keep active.
At the Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Tomasz Adamek (46-2) vs. Travis Walker (39-7-1)
(The Ring magazine #3 heavyweight vs. unranked)
Steve Cunningham (24-4) vs. Jason Gavern (21-10-4)
A match-up that is only really notable for being the first in a series of boxing telecasts featured on the “Wealth Network” but could turn into a solid heavyweight fight if not television contract. Adamek makes exciting fights and Walker is a hot-and-cold fighter who surprisingly knocked out Kali Meehan in Australia last time out. On the undercard, former Adamek victim and former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham makes his heavyweight debut against trial horse Jason Gavern.
Saturday, September 15th
At the Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
(PPV) Sergio Martinez (49-2-2) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1)
(For The Ring magazine World Middleweight Championship)
(WBC middleweight belt)
(PPV) Roman Martinez (25-1-1) vs. Miguel Beltran (27-1)
(The Ring magazine #4 junior lightweight vs. unranked)
(WBO junior lightweight belt)
(PPV) Matthew Macklin (28-4) vs. Joachim Alcine (33-2-1)
(The Ring magazine #6 middleweight vs. unranked)
Talk about a busy day! Thankfully, more high visibility opponents for Saul Alvarez fell out than Irishmen at a bar or else this date would have featured dueling PPVs vice the slightly less annoying simultaneous events. The Martinez-Chavez Jr. fight has devolved into a real grudge match and if the duo hurls half as many punches as insults, it should be a war! I rate the PPV support card as average to below-average. The Martinez-Beltran fight is a classic Mexico versus Puerto Rico clash that seldom disappoints.
At the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
(Showtime) Saul Alvarez (40-0-1) vs. Josesito Lopez (30-4)
(The Ring magazine #3 junior middleweight vs. #8 welterweight)
(WBC junior middleweight belt)
(Showtime) Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7) vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon (43-4)
(The Ring magazine #4 featherweight vs. #8)
(WBC featherweight belt)
Marcos Maidana (31-3) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3)
(The Ring magazine #6 junior welterweight vs. unranked)
This fight card was downgraded from PPV after a tragic, career-ending accident to Paul Williams, followed by an upset of Victor Ortiz that earned a much smaller Josesito Lopez this date against Alvarez. The Gonzalez-Ponce de Leon bout is a solid supporting act between top 10-rated Mexican rivals and a duel of potent power-punchers who have shown defensive flaws throughout their careers. Maidana against Soto Karass features similarly challenged boxers on defense, with both showing the self-preservation instincts of Kamikaze pilots.
At the Stechert Arena, Bamberg, Germany
Yoan Pablo Hernandez (26-1) vs. Troy Ross (25-2)
(For The Ring magazine World Cruiserweight Championship)
(IBF cruiserweight belt)
Hernandez wisely, like other higher weight, Cuban-born boxers, chose to relocate to Europe to further his career, winning and defending the IBF cruiserweight title against Steve Cunningham. Hernandez controversially earned The Ring magazine belt when the magazine elected to remove Marco Huck from its ratings (after he moved up in weight to fight Alexander Povetkin), allowing Hernandez to fight Cunningham for that prestigious title. Ross is a credible challenger, rated in the top five before inactivity caused him to fall out, and recent history has shown there are no easy title defenses at cruiserweight.
Friday, September 21st
At the Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, PA
(NBC Sports) Gabriel Campillo (21-4-1) vs. Sergey Kovalev (18-0-1)
(The Ring magazine #5 light heavyweight vs. unranked)
(NBC Sports) Ronald Cruz (17-0) vs. Antwone Smith (21-4-1)
Hard-luck Spaniard Campillo continues traveling the world (Germany, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Denmark and America) in search of judges who appreciate his sublime way of boxing. Kovalev is another in a line of tough foes Campillo has faced, last seen losing a very controversial decision to Tavoris Cloud, but the Russian power-puncher is unproven at the top level. Ronald Cruz is trying to prove he is a legitimate threat at welterweight and beating a Smith who scored three consecutive upsets on ESPN2 in 2009 could reinforce that viewpoint.
Saturday, September 22nd
At the Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns (34-2) vs. Kevin Mitchell (33-1)
(The Ring magazine #3 lightweight vs. #4)
(WBO lightweight belt)
A big day for European boxing but all boxing fans should pay attention to the Burns-Mitchell bout. It is a fight between top four-rated lightweights that will provide the type of lively raucous atmosphere not found in American boxing arenas. The duo has been casting stares at each other since their amateur days, so neither is likely to surprise the other in terms of strategic ploys. Burns is one of the more impressive and exciting champions of the last two years while Mitchell rebounded from a shock loss to Michael Katsidis by knocking out undefeated contender John Murray. This one will vie for British “Fight of the Year” honors.
At the Jahrhunderthalle, Wroclaw, Poland
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (46-2-1) vs. Francisco Palacios (21-1)
(The Ring magazine #2 cruiserweight vs. unranked)
(WBC cruiserweight belt)
Polish power-puncher Wlodarczyk won a controversial decision over Palacios last year but many think he was looking ahead to a successful showdown with Danny Green in Australia. He was also battling personal problems, with rumors of a suicide attempt distracting Wlodarczyk. This is his chance for redemption but Puerto Rican Palacios has a difficult amateur-type style and knows this could be his last chance at age 35.
Saturday, September 29th
At the Home Depot Center, Carson, CA
Brian Viloria (31-3) vs. Hernan Marquez (34-2)
(The Ring magazine #2 flyweight vs. #1)
(WBA and WBO flyweight belts)
Roman Gonzalez (32-0) vs. TBA
(The Ring magazine # 1 junior flyweight vs. unranked)
(WBA junior flyweight belt)
Brian Viloria has befuddled me for years; just when I think Viloria has found the form his elite abilities foreshadowed for years, an unforeseen loss derails championship ambitions. In Marquez, Viloria faces a top three foe and given past performances, there is every chance Viloria loses the plot again - a plot that includes a rare unification fight and Viloria’s track record of saving his worst performances for the biggest stages dating back to the Olympics. It says a lot of Roman Gonzalez that despite a unification bout between a Mexican and Filipino headlining, many people are more excited about seeing Gonzalez in action. The Nicaraguan knockout artist may the most in-form fighter in the world at this moment, entering his prime at age 25 and steamrolling opponents like a prime Mike Tyson.
At the Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, CT
(HBO) Edwin Rodriguez (21-0) vs. Jason Escalera (13-0-1)
(The Ring magazine #8 super middleweight vs. unranked)
(HBO) Isaac Chilemba (19-1-1) vs. Zsolt Erdei (33-0)
(The Ring magazine #10 light heavyweight vs. unranked)
(HBO) Vic Darchinyan (37-5-1) vs. Luis Del Valle (16-0)
(The Ring magazine #8 bantamweight vs. unranked)
An excellent tripleheader in terms of match-ups and talent if not name value, which new HBO boxing chief Ken Hershman specialized in during his reign at Showtime. Boxing fans came to appreciate these kinds of quality matches, elevating Showtime to a legitimate rival to HBO’s dominance in terms of value for the money. Rodriguez versus Escalera headlines but is not as intriguing or evenly matched as the two supporting bouts. The Chilemba - Erdei bout should be a back-and-forth affair with many changes in momentum and both fighters resorting to plans “B,” “C” and “D.” As for the Darchinyan bout, when was the last time a Darchinyan fight failed to make a boxing fan rub his hands in anticipation?
At the Sporthalle, Hamburg, Germany
Alexander Povetkin (24-0) vs. Hasim Rahman (50-7-2)
(The Ring magazine #2 heavyweight vs. unranked)
Kubrat Pulev (16-0) vs. Alexander Ustinov (27-0)
(The Ring magazine #5 heavyweight vs. unranked)
God is not a boxing fan or else the Hasim Rahman injury that pushed this fight back would have completely scuttled this bout. How or why Rahman was elevated to mandatory challenger by the WBA (Intelligent boxing fans and I have our suspicions) is a mystery given Rahman has not defeated a quality foe in seven years and has been knocked out in his last two title challenges. Facing Rahman is a good thing for Povetkin since Povetkin was in a war with Marco Huck in his last fight and can use a good sparring session to get his mojo back. On the undercard, Kubrat Pulev makes his argument for a world heavyweight title challenge against fellow prospect/contender Alexander Ustinov. This is the type of heavyweight match-up we rarely see in America. Not just because our heavies are inferior but because our heavyweight managers (Dominic Wilder comes to mind immediately) prefer to pad records instead of improving their skills against quality opposition.