by Cliff Rold
Boxing 2011 began with disappointment.
The Heavyweight fight everyone wants to see may just be the fight David Haye will always find a reason not to take. The Light Heavyweight unification meant to highlight the first real weekend of the year imploded.
If there’s anything good to say about this week in contrast, it is that it features no matches anyone would miss.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick Solo: Erislandy Lara vs. Delray Raines (Friday, Telefutura, 11:30 PM EST/PST)
It might not be as competitive as the main event earlier in the night on ESPN2, but the main event on Solo Boxeo has the player to be named later. Specifically, Cuba’s Erislandy Lara (14-0, 9 KO) is likely to be named a major titlist by year’s end. For all the hoopla surrounding fellow Cubans Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa, it is the steady Lara who still hints at the longest upside. This should be the year he begins to show why. Before he can move into serious contention later in the year, Lara’s ’11 campaign starts with Raines (18-8-1, 13 KO). Already a knockout victim four times, Raines might be looking at number five on Friday. It will be worth a look anyways.
Pick Deuce: Peter Manfredo vs. Daniel Edouard (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
It’s been a long time now since Manfredo (36-6, 20 KO) first really entered the boxing consciousness as the runner-up on Season One of “The Contender.” He’s faced most of the best Super Middleweights of his time and, while he lost most of those encounters, he was there. At only 30, having won five in a row, he’s not ready to be elsewhere just yet. Edouard (23-3-2, 14 KO) is, like Manfredo, an honest pug that has just fallen short of the upper echelon. One of these men will likely see their dreams of future contention fade even farther away after this Friday and should make a good show. On the undercard, Super Middleweight Edwin Rodriguez (17-0, 13 KO) will continue his rise to where Manfredo has been and will find the son of one of the greats across the ring. Can Aaron Pryor Jr. (15-2, 11 KO) upset the apple cart and win his fourth straight? This edition of Friday Night Fights is a nice way to kill time in the countdown to Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander at the end of the month.
That’s pretty much it for the week…and it’s certainly better than nothing.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]