By Cliff Rold
After a week when two of the games premier talents, Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez and multi-division mega-draw Miguel Cotto, were on entertaining display, the game actually picks up the pace in terms of the sheer volume of shows. In the U.S., between English T.V., Spanish T.V., and the www, six shows come calling for viewers.
More is not always more.
Not one of them, on paper, has the look of drop everything, must-see stuff. That doesn’t mean there won’t be gems.
There will surely be body mass.
These are the picks of the week, the three shows most deserving of viewing but of course feel free to watch them all.
Pick Epix: #1 Vitali Klitschko vs. #10 Odlanier Solis (Saturday, Epix, 6 PM EST/3 PM PST)
This is the pick of the week because it is the most significant contest on the docket. If it is watchable, that might in and of itself be a mild upset. If one is not a hardcore Klitschko fan, the irony of this contest being the maiden voyage of a channel called ‘Epix’ is not lost. The WBC Heavyweight beltholder Vitali (41-2, 28 KO) will be 40 later this year and that might matter if not for his great professionalism. Vitali never fails to show up in shape. It serves him well in a sea of tubbies. His decade younger WBC mandatory Solis (17-0, 12 KO), a former Gold Medalist from Cuba, should be worth getting excited about. Instead, in even more sorry fashion than previous Vitali challenger Chris Arreola, one wonders if Solis will show up having paid the full price of a champion in the gym. He’s not even 6’2 and has weighed in the 270’s already. That’s an epic joke…pun intended. Add in that Solis has looked mediocre against mediocrities, that his best win might be Monte Barrett, and it just looks like another ho-hum victory for Klitschko. Maybe something better happens, maybe a fight breaks out, maybe Solis lives up to his promise and begins shocking the world on the scale on Friday. We’ll see. For now, it’s enough to get excited about a new network throwing their hat in the ring. For those without Epix access, the fight will also be streamed online at http://www.epixhd.com/.
Pick Deuce: Brad Solomon vs. Demetrius Hopkins (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Hopkins (30-1-1, 11 KO), the nephew of a certain living legend, is a former title challenger who wants another crack. Solomon (16-0, 7 KO) is still trying to get to his first opportunity for a strap. Neither man is a one-punch firecracker but, sometimes, such matches make fireworks anyways. Without a knockout to fear, the leather can fly. ESPN2 has been a fairly consistent outlet since early 2010 as far as action fights and it would be fair to bet their favor. On the undercard, Cuban émigré Yan Barthelemy (11-2, 4 KO) scraps for his professional life against a Chris Avalos (18-1, 15 KO) still rebuilding form his first loss. This could sneak up and be the fight of the weekend.
Pick the Super 7th: #3 Lucian Bute vs. Brian Magee (Saturday, Showtime, 10 PM EST/PST)
Finally, there is this. Bute (27-0, 22 KO) is the IBF titlist at Super Middleweight and might be the most talented man in a stacked class. Unlike contemporaries Andre Ward, Carl Froch, and Mikkel Kessler, Bute has lacked for the competition that can more fully define him. The match with Magee (34-3-1, 24 KO) had caught some flack. It shouldn’t. This could be a nice fight in the ring. His win over Mads Larsen is underrated and all of his losses are of quality. He was competitive with Froch before being stopped, was nip/tuck with former titlist Robin Reid, and could easily have had the nod in a split decision with tough Vitali Tsypko. At 35, this is the best shot Magee is ever going to have. No, he probably can’t win. That’s ok. He should make a good show and Bute will be a step closer to the defining fights his talent deserves.
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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]