By Cliff Rold
The wait for a good Heavyweight fight continues.
The wait for another solid scrap at Super Middleweight begins again.
Such is the state of things after a weekend where the favorites won but, in the contest of larger men, the fans lost. Thank God for what lies below Heavyweight.
For instance, there is Featherweight.
This weekend, the spotlight falls on the 126 lb. talent and, yes, talent is the operative word. After a few dry years while the division sought a new face, it’s all coming back together. Some big fights, and big money, will be made at Featherweight in the next couple of years.
At least, we think so. An upset in the main ‘main event’ of the week would bite the balance sheet.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick B.A.D.: #4 (Featherweight) Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. #2 (Jr. Lightweight) Jorge Solis (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST/PST)
The unified WBA/IBF titlist Gamboa is no Odlanier Solis. Where his countryman found new ways to disappoint last weekend as a Heavyweight challenger, Gamboa (19-0, 15 KO) is a marvel of conditioning and athletic excellence. He is also, for entertainment value, incredibly flawed technically. He’s been on the floor with a frequency that Felix Trinidad and Joe Louis could relate too, if not so early in their careers. That Gamboa gets off the floor with handspeed and pop that evokes hints of Roy Jones makes it compelling stuff. Could it cost him versus Solis (40-2-2, 29 KO)? Solis is the sort of stoic force who can sneak up for a win without any special affects. However, his forays into high-level competition haven’t been all too eye catching. This is going to be a stern test for both men. The undercard, featuring an outstanding match between undefeated Featherweights Mikey Garcia (24-0, 20 KO) and Matt Remillard (23-0, 13 KO), makes this everything that Boxing After Dark is supposed to be about.
Pick Deuce: Erislandy Lara vs. Carlos Molina (Friday, ESPN2, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
No matter the jump of the screen athleticism of Gamboa, in the long run the best of the current Cuban wave might just end up being the Jr. Middleweight headlining Friday Night Fights this week. The 27-year old Lara (15-0, 10 KO) is closing in on serious contention at 154 lbs. and, a year from now, may be ready to be the biggest threat in the game to Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. This week, he’s got a Molina (17-4-1, 5 KO) far better than his record. Victorious in nine straight since 2008, including veterans Danny Perez and Ed Paredes, Molina is the sort of toughie who can go rounds and make a developing talent put in some good work. Can Lara be the first man to stop him? Whenever Lara fights, boxing fans should be watching.
Pick The Present Threat: #7 Dmitry Pirog vs. Javier Francisco Maciel (Saturday, ESPN3.com, 12 PM EST/9 AM PST)
While Lara is developing, the WBO Middleweight titlist Pirog (17-0, 14 KO) looks ready to make a run at the real champ, Martinez, sooner than later. For now, Pirog is still a largely How big a threat could Pirog be? Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, has declared they won’t fight Pirog. Now, okay, that’s all hyperbole. What it really means is Martinez-Pirog is going to wait until Pirog brings more bucks to the dance. No one ever makes the walkovers wait, right? Maciel looks poised to play walkover this weekend. No matter. Pirog (17-0, 14 KO) is one to keep an eye on. Those on the west coast should note the early start time of this (in the U.S.) webcast.
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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]