by Cliff Rold
The fight of the year?
It probably already happened for 2011, last Saturday to be exact.
It wasn’t one of the picks of the week.
No, on paper the WBC Flyweight title bout between Luis Concepcion, in his first defense, against former Nonito Donaire victim Hernan Marquez looked like your average solid.
It was so much more. Anyone who missed it owes themselves to head over to YouTube. Both men were on the floor in the first, Concepcion down three times in total. The first, third, and tenth rounds will all be in the running for Round of the Year.
It was a bunch of damn awesome.
The moral of the story, besides don’t trust this corner for all the good action picks, is that one never knows where a great fight will break out. That’s what makes this, still, the greatest sport of them all.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick Crossroads: #5 Marcos Maidana vs. Erik Morales (Saturday, PPV, 9:00 PM EST/6:00 PM PST)
One man made a habit, in his prime, of making Fight of the Year action. The other was half of 2010’s Boxing Writer’s Association choice for the honor. Marcos Maidana (29-2, 27 KO) is now. Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KO) already belongs to all-time but it remains to be seen if he belongs in a ring with a legitimate top five Jr. Welterweight in 2011. Maidana’s hands are just slow enough that finding out will mean a hell of a lot of action along the way. In chief support is an excellent Lightweight clash between #5 Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22 KO) and former Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight titlist Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 19 KO). The only downside to this show is a $44.95 price tag…but if anyone has earned fan’s money over the years, it’s Morales. And this, with a loss, could be his last, last hurrah. Any bets on if he’ll go out with a bang?
Pick Deuce: David Lemieux vs. Marco Antonio Rubio (Friday, ESPN2, 9:00 PM EST/6:00 PM PST)
Middleweight has a flood of young talent in its ranks but perhaps none is more television friendly than a 22-year old Montreal crowd pleaser whose appeal is spreading quickly. Lemieux (25-0, 24 KO) brings pressure and pop but the one thing that’s been missing is the sort of durable veteran who can push him rounds. Is former title challenger Rubio (49-5-1, 42 KO) the man for the job? Stopped three times already in his career, the best that can be guessed is maybe. If he’s not up to it, he’ll make for a nice new addition to the growing Lemieux highlight reel. Whenever he is fighting, all eyes should be fixed on the ring.
Pick Japan: #8 Hozumi Hasegawa vs. #10 Jhonny Gonzalez (Friday, Japan, ?)
Finally, here is the likely YouTube find for the weekend. Hasegawa (29-3, 12 KO), despite a Bantamweight title loss to Fernando Montiel last year, remains one of the world’s most talented fighters. After the stoppage loss, the question sits with the beard. He answered some of that by rising two weight classes to win a Featherweight belt against a puncher. Juna Carlos Burgos is still getting to his prime. This weekend, it’s all seasoned vet in Gonzalez (47-7, 41 KO). It could be a sizzling affair. It’s also one hell of a card and a shame it won’t be on live in the U.S. featuring #1 Jr. Featherweight and WBC titlist Toshiaki Nishioka (37-4-3, 23 KO) versus Mauricio Munoz (21-2, 9 KO) and the WBC beltholder at 130, #4 Takahiro Aoh (20-2-1, 9 KO),versus Humberto Gutierrez (28-2-1, 20 KO). The land of the rising sun has all their stars aligned Friday night.
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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]