by Cliff Rold
The best built Heavyweight Championship fight in nearly a decade is almost here.
It’s not here yet.
Nope, this week we make due with one of the building stars in the Jr. Middleweight class and an unsung titlist at 135 lbs. whose style may not build fans but can win fights.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #8 Saul Alvarez vs. #9 Ryan Rhodes (Saturday, HBO, 10:30 PM EST/PST)
He looks like Opie but if Opie had ever been able to throw a hook like the current WBC beltholder at 154 lbs. can, Andy and Barney could have retired years earlier. Opie couldn’t speak Spanish either though that wasn’t as valuable to the market back in the day. It matters now and Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KO) is the whole TV package. What he isn’t yet is completely proven, his defensive liabilities still making him a question mark. He’s got a real, rugged foe this weekend in Rhodes (45-4, 31 KO) and this should be a nasty scrap. The undercard should see Jr. Lightweight Jason Litzau (28-2, 21 KO) have his five-fight winning streak ended but if opponent Adrien Broner (20-0, 16 KO) looks anything like he did against Daniel Ponce De Leon, an upset would be manna from heaven.
Pick Deuce: Fernando Guerrero vs. Grady Brewer (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Four seasons of “The Contender” and only one of its winners failed to garner a title shot after winning the crown. That man was Grady Brewer (27-12, 15 KO) who made good is Season Two only to suffer injury before he could capitalize. That doesn’t mean he still can’t act as a truth machine for a man on the way up. Guerrero (21-0, 16 KO) is proving a ticket seller in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region and has a style that puts butts in seats. However, so far, the raw athletic talent isn’t fully married to his professional development. Does Brewer have enough to exploit the learning curve? It’s a show worth a look to find out.
Pick Fox: #6 Miguel Vazquez vs. Marlon Aguilar (Saturday, Fox Deportes, 10 PM EST/PST)
There is a temptation here to pick the WBA Bantamweight title fight between the excellent Anselmo Moreno and once excellent WBA Flyweight titlist Lorenzo Parra. It’s enough to note it is happening Friday night and will likely be floating around on YouTube over the weekend but, with Moreno off a long layoff and Parra well past his prime, it’s hard to make it a must-see pick. Then again, so is the official pick here. WBA Lightweight titlist Vazquez (28-3, 12 KO) is technically sound and easier to find on U.S. TV so he gets the call. Aguilar (25-10-1, 18 KO) gives him a chance for his first stop in a title fight.
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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]