by Cliff Rold
What is there to look forward to when an excellent match in the deepest, and at this point probably best, weight class in boxing falls apart? When the answer is a doubleheader in one of the worst divisions in the game, it might seem cause for a touch of depression.
With that out of the way, the Heavyweights are offset by a pair of quality little men for the hardcore faithful, so, hey, there’s that. Sure, some folks would rather watch fat Heavyweights than squint to find a Jr. Flyweight below the top rope. That doesn’t mean they don’t bring it.
Boxing fans lost Marcos Maidana-Robert Guerrero. They will make do.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Povetkin-Chagaev & Helenius-Lyakhovich (Saturday, Epix, 5 PM EST/2 PM PST)
Alexander Povetkin (21-0, 15 KO) is taking a real fight again? Maybe this is a bigger deal than it seems. Fighting for some phony WBA bauble that should probably be called the “duck Klitschko to get a strap” crown, Povetkin faces former titlist Ruslan Chagaev (27-1-1, 17 KO) so he can call himself a champion the easiest way possible. It’s hard not to root for Chagaev here. There are so few genuine champions in boxing today. Wladimir Klitschko is one of them. Povetkin, when a shot at Klitschko got close, bowed out and now, should he win Saturday, will dare to call himself a ‘world champion?’ The real curiosity here is the massive Helenius (15-0, 10 KO) on the undercard. He fights the last man to win a truly great Heavyweight fight, Sergiy Lyakhovich (against Lamon Brewster in 2006). One hopes that it wasn’t the last great Heavyweight fight, period. Fingers remain crossed. Lyakhovich (25-3, 16 KO) hasn’t been the same, or particularly active, since that classic. He’ll find the Norse power puncher across the ring unforgiving. Helenius has deceptive quickness and turns the hook over as good as any man his size since Riddick Bowe. Fittingly for that comparison, there have been some questions of his work ethic already. He’s a real x-factor in the race for a quality foe for the real world champ.
Pick Fox: Solis and Garcia (but not Against Each Other) (Saturday, Fox Deportes, Check Local Listings)
Is it okay to go out on a limb and guess that this doubleheader won’t play on the English language Fox affiliates? It’s a shame if the answer is the expected yes. Ulises Solis (33-2-3, 21 KO) makes his first defense of his second reign as IBF 108 lb. beltholder and this could be a sleeper brawl. Filipino Jether Oliva (17-0-1, 11 KO) is going to bring it but does he have the chops? His record suggests, experience wise, he’s in over his head. However, how many good Mexico-Philippines scraps have there been in this era? Garcia (30-1-1, 18 KO), the WBO beltholder at 105 lb. and a former IBF titlist there as well, defends against (13-1, 6 KO) to open the telecast.
Pick Solo: Frankie Gomez vs. Adrian Granados (Friday, Telefutura, 11:30 PM EST/PST)
Gomez (10-0, 8 KO), a Jr. Welterweight, is only 19 but has a bit of star quality about him. Maybe fans are watching the development of someone of substance for tomorrow. Maybe Gomez is just on the road to a decent career with the typical bumps. Either way, this shouldn’t be a bad little look and see for a Friday night. Granados (8-1-1, 5 KO) is a point here or there from being 10-0 himself and, at only 22, he might feel like he needs the win more. One won’t know for sure until Friday.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org