By Cliff Rold
Glen Johnson, to borrow a phrase from HBO’s Larry Merchant, who probably borrowed it from someone else, is a truth machine. He’s brought the best out, and shown us the depth, of many a fighter over the last decade or so. From Johnson, we learned…
…Roy Jones was really done.
…Antonio Tarver was tough enough.
…Chad Dawson had the balls for a war.
…Tavoris Cloud was ready for prime time.
…Carl Froch was as good as his resume.
What will we learn this weekend?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #1 Lucian Bute vs. #5 Glen Johnson (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/PST)
Fight fans already know plenty about the IBF 168 lb. titlist Bute (29-0, 24 KO). He’s got speed, size, power, and range. What he does not have are an abundance of top foes on his ledger. It’s not really his fault. Most of the division has been locked into a tournament he wasn’t. He has at times looked like the best in class, but one has to wonder if those results are tied to facing the best of what was left. Johnson (51-15-2, 35 KO) is, even in his 40s, still a stern test. If Bute can’t pass it, there will be no shame. Johnson is a hard man. Before Bute versus the Super Six winner or any other major match is considered, we first need to know the truth of this contest.
Pick B.A.D.: #2 Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland (Saturday, HBO, 10:15 PM EST/PST)
A couple years ago, this looked like a superfight in the making. Perhaps ‘super’ will be an apt description of the action on Saturday, but leading in this is less about competitive intrigue and more about a referendum. Kirkland (29-1, 26 KO) had a suspect chin before he went to jail; since returning he’s been stopped by light hitting Nobuhiro Ishida. Two wins since have done nothing to erase questions. In Angulo (20-1, 17 KO), he finds his own truth machine. Angulo isn’t as quick, but his hands are heavier and chin sturdier. This looks, going in, like an exciting ass whopping. It’s up to Kirkland to prove different.
Pick War: #3 Michael Katsidis vs. Ricky Burns (Saturday, London, ?)
The likely YouTube special of the week, this one is so potentially awesome as to make U.S. broadcasts on Telefutura, Wealth TV, and the Deportes versions of Fox and ESPN worthy of no more than a cursory reminder to find them. Katsidis-Burns is going to be a corker no matter how long it lasts. Katsidis (28-4-2, 23 KO) has provided fans memorable action for years now and Burns (32-2, 9 KO) proved capable of the same in his stellar 2010 win over Roman Martinez. Burns grew out of a WBO belt at 130 lbs. and will battle Katsidis for an interim tag at 135. None of those numbers mean as much as ten. That’s the number one of these men is likely to hear before the end of this one.
Back in seven.
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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]