by Cliff Rold
The really bad decisions are always an ugly reminder of why boxing has receded so far in the American sporting consciousness. Every boxing fan knows someone who used to follow, used to care about, the sport that had a breaking point moment. Sure, for a really big fight, interest can still be peaked.
For a while.
But, once gone, it’s hard to get lost fans back. Robberies hurt more than just the victim in the ring. Enduring split titles, nonsense between stars, and erratic schedules can be a burden, but it’s never as bad as seeing a fighter give their all, earn victory, and be denied by some moron at ringside who proves their ignorance in poor math.
Gabriel Campillo was robbed blind Saturday night. Somewhere out there, someone on the fence gave up on the sport. It’s hard to blame them. Let’s hope this weekend, with some good fights on tap, boxing can keep its foot out of its ass.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Alexander vs. Maidana & Broner vs. Perez (Saturday, HBO, 10 PM EST/PST)
This is the sort of double HBO’s Boxing After Dark is supposed to be all about. Moving up to Welterweight while both still rated a class below, if only for a night for #4 Marcos Maidana (31-2, 28 KO), we have the latest chapter in the evolution of the young crop of Jr. Welterweights that has provided a ton of entertainment in recent years. Former 140 lb. titlist, #5 Devon Alexander (22-1, 13 KO), is apparently making the move for good, but a win is far from guaranteed. His struggles with aggression, and a lack of punching accuracy, have marked his last three fights. Maidana will be there to hit but he hits back and hard. This is a fine match. So is the co-feature at Jr. Lightweight. #5 Adrien Broner (22-0, 18 KO) puts his WBO belt against #9 Eloy Perez (23-0-2, 7 KO) and both have reasons to be favored. Broner has more athleticism; Perez is a demanding fighter, though lack of a punch could be a factor. It’s two fights that don’t leave an obvious winner before the opening bell. It’s a show worth looking forward to.
Pick Epix: #2 Heavyweight Alexander Povetkin vs. #2 Cruiserweight Marco Huck (Saturday, Epix & EpixHD.com, 4 PM EST/PST)
Povetkin (23-0, 16 KO) has a paper title (WBA variety) at Heavyweight and, seemingly, an allergy to all things Klitschko. He’s still maturing as a fighter at 32. Once the hottest of the rising contenders, he cooled off when his career started to be handled with the look of a man who didn’t really want to be THE man. A 2011 win over former titlist Ruslan Chagaev got him back with serious foes and, while there is still much to criticize, he’s got a good fight ahead of him. Huck (34-1, 25 KO) doesn’t have a lot of big wins. He may have been a little lucky to get by Denis Lebedev in 2010. However, he has eight title defenses and has been the most active, most consistent force at Heavyweight light. If he wants to take his crack at the big boys, he’s picked a serious place to start. On last weekend’s Epix broadcast of Vitali Klitschko-Dereck Chisora, trainer Freddie Roach picked Huck to win from the commentary table. That’s as good a reason as any to tune in for what could be a solid clash.
Pick Deuce: #8 Cristobal Cruz vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
ShoBox also has a go Friday night (11 PM EST/PST). This is the must-see of the night. Call it a crazy; this may end up the weekend’s nastiest brawl. Rated at Featherweight but contesting at 130 (a change is probably needed in the ratings), Cruz (39-12-3, 23 KO) has made some good fights. He’s also been in some dirty ones (see his rematch with Jorge Solis). Burgos (28-1, 19 KO) has only lost to former Bantamweight titlist Hozumi Hasegawa. He’s not the quickest fighter around, but he can bang. This all Tijuana pair smells of war.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org