by Cliff Rold
One of the great Mexicans of any time leads the charge this week, buffered by one of today’s best Lightweights and, a continent away, one of the most consistent forces at Middleweight for close to a decade.
If the first two of those three win on their shared card on Saturday, could we be looking at a showdown this summer?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Marquez & Rios…But Not Against Each Other (Saturday, PPV, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
At 38, he’s not done yet. Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO) has won his share of titles, taken his turns near the top of the pound-for-pound debates, and seen himself rise to be considered one of the great Mexicans ever to lace gloves. That would be enough for most men. He wants more. He wants Manny Pacquiao again. If he beats Sergiy Fenchenko (30-1, 13 KO) for the interim WBO 140 lb. belt this weekend, he will probably get Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 22 KO) first. Rios of course has his own business on the Marquez undercard, the underrated Ricardo Abril (17-2-1, 8 KO) on the other side of the ring for the interim WBC Lightweight belt. Can Rios really make 135? Can fans be so lucky as to see a Marquez-Rios guaranteed barnburner or will the upset bug come calling for one, the other, or both? This is a pretty solid little pay card as far as the off-Broadway types go.
Pick Germany: #1 Felix Sturm vs. Sebastian Zbik (Friday, Germany, ?)
The week’s YouTube special, this one carries a simple question: will Sturm win straight up? In his last two encounters, Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KO) was at least a little bit lucky to leave with his WBA Middleweight belt. Now he has a former titlist, Sebastian Zbik (30-1, 10 KO), who left the U.S. feeling a little unlucky himself against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Both guys have solid speed, and not a ton of pop, so this could end up being a better fight than most see coming. Will it get the scores it earns, no matter what? Hey, we’re not picking on Germany here. That’s a question for the whole of the sport right now.
Pick Deuce: #7 Michael Katsidis vs. Albert Mensah (Friday, ESPN2, 11 PM EST/8 PM PST)
Sure, he’s seen better days, but he remains must-see in this corner. Lightweight Michael Katsidis (28-5, 23 KO) can always hold his head up and know he gave at the office. Classic brawls with Graham Earl, Czar Amonsot, and Joel Casamayor may be getting farther away by the day, but they are the sails that ship him into this Friday’s battle with Albert Mensah (24-3-1, 10 KO). If Katsidis wants one last shot at a title, this is must-win. It’s not a bad way to spend a late Friday night.
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