by Cliff Rold
From Friday night, beginning with Friday Night Fights and ShoBox, through Sunday afternoon’s pay-per-view showdown at Welterweight between Vyacheslav Senchencko and Paulie Malignaggi, there will be seven televised cards on English and Spanish language television, including a Telefutura card threatened to be lost in the shuffle.
Friday is easy. Two cards. Saturday is where choices need be made. HBO has the highest profile show, but it might not be where the action lies.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Gonzalez v. Rojas and Salgado v. Honorio (Saturday, Fox Deportes, 10 PM EST/PST)
All due respect to the great Bernard Hopkins, but he can’t promise the action this card does. At Featherweight. #4 Jhonny Gonzalez (51-7, 45 KO) puts the WBC belt and an eleven-knockout-in-a row win streak on the line against former titlist #10 Elio Rojas (23-1, 14 KO). Rojas won his belt against current 130 lb. titlist Takahiro Ao and never lost it in the ring. Gonzalez bounced back from a third-round loss to Toshiaki Nishioka at 122 lbs. to stop Hozumi Hasegawa for Rojas’s old belt. Rojas has never been stopped and one can damn sure bet Gonzalez will try. The chief support bout sees #4 Juan Carlos Salgado (24-1-1, 16 KO) put his IBF belt at Jr. Lightweight on the line against the tough Martin Honorio (32-6-1, 16 KO). Salgado wears his second belt in the class while rides a three-fight win streak. This is real meat and potatoes stuff and a gem for hardcore bloodlusters.
Pick The Legend: World Champion Bernard Hopkins vs. #1 Chad Dawson (Saturday, HBO, 10:15 PM EST/7:15 PM PST)
This one doesn’t need a ton of preview. Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) is closer to 50 then 40 and still riding atop the Light Heavyweight division. Dawson (31-1, 18 KO) is probably the most complete younger boxer in the class and already a seasoned veteran in his own right. The first fight didn’t have the look of a classic even before Dawson dumped Hopkins off his neck to force what ultimately ended up a “No Contest” after two frames. The pressure is on Dawson. Fans tune in to Hopkins these days for two reasons. One is, matched right, he can still be in good fights (see both Jean Pascal bouts). The other is the magic trick of seeing a man who refuses to get old, befuddling men who were in elementary school early in his career. We’ll see what comes up Saturday. The broadcast opens with Heavyweights Seth Mitchell (24-0, 18 KO) and Chazz Witherspoon (30-2, 22 KO). What fireworks await probably happen there. West Coast fans can count themselves fortunate they don’t have to use a DVR to split the two premiere cards of the week. East Coast fans have tough choices considering…
Pick 108: #2 Roman Gonzalez vs. #6 Ramon Garcia (Saturday, Azteca America, 10 PM EST/PST)
…this little gem on the network that sometimes bothers to show boxing when advertised. Gonzalez (31-0, 26 KO) puts his WBA 108 lb. belt up against former WBO titlist Ramon Garcia (16-3-1, 9 KO). Garcia has never been stopped but few men in the lower weight classes have the explosive power and sharp technique of Gonzalez. Garcia enters off a loss to Donnie Nietes and has every reason to let it all hang out. For Gonzalez, it is one of the tougher tests in title runs in now two weight classes. This one merits a look, and also may have more action than Hopkins-Dawson, but is the sure DVR pick of the bunch.
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]