by Cliff Rold
This is what they call a lull. Boxing fans get used to them. After a Superfight to start the month, and eight phenomenal days of action from Chavez-Lee through Lopez-Ortiz, boxing has been a hot topic for reasons fair and foul.
The stars aren’t shining as bright this week as fight fans await the return of Nonito Donaire, the Haye-Chisora grudge match, and Wladimir Klitschko’s 51st knockout in July. There will still be leather to spare.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick Sho: #7 Cornelius Bundrage vs. Cory Spinks (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/PST)
Of all the alumni of “The Contender,” Bundrage (31-4, 18 KO) is the most surprising. If anyone had bet he would be the show's reigning champion in 2012, it would have seemed unlikely. Yet here he is, IBF title in hand…and unfortunately, the forgotten man in the red-hot 154 lb. class. This weekend, he faces again the man he wrested the crown from in August 2010. It is only his second fight since. Inactivity has plagued K9, as it does most Don King fighters these days. Could a big win put him in the Saul Alvarez sweepstakes? Spinks (39-6, 11 KO), the former World Welterweight champion, would like to make that a ‘no’ and win his third Jr. Middleweight title. At 34, it may be Spinks last big chance. On the undercard, fans will see the man who stands as the biggest available challenge to “Canelo,” Erislandy Lara (16-1-1, 11 KO). Sharing a promoter with Alvarez, it should be easy to make but Golden Boy hasn’t mentioned the in-house battle since their Alvarez-Victor Ortiz plans went awry. 2008 U.S. Olympian Gary Russell Jr. (19-0, 11 KO) is also in action at Featherweight, his first start of 2012 rounding out a special edition of ShoBox.
Pick Deuce: Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Jose Reynoso (Saturday, ESPN2, 10:30 PM EST/7:30 PM PST)
Almost always guaranteed a slot in the “Picks,” when Jr. Welterweight’s Provodnikov (21-1, 14 KO) goes to scratch, we’re there. One of the sports most dependable, blue-collar grinders, Provodnikov is matched with Reynoso (16-3-1, 3 KO) unbeaten in his last seven starts, a draw the lone blemish on the run dating back to 2009. Also sure to catch air will be ample analysis about the corner retirement of Victor Ortiz last weekend. Will Teddy Atlas say the name “Erislandy Lara” when it’s time to talk Alvarez? Somebody has to.
Pick Solo: Michael Perez vs. Eric Cruz (Saturday, Telefutura, 11 PM EST/PST)
Fans got a solid show from Solo Boxeo last week…thanks to Rico Ramos? Who knew? This week, young Lightweight Perez (15-1, 9 KO) tries to bounce back from his first defeat. Forced to retire by the powerful Omar Figueroa in January, Cruz (16-9-3, 13 KO) provides the heavy-handed rehab assignment. It will provide at least some nightcap for those who stuck home for the Showtime triple-header.
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]