by Cliff Rold
And now, it’s on.
The Middleweight division has lagged behind Super Middleweight in the last few years, unable to present the depth and range of action the larger class has provided. This Saturday, 160 gets into high gear in a big way, the Middleweight title clash between champion Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to follow just two week later.
For fans of boxing on U.S. television, the pickings are slim. For fans with a global perspective, the options are plenty. The dog days of August are fading.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #3 Gennady Golovkin vs. Gregorz Proksa (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST/PST)
Is he the man who would be king? Golovkin (23-0, 20 KO) has one of the WBA’s hollow belts at Middleweight, but don’t hold that against him. The 2003 Amateur World Champion and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist from Kazakhstan is one of the world’s most exciting young fighters and he is finally landing in the U.S. This excellent B.A.D. main event doesn’t have him matched soft. Proksa (28-1, 21 KO) is a quick-handed southpaw who is one bad night from undefeated. The Pole was cut and suffered a shocker decision loss to Kerry Hope in March. He avenged it with a stoppage in July and needs this win. Proksa is 27; Golovkin is 30. Both are prime and the winner is the biggest threat in the division to the winner of Martinez-Chavez, bar none. Sergiy Dzinziruk, the former Jr. Middleweight titlist, will go live in support.
Pick More Middle: #1 Felix Sturm vs. #2 Daniel Geale (Saturday, Germany, ?)
The crazy thing about Golovkin-Proksa is it isn’t, on paper, the most significant Middleweight bout of the day. That honor goes to a fight not set to be aired in the U.S. and sure to be a YouTube must-find by Sunday. Sturm (37-2-2, 16 KO) puts his WBA “Super” belt up against IBF titlist Geale (27-1, 15 KO) and it’s anyone’s ball game. Sturm has been a titlist at 160 three times, but never unified and never been seen as the true champion of the class. It may turn out he moves up in weight with a win here. Geale, whose lone loss came by split in a domestic showdown with fellow Aussie Anthony Mundine, is going to have be almost perfect to win here considering some of the scores that go in Sturm’s favor at home. Don’t bet against him. At 31, he’s two years younger than Sturm and appears closer to peak. This probably won’t have the fireworks of Golovkin-Proksa, but there should be enough to keep eyes on the screen.
Pick Small: Action at 115, 112 & 105
Filling out the rest of the week, fans can look for a few more YouTube specials. The best of them pits tough Thai Tepparith Kokietgym (20-2, 13 KO) against former titlist Nobuo Nashiro for the former’s 115 lb. belt. Nashiro has homefield, but so did Tomonobu Shimizu when Kokietgym stopped him for the WBA belt in April. At Flyweight and Strawweight, arguably the most talented fighters in their classes will be on display. IBF 112 lb. titlist Moruti Mthalane (28-2, 19 KO) goes on the road to face local favorite Ricardo Nunez (24-2, 20 KO) in Panama. IBF 105 lb. titlist Nkosinathi Joyi (22-0, 15 KO) will go into the hometown of Mexican Mario Rodriguez (14-6-4, 10 KO) in search of his third title defense.
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