By Cliff Rold
One week after fans were treated to some of the sweetest sweet science of the year so far in Rigondeaux-Donaire, boxing twists its way towards a wildly packed weekend with network TV and a massive unification on showtime. Throw in an Epix card and an outstanding Jr. Featherweight title clash and…damn…that’s just Saturday.
Friday night on ESPN2 (10:30 PM EST/7:30 PM PST), fans can also catch rising Featherweight Javier Fortuna (21-0, 15 KO). On a weekend this packed, it doesn’t make the cut.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Austin Trout vs. Saul Alvarez (Saturday, Showtime, 10 PM EST/PST)
For the first time since Winky Wright-Shane Mosley I, we have a unification clash at Jr. Middleweight clash and it could be a doozy. There’s always something special about two undefeated young guys who have proved ready for the top but haven’t quite got there yet. WBC titlist “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KO) is the draw, the man who is moving the bulk of the 30,000+ tickets sold so far in San Antonio. The WBA champ Trout (26-0, 14 KO) is the credibility enhancement; the test the potential star in the making has needed to legitimize himself. Trout won’t care about the Canelo narrative. After a rousing effort to defeat Miguel Cotto last year, Canelo will know it. It might not be enough to save him against the skilled man who goes by the moniker “No Doubt.” There is surely no doubt this is the most anticipated fight of the week.
Pick Network: Tyson Fury vs. Steve Cunningham (Saturday, NBC, 4 PM EST/1 PM PST)
Boxing is back on network TV for the third time in less than half a year and a good man is rewarded. Most people with eyes saw former Cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KO) avenge a loss to Tomasz Adamek last year on NBC. It was a successful return for boxing to NBC and a high quality Heavyweight clash. Cunningham didn’t get the nod, a reminder of one of the factors that knocked boxing off network TV in the first place. His reward in securing an NBC return…well, it might not be so rewarding. Fury (20-0, 14 KO) is a massive man who has slowly developed more game than his early returns indicated. He brings a boatload of trash talk and a scrappy approach. This should be another good look for casual viewers who lost track of boxing when they opted not to pay for premium cable.
Pick Foreign Fistiana: Quality Shows on Epix and UniMas
Not to be outdone, even if they wind up outwatched, both Epix and UniMas have solid shows on tap for Saturday. Too bad they’ll be competing with the two shows noted above. Ah, the glory of DVR. Epix (5 PM EST/2 PM PST has WBO Light Heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KO) is in a potentially exciting affair with Robin Krasniqi (39-2, 15 KO). At Jr. Featherweight, could a future foe for Guillermo Rigondeaux emerge? Former unified 115 lb. titlist Cristian Mijares (47-6-2, 22 KO) will try to finish his climb back to relevance against solid veteran Victor Terrazas (36-2-1, 21 KO). Terrazas upset former titlist Fernando Montiel to get into this position. Can he knock off another name and leave with the vacant WBC belt at stake?
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]