by Cliff Rold
The trash talk has been epic.
It would be a bit of a surprise if the main event on Showtime this weekend lived up to the smack. If it falls short, the rest of the show has the potential to pick up the slack.
And it’s not the only boxing on tap. While it won’t make the big picks, note a show on Telemundo this Friday night (11:35 PM EST/PST). The Jr. Bantamweight main event features interesting prospect Matt Villanueva (9-0-1, 8 KO) taking on Julian Rivera (12-7-1, 2 KO). Villanueva is worth keeping an eye on.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #8 Paulie Malignaggi vs. #1 at 135 Adrien Broner (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
It’s a hell of a trend at Showtime, this choice to go live on both coasts. Showtime has long lagged in this department and is finally correcting what has been an error in the age of social media. In the main event, Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) defends a 147 lb. belt (WBA) against the consensus pick for Lightweight leader in Broner (26-0, 22 KO). Broner enters the favorite for a reason. Malignaggi, for all his personality and quality as a fighter, owns a paper title at Welterweight and is lucky to be entering off a win over the limited Pablo Cesar Cano. If Broner handles Malignaggi in a fashion that doesn’t end up pleasing the crowd, there are two chances for war on the undercard. Heavyweight Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KO) will try to repeat the most significant win of his career over Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KO). At Super Middleweight, for a belt laughably lifted off of legitimate World Champion Andre Ward, Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KO) faces Marco Antonio Periban (21-0, 12 KO). Both support bouts should be worthy leads.
Pick Cruiser: #3 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs. #10 Rakhim Chakhkiev (Friday, Moscow, ?)
This week’s YouTube special is an interesting fight. Wlodarczyk (47-2-1, 33 KO) is solid and experienced. Chakhkiev (16-0, 12 KO) has beaten some of the usual suspects, showing possibility without proof to date. However, for a fighter like Wlodarczyk who has had some escapes at home in Poland (notably the first fights with Steve Cunningham and Francisco Palacios), could karma be coming around? If this one is close, home court belongs to Chakhkiev in Moscow.
Pick Deuce: Rances Barthelemy vs. Fahsai Sakkreerin (Friday, ESPN2, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
It’s not often that Thai contenders hit stateside and that makes this week’s ESPN2 main event interesting enough. That Sakkreerin (39-3-1, 21 KO) is matched with the talented Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KO) with an IBF title shot at 130 lbs. as the prize makes this a solid, under the radar main event. By night’s end, it could be one of the highlights of the year on the worldwide leader.
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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]