By Cliff Rold
Faster than one can count to nine and pretend its ten, boxing goes from a Heavyweight focus to an outstanding Flyweight clash, some solid Featherweight action, and a Chinese star in the making (in China anyways). There will also be some potential fireworks on Friday and a tripleheader to top it off on Showtime.
Who says these are the dog days of summer?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Action from Macau (Saturday, HBO2, 5:30 PM EST/PST)
While former Chinese Olympian Zou Shiming is in the televised main event, the fans tuning in stateside will, for the most part, be focused on the first two fights of the night. In Flyweight action, the rapidly ascendant Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18 KO) is matched tough in his first title defense. The WBO/WBA titlist, hot on the heels of a competitive loss to Roman Gonzalez at 108 and title win at 112 versus Brian Viloria gets one of the best young contenders in the class. Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 KO) is a real threat and this match is a great example of just how good Flyweight is right now. At Featherweight, Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KO) makes his first defense of the IBF belt against veteran Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KO) in what should be a grinding battle. And then of course, there is Shiming (1-0), continuing his development at Flyweight with an eye towards a potential megafight someday in the increasingly trendy Macau. Could the little men finally have their Las Vegas? Shiming will be a big part of getting there. For those also interested in Heavyweight Andy Ruiz (19-0, 13 KO), his bout will be replayed on Unimas late Saturday night; check local listings.
Pick KO Kings: Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/PST)
Showtime’s “KO Kings” card feels a little bit like a good episode of HBO Boxing After Dark on paper. Berto (28-2, 22 KO), a former Welterweight titlist, has his back to the wall. A loss to the tough but limited Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KO) would be hard to overcome even for a fighter as well navigated by the Al Haymon machine as Berto has been over the years. The undercard features more Welterweight action with the loquacious Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 KO) facing Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KO) in an excellent battle of unbeatens. Finally, at Lightweight, arguably the biggest potential star on view for the night is Omar Figueroa (21-0, 17 KO). The Texan has all the tools, something Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16 KO) should soon find out firsthand.
Pick Rugged: Juan Carlos Burgos vs. Yakabu Amidu (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/PST)
Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KO) could, maybe should, have a belt at 130 lbs. He appeared to many to do enough to defeat Roman Martinez earlier this year. If he’s going to get back to a title shot, Amidu (20-4-1, 18 KO) stands in his way. That’s probably not a good place for Amidu to be. Friday Night Fight will tell the tale.
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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]