by Cliff Rold
Some weeks are just loaded.
This is one, and it doesn’t start on Friday. It started on Tuesday. That’s when IBF 115 lb. titlist Daiki Kameda faced WBA titlist (until he stepped on the scales) Liborio Solis in what was supposed to be a unification match. Solis won and left without a belt. Kameda lost and kept his. Life moves on and fans got a solid scrap.
Along with the highlighted fights of the week, fans can also look forward to a Middleweight clash of import on Saturday before the big action kicks off. IBF titlist Darren Barker (26-1, 16 KO) attempts his first defense against former WBA stalwart Felix Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KO). Fans whose cable plans allow access to the ProSieben network (FiOS appears to have the option) can tune into that show at 5:15 PM EST. There will also be a UniMas card late Saturday night (11 PM EST).
All that before one arrives at the top selections.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #7 at 140 Zab Judah vs. #10 at 147 Paulie Malignaggi (Saturday, Showtime, 8 PM EST/5 PM PST)
Continuing a superlative year for Showtime, the former Jr. Welterweight titlist and Undisputed Welterweight Champion Judah (42-8, 29 KO) faces the former Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight titlist Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO) in an old fashioned New York neighborhood battle. Both men enter off losses, Judah to Danny Garcia and Malignaggi to Adrien Broner, where they showed they still could go with top talents. It would be easy to say neither can afford another loss but it’s not so much the case here. Both have shown able to keep going after adversity. A loss would be a setback for sure and bragging rights are a powerful lure for performance. That it comes with a deep supporting card makes this one can’t miss as fans will also see:
• Super Middleweight: #5 Sakio Bika (32-5-2, 21 KO, WBC) vs. Anthony Dirrell (26-0, 22 KO)
• Welterweight: #5 Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KO, IBF) vs. Shawn Porter (22-0-1, 14 KO)
• Jr. Middleweight: #2 Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KO) vs. #5 Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12 KO)
Off these fights, only one appears to have a strong favorite (Alexander over Porter). All should be competitive. Bika-Dirrell might just steal the show.
Pick HBO: World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. #4 at 118 Joseph Agbeko (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST)
After far too long on the sidelines, the 122 lb. king finally has a chance to follow up on his career making win over Nonito Donaire. Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KO) is matched well here. Agbeko (29-4, 22 KO) is a serious veteran who has faced some of the best in the world at 118 lbs. He’s been a bit inactive but there are no signs he’s shot yet. He’s a real test and the sort of willing warrior who could bring out some thriller in the Cuban technician. Comparing main events, this could be the superior fare on Saturday and the return of Jr. Middleweight James Kirkland makes this a show worth watching.
It just might mean a DVR look for most.
Pick Fly: World Champion Akira Yaegashi vs. #2 Edgar Sosa (Friday, Japan, ?)
The fight this scribe is most looking forward to this week comes the lowest on the scale. This 112 lb. clash could have ramifications on the Fighter and Fight of the Year races. The clash is that well made. Yaegashi (18-3, 9 KO) and Sosa (49-7, 29 KO) have both made for action fights and should again here. Sosa is having one of the best years in boxing but this fight is his biggest after wins over Ulises Solis and Gio Segura. Win and he adds the lineal crown at Flyweight to a previous lengthy reign at 108. It would cap a terrific, and largely unsung, career. Yaegashi has home turf, youth, and superior speed in his favor. Azteca is supposed to replay the fight Saturday night but their delivery is variable (and that’s being nice). One way or another, it will be worth a look.
For BoxingScene’s latest full divisional ratings, log on to: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org