by Cliff Rold
It isn’t the last weekend of boxing in the calendar year.
It will just feel that way for US fight fans. With the best action after this week happening overseas, US fans can anticipate one last Showtime marathon card, action on FoxSports1, and an offering on NBC Sports. For late night watchers on Saturday, there is even a UniMas card (11 PM EST/PST) featuring Featherweight Gamalier Rodriguez (22-2-3, 15 KO) vs. Aldimar Santos (19-5, 10 KO).
It just missed the cut in a solid climax to the television year.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana (Saturday, Showtime, 8 PM EST/5 PM PST)
In one corner, we have a fighter who brings it in the ring and in social media. In the other corner, it’s a fighter who could probably be entertaining taking a nap. Bruner (27-0, 22 KO) will attempt his first defense of the WBA belt at 147 lbs. against the hard-hitting Argentine Maidana (34-3, 31 KO) in a fight unlikely to disappoint. Both guys are offense first. The support bouts are solid as well. Keith Thurman (21-0, 19 KO) defends the interim WBA Welterweight belt against a Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-3, 18 KO) hot off the best win of his career, a stoppage of Andre Berto in July. The winner, on paper, is the mandatory to the Broner-Maidana winner, though sometimes those things go differently. At Jr. Featherweight, WBC titlist Leo Santa Cruz (25-0, 15 KO) defends against former 115 lb. title challenger Cesar Seda (25-1, 17 KO) while WBA Light Heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov (13-1, 8 KO) does his part to set up a possible unification with Bernard Hopkins. His foe, Tamas Kovacs (23-0, 14 KO), will try to derail those plans. Lest we forget, Showtime will have even more boxing on the night with undercard bouts on ShoExtreme (6:30 PM EST).
That’s a hell of a way to close a hell of a year for Showtime.
Pick Heavy: Amir Mansour vs. Kelvin Price (Saturday, NBC Sports, 8 PM EST/5 PM PST)
Let’s be real: unless one doesn’t have Showtime, this is the DVR pick of the night. That doesn’t mean it won’t entertain. Mansour (19-0, 14 KO) is one of many young Heavyweights trying to find their place on the current scene. Price (14-1, 6 KO) is the sort of foe who is there to get stopped and create a comparison with the only other man to beat him, Deontay Wilder. This isn’t rocket science. It is good booking though for a comer.
Pick Friday Comeback: Josesito Lopez vs. Mike Arnaoutis (Friday, FoxSports1, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
Sometimes, losing isn’t the end of the world…as long as you had the right win to set you up first. Lopez (30-6, 18 KO) shook up the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions with an upset of Victor Ortiz and got two big dates out of it: a title fight loss at 154 to Canelo Alvarez and a warring stoppage loss to Marcos Maidana at 147. This main event against Arnaoutis (24-9-2, 11 KO) is a chance to catch his breath and see if he can open another opportunity down the line (like, say, an Ortiz rematch?). The highlight of the undercard could be a look at the best American prospect since Andre Ward won a Gold Medal. Yes, Welterweight Errol Spence (9-0, 7 KO) looks that good. Baby faced Jr. Lightweight Joseph Diaz (7-0, 5 KO) is also slated for the card and looks damn good himself so far.
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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 [email protected]