By Cliff Rold
One week after a grudge match fizzled, fight fans have their first HBO/Showtime split of the year. The former has a main event that look potentially entertaining but perhaps a forgone conclusion. The latter has a main event full of question marks.
It’s the peak of a week that has an additional three shows on Friday night. On FoxSports1 (10 PM EST/7 PM PST), former Jr. Middleweight titlist Cornelius Bundrage (32-5, 19 KO) faces Joey Hernandez (23-1-1, 13 KO) while on ESPN2 (9 PM EST/6 PM PST) Thomas Williams (15-0, 10 KO) takes a step towards Light Heavyweight contention against Cornelius White (21-2, 16 KO). Will White still be feeling the affects of his knockout loss to Sergey Kovalev last year? Then of course there is the return of Curtis Stevens (25-4, 18 KO) at Middleweight against Patrick Majewski (21-2, 13 KO) on NBC Sports (10 PM EST/7 PM PST).
It’s almost too much for one DVR. And that’s before we get to an even better Saturday.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Lamont Peterson vs. Dierry Jean (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
This is the one with the question marks. Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KO) defends the IBF 140 lb. title one fight removed from being shredded in non-title action by Lucas Matthysse. He has home court in Washington, DC. He also has a live challenger in front of him. Jean (25-0, 17 KO) is yet another hot Haitian-by-way-of Montreal talent. With speed and some pop, he has a serious chance to add a new dimension to the deep layers of Jr. Welterweight goodness in recent years. On the undercard, Jermell Charlo (22-0, 11 KO) gets a serious test against former title challenger Gabe Rosado (21-7, 13 KO). This is do or die for Rosado who, while he’s made good showings, can only lose so many before he falls well back in line at Jr. Middle and Middleweight.
Pick BAD: Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST/PST)
This main event looks a little like a forgone conclusion. Garcia (33-0, 28 KO) has pedigree, the WBO belt at 130 lbs., and the marketing rocket attached for future stardom. That said, it could end up a crowd pleaser. Burgos (30-1-2, 20 KO) is a rugged threat who knows what he’s doing in the ring and, but for a controversial draw last year, would have had the belt Garcia won from Rocky Martinez. For all the hype, Garcia is not completely proven yet, only recently moving into the pool of real contender type opposition. If there are chinks in his armor, Burgos is the type of real pro who can show it. Heavyweight action between Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9 KO) and Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KO) lends support and should see some leather fly.
Pick Rematch: Marco Huck vs. Firat Arslan (Saturday, Germany, ?)
This is the week’s YouTube look-up for the week. Huck (36-2-1, 25 KO) has been a consistent force during a long run as WBO 200 lb. titlist but it hasn’t been without some narrow escapes on the cards. Arslan (33-6-1, 21 KO) was a big one last year. Viewed as a name past his sell-by date the first time around, the former WBA titlist turned back his clock at age 43 and looked to some like the rightful winner last November. Can he do it again and complete an unlikely comeback?
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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]