By Cliff Rold
It’s big fight week in Las Vegas as can be evidenced in all of the Mayweather-Maidana advertising to be found around the MGM Grand.
Oh, wait, wrong fight?
With less buzz than expected, a big rematch is instead taking place this weekend but Bob Arum’s rants against the casino have at least started some. It’s a good fight with a so-so undercard, so we definitely know it’s an Arum production.
It’s also a light week for televised fights in general.
That said, these are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #1 Timothy Bradley vs. #3 Manny Pacquiao (Saturday, HBO PPV, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Most viewers thought Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO) won the first time around in 2012. A lot has happened since then. Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez and returned to defeat Brandon Rios. Bradley (31-0, 12 KO) survived a war with Ruslan Provodnikov and outboxed the masterful Marquez. Yesterdays mean little here and this looks like an even fight before the opening bell. Will even mean good? There are things each man can do different in pursuit of victory here to make this a compelling affair. It’s two of the best Welterweights in the world and required viewing either way. The undercard? Maybe. There aren’t any marquee matches but #4 Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KO) vs. Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KO) at Lightweight and #9 Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 KO) vs. Jessie Vargas (23-0, 9 KO) for Allakhverdiev at 140 lbs. both look like they could entertain. It’s a tough time on fight fan wallets with a slew of pay offerings in the coming months. This looks like one to invest in for the main event alone.
Pick Deuce: Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez vs. Giovanni Lorenzo (Friday, ESPN2, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
With Pacquiao-Bradley as the backdrop, and certainly a source of hype throughout the Friday Night Fights broadcast, the Super Middleweights take center stage. Sanchez (27-0, 21 KO) is only 22 and beginning to step up his competition. Lorenzo (33-6, 25 KO) is clearly on the other side of things but is a former title challenger who can still crack. Two fights ago, that didn’t help him against Danny Jacobs as Lorenzo suffered his first knockout loss. Does a second await him on Friday?
We’ll find out amidst what is really a pre-fight show for Saturday.
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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]