By Cliff Rold
Nothing like starting off the week with a bang.
On Thursday night, McWilliams Arroyo put himself in serious contention in the deep Flyweight division with an explosive second round knockout of previously undefeated Froilan Saludar. Was it the beginning of an explosive weekend?
The way some of the matches lay out on Saturday, it just might be. There is action all over the scale with a solid tripleheader on Showtime to lead the way.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Showtime Tripleheader (Saturday, Showtime, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
The main event is okay, Welterweight Robert Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) making his return against Yoshiro Kamegai (24-1-1, 21 KO) should be fun but the real main event is at Featherweight. In a battle of former Olympians, two-time Gold Medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO) faces Gary Russell (24-0, 14 KO) for a vacant title and it’s a bear to handicap. While Russell has been a pro longer, his resume is so shallow it’s hard to know what he’s got under fire. In the case of Lomachenko, we know he can surge against a veteran but is he pushing the gas too hard? This much is certain: the talent and skill level is there for a fantastic fight. Is it the fight it could be with a little more seasoning though? Also on the card, former two-division titlist Devon Alexander (25-2, 14 KO) makes his first start since losing a Welterweight strap to Shawn Porter. He gets a Jesus Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KO) coming off a 2013 campaign that saw him knock out Andre Berto and get knocked out by Keith Thurman. Soto Karass is never dull.
Pick NBC (Sports): Anatoliy Dudchenko vs. Nadjib Mohammedi (Saturday, NBC Sports, 8 PM EST/5 PM PST)
This Light Heavyweight main event features two men with hot hands. Dudchenko (19-2, 13 KO) hasn’t lost since dropping two straight in 2007 and 08. Mohammedi (34-3, 20 KO) has won ten straight since a knockout loss in 2011. The winner closes in on a mandatory crack at the IBF belt currently held by Bernard Hopkins. Whether they get Hopkins or not down the road might be a long shot. Perhaps more interesting in a big picture sense is the continued development of Lightweight Karl Dargan (15-0, 7 KO). One of the game’s more promising prospects, Dargan faces Anthony Flores (11-4-1, 6 KO) on the undercard.
Pick Monte Carlo: Another Solid Triple (Saturday, Monte Carlo, ?)
While US TV couldn’t be found for this card yet, keep an eye on BeIn Espanol. They have a scheduled broadcast without a listed fight Saturday at midnight. If it’s not there, any one of the three fights here might be worth a YouTube search on Sunday. Middleweight contender Martin Murray (27-1-1, 12 KO) faces Max Bursak (29-2-1, 12 KO); Cruiserweight contender Mateusz Masternak (32-1, 23 KO) squares off with Youri Kalenga (19-1, 13 KO) for an interim strap; and WBA 105 lb. titlist Hekkie Budler (25-1, 8 KO) defends against Pigmy Kokietgym (52-6-2, 22 KO).
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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]