by Cliff Rold
While it didn’t last long, the expected fight of the week between Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell brought explosiveness, a hot crowd, and a lethal finish last week. The dial turns back to heavier action in the U.S. this week. That doesn’t mean the international flair is gone.
A clash of undefeated Featherweights will be a big deal in Indonesia off U.S. TV. The Heavyweights will be on the air, and the undercard may be more important than the main event in the long run. And, on HBO, one of the great little men of his time finally makes his network debut after being a Showtime exclusive for years.
Is it too late to make an impression on Boxing After Dark?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #3 Alexander Povetkin vs. Hasim Rahman (Saturday, Epix, 4 PM EST/1 PM PST)
There is a strong case to be made that Alexander Povetkin shouldn’t be the WBA Heavyweight titlist anymore. He looked like the loser against Cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck earlier this year, if in a crowd-pleasing affair. There is also a strong case he shouldn’t be a titlist at all. The WBA’s silly rules allowing for volumes of men to hold their belts in a given division at the same time (interim belts included) has proved terrible. In the case of Povetkin, it rewarded a contender for ducking the real champion, in this case Wladimir Klitschko. Now Povetkin has a long worn Hasim Rahman (50-7-2, 41 KO). Rahman was, for a moment, the lineal king of the class. That was over a decade ago and the 40-year old hasn’t had a notable win since probably 2005. On paper, this fight is as much a joke as Povetkin’s title. So why is this show the pick? Povetkin has shown vulnerability and Rahman can still punch, so who knows? And even if we do know, the undercard is promising. Those looking for the heir apparent to the Klitschko’s may need look no farther than Kubrat Pulev (16-0, 8 KO). He has undefeated Alexander Ustinov (27-0, 21 KO). Ustinov is high on stats but not as much on talent. Pulev has a chance for a statement win here.
Pick B.A.D: Darchinyan at Twilight (Saturday, HBO, 9:30 PM EST/PST)
While not the main event, the story here is the HBO debut of Vic Darchinyan. HBO has never been much on classes below 122, their appearances few and far between outside pay undercards. It’s a shame because Darchinyan has been a blast to watch from Flyweight to Bantamweight. He’s faced almost everyone who counts, beat more than his share, unified the 115 lb. class, and lent his name to a 118 lb. tournament that delivered in spades. Now, at 122, he has a chance to make a new name for boxing. Luis Orlando Del Valle (16-0, 11 KO) is favored and could make his way into the mix in what is one of boxing’s premiere divisions right now. Darchinyan, with a win, can stave off his end and make his own way there. The main event at Super Middleweght, Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KO) and Jason Escalera (13-0-1, 12 KO), will be bombs away and the winner will have just as hot an access point at one of boxing’s other top classes. This is quality B.A.D.
Pick YouTube: #1 Chris John vs. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (Saturday, Indonesia, ?)
The YouTube special of the week pits the longtime leader at Featherweight, WBA titlist Chris John (47-0-2, 22 KO) against what might be a tough Thai challenger in Piriyapinyo (44-0, 27 KO). It says might here because the Thai has faced less than murderer’s row to get here, his record more gaudy than impressive. It doesn’t mean he can’t fight. It doesn’t mean he can’t punch. It doesn’t mean he won’t be the real deal. This is a big fight abroad, and it might be a good one. John is known mostly for a debatable win over Juan Manuel Marquez and two battles with Rocky Juarez. He’s good where his numbers say he could have been great. Let’s just hope for a great fight here and the chance to see it at some point.
Back in seven.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]