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Do a search for first-run boxing events on your television menu, and that is the message that will appear on your screen.
It’s the latest reminder of what a cruel summer it’s been.
If boxing is the only reason you subscribe to HBO and Showtime, then four shows is all you got for your $25 or so over the past two months. Neither play host to any live boxing shows this weekend. Neither does any other network, for that matter.
ESPN2 went out with a bang in last week’s season finale. TV Azteca, which has been sporadic at best since entering the stateside boxing fold, graced our screens last weekend but will be M.I.A. until mid-October.
Telemundo airs once per week, with its next installment coming next Friday, a weekend loaded with shows – some good, some not so much, but plenty to choose from in a wide variety of televised fights from around the world.
This weekend? It’s all about family gatherings, barbecues and time of reflection as we say farewell to the summer. Some kids are already back in school; most of the rest of the nation hit classes shortly after Labor Day.
Between now and then, all we can look forward to in the way of stateside boxing on the tube is the next installment of Mayweather/Marquez 24/7 (Saturday, HBO, 10PM ET/PT).
At the very least, it’s a fitting end to the lackluster summer season. The show itself is a four-part preview series of what lies ahead. The episodes are self-serving, in that it doesn’t promote the sport as a whole but rather a singular upcoming event.
However, symbolism can be taken from this weekend’s edition. Don’t think of it as a reminder for just the September 19 pay-per-view event. Use this weekend’s edition as a reminder that we finally get to say good riddance (and perhaps with a one-finger a salute) to the dog days of summer as we are afforded the chance to rise in the fall.
WHAT TO ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD TO
Another reminder served up this weekend is that boxing has always been and will always be a global sport. America is perhaps the last place on Earth where our biggest events are pigeonholed to Saturday nights and only if the networks are pouring in millions.
So while those in states give their grills and coolers a workout, the sport of boxing actually goes on elsewhere around the world.
The only problem is finding it, though online piracy always seems to do the trick.
Most notable among the lot is Jose “Carita” Lopez in his first super flyweight alphabet title defense as he takes on unbeaten Marvin Sonsona at the Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada (Friday, TSN Canada).
Lopez (39-7-2, 32KO) has become the very definition of perseverance in recent years. Title belts may come a dime a dozen these days, but it still speaks volumes that the 37-year old was able to position himself to contend for, never mind win one in his 18th year in service.
The achievement came this past March, when he bested still serviceable 40-year old Pramuansak Posuwan for the vacant strap. The title became available after Fernando Montiel – the last man to defeat Lopez, which came in a flyweight title fight eight years ago – vacated in order to contend for manufactured alphabet hardware at bantamweight.
In outlasting Posuwan, Lopez extended his unbeaten streak to 16 fights (15-0-1 over that stretch), though there are concerns that it comes to an end tonight. Part of it stems from the wide gap in age – Lopez is almost twice as old as the 19-year young Sonsona (13-0, 12KO).
Where the Puerto Rican veteran greatly benefits is in ring experience. Lopez has more years logged in as a pro (18) than Sonsona has total fights (13). Also noteworthy is the fact that Sonsona’s resume runs extremely thin, as well as his fighting for the first time outside of his native Philippines.
Geography and intangibles aside, a compelling crossroads bout is promised on paper. Both can bang, but Lopez has shown a propensity for outlasting his opponents, or at least giving them hell in the face of losing a decision. His sturdy chin serves as a fitting gauge for the punching power of Sonsona, who has yet to be extended beyond the fifth round.
Also on the card is former super bantamweight titlist Steve Molitor, who continues to pick up the pieces following his wipeout knockout loss in last year’s unification match with Celestino Caballero. He’s since managed to climb back into the win column, albeit barely in an uneven performance against used-up journeyman Heriberto Ruiz earlier this summer.
Molitor faces another aged trial horse in Feliciano Dario Azuaga Ledezma of Paraguay in a featherweight bout scheduled for eight rounds or less.
Speaking of ex-super bantamweight titlists, Daniel Ponce de Leon (36-2, 31KO) also fights this weekend. The free-swinging Mexican travels to Panama, giving away hometown advantage to his opponent, former title challenger Roinet Caballero (Saturday, Panama City; no US TV)
The bout is Ponce de Leon’s third since his one-round blitzing at the hands of Juan Manuel Lopez last summer. He has since won two straight and with a win tomorrow night will be in line to face another Caballero - unified titlist Celestino Caballero, whom decisively outpointed Ponce de Leon in their title eliminator four years ago.
Another fight designed as a prelude of things to come takes place in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday (no US TV). The show is less about competitive fights than it is about further showcasing the always-entertaining Kameda brothers.
Appearing this Saturday will be the eldest and youngest of the trio. Undefeated flyweight contender Koki Kameda headlines the show in a ten-rounder against Mexican journeyman Humberto Pool. Assuming he wins, Japan’s most popular fighter (and by a landslide) will go on to challenge countryman Daisuke Naito for the lineal flyweight crown later this year.
The undercard features Tomoki Kameda (9-0, 8KO), the youngest yet biggest brother of the fighting Kameda family. Tomoki gets his own Mexican stepping stone for his first scheduled eight-round fight, as he is fed upside down bantamweight Jesus Periban (5-17-2, 2KO).
Missing from the act is middle child Daiki Kameda, who is training for his second major title shot as he faces Denkaosan Kaovichit next month. A win would lend even greater significance to Koki’s title challenge against Naito, a bout already chock-full of storylines, but more to come on that in the future.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected]