by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #3 Dmitry Bivol vs. Jean Pascal (Saturday, HBO, 10 PM EST)
After the Turkey settles, boxing isn’t skipping a beat with several shows on tap. While nothing jumps off the page as must-see, the WBA light heavyweight titlist Bivol (14-0, 11 KO) is quickly becoming can’t miss.
The 27-year old Russian is technically solid, heavy handed, and could quickly run out of familiar if somewhat faded names to build his foundation upon. Jean Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KO) is the most accomplished foe of Bivol’s career but, at 36, may not be the most dangerous.
It depends how much Pascal has left. Bivol impressed with wins over Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba in his last two. Pascal upset undefeated Ahmed Elbiali to keep his career alive last year. This could well be Pascal’s last ride and one of the last rides for HBO boxing. For that alone, it’s worth a look.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday – Telemundo (11:35 PM EST): Lopez vs. Rodriguez
Ganigan Lopez (34-8. 19 KO) went on the road in 2016 to win the WBC belt at 108 lbs. It was a career highlight. It wasn’t a happy ending for the veteran. He defended it once before being beaten twice by Ken Shiro in Japan, suffering a knockout loss in the rematch. Now the 37-year old attempts to find one last road to glory, starting with Ricardo Rodriguez (16-6, 5 KO).
Saturday – DAZN (2 PM EST): Lebedev vs. Wilson
Live from Monaco, no one can say DAZN isn’t investing in the cruiserweights. Whether it’s WBSS action or everything else, they have the division covered. Lebedev (31-2, 23 KO) took a year off before returning in September and comes right back here. The 35-year old Wilson (19-0, 8 KO) of Oregon hasn’t seen anyone like the 39-year old Russian. The real highlight of the card may come in one of boxing’s most consistently excellent divisions: super flyweight. Khalid Yafai (24-0, 15 KO) defends the WBA belt against Israel Gonzalez (23-2, 10 KO). Gonzalez lost by stoppage to Jerwin Ancajas in his other title try in the class. Look at this for what it is: comparison-shopping in a loaded weight class.
Saturday – TyC (9:30 PM EST): Papeschi vs. Rios
The weekend nightcap will come at super middleweight. 27-year old Sebastian Papeschi (13-1, 6 KO) avenged his lone loss, a disqualification, with a decision last time out. He scored two knockdowns along the way. Cristian Rios (22-10-3, 7 KO) lost three in a row before a win in his last bout. Can he stop from heading back to the land of the defeated? We’ll find out Saturday night.
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]