By Cliff Rold
Seven televised cards in one week? Seriously?
It’s not that often where Boxing has a week that borders on sensory overload but this might qualify. Two shows on ESPN2, two Spanish language shows, some B.A.D and two pay shows on Saturday add up to a pro-choice week for the sweet science. They’re not all must-see shows, but almost all have at least one point of strong curiosity.
Friday night in particular should be fascinating, with former Bantamweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez up against Mauricio Pastrana on Telefutura and former Heavyweight titlist Chris Byrd’s first foray into the Light Heavyweight division. There will be some overlap between those two shows, but the main events should spread evenly out for fans to see both. That makes Saturday the night of where real choices must be made.
These are the picks of the week with that in mind.
Pick It: Cristian Mijares-Alexander Munoz (PPV, Saturday 9 PM EST/6 PM EST)
Fans of delicate palette know that no division has been hitting all cylinders in 2008 quite like the little guys at 115 lbs. It’s a bonus for fans that this bout, a unification affair between WBC titlist Mijares (34-3-2) and WBA titlist Munoz (32-2, 27 KO) isn’t the culmination but only a next step in a year with even more promising matches to be had at this weight. Mijares is the younger and more skilled man, his fast hands and defensive reflexes screaming pound-for-pound entrant. Munoz is the veteran on a hot streak, a brick handed warrior with little time left to make a lasting mark. This is a fight on par with any of the best efforts signed so far this year but, with neither man a household name, the question is why does it carry an extra price tag? Word is that the major networks weren’t interested, meaning that asking fans to shell out was the only option available to get the fight made. Should you shell out? Um, yeah. This is the sort of fight where fans can, and should, make a quality control statement. That statement would be that a great fight made, at any weight, is worth caring about. A decent buy rate would increase the chances for more quality matches at this exciting weight class off pay T.V.; matches like the winner of Mijares-Munoz versus a Fernando Montiel or Vic Darchinyan.
Watch It Later: Boxing After Dark (HBO, Saturday 9:45 PM EST/PST)
All things considered, the HBO tripleheader could provide some serious barnburners at no more charge than your standard HBO fee. So why order Mijares-Munoz and miss this? Because unless you’re one of the ice age few who doesn’t have digital cable yet, you don’t have to miss it. Digital cable means that you have the east, and west, coast feeds of Boxing After dark shows. If you’ve stayed in to see the little guys, you just take a break and catch this show at 12:45 on the East coast (or catch one of the multiple replays on Sunday). If you’re on the west coast, it’s a seamless transition at 9:45. And really, this is a must-see show in its own right. The Jr. Middleweight clash between rising contenders James Kirkland (21-0, 18 KO) and Eromosele Albert (21-1, 10 KO) has potentially wild affair written all over it and, in the same division, Alfredo Angulo (12-0, 9 KO) vs. Richard Gutierrez (24-1, 14 KO) should be of the same vein. And then, of course, there is the Cuban. No one can know for sure, his chin has yet to be vetted, but Yuriorkis Gamboa (9-0, 8 KO) so far looks like one of those ‘future of the whole damn sport’ type of guys. Veteran Darling Jimenez (23-2-2, 14 KO) could well be the victim of a highlight reel stoppage that adds to that impression. This isn’t a great, throwback B.A.D show by any means; if it was, we’d be seeing Kirkland-Angulo. It’s close enough.
Skip It: Latin Fury (PPV, Saturday 9 PM EST/6 PM EST)
This is the other show asking for a bit extra from your pocket. It’s a tough sell unless you just can’t live without a Jorge Arce fight or you loved Julio Cesar Chavez so much that seeing the progeny of his loins in action makes you weepy with nostalgia. The former World Jr. Flyweight champ Arce (48-4-1, 37 KO) was trounced last year by Mijares and is now back to his old protected form of mostly fighting guys who bring out his exciting qualities without posing serious threats. Case in point one Devid Lookmahanak (18-1, 9 KO), a Thai whose last five foes according to Boxrec.com, have a combined record of 59-50-5, qualifying him for the WBC’s #2 rating at 115 lbs. Julio’s ‘other’ son, Omar (9-0, 7 KO), will also see action. Top Rank’s Latin Fury cards are usually fun and matched well for excitement but this one just doesn’t stack up well on paper with the rest of the night.
No matter what you choose, this is a week of healthy boxing and that’s always wroth looking forward to.
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@example.com