by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #2 Mikey Garcia vs. #5 Robert Easter Jr. (Saturday, Showtime, 10 PM EST)
One week ago, fight fans were on the edge of their seat ready for what they hoped would be a classic unification match at cruiserweight. Instead, they were treated to a virtuoso performance from Oleksandr Usyk.
This weekend, the WBC lightweight titlist Garcia (38-0, 30 KO) is a prohibitive favorite after some recent struggles by the IBF titlist Easter (21-0, 14 KO). Perceptually, while Easter is a good, solid fighter, Garcia is seen as one of a handful of the genuine elite. Could the thinking be as off this weekend as it was last? Could this turn out to be a classic few saw coming? Only one way to find out; at the least, two talented guys are risking their titles for a chance to be more champion than they were coming in.
Additional Show to Watch For
Saturday – ESPN+ (9:30 PM EST): Diaz vs. Ito
With undercard action on the app beginning at 6:30, this one will be for the vacant WBO belt at 130 lbs. Diaz (23-0, 15 KO) is attempting to win a title and emerge as one of the few bright lights for Puerto Rican boxing in a moment where times are in transition. Ito (23-1-1, 12 KO) enters riding a seven-fight win streak.
Saturday – TyC (10 PM EST): Buatsi vs. Pokumeiko
Via tape delay, Argentine television will have a piece of the O2 card but probably not the piece everyone wants. US fans won’t have easy access to the heavyweight clash between Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker…but they can catch Joshua Buatsi. The 2016 Ghanaian Olympian (6-0, 4 KO) will continue his early light heavyweight run against Andrejs Pokumeiko. Maybe it’s a typo and we’ll get the Parker-Whyte fight instead?
Saturday – BeIn Espanol (11 PM EST): Ornelas vs. Pabustan
While not bringing the same hardcore fan alluring main events of recent years, BeIn is still a good spot to see new faces. 23-year old featherweight Carlos Ornelas (20-0, 11 KO) might be one, and comes in off consecutive knockouts. He will continue to move through the early part of his career against the more experienced Jetro Pabustan (29-5-6, 9 KO). Pabustan is coming off his first stoppage loss.
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]