by Cliff Rold
The weekend started so well. Carl Froch’s upset of Lucian Bute was boxing at its best, theatre of the unexpected, validating, crowd pleasing.
Then the news went dark. One of the great fan fighters of recent time, Johnny Tapia, will not grow old to defeat his demons. One of the best fan fighters of this time, Paul Williams, will take his fight into rings no one could wish for.
The Williams news hits harder. Tapia was always presented as a ticking time bomb, a man who needed the ring to stave off en end. His is a sad story, but one that doesn’t feel shocking. One can hope he finds the rest he earned.
Williams is a different matter. He was rebuilding from a bad loss to Sergio Martinez and had Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on tap in the fall. This scribe figured him an upset winner. Now, that falls to the side. Williams will fight, after a paralyzing motorcyle accident, for a new life and the qualities he can find within it. Early reports have him unable to walk again.
Given the spirit he always showed in the ring, and the advances in medicine happening every day, we can all pray for better.
This is the story that matters. For the rest of the week, the game rolls on.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Four on Showtime (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/PST)
This is a wild card, the sort of show Top Rank or Golden Boy often puts on pay-per-view when they are back loaded with guys who need dates and no where to put them. There is not, on paper, a single great fight. Instead there are two pretty good ones and two intended showcases. For the math wizards, that’s four fights in one night. The pretty good ones are Antonio Tarver (29-6, 20 KO) vs. Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KO) at Cruiserweight and Austin Trout (24-0, 14 KO) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KO) at Jr. Middleweight. Both look like they could be pick ‘em affairs for different reasons. The showcases are of two varieties. Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KO) vs. Vusi Malinga (20-3-1, 12 KO) at Bantamweight could be a star maker for Santa Cruz while Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KO) vs. Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KO) may be more about what Wright can offer after year’s off. If Wright can still go, an upset is highly possible.
Pick NBC: #6 Beibut Shumenov vs. Enrique Ornelas (Saturday, Fox Deportes, 10 PM EST/PST)
Inactive for much of the last year, WBA 175 lbs. titlist Beibut Shumenov (12-1, 8 KO) goes heads up with the Showtime marathon on Fox Deportes. After a ridiculously tough early strength of schedule, Shumenov’s slow down continues. Last year, it was William Joppy and Danny Santiago. Now, it’s a slight improvement at least in the tough Ornelas (33-7, 21 KO). Where is the guy who did two with Gabriel Campillo and dominated Vyacheslav Uzelkov before this? His fan friendly approach will probably mute the question for now.
Pick NBC Cable: Gabriel Rosado-Sechew Powell (Friday, NBC Sports, 9 PM EST/ 6 PMPST)
After a solid debut, NBC’s cable challenge to the hegemony of ESPN returns with another meat and potatoes main event at Jr. Middleweight. Rosado (19-5, 11 KO), a knockout winner over Jesus Soto Karass last time out, gets former title challenger Sechew Powell (26-4, 15 KO). Powell has lost two straight to Cornelius Bundrage and Cory Spinks. Could Rosado be the end of the line?
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]