by Cliff Rold
Maybe it will be a great fight. Maybe it won’t. One thing we know: two of the finest fighters in the world below Featherweight are meeting, undefeated, in their prime. It’s easy to say the notion of the undefeated fighter is overrated but in this case it has meaning; more on that in a moment.
There is more than one fight of note this week. Friday has a broadcast on Showtime (11 PM EST/PST) featuring promising former Olympian Gary Russell Jr. Saturday then explodes with a shows in the afternoon and evening. All of them matter.
In which order should they be preferred?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #3 Abner Mares vs. #1 at 118 Anselmo Moreno (Saturday, Showtime, 10 PM EST/PST)
In recent weeks, fight fans have seen two excellent matches (on paper) at Jr. Featherweight. Cristian Mijares-Rafael Marquez was better than expected; Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka had a few good rounds and a lot of dull ones. This is yet another quality match in what has become one of boxing’s genuine hot spots. What will we get? Moreno (32-1-1, 11 KO) is the longtime WBA Bantamweight champion who finally got a chance at the world stage last year with a marvelous display of boxing and body punching against Vic Darchinyan. He draws some comparisons with Pernell Whitaker based on his style. Now comes a significant test of his substance. Mares (24-0-1, 13 KO) defends the WBC belt at 122 lbs. in a fight he deserves a credit for taking. After a string of fights against Yonnhy Perez, Darchinyan, and Joseph Agbeko, no one can say he pursues soft foes. There may be no more difficult technical task than Moreno. The winner of this one stands as the most deserving threat to Donaire (sorry Cult of Rigo) but, for now, who cares? This is just a hell of a match. Let’s hope it turns out to be a hell of a fight. If it does not, an appearance from IBF Bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KO) on the undercard should provide more than enough in the way of action.
Pick It Too: #3 Erislandy Lara vs. Vanes Martirosyan (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST/6:45 PST)
Fans on the west coast without live east coast Showtime can watch this first. Those with conflicting shows should have the DVR ready. They won’t want to miss a show with a critical contest in another of boxing’s hottest domains. Lara (17-1-1, 11 KO) has been forced to wait since upsetting, and getting robbed, against Paul Williams but now he closes in on a title chance. The same is true for the 2004 U.S. Olympian Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KO), a man who the WBC has made jump through more hoops than a circus tiger. Allegedly, the winner is the mandatory for Canelo Cunningham. We’ll see. Promising Featherweight contender Mikey Garcia (29-0, 25 KO) and former titlist Jonathan Barros (34-3-1, 18 KO) fill out a solid T.V. card.
Pick Not So Epix: World Champion Wladimir Klitschko vs. Mariusz Wach (Saturday, EPIX, 4:30 PM EST/1:30 PM PST)
Being honest, this looks like utter dreck. Wach (27-0, 15 KO) is one of the least deserving contenders of all time, a fighter who is coming off a win over Tye Fields and needed rounds to win. That’s what we’ve come to while we wait for a new crop of real contenders to emerge. Despite his glossy record, if Wach were to win here it would be a bigger upset than Tyson-Douglas. It’s still Klitschko (58-3, 50 KO) and so we are likely to get a nice knockout. It’s always at least worth a look to see the best Heavyweight in the world. Also televised will be the return from injury of heavy-handed contender Robert Helenius (17-0, 11 KO). He isn’t matched any tougher than Klitschko against shopworn Sherman Williams.
Back in seven.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]