by Cliff Rold
With only days until the turkey is carved in the States, Thanksgiving has already begun for fight fans. After all, thank you is the best thing anyone can say after a solid HBO show last weekend and a Wealth TV card that may have been boxing’s best overall televised offering of the year. With a bunch of competitive undercard fights before two blazing title fights, the little guys delivered.
Thank you Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Tyson Marquez, and Brian Viloria. Well played.
Nothing, on paper, looks as good this week. But with an intriguing Welterweight belt clash and the return of one of the most popular British fighters ever, as well as a global first, it ain’t bad for a post-holiday weekend.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #5 Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto (Saturday, HBO, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
This is a fight that is tough to pick and with plenty of implications for the division. Making his first start since being busted for PED use, Berto (28-1, 22 KO) is trying to resuscitate a career that blew off the rails even before the bad test. Carefully managed by Al Haymon, and some would say coddled by HBO, Berto was beaten up by Victor Ortiz and just missed the chance at a Mayweather payday. Now he has a Guerrero (30-1, 18 KO) who has won titles at Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight along with interim titles at Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight. The latter is on the line and, at least on paper, so is another shot at getting into range of the economic king of boxing. Mayweather still holds the real WBC belt at 147. If he gives it up, the winner here will be that man. Is Guerrero really a Welterweight to be reckoned with? Has Berto learned to duck? This could be a lot of fun.
Pick the Only One: Ricky Hatton vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko (Saturday, Showtime, 5 PM EST/ PST)
We can hear his fans singing already. Strike up the chords of “Winter Wonderland” and get ready for Manchester’s favorite son. He’s back. Three and a half years after being laid out by Manny Pacquiao and losing the World Jr. Welterweight title, Ricky Hatton (45-2, 32 KO). At 34, his comeback seems ill advised but most comebacks are. His return comes at Welterweight against the former WBA titlist Senchenko (32-1, 21 KO) who was stopped by Paulie Malignaggi in his last start. The curiosity factor is strong here. Note the early start time and, if that’s too early for some, it will be replayed at 8 Pm EST/PST.
Pick New Ground: Xiong Zhao Zhong vs. Javier Martinez (Saturday, China, ?)
Let’s be clear: whether this fight is good or not, the WBC title designation at play here is an absolute joke. Big puncher Denver Cuello got the screws to allow for the completely unqualified Zhong (19-4-1, 11 KO), 1-1 is his last two starts, and Martinez (13-3-2, 6 KO) to square off for the belt vacated by Kazuto Ioka. They have almost no wins of serious note to speak of. What makes this fight unique is the locale. It is the first major title fight staged in mainland China. They will be fighting at the 40,000 seat Kumming Stadium and there should be as many butts in the seats as one will ever see for a title fight at 105 lbs. Cuello should get the winner. He’ll lay them out. If he gets to do it in that same stadium, it’s not so bad.
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]