by Cliff Rold
The ratings are out and, while it wouldn’t be enough to do damage in prime time, boxing managed to pop a respectable Saturday afternoon 1.3 in the Nielsen’s last Saturday. After fifteen years, boxing has come back to CBS.
After one additional week, boxing returns to NBC for the first time since the short lived Main Events series early in the career of Rocky Juarez. Few remember the series, though it had its moments. This time, Main Events has the stage again.
They’re coming pretty strong.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #4 Tomasz Adamek vs. Steve Cunningham II (Saturday, NBC, 4 PM EST/1 PM PST)
While the division in play Saturday is Heavyweight, the legacy is about the division below. In this history of the Cruiserweight division, there are three fights that stand as the gold standard. The first, the crown jewel, remains Evander Holyfield-Dwight Muhammad Qawi I. The second is James Toney-Vasily Jirov. The third is the rematch we get this weekend. Adamek (47-2, 29 KO) bested Cunningham for the IBF belt and the vacant lineal crown in a 2008 classic full of knockdowns, drama, and heavy hitting. They’ve gone different directions since, Adamek moving to successes at Heavyweight and a failed crack at Vitali Klitschko. Cunningham regained, and lost, the IBF crown. Neither is where they were physically then, but they still come to fight and this can’t help but be fireworks as long as it lasts. If the numbers can be comparable to last weekend’s Leo Santa Cruz bout at Bantamweight, boxing’s future gets a little bit brighter.
Pick Solo: Abner Cotto vs. Sergio Perez (Saturday, Telefutura, 11 PM EST/PST)
Getting off the floor in round one last time out, Cotto (15-0, 6 KO) dusted himself off and won a lopsided decision. Now, the cousin three-division champion Miguel Cotto continues his progressions at Lightweight with the veteran Perez (27-13, 18 KO). Perez has rebounded from a three-fight losing streak to win three straight. He isn’t being brought in to make it four in a row. If one finds themselves home on Saturday, there are worse places to leave the dial.
Pick Japan: #8 Malcolm Tunacao vs. #9 Christian Esquivel (Saturday, Japan, ?)
This is Saturday is the week’s YouTube special. Tunacao (31-2, 19 KO) is a former WBC and lineal Flyweight champion. He is the answer to the question, “Who did Pongsaklek Wonjongkam defeat to begin his statistically impressive run at Flyweight?” That loss, a first round stop in 2001, was the last time the Filipino had a title fight. If he wins this weekend, he’s in line for a shot at current WBC Bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka. Esquivel (25-3, 18 KO) knows Yamanaka already, having been stopped by the excellent Japanese battler for the then-vacant belt in 2011. Tunacao has lost only once since Wonjongkam, via majority decision in 2007, and has won ten straight. Esquivel has lost only to Yamanaka in 15 starts since a stoppage defeat in 2008. Former WBC Bantamweight and Featherweight titlist Hozumi Hasegawa (30-4, 13 KO) goes to scratch in the semi.
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]