by Cliff Rold
There is something to be said for a week full of really interesting fights that all fly a hair below the mega-show radar.
There is something to be said for the week at hand.
Fans of the Light Heavyweight division will have their fill of action. So will fans of former Lightweight titlist Juan Diaz. Still only 29, Diaz (36-4, 18 KO) makes the second start of his comeback against Adailton De Jesus (30-7, 24 KO). It’s not one of the picks to be found below, but it’s there for fans of Diaz Saturday on UniMas (12 AM EST/11 PM PST).
It’s too bad it’s on against two better shows.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Takashi Miura vs. Sergio Thompson (Saturday, Fox Deportes, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
All of the attention for Saturday will likely go to the HBO show, and it’s solid. This, though, looks like potentially the best fight of the week. Miura (25-2-2, 19 KO), the current WBC titlist at 130 lbs., makes his first defense of the crown he lifted by knockout from Gamaliel Diaz in April. Miura’s only loss since 2007 was a title shot against the outstanding Takashi Uchiyama. Will Thompson (27-2, 25 KO) reach the next level at his expense? Thompson is a pair of nail biting decisions from undefeated and exploded into the ranks of contenders with a stoppage of Jorge Linares last year. The power is real. Is Thompson enough total package to win his first belt?
Pick HBO Double: Geale-Barker/Cleverly-Kovalev (Saturday, HBO, 9:45 PM EST/PST)
A split-site double header marks the latest edition of “Boxing After Dark” and both fights have their intrigue. One stands out more than the other. The UK’s WBO 175 lb. titlist Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO) has shown real world-class skill and been developed well. He hasn’t seen a monster puncher like this yet though and his home turf advantage will only help so much. Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO) has a deep amateur background, range, and hammers in his gloves. This is just an excellent match. The middleweight main event from the US pits IBF titlist Daniel Geale (29-1, 15 KO) against a Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KO) best known for losing tough against the real Middleweight king Sergio Martinez. It was never clear what he did to earn a crack at Martinez, but that knockout loss made him viable for another title shot. Sometimes, there are good beatings.
Pick Deuce: Andrzej Fonfara vs. Gabriel Campillo (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Before arriving at the top ten Light Heavyweight showdown between Cleverly and Kovalev, warm up with another of the same. Campillo (22-5-1, 9 KO) is familiar with Kovalev, having been knocked silly by him in January. With one rehab assignment under his belt, the former WBA Light Heavyweight titlist faces the streaking Polish product Fonfara (23-2, 13 KO) on what has become Fonfara’s home turf: Chicago. The Windy City has a great fight history and Fonfara can become part of it. He hasn’t lost since a 2008 knockout to Derrick Findley, unbeaten in 14 starts with wins over former beltholders Byron Mitchell and Glen Johnson last year. Sure, Mitchell and Johnson were long in the tooth; Campillo might be getting there. Still, beating yesterday’s guys in pursuit of becoming the man of today is just boxing tradition. Fonfara is closing in on a title shot.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]