by Cliff Rold
What a weekend it was. From an ESPN2 show that looked more, or at least as, big time as any premium network broadcast through the wee hours broadcast on Fox Deportes, fans were treated to one good fight after another.
This could be a similar run.
We’ve already had a highlight reel knockout win for feel-good story Daniel Jacobs on the Fox Sports1 boxing debut on Monday night. Three more televised shows await US audiences, including a look at rising Middleweight Gilberto Ramirez (25-0, 20 KO) on UniMas (Saturday 12 AM EST/11 PM PST). An additional show overseas steals the spot on the list below.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Mares-Gonzalez & Santa Cruz-Terrazas (Saturday, Showtime, 10:30 PM EST/7:30 PM PST)
It might be intended as a commercial for a future showdown, but there is plenty of risk in getting to the intended finish line. Golden Boy, and the fighters involved, are not hiding the ideal endgame: Abner Mares-Leo Santa Cruz. Before we can get there, both men have tough outs in front of them. Mares (26-0-1, 14 KO), making his first defense of a third divisional title at Featherweight, gets a former Bantamweight and Featherweight titlist in Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 36 KO). In support, Santa Cruz attempts to win his second divisional belt, rising from Bantamweight to challenge 122 lb. titlist Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KO). Terrazas was lucky to get the decision for his title over Cristian Mijares. He’ll be luckier to survive the fearsome Santa Cruz. Both fights should have drama.
Pick Heavy: Tony Thompson vs. Kubrat Pulev (Saturday, Germany, ?)
While this scribe is unaware of an US TV for this one currently, it’s still must find stuff for at least a late YouTube search. A critical clash of quality top ten Heavyweights, Thompson (38-3, 26 KO) is back only six weeks removed from a second knockout win over David Price. That was no easy feat, Thompson coming off the floor for the victory. Will he be worn or sharp compared to a Pulev (17-0, 9 KO) who has been inactive since last September? There are some who think Pulev might be the next man in class. He’ll need to be the first man not named Wladimir Klitschko to beat Thompson in over a decade to make that buzz matter.
Pick Deuce: Argenis Mendez vs. Arash Usmanee (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
One week after a spectacular show that saw three all out wars, ESPN2 closes their year with a solid major title fight. Mendez (21-2, 11 KO) makes his first defense of the IBF 130 lb. title and remains an enigma. There are moments of sheer brilliance in his game, peppered with seeming freezes. Only 27, he has won three straight and looked sensational winning a title from rugged Juan Carlos Salgado. If his hot streak is simply a case of a fighter putting it all together in time for his physical prime, Usmanee (20-1, 10 KO) could have a long night. Then again, the tough Usmanee should still be undefeated. Maybe he’s ready to put it all together too. Could this be a special finish to the Friday Night Fight season?
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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]