by Cliff Rold
For the second week in a row, talent with question marks means big intrigue. Boxing doesn’t have to provide a super event every week.
It can provide a good fight anytime the premium networks are doling out. Last week, we got three good scraps (one borderline great) on just a single network. What gems could arise across the dial in the next few days?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: Terrence Crawford vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (Saturday, HBO, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
Just like Lomachenko-Russell a week ago, fans have a match of two terrifically talented fighters with no clear favorite. It’s the best kind of coin flip between men with matching records of 23-0 and 16 KO’s. Gamboa, a titlist at Featherweight and former interim titlist at 130 and 135 lbs., is the more experienced of the two. He’s also the more naturally blessed in terms of raw talent. With only two fights since 2011, a full year off, and a history of defensive breakdowns, he is likely not the more polished. That would appear to be Crawford, attempting his first defense of the WBO Lightweight belt in front of a hometown crowd in Omaha, Nebraska. With a height and seeming temperament advantage, will this be Crawford’s full emergence as a force? Or is way too much of the boxing world sleeping on Gamboa? We find out Saturday.
Pick Future: Errol Spence vs. Ronald Cruz (Friday, Showtime, 9:25 PM EST/PST)
America’s brightest prospect might be Welterweight Errol Spence (12-0, 10 KO) and he gets center stage on this early edition of ShoBox. At 24, the 2012 Olympian is progressing nicely and makes a step up this weekend against the veteran Cruz (20-3, 15 KO). It’s a manageable fight, as it should be, but also one that sees him moving. Also on the card, Middleweight Dominic Wade (15-0, 11 KO) faces Nick Brinson (16-1-2, 6 KO) in a step up of his own. Also 24, could we one day see Spence and Wade facing each other? One never knows what seeds are being planted on shows like this.
Pick Border War: Ivan Redkach vs. Sergey Gulyakevich (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Boxing can sometimes be at its best with ethnic angles and this has a good one: the Ukrainian Redkach (16-0, 13 KO) versus the Belarusian Gulyakevich (41-2, 17 KO). Redkach has never lost. Gulyakevich has won fifteen straight since a decision loss in 2009 and never been stopped. This is a solid Lightweight class on a weekend where the division gets some more of the air it’s been deprived of for a little too long now.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]