By Cliff Rold
With the glut of pay-per-view in recent months, it’s hard to say how big this Saturday’s big card will be.
We know it’s good.
Barring a return to the division by lineal king Floyd Mayweather, something that looks unlikely for the moment, this week we have a clash of the two best active Jr. Middleweights in the world. With that clash comes a healthy dose of political intrigue. Golden Boy Promotions has a lot at stake this weekend.
They’ll certainly get plenty of preview time with three televised cards in the US prior to Saturday night.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #1 Erislandy Lara vs. #2 Saul Alvarez (Saturday, Showtime PPV, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
If this fight gets to the cards, what happens? That’s a huge question looming over this fight that has less to do with what goes on in the ring and more what goes on outside it. Canelo Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KO) is the draw. Lara (19-1-2, 12 KO) is with Al Haymon. Given all the Golden Boy drama these days, one of those might mean something before the first punch is thrown. Let’s hope not. In the ring, this is a compelling affair. Lara is something in between the Austin Trout who validated Alvarez and the Mayweather who showed how far he has to go. In Alvarez, Lara has the opponent his career has always needed and a chance to have his “Rigondeaux-Donaire” moment, joining his countryman with the elite. The undercard is less than spectacular but the addition of Bantamweight titlist Tomoki Kameda (29-0, 18 KO) against Pungluang Sor Singyu (46-2, 31 KO) for free on Showtime prior to the pay card is good news. It might be the best fight of the night.
Pick Rematch: #4 Argenis Mendez vs. #5 Rances Barthelemy (Thursday, FS1, 10 PM EST/PST)
Their first fight looked like a rout, Cuba’s Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KO) laying it on the WBA 130 lb. titlist Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KO) with two knockdowns in round two. An errant shot after the bell reversed the TKO win to a “No Contest” and they do it again. If Mendez was struggling with weight the first time, is the problem solved for the second? Has Barthelemy arrived? It could be interesting. When he’s good, Mendez can look special but he has those nights. Their first fight was one of them. One night prior, FoxSports 1 will also have fighting action at the same time with veteran Alfonso Gomez (23-6-2, 12 KO) facing Ed Paredes (35-3-1, 23 KO) in the main event.
Pick Middle: Tureano Johnson vs. Mike Gavronski (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Johnson (14-1, 10 KO) got the business last time around. In a fight he appeared to be winning against Curtis Stevens, and winning wide, Stevens rallied late and got a stoppage in one of the lesser calls of the year. Maybe Johnson doesn’t survive, but it would have been nice to find out. He surely didn’t look done. Now he gets an undefeated Gavronski (14-0-1, 10 KO) who is making a big step up in class here. Could there be fireworks? If not, there will be a Lara-Alvarez preview slot anyways.
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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]