by Cliff Rold
Sometimes, it’s easy to miss how lucky fight fans are in 2014.
There was a time when much of the world’s action was, at best, read about the day after in the morning news. At worst, an accurate description of title fight action in smaller weight classes or foreign lands waited a couple of months for a new Ring Magazine.
It’s different now.
In 2014, there can be half dozen or more cards on the same day, in multiple languages, across all sorts of weight classes. Two decades ago, it is likely only a dedicated tape trader would have seen this Saturday’s best fight.
Thanks to HD cable and the gift of options, US fans will see it unfold as it happens. Anyone looking for the Showtime card in this corner this week can look elsewhere. If that network thinks it’s ‘compromise’ card is ok, great.
No need to compromise here.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #1 Katsunari Takayama vs. #6 Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (Saturday, BeIn Espanol, 11 PM EST)
It’s unification at 105 lbs. as Japan’s Takayama (27-6, 10 KO) puts his IBF belt up against the WBO titlist Rodriguez (14-2, 10 KO) in Rodriguez’s native Mexico. Takayama, after coming up the bridesmaid in several attempts at a second title came up with long sought victory over Mario Rodriguez in 2013, also in Mexico. He knows he can get a nod on the road. Rodriguez upset undefeated Merlito Sabillo in his last fight and is obviously getting a show of faith from his handlers in his first title defense. This has the ingredients of a fierce battle and should more than satisfy cravings for violence among the fistic faithful.
Pick Heavy: Glazkov and Parker (Saturday, NBC Sports, 8 PM EST/5 PM PST)
Heavyweight’s new wave will continue it’s evolution this weekend as rising contender Vyacheslav Glazkov (17-0-1, 11 KO) and interesting prospect Joseph Parker (9-0, 8 KO) both see action. Parker might be the more intriguing. The New Zealand-based banger is only 22, has fast hands, and comes to get some. Nothing is given, but he looks like one of the the most exciting new faces on the scene in a long time. Opponent Keith Thompson (7-2, 4 KO) should add to a growing highlight reel. Glazkov stays busy with veteran Derric Rossy (29-8, 14 KO).
Pick a Highwayman: Willie Nelson vs. Luis Grajeda (Friday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
This might not be super competitive but Nelson (22-1-1, 13 KO) is entertaining and a rising force in boxing’s most deeply competitive area of the scale. Welterweight/Jr. Middleweight is a minefield. Nelson fights in the higher class with eyes toward the bright future. Grajeda (17-2-2, 13 KO) should give him some rounds.
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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]