By Cliff Rold
Somebody is getting knocked out this week.
Somebody might be getting knocked out for most of the week. Already on Monday, former Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. continued his development with a stoppage. From Wednesday to Saturday, several contests will feature big punchers with big chances to end the night early. Among them, super Lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo will be in action on UniMas (12 AM EST/11 PM PST) on Saturday. Friday night features an interesting Jr. Bantamweight clash between Daniel Lozano and Jonathan Vidal (Telemundo, 11:35 PM EST).
Then there’s the really good stuff.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #10 Hasan N’Dam N’Jikam vs. Curtis Stevens (Wednesday, ESPN2, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
The winner of this Middleweight clash will be in line for a crack at the winner of Sam Soliman-Jermain Taylor later this month. That’s not what makes this so much fun. This fight is fun because it looks like a genuine fight with plenty of style clash and certain drama. N’Jikam (30-1, 18 KO) is the better boxer and showed, in coming off the floor six times against Peter Quillin to make it to the finish, he has tremendous character. Stevens (27-4, 20 KO) is all puncher. He’s not deep on resume but his pop is for real. N’Jikam has the skill to outbox him and the will to get up. Does Stevens have the power to put him down and keep him there? This is the easy pick of the week.
Pick Big Names: #1 Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Jorge Arce (Saturday, BeIn Sports Espanol, 11 PM EST/8 PM PST)
This is a clash of branded fighters that may end up a dud. That one of them has shown shaky whiskers adds a hint of drama. Gonzalez (56-8, 47 KO), a titlist in two weight classes, defends his Featherweight title against a Jorge Arce (64-7-2, 49 KO) trying to capture gold in his fifth weight class. Previously, Arce won major titles at 108 (lineal), 115, 118, and 122 (his interim belt at Flyweight doesn’t count). Gonzalez has been stopped three times, one of those to the body. He’s been down plenty besides. That will have some seeing Arce with a puncher’s chance. How slim is that chance? We’ll find out Saturday. Gonzalez is no Angky Angkota. The Jr. Lightweight co-feature, veteran Celestino Caballero (37-5, 24 KO) against Adrian Estrella (18-0, 17 KO), could be an explosive show stealer.
Pick Three: Showtime Tripleheader (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST/ PST)
This Al Haymon special doesn’t look like great shakes going in but there are two fights that might be interesting. In the main event, Jr. Lightweight titlist Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 12 KO) defends against veteran Fernando Saucedo (52-5-3, 8 KO). The best fight of the night on paper comes at Jr. Middleweight. Former Olympian Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 KO) might be fighting for his career against comer Willie Nelson (23-1-1, 13 KO). That’s the fight that makes this a tune in event.
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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]