by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #1 Oleksandr Usyk vs. #2 Murat Gassiev (Saturday, KlowdTV, 3 PM EST)
The wildly entertaining road to the first World Boxing Super Series final is everything one could have hoped for when the tournament was announced. 2011 World amateur champion, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and unified WBO/WBC cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KO) faces off with IBF/WBA titlist Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KO) for all the marbles.
It’s champion versus champion, Ukraine vs. Russia, to crown a four-belted champion for the second time in a year. This isn’t just the pick of the week for your viewing pleasure. It’s one of the picks of the year and one of the best fights in the roughly forty-year history of the cruiserweight class. US fans will have to purchase on a stream but it’s affordable and a fight worth paying for. Enjoy.
Additional Show to Watch For
Friday – ESPN (7 PM EST): Roach vs. Bassa
Promising 22-year old Jr. lightweight prospect Lamont Roach Jr. (16-0-1, 6 KO) showed he still has room to grow last time out. A draw with veteran Orlando Cruz will have some wondering how high his ceiling might be. Opponent Deivi Bassa (20-4, 12 KO) has been stopped in three of four losses and gives him a good chance to put his lone career blemish behind him.
Friday – TyC (10 PM EST): Veron vs. Aquila
26-year old welterweight Luis Veron (14-0, 7 KO) will continue his development on the Argentine circuit with a step up in his early career. Carlos Aquino (18-4, 13 KO) is probably his most experienced foe to date but was knocked out in two of his previous three fights.
Friday – Showtime (10 PM EST): Ennis vs. Alvarez
21-year old Pennsylvania welterweight Jaron Ennis (20-0, 18 KO) headlines what should be an entertaining ShoBox tripleheader. This is the sort of main event that ShoBox should be all about. Ennis faces undefeated Armando Alvarez (18-0, 12 KO) and one man walks away a step closer to serious contention.
Friday – Telemundo (11:35 PM EST): Gonzalez vs. Yedras
This late night Friday clash at flyweight could have an impact on the title picture down the road. Jonathan Gonzalez (20-2-1, 12 KO) is rated #8 by the WBO and WBO regional title is on the line against Julian Yedras (24-3, 13 KO). Yedras, a former title challenger at 105 lbs., is coming off consecutive losses. Gonzalez has won two straight since being stopped by Joebert Alvarez.
Saturday – HBO (10 PM EST): #5 Munguia vs. #10 Smith
HBO hasn’t had a banner year but this could be a solid doubleheader, headlined by a fighter with the style to give them a new star to build on. Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KO) had buzz before winning the WBO crown at 154 lbs. from Sadam Ali but that star making performance built plenty more interest. Now he takes his first challenger in the form of former divisional titlist Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KO). Smith’s only loss is to Canelo Alvarez. Also on the show, the WBA belt at 130 lbs. is the stake when WBA titlist Alberto Machado (19-0, 16 KO) defends against Rafael Mensah (31-0, 23 KO). Normally when the WBA has a ‘super’ titlist, the deference is to that as the WBA’s ‘real’ champ but this is a case where a double take is in order. Machado beat Jezreel Corrales who beat Takashi Uchiyama when he was one of the sports longest reigning champs (and the super champ to boot). It’s a headache.
Saturday – TyC (10 PM EST): Acosta vs. Lemos
22-year old lightweight Gustavo Lemos (16-0, 7 KO) might be a contender someday. Opponents like Miguel Acosta (12-6-1, 1 KO) won’t make him one but they are there for young hopefuls to cut their teeth on.
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]