The boxing bits tickling our pickles this month…
I’m looking forward to seeing “Bulletproof” Kirk Goodings against TBA in Houghton-le-Spring on April 19. Goodings (junior welterweight) is always great value. I witnessed him get knocked out for nine seconds a couple years back against Lee Jennings, only to jump up Bruce Seldon-style at the last breath and then set fire to the Liverpool man. Cultured Co. Durham southpaw Martin Ward goes for the British bantamweight title on April 27 against Bristol’s Lee Haskins. Haskins was recently involved in a sleeper hit against Belgian menace Stephane Jamoye and so will likely be a tough nut to crack. On the same evening in Sheffield, junior welterweight Amir Khan takes on Mexican Julio Diaz and there’s plenty going on beneath that one, including a heavyweight battle you won’t be able to take your eyes off in Deontay Wilder and Audley Harrison. If you like watching canned shoots, that is.
We're in a real nice stretch of boxing right now, so it's hard to pick a favorite in April. It comes down to Nonito Donaire defending his junior featherweight championship against top contender Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13 or Saul Alvarez vs. Austin Trout at junior middleweight on April 20, for me. Donaire-Rigo is ultra-high level stuff, but I'm a little more intrigued by Alvarez-Trout because it's such a huge step up for Canelo, a massive star who has nonetheless beaten middling-to-awful competition. If he can defeat Trout, I will be genuinely salivating for Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather. And I don't remember the last Mayweather fight I felt that way about.
As Tim said, we're entering a really nice stretch of boxing. It's nice to be spoiled for choice, rather than having to pick something obscure (my pick of Sonny Bill Williams vs. Francois Botha in February shall forever live in infamy).This weekend's fights in Macau on HBO2 should be a great way to kick everything off. Not so much Zou Shiming's main event, but the support bouts featuring some great lower weight class fighters. Flyweights Brian Viloria and Juan Francisco Estrada will bring the noise, guaranteed. At this point, Viloria is can't miss TV and Estrada should provide enough pressure to make "The Hawaiian Punch" shine. Also looking forward to seeing how junior lightweight Diego Magdaleno handles a real contender in Rocky Martinez. The Magdalano brothers have been some of the most frustratingly slowly moved prospects in the sport, so this should be a satisfying release, so to speak.
Much of my interest in April comes down to fanaticism, or ex-fanaticism, in a way, as former lightweight almost-champion/true champion/who knows?, Juan Diaz, returns to face a safe opponent in Pipino Cuevas, Jr. It's not that this Jr. has much -- his record in his last 10 bouts is 3-7, all losses by stoppage -- but I have to think Diaz will step right back into the ring throwing as many punches as he can. And for that reason, I was always fond of him, though I'm not 100% sure about this comeback attempt. Also stepping back into the ring is featherweight Javier Fortuna, who was one of TQBR's top prospects from 2012, although he's taking on the fairly unknown Miguel Zamudio, who is yet to fight 12 rounds, or outside of Mexico. Thus far Fortuna has looked solid, but with a few holes in his game. He can punch some, though, so it should be interesting to see how he's progressing.