Lower your expectations, people. It’s been that kind of a year for boxing fans. Can’t have Andre Ward vs. Lucian Bute? Settle for Carl Froch. Can’t have Carl Froch vs. Lucian Bute on Showtime? Settle for Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright. Yes, you read that correctly. And no, you have not time travelled to the year 2004. Apart from Tarver and Wright facing Lateef Kayode and Peter Quillin, respectively, we’ll also see Leo Santa Cruz and Delvin Rodriguez in action on Showtime on Saturday. Gabe Rosado fights Sechew Powell on NBC Sports on Friday night and there are lots of other things happening, mostly in the very low weight classes.
Antonio Tarver vs. Lateef Kayode and undercard, Saturday, Showtime, Carson Calif. To me, Showtime’s big show is pretty "meh." You’ve got four fights, none of which offer much in terms of significance and only one of which promises high-level action. Heading the bill is cruiserweight veteran and sometime Showtime announcer Antonio Tarver against Freddie Roach-trained up-and-comer Lateef Kayode. Nigeria’s Kayode (18-0) has been billed as a big puncher, but his knockouts have dried up as he’s stepped up in competition – he hasn’t finished inside the distance since 2010. Apart from his supposed power, Kayode doesn’t look to have very much going on. He’s quite raw, with poor footwork and middling defense. He hasn’t done anything to warrant a spot at the top of a Saturday night Showtime bill and I expect that Tarver (29-6), old as he is at 43, will just be way too much for the young man with his more precise lefty boxing.
Peter Quillin vs. Winky Wright. I’m no boxing promoter, but I wouldn’t have thought that getting a hot young middleweight prospect like “Kid Chocolate” Quillin to face a frustrating but probably done-for veteran like Winky Wright will achieve much. If Wright (51-5-1) has his moments, everyone will poo poo Quillin. If Quillin (26-0) starches Winky, everybody will say, “So what?” Based on his inactivity and his last showing against Paul Williams, I wouldn’t expect Winky to bring much to the table. Still, against a relatively inexperienced guy like Quillin you can count on the defensive-minded Florida resident to make it awkward and probably boring. Yay.
Ausin Trout vs. Delvin Rodriguez. This is the fight that you should be looking forward to. Junior middleweight Rodriguez (26-5-3), who’s had a patchy career, is coming out of two of the best fights of 2011, an action packed draw and a clear victory over Polish pressure machine Pawel Wolak. The Dominican family man has caught some tough breaks over the years but he’s always had the tools to succeed and seems to finally have everything dialed in. Standing in his way is the energetic up and coming New Mexican Austin Trout (24-0). Both of these men are smart and likeable. They both tend to be in action fights. There’s a lot at stake here and a title on the line, so you can expect them both to bring their best. I doubt Trout’s unconventional southpaw style will bother Rodriguez too much and I think that the Connecticut resident is the harder puncher. Trout relies on his in and out movement a lot for defense, but Rodriguez should be able to find him with his right hand. This may well end up being a contest between Trout’s activity and Rodriguez’ clean punching in a barnburner.
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Vusi Malinga. Lots of people are very high on Mexican American bantamweight prospect Santa Cruz (19-0). I’m not one of them. When I saw him last year on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs. Kermit Cintron he seemed ponderous, and that was against a guy in his second pro fight. To be fair, maybe “Teremoto” is just patient – admittedly I only saw him for three rounds. He’s in against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga (20-3-1), a weird looking southpaw who was knocked out by Hozumi Hasegawa two fights ago. It’s kind of hard to gauge how good he actually his, since most of his fights have taken place in South Africa. It’s safe to say that he’ll be the best opponent that Santa Cruz has faced. Maybe he’ll bring out the best in him.
Sakio Bika vs. Dyah Davis. While this fight isn’t technically on the Showtime broadcast, Showtime Extreme will be showing the rest of the undercard (really, four fights isn’t enough for you?). This is the highlight, pitting super middleweight Cameroonian Australian hardman Bika (25-5-2) against prospect Davis (21-2-1). Davis has been looking for a break out performance on the comeback trail from a 2010 loss to Aaron Pryor Jr. and he could hardly have chosen a tougher opponent than the scrappy, slappy, dirty Australian. This probably won’t be pretty to watch, but it will tell us a lot about what Davis is made of.
Gabriel Rosado vs. Sechew Powell, Friday, NBC Sports Net, Bethlehem Pa. Not an outstanding fight for NBC Sports, but solid filler for a series that, so far, is doing very well with its limited budget. Philadelphia’s Rosado (19-5) is somewhat like Delvin Rodriguez in that he’s caught some tough breaks in his career, but seemed to find his groove in his last fight out, becoming the first person to stop Jesus Soto-Karass. In that fight he looked like a huge junior middleweight and outboxed and outbullied the Mexican warrior. On Friday he’s drawn Sechew Powell (26-4), a fringe contender coming off two losses. The Brooklyn southpaw can box a little as well as bite down and brawl, but a motivated Rosado might walk right through him.
The Rest. Top ten light heavyweight Beibut Shumenov (12-1) stays busy against veteran trial horse Enrique Ornelas (33-7) in Las Vegas, broadcast on Fox Sports Net, on Saturday night… On Saturday on TeleFutura perennially underachieving junior lightweight Rocky Juarez (28-9-1) faces Andrew Cancio (13-1-2)… In Tijuana Saturday night top strawweight Moises Fuentes (14-1) faces Julio Cesar Felix (17-3-0)… Friday night brings cards featuring Israel Vazquez (not the one you’re thinking of) and various others on WAPA America and gofightlive.tv… Saturday brings another new episode of 24/7 for Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley, featuring Bradley’s strange charisma and the usual Pacquiao nonsense.