The early parts of the 2009 American TV boxing schedule are starting to come together, with HBO, Showtime and ESPN all lining up a notable series of fights.
January 17: Andre Berto v. Luis Collazo for Berto's WBC welterweight title
January 24: Antonio Margarito v. Shane Mosley for Margarito's WBA welterweight title
February 14: Ricardo Mayorga v. Alfredo Angulo ... Nate Campbell v. Ali Funeka for Campbell's IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles
February 28: Juan Manuel Marquez v. Juan Diaz for Marquez's Ring Magazine world lightweight championship
March 14: Chad Dawson v. Antonio Tarver in a rematch for Dawson's IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles
May 2 (PPV): Ricky Hatton v. Manny Pacquiao for Hatton's Ring Magazine world junior welterweight championship (rumored)
HBO's got some nice, big fights going on early in the year, my favorite of which is, predictably, Hatton-Pacquiao should that one come through, but really that's in the second quarter of the year. Other than that one, I like Marquez-Diaz the best, a hair ahead of Margarito-Mosley. Both are real deal big fights. The February 14 card is very interesting, as I think Mayorga stands a really good chance against the tough but still inexperienced Angulo, and Funeka's size is going to be tough on Campbell. Berto-Collazo is a nice step-up fight but doesn't get me excited, and the Dawson-Tarver rematch is pointless.
January 16: Leonilo Miranda v. Orland Cruz
February 7: Vic Darchinyan v. Jorge Arce for Darchinyan's WBC, WBA and IBF junior bantamweight titles ... Antonio DeMarco v. Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov
April 4: Timothy Bradley v. Kendall Holt for Bradley's WBC and Holt's WBO junior welterweight titles
Not much so far for Showtime, but Darchinyan-Arce has been desired for a long time now, and Bradley-Holt is a good-looking unification. I really like both fights, and the latter is one I can't really wager a guess on at all yet. It could play out for either man.
January 9: Yuriorkis Gamboa v. Roger Gonzalez ... Odlanier Solis v. Owen Beck
January 16: Carlos Quintana v. Eromosele Albert ... James McGirt, Jr. v. Angel Hernandez
January 30: Herman Ngoudjo v. Juan Urango for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title
February 6: Chris Henry v. Yusaf Mack ... Fernando Guerrero v. Gabriel Rosado
February 27: Glen Johnson v. TBA
March 6: Isaac Hlatshwayo v. Delvin Rodriguez in a rematch, serving as an IBF welterweight eliminator
Scaled back to just Friday Night Fights now, ESPN has a series of intriguing fights lined up. It's always fun to see Gamboa fight. Quintana-Albert could be competitive, and I'm glad Quintana isn't just disappearing. Ngoudjo-Urango is no Bradley-Holt, but they're top 10 guys at 140. Henry-Mack should be a slugfest worth watching, Glen Johnson will hopefully get a breathing opponent that tries to fight back, and the Hlatshwayo-Rodriguez rematch is nice wrangling by the network.
There's also the February 21 split-site, double main event, Top Rank-produced pay-per-view, with Kelly Pavlik defending the middleweight championship against gritty, hard-punching Marco Antonio Rubio, and Miguel Cotto returning to the ring against Michael Jennings for the vacant WBO welterweight title. HBO passed on that card, perhaps worrying about the salaries of the fighters in comparison to the fights being presented, but that seems odd considering they gave us Pavlik against Gary Lockett and Cotto against Alfonso Gomez last year.
You'll also notice that HBO has nothing scheduled for PPV except Hatton-Pacquiao should that get signed. Good thinkin'.