While most eyes in the boxing world will be firmly upon the in-ring return of uncrowned heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko when he faces Tony Thompson this Saturday, it's a pretty busy weekend all around the sport.
IBF junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis (26-1-2, 20 KO, pictured) will face Glenn Donaire (17-3-1, 9 KO) in Hermosillo, Mexico. Solis has held the title since March 2006, when he defeated Eric Ortiz. He has defended successfully against Omar Salado (a draw), Will Grigsby, Jose Antonio Aguirre, Rodel Mayol (excellent scrap) and Bert Batawang.
Donaire, 28, is going to be a pretty big underdog, and deservedly so. While Solis is a fringe pound-for-pound guy with lots of grit and good skills, Donaire is best known for being the avenged brother of flyweight titleholder Nonito Donaire. Glenn fought and was obliterated by Vic Darchinyan in 2006. He has been woefully inactive, fighting just once since then, and he had even been out for 15 months before fighting Darchinyan.
The headliner that night on Azteca America will pit Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (36-0-1, 29 KO) against journeyman Matt Vanda (38-6, 21 KO), who once beat Yory Boy Campas, and...that's about it. It's just another KO to add to Chavez's record, as the 22-year old pads away. The way he's going, he'll reach 40 wins before facing anyone of real consequence. At the same time, you have to admire the work ethic and dedication.
On Friday in Montreal, Joachim Alcine (30-0, 19 KO) will make his second defense of the WBA junior middleweight title when he takes on former WBO junior middleweight and welterweight titleholder Daniel Santos (31-3-1, 22 KO), who twice fought Antonio Margarito with no definitive conclusion either time (first bout was a one-round no contest, the second affair a technical decision win for Santos that came as a result of cuts in a close fight).
The 32-year old Santos would seem like he's getting his last shot at a younger man, but Alcine is 32, as well. It's just that Santos was winning world titles in 1999, while Alcine was getting in his first three pro fights that year. This is a pick'em fight if you ask me; if Santos shows up in good shape and fights to the best of his ability, Alcine will more than have his hands full.
On the undercard at Uniprix Stadium, Alex Bunema (29-5-2, 15 KO) will finally get back in the ring after his January upset of Roman Karmazin on the undercard of Jones-Trinidad, a 10th round TKO that served as the year's first real upset. Bunema will face powerful/vulnerable Walter Matthysse (26-3, 25 KO), a slugger who has been knocked out in three of his last four fights, losing most recently to Sebastian Lujan (who will be fighting Jose Luis Castilo on July 30). He was also dropped by Paul Williams, and most sensationally by Kermit Cintron. It will be for a regional WBA title at 154 pounds, meaning Matthysse is stepping up from welterweight for the first time.
The good thing about a Walter Matthysse fight, though, is someone is getting knocked out. Even though Bunema isn't the biggest puncher, I expect it will again be Walter that goes down.
This week's Friday Night Fights has an odd main event, as former WBC 175-pound champion and current IBF No. 1 cruiserweight contender Tomasz Adamek (34-1, 23 KO) returns to his "American hometown" of Chicago to take on tomato can Gary Gomez (18-9, 7 KO). Adamek has come back strong since being wailed on last year by Chad Dawson, as he beat O'Neil Bell into quitting in April in Poland, a fight that was broadcast on ESPN Classic, something I wish would become more of a regular feature. What are we missing out on? Another re-run of a Hideo Nomo no-hitter?
It's a weak main event and there's nothing good on the undercard, either, but I'm considering staying in on Friday to catch Adamek fight simply because I like him.