Showtime closes out a terrific year of boxing with a double-header worth your while and then some on Saturday.
The main event is a 140-pound title clash between Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson, two young, skilled and unbeaten Americans, and in the co-feature, Vic Darchinyan looks to get his groove back against rugged Mexican Tomas Rojas.
In what may be the most important and most relevant fight of a loaded Saturday, Timothy Bradley (24-0, 11 KO) defends his WBO junior welterweight title against Lamont Peterson (27-0, 13 KO). Both are skilled, both are quick, and both are unbeaten.
#1: Level of Opposition
Bradley has taken on and beaten Junior Witter and Kendall Holt, as well as faced Nate Campbell in August in a fight that resulted in a no-contest, with Bradley taking the veteran to the woodshed. Peterson's toughest opponents just cannot compare. He beat tough guy Lanardo Tyner last November, and outclassed celebrated French amateur Willy Blain in his lone fight of 2009, which took place in April. Tyner and Blain simply don't stack up to Witter (even faded) and Holt. Bradley also has a win over Miguel Vazquez.
Bradley is quite short at 5'6", but his 69" reach helps make up for it, as does his pure skill. But Peterson is no slouch in the talent department either, and he'll have three inches of height and a full five-inch reach advantage on Saturday. Bradley is going to have to get inside on Peterson, or Lamont will be happy to box from the outside.
This could really end up being a terrific fight if Peterson chooses or is forced to engage seriously with Bradley. Bradley is a skilled boxer, but has some of that spark to him; he enjoys a good mix-up, and he handles them well to boot. His underrated battle with Holt from earlier this year saw him get up off the canvas to win a close, very entertaining bout, so we know he has some resilience, too.
Does Peterson? Will Lamont be able to make this leap in class? My gut says he will, and that he's going to be very competitive on Saturday. In fact, my gut is saying he'll be more than competitive. While Bradley should be favored without question, I've got a feeling he loses his "0" in a very good fight on Saturday. I see Peterson confounding him a bit in the early going with his reach, and being quick and good enough to get out of the way of most of Bradley's eventual charges in. Peterson by decision
Darchinyan returns to the 115-pound weight class with his tail tucked between his legs a bit. After being again positioned as an unbeatable steamroller because he'd started using his amateur skills again, combined with his ruthless, aggressive pro style, Darchinyan met a guy at 118 pounds that wasn't afraid of him. Joseph Agbeko squeezed out a fantastic win in July against Darchinyan, ending Vic's Pain Train -- at least for the time being.
Now Darchinyan -- who will defend the WBC belt he never gave up -- takes on another Mexican fighter, Tomas Rojas. Darchinyan has become semi-famous for his liberal trash talking of many Mexican opponents, and for beating them. He demolished Jorge Arce, Cristian Mijares, Victor Burgos and Luis Maldonado when he met them in the ring, and now Rojas says he's fighting for his country's pride.
Don't count out Rojas, a tough veteran who took a fight on October 24 with then-unbeaten South African Evans Mbamba and won. That was a good win, too. Mbamba is no joke. Rojas, 29, will have height (3") and reach (2 1/2") on his side. And though Rojas has suffered 11 pro losses, almost all of them have come against good fighters, and he's only been stopped one time, by Arce in 2007.
That said, and as much as I don't want to downplay Rojas as a fairly tough challenge and a perfectly credible bounce-back fight for Vic, I don't see Tomas having much of a chance to come out with his hand raised. Darchinyan plans to not fight as "stupidly" as he did against Agbeko, which is bad news for Rojas and for most guys, really. Darchinyan beat himself against Joseph Agbeko, and that gives full credit to how good Agbeko is. I'm not sure Rojas is good enough for Darchinyan to fight so poorly that he does beat himself. Darchinyan TKO-7