Fight Previews: Pavlik-Espino and the rest of Latin Fury

Tumblr_ktfduwndqz1qa3oe1o1_500_medium With my having a previous obligation (Christmas party) on Saturday, this is the first Saturday in a while where we won't have any round-by-round coverage, at least unless Brick or somebody orders this show and gets a post up.

But still, this card has generated a little bit of talk. Part of it has been T.K. Stewart reporting the trouble they're having selling tickets in Youngstown for a December 19 show, which makes all kinds of sense. This is the best way to put it, and it's in T.K.'s article:

A local resident and self-professed Kelly Pavlik supporter e-mailed the following to to me Tuesday morning:

"The last fight with Rubio that was at the Chevy Centre, the cheap seats sold out in about 20 minutes. Right now, if you wanted to, you could get an entire row of seats anywhere you want in the entire arena. I think working people (the ones that still have a job) here in the Mahoning Valley have had a choice to make with this fight. Do they spend their hard-earned money on fight tickets or on their families? Nothing against Kelly Pavlik - AT ALL - but I think that’s the choice that a lot of people had to make."

And then there's the outrage that this show is on pay-per-view and not HBO, Showtime, ESPN2 or Versus. I really hate when boxing fans so loudly make this an issue, because it boils down to some really simple stuff that you cannot simply ignore:

  • Neither HBO nor Showtime were taking this show. Period. They weren't paying for Pavlik-Espino. They wouldn't pay for Pavlik-Rubio, which was a much better fight. Rubio was at least top ten in the division at the time. Promoters don't just call up the network and say, "Hey, we're gonna need 9 to 11 on the 19th. OK, bye."
  • ESPN2 and Versus can't afford this show. Bob Arum stands to make more money on the PPV at $40 a pop than he does with the meager cash those networks have on hand for boxing. And besides, Versus just blew their wad on that Hopkins snoozer, and ESPN isn't in boxing season until January.
  • So you're left with an option: Pay-per-view. It's $40 to watch this show if you're that bored, that loaded (you can take this to mean "rich" or "drunk"), or that interested. Otherwise, whatever, you don't see this one. This is as good as it was getting. If the show is that bad (and you can reasonably argue that it is), just don't buy it. What are you missing?

But beyond all that, there are four fights on the PPV Saturday, and here's a quick look at each of them.

Middleweight Championship: Kelly Pavlik v. Miguel Espino

To be quite brutally honest, if Kelly Pavlik loses this fight, he's finished at the top level. That's how easy a matchup this should be. Espino is no better than the gatekeepers Pavlik smashed on the way up, the likes of Jose Luis Zertuche or Bronco McKart, and we saw what happened to them.

Espino is a pathetic challenger for the world's legit middleweight champ. I'm not trying to disrespect Espino, but it's a fact. His record is empty, he's never come close to this level, and he's not a fitting challenge. Pavlik's people could have found any number of better challengers who also had no risk. Espino goes BEYOND being without risk; this is a fight so lopsided on paper that it will make Pavlik look bad, honestly, if he doesn't get him out of there within six rounds.

Espino is small at a listed 5'11", doesn't have power (20-2-1, 9 KO), isn't a particularly skilled boxer, and wasn't even on the extended radar at 160 pounds when it came to contenders. If Pavlik is healthy, this won't last long. Watch the 1-2 go! Pavlik TKO-5

Lightweights: Humberto Soto v. Jesus Chavez

I'll get on THIS train: Top Rank should be ashamed for promoting this as a competitive, must-see scrap. Soto (49-7-2, 32 KO) is actually on a really unfortunate career path. There was that point in 2007 where it looked like he was going to land a fight with Manny Pacquiao, but then Marco Antonio Barrera got his spot in a pointless and forgettable rematch nobody much wanted to see. He took a fight in November 2007 with Joan Guzman and lost in a fight Guzman turned into a stinker, and since then he's been mostly running over inferiors.

That won't change Saturday. All respect in the world to Chavez, who was once a terrific fighter. But he's far past his prime and if Soto can handle the jump up to 135 (and he should be fine), he's going to get mauled. Chavez is 0-2 this year with an uncompetitive loss to Michael Katsidis in April and a spirited decision loss to a rusty David Diaz in September. As nice a guy as Diaz is, he's no Humberto Soto. This is an OK name notch on the belt for Humberto, but really nothing more. Soto TKO-9

Interim WBA Bantamweight Title: Nehomar Cermeno v. Alejandro Valdez

Cermeno (18-0, 10 KO) burst into the public eye with an upset win over Cristian Mijares, a disputed decision in March of this year. So they rematched in September. No one complained when Cermeno won that one. Valdez (21-2-3, 15 KO) was beating Fernando Montiel on that same September night on a different card in Mexico, but the fight was stopped and declared a technical draw after three due to a bad cut.

This is easily the most intriguing fight on the card, and it's not THAT intriguing. Personally, I have Cermeno ranked seventh at 118 pounds, with Valdez a bit outside of the top ten. Valdez is tall (5'8 1/2") and long (70") for the weight, and is a southpaw to boot. Cermeno is 30 years old and the Venezuelan (now living in Panama) came so out of nowhere that I tend to think he's due to be exposed a bit. I was never quite as crazy about Mijares as many were, anyway. Valdez UD-12

Junior Middleweights: Willie Lee v. Vanes Martirosyan

I'm starting to get the impression that someone at Top Rank doesn't have a lot of confidence in Martirosyan, who should really be fighting someone better than Lee at this point. Lee holds a tiny trinkey (NABF) and Martirosyan will get to leave the ring with a belt, but isn't it kind of stinky for his prospects that after 25 pro fights, they're actually having him arguably take a step BACK in opponents?

Lee (17-5, 11 KO) has been knocked out four times. The guys that have done it aren't so bad, granted. Chad Dawson (back when Bad Chad was considering a campaign at middleweight), Ishmail Arvin, Darnell Boone and Sechew Powell are the names on that list. But still. Lee's biggest win was his last one, over Alex Bunema, and Bunema looks spent.

Like the top two names of the show, Vanes should have zero trouble. Martirosyan TKO-6

(It wouldn't shock me if Top Rank is at least lightly considering pushing Vanes up to 160 to take on Pavlik, either.)

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