Given that big fight weeks tend to bring out the casual, the curious, the new and sometimes the old and reinvigorated boxing fans, I thought it'd be a good idea to take a quick look at the three fights that will be seen on the televised undercard of the Mayweather-Marquez PPV this Saturday. We'll start with the latest add, which replaced Zab Judah v. Antonio Diaz (which was originally Zab Judah v. Matthew Hatton) when Zab decided that he was too big of a star to be on what will without question be one of the three biggest boxing shows of 2009.
This undercard is getting some praise already for being well put-together and not the usual waste that undercards can be on PPV shows. The worst ever may have been the farce that Top Rank and Golden Boy put together for Oscar de la Hoya-Manny Pacquiao last December, three blatant mismatches that would've been skippable ESPN2 main events, let alone something anyone should have paid money to see in their living room.
Featherweights, 10 Rounds
CORNELIUS LOCK v. ORLANDO CRUZ
The Skinny On Cornelius Lock: Lock is on this card because he's a Mayweather-connected fighter, and he got the bump to TV in part because of that, and also in part because it just wasn't possible for a bigger fight for TV to be put together in time. Lock is a Detroit fighter, a 30-year old southpaw with a version of that tricky Mayweather-type style, and at 5'7" with a 73" reach, he'll have some big physical advantages against Cruz (5'4", 65" reach). His last fight was a very one-sided loss to Antonio Escalante in July, and he's looking to get back on track. His 18-4-1 (11) record isn't that impressive, and one gets the feeling this fight could turn out a lot like the last Mayweather PPV opener, when another Mayweather fighter, Wes Ferguson, was knocked out by Edner Cherry in the sixth round.
The video below is part of Lock's loss to Escalante in July, starting with the third round, where it all slipped away from him:
You can see in this clip Lock's abandoning of a reach advantage (Escalante is 5'6", 69" reach) and foolishly banging with a harder puncher. The fight was all Escalante from this round forward.
The Skinny On Orlando Cruz: Cruz (16-0-1, 7 KO) last fought in January, when he faced Leonilo Miranda on Shobox. Miranda was 30-0 with 28 stoppage wins at that point, and was favorited by many. But that all ended in the fifth round, when one big shot put Miranda on Dream Street, and earned Cruz some YouTube attention.
Cruz, 28, is a Puerto Rican and a fellow southpaw to Lock, and if Lock's career is really going to go anywhere at this point, he desperately needs this win. Neither Lock nor Cruz are afraid to mix it up, so there's a decent chance we'll get a pretty good scrap out of this, even though it really doesn't belong as part of the undercard that was to prove to boxing fans that the promoters actually listen and understand our problems with past PPV shows being $50 for one decent fight.
Scott's Pick: Give me Cruz by stoppage in the seventh round of a decent action fight that sets up the rest of the night admirably given its status as a late addition between two guys that the Hollywood folks in attendance won't know one thing about. Hopefully if they put on a show, the crowd will respond, because getting fans interested early could make for a rabid main event audience.