On January 30 in Las Vegas, HBO will televise just one fight. Shane Mosley and Andre Berto will unify two welterweight titles, and it's a bout that should be highly anticipated among all boxing fans.
But the off-television undercard that night will have some notable fights, too. Let's take a quick look at what Golden Boy and DiBella Entertainment have lined up.
IBF Light Heavyweight Eliminator: Glen Johnson v. Yusaf Mack
Johnson (49-13-2, 33 KO) is coming off of the most definitive loss of his career, a loss so clear he was only able to make feeble claims that he won, which no one paid much attention to. Simply put, Chad Dawson routed Johnson in their November rematch of what was a very close fight in 2008.
Mack (28-2-2, 17 KO) is one of those guys who seems he's eternally on the cusp of breaking out, only to fall a little short. His two losses came when he was campaigning at 168 pounds, both stoppages at the hands of the very powerful Librado Andrade (in a wild brawl) and Alejandro Berrio. After Andrade, Mack moved up to 175 officially, knocking off Ernesto Zamora and Daniel Judah before stepping up in class and upsetting Chris Henry.
Mack last fought in May 2009, beating DeAndrey Abron in Florida.
It's a crossroads fight. Johnson, 41, looked incredibly slow against Dawson in November, but Mack is hardly a speed merchant, and he doesn't have Dawson's boxing skills or athletic prowess, either. Just because Johnson is up there in age doesn't mean he can't get right back into the title picture. While light heavyweight is finally starting to skew younger thanks to guys like Dawson, Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Adrian Diaconu, Johnson is still a highly-ranked fighter at 175, higher-ranked than Mack is.
But I see Glen meeting a potential end here. Mack has gotten better, seems far more comfortable at 175 than he did at 168. No matter what Bernard Hopkins tells us, 41 is still old for a boxer. I like Mack to score another upset and get himself into title contention, though I don't see him beating IBF titlist Cloud if he does win on the 30th.
Sergio Mora v. Jason Naugler
Mora turned 29 in December, and this will be his first fight since his rematch loss to the late Vernon Forrest in September 2008. The former "Contender" champ and junior middleweight titleholder had a shot at middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik lined up for June 27 of last year, but Pavlik and/or Top Rank pulled the plug on that one, depending on what story you believed at the time, or believe now.
Mora (21-1-1, 5 KO) is not one of my favorite fighters to put it nicely, and I think he's pretty well screwed up a career that could have gone somewhere. He's a skilled guy, sort of a bigger Paulie Malignaggi, and when he beat Forrest in their first encounter, I gained a new respect for his ability. He's no world-beater, but when he's on his game, the guy can really box, and he's pretty tough. He outlasted Forrest in that fight, seemed like he just wanted it more.
Naugler (18-11-1, 11 KO) is a pure bounce-back opponent. The 31-year-old Canadian should be no real threat, but he is a natural super middleweight. Naugler has lost four in a row to Don George, Nicholson Poulard, Jean Paul Mendy and Jesse Brinkley. He also has losses to Chad Dawson, Joachim Alcine (in Naugler's pro debut), Anthony Thompson and James McGirt Jr., among others.
Matthysse is another in a growing line of Argentine sluggers, and we've seen two sides of that story. No one will forget Kermit Cintron nearly decapitating Walter Matthysse, who had also been stopped by Paul Williams, and after Cintron, was drilled by Sebastian Lujan and Alex Bunema. Needless to say, Walter didn't pan out.
But then there's Marcos Maidana, who acquitted himself very nicely against Andriy Kotelnik and out-warred Victor Ortiz after that.
So where does Lucas Matthysse (25-0, 23 KO) go? It will be his first fight outside of Argentina, and even the faded Harris will be by far the best opponent of his career. "Vicious" Vivian (29-3-1, 19 KO) still hasn't rebounded from a nasty 2007 knockout at the hands of Junior Witter, and if he has trouble taking a punch from Witter, Matthysse seems a very dangerous prospect. Fluffed-up record or not, a 92% KO rate isn't easy to come by. Harris, 31, fought just once in both 2008 and 2009, and against marginal competition, including a fight at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Medieval Times in '08. I could see Harris boxing fine in the early-going, but I don't see his chin holding up. He wants to get back into contention, but I can't imagine that happening at this point. Stranger things have happened, of course.
Edwin Rodriguez v. Byron Tyson
Rodriguez (13-0, 9 KO) is a 24-year-old super middleweight prospect from Massachusetts nicknamed "La Bomba." That is a great nickname. Tyson is an opponent who has mostly campaigned at 154 pounds.
Eloy Perez (15-0, 4 KO) v. David Rodela (14-1-2, 6 KO)
Rodela has served as a sparring partner on several occasions for Manny Pacquiao. He fought a couple of times on Golden Boy's "Fight Night Club" last year. At 5'11", he's a very tall junior lightweight. Perez is a prospect fighting out of Salinas, California, having relocated from Washington. He's become a bit of a name in San Jose.