Ho ho ho! Wait, that's the other one. Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so we won't have many updates if any until Friday. Before we get to the second batch of quick picks, here's some reading for you later while you're bloated and avoiding that weird cousin you always dread seeing, just in case you missed anything:
- Fight Preview: Juan Manuel Marquez v. Michael Katsidis
- Fight Preview: Carl Froch v. Arthur Abraham
- Fight Preview: Andre Ward v. Sakio Bika
- Quick Picks: Andre Berto v. Freddy Hernandez, Celestino Caballero v. Jason Litzau
- Rich Wharton's Time Machine Fight Series: Kostya Tszyu v. Alexis Arguello
- Ted the Bull's Scotch and Cigar Club: The 19th and Final Edition
And here's your weekend round-by-round live coverage schedule here at Bad Left Hook:
- Friday, 5am EST, NTV (Japan) and Polsat Sport (Poland): Hozumi Hasegawa v. Juan Carlos Burgos, Vitali Tajbert v. Takahiro Aoh
- Friday, 5pm EST (Sky Sports): Matthew Hatton v. Roberto Belge, Scott Quigg v. Daniel Kodjo Sassou
- Saturday, 2pm EST (Polsat Sport) or 5pm EST (Primetime, Sport 1): Carl Froch v. Arthur Abraham -- LIVE coverage, will be shown on tape delay at 9pm on Showtime in the United States
- Saturday, 9:45pm EST, HBO: Juan Manuel Marquez v. Michael Katsidis, Andre Berto v. Freddy Hernandez, Celestino Caballero v. Jason Litzau
Now on to the picks and quick previews for the rest of this weekend's action.
Featherweights, 12 Rounds
Hozumi Hasegawa v. Juan Carlos Burgos
(Photo via thompsonboxing.com)
Hasegawa (28-3, 12 KO) plummeted out of pound-for-pound rankings after his TKO-4 loss to Fernando Montiel in April, and this is his comeback attempt. No longer able to make 118 pounds, Hasegawa has skipped 122 and is moving straight to 126, and the great and admirable and unquestionable WBC has managed to find a vacant featherweight title to put up for grabs, because Hasegawa reigned for a long time (2005-10) as their top dog at bantamweight, and Burgos (25-0, 18 KO) is Mexican.
At 29, Hasegawa isn't old, and could in theory handle the jump quite well. He's by far the best fighter that the 22-year-old Burgos has faced to date, too. Burgos, who is a good prospect, scored his most notable win last time out when he knocked off Ricardo Castillo, who is past his best at this point and was really never all that great to begin with. Castillo, like he has been for years, is still a good scrapper who should be expected to lose to his better opponents, and that's what he did with Burgos.
Hasegawa is facing the naturally biggest fighter of his career, too. Hasegawa's southpaw stance may give the young Burgos some trouble, but it's unlikely that Hozumi's power (which is much better than his KO rate) will travel up with him to 126, so really his KO rate is probably a fairly accurate appraisal of what sort of power he'll have as a featherweight. Burgos can punch, and is a lot fresher, with far less miles on his body than Hasegawa has.
It's an interesting fight, and a true crossroads bout. I really like Hasegawa and still think he's a talented fighter, but he might be jumping just a bit too far into the fire physically right away. He'd have probably been better off testing the water at 126 against a lesser opponent and then moving on to a fight for a vacant title (the WBC would have always found one for him), but in a way it says a lot about him that he's coming off of a devastating upset loss, skipping a weight class, and going right for something that at least fairly resembles "the gusto." Still, I'm going with the kid to be too big and strong. Burgos TKO-8
Super Featherweights, 12 Rounds
Vitali Tajbert v. Takahiro Aoh
Tajbert (20-1, 6 KO) holds the WBC belt at 130, which is in my view the absolute weakest weight class in all of boxing. Tajbert was born in Kazakhstan and lives in and fights out of Germany, and I dare make the bold statement that he's not the most exciting guy to watch. Aoh (19-2-1, 9 KO) is 26 and started really climbing the ladder in 2008, drawing Hiroyuki Enoki before two fights with Oscar Larios, losing the first one and winning the rematch, which put the WBC belt at 126 on him. In his first defense of the belt, he lost it to Elio Rojas. Since then, Aoh has won two straight over veterans Feider Viloria and "You Can't Spell 'Why Bother?' Without" Whyber Garcia at 130. Tajbert's last two wins are his best, over Humberto Gutierrez and Hector Velazquez. I can't really say I have a dog in this one, but I'll pick Tajbert for his incredible trash talk. Tajbert UD-12
Hatton (40-4-2, 15 KO) has unquestionably benefited from his brother's help of late, becoming one of the lead fighters for the quickly-growing Hatton Promotions. Big brother's connections have gotten many of the stable's fighters winnable title shots they probably hadn't really earned, but with a lot of hard work, "" Matthew has earned his good fortune. Let's face it, he's a mediocre boxer with poor punching power and no great physical attributes. But he works hard and hangs in with just about everyone. He hasn't lost a fight since 2008, when he was pretty widely outpointed by Craig Watson, going 7-0-1 since then, with solid wins over the likes of Ben Tackie, Ted Bami, and Ernesto Zepeda preceding his draw with Lovemore N'dou in 2009.
Hatton got a shot at the then-vacant European welterweight title in March of this year, facing Gianluca Branco, a career junior welterweight who turned 40 in September. Nothing comes easy for Hatton, but he got the duke and the belt, and made his first defense against Yuriy Nuzhnenko in July. Though Hatton won by comfortable scores, the fight was a close and entertaining affair.
On Saturday, he takes n Switzerland's Roberto Belge at Reebok Stadium in Bolton. Belge (25-0-1, 4 KO) is a soft touch on paper, with no power and minimal experience against seasoned opponents. In his last fight, Belge went to a draw with Andrei Abramenka, who had never before fought an opponent with a winning record. To put it quite simply, the Swiss rings are not exactly a hotbed for producing top talent, and Belge has fought all but three of his fights in his home country. Against Hatton, he'll be on the road, facing by far the best opponent of his career, and I don't really think he has a chance. But don't be stunned if Matthew struggles; he almost always does, and guys who get by on grit are often prone to the upset. But I'm guessing he's way, way too much for the 31-year-old Belge. Hatton TKO-10
Super Bantamweights, 12 Rounds
Scott Quigg v. Daniel Kodjo Sassou
Quigg (20-0, 14 KO) is one of my favorite UK prospects, or prospects in the sport today for that matter. He's got a future ahead of him, it would appear. His opponent is Daniel Kodjo Sassou (29-14-4, 7 KO) a fairly soft-looking next step, and a native of Togo now living in France. Sassou did beat Arsen Martirosyan in his last fight, so this might be a tiny bit more dangerous than it appears on paper, but expect Quigg to keep rolling into 2011, when he just might find himself in line for some real shots. At 22, he's not being rushed yet, but he might be ready sooner than later. Quigg TKO-5
Flyweights, 10 Rounds
Milan Melindo v. Carlos Tamara
Melindo (22-0, 7 KO) gets home field advantage in Cebu City against Tamara (21-5, 15 KO) as he continues to move up the ladder at 112 pounds. Melindo is a good young fighter, but this is a fine step up in class. Tamara's 2010 has involved two upsets, as he beat Brian Viloria in January in a Fight of the Year contender to win a title at 108 pounds, and then took what his team openly called an easy fight against Luis Alberto Lazarte, and lost the belt in May. Lazarte still has the belt, and is being lined up against Ulises Solis for December. Tamara's a pretty tough cookie, and I think he has a third upset fight coming, if you would term a win over the largely untested 22-year-old Melindo an upset. Tamara is going to have a three-inch height advantage and he can punch. Tamara TKO-9
Junior Flyweight World Championship, 12 Rounds
Giovani Segura v. Manuel Vargas
I don't see any mystery in this one. Vargas is a tenacious little bulldog of a fighter, but Segura is by far the hardest puncher in the division. He flattened Ivan Calderon, who is far harder to hit even when Calderon is unwisely trying to mix it up with someone like Segura. Vargas is a game guy who comes to fight, but a win here would be a huge upset. Segura should find himself in a war, but one that won't last long. Segura KO-4