After a fairly strong weekend last weekend, this one is much lighter, with only a couple of major cards going on, one of which has lost much of its luster from when it was originally scheduled
Friday, February 12
Sky Sports (UK), 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Lenny Daws vs. Jason Cook, Grzegorz Proska vs. Tyan Booth. Daws defends his BBBoC light welterweight title against former European lightweight titlist Cook, while Proska continues his march towards a title bout taking late replacement Booth for a crack at the vacant European middleweight title.
ESPN2, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Javier Jaregui, Tyrone Harris vs. Ji Hoon Kim. Provodnikov is a relatively exciting Siberian fighter who's shown up on US TV a few times before. He'll take on former titlist come gatekeeper Jaregui. Harris and Kim could be a compelling fight. Harris beat Marvin Quintero his last time out, while Kim has been somewhat of a road warrior, most recently upsetting Zolani Marali for a minor title. While he has a mediocre looking 19-5 record, he's undefeated in the last three years with a few good wins over very solid fighters, and probably should be considered the favorite, even if Harris is the draw on the card.
Saturday, February 13
Sky Sports (UK), 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Nathan Cleverly vs. Antonio Brancalion, Kevin Mitchell vs. Ignacio Mendoza, Derek Chisora vs. Carl Baker, Jamie Cox vs. Michael Frontin. Rising prospect Cleverly will face off against Brancalion, fresh off a loss in a title shot, for the European light heavyweight title. Mitchell is coming off a big win against Breidis Prescott that makes him the WBO mandatory at lightweight; Mendoza is the type of opponent who shouldn't jeopardize that status. Chisora and Baker face off in an eliminator for the British heavyweight title.
RTE.ie / RTETwo (Ireland), 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Adam Murray vs. Oisin Fagan, Alexei Acosta vs. Felix Machado, Patrick Hyland vs. Mickey Coveney. Coleman Barrett vs. Colin Kenna. All of the foregoing fights, other than Acosta-Machado, are for the Irish titles in their respective weight classes. Murray seems to be a solid lightweight prospect, while Fagan has become somewhat of a trial horse who usually makes exciting fights. Promoter Brian Peters has been trying to build Hyland into a legitimate prospect as well. Acosta is a recent Cuban defector who's taking a step up to face a former titlist who's lost 8 of his last 10 (although 7 of those fights have come against top class opposition). Barrett last lost in the Prizefighter finals to Audley Harrison. This fight will be available via legal live stream worldwide on the RTE.ie website.
Televisa (Mexico), 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Ramon Garcia vs. Michael Arango.
Top Rank PPV, 9:00 p.m. Eastern ($39.95), Nonito Donaire vs. Manuel Vargas, Fernando Montiel vs. Ciso Morales, Gerry Penalosa vs. Eric Morel, Bernabe Concepcion vs. Mario Santiago. All Pinoys versus Latinos, so they had to market this to both demographics. Unfortunately, most of the key fights aren't that compelling on paper. Donaire versus Vargas is a mismatch, and the fight even would have been a mismatch against original opponent Gerson Guerrero, who had to pull out due to a detached retina. Morales is a green 19 year old who I normally wouldn't give a shot here, but Montiel looked pretty beatable his last time out. The Penalosa and Concepcion fights look much more even on paper, but due to the styles of the fighters involved, might not be that great (although, to his credit, Santiago always tries to make good fights).
Elsewhere in the world of boxing...
- Most of the other action this weekend is courtesy of the off-TV undercards of the Sky and Top Rank pay per views. In Vegas, prospect Matt Korobov is scheduled to enter the ring for the first time this year against Lamar Harris. Mark Melligan will try to bounce back from his second loss by taking on undefeated prospect Ray Gatica, which looks like a tough matchup on paper. Jose Benavidez Jr. may also be making his second pro bout.
- On the Sky undercard, Frankie Gavin and James DeGale will face trial horses. On the bright side, since this is the UK, if the other fights run short, it's pretty likely that their fights will actually get shown on the telecast. I have no idea why American PPV providers haven't started doing the same thing, so you don't end up with hours of downtime, like what happened on the Pacquiao-De La Hoya undercard.
- 44 year old Oliver McCall will fight the almighty TBA on Tuesday at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The card is being run by The Heavyweight Factory, which was profiled recently in ESPN the Magazine. Their plan is a tried and true one - take premier athletes from other sports who are just short of being able to earn a decent living as a pro, and try to turn them into heavyweights. This is the first time I've seen this done on a large scale, but this is the same idea that led to pros such as Tye Fields, Brian Minto and Derric Rossy. The kids are trained by McCall, former Wild Cad assistant Michael Moorer and Miami mainstay Isaiah Clark. A few of their prospects are supposed to make their pro debuts, but they haven't said who yet. The debut for the most ballyhooed prospect, former UM running back Quadtrine Hill, has already been postponed a number of times.