This isn't the greatest weekend for boxing that there's ever been, but there are a couple of televised cards that should be widely available. This prolonged lack of major fights early this year seems to be evening itself out a bit, as it's starting to look like there could be a major fight every weekend (other than March 27) between the beginning of March and the end of May.
Friday, February 19
Sky Sports, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Scott Lawton vs. Leva Kirakosyan, Danny McIntosh vs. Tony Oakey. Lawton and Kirakosyan will face off for the vacant European super featherweight title. McIntosh and Oakey are a couple of very solid domestic level performers who come to scrap.
ESPN2, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Shawn Porter vs. Russell Jordan, Lanard Lane vs. Martin Tucker, Dominic Wade vs. Omar Bell, Gary Russell Jr. vs. TBA. Jordan may not be the best opponent in the world, but Porter (hanging with Carmelo Anthony at the Olympics, on the right) is always fun to watch. Jordan's 15-6 record doesn't look great on paper, but he's fought some really experienced guys (he lost to Luis Collazo in his last fight), and he's a very tall southpaw, which may present some challenges to the vertically challenged Porter, although his height didn't keep him from winning nearly 300 fights as an amater, mostly as a middleweight. As with any FNF card, who knows who will be televised on the undercard. I'd actually guess Wade and Russell in a couple of six rounders. Russell was on the U.S. Olympic team and was thought by many to be the Americans' best shot at a medal, but couldn't make weight for the tournament itself and thus didn't fight. Wade is an exciting middleweight prospect who's young and talented. Lane was last seen scoring a mild upset over Said El Harrak on the undercard of Fernando Guerrero against Jessie Nicklow. All are undefeated prospects.
Telemundo, 11:35 p.m. Eastern, Clarence "Bones" Adams vs. Edel Ruiz, William "Chirizo" Gonzalez vs. Jesus Vazquez. Former titlist Adams is fighting for only the fifth time since 2003. Ruiz is a journeyman who's lost to just about every decent fighter he's faced, but if might be a good way for Bones to shake off the rust. On the undercard, the other William Gonzalez (not Speedy) takes on Vazquez.
Saturday, February 20
Fox Sports Net / Fox Sports Espanol, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Giovanni Segura vs. Walter Tello, Urbano Antillon vs. Luis Arceo. Now we're starting to look a little more like Top Rank's programming on Versus. Segura and Antillon are both decent names in the lower weight classes, with Segura a titlist at 108 and Antillon a fringe top 10 guy at lightweight who lost his last time out. Neither guy should have any problem winning. About a year and a half ago, Tello got his butt kicked by (and looked small against) the guy who Nonito Donaire just destroyed last weekend. Arceo tries hard, but isn't very good.
HBO Plus (Latin America), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Orlando Cruz, Lucas Matthysse vs. Vivian Harris. This is a somewhat dangerous matchup for de Leon to take, as he's protecting a mandatory spot. We last say Cruz getting beaten by Cornelius Lock on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard, but he has some talent and there's a not insubstantial chance he could outbox Ponce the slugger. Matthysse vs. Harris is the second fight (Johnson-Mack being the other) that was originally set for the untelevised undercard of Mosley-Berto, but was found a TV spot elsewhere when the main event was canceled. This is probably a fight designed to make power punching Matthysse look good against chinny Harris.
Televisa (Mexico), 11:00 p.m. Eastern, Elio Rojas vs. Guty Espadas Jr. It's sad to see Elio Rojas become another victim of Don King's mismanagement. Rojas went to Japan to win a title, hasn't fought in 7 months, and now gets to fight a mandatory in the opponent's backyard, in a place where he's already been jobbed once before.
Elsewhere in the world of boxing...
- On Sunday in Japan, Ryo Miyazaki takes on Suguru Takizawa in a battle between two young junior flyweights with shiny records. The winner probably becomes a consensus top 10 junior flyweight. As this is a part of the Champion Carnival, it seems likely that this is on Japanese TV somewhere, but I'm just not talented enough with kanji to find it.
- On Monday in Russia, Sasha Bakhtin will face Nick Otieno in a semifinal eliminator (whatever that means) to face Hozumi Hasegawa. If Bakhtin wins, it could be interesting. While Bakhtin is Russian by nationality, he's been fighting most of his career out of Japan and has a decent name there. Denis Lebedev will face 16-1 Ignacio Esparza. Lebedev is best known for knocking out Enzo Maccaranelli, as if that takes talent. He's waiting his turn to fight for the WBO cruiserweight title. Yuri Barashian is a former European light heavyweight titlist who's lost in actual title shots in his last two bouts. He'll take on Jaffa Ballogou. According to the WBC website, this one will be on a PPV (somewhere in the world, anyway), so if you look hard enough, you might be able to find it.
- Early '00's titlist Masibulele "Hawk" Makepula will be fighting for the first time in nearly two years. The 5'0" former light flyweight titlist, now 37 years old, will be taking on Lubabalo Msuthu for a fringe bantamweight title.
- In Indiana, George "Monk" Foreman III continues to stay busy with a fight against the almighty TBA. In the main event, Fres Oquendo will be taking on pure chinchecker Demetrice King.
- In action on smaller cards against lesser opponents - Omar Narvaez (in a nontitle bout), Takefumi Sakata, Edner Cherry and Lanardo Tyner.