On tonight's edition of Top Rank Live, sadly-underhyped welterweight prospect Mike Jones gets the biggest test of his career from veteran Henry Bruseles. Off TV but filmed by FSN for highlights, former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt returns against South African Kaizer Mabuza.
Welterweights: Mike Jones (19-0, 16 KO) v. Henry Bruseles (28-3-1, 15 KO)
When you really examine the case of Mike Jones and his nearly non-existent TV exposure, it becomes really bizarre.
What's not to like? Unbeaten welterweight prospect. Good power. He's an American fighter, fighting out of Philadelphia, one of our biggest cities, with one of the richest boxing histories in the nation. He's blasted through respected gatekeepers such as Dairo Esalas and Luciano Perez. I'm not trying to hype those as massive wins or anything, but they're every bit as credible as some of those wins Andre Berto got building up his record with HBO televising.
Then there's something else: He's a huge welterweight, and the type of guy who could be a nightmare once he develops. We're talking 5'11" with a 72" reach. That's the size of Antonio Margarito. Jones is a physical specimen at 147 pounds.
So why so little exposure? Eric Raskin put together a fine article for The Ring on Jones on Sunday, and the answers are what you'd expect, and all boil down to, more or less, "it just hasn't happened." There's no good reason. There have been some near-connects that turned into misses at exposure and TV spots.
Tonight, he gets a chance. It's not the chance. Bruseles, 29, has been fighting in relative obscurity since his January 2005 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., though he has beaten a couple of familiar names since then, and gone 7-0 overall. Bruseles has also had a habit of getting connected to fights like this one, only to pull out on short notice. This time, he's showing up.
When I say Bruseles is Jones' best opponent to date, I mean it, but it's mostly on paper, and I'm not confident he will turn out to be anything more than Esalas or the other journeymen were. Bruseles, frankly, has never really done anything exceptional. He's known for fighting and losing to Floyd, and frankly he wasn't fit to fight Mayweather when he did. Floyd was 32-0 and among the best in the sport, moving up to 140, and he took a pretty easy touch with Bruseles. Bruseles really hadn't beaten anyone special before that, and hasn't since. An aged Cesar Bazan is his best win, or maybe it's the half-speed Ben Tackie he fought in 2008.
Simply put, Jones is younger, has been keeping a better schedule the last couple years, is almost surely hungrier, and is coming to put on a show in Atlantic City. I think he runs through Bruseles without much trouble at all, to be honest. Jones TKO-7
Junior Welterweights: Kendall Holt (25-3, 13 KO) v. Kaizer Mabuza (22-6-3, 13 KO)
Holt is looking to get back into title contention with this fight, something of a gift eliminator for the former beltholder, who hasn't fought since losing to Timothy Bradley in a hell of a battle last April. Holt was being set up to fight Nate Campbell, but that went nowhere, and was also rumored as an opponent in December for Joshua Clottey, which he and his team turned down without much by way of deliberations.
Now, he's facing Mabuza, a 30-year-old South African who may or may not give Holt some resistance, but given Holt's penchant for getting knocked down, might at least deck the favorite once or twice. Mabuza made his pro debut on February 15, 2000, facing the also-debuting Isaac Hlatshwayo. Hlatshwayo stopped him in the first round. Three years later they met again for the South African lightweight title. Hlatshwayo won a 12-round decision in the rematch.
He then lost two straight to Martin Kristjansen and Ray Narh -- not great fighters, but guys who have gone on to get their names in the news at least once later in their careers. His fifth loss came in 2007 to Robert Medley, and the last one was against Emmanuel Lartei Lartey.
Not much to say really. Just by record, Holt should win. He's got better wins, has fought better competition, and has better losses. Plus, Holt beat the crap out of Hlatshwayo in 2006. Holt UD-12
On the undercard:
Junior Middleweights: Saul Roman (32-5, 27 KO) v. Gabriel Rosado (13-4, 8 KO)
Junior Middleweights: Ossie Duran (23-8-2, 9 KO) v. Jamaal Davis (11-5, 6 KO). Duran is looking for his first win since 2007, hoping to end a four-fight winless streak (0-3-1). In that span, Duran has lost to James Kirkland, Fernando Guerrero and David Lopez, and drawn with Eromosele Albert.