We finally get our first truly big fight of the year, and the promoters have basically cleared out the schedule in anticipation of it. There is, however, also a solid card going on in Germany the day of Pacquiao-Clottey, and Bob Arum as usual has a lead-in card the night before the big fight, and a Friday Night Fights substitute will be on ESPN Deportes instead of ESPN2.
Friday, March 12
Eurosport (EU), 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Lukas Konecny vs. Ionut Trandafir Ilie. Ilie is a late replacement for Attila Kovacs, but probably isn't much of a step down. Konecny is most prominent for nearly beating Sergei Dzinziruk a few years ago, and now is ranked as a middleweight by a couple of sanctioning bodies. The proceeds of this fight will go towards relief in Haiti.
Sky Sports (UK), 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Paul Smith vs. Tony Dodson, Kell Brook vs. Krzyzstof Bienias. Former "Contender" participant Smith will attempt the first defense of his BBBoC super middleweight title against exciting gatekeeper Dodson. Brook it taking his first (sort of) step up in trying to take Pole Bienias' WBO intercontinental trinket. Brook has been making a lot of noise lately about how he's gunning for Miguel Cotto and ready to face the big boys in the welterweight division, but that's all a pipe dream until he starts facing a few guys people have heard of.
Gofightlive.tv, 8:00 p.m. ($9.99), Tony Grano vs. Mark Brown, Mike Oliver vs. Kermin Guardia, Sadam Ali vs. Jose Duran. Grano is coming off his upset of Travis Kaufman and is trying to avenge is only loss, which came to Brown. He's exciting, but he's still a four round fighter. 122 pound contender Oliver will take on former titlist Guardia, who is now 40 years old, fighting six weight classes above where he won his title and has lost five in a row.
ESPN Deportes, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Giovanni Lorenzo vs. Wilmer Gonzalez, Kenny Galarza vs. Miguel Casillas, Felix Diaz vs. Orlando Membreno. So there isn't officially a Friday Night Fights this weekend, but this card is about as good as a lesser FNF, just you'll need to watch it in Spanish because of college basketball. This is a bounceback fight for Lorenzo, who in his last bout lost a split decision to titlist Sebastian Sylvester. Blue chip Dominican prospects Galarza and Diaz will be taking small steps up as well.
Fox Sports Net / Fox Sports Espanol, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Sam Peter vs. Nagy Aguilera, Hernan Marquez vs. Richie Mepranum. Peter vs. Aguilera is a title eliminator for the belt held by Vitali Klitschko. Since losing to Eddie Chambers, Peter has supposedly refocused and gotten back to his old self in a series of off-TV bouts with new promoter Top Rank. Aguilera knocked out Oleg Maskaev for this chance, bit he's a bit wild and rudimentary, and probably isn't much better than the guys Peter was knocking out before he fought Wladimir Klitschko. This bout should be a good litmus test. Marquez vs. Mepranum is potentially a great fight between prospects. Marquez is an undefeated power punching southpaw who's only 21 years old, and he's exciting but VERY raw. Mepranum is only 22 himself and has a couple of losses, but one was to a hotshot Thai prospect and the other was to recent titlist Denkaosan Kaovichit. Anthony Peterson, Omar Henry and Jose Benavidez Jr. are also slated to fight on the undercard, in case things run short. Check your schedules on this one - the English language broadcast is probably pre-empted by college basketball in most places, but it should still be carried by Fox Sports Espanol.
Saturday, March 13
ARD (Germany), 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Marco Huck vs. Adam Richards, Alexander Povetkin vs. Javier Mora. Huck is a fairly entertaining fighter who punches with authority, though has a tendency to fight in spurts. Richards is an exciting fighter who goes all-out, and who has recently moved down to cruiserweight. Team Richards has essentially guaranteed that this fight will end in a knockout - he's going for the KO, and if he doesn't get it, he'll get KOed trying. Check back here near fight time, as we may have live round by round coverage of this one.
HBO PPV, 9:00 p.m. Eastern ($49.95), Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey, Humberto Soto vs. David Diaz, Jose Luis Castillo vs. Alfonso Gomez, John Duddy vs. Michael Medina. Click here to get full fight previews of each of these bouts. Bad Left Hook will have live round by round coverage of this card.
Sunday, March 14
Brandhatton.com, 9:00 a.m. Eastern (2.99 pounds), Dean Harrison vs. Ben Lawler. Ricky Hatton tries his entry into the internet pay per view realm with this minor card involving a fight for the Midlands light welterweight title. About 8 other fights will be on the card as well.
Elsewhere in the world of boxing...
- On the German undercard, there are a few more decent fights. Cruiserweight contender Yoan Pablo Hernandez will face unproven Argentinian Cesar David Crenz for an IBF trinket. Alexander Frenkel takes a minor step up against durable and boring journeyman Michael Simms. Kubrat Pulev continues to face really tough tests for someone with fewer than 10 pro fights as he faces Danny Batchelder.
- On the UK undercard, 12-0 Tony Ballew will attempt to win the vacant Commonwealth light heavyweight title against Atoli Moore. I realize that Ghanian fighters often have more of a record than Boxrec indicates, but this is the third or fourth time lately they've really scraped the bottom of the barrel to fill a vacant title. Officially, Moore is 4-0. The combined records of his opponents is 2-7. COMBINED. Note to the BBBoC - you folks have one of the few smaller belts that people actually take seriously. They won't take it seriously for that much longer if you keep filling vacancies with fights like this.
- Sam Soliman will get back in the ring in Australia against Shannon McMahon. The fight is for a minor middleweight belt.
- In Mexico, a couple of gatekeepers will go at it in what should be an exciting fight when Gamaliel Diaz faces Eden Marquez.
- Paul Spadafora continues his comeback in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Again, he's facing a much smaller fighter with a decent looking record who is very unproven. We'll see if he ever decides to step back up, or if he's content to just stay on the regional circuit. It's pretty likely that he has much left after spending a good chunk of his prime in prison.