Saturday night's Jones-Hopkins II pay-per-view has taken a beating in the buildup. We'll get to the proper preview for the main event either tonight or tomorrow, but for now, let's look at the undercard. Remember, this is what you have to sit through for a few hours before you even get to the rematch, and if you buy, this is $50.
Junior Lightweights, 10 Rounds: Rocky Juarez v. Jason Litzau
As is rapidly becoming the custom, this is a 10-round fight even though it's for a minor title belt (NABF). It's by far the best matchup of the undercard, and I suppose you could argue it's the best and most relevant fight on the entire card, too.
Juarez (28-5-1, 20 KO) gave both Marco Antonio Barrera and Chris John tough fights, and then upon rematches was more easily and soundly defeated by both. He also was beaten badly by Juan Manuel Marquez, and was upset in 2005 by Humberto Soto (at least, it was a pretty big upset at the time). So his five losses have come to Barrera (twice), John, Marquez and Soto, and he got a gift draw, in my view, the first time against John.
This fight will be at 130 pounds, where Juarez has gone 2-2 in fights I think you can consider "proper" junior lightweight bouts. He's fought above the featherweight limit plenty more than that, but usually at around 128 pounds for smaller fights, like his fight with Emmanuel Lucero after the two bouts with Barrera. "Officially" at 130, he's fought Barrera two times, Marquez, and Jorge Barrios, in what was a heck of a good fight and one of the two best wins of his career (Zahir Raheem being the other).
Litzau (26-2, 21 KO) was an ESPN hype job, an "All-American boy" out of Minnesota who fought kind of like Roy Jones, all flash and cockiness and what looked to be good power. But he's been creamed the two times he's stepped up the ranks. In December 2006 on HBO, he was knocked out in eight by Jose Andres Hernandez, which was quite a surprise to most everyone, and then in 2008 he tried his luck against Robert Guerrero (again on HBO), and this time the beating he took didn't surprise much of anyone.
Both guys are brave, but have plenty of flaws. Juarez's key sin is that despite his good power and solid technique, he just doesn't let his hands go enough, and often digs himself some pretty big holes. He's given very good, even great fighters some real trouble when he does decide to get himself going offensively. Litzau, on the other hands, seems to have maybe lost his identity a little bit. The old style wasn't going to make him a serious titlist, because he's not Roy Jones with the reflexes or speed, and his chin isn't good enough to hold up to the bad shots he takes too frequently. Most chins aren't, though. Litzau really takes some flush shots.
The bottom line is this: though both have failed in their biggest fights, Juarez's biggest fights have been a lot bigger than Litzau's, and Litzau has never beaten anyone as good as Juarez, or anyone who I think is particularly close to Rocky's level. It might seem like a fairly even scrap on paper, and it's a good fight for both as they both badly need a victory, but I couldn't be more sure about the winner. Juarez TKO-8
Middleweights, 10 Rounds: Sergio Mora v. Calvin Green
"Latin Snake" Mora hasn't fought since September 2008, when he lost his 154-pound title back to Vernon Forrest, the fighter he'd upset three months earlier. The former "Contender" winner's career has stagnated since the end of his season of crappy TV, and he didn't even get any momentum for beating Forrest, which he really should have.
Overall, Mora's career has been a mess. He turned down a crack at the middleweight championship when he decided that Memphis gave Jermain Taylor too much of an advantage, then wound up fighting Elvin Ayala on Alfonso Gomez's ESPN Classic undercard. And Ayala drew him. I'll never forget Mora storming out of the ring after that fight. It was bad enough that he was fighting beneath Gomez-Ben Tackie (Gomez was an also-ran on the "Contender" season that Mora won), but then he couldn't even get the W.
He did come back strong, beating Rito Ruvalcaba and then Forrest, in a fight where he simply outlasted Forrest, and showed some real fire in the ring. In the rematch, though, Mora was sluggish, while this time Forrest was in better shape and proved his superiority as an all-around fighter. Vernon Forrest was really, really good, and great on his best days, so there's no shame in that. But now he's been off for a year and a half. A fight with Kelly Pavlik for last June fell through, as have others.
Now Mora (21-1-1, 5 KO) is facing Calvin Green (21-4-1, 13 KO), a pure club fighter out of Baytown, Texas. Green's record is manufactured, and isn't even that good to begin with. Green, 32, turned pro at 18 in 1996, and fought steadily for '96 and '97. He missed all of 1998, fought just once in 1999, and then fought steadily from 2000-03. He missed all of 2004. After one win in 2005, he retired for a full four years. He's gone 2-1 since returning.
All in all, Green likely has absolutely no shot at winning this fight. This is total showcase material for Mora's return, as apparently Golden Boy thinks there's still a market for Mora. Mora UD-10
Light Heavyweights, 10 Rounds: Ismayl Sillakh v. Daniel Judah
Another NABF title fight. 25-year-old Sillakh (11-0, 10 KO) is a legit prospect. Even though Judah (23-4-3, 10 KO) isn't more than a gateekeper, this is still a big step up in competition. Still, if Sillakh is for real, pure talent should carry him to a pretty convincing win. If he struggles with Judah, downgrade his prospects just slightly. It wouldn't mean he's not a good prospect still, but that maybe slowing down would be a good idea. I don't think he'll have much trouble. It is worth noting that Judah has only been stopped one time, and that was against Darnell "Ding-a-Ling Man" Wilson. Sillakh has starched just about everyone so far, but he's fought nobody. I'll tentatively call for the stoppage, though. Another "worth noting," however, is that Sillakh has never fought past six rounds, with one decision win in six and one TKO-6 win. Sillakh TKO-6
Off TV, Craig McEwan (17-0, 9 KO), James McGirt Jr. (21-2-1, 10 KO), and Yaundale Evans (5-0, 3 KO) all fight. Frankie Gomez and Julian Williams will make their pro debuts, too.