This weekend probably marks the end of what was a great spring for boxing. While there aren't any fights on Showtime or HBO, the basic cable bouts on Friday Night Fights and Top Rank Live are above-average cards that might be well worth watching.
Friday, June 11
Sky Sports 2 (UK), 5:30 p.m. Eastern, Paul McCloskey vs. Giuseppe Lauri. 20-0 McCloskey will be making the first defense of his European light welterweight title. Lauri's story isn't that dissimilar from Luca Messi, who got blasted out in his recent attempt to claim a European title. After losing twice to Ted Bami, he's come back with a series of wins, albeit against opponents ranging from so-so to horrible. Also, two of those wins came because of what seems to be fluke injuries, based on the records. Anyway, it's incredible how the vast majority of the European titles are currently held by guys from the U.K. No doubt that's at least partially because they have access to money from a weekly TV show, something most other European countries don't have. This one, however, isn't officially a Friday Fight Night, and is only an hour and a half long show.
ESPN2, 8:30 p.m. Eastern, David Lemieux vs. Elvin Ayala, Sebastien Demers vs. Brian Vera. This is the first real exposure that hotshot Montreal prospect will be getting in the U.S., and Ayala is no pushover. For those who were impressed by Saul Alvarez, Lemieux is pretty similar - he's 22-0 and has faced some solid competition, but he's only 21 years old, has a limited amateur background, great offensive skills (21 knockouts in 22 wins) with work to do on defense, and he's still learning on the job. One thing Lemieux hasn't done before is face a good boxer with a decent chin, and former title challenger Ayala is just that. He drew with Sergio Mora (and deserved the win), lost a couple of close ones to David Banks and kept things pretty close with Arthur Abraham until getting knocked out in the 12th round. Demers also lost by knockout to Abraham, but he's been doing decent since moving up to 168, despite his complete lack of power. Vera upset Andy Lee not long ago, but is looking like a one-hit wonder, having lost three in a row since then. Prospect Kevin Bizier will also fight on the undercard.
Telefutura, 11:30 p.m. Eastern, Christopher Martin vs. Adolfo Landeros. Martin is a 17-0-2 super bantamweight prospect from San Diego, while Landeros is a pretty standard record padder who has lost five of his last six. Luis Grajeda is also on the card.
Saturday, June 12
Polsat Sport (Poland), 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Pawel Kolodziej vs. Nicholas Iannuzzi. Kolodziej might be Poland's best current chance at another titlist. He's 25-0 with a number of recognizable names on his record, and as a 6'5" cruiserweight, he's a tough physical matchup for most. He's spent the last couple years contesting fringe titles, but he's still young enough to get on track, and is ranked by all four sanctioning bodies. While it starts early, according to the schedule this is running on Polsat for six hours, so expect the main event to start closer to six or so.
Gofightlive.tv, 9:00 p.m. Eastern ($9.99), Lance Whitaker vs. Andre Fedesov. This is part of a joint boxing/MMA card where UFC veterans Roman Mitichyan and Richie Whitson will also be fighting. Not sure what the promoters were thinking, having this one go head to head with a major UFC pay per view event.
Televisa (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Julio Cesar Miranda vs. Richie Mepranum. This one's for a vacant flyweight title. Miranda lost his two previous title shots to Moruti Mthlane and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, but he holds some decent enough wins. Pinoy southpaw Mepranum earned the shot by upsetting then-undefeated prospect Hernan Marquez, and at only 23, is young enough to still make some noise in the division.
Fox Sports Espanol / Fox Sports Net, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Ivan Calderon vs. Jesus Iribe, Glen Tapia vs. Nick Runningbear, McWilliams Arroyo vs. Takashi Okada. It's pretty standard for Bob Arum to put a Puerto Rican star in Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, and since Miguel Cotto already fought last weekend, Arum bought up the rights to this card and is airing it on Top Rank Live. Calderon is way past his best at this point, but Iribe probably isn't good enough to prevent Calderon from making his sixth defense of the world light flyweight championship. His mandatory, Johnriel Casimero, has a much better shot of pulling the trick in his next fight. Tapia and Arroyo are both exciting Puerto Rican prospects, and Tapia is just a ton of fun to watch. Will Rosinsky is also fighting on the card.
Televisa (Mexico), 11:00 p.m. Eastern, Marco Antonio Rubio vs. Samuel Miller, Marcos Reyes vs. Jose Luis Zertuche. Since getting blown out by Kelly Pavlik, Rubio has gone 3-0 against decent, but not great, opponents, including winning a purported title eliminator. Mickey Roman, coming off his valient effort against Antonio Escalante, is also fighting on the undercard. This appears to be back to back cards on Televisa, although since they have multiple channels in Mexico and they don't have a good TV schedule, it's hard to tell if they're actually back-to-back or just airing in different parts of the country.
Elsewhere around the world...
- Anybody remember Philip Holiday? He's the guy Shane Mosley first won a title from way back in 1997. He retired in 2003 after getting knocked out by Muhammad Adbullaev. Well, he's back at 40 years old, fighting on Fox Australia on Thursday. He got his butt kicked by a middling Aussie prospect a few months back, so don't expect too different of a result when he faces 15-3 Jason Kanofski for the vacant Aussie light middleweight title.
- Antrun Echols, coming off his big win over 0-8-2 Fred Thomas (Echols' first win since 2004, ending a 10-fight winless streak against all solid opponents), is getting fed to the fire yet again, taking on local Minneapolis draw Caleb Truax. Truax is coming off a draw himself, so he's looking to get himself back on track.
- Oliver McCall, 45-years old and fighting drug charges, is purportedly fighting Timur Ibragimov on the next Heavyweight Factory card next Tuesday. Last time he was supposed to fight, he was arrested on drug charges a few days before the fight. He's looking to break George Foreman's record for oldest titlist ever. Former University of Miami linebacker James Bryant will also be making his third pro appearance on the card.
- In smaller fights this weekend: Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, Ali Chebah, Juan Esquer, Ismail Abdoul, Karim Mayfield, Wandee Singwancha, Aaron Pryor Jr., Ossie Duran, Ryo Miyazaki, and Denkaosan Kaovichit.