This is a busy weekend for noteworthy fights, with one blockbuster coming on HBO on Saturday night that we'll get to with an in-depth preview on Thursday. Today, let's look at some of the other fights going on around the globe.
Friday (ESPN2) - Heavyweights, 10 Rounds
Cristobal Arreola v. Manuel Quezada
This week's Friday Night Fights has a more fitting main event than many shows have this season, as popular/frustrating heavyweight Cristobal Arreola (28-2, 25 KO) returns to action against Goossen Tutor stablemate Manuel Quezada (29-5, 18 KO). I still have Arreola ranked in the top ten at heavyweight, but that is more a reflection of a still very poor class of fighters in the division, and the fact that both of his losses -- while not close -- were against two of the top four guys fighting at heavyweight right now.
The 29-year-old Arreola will likely win this fight. There's really no getting around that this is a comeback fight, a tune-up fight, and that Quezada, 32, is being positioned as a credible veteran to get Arreola back in the win column. What's going to be interesting -- though I figure most will argue it's predictable -- is what sort of physical condition Arreola shows up in. Last time out, he weighed in at 250 1/2 pounds, a half-pound lighter than he weighed against Vitali Klitschko, but a big improvement from the career-high 263 he weighed against Brian Minto between fighting Klitschko and Adamek. I think the best anyone can reasonably expect is 250 for Arreola anymore. The days of him coming in between 230 and 240 are over, even though he was clearly more effective in that weight range. And no matter what he weighs, he's always going to look soft and, well, jiggly. That's just how his body is. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's conditioning as much as anything that hindered him in his two biggest fights, which are also his two losses. We'll see how seriously he's taking Quezada by what he weighs, probably. He obviously didn't expect much of a fight from Minto, though he got a fight, it was just one that the undersized Minto couldn't win.
Quezada is nothing special. Both guys are bangers and like to mix it up, and hopefully that will make for an entertaining scrap if not exactly a technical masterpiece. Quezada usually weighs in the 220s, so he'll be giving up some size. His best win -- and really his only good win -- was a first round knockout of Travis Walker in July 2009, at that point considered a minor upset, but we know Walker's chin issues. Arreola also has a win over Walker (TKO-3) in what was a hell of a fun six minutes and change back in 2008.
Every time I think a heavyweight fight could be genuinely entertaining, it sort of disappoints, but I don't think this one will. Arreola seems to relish these fights where he's the big puncher and the favorite. It's only when matched with a superior boxer that he looks a little out of place, and Quezada is not that guy. Hopefully they war it out for as long as it lasts and it's not a hug-fest. Arreola should win, and then I'd expect he's right back on the radar for a major fight next time out, which is the real goal of this bout. Arreola TKO-6
Saturday (TVMax) - Bantamweights, 12 Rounds, Rematch
Anselmo Moreno v. Nehomar Cermeno
You can easily argue that both of these guys are top five in one of the most highly-competitive divisions in boxing at the moment. I have Moreno ranked No. 2 and Cermeno ranked No. 7, but a No. 7 at 118 pounds right now is a lot better than higher rankings in most weight divisions. There is some awesome talent at 118 these days.
Moreno (29-1-1, 10 KO) won the first fight against Cermeno (19-1, 11 KO) by very close split decision in Venezuela, with scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 112-115. Cermeno is a Venezuelan native, and it marked yet another occasion where Moreno, 25, went on to his rival's turf and came away the victor. He's made a habit of it, and it's a pretty good habit to make. This time, they'll fight in Moreno's native Panama, where Cermeno also lives now. Top to bottom, it's a pretty terrific card for a show of its size, as Gennady Golovkin is set to pick up a trinket at middleweight on the same night.
In 2009, Cermeno sort of came out of nowhere with a debated win over Cristian Mijares, which he followed up with a no-doubt win in a rematch. Then he knocked off Alejandro Valdez (KO-11) in December before meeting Moreno in March 2010. That fight would have been a draw except for a point deducted from Cermeno in the 11th round. He's building a bit of a reputation among the hardest of the hardcore fans as a little bit of a dirty fighter, or if you choose to look at it another way, a crafty fighter who does what he has to do (similar to Joel Casamayor at his peak). Moreno is a slick guy who can be very hard to hit, and I think he has the more pure talent of the two. But Cermeno is the better puncher.
This is one of those fights, like the first one, where it's hard to predict what will happen. My gut feeling is that Cermeno will edge this one out. As good as Moreno is, he's been lucky in his career, and sometimes fighters just feel due for a loss. And I don't mean he's been lucky in that he's robbed other fighters of wins, but that he's been fortunate to get fair shakes in not one but two fights on German soil against Wladimir Sidorenko. I expect this fight will be very close once again, and that the scores will reflect it. If Cermeno ekes one out, this could be fight two of a trilogy between two world-class fighters where there is sadly no impact felt in U.S. boxing coverage whatsoever. Cermeno SD-12
Saturday (FSN) - Lightweights, 12 Rounds
Miguel Vazquez v. Ji Hoon Kim
Now this could be the best fight of the weekend, as two hungry fighters vie for a vacant lightweight title in Laredo, Texas. Vazquez (25-3, 12 KO) looked like a real ring general against Breidis Prescott last year in an upset win on Friday Night Fights, but the worry could be that he now hasn't fought in 13 months, and Prescott hasn't been impressive since, either. Is it worth reading a lot into a win over Vazquez? I remember Sergio Mora, sitting ringside and guesting on commentary for a round that night, predicted Vazquez would win, as he had sparred with Vazquez in the past. Mora was right, and broke it down very well. Vazquez isn't slick, but he's tricky. He takes a lot of angles, has enough on his punch for that to be a factor, and is far better off fighting at lightweight than he was at welterweight or junior welter earlier in his career. Vazquez is on the cusp of having one of those careers like former sparring partner Antonio Margarito or another old pro sparring partner, Jose Luis Castillo, where he takes some lumps early but gets some world-class schooling along the way, and applies it in the ring eventually.
Kim (21-5, 18 KO) is also on the verge of having one of those careers. His pro journey started very rocky, but he's won 13 fights in a row, 12 of them by stoppage. He has a game-changing right hand bomb that he put to use in the first round of his last fight, knocking Ameth Diaz loopy in May. He is an incredibly sloppy fighter, but with that and the knowledge of his right hand being so deadly, I think fighting him must be sort of like playing poker with a first-timer. You never really know what they might do. Vazquez is no doubt more finely-tuned, but Kim is so aggressive and so powerful with his right hand that I see him scoring another stoppage on what could be a rusty opponent. It wouldn't surprise me if Vazquez is able to outbox Kim for 12 rounds, but I like the Korean's power in this one. Kim TKO-10