Well folks, boxing's "offseason" for the year is about to start, for the second time this year. After a flurry of activity, there isn't another major U.S. fight scheduled until November, unless Ward-Dirrell (still on for this weekend according to Showtime's website, but not listed here because it's not actually happening) miraculously gets rescheduled within the next month.
Thursday, Septebmer 23
Fox Sports 3 (Australia), 5:30 a.m. Eastern, Sam Soliman vs. Pradeep Singh, Czar Amonsot vs. Sirichai Ekchumpol. Soliman went from journeyman to contender and back, but the entertaining good guy seems to be making one more run at a title, as this one is for a regional IBF trinket. Amonsot's career seemed to end when he suffered a brain bleed against Michael Katsidis a few years back, but he's gone 3-0 since returning to the ring a year and a half ago. I guess the Aussie commission is more lax about licensing guys who have suffered brain bleeds, but I just hope he doesn't get seriously hurt as his fighting career continues.
Friday, September 24
Sky Sports 2 (UK), 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Tony Bellew vs. Bob Ajisafe. Bellew will be making the first defense of his light heavyweight commonwealth title against a guy whose best win is Orvil McKenzie. Bellew still has serious strides to make on his defense before he should try a jump to the world level, so it's probably just as well that his first defense comes against someone rugged but not that great.
Azteca America, Azteca TV (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Hernan "Tyson" Marquez vs. Valentin Leon, Gabriel Martinez vs. Alberto Salas. Marquez got shellacked by Nonito Donaire not too long ago, and comes back with a relatively easy one against journeyman Leon. Martinez is a young Mexican welterweight with a few good wins on his record. His only loss came to Saul Alvarez, and his last time out, he had a no contest against Jesus Soto Karass due to a headbutt. Salas hasn't fought since 2007, so it should also be an easy time for him. This one isn't listed on Boxrec, but I've seen the flyers and haven't seen anything saying the fight is off, so I'm assuming it's still a go.
Saturday, September 25
TBS (Japan), 6:00 a.m. Eastern, Daiki Kameda vs. Takefumi Sakata. These two have built up some real ill will against each other. When Kameda won the title from Denkaosan Kaovichit, he pretty much said he'd rather give up the belt than fight Sakata, who is with a gym with which his father has a blood feud. Still, with two name fighters and a classic good guy/bad guy plotline, this fight was too big in Japan not to get made. Their biggest common opponent is Kaovichit, against whom Kameda is 1-1 and Sakata is 0-1-1. It appears that this is being paired up with an MMA bout, which is a more major fight to be marketed that way than anything we've seen in the U.S.
GMA-7 (Philippines), time TBA, Denver Cuello vs. Muhammad Rachman. Cuello's had a decent run at minimumweight recently, and probably the only thing to have kept him from a title shot so far was a DQ loss in an eliminator where he hit his opponent after he was down. Rachman is a former titlist and a tough little dude, but he's WAY past his best at this point.
Polsat Sport (Poland), 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Krzyzstof Wlodarczyk vs. Jason Robinson. Diablo's first defense of his second title reign comes against Robinson, an older fighter who somehow got ranked after two so-so wins that followed a prolonged retirement. Before the retirement, he had lost three in a row to James Toney, Grigory Drozd and Ezra Sellers.
Sky Sports 1 (UK), 4:00 p.m. Eastern, John Murray vs. Andriy Kudriavtsev, Albert Sosnowski vs. Paul Butlin. Murray is defending his European lightweight title, and while he's probably getting close to a title shot at lightweight, this kind of bout probably won't get him any closer. Sosnowski takes an easy comeback after getting creamed by Vitali Klitschko.
Gofightlive.tv, 7:30 p.m. Eastern ($9.99), Teon Kennedy vs. Alex Becerra.
Super Channel 2 (Canada), 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Logan "Cotton" McGuinness vs. Buzz Grant, Samuel Vargas vs. Ryan Wagner. McGuinness is an undefeated lightweight prospect whose only win over a name opponent came against a shot Walter Estrada. This one's for a regional trinket, although it seems he still has a ways to go. Vargas is a Colombian fighting out of Toronto that some of the Canadian promoters have been getting excited about. In five fights, he only has one knockout, raising the question of whether tomato cans in Colombia are just that much worse, or if the fact that he lives in Canada means he'll be the only Colombian fighter who isn't a puncher.
Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports Espanol, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Ramon Garcia Hirales vs. Manuel "Chango" Vargas, Humberto Mauro Gutierrez vs. Cristobal Cruz. The only somewhat major card to be televised in the U.S. this weekend also features two fights with good sleeper potential. Hirales beat Jhonriel Casimero for an interim title not long ago, and is a mandatory to face light flyweight champion Giovani Segura. Vargas, normally a minimumweight, was WAY out of his depth against Nonito Donaire a couple fights ago, but held his own and lost a split decision in a title fight against Donnie Nietes. Hirales is somewhat of a wild card, and Vargas isn't half bad at the lower weights, so it could be an entertaining clash. Gutierrez and Cruz are both recent titlists who lost to Vitali Tajbert and Orlando Salido, respectively. Gutierrez is a bit more of a boxer, while Cruz is just a complete whirlwind, a fighter who throws caution to the wind as he moves forward and throws 80 to 150 wild punches a round. Cruz is moving up to 130 for this one, and the winner will probably be close to getting a title shot, considering their history and relative popularity.
TyC Sports (Argentina), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Ulises David Lopez vs. Alejandro Gustavo Falliga.
- In Tunica, Mississippi, we'll get a card featuring a number of promising prospects that will be airing on syndication on Fox Sports in some areas of the south. Dominic Wade and U.S. Olympian Gary Russell Jr. will be featured on the card. Perhaps most exciting, 2008 Olympic medalist Deontay Wilder appears to be taking a small step up, finally, against 9-0 Shannon Caudle. While Caudle hasn't beaten anyone worth anything, it's still better than fighting a 400 pounder who had never beaten anyone with so much as a win on his record.
- In Reno, Joey Gilbert takes on Kassim Ouma. Former "Contender" contestant Gilbert never really made it beyond the point of being a local draw, but this is a nice step up in class. Former titlist Ouma has lost five of his last six, although his last time out many thought he won his fight against major prospect Vanes Martirosyan. Other than a wide loss to Jermain Taylor, the other four losses were all close bouts that could have gone either way, so he's had a bit of bad luck.
- Also in smaller fights this weekend: Howard Eastman, Scott Quigg, Ronson Frank, Lennox Allen, Michael Landero, Jesus Jimenez, Victor Bisbal, Ali Ismailov, and Derry Matthews.