A lot of solid boxing going on in the first truly good fight weekend of the year.
Thursday, January 27
SuperSport 2 (South Africa), 2:30 p.m. Eastern, Hekkie Budler vs. Gideon Buthelezi. South African quasi-prospect Budler will defend his IBO light flyweight title against fellow South African Buthelezi. A lot of folks are high on Budler, but he struggled in his last few fights against good but not great competition, so this seems to be an appropriate step back before trying to step up to the true title level. 8-0 Congolese heavyweight prospect Flo Simba will also fight for a fringe title on the undercard. Simba is very raw, but also has serious tools.
Friday, January 28
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Cris Arreola vs. Joey Abell, Mike Dallas Jr. vs. Josesito Lopez. Goosen-Tutor is putting on a really solid card for FNF this weekend. Arreola-Abell is unlikely to last long, but will probably be a three round slugfest before Abell gasses out. Arreola is coming off surgery after his win over Manuel Quezada, so a lighter touch is to be expected. Abell is best known for "upsetting" Teke Oruh on Showbox a few years back, but since then he's lost to some less than stellar names. The much better fight is Dallas vs. Lopez. Dallas is a solid prospect at 17-0, and in his last televised bout, he pretty much dominated fellow prospect Lenard Lane. Lopez is a lot better than his 28-3 record indicates. One of the losses came three fights into his career, and the other two were split decisions in his opponent's backyards to decent fighters. In his last five fights, he has wins over Patrick Lopez, Marvin Cordova Jr. and Sergio Rivera, so at the very least, he's no pushover. If fights run short, you might also get to see Shawn Estrada or John Molina, who are also slated to fight on the undercard.
TeleFutura, 11:30 p.m. Eastern, Charles Huerta vs. Raul Hirales Jr., Gary Russell Jr. vs. TBA. Huerta and Hirales are a couple of Fight Night Club veterans who make decent fights but who will probably never be actual contenders. Russell, on the other hand, is indeed a top prospect (and was thought to be the best pro prospect on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team), but Golden Boy is taking him extremely slow, as is evidenced by the fact he still doesn't have an opponent three days out from his next fight.
Saturday, January 29
Main Event (Australia), 3:00 a.m. Eastern, Sonny Bill Williams vs. Scott Lewis, Alex Leapai vs. Jason Barnett, Jamie Pittman vs. Tim Kanofski. This might be about the worst pay per view lineup I've ever seen. Williams is a former rugby player who is now 2-0, yet headlining a pay per view event. Lewis is the first fighter he will have faced with ANY pro fighting experience. His last couple fights literally came against barroom brawlers. Leapai and Pittman are decent Aussie-level fighters who have been slowly stepping up to the back end of world class, but these aren't fights that are going to improve their standing any.
Sky Sports 1 (UK), 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Prizefighter Light Heavyweights. One of the weaker lineups of the Prizefighter series is featuring former super middleweight Commonwealth title challenger Tony Dodson, as well as an all-star cast of 2-0 Billy Slate, 5-1 Jack Morris, 5-0 Llewellyn Davies, 7-0 Travis Dickinson, 7-1 Joe Smyth, 4-0 Menay Edwards and 11-25 Michael Banbula (who, granted, DID beat Tony Oakey and draw with Tony Jeffries in his last five fights).
SABC 2 (South Africa), 4:35 p.m. Eastern, Cassius Baloyi vs. Argenis Mendez, Nkosinathi Joyi vs. Katsunari Takayama. The main event between Baloyi and Mendez is finally on after several postponements, and is a title eliminator for the right to face Mzonke Fana. Baloyi is past his best at this point, but Mendez is probably still the underdog. Joyi, on the other hand, is almost certainly the best strawweight in the world, is currently peaking, and probably is a top 10 pound for pound guy based on pure talent and boxing skills, even if he hasn't had the opportunity to face the best opponents out there. Takayama is a former titlist, but hasn't had many significant wins in about five years. In a move I wouldn't mind seeing from a US promoter, Branco Milenkovic is actually self-producing this broadcast and giving it away for free to a public television network in exchange for pulling some of the ad revenue off the top. I remember Gary Shaw talking about doing something like this a few years ago, but it's nice to see someone giving an alternative business model a try.
Gofightlive.tv, 7:30 p.m. Eastern ($9.99), Jason Estrada vs. Franklin Lawrence, Jose Medina vs. Isaac Rodrigues. Pushed back a bit, "Big Six" Estrada takes his first fight since losing to Tomasz Adamek. Lawrence beat Lance Whitaker his last time out, and lost to Oliver McCall before that, so if nothing else he's faced some seasoned veterans. Rodrigues was moving up the ranks at middleweight, beating Marcos Primera and Bryan Vera not too long ago, but lost his last time out to Samuel Miller.
TyC Sports (Argentina), 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Roberto Domingo Sosa vs. Devis Perez, Yesica Yolanda Bopp vs. Carina Moreno. Bopp is probably the top women's light flyweight in the world, if you're into that sort of thing.
HBO, Main Event (Australia), Sky Sports 2 (UK), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander. For those in the UK who don't want to stay up until the light starts to shine,Sky Sports 4 will replay the fight at 10:00 a.m. local time on Sunday morning. We'll have more on this unification bout during the week. Bad Left Hook will have live round by round coverage of this fight.
FSN, Fox Sports Espanol, TV Azteca (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Billy Lyell. Chavez is in that very messy WBC middleweight mix, defending his "silver" title in this one. When Sergio Martinez decided to actually take a legitimate fight, he was stripped of this title, which was gifted to the woefully undeserving Sebastian Zbik. David Lemieux and Marco Antonio Rubio are also slated to face each other in a title eliminator soon, meaning someone much better than Zbik (even if it's Chavez) will probably get a free title for the price of facing a no-name. Lyell got a boost when he upset John Duddy not long ago, but make no mistakes - he's a gatekeeper type. The Youngstown native parlayed that win into a title shot against Sebastian Sylvester (which he lost badly), but he's lost to every other decent fighter he's faced. Please note that the Mexican broadcast of this starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and that the US broadcast appears to be on tape delay, although chances are that the main event will start late enough that you can still catch it after Bradley-Alexander. Jackie Nava will also defend her women's title on the undercard.
Televisa Deportes (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Nehomar Cermeno vs. Victor Terrazas, Jesus Jimenez vs. Jean Piero Perez. Recent titlist Cermeno and recent eliminator challenger Terrazas face off in a super bantamweight title eliminator, a division where Cermeno probably steps in and immediately becomes a top three guy. Jimenez is defending his interim flyweight title. Almost as interesting as anything is that this card is being promoted by Canelo Promotions, proving that at only 20 years old, Saul Alvarez is already more business savvy than Floyd Mayweather Jr., promoting a card he's not even fighting on.
Monday, January 31
TV Tokyo(?) (Japan), Takashi Uchiyama vs. Takashi Muira, Ryol Li Lee vs. Akifumi Shimoda. Uchiyama will make the third defense of his super featherweight title against Japanese titlist Muira, who has been on a roll of late. Uchiyama has won his last six fights by knockout, all against decent but not great competition, outside of his title win. Muira is a late replacement for Jorge Solis, but is no slouch. While Muira is an unknown, he'll probably be the second best win on Uchiyama's resume. Lee pulled off a major upset in beating Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym his last time out and takes a relatively easy first defense against former Japanese super bantamweight titlist Shimoda. I suspect this one's on TV Tokyo (that's where Uchiyama's previous fights have aired), but it's a little too far out to show up on the schedule still - I'll update this once I get final info.
Elsewhere in the world of boxing...
- In Algeria on Friday, Ali Chebah will face Ajose Olusegun in a junior welterweight title eliminator. Officially, this is for the right to face the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander winner, but there's about a 99% chance the winner of that fight will just vacate rather than face the winner of this fight. Thus, this is a de facto title fight. Chebah and Olusegun are both decent enough fighters, but neither is particularly great, and neither brings any money to the table. Both do, however, have flashy styles and think the world of themselves. I suspect this is being broadcasted in France somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
- While HBO only picked up one fight on the card, the 500 or so people who actually attend Bradley-Alexander live might be treated to a fairly decent undercard. Uber-talented but uber-troubled prospect Vernon Paris will take on a very faded Emmanuel Augustus in a fight that might feature more upper body movement than any fight in the last decade. Former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz moves up to welterweight to take on gatekeeper Pavel Miranda. Former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt takes what looks to be a decent bounceback fight against tough but limited Lenin Arroyo. Also fighting on the card will be Don King prospects James de la Rosa and Bermane Stiverne, as well as local favorite Darryl Cunningham.
- Interim minimumweight titlist Raul Garcia will be taking a tune-up, non-title fight this weekend after struggling a bit more than he should have against Luis de la Rosa. He's facing Jose Figueroa in front of a home audience.
- Also fighting this weekend: David Diaz, Carson Jones, Luis Ortiz, Umberto Savigne, Aslanbek Kozaev, Ronson Frank, Edrin Dapudong, Rey Bautista, Jason Pagara, Phillip N'Dou, Jesse Lubash, Dominic Wade, Isaac Rodrigues, Oisin Fagan and Zambian women's boxing sensation Esther Phiri, who has basically become her country's version of Manny Pacquiao.