Friday, February 18
Sport 1 (Germany), 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Jan Zaveck vs. Paul Delgado. On one hand, I'm really happy for Paul Delgado. Fighters like him are the lifeblood of the sport. After spending a decade as a gatekeeper, he's rattled off a few wins in a row, became ranked by a sanctioning body, and now he gets what is very likely to be the only title shot of his career. On the other hand, I'm not thrilled that Zaveck has literally chosen the least qualified candidate possible to defend his welterweight title against. While he doesn't have a major promoter, it seems like Zaveck is taking the Universum route of defending against the worst opponents he can get away with. On the other hand, there have at least been discussions that he would be willing to face someone like Andre Berto in a unification fight. Hopefully he's just biding his time until he gets a more prominent fight, since there really aren't many good opponents for someone like Berto to face anyway.
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3D, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Fernando Guerrero vs. Derrick Findley, Shawn Porter vs. Agnes Adjaho. These fights aren't really a step up for either prospect, but at least Prize Fight is keeping Guerrero and Porter both busy and on television. Findley is a known quantity who has lost to Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell and Matt Korobov, but he did respectably against Korobov his last time out and usually tries to make a fight. Adjaho, despite being 2-4 in his last six and having spent most of his career at lightweight, is the much more solid opponent. Of those losses, one was a disputed decision to top 5 ranked Miguel Acosta, one was a loss to Antonio DeMarco in a fight he was winning but was counted out when he tried to fake a low blow and was counted out, and the last two were decision losses to prospects Brad Solomon and Mark Melligen in fights that were much closer than the scorecards indicated. He also has a win over fough Fernando Angulo mixed in there. Both Guerrero and Porter have blown hot and cold in terms of performance, so hopefully they can make entertaining fights now that they're back on the big stage. Something fun and exciting about this card though - this card will be broadcasted in 3-D, making it the first boxing match to be televised in that format in the U.S.
TeleFutura, 11:30 p.m. Eastern, Eloy Perez vs. Roger Gonzalez, Mercito Gesta vs. Genaro Traznacos. Perez-Gonzalez is actually a pretty solid fight for a TeleFutura card. Perez is a Golden Boy prospect, but has struggled mightily in several of his recent fights. Gonzalez is a decent fighter, but he's been out of action for two years now. His last time out, he was knocked out by Yuriorkis Gamboa after knocking down Gamboa early. Gesta, on the other hand, is mostly getting a showcase fight. He's put in a few good performances in a row, and he's been trying to build up for a fight against Brandon Rios, if GBP and Top Rank are ever willing to end their third cold war.
Saturday, February 19
Super Channel 4 (Canada), 2:30 p.m. Eastern, John O'Donnell vs. Craig Watson, Tyson Fury vs. Marcelo Luiz Nascimento, Lenny Daws vs. Ashley Theophane. The British welterweight title is on the line for O'Donnell-Watson, and the British light welterweight title is on the line for Daws-Theophane, two fights that both look pretty good and pretty evenly matched on paper. After a very solid run early career for Fury, he's taken a small step back in opposition as he's begun training with Emmanuel Steward. Nascimento is rated by the WBO after beating Omar Gonzalo Basile, but the 13-0 fighter literally has faced no other fighters even worth mentioning. At the very least, Nascimento is a big guy who can hold his own with Fury physically.
Sky Sports 1 (UK), 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Frankie Gavin vs. Jason Cook, Larry Olubamiwo vs. John McDermott. Gavin is probably my personal favorite prospect in the world right now, and he's taking a perfectly appropriate step up against former European lightweight titlist Cook. Gavin was originally slated to be fighting for a fringe title at this point, but injury problems have pushed back the fight and caused a change in the opponent. Olubamiwo is a heavyweight who Frank Warren is trying to build into something, but in reality he'll be no better than a domestic-level heavy. Former English titlist McDermott has lost four in a row, but three of them were very close against Danny Williams and Tyson Fury. I suspect Olubamiwo might have bitten off more than he can chew with this one. It seems that the original main event (Bellew-McKenzie) has been postponed.
SAT1 (Germany), 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Felix Sturm vs. Ronald Hearns. In case anyone thought Sturm might face tougher opposition now that he is his own promoter, I guess this answers the question. Since getting dominated by Harry Joe Yorgey, Hearns has rattled off five wins over mediocre competition and earns a title shot.
HBO, 9:45 p.m. Eastern, Fernando Montiel vs. Nonito Donaire, Mike Jones vs. Jesus Soto-Karass II. And now we finally get the step back up for Donaire that we've been waiting for. In a fair world, Montiel, a unified titlist who has won belts in three weight classes and hasn't lost in five years (and there's a solid argument that he should be undefeated), would be the favorite or even the more highly rated fighter. People thought he was on the way out, but he shockingly upset Hozumi Hasegawa to become unified titlist. Donaire, on the other hand, has a lofty top five pound for pound ranking, but hasn't actually faced a top fighter since beating Vic Darchinyan nearly four years ago. He's seeking a title in his third weight class as well, and unfortunately he's already announced he's moving up in weight after this fight, rather than taking any of a number of great fights in a stacked bantamweight class. Jones and Soto-Karass face off for the second time. The first time, Jones won by the skin of his teeth after completely dominating the early rounds, gassing himself out after throwing nearly 200 punches in the second round, and then playing catch-up for much of the rest of the fight. Assuming he actually paces himself for this one, he just has too much talent to let the rematch be as close or exciting as the first fight was. There's a solid off-TV undercard for this one as well, so check Toprank.com to see if they're streaming it in advance of the televised fights. Bad Left Hook will have live round by round coverage of this card.
Televisa (Mexico), 11:35 p.m. Eastern, Rocky Juarez vs. Alejandro Sanabria, Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Jorge Romero. Juarez seems to be nearing the end of his string, going 1-1-4 in his last six with all of the fights coming against very good competition. Still, he's a frustratingly slow starter, and he seems to have lost a step since his heyday. Sanabria is a 26-1-1 prospect who doesn't have any wins of note, and is probably the easiest opponent he's faced in about four years. Cesar is a 20-0-1 prospect who they've been trying to build into an attraction in Mexico, although he's struggled lately against so-so competition.
Televisa (Mexico), 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Efren Hinojosa vs. Silveiro Ortiz.
Cadena Tres (Mexico), 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Oscal Blanquet vs. Miguel Tellez. Oscar "de la Renta" has been marching towards a title shot at flyweight.
- In Ontario on Saturday, Logan McGuinness takes on Hector Julio Avila, while Junior Witter returns against Victor Puiu. McGuinness continues to step up slowly as his handlers try to make him into the next attraction in Ontario. Avila is very experienced, but his career pattern mostly involves taking 10 or so easy fights, then losing whenever he steps up. Witter is back in action for the first time in a year and a half since losing to Devon Alexander, facing Puiu for a fringe welterweight title. Puiu has a shiny record fighting out of Ontario, but he's 2-1-1 in his last four and none of those fights came against great competititon.
- In Mexico, Yory Boy Campas continues his march towards 100 wins as he faces Matt Vanda. Despite being 39 years old (although it seems like he should be much older than that), give Campas credit for continuing to face legitimate opponents instead of just padding his record against nobodies. He's lost to most of his better opposition over the last few years, but he did beat the perfectly respectable Esteban Camou his last time out.
- Also in smaller fights this weekend - Carlos Quintana, Stephane Jamoye (who is keeping a completely packed schedule), Tomoki Kameda, Denis Douglin, Dominic Wade, Kiko Martinez, Likar Ramos vs. Humberto Toledo, Lee Purdy vs. Michael Lomax, Deontay Wilder vs. DeAndrey Abron, Mariusz Wach, Mark Melligan, Mike Alvarado, Mickey Bey Jr., Yordenis Ugas and Ruslan Provodnikov.