Plenty of action this afternoon, so here's a thread where everyone can talk a little boxing before the HBO main course this evening. I will be doing live coverage of the Sturm-Hearns fight on ESPN3.com. All times are EST:
2:30pm, Premiere Sports (UK) / Super Channel 4 (Canada)
Lenny Daws v. Ashley Theophane, John O'Donnell v. Craig Watson II, Tyson Fury v. Marcelo Luiz Nascimento
Daws-Theophane might be the best fight of this Saturday afternoon lot. Daws (21-1-2, 9 KO) will be defending his British 140-pound belt against Theophane (28-4-1, 7 KO), who has spent plenty of time Stateside and has been featured on TV a few times. His best name wins are both debatable majority decisions, over DeMarcus Corley and Delvin Rodriguez. He was probably most impressive in a close, also debatable loss to prospect Danny Garcia a year ago on ESPN2. O'Donnell (24-1, 11 KO) and Watson (19-3, 8 KO) will battle for the vacant British welterweight belt. They first fought in 2009, with O'Donnell taking a split decision victory. Watson is the last guy to beat Matthew Hatton. And you all know big mouth Fury (13-0, 9 KO), who will take on another unbeaten big man, the 6'5" Brazilian slugger Nascimento (13-0, 11 KO). Nascimento's last three fights have not gotten out of the first round, but he's only faced one opponent with any credibility whatsoever. Fury's 13-0 is a lot heavier.
3:00pm, Sky Sports 1 (UK)
Frankie Gavin v. Michael Lomax, Larry Olubamiwo v. John McDermott
Lomax (17-3-1, 2 KO) is a punchless vet and a late sub for Jason Cook. Gavin (8-0, 7 KO) is one of my favorite prospects, and Brick said the other day that Gavin is his favorite prospect, so I guess we can start calling him "Bad Left Hook favorite Frankie Gavin." Olubamiwo (10-1, 9 KO) does absolutely nothing for me, but he's a 6'4", 260-pound heavyweight with some power, so he'll get every chance to make something useful of himself, at least domestically in the UK. It wouldn't shock me if he loses to McDermott (25-7, 16 KO), but my guess is that the matchmakers believe this to be a real opportunity to put a name on Olubamiwo's record. McDermott looked pretty damn worn out in both fights against Tyson Fury, though he was spirited and competitive in both, and has lost four in a row to Fury and Danny Williams. It's been nearly three years since he's had his hand raised in victory.
3:30pm, ESPN3.com (US) and SAT1 (Germany)
Felix Sturm v. Ronald Hearns
Supposedly, Sturm (34-2-1, 14 KO) leaving the evil and loathsome Universum was so that he could, in his early 30s, finally start fighting top opponents. After a year-plus layoff during the split from his old promoters, Sturm fought Giovanni Lorenzo, a perfectly acceptable comeback opponent, and jabbed his way to no-sweat dominance for 12 rounds in Cologne, Germany. The hope was that his next fight would be a bigger name opponent, but no dice. He's back to his old tricks, facing Hearns (26-1, 20 KO) in Stuggart. Hearns is getting a great opportunity, and if he doesn't come into this fight listening to "Lose Yourself" on repeat on his iPod, something's wrong with him. This really might be the only shot he ever gets. He's 32 himself, but with marginal talent and a very late start in the boxing game, but at this point he's a seven-year pro, and he's smart to take the shot. He does have very real natural power -- he's not quite his dad, but there's some dynamite in his right hand. Sturm will be by far the best fighter he's ever faced, with the runner-up being Harry Joe Yorgey, and Yorgey fairly well beat on Hearns en route to a KO-9 in 2009. This is a time where I'll openly admit I'm rooting for the upset. There are several reasons. I'm a huge Tommy Hearns fan. Ronald seems like a nice guy who's doing his best and really hasn't benefitted from any association until now. And as much as I've in the past professed admiration for Sturm's skills, the act has grown tired. Sturm has struggled in what were supposed to be easy fights in the past (Randy Griffin, notably), but fact is he's got a lot more polish than Ronald. It's going to be an uphill battle for Hearns the whole way, and a win for him would have to be a crowd-stunning knockout. The moment would be something else. I don't think he'll win, but I'm rooting for the guy.