I made my picks for these fights on the first episode of Bad Left Hook Radio on Wednesday. This feature is more intended for those many casual viewers who plan to buy the show but don't know much about the undercard. If they intend to watch (which is often not the case), I hope they find this to be a decent enough primer.
Super Bantamweights (122 lbs.), 12 Rounds
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. vs Jorge Arce
I actually slipped when talking about this fight on the podcast, saying that Arce was at his best at flyweight (112 lbs). That's not true. Arce was actually at his best at 108 pounds. The 31-year-old Mexican star has a ton of fans and has earned them over his 15-year career. At 56-6-2 (43 KO), Arce has been through 357 professional rounds, many of them filled with blood and brawling.
But this isn't the Jorge Arce of yesterday. He may be only 31, but in ring years he's far older, and he has struggled over 112 pounds, or if you're being generous, over 115 pounds. But he's still got incredible guts, and if he can hold up against the younger man, this could wind up being, for pure fight's sake, the best fight of the night.
Vazquez (20-0-1, 17 KO) holds a title belt, but for those new to boxing, try not to focus on that so much. His father, Wilfredo Sr., boxed from 1981-2002 and won belts at 118, 122 and 126 pounds. The son has picked up the torch and has proven himself to be a legitimate fighter in his own right, and despite his pedigree, he was not pushed abnormally hard when he turned pro in 2006. He was largely off the radar until last year.
Vazquez, 26, has not taken near the punishment Arce has over the years, and is the fresher, younger, stronger, faster fighter. Arce's best chance in this fight is hoping that his power carries its way up and he can bang with Vazquez, plus he'll have to lure him into the sort of firefight where anything can happen. If the power isn't there, he's in trouble. Vazquez has the ability to outbox Arce easily, and the power to take him out.
After the jump: Previews of Kelly Pavlik vs Alfonso Lopez and Ray Narh vs Mike Alvarado.
Super Middleweights (168 lbs, slightly higher catchweight), 10 Rounds
Kelly Pavlik vs Alfonso Lopez
Lopez, 28, is out of Cut and Shoot, Texas, and this is his first major fight. Pavlik is the former undisputed and legitimate middleweight champion of the world, and just turned 29 last month. It's been a rough few years for Pavlik, who was dominated by old Bernard Hopkins in 2008 in a non-title fight, then lost his championship last year when he was sliced and diced by Sergio Martinez. Months after losing to Martinez, Pavlik entered a rehabilitation facility to deal with alcohol issues.
Pavlik looks good. He looks healthy. And all reports out of Vegas this week are that Pavlik is in high spirits, happy to be back in the fight game for the first time since April 2010. Pavlik (36-2, 32 KO) is on paper a far superior fighter, having convincingly beaten far better opponents than Lopez (21-0, 16 KO) has ever faced.
But there is some potential danger here. Alfonso Lopez is essentially an unknown, and with guys like this, you just never know. The most likely outcome is Pavlik overcomes some early rust and rips Lopez in the middle rounds. The second-most likely outcome is Pavlik blasts Lopez out quickly, if Lopez is in fact incredibly overmatched, and if Kelly's old laser-like straight right hand is there. There is potentially a mild upset chance -- very mild.
Junior Welterweights, 10 Rounds
Ray Narh vs Mike Alvarado
All you can really hope for here is that we get a good fight. Both guys have some power, but Alvarado (29-0, 21 KO) has damaged his own career with outside the ring issues including a couple of stints in jail, and Narh (25-2, 21 KO) just isn't nearly as good as his record might suggest. This fight wasn't supposed to be here; this is replacing what was to be a rematch of Bad Left Hook's 2010 Fight of the Year between Humberto Soto and Urbano Antillon, but Soto left Top Rank and Zanfer (his Mexican promoter), so the card had to have something. All things considered, this isn't the worst fight, but I'm not going to lie and say that it should be on a major pay-per-view. Then again, we've sure as hell seen worse over the years. I like Alvarado here unless he's insanely rusty.