Friday, July 8
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Francisco Sierra vs. Jesus Gonzales, Yaundale Evans vs. Emmanuel Lucero. The main event of this one looks good on paper, but it's hard to tell exactly where Gonzales is these days. Since getting wiped out by Edison Miranda in a round, Sierra has come back with some solid wins over Don George and Jose Luis Lopez, as well as a draw with Dyah Davis (who subsequently upset Marcus Johnson) to pretty firmly entrench himself as a fringe contender in the super middleweight division. Gonzales was once an exciting fighter, but he's taken a few years off and hasn't really stepped back up since coming back, other than a win over Dhafir Smith. Evans is a super featherweight prospect taking a big step up against former contender Lucero, who himself was retired for a few years before recently coming back to action. Lucero has a penchant for getting knocked out, so if Evans can take care of him early, that will help establish that he's someone to watch.
TeleFutura, 11:35 p.m. Eastern, Jesse Vargas vs. Walter Estrada. Golden Boy has some high hopes behind Vargas, a big puncher who fights mean. After a joke win over a shell of Vivian Harris, Vargas takes a true step up here against Estrada, who has always been the opponent but has a long history of upsetting prospects.
Saturday, July 9
Canal Indigo PPV (Quebec), Bell TV PPV (elsewhere in Canada), 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Lucian Bute vs. Jean Paul Mendy, Viorel Simion vs. Jun Talape, Pier Olivier Cote vs. Pedro Navarette, Renan St. Juste vs. Jaudiel Zepeda, Bogdan Dinu vs. TBA. As we've already covered, this is a pretty weak defense by Bute, but it's his mandatory. If he was going to make it back to Romania for a fight, this was probably the one. The other fights are mostly showcases and filler. Dinu is one person worth mentioning at least as a heavyweight with a decent amateur career who has recently followed over his countrymen Bute and Adrian Diaconu to Canada to fight professionally. Brick's pick: This one should be a blowout. Bute has been known to start late sometimes, but the way Sakio Bika brutalized him, I suspect Bute will try to start quickly and give his hometown crowd a real show. Bute TKO-1.
Showtime, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Brandon Rios vs. Urbano Antillon, Kermit Cintron vs. Carlos Molina. On paper, the main event is a can't-miss fight. Both guys are big punchers who never take a backwards step, work the body well and like to grind down opponents before eventually knocking them out. While Rios can sometimes act like a bag of dicks, there's a reason why in the ring he's become a fan favorite. Antillon is tough as nails and is a better boxer than he's sometimes given credit for. Cintron gets his first televised fight since flopping against Paul Williams, and quite frankly, I'd be a lot more excited if they were showing Mercito Gesta's fight instead. Brick's Pick: While Rios is younger, fresher and probably a little better, there is one big difference between the two, which is that Antillon is a fast starter and Rios is a slow starter. No matter which way this goes, it looks to be a war of attrition. While it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Antillon is able to hurt Rios early, dent his chin a bit and pull off the upset, I think Rios will be able to ride out the early storm and come on strong later while earning a late stoppage. Rios TKO-11.
HBO, 10:15 p.m. Eastern, Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara, Akifumi Shimoda vs. Rico Ramos. Williams has taken some serious time off since getting knocked out cold by Sergio Martinez his last time out. Before then, he was a top 10 pound for pound guy, albeit one with a ton of holes in his game. He's really tall, but he doesn't fight tall, and at the end of the day he's really an awkward volume puncher without much regard for defense. Lara was touted as a top prospect, and was a top amateur, but his career seems to have stalled out, and he looked pretty bad in getting gifted a draw against Carlos Molina his last time out. Shimoda dominated Ryol Li Lee to win a title his last fight, while Ramos has been Goosen Tutor's best looking prospect for a while now. Shimoda is now the second Teiken fighter to come over to the US (and I believe the first ever Japanese fighter to attempt a defense of his title stateside). The last one who came over as an apparent stepping stone for a touted American prospect was Nobuhiro Ishida against James Kirkland, and we all know how that one went. Brick's Picks: While Lara just hasn't looked that great recently, Williams still remains wide open to a lot of shots. That could mean bad news against a tricky southpaw counterpuncher who likes to pick his spots. Fortunately, Paul has a very high and flashy workrate, while Lara sometimes seems hesitant to throw at all. I think Williams will eke out a decision that people who prefer accurate punching will call a robbery. The undercard fight is the real treat here though. I think this will be a massive coming out party for Ramos, who is just too quick, too strong and too skilled for reigning titlist Shimoda. Williams SD-12, Ramos UD-12.
Televisa (Mexico), approx 12:00 a.m. Eastern, Hugo Cazares vs. Arturo Badillo. Cazares takes another relatively soft defense here against Badillo, a fellow Mexican who lost to Roland Barrera the only time he really stepped up previously. Nonetheless, Cazares always makes good fights, and he doesn't use an easy fight as an excuse to fight easy.
Also in action this weekend - Giacobbe Fragomeni, Giuseppe Lauri, Daiki Kameda, Tomoki Kameda, Mercito Gesta, Matt Korobov, Mike Lee, Cris Arreola vs. Friday Ahunanya, Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Tomas Villa, Carson Jones.