Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell highlight this weekend's boxing lineup. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Friday, September 21
NBC Sports, 9:00 pm EDT, Gabriel Rosado vs Charles Whittaker, Ronald Cruz vs Antwone Smith, Sergey Kovalev vs Lionell Thompson. Solid show here, which is the standard for the Main Events/NBC Sports series, one of US boxing's clearest successes of 2012. There has yet to be anything less than an entertaining show from their run, and though sure, that's due to happen eventually, on paper they've got another fine batch of fights here. Rosado (20-5, 12 KO) is the BLH No. 10 junior middleweight in the world, a quality fighter whose record is deceiving because he's fought his way here and wasn't mollycoddled. This is an IBF title eliminator, but Whittaker (38-12-2, 23 KO) isn't a serious contender, or at least hasn't been. Now 38, he hasn't lost since 2004, but he's also not fought anyone of note. Cruz (17-0, 12 KO) is a solid welterweight prospect with wins over Prenice Brewer and Allen Conyers this year, while Smith (21-4-1, 12 KO) still has a bit of his spoiler reputation left, and grunts a lot. Kovalev (18-0-1, 16 KO) was supposed to fight Gabriel Campillo here, but Campillo was injured. Thompson (12-1, 8 KO) is not Campillo, but it's not a bad fight. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
Showtime, 11:00 pm EDT, Jhonatan Romero vs Efrain Esquivas, Roman Morales vs Jonathan Arrellano. It might just be me (and I really mean that, that's not a snarky way to lead what I'm going to say), but it seems like ShoBox has been less of a concern under Espinoza at Showtime than it was under Hershman. I don't know, I could be totally off my rocker there, too. Romero (21-0, 12 KO) is a 25-year-old Colombian super bantamweight who stands 5'9", making him obviously pretty damn tall for 122 pounds. Romero scored a win late last year over ShoBox regular Chris Avalos. Esquivas (16-1, 9 KO) was very competitive against former world titlist Rico Ramos in June, losing an eight-round majority decision in what wound up a really fun fight. Morales (12-0, 6 KO) and Arrellano (13-0-1, 3 KO) are a couple of unbeaten young super bantamweights. Morales just fought on August 24, beating Jonathan Alcantara, while Arrellano last fought on June 22, scoring a win over veteran Jose Angel Beranza, a reliable prospect-checker. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
Saturday, September 22
BoxNation (UK) / Livesport.TV (UK), 2:00 pm EDT, Ricky Burns vs Kevin Mitchell. There are undercard fights on this show, but there will be zero competitive (on paper) fights. Scott Harrison continues his comeback with his second fight back this year, and John Simpson gets a soft touch in another fight, and Bradley Saunders is fighting, etc. But this show is entirely about the main event -- Burns vs Mitchell is the ticket-seller, and Warren isn't wasting time or money on the undercard, because he doesn't really need to do so. The undercard is functional, basically. Burns (34-2, 9 KO) and Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO) are top five fighters at 135 in our rankings, and the winner here has a fine argument to be called the current best lightweight in the world. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
Polsat Sport (Poland), 3:50 pm EDT, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs Francisco Palacios II. These two first met in April 2011, and Puerto Rico's unheralded Palacios gave Wlodarczyk a lot more trouble than expected, losing a split decision on Wlodarczyk's turf. Now he goes back, and he's the underdog again, but "Diablo" really hasn't looked great in his last three outings, though they've all been wins. Last time out, Wlodarczyk had to score a comeback KO of Danny Green. Palacios hasn't fought since November, when he beat Joell Godfrey.
Sky Sports 1 (UK), 4:00 pm EDT, Carl Frampton vs Steve Molitor, Paul McCloskey vs Manuel Perez, Lee Selby vs Martin Lindsay. This is the better of the two UK cards overall, but as good a fight as Frampton-Molitor might be, it's not Burns-Mitchell, so we're going to make sure to cover the BoxNation main event, while keeping an eye on this undercard -- and, if the world goes crazy and we get so lucky, the main events might not overlap. Frampton (14-0, 9 KO) has been oversold by Barry McGuigan, but it's hard to blame McGuigan for his enthusiasm, and "Carlos" is a good young fighter to be sure. Molitor (34-2, 12 KO) hasn't ever really recovered from his 2008 beatdown at the hands of Celestino Caballero in one sense, but he's also not been far out of contention at any point, and he's won a world title since then, too. At 32, he is past his prime, but still a quality fighter and a really good opponent for Frampton at this stage. There's some risk, and a Frampton win would prove something, most likely. McCloskey (23-2, 12 KO) is basically trying to salvage his career. He lost in 2011 to Amir Khan without being competitive, and was upset by veteran Chop Chop Corley in May of this year, stopped in ten rounds. Add in the fact that he was lucky to get a decision over Breidis Prescott between those fights, and McCloskey's stock has dropped like a rock at 33. Selby (13-1, 5 KO) and Lindsay (19-1, 7 KO) will be fighting for the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles in a nice matchup.
TV3+ (Denmark), 4:00 pm EDT, Patrick Nielsen vs Jose Yebes, Cecilia Braekhus vs Anne Sophie Mathis. Nielsen (15-0, 8 KO) is a middleweight being groomed as the next Mikkel Kessler, and 33-year-old Spaniard Yebes (11-2-1, 5 KO) isn't much threat to him.
TyC Sports (Argentina) / RPC TV (Panama), 8:00 pm EDT, Diego Gabriel Chaves vs Jose Miranda. Junk fight for Chaves (21-0, 17 KO), but I suppose the nice thing to focus on would be that Miranda (12-11-3, 8 KO) has won three in a row.
Televisa (Mexico), 10:00 pm EDT, Juan Jose Montes vs Oscar Ibarra II, Julio Ceja vs Genaro Garcia. Montes beat Ibarra by decision in February, and all Ibarra has done since then is get knocked out by an unknown. Montes went to a draw with Victor Zaleta in his last fight, and lost a belt (WBF) on the scales in the process.
TV Azteca (Mexico), 10:30 pm EDT, Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr vs Rodel Mayol, Jorge Arce vs Mauricio Martinez. Quiet world title fight here between IBF super flyweight champion Sanchez (14-1-1, 7 KO) and Filipino veteran Mayol (31-5-2, 22 KO), and a solid matchup. Sanchez was pretty dominant last time out against Topo Rosas, and Mayol looked good in his last bout, a win over Pingo Miranda. Arce (60-6-2, 46 KO) will win his fight and produce some big-talk about fighting the Donaire-Nishioka winner, but at this point I'm going to believe that when I see it.
Telefutura, 11:00 pm EDT, Paul Mendez vs DonYil Livingston. Basically a club fight. Livingston (8-1-1, 4 KO) lost his last time out, and Mendez (9-2-1, 3 KO) isn't considered a serious prospect either.