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Showtime Blunder: Tarver, Forrest and Donaire in on the joke

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Some cards just can't be crapped on enough.

For all we know, we'll get three entertaining fights from Showtime on Saturday night. That'd be great. But if the fights are good, it will serve only as an exception to a rule, and will just be a lucky saving of Showtime's ass.

"America's No. 1 boxing network," huh? Then why does HBO give us a one-fight card on Boxing After Dark with ten times the intrigue of Showtime Championship Boxing's year-closing, three-fight affair?

It's not that there aren't stars, and real champions. Antonio Tarver is still a star, somewhat. Vernon Forrest is rebuilding his star, and he won a surprisingly exciting fight over Carlos Baldomir in July to win the WBC junior middleweight title that was vacated by Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Nonito Donaire -- whose fight is the only one on the card I'm interested in seeing, really -- holds both the Upset of the Year and the Knockout of the Year for his stunning, devastating stoppage of Vic Darchinyan, also in July, and on what was another underwhelming Showtime card.

I do hope that next year, Showtime offers more. Outside of a few random Shobox events, an entertaining upset here and there (Donaire-Darchinyan, Adamek-Dawson) and the two Marquez-Vazquez fights, Showtime as really gone without anything compelling this year.

Hopefully, the eye-rolling reaction of boxing fans to this turd of a card will be the end of Showtime's bowing to mediocrity. Their obsession with Tarver is the height of absurdity at this point -- the man hasn't won a notable fight in a long, long time, and this makes twice he's headlined a Showtime card with a no-name opponent in 2007.

But I'll get to the Tarver fight at the end, since it is so absolutely not compelling that I don't think it deserves much in the way of discussion.

That's not saying that I think Vernon Forrest's title fight is much better. When Top Rank's Bob Arum -- who is running an action-based PPV card opposite the Showtime event -- mentioned the Forrest defense against Michele Piccirillo, he admitted that he thought Piccirillo was retired.

But, it's a mandatory. I don't blame Forrest or his handlers for this fight. I blame the WBC. Piccirillo is not a bad fighter, and I don't want to make it sound like I think he is. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if he beat Vernon Forrest. He's beaten a few pretty decent fighters in the last two years, since he suffered his last defeat to Ricardo Mayorga in 2005.

The one interesting thing about this fight is that it was supposed to happen, at welterweight, about five years ago. Forrest, then the IBF welterweight champion, vacated his title when he refused to fight mandatory challenger Piccirillo, instead opting for a much more lucrative bout with Shane Mosley. It turned out well for both -- Forrest conquered Mosley, and Piccirillo beat Cory Spinks for the vacant strap, which he would lose in the rematch.

Since beating Spinks, Piccirillo is 0-for-2 in world title fights.

Forrest is a heavy favorite, and this could really be it for "The Gentleman" from Italy. At 37, he's quite fortuitous to even be in this position. It will also be just his fourth fight in the States. If he is to lose, a farewell bout in Italy would make sense, but past that, there's just not left for Piccirillo to do.

Nonito Donaire's first title defense is another story. At 25, Donaire shocked the boxing world with his knockout of Darchinyan, avenging his brother, Glenn. His challenger, 29-year old Mexican Luis Maldonado, is 37-1-1 with 28 knockouts -- his one loss came to Darchinyan in 2006. He's 4-0 since then, including 3-0 this year. He last fought in October, hurting his hand in a win over Sergio Espinosa, which was an IBF eliminator bout.

Maldonado is a relative unknown with a pretty record, but it's very, very padded. He has beaten almost no credible opposition, and was dumped by Darchinyan at 1:38 of the eighth round. It was routine destruction for Darchinyan, the same as everyone else that faced him prior to Donaire.

What intrigues me, though, is that Nonito Donaire is also still somewhat unproven. Yes, he dominated Darchinyan, but past that, what is there to go on? Donaire clearly had Darchinyan's number, and in many ways, it seemed like a simple matchup thing -- Donaire is not susceptible to Vic's style.

So, I do think that with Donaire-Maldonado, we could get the evening's one interesting fight. I'm picking Donaire because of the way he slayed Darchinyan. Based just on that fight, I'm a big, big Donaire fan.

And then there's Tarver.

Antonio Tarver is fighting another no-name opponent after bullshitting his way out of a fight with the dangerous Danny Green. Instead, it's Danny Santiago. Since he beat Elvir Muriqi -- though it was harder than it should have been -- he should beat Santiago. The fight, most likely, won't be any good. And Tarver will continue to headline Showtime cards, but without fighting Chad Dawson or anyone else who would likely retire him.

If you want my honest opinion, skip this one. Either pick up the Top Rank PPV, which should be fun if nothing else, or just catch the replay of Mayorga-Vargas and Cintron-Feliciano on ESPN Classic. I still haven't decided if I'll watch this one with the hope that it doesn't completely suck, but I think I'm leaning toward it, just because I'm really hoping Santiago drops Tarver like a sack of potatoes.

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