This is a busy weekend for boxing, as several world titles will be defended.
Friday: Joachim Alcine makes his first defense of the WBA junior middleweight title when he takes on Alfonso Mosquera at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Is there a better arena venue in boxing today? Even counting the great crowds for Cotto-Judah and Cott-Mosley at MSG this year, I have to say not. If you didn't catch some of last season's Friday Night Fights cards from the home of the Habs, then you missed out. The fans are fanatical, comparable in many ways to the great British fans. On the undercard, Jean Pascal tunes up against Brian Norman. Should be two big wins for the Canadian-bred fighters.
Friday: The MGM Grand gets a tune-up for Mayweather-Hatton as Bronco McKart and Enrique Ornelas headline a Brit-heavy night of boxing in a rematch of their August bout, which got good reviews. McKart, 36, is a long-time contender/fringe-contender. On his record are losses to Winky Wright (three times), Kelly Pavlik, Travis Simms and Verno Phillips. The fight will again be for the useless NABF middleweight title. McKart has won three straight since losing to Pavlik last year. Also featured that night: Brits John Murray and Lee Meager, and Scot-born, Hollywood-based Craig McEwan.
Saturday: Arthur Abraham defends his alphabet (IBF) middleweight title against England's Wayne Elcock at St. Jakob Halle in Basel, Switzerland. No knock on Elcock (which rhymes), but Abraham is in another league. I am really looking forward to King Arthur making that rumored trek to the States for a money fight sometime next year. A lot of people say it, and it's true: The Europeans no longer need to come to America for much more than fame in the States. But, to a lot of fighters, seeing your name in lights in Vegas is a big deal -- ask Ricky Hatton, who could be drawing 50,000 somewhere in England against a lesser opponent this weekend, but instead will be in front of 16,000 or so in Las Vegas.
Also, in many instances (Mayweather's two fights this year, for example), can we forget about the Vegas cliche? Mayweather-Hatton sold out immediately. They could've done a huge crowd somewhere else.
Saturday: British stud prospect Amir Khan defends the Commonwealth lightweight title against countryman Graham Earl. I've seen some British fans around the web that have said they like Earl's chances at scoring an upset. Even if he does, I can't help but admire the young Khan taking on competition of Earl's stature -- not that Earl is a superstar or anything, but he's a solid pro fighter, the same as Scott Lawton and Willie Limond, Khan's last two opponents. Amir could have kept fighting schlubs for another couple of years had he wanted to, though he was starting to get booed for easy wins by fans that had so quickly invested a lot into his career. The fight will take place at Bolton Arena. I don't envy Khan trying to draw a crowd in England on the biggest night in Ricky Hatton's career.
December 8: Undefeated John Duddy faces likely his stiffest test yet when he squares off with Howard Eastman in Belfast. Eastman may not still be in his prime, but he knows what he's doing out there. But I kind of liken this to Duddy's 2006 win over Yory Boy Campas -- he should win, he will win, and the name doesn't mean what it would have back when. But it's a circle of life. All these guys beat fading names when they came up, and now they return the favor, though it's hardly their intention. On the undercard, Irish boys Paul McCloskey and Stephen Haughian fight for secondary alphabet crowns.
Saturday: Cotto mandatory Frederic Klose takes on Yuri Nuzhenko in Le Cannet, France, in a fight of second-tier welterweights. Also, WBA junior flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco defends against Brahim Asloum.