July 14 will be a very busy night for boxing. We at Bad Left Hook will be live with round-by-round scoring and analysis of HBO's two-site welterweight tripleheader, but that's not where it all starts and ends. Let's take a quick look at Saturday's other bouts.
London: We already discussed the Matt Skelton/Michael Sprott fight, with an undercard featuring Nicky Cook/Steven Luevano and Willie Limond/Amir Khan. Overall, this is probably the runner-up card in terms of quality. Cook and Luevano may be the second-biggest fight of the evening.
Biloxi, MS: Roy Jones, Jr., (50-4, 38 KO) headlines a weak pay-per-view event from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum with a fight against unbeaten super middleweight Anthony Hanshaw (21-0-1, 14 KO). Hanshaw drew Jean-Paul Mendy in the Shobox super middleweight tournament final in January, but has yet to face any true top-flight competition. The more I think about it, the more Hanshaw doesn't have much of a chance, and the more hand-picked this fight is for Jones, who is just trying to hang on, at least long enough to fight a returning Tito Trinidad in December or January. Expect an unimpressive Jones to beat an unimpressive Hanshaw in unimpressive fashion.
Oh, and just in case you wanted to order this pay-per-view, or were even considering it, don't forget that you get an exciting showcase of escape tactics featuring legendary runner Derrick Gainer. Welterweights Juan Buendia (14-1-1, 8 KO) and Oscar Diaz (25-2, 12 KO) will fight for the vacant NABF title, too. This is gonna be FUN.
Dublin: John Duddy (20-0, 15 KO) will knock out Alessio Furlan (19-8-5, 8 KO) in the world's worst attempt at Gatti/Ward. 27-year old, 140-pounder Paul McCloskey (10-0, 4 KO) will beat Ivan Bustos (22-11-3). Save your 20 bucks, unless you're one of those Irishmen that watches The Boondock Saints religiously, or one of those Irishmen that speaks with a fake, hybrid Irish/Bostonian accent. Then I suppose you can justify paying $20 for Duddy's latest adventure. I like the guy, but I'm getting to that point where I wish he'd fight someone real. The 160-pound division could use him.
New Town, ND: That's right: New Town, North Dakota. "New Town." The 4 Bears Casino and Lodge. That's where Vassily Jirov (36-3-1, 30 KO) makes his return to the ring against Veteran Professional Opponent Kenny "The Raven" Craven (28-18, 23 KO). Craven has power, and Jirov hasn't fought in 15 months. Craven turned pro in 1996 and never really got out of the gates as a prospect, starting out 9-0 before losing to tomato can Jeff Williams, which started a three-fight skid. He has fought, and lost to, Henry Akinwande, an aged and beefed-up Michael Nunn, Vaughn Bean (as Bean's final tune-up for Vitali Klitschko), Attila Levin, Clifford Etienne, Calvin Brock, Timor Ibragimov and Oliver McCall. His greatest achievement in boxing may be a four-fight series with Butterbean, which the two great warriors split. Anyway Jirov should win if he has anything left in the tank.
Carson, CA: This is the site of Margarito/Williams, but there's an untelevised undercard to talk about. Pressuring heavyweight Chris Arreola (20-0, 18 KO) takes on Derek Berry, which is a disappointment as I thought Arreola might be ready to face real competition after his dismantling of Malcolm Tann in May. Instead, it's just another showcase fight. Super middleweight prospect Andre Ward (12-0, 7 KO) meets Francisco Diaz (16-1, 8 KO), and Ricardo Cortes (19-1-1, 14 KO) faces Jose Spearman (27-13-4, 11 KO). Spearman fought six times last year, going 3-3.
Hamburg, Germany: Veteran fringe contender Luan Krasniqi (30-2-1, 14 KO) meets American Tony Thompson (29-1, 17 KO) in a WBO eliminator, meaning that the winner becomes the supposed mandatory challenger for the Chagaev/Ibragimov winner. Exciting, huh? I think one of the bigger problems American fans see with the heavyweight division isn't just so much that the talent isn't as great as it used to be, but so much of it is based in Europe and on European fighters that it's hard for the American audience to connect to anyone. Klitschko, as likeable and good as he is, is a really European kind of figure. That's why Evander Holyfield gets to make title charges at age 44. The best promotion this seems to have is "It's 'The Lion' versus 'The Tiger'!" And with good reason, because it's two guys who aren't championship caliber fighters in a fight nobody cares about, which will probably result in a boring defense for Chagaev or Ibragimov early next year. Let's just keep holding off on the big idea to make the division interesting again.
On the undercard, Alexander Dimitrenko will quickly dispose of Malcolm Tann, which will hopefully be the last we hear of Tann and his promises to eat lightnin' and crap thunder, which generally result in him moving backwards for six-to-ten rounds.
Orillia, Ontario: "The Canadian Kid" Steve Molitor (23-0, 9 KO) defends the IBF junior featherweight title against Takalani Ndlovu (27-3, 17 KO), and Sebastien Gauthier (11-0, 9 KO) continues his climb when he fights Eduardo Garcia (17-5, 7 KO) for the vacant IBF international bantamweight title. Molitor is the big favorite because this is his turf, but Ndlovu is a decent challenger and has a sporting chance at the upset. Gauthier should run Garcia over.