With so many big fights having just taken place in the last few weeks, and a full schedule of Saturday nights with more of them to come, how about some of the other fights? The ones that aren't going to get all the press, but intrigue nonetheless?
Here are five fights on the current schedule that have flown under the radar, but that I am quite interested in.
March 8 -- Jose Luis Castillo v. Timothy Bradley
In a 140-pound eliminator for the division's WBC piece of the crown (held by Junior Witter), the worn-out, 34-year old Castillo is to face the highly-touted, 24-year old Bradley, a native of Palm Springs, CA, nicknamed "Desert Storm." Bradley and his team were criticized for earlier considering the idea of sitting on their No. 1 WBC ranking until they got a shot at Witter, without having beaten much of anyone to prove it. (At the same time, Bradley has fought tougher opposition than a lot of guys with a 21-0 record have. It hasn't been all cupcakes.)
Instead, they signed on to face Castillo in Cancun this Saturday, on the untelevised undercard of HBO's Maskaev-Peter/Diaz-Campbell double-header.
What intrigues me about this matchup is pretty simple: If he's for real, Bradley should wipe the mat with Castillo. Castillo was never in the fight the last time we saw him, when Ricky Hatton knocked him out in the fourth round on a body shot. What's more, Castillo looked like he had no interest in being there. It's no secret that Jose is fighting largely because he needs the money.
And while it's true that Castillo returned to the ring with a victorious effort in October, it was against Adan Casillas, a no-name pug on a small show in Baja California.
Bradley hasn't been in the ring since last July, which seems odd for someone at the stage of their career that he is. I think it's fair to speculate that Bradley has been slightly mismanaged since then.
And while that's all well and good, rumors are abound that Castillo is having trouble making weight, and promoter Gary Shaw -- who has famously had to deal with Castillo's weight issues in the past -- is not going to cut him any slack on this, as well he shouldn't. While Bradley is on schedule, Castillo failed to turn in his seven-day weight this week. The maximum allowed at seven days out is 147 -- Bradley came in at 143 1/2, on great pace to be strong for the fight.
If the fight happens, and I hope it does (partially just so Jose Luis gets his check), I don't expect Castillo can win. In fact, I'm about 97% certain that Bradley will dominate him. But Castillo is a tough guy, a tested veteran, a former world champion, and someone who knows all the tricks of the trade. We're talking about the guy that gave Floyd Mayweather, Jr., his greatest test, and one-half of the greatest fight of my lifetime. There's a lot that Bradley could gain from a night in the ring with Castillo.
March 22 -- Joel Casamayor v. Michael Katsidis
This could be a classic tale of gone yesterday, back today for Casamayor. As putrid as he looked against Jose Armando Santa Cruz, as awful as the fight was, and as mind-bogglingly idiotic as the decision from the official judges seemed, Joel Casamayor remains one of the most underappreciated and overlooked top-flight boxers of his generation.
Does that mean he's still any good? I don't know. When I last put together a top 10 for 135 pounds, I didn't include Casamayor. I couldn't. He didn't look like a top 30 lightweight against Santa Cruz, let alone top 10. But like it or not, Casamayor is still THE lightweight champion, not Juan Diaz.
Michael Katsidis is a savage puncher, a gutsy bleeder, and an all-around star in the making. I know I use him for comparisons frequently, but look at Arturo Gatti. Now mix his bloody wars with the animalistic instinct of his greatest rival, Micky Ward, and you pretty much have the Aussie Katsidis pegged. Katsidis scored two wins last year of the brutal variety, over Graham Earl and Czar Amonsot. Those were two wonderfully grueling bouts that also flew under the radar. To most, Katsidis is still rather unknown.
I think after the Santa Cruz fight, most will count Casamayor out against the younger, stronger Katsidis. After all, Santa Cruz clearly beat Casamayor. Would anyone pick Santa Cruz over Katsidis? Most of us would favor Katsidis to eat his lunch, frankly, so it follows that Katsidis pounds Casamayor back into exile.
But Casamayor is a very proud man. He talks the talk, and for most of his career, he has walked the walk. He is a wise, crafty fighter who knows how to beat bangers. I am getting the sneaking suspicion as we get closer to this fight that, unfortunately for Michael Katsidis, he is tailor-made for Joel Casamayor. Then again, Katsidis could beat him into submission fairly quickly, too. It's a fight I'm really looking forward to.
April 19 -- Tomasz Adamek v. O'Neil Bell
So far, so good for former light heavyweight champion Adamek in his move to cruiserweight, following Chad Dawson's destruction of him in early 2007. Bell has been AWOL since last March's rematch loss to Jean-Marc Mormeck, notably skipping out without excuse on a Friday Night Fights spot in the fall.
There's talk that ESPN Classic might air this fight, which takes place the same night as HBO's Hopkins-Calzaghe showdown. I can't say as though there's any remote chance in hell that I'd pick Adamek-Bell over Hopkins-Calzaghe, but if grit and action are what you're looking for, and you don't much care about the star power of Hopkins and Calzaghe or how significant their matchup really is, then Adamek-Bell might be for you. Adamek is still best known for his blood-soaked wars with Paul Briggs, and Bell generally puts on a good show himself. There are too many intangibles to pick a winner here.
April 26 -- Joan Guzman v. Alex Arthur
Alex Arthur is a good guy and a pretty good fighter. He and his team called Guzman out. Well, be careful what you wish for.
Joan Guzman is an exceptionally skilled fighter who can mix it up, or go into defensive mode and score enough points to win rounds anyway. He showed both sides in his win over Humberto Soto last year. And kudos to Guzman and team for traveling to Arthur's hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, to make what is most likely the best fight they could find for the 130-pound titleholder. I don't see any scenario where Arthur wins besides exceedingly crooked hometown bias from the judges, but it's a fight between a couple of top 10 guys, and most in America will never see it.
May 17 -- Alexander Munoz v. Jorge Arce
For now, this is just a proposed main event for another Top Rank "Latin Fury" pay-per-view. Munoz (32-2, 27 KO) has fought just once in the U.S. in his last eight bouts, the three most recent all taking place in his adopted home of Japan. Arce (48-4-1, 37 KO) has rattled off a couple of knockout wins over inferior opposition since being destroyed by Cristian Mijares last year.
Why is this fight intriguing? All action. This is the type of fight that might get a lot of diehard fans to pay $30 for a Top Rank show. It would also be Arce's return to the super flyweight division, which he left post-Mijares. He did weigh in at 116 1/2 pounds (1 1/2 under the bantamweight limit) for his 47-second disposal of Medgoen Singsurat in December, so weight probably won't be an issue. I have to wonder if weight was really an issue to begin with, or if Mijares just had his number. Something tells me it was the latter.
Munoz-Arce promises fireworks. There's no other reason to want to see this fight than that simple idea. It'll be a war, most likely.