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Official picks thread for this weekend's fights

There are two fight cards we'll be calling this weekend, neither taking place in the States, but four fights overall.

Again: If you don't know a fighter and just aren't comfortable making a pick, don't make a pick if you'd rather not. If you've never made picks before, now's as good a time as any to start!

Bute_vs_zuniga_medium Friday, March 13

Lucian Bute v. Fulgencio Zuniga (Super Middleweights, 12 Rounds - Bute's IBF title on the line)

Hey look! Another Friday the 13th.

Bute (23-0, 18 KO) and Zuniga (22-3-1, 19 KO) headline a "special" ShoBox from Montreal's Bell Centre, marking the 11th straight fight Bute has had there. He's become a big draw for the building and there's good money up there, so who can blame him in these economic times?

Zuniga, 31, is your typical Colombian fighter, a hard puncher who likes to fight. He's been through three weight divisions as a pro: 154, 160 and now 168. In every one of them, he's won until losing to the first big challenge. Daniel Santos beat him at 154, Kelly Pavlik knocked him out at 160, and Denis Inkin beat him last September at 168. Zuniga's last fight was a KO win in Colombia in November. Since Zuniga started at 154, you might guess he's rather small for the division, and he is. At 5'10", he's four inches shorter than Bute, though they both have a 70" reach.

Bute is probably a better fighter than Inkin, and there's really no reason he doesn't dominate this fight. He's got way more skill than Zuniga. It's a fact. But Zuniga can throw some bombs, and Bute will mix it up. We saw Librado Andrade buzz the hell out of Bute last October, but most guys wouldn't have gotten through the first 11 rounds that robot chin Andrade did, either. In this fight, I have to brake for monster Bute. He will dominate. Bute TKO-9

Sport_lustig_khan3_medium Saturday, March 14

Amir Khan v. Marco Antonio Barrera (Lightweights, 12 Rounds)

Now this is a pick'em fight. It's not the most compelling fight ever, nor is it the biggest fight in the world. It's a young star looking to rebound from a devastating defeat with a win over a faded legend that might not quite be faded enough.

Khan (19-1, 15 KO) has all the offensive gifts in the world. I like watching him fight. I always will. But his chin is not just bad. It's the stuff of tall tales. "The Boxer Who Couldn't Be Punched." Barrera's not a really heavy puncher, and he certainly isn't going to be one at 135 pounds. But Willie Limond knocked Khan down, and Breidis Prescott annihilated him. We recently saw Breidis Prescott have his struggles with Humberto Toledo, who has certainly been stopped before.

Usually when I talk about a fighter's flaws, it goes without saying that they're certainly better at whatever than I am. But with Khan's chin, it's not like that. Khan would have a bad chin for a drunk guy in a drunk 1am barroom brawl.

I think there is a chance that Khan overwhelms Barrera early on and can stop him. Barrera's tougher than nails, even aged, and it took 11 rounds of severe beating from Manny Pacquiao to give him his only stoppage loss, and Barrera's been fighting for 20 years.

But I can't pick Khan. I can't pick a guy whose chin is that bad. I really like Khan, I think he seems like a super kid, never has seemed to act "spoiled" as others have said, and boy do I think a lot of offensive talent could be down the tubes because of a bad chin. But I can't pick him over Barrera. Still, I'm very intrigued. Barrera TKO-6

Nicky Cook v. Roman Martinez (Junior Lightweights, 12 Rounds - Cook's WBO title on the line)

Cookie's a fine fighter, solid guy that has moved up to 130 from 126 and won a title last September over Alex Arthur, which sent Arthur into a bit of a tantrum in the press afterward. He even feigned surprise that he'd lost. Cook clearly won that bout, which was underneath Prescott waxing Khan something awful.

Now he returns beneath Khan again, this time against Puerto Rican Roman "Rocky" Martinez. Martinez, 26, has fought a few times in the States but mostly in Puerto Rico. He's beaten some C+/B- fighters along the way (Francisco Lorenzo, Daniel Jimenez, Jose Luis Soto Karass, Walter Estrada, etc.) and now he gets a crack at a world title on someone else's turf.

Cook himself may really be no more than a B- fighter, and this is a nice-looking matchup and could be the most competitive of these four bouts. Cook's only loss came to Steven Luevano in 2007, and the only blemish on Rocky's record is a six-round draw early in his career. I'm pretty much winging this one, and going with the guy who has home court. Cook UD-12

Enzo Maccarinelli v. Ola Afolabi (Cruiserweights, 12 Rounds - Vacant WBO interim title on the line)

It's a mismatch brought to you by the good folks in Frank Warren's brain. Macca may not be the best fighter in the world, but he's beaten better foes than Afolabi before, whose KO percentage doesn't suggest he'll be able to take advantage of Enzo's iffy chin. Maccarinelli TKO-5

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