ESPN's Dan Rafael today has reported a number of items that will affect the undercard of the second matchup between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz. The card is scheduled to take place on July 31 on HBO pay per view.
First, one undercard fight that was previously rumored is now set in stone. Golden Boy's most prominent prospect, Daniel Jacobs, will be fighting Russian prospect Dmitry Pirog for the vacant WBO middleweight title. This is a matchup between two guys who could be near the top of the middleweight division for quite a while, and the fight should be interesting for that reason alone. The best name on Jacobs' resume is Ishe Smith, while the best for Pirog is Kofi Janutah, so this will be a big step up for both.
As for the entertainment factor, it's a mixed bag. Jacobs was very exciting and aggressive in his early bouts, but in his last few fights, he has fought from a much more defensive posture, choosing to use superior speed and footwork to move backwards and mostly counterpunch, with occasional offensive spurts. Pirog, on the other hand, fights a lot like Marco Huck - he moves forward, attacks the body, fights in spurts and fights dirty. He is, however, a lot more slippery than Huck, and he likes to utilize the shoulder roll and upper body movement quite a bit, which is uncommon for a European fighter. If Jacobs' team does their diligence, it would serve Jacobs best to continue fighting defensively. Expect to see some good boxing, but not necessarily a barnburner.
Second, the proposed fight between Amir Khan and Joel Casamayor is now off. Because of the timing of the holy month of Ramadan, Khan had hoped to squeeze in one more title defense before fasting for a month. However, Sky Sports was unwilling to pony up for a big Khan fight at this time because it coincides with U.K. holiday season.
Instead, Golden Boy is now talking about filling the card with a fight between Joel Casamayor and Robert Guerrero. The fight would be at a catchweight of 138 pounds. "The Ghost" spent much of his career at featherweight, and while he has recently aggressively moved up in weight, this would be his first fight against a world class opponent above the 130 pound weight limit. "El Cepillo" has looked on and off over the past several years, and this may be the final major hurrah for a fighter who has quietly put together a hall of fame quality resume.
While Golden Boy and HBO have taken some flack for making this a pay-per-view card, at least they seem to be doing their best to make it one of the more solid undercards in recent memory. Neither Marquez nor Diaz may be your typical pay per view headliner, but their first fight was a fight of the year, and it looks like there will be an evenly matched bout between a pair of young contenders, as well as a bout between two decent names who recently held world titles.