Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson II leads the way for this weekend's boxing schedule, but there's a ton of action televised around the world, so let's get you set for cards from the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Sweden, Panama, Argentina, and Ukraine. Several world titles are on the line for those who care about world titles!
Thursday, April 26
TV Max (Panama), 9:00 p.m. EDT, Ricardo Nunez vs Carlos Tamara, Luis Alberto Rios vs Luis Carrillo II. TV Max usually has a legal stream, so if they do, we'll put it up here for you, and if I can't find the show from Mexico (which I'd prefer to cover live), we'll cover this one live instead. Nunez (23-2, 19 KO) has won six straight since a KO loss to Drian Francisco in April 2010. Tamara (22-6-1, 16 KO) is 1-2-1 in his last four, as his TKO-12 upset over Brian Viloria in January 2010 was more a one-off than anything. But he can punch, and he's dangerous as the opponent here. Rios vs Carrillo is a rematch from April 2010, when Carrillo stopped Rios in four. That's Rios' only loss.
Televisa, 10:00 p.m. EDT, Roberto Ortiz vs Javier Prieto, Tomoki Kameda vs Jairo Hernandez, Juan Urango vs Cristian Chavez. This is a fine Thursday night tripleheader, with a couple of prospects and the returning Urango (22-3-1, 17 KO), who hasn't fought since his 2010 TKO loss to Devon Alexander on HBO. Warriors Boxing has been fighting Urango being on this card, so it's possible he might not actually be in action. Ortiz (23-0-1, 20 KO) is a 26-year-old junior welterweight prospect, facing what figures to be a soft touch in Prieto (16-6, 11 KO) for Ortiz's WBC Silver belt. Kameda (22-0, 14 KO) may be the most talented of the famous Japanese fighting family, and the 20-year-old super bantamweight has done some damage in Mexico thus far, though he has fought two of his last three home in Japan. Hernandez (8-0, 3 KO) is unbeaten but has faced very, very limited opposition. Bad Left Hook will attempt to have live round-by-round coverage.
Friday, April 27
TV4 Sport (Sweden), 4:00 p.m. EDT, Frida Wallberg vs Amanda Serrano. Hopkins vs Dawson isn't the only 1 vs 2 matchup in boxing this weekend, as Brooklyn's Serrano (14-0-1, 9 KO) travels to Linkoping, Sweden, to face Wallberg (10-0, 2 KO) in a big women's boxing event. Wallberg holds the WBC super featherweight title and is ranked No. 1 by BoxRec, with Serrano at No. 2. I won't pretend to know enough about women's boxing to know whether that's totally legit or not, but if it's not, someone make a case, I suppose. I don't know.
Sky Sports 1 (UK), 5:00 p.m. EDT, Tony Bellew vs Danny McIntosh, John Watson vs Jason Cook. Bellew (16-1, 10 KO) is making his return to the ring, having not fought since his far tighter than expected loss to Nathan Cleverly in Liverpool. Bellew's home support should be in full effect again as he's back headlining at Echo Arena, where he's a legitimate draw. McIntosh (13-2, 7 KO) has been stopped in both of his losses, by Cleverly and Eduard Gutknecht, but he's a tough fighter and if Bellew is rusty or just underwhelming again, an upset is not totally out of the question. Bellew pushing Cleverly said a lot less about Bellew than it did about Cleverly, from where I sit. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
GFL ($9.99), 7:30 p.m. EDT, Omar Sheika vs Yusaf Mack. A pair of veterans square off as the faded but still gritty Sheika (32-11, 21 KO) takes on Mack (29-4-2, 17 KO) at Resorts in Atlantic City. Sheika's won two in a row since back-to-back losses to Adrian Diaconu and Garrett Wilson, but at 35 he has little left but some pop. Mack, 32, is a very capable fighter with genuine talent who just doesn't hold up well under pressure, as he's been stopped four times, including in his last fight against Tavoris Cloud, which he was arguably winning through seven before Cloud took him apart in the eighth. His other stoppage losses have come to Alejandro Berrio, Librado Andrade, and Glen Johnson. For Sheika, this is just a fight because that's what he does for a living, basically. For Mack, this fight might be the difference between contemplating retirement and staying in the game at least as a gatekeeper at 175.
TyC Sports (Argentina), 8:00 p.m. EDT, Javier Maciel vs Carlos Vilches. Both Argentine fighters have a little bit of name for hardcore fans. Maciel (21-2, 15 KO) was the unknown guy who went to Russia and faced Dmitry Pirog for the WBO middleweight title in March 2011, losing a decision but not getting blown out as most expected. Since that loss he's won three straight, all by first round stoppage. Vilches (58-11-2, 33 KO) may be best known recently for getting absolutely blown to bits by Juan Urango in 2008, but he also faced and lost to Ricky Hatton (2004) and Sharmba Mitchell (2003).
ESPN2 / ESPN3.com, 10:00 p.m. EDT, Ismayl Sillakh vs Denis Grachev, Yuandale Evans vs Javier Fortuna. With Friday Night Fights starting an hour later than usual this week, boxing junkies are in a bit of a bind since ShoBox starts at its usual 11. The two shows usually work as a great back-to-back, with FNF at 9 and ending in time for ShoBox, but this week we'll be doing some dancing. We'll have different live threads for each show, and we will watch all of FNF since Sillakh (17-0, 14 KO) and Evans (16-0, 12 KO) are both legitimate prospects and worth tuning in to see. When Sillakh is at his best, he can be sensational. Grachev (11-0-1, 7 KO) is Russian born and lives now in California, sort of like the Ukrainian Sillakh who lives in California. If you know Grachev's name, it might be because he took the "0" from East Coast project prospect Vladine Biosse in May of last year. Fortuna (18-0, 13 KO) is a Dominican featherweight prospect who has fought a couple of times in the States, including a 10-round decision win over tough Miguel Roman in December. So you've got four unbeaten fighters here, with Sillakh the most heavily-pushed of the group, and Evans having had a few dates on TV. This is a very nice doubleheader for the series, and Evans vs Fortuna looks highly intriguing on paper. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
SHO, 11:00 p.m. EDT, 11:00 p.m. EDT, Thomas Oosthuizen vs Marcus Johnson, Luis Orlando Del Valle vs Christopher Martin, Jose Pedraza vs Gil Garcia. Oosthuizen (18-0-1, 13 KO) is one of the more unique fighters around, a 6'4", southpaw super middleweight with big reach, solid power, and an ability to not always look totally awkward despite his dimensions. He can fight for real, and the South African makes his way to U.S. TV now with Lou DiBella promoting him. "Too Much" Johnson (21-1, 15 KO) had his prospect bubble burst on Showtime last year when he lost to Dyah Davis in April, and was out of the ring for seven months before returning with a win over club vet Billy Bailey, a guy whose role in boxing is to test prospects. At 26, Johnson isn't exactly at do-or-die or make-or-break, but he's long had questions about his mental commitment to the sport. At 5'10", he'll have Oosthuizen towering over him, but a focused Johnson has been impressive in the past, on those rare occasions we really saw it. He's a guy who got by on physical ability for a while, but won't go any further if he's not changed. Del Valle (15-0, 11 KO) is a 25-year-old Puerto Rican featherweight taking a bit of a potential trap fight here with the crafty Martin (23-1-3, 6 KO), who can't bust a grape but can box and frustrate overeager opponents, as he showed when he sort of chopped up Chris Avalos a couple of years ago. Martin's coming off of a draw with Teon Kennedy and a loss to Jose Angel Beranza. The most perfect world we could get on Friday night would be only missing Pedraza (7-0, 6 KO), another of DiBella's Puerto Rican prospects. The 22-year-old super featherweight looks good, but this isn't much of a test on paper against Garcia (5-2-1, 1 KO). It's just a TV spot for him. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
Saturday, April 28
BoxNation (UK), 2:30 p.m. EDT, Billy Joe Saunders vs Tony Hill, Sam Webb vs Matthew Hall. This is the first boxing card held at Royal Albert Hall in 13 years, so it's a big deal in that sense. The card was originally supposed to be headlined by Nathan Cleverly depending his gift trinket against the totally undeserving Robin Krasniqi, and even if you haven't read my thoughts on that fight before, you can probably already guess that I'm not exactly crushed by Cleverly's pull-out. As it is, we have 22-year-old middleweight prospect Saunders (12-0, 8 KO) in action in the new main event. He's got bad hands (in that he's had a lot of hand injuries), but plenty of talent. Because of the injuries, the 2008 Olympian has been brought along pretty slowly as a pro, and that continues against Hill (8-2, 4 KO). Webb (17-2, 5 KO) and Hall (24-4, 16 KO) are a pair of veterans set here for a British junior middleweight title eliminator. The belt is currently held by Blackpool's Brian Rose, who lifted it from Prince Arron in December. Arron beat Webb for it last year in a really good fight, and Webb of course previously had won the title from the obnoxious Anthony Small, which combined with other factors to thankfully chase that doofus out of the sport. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
HBO, 9:45 p.m. EDT, Mayweather vs Cotto 24/7.
Fox Deportes / Televisa (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. EDT, Jhonny Gonzalez vs Elio Rojas, Juan Carlos Salgado vs Martin Honorio, Julio Ceja vs Cruz Carbajal. This has a really nice pair of fights on top, with two world titles on the line and two challengers who might be walking out with gold. Gonzalez (51-7, 45 KO) puts his WBC featherweight strap on the line against Rojas (23-1, 14 KO), who had a brief reign with the title before he had to give up the belt in 2010, when he was set to face Yuriorkis Gamboa on HBO but suffered a shoulder injury and had to withdraw. Gonzalez is a terrific fighter, a good boxer and has big power (that's no phony KO rate), but he's also one of the most vulnerable top-level fighters you'll ever see, with a true glass chin. He's been on a roll since losing to Toshiaki Nishioka in 2009, winning 11 straight, all by stoppage. That said, his WBC title reign has been rather pathetic thus far, as he's defended against Tomas Villa, Rogers Mtagwa, and Roinet Caballero, all overmatched opponents. Salgado (24-1-1, 16 KO) is a solid fighter, far better than, say, the guys Adrien Broner fights, and is probably still best-known as the guy who exposed Jorge Linares rotten chin for the first time. Back then, most of us rational types thought the TKO-1 was a fluke. It wasn't. He won the vacant IBF title at 130 in September of last year, outpointing Argenis Mendez, and defended in December against Miguel Beltran Jr, which ended in a no contest because of a cut in the second round. Honorio (32-6-1, 16 KO) is a crafty veteran fighter who knows what he's doing, a familiar name with a win over John Molina, which took Molina's "0" back in 2009, as Honorio pretty much gave Molina a boxing lesson that night. He was also once blown up in a round by Robert Guerrero, so there's also that side. Ceja (18-0, 17 KO) is a 19-year-old bantamweight prospect facing veteran Carbajal (32-18-2, 26 KO). Carbajal's not very good, but 19 is pretty damn young.
Azteca America / TV Azteca (Mexico), 10:00 p.m. EDT, Roman Gonzalez vs Ramon Hirales. Hey, look! Roman Gonzalez against an opponent with a pulse! "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (31-0, 26 KO) is arguably the true class of the really little guys (105 and 108) these days, but like most of these dudes, the majority of his opponents have been a bit suspect. There just aren't that many truly good fighters in these weight classes at any given time, and usually the best guys sort of stay away from each other and operate their own little tiny empires. Hirales (16-3-1, 9 KO) has lost two of three, but one of those was a highly debatable decision against Jesus Geles in Colombia, and Hirales avenged that one in Mexico, knocking Geles out in four. The other was a loss to Donnie Nietes, another good fighter, in his last bout. The undercard is a prospect parade. Among those in action are super bantamweight Jesse Magdaleno (8-0, 5 KO); welterweight Anthony Lenk (13-1, 7 KO); lightweight Jessie Roman (10-0, 6 KO); and Cameron Dunkin-managed super bantamewight Gabino Saenz (6-0-1, 5 KO). Also in action is welterweight Wale Omotoso (21-0, 18 KO), who has sort of laid an egg since signing with Top Rank and coming over from Australia. Omotoso, 26, is almost being rebuilt before he ever really did anything, as he's scheduled to face Larry "Slow Motion" Smith (10-9, 7 KO) in an eight-round bout. This is kind of like watching a touted baseball prospect stall at Double-A; there are serious concerns over Omotoso's ceiling at this point, to the point that I'm raising an early flag and worrying that we might be looking at another Matt Korobov situation where people talk about him, talk about him, talk quieter, talk quieter still, and then just stop talking.
CadenaTres, 10:00 p.m. EDT, Javier Castro vs Carlos Urias. If this is what you choose to watch live and you're not picking up the signal on a black-and-white TV in a cave, OR you're not related to one of the two fighters, I don't know what to tell you. Castro (26-4, 21 KO) is a junior welterweight also-ran, and Urias (45-22-1, 34 KO) is a veteran who hangs around being a veteran fighter. At 37, he's still a decent gatekeeper, but Castro isn't someone really coming to the gate with purpose. He's just sort of wandered toward it.
HBO / BoxNation (UK), 10:15 p.m. EDT, Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson II, Seth Mitchell vs Chazz Witherspoon. It may not be anyone's idea of a good fight in terms of action, but boxing fans seem to enjoy No. 1 facing No. 2, because, y'know, it makes it seem all sporting and whatnot. I always have mixed feelings. It's not like I've ever thought to myself, "You know what fight I would want to see for entertainment? Hopkins vs Dawson." But it's also the two best fighters in the division by the standards of most, and sometimes that's how a sport works out. The two best aren't always the two most entertaining, and while sure, we watch sports for entertainment, the athletes don't participate strictly to entertain us, and it's not really their job to do so. So while the complaints about this being a boring matchup are valid, I can't go in 100%. Given some of the bullshit we've had to put up with lately, it's nice that something in boxing resembles a sport right now. I also sort of blame myself, like, cosmically, for this rematch happening. I was in Louisville on a three-day vacation/bachelor party last year when the first fight went down, and I was free and clear from covering a fight that I didn't have much interest in, and definitely didn't want to pay PPV money to see. I feel like the boxing Gods looked down on me, as I drunkenly ate pizza at 4am at The Brown Hotel, watching SportsCenter, and they said, "You're not getting off that fuckin' easy. Enjoy your pizza, but you WILL watch Hopkins vs Dawson next year." And here we are. The main selling point of Mitchell vs Witherspoon has been that they're both black American guys who went to college. Seriously, that's been the main selling point. We'll have more on both fights on Thursday morning. I actually do have thoughts on Mayhem-Chazz, I'm not just totally dismissing it. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.
Telefutura, 11:00 p.m. EDT, Fidel Maldonado Jr vs Fernando Carcamo, Hector Munoz vs John Revish. Solo Boxeo has gone to hell. Maldonado (13-0, 11 KO) is another of Cameron Dunkin's prospects, a 5'9", southpaw lightweight from Albuquerque. He's fighting at home for this one, which isn't much of a test. I'm not certain that Munoz-Revish is the TV co-feature, but that's just a fight that's happening on the card. Revish (10-5-1, 8 KO) isn't a bad fighter, really, but he's also not so good that he should ever really be expected to win. I have in the past wondered what he'd look like if he'd been carefully handled his whole career, but he wasn't, and that's not likely to change. At 28, the Louisiana native is what he is in the boxing world.
Sunday, April 29
Integrated Sports PPV ($24.99) / BoxNation (UK), 1:00 p.m. EDT, Vyacheslav Senchenko vs Paulie Malignaggi. I'm miserably unhappy about paying $25 to see this show, but I'm going to. We'll also have a preview of this one on Friday morning, so I won't say a whole lot about it, but this is one of the very few times I'll truly advise people to not spend their money. It's not that I have anything against Integrated Sports or either of these fighters, or the fact that it's on PPV. If it wasn't on PPV, it wouldn't be on anywhere, and they're charging as fair a price as you'll ever get for boxing PPV in standard definition (I don't even know if there's an HD option, but Chicago Comcast does not have an HD option for the show). The undercard is filled with nothing of any interest unless you're Ukrainian, and your interest in the main event depends entirely on how much you want to see the worn-out version of Paulie Malignaggi who didn't look very good in either of his PPV undercard wins last year against Jose Miguel Cotto and Orlando Lora. I actually like Paulie -- I think he's funny, smart, double tough, and a guy who gives his best. I just don't personally believe he has much left to give in the ring anymore. He's had some tough fights, a lot of injuries, and some tough shortcomings in major bouts. Anyway, we'll be here for this one, goddamn it all. I also feel like this was another one the boxing Gods got me on: Since I have to be up somewhat early on a Sunday for this one, that means I probably shouldn't even drink through Hopkins-Dawson. Great. Just great. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage.