Showtime only has two live shows scheduled for the remainder of 2014 as of this writing, and neither of them are Showtime Championship Boxing. Neither of them are ShoBox, either. They're both "Showtime Boxing Specials," which is the name given to a card taking place on a Saturday that doesn't reflect the expected quality of premium cable boxing, and can't be billed instead as a prospect showcase.
The first of those takes place tonight, as Leon Margules and Warriors Boxing present a quadruple-header of Al Haymon fighters from Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut. There is a world title fight, and there is a Chad Dawson, and there's a pretty good 154-pound matchup. All in all, honestly, this is a lot better than the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING card that featured Garcia-Salka, Peterson-Santana, and Jacobs-Fletcher.
Like, a lot better.
One note: middleweight prospect Dominic Wade was set to face KeAndrae Leatherwood in the night's TV opener, but Wade had to withdraw with an injured back.
1. Rances Barthelemy is one of the best super featherweights in the world
Barthelemy (20-0, 12 KO) will be defending his IBF 130-pound title in the main event against Fernando Saucedo (52-5-3, 8 KO). Sure, it's not the most attractive main event in the world. And in all honesty, it probably doesn't even figure to be all that competitive. Argentina's Saucedo, 32, hasn't lost since 2010, but that's also the last time he faced a world class fighter, and he was PWNED (that's what people say! in 2006!) by Chris John.
Barthelemy, an alleged 28-year-old from Cuba (I never trust those commie ages) beat Argenis Mendez in a July rematch for the belt, six months after knocking him out after the bell of the second round in their first encounter, which was rightly ruled a no-contest after the fact. But he also was given a bit of a gift in January 2013 against Arash Usmanee.
Tonight's fight will be one where we might figure out if the Barthelemy who beat Mendez is the real deal that we can look forward to for a while, and if he's grown from the fight with Usmanee. Also, Usmanee was probably a tougher style matchup than Mendez. And Saucedo. Well, almost certainly Saucedo.
2. CHAD DAWSON
We discussed Bad Chad in a For Your Consideration yesterday. Sometimes I find guys like Dawson weirdly compelling. He's got some mental blocks or something, he's talented, and yet I don't like watching him fight. This is not like my eternal Zab Judah fascination. I might think Judah is the most overrated fighter of his generation, but I also enjoy watching Zab fight, because he can be really exciting. Chad Dawson cannot be really exciting. EVER.
Dawson is back tonight to face Tommy Karpency in a tune-up, which will now serve as TV opener. That's a step up from SHO Extreme and George Blades, but Dawson is still a far cry from where he was before Adonis Stevenson shattered his world in 54 seconds, which followed Andre Ward carefully putting a bunch of big cracks in all his windows for several more rounds in 2012.
3. Martirosyan vs Nelson is a legit fight
Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 KO) has not always gotten the kindest press here at Bad Left Hook Dot Com, but I never blamed Vanes for it. It was always about the wretched matchmaking he was wasting his career on. I stand by it. And now, in his second fight with Goossen Tutor Promotions, Vanes is in there with Willie Nelson. It's a pair of guys right on the cusp of a world title fight, or going to the back of the line.
Nelson (23-1-1, 13 KO) sometimes looks spectacular, a 6'3" junior middleweight with an 81" reach. He's got power, but like previous "THAT GUY'S REALLY TALL FOR HIS WEIGHT!" dude Paul Williams, he sometimes gives away his natural advantages.
Martirosyan may not have turned a ton of heads over his pro career, but he's a really solid pro fighter. In two fights against top foes, he's done plenty well for himself against both Erislandy Lara and Demetrius Andrade. Because of that, I have to consider Martirosyan the favorite tonight, but this is a fight I'm excited to see play out.
4. Showtime boxing as we know it IS DYING A DEATH!
OK, so I'm being dramatic. But the signs at SHO aren't that great right now. With just two cards left for 2014 and neither of them marquee events, plus Oscar De La Hoya starting to take key Golden Boy guys back to HBO, plus Al Haymon possibly taking his fighters to NBC next year, where will Showtime be 12 months from now?
I have no idea. But in case this is the beginning of the end of the current, would-be-short-lived Espinoza/Mayweather Era at Showtime, wouldn't you like to say you were there? Maybe save a screencap of Mauro Ranallo to show your grandkids someday when you all live on Mars?
5. Hey, it's the first premium cable card in weeks
And it's the last until October 18, when HBO has Golovkin-Rubio. You pay for these channels. Tune in and get a few of your monies worth.