Tonight's Showtime triple-header is a "special event" -- not ShoBox, not Championship Boxing. It's special. Why is it special? Because the show fits the standards of neither of the normal series. There are no prospects here, really, so it's not ShoBox. And though there is a world title fight, it would be hard to sell the show's non-title main event -- Andrzej Fonfara vs Doudou Ngumbu -- as the headliner for "Championship Boxing."
Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that Fonfara-Ngumbu is any worse a fight than Garcia-Salka was in August, and that was a Championship Boxing main event, even without there being a title, since even sanctioning bodies wanted nothing to do with that disgusting mismatch. At least Fonfara-Ngumbu is, in theory, some kind of competitive fight. Garcia got Championship Boxing because he is, in boxing terms, famous. Fonfara is not, though that shouldn't prevent this from being lively.
And let's get on with it!
1. Chicago atmosphere
Though Chicago is not the fight city it once was, in that it doesn't get many marquee bouts, it's still a great fight city. A loyal fan base in the Windy City has proven highly supportive of many fighters in recent years, and a strong local boxing scene has kept the scene solid. Andrzej Fonfara is probably the biggest star in Chicago boxing today, and his fans should provide a great and vocal atmosphere for this show. As we saw on Thursday's FS1 show, a good crowd can carry bad fights into being a lot more watchable, and they should be rowdy for the 26-year-old Pole, who now lives in and fights out of the city.
2. Tomoki Kameda is close to being the world's best bantamweight
23-year-old Kameda has a higher ceiling than his older brothers Koki and Daiki, who have done pretty well in the sport, and his transition to the United States indicates he wants to become more than "just" a draw in Japan. Now advised by Al Haymon after building his career under Canelo Alvarez's promotional banner in Mexico, Kameda will be faced with tough veteran Alejandro Hernandez as he defends his WBO bantamweight title.
Kameda (30-0, 19 KO) may be closing in on being the top bantamweight in the world, too. Right now, that honor goes to Shinsuke Yamanaka, but Yamanaka is 32 and not looking to make any international waves. Kameda is an exciting body puncher who looks to finish opponents. That said, the matchup isn't great. Hernandez (28-10-2, 15 KO) has won three straight, but he's also lost several fights to opponents not as good as Kameda. This is more showcase than anything, but at least it's a mandatory, so you can blame the WBO and not Haymon.
3. The enigmatic Javier Fortuna
Sometimes, 25-year-old Dominican southpaw Javier Fortuna looks like he's a threat to anyone at 126 or 130 pounds. Other times, he looks pedestrian and even lazy. In two notable fights, he's beaten Patrick Hyland without any flair whatsoever, a huge letdown against a limited opponent he should have beaten handily, and gone to a draw with Luis Franco, a pretty good but hardly great Cuban fighter.
Fortuna (25-0-1, 18 KO) was once hyped as the latest Lewkowicz discovery, much like Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez, lefties with skill and power and speed who weren't on the radar for the big-time promoters. Now with Haymon, Fortuna will have every opportunity to make his mark. But does he lack that something special that separates talented fighters from the truly elite?
Abner Cotto (18-2, 8 KO) is another busted Puerto Rican prospect of recent years, and he's gone 2-2 in his last four fights, losing to Omar Figueroa (KO-1) and Francisco Vargas (UD-10), with wins over Daniel Ruiz (TKO-4) and Jerry Belmontes (SD-10). On paper, this looks set up to make Fortuna look good. But we'll see what he does with that, because he's been set up for that before.
4. The main event has a fellow name of 'Doudou'
Usually, the doudou involved in a Showtime main event this year is not outright named.
5. Did I mention Tomoki Kameda?