In the midst of my recent move, I was unable to give you five good reasons to watch Gennady Golovkin destroy Daniel Geale last weekend. But now I'm back in black, you guys, and all jazzed up to tell you why you should watch tonight's HBO triple-header, emanating from both Las Vegas and Atlantic City!
1. Rios-Chaves is (quietly) a potential FOTY contender
Now that the fight is settled and Diego Chaves has secured his visa and his spot in the Las Vegas main event on Saturday night, we've very possibly got a real war on our hands with Rios vs Chaves. Brandon Rios only knows one way to fight, really, and Chaves' lone U.S. exposure saw him press Keith Thurman fairly hard before falling victim to Thurman's power and his nice tactical adjustments.
Does Rios have Thurman's power? I don't think so. Does Rios have Thurman's boxing skills? I don't think so. Can Rios stand and bang with a hard-hitting, legitimate welterweight? Yeah, probably, since he's tougher than a two dollar steak, and it's what he likes doing. Brandon Rios will bring his usual style to this one, and if Chaves can handle that heat -- Rios, remember, is not what one might consider a true welterweight -- this could be an absolute barnburner.
2. Sergey Kovalev is must-see TV
As Gennady Golovkin is to the middleweights, Sergey Kovalev is to the light heavyweights. We didn't get to hear the years of gym tales regarding Kovalev that we did with Golovkin, but their styles are similar. They're brutal punchers, but also skilled offensive boxers. Kovalev may be a bit better defensively, actually, but it's hard to tell since neither of them have exactly faced anyone who can really trouble them since coming into their own.
3. Anton Novikov is a genuine threat to Jessie Vargas
We'll talk more about the other two underdogs in a moment, but Novikov might have the best chance at an upset. While Brandon Rios has lost two in a row and appears to be very vulnerable, it's a question of how good Chaves really is, too, and what kind of shape both of them are in -- Rios because he's routinely not in great shape, and Chaves because he's late getting into town for the fight.
Novikov (29-0, 10 KO) is a 5'9", southpaw junior welterweight who has mostly dominated foes in the pro ranks so far, and it's not like Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KO) leaps off the screen as some world class fighter, despite his status as a world champion now. Vargas had to scrap and battle to lift the belt from the very solid Khabib Allakhverdiev, which there's no shame in, but Novikov might represent a dramatically worse style matchup for the former Money Team prospect. They're both young (Novikov is 26, Varags is 25), about the same height (Vargas is listed at 5'10"), and have the same listed reach (71"). This is a sneaky quality matchup that has been mostly overlooked.
4. Blake Caparello can box; can he endure?
Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KO) upsetting Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KO) would be enormous, but don't overlook the fact that Caparello is a tricky southpaw boxer who has proven a tough foe for everyone he's faced. Of course, Kovalev isn't exactly Elvir Muriqi or Allan Green, but still. It's going to take a huge effort from Caparello, but the June bout between Chris Algieri and Ruslan Provodnikov took a huge effort from Algieri to weather the early storm, start boxing, show his heart, and eventually pull off the upset, landing a Manny Pacquiao fight as a result. Caparello is a huge underdog for a very good reason. By all rights, he should not win this fight. But Kovalev is no more invincible than anyone else in boxing has ever been, which is to say he's far from it.
5. Top Rank's light show
OH MY GOD