The first day of autumn isn't officially until September 23, but let's cheat a few days and say that boxing's fall schedule starts as soon as the calendar flips from August to September. With that technical issue aside, now we're free to discuss what's coming.
As usual, boxing had a largely quiet summer and a pretty much flatlined month of August. Spring and autumn are the big months for the sport, and we're almost back out of the woods. Here's a look at what's coming up.
The month's Big One is obviously the September 12 Showtime pay-per-view fight between Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto, mostly just because it involves Mayweather, and he and his team are continuing to market this as the final fight of Floyd's career. A victory would put him at 49-0, and almost nobody believes that he would let himself stand tied with Rocky Marciano if all it would take is one more go-round next year to retire at a clean, round 50-0.
Mayweather-Berto was late to be made official and has no real buzz whatsoever, mostly because nobody believes that Berto has even a fool's chance at scoring the victory. Mayweather-Berto is hardly some historically bad matchup, but it's the sort of thing you might have expected if Mayweather had lost to Manny Pacquiao in May and was looking for a tune-up return, and obviously that's not exactly what people were hoping to get after Mayweather pretty easily handled Pacquiao. But here we are.
The undercard is solid, too. Rocky Martinez will face Orlando Salido in a 130-pound title rematch, Badou Jack will defend his super middleweight belt against George Groves, and Jhonny Gonzalez will meet Jonathan Oquendo. All in all, it's a solid card on paper, even with a less than intriguing main event.
- Premier Boxing Champions keeps rolling, expanding
The first noteworthy card of the month comes on September 6, a Sunday afternoon PBC on CBS show from Corpus Christi, Texas, where Jamie McDonnell will face Tomoki Kameda in a rematch of their May 9 bout in Hidalgo, where McDonnell scored an upset over Kameda to win the WBA bantamweight title. They'll be in the co-feature slot, because while boxing is back on network TV and all that jazz, boxing probably isn't "back" enough for network TV to have a 118-pound British fighter headline a show against a 118-pound Japanese fighter. That show's main event will see former WBC super middleweight titlist Anthony Dirrell face veteran Marco Antonio Rubio.
PBC then returns on September 12 on NBC, an afternoon show meant mostly to convince a skeptical public to buy that night's Mayweather-Berto PPV. Peter Quillin will main event against Michael Zerafa, who is one of those unknown fighters that when you question their credentials, someone on Twitter or Facebook who more likely than not personally knows them tells you will shockingly upset the person you've heard of, and you don't respond, because you feel bad, and you know that this is not someone critiquing a professional boxing matchup, but trying to stick up for their friend. Also, Cornelius Bundrage takes on Jermall Charlo in the co-feature, and the fight that is much better than the main event, which is becoming a PBC trend.
On September 26, Deontay Wilder makes his network TV debut against Johann Duhaupas in Birmingham, Alabama. Duhaupas figures to be a no-hoper against the charismatic, powerful, and increasingly skilled Wilder, but this is about showcasing a potential superstar and building a brand, as it were. (I hate having to say these things, but it's necessary, because it's what they're doing. A lot of PBC is about rebranding these fighters that hardcore fans already know very well.) The co-feature here is not any better on paper, as Omar Figueroa will be hammering away at the skull of Antonio DeMarco for up to 10 rounds, but Figueroa does have a habit of making every fight harder than it needs to be, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect good action.
PBC will also be making its debut on FOX Sports 1 as part of the network's "Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays" campaign, with fight cards every Tuesday night this month. Here's a rundown of what's scheduled for that show:
- September 8: Austin Trout vs Joey Hernandez, Jorge Lara vs Jesus Rojas
- September 15: Sammy Vasquez Jr vs Jose Lopez, Thomas Williams Jr vs Umberto Savigne
- September 22: Julian Williams vs Luciano Cuello, Moises Flores vs Luis Cusolito
- September 29: Javier Fortuna vs Carlos Velasquez, Domonique "DOLTON" Dolton vs Oscar Molina
While it's hardly a series presenting major marquee matchups, it's also a lot more relevant than what Golden Boy was giving FS1 before their deal expired and Haymon swooped in. It looks like a strong replacement for the departed ESPN Friday Night Fights, basically.
October's Big One is the world heavyweight championship showdown between reigning ruler Wladimir Klitschko and brash British contender Tyson Fury. Fury has been looking for the big fight for a while now, thinking he had it a couple of years ago against David Haye, but Haye dropped out of that fight twice. Klitschko, who had his own difficult experiences with Haye -- which did not include their actual fight, unless you're a boxing fan and found it a difficult experience to watch -- is now ready to face the unbeaten Fury, who has been talking up this day since he turned pro, basically.
HBO will have the fight live in the afternoon on October 24 from Germany. Fury is the rare fighter who isn't dwarfed by Klitschko -- in fact, Fury is notably taller than Wladimir. More importantly, Fury combines his size with actual skill, unlike what we've seen before from the likes of Mariusz Wach or Francesco Pianeta, a couple of other big heavyweights who never stood a chance. Fury has steadily improved over the years and is taking his shot. Will he win? YOU'LL HAVE TO TUNE IN TO FIND OUT or read the internet during and after the fight.
After radio silence since late July, HBO actually gets back into the boxing business in October. They'll feature Lucas Matthysse taking on Viktor Postol for a vacant 140-pound belt on October, with a nice matchup between veteran Humberto Soto and rising prospect Antonio Orozco set for the co-feature. Although you may want to knock on wood there, since every time Soto is set to fight on HBO something goes wrong this year.
The other big fight of October is another HBO event, though on pay-per-view. Gennady Golovkin will match power with devastating puncher David Lemieux on October 17, with Golovkin making his pay-per-view debut as an A-side headliner. The co-feature is also outstanding, as Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez will face Brian Viloria in a flyweight championship bout. Golovkin-Lemieux probably has more American fans excited than Klitschko-Fury, but there's no arguing that it's actually a bigger fight, particularly globally.
On October 24, Terence Crawford will return home to Omaha to face Dierry Jean in a 140-pound title bout. Crawford and Matthysse are basically neck-and-neck hoping to claim the spot as world's widely recognized top 140-pound fighter now that Danny Garcia has moved up, and they'll each have a chance to state their claim.
Also Notable: Andy Lee will face Billy Joe Saunders on October 10 in Manchester, England, with BoxNation televising in the United Kingdom. It's a good matchup for both.
Not much is known yet about what we'll see in November, but there's already one great event lined up: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez on November 21 in Las Vegas, on HBO pay-per-view. There is a decent chance this will be the No. 2 PPV event of 2015, as it has a solid shot at outperforming Mayweather-Berto simply because both of these guys are stars, bring their own fan bases, and this is a fight that people want, have asked for, and ultimately demanded of both sides, whereas nobody was asking for Mayweather-Berto.
Much more will be announced for November and early to mid December (boxing usually freezes up around the Christmas season and into mid-January at the earliest), as this is a generally busy time of year. But Cotto-Canelo is a pretty damn good start.