Saturday night's HBO pay-per-view card, headlined by Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan, will feature three undercard bouts on the broadcast, which begins at 9:00 pm EDT. All three fights are scheduled for ten rounds, with some familiar names, and two solid prospect vs veteran matchups.
Here's a rundown of what you'll see on the show.
David Lemieux vs Glen Tapia
Record: 34-3 (31 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'9½" / 70" ... Age: 27
Thoughts: Lemieux hasn't fought since his one-sided loss to Gennady Golovkin last October. He had a fight with James de la Rosa scheduled in March, but missed weight and the fight was canceled. Now he's got this shot against Glen Tapia, which is about the same level of fight. That is to say, it's a clear tune-up, or at least meant to be.
Lemieux is a hell of a puncher. His record reflects that. And his overall game has improved since his losses to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine back in 2011. Those could have been truly career-derailing, but instead he sucked it up, got back on the horse, took it slow, and became a middleweight titleholder and contender again.
Lemieux is a limited fighter. He can be outboxed, as we saw last year against Hassan N'dam, a fight David won on the strength of four knockdowns. And while he's got a decent chin, it's not cast iron or anything -- he's been stopped twice, by Golovkin and Rubio. He's average defensively and has largely been successful because he's a good offensive fighter with terrific power. This matchup doesn't figure to test him, but you never know how a fighter will respond to a hard loss like the GGG fight until they get in there and do it. Lemieux came back well from defeat before, can he do it again?
Record: 23-2 (15 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / 73" ... Age: 26
Thoughts: Once a Top Rank prospect, Tapia's limitations are quite clear. He's subpar defensively, gets hit a lot, and his chin has been cracked. That's not to say he's not a very tough fighter, because he is. James Kirkland had to work damn hard for his 2013 win over Tapia, a sixth-round stoppage where Tapia took a ton of abuse before "great referee" Steve Smoger finally stopped the fight.
Tapia did win three fights after that, beating Keenan Collins, Donatas Bondorovas, and Daniel Dawson, all by early stoppage. Last May, he was matched against Michel Soro, and Soro took him apart after a first round rush by Tapia, stopping the "Jersey Boy" in the fourth round.
You know that part in The Return of the King when Eowyn says to Eomer, speaking of Merry, "You should not doubt him," and Eomer responds, "I do not doubt his heart. Only the reach of his arm." That's kind of how I feel about Tapia here. He's got all the heart in the world, but he's vulnerable, and Lemieux feasts on vulnerability.
Matchup Grade: C. It will likely be very fun while it lasts, but the reality is that this *should* be a fairly painless win for Lemieux. He might get hit a little bit along the way, but he's bringing the bigger guns to this fight, and Tapia's defense is so leaky that it seems more a question of when, not if, he gets stopped again.
Mauricio Herrera vs Frankie Gomez
Record: 22-5 (7 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 6-4 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7½" / 71½" ... Age: 35
Thoughts: Herrera is a good, crafty, intelligent fighter. He's not a puncher, he's not necessarily slick, he doesn't have the sort of defense where people watch him and go, "Wow, what a great defensive fighter!" He's just solid, doesn't make a lot of mistakes, and frustrates opponents into making their own.
Herrera's controversial loss to Danny Garcia in 2014 might have been his very best fight. Garcia is a fighter known to make good adjustments mid-fight if an opponent is troubling him, and he did make adjustments, but so did Herrera. It was a close fight, but finding eight rounds for Garcia (which two judges did) was a little tough. And his loss later that year to blue chipper Jose Benavidez Jr was a flat-out robbery. He won that fight, and the Vegas judges stole it from him.
Herrera is a fighter who takes all comers. Back in 2011, he took Ruslan Provodnikov's undefeated record with a 12-round decision win on Friday Night Fights. He was hell for Provodnikov, just as he's been hell for Mike Alvarado, Garcia, Benavidez, Karim Mayfield, Hank Lundy, and Johan Perez. There is nothing flashy or exceptional about what Herrera does. He's just good, and in a way that often seems to escape judges.
Record: 20-0 (13 KO) ... Streak: W20 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8" / 70" ... Age: 24
Thoughts: We're assuming Gomez will make weight -- it's a 146-pound catchweight -- and will be healthy doing so. In February, he looked good at 145 against Silverio Ortiz, but that was also Silverio Ortiz.
Gomez has faced a veteran fighter who has an awkward, crafty style before. He beat Vernon Paris in July 2014, shutting him out 100-89 on all three cards. Paris, though, is an odd case, and he might have had his heart taken a little bit after his 2012 loss to Zab Judah, where he was flat-out dominated. Herrera is a different kettle of fish, someone who is unquestionably dedicated to boxing and doesn't really have bad nights.
Gomez's skills are not in question. People have raved about his talent since he was an amateur. Oscar De La Hoya is a big supporter of Gomez's. And trainer Freddie Roach has long said that Gomez is as talented if not more talented than anyone he's ever had in the Wild Card gym, which is some very high praise. It's been a question of consistency and dedication for Frankie so far in his career. Last year, he was set to face Humberto Soto, but couldn't make weight. Now, he's got this chance against Herrera. There's a "sink or swim" feeling to this matchup for Gomez. If he's in shape and sharp, he could do what Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez Jr failed to do: decisively defeat Mauricio Herrera, with no question marks. If he's not, well, he could lose, or he could do what Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez Jr did: get a questionable decision win over Mauricio Herrera with a lot of question marks.
Matchup Grade: B+. I would go to A- for this one if there weren't the looming threat of a robbery decision. Whatever it is, either judges hate Herrera's style, or he's been specifically chosen by fate to be a guinea pig to see how much a fighter can take. Gomez has terrific skills, but Herrera makes everyone look bad, and frustrates them while doing it. It's not likely to be an action fight, but it should be very interesting.
Patrick Teixeira vs Curtis Stevens
Record: 26-0 (22 KO) ... Streak: W26 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / N/A ... Age: 25
Thoughts: There's a good amount of footage on Teixeira, who hasn't been on any major TV cards, but did appear on a Friday Night Fights in 2013, beating Marcus Willis over 10 rounds, and headlined an Estrella TV card in his last fight in October, beating Don Mouton by seventh round stoppage.
Teixeira's power against those guys hasn't necessarily been of the one-punch variety. Neither fighter went down -- Mouton was stopped against the ropes, no longer fighting back -- and it was more a case of Teixeira banging away with good work rate and solid power on his shots. He's a tall southpaw who doesn't forget the body, so even when his shots aren't getting guys out, he's sapping them along the way.
What Teixeira lacks in "big fight" experience, he may make up for in being fairly well-traveled. He's fought in his native Brazil 17 times, plus five times in the United States, and four times in Mexico, so he hasn't been afraid to go abroad, and hasn't been held close at home with others' fears that he might get exposed away from home. That said, Curtis Stevens is a big step up for him. Marcus Willis is probably the best fighter that Teixeira has faced so far, and Willis was able to do some solid work in that fight, losing on scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92. Willis is a tough guy who can take a shot, but doesn't have a punch. Stevens has a punch. We'll see how Teixeira deals with someone who can return the fire.
Record: 27-5 (20 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 71½" ... Age: 31
Thoughts: Stevens hasn't fought since October 2014 (well, he fought in BKB), when he suffered a one-sided loss to Hassan N'dam in an abnormally flaccid performance. Stevens had lost fights before, but never looked quite so indifferent about it. He's been working with trainer John David Jackson for this comeback, and was part of Canelo Alvarez's team late last year when Alvarez prepared for Miguel Cotto.
Stevens has always had a devastating left hook, and even as a short middleweight and super middleweight, he's been dangerous. But he has often looked one-dimensional, too. Jackson's influence may help to change that, but at 31, Stevens is likely to be about what we've seen so far in his career, with some minor adjustments that certainly can be made to make his game a bit more well-rounded, but it's not like we're going to see an all-new fighter out there.
Still, for a young fighter who's never faced anyone this good, Stevens is a good step up opponent, and Curtis may feel a little disrespect at being chosen as a "test the waters" foe for a prospect. That or he's licking his chops.
Matchup Grade: B. It's a standard prospect-veteran matchup, and a pretty good one. Stevens' power alone makes him dangerous against Teixeira, and if Jackson has sharpened Curtis' edges, this could easily be a step too far, too soon for the young Brazilian.