Once again this Saturday, the fine folks at competing premium cable networks Showtime and HBO will be going head-to-head with simultaneous boxing programing. Showtime will air a triple-header from the StubHub Center in Carson, California which features a welterweight bout between Marcos Maidana (33-3) and Josesito Lopez (30-5), an interim junior middleweight title fight between Erislandy Lara (17-1-2) and Alfredo Angulo (22-2) and a junior middlweight match between Jermell Charlo (20-0) and Demetrious Hopkins (33-2-1). Meanwhile, HBO will air a doubleheader from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada which features Chad Dawson (31-2) defending the light heavyweight championship against Adonis Stevenson (20-1) and an interim lightweight title bout between Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0) and Darleys Perez (28-0). By now, you should be used to this and have your DVRs set and made appropriate preparations to not learn from social media the results of the card you do not watch live. If not, boxing fans need to learn these tricks because with the competing interests of the networks as well as various promotional companies, managers, fighters, etc., simultaneous televised cards are likely to become more frequent. Indeed the competition has even led to using the non-major networks to air preliminary bouts: undercard bouts from Carson will air on ShoExtreme starting at 8 PM and HBO will air undercard bouts from Montreal on HBO Latino following the HBO broadcast. But that is another topic for another day. Let’s get to this weeks fights.
Maidana-Lopez figures to be the highlight of the weekend. Both guys are not hard to find and they both like to throw punches with bad intentions. They both have good chins as well although Maidana has hit the canvas in the past. Lopez has become known as the “Riverside Rocky” following his upset knock out victory over Victor Ortiz. However, Lopez has always been a fine prizefighter and his losses, especially those to Jesse Vargas and Edgar Santana, can be attributed to bad judging or to an ill-advised move to junior middleweight to grab a career-high payday against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Lopez has taken some time to rest following his September knockout loss to Canelo and he figures to come back as good as ever. Maidana fought on that same card and had trouble with Jesus Soto-Karass. In his other notable welterweight fight, Maidana was completely out-boxed by Devon Alexander. Maidana is recognized as the better fighter and the odds favor him (2-5 by Bet365, -225 by SportBet and -200 by Bovada). Given that he has not looked good at 147 pounds, it appears that Lopez could outbox Maidana at times and land big punches. Lopez is the pick.
Three of the other televised fights are actually quite similar to each other. They each involve a skilled boxer with significant speed advantages taking on big punchers. The boxers are Dawson, Gamboa and Lara and the punchers are Stevenson, Perez and Angulo. Normally, this author is of the opinion that boxers beat punchers as the proverbial “puncher’s chance” is just a phrase used to sell mismatches in talent and/or skill. That said, one of these three punchers have to come through, right? Which one. Dawson is coming off a knock-out loss but it was at a lower weight and he now faces Stevenson, a 35 year old who has only been boxing for 10 years and is coming up in weight for the chance at the title. Dawson should box circles around Stevenson but he is only a slight favorite (1-2 by Bet365; -175 by SportBet; -185 by Bovada). Dawson is the pick. Gamboa is coming off another long layoff, is moving up in weight again and has defensive lapses that cause him to get dropped in seemingly every fight. Meanwhile, Perez is a decorated amateur, undefeated as professional and the natural lightweight. That said, Perez is taking a massive step up in competition as he has no notable names on his resume. Combine that fact with Gamboa’s amateur and professional experience and his blazing speed and you can see why Gamboa is a big favorite (1-14 by Bet365; -1300 by SportBet; -1600 by Bovada). Is it worth it to throw a few sheckles on Perez hoping for a big payday? Maybe but so is the lottery. Gamboa is the pick. That leaves Lara and Angulo. Angulo is perhaps the worst of the punchers given his long layoff because of immigration issues, looking bad in fights since the layoff and his noted issues making the 154 pound limit. Lara, meanwhile, is a slick southpaw who has a good offense, when he uses it. As such, Lara is a large favorite (1-5 by Bet365; -490 by SportBet). So why consider Angulo. For one, Angulo is bigger and knows how to use his size and punching power to wear down fighters. That could help him slow down the quicker Lara. Additionally, Angulo is a former Mexican Olympian and has trained with Nacho Beristain as well as currently training with Virgil Hill. That means he has skills and is not a mindless brawler. Plus, Lara recently had a draw that should have been a loss with Carlos Molina in a fight where Molina smothered Lara and Lara’s stretches of inactivity were penalized by the judges. Angulo could smother Lara and if Lara runs or does not have a consistent offense, the judges could favor the more active Angulo who will be coming forward all night long. Angulo is the pick.
The only fight we haven’t addressed yet is the bout between prospect Charlo and former prospect Hopkins. Odds are not available for this match. Charlo has a very good jab and good skills. He also has the backing of uber-manager Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions. Hopkins is the smaller man and his own uncle, the great Bernard Hopkins, doesn’t even like him. Charlo is the pick.
One more pick… sure, why not. In Germany, cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck (35-2-1) will defend his title agains Ola Afolabi (19-2-4). This will be the third time these two have met: Huck won the first fight by close unanimous decision and the second battle, a 2012 fight of the year candidate, was declared a draw. Since their second fight a year ago, Huck had a tough time getting past Firat Arslan (42 years old at the time) and Afolabi has been sitting on a couch. Huck is the favorite (1-2 by www.bet365.com; -210 at www.sportbet.com; -225 at www.bovada.lv), most likely because he is fighting at home. However, these two boxers are as evenly matched as can be – just look at the scores for their first two fights. Expect another close fight but with the fight happening in Germany where Huck is the draw, the judges can be expected to give him close rounds. Huck is the pick.
Author’s Record for the Year: 29-8-2 (In my last bettor’s guide, I went a terrible 3-2 with the losses coming when Lucas Matthysse iced Lamont Peterson and Guillermo Jones turned Dennis Lebedev’s eye into hamburger before knocking him out. Here’s hoping the six picks above turn out better and we get back on a hot streak)