General wisdom in the boxing business says that the main event sells pay per views. Flowing from that idea, promoters have generally not put much effort or money into making good fights for the undercards of major events. For example, when Bob Arum was promoting Oscar de la Hoya, it was the Mexican-American’s stardom which sold the pay per views. Thus, Arum would generally put mismatches on his undercards. In some instances, boxing promoters would put outliers such as “Butterbean” or women’s boxers such as Christy Martin or Mia St. John on undercards. The only exceptions to this undercard rule were some of Don King’s pay per view cards where he would include several quality matches.
Golden Boy promotions has made many statements throughout recent years about changing the status of undercards and stacking them with quality matches. However, their last pay per view offering, “Ring Kings” (which featured Floyd Mayweather defeating Miguel Cotto) featured two mismatches, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez against a shot and smaller Shane Mosley and prospect Jessie Vargas against the smaller, shot and unwilling to exchange Steve Forbes, and a fight that might not even be approved for an ESPN2 undercard, Carlos Quintana against Deandre Latimore. For Saturday’s “May Day” event headlined by Floyd Mayweather defending the welterweight championship against Robert Guerrero, Golden Boy has attempted to improve its undercard offering.
The televised co-feature will have Daniel Ponce de Leon (44-4) defend his WBC featherweight title against former bantamweight and junior featherweight titlist Abner Mares (25-0-1). This is a quality fight. Ponce de Leon is a two division titlist and his four losses are all to quality opponents, Celestino Caballero, Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Adrien Broner. Lopez was the only one to stop him. On the other hand, Ponce de Leon gave the much larger Broner fits in a March 2011 bout. He is a southpaw with tremendous punching power and he won the title by defeating the well-regarded Johnny Gonzalez. Mares, unable to secure a bout at 122 pounds with Nonito Donaire, is moving up for an opportunity to win his third title. He is a young undefeated pressure fighter with good boxing skills, decent power and an excellent chin. Mares also has quality wins over Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko and Anselmo Moreno. It should be an exciting fight. However, given Ponce de Leon’s southpaw stance and rudimentary boxing skills and Mares pressure style, it could be an awkward fight. Additionally, there is a chance of an accidental headbut ending the proceedings early. If the fighters can avoid that though, we will learn if Mares can handle 126 pounds or if Ponce de Leon can obtain a signature victory.
Another televised undercard fight will be brought to us by Mayweather Promotions. Their fighter, J’Leon Love (15-0) will face off against Gabriel Rosado (21-6). Love is a middleweight prospect taking a big step up in competition. That he gets to have the step up fight on the biggest event of the year just shows that it is good to be friends with Mayweather. Seriously though, while Leon has good boxing skills, he does not have much power and his best win is over Derrick Findley. Rosado, on the other hand, has beaten very good opposition (Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell, Kassim Ouma) and has losses to top level opposition (Gennady Golovkin, Alfredo Angulo, Fernando Guerrero). He has good power but is a brawler at heart. He should be able to extend Love to his limit unless the beating he took from Golovkin just over three months ago took too much out of him. This is another competitive fight for the televised undercard.
The first televised fight will likely not be competitive. It features former bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (23-0-1) moving up to 122 pounds to face Alexander Munoz (36-4). Last year, Santa Cruz basically leaped from prospect to world titlist and contender for fighter of the year. He fought five times, going from un-televised undercard to headlining on CBS, and captured a title. He also showcased an all action style that is combined with good boxing skills. In other words, Santa Cruz is the real deal and it is always a pleasure to watch him fight. Munoz, however, is not likely to put up much of a fight. He spent most of his career at 115 pounds and only moved up to 118 pounds in 2010. At 118, he lost a title challenge to Koki Kameda, a light punching Japanese stylist, who dropped him in the final round. Munoz was then out of boxing for two years before returning in November to beat a fighter with a record of 12-35-2. Now he has to take on a strong young pressure fighter in his prime. This is not a good formula for a thrilling fight.
Overall though, the undercard should produce some good fights. That is more that could have been said about most prior boxing undercards.