With championship caliber boxing action scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights, and an 11-fight WEC card on Sunday, this weekend should be a fight fan’s dream. Here’s a look ahead at some of what to expect.
For fight fans, March is coming in like a lion for sure. The pillar to post action that fight fans were treated to last weekend will be tough to top, but with all of the action on tap for this weekend, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Friday Night Fights may be the most often overlooked of the fight entertainment options, but it’s not one that you should pass on this week. If you missed it last week than you missed out on two of the best up and coming young fighters on the scene, although you didn’t miss much. Up and coming featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa improved to 14-0 with 12 knockouts, picking up a 35 second knockout over Walter Estrada.
Gamboa, currently credited by many with the most explosive hands in the game, lived up to the hype in scoring a quick knockout over Estrada, shortly after his fellow Cuban defector Erislandy Lara improved his record to 4-0 with a first round knockout of Keith Gross.
Lara, the 25 year old light middleweight, defected from Cuba to Brazil in 2007, but was returned to Cuba, where he was banned from boxing altogether. He defected a second time in 2008, this time to Mexico, and has quickly run his record to 4-0 since July of 2008. The southpaw’s knockout of Gross at 1:09 of the first round was his third consecutive first round KO win.
If you missed the fights on Friday, don’t despair. Many of those who tuned in, blinked and missed the action too. And considering that neither was really even touched in their victories, it’s likely we’ll see both of them back in the ring again quickly anyway.
There was a forgettable heavyweight fight on the card too, and the nightcap was a circus of a fight between up and coming lightweight, Breidis Prescott and Humberto Toledo. Prescott, the most hyped fighter on the card came in boasting first or second round KOs in 4 of his previous 5 fights. The overmatched Toledo was game, standing with Prescott for ten rounds, but he was clearly out of his league too. Most observers felt that Toledo didn’t win a single round of the fight. Still standing though, with just 1:01 remaining in the fight, Toledo appeared to have had enough, and bit Prescott around the neck and shoulder during a clinch. He was subsequently DQ’d, ending the night. Prescott improved to 21-0 with 18 KOs.
This week, Friday Night Fights is featuring Glen Johnson and Daniel Judah in the main event. Also on Friday night, Showtime is featuring Cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek defending his IBF, and Ring Magazine cruiserweight titles against undefeated up and comer, Johnathon Banks.
On Saturday night, HBO will be showing Ring Magazine’s lightweight champion, Juan Manuel Marquez against #1 lightweight contender Juan Diaz. For those, like myself, who didn’t pony up for the Cotto and Pavlik fights, I’d imagine that the replays of these will be shown as an under card for either the HBO or Showtime broadcast, although I’m not sure which.
And On Sunday night, the WEC has an 11-fight MMA card on Versus Network, with Mike Brown defending his featherweight title against Leonard Garcia in the main event. Without baseball, or football to fall back on, and with March Madness still a couple of weeks from warming up, there will be plenty of fight options to keep sports fans entertained this weekend.
Glen Johnson – 5’11”, 175 lbs. – (48-12-2, 33 KO) vs. Daniel Judah – 6’2”, 175 lbs. – (23-3-3, 10 KO)
Despite the 12 losses on his record and the 40 years under his belt, Glen Johnson is still a feared contender in the light heavyweight ranks who seems to have difficulty landing big fights. He’s currently the #3 ranked light heavyweight by Ring Magazine and #4 in the boxrec.com world rankings, and boasts knockout victories in 4 of his last 5 fights. In 62 professional fights, Johnson has only been KO’d once, back in 1997 no less. His last loss was a controversial unanimous decision to Chad Dawson in April of ’08, and he has to be looking at this as his last run at a title.
Judah, a southpaw is unranked by Ring Magazine, and the #44 ranked light heavyweight by boxrec.com. He may be the least famous, and least impressive member of the Judah boxing family. He’ll enjoy a 3” height advantage against Johnson, and is 9 years younger. Still, despite modest competition, Johnson has lost every other fight since 2004.He’s also been sporadically active during that time, fighting just 6 fights. Based on his win, loss, win, loss pattern, Judah is due for a loss in this one. Judah too, has only been KO’d once in his career, a loss to Darnell “Ding-a-Ling Man” Wilson in September of 2006. Considering Judah’s modest level of competition though, and relative inexperience (170 professional rounds to Johnson’s 404) that stat is far less impressive where Judah is concerned.
Left handed vs. right handed match ups can often be a clumsily fought symphony of head butts, but these 2 are ring savvy competitors, Johnson has the edge in pro experience, and Judah in lineage. My guess is that Johnson is both hungrier and more talented than Judah at this stage of their careers, and should have an easy time in this one.
My Pick: Johnson – Unanimous Decision
Tomasz Adamek – 6’1 ½”, 200 lbs. – (36-1, 24 KO) vs. Johnathon Banks – 6’3”, 200 lbs. – (20-0, 14 KO)
Adamek, it seems, may have someone looking out for him when it comes to scheduling opponents. Or it could just be the result of a depleted crop of talent in the cruiserweight division. Either way, it would seem that the level of competition for Adamek was scaled back considerably after his unanimous decision loss to Chad Dawson in February of 2007.
It would seem though that Adamek’s competition, or lack thereof, is more the result of mandates than strategy from his camp. In June of ’07, Adamek rebounded from his loss to Dawson with a 7th round TKO of Luis Pineda for the vacant IBO cruiserweight title. After scoring an 8 round unanimous decision victory over Josip Jalusic, Adamek stopped O’Neil Bell in an IBF cruiserweight eliminator bout, and has recorded subsequent wins over Gary Gomez and Steve Cunningham on his way to adding the IBF title to his cache.
Ranked #1 in the cruiserweight rankings by both Ring Magazine and boxrec.com, Adamek may have his hands full with lightly regarded and virtually untested Johnathon Banks. Unranked by Ring Magazine, Banks is ranked 19th in the world among cruiserweights by boxrec.com. Banks is apparently the recognized IBO cruiserweight champ, although I’m not sure how Adamek lost it, by virtue of his win over Vincenzo Rossitto in his last fight in July of 2008.
Despite flashing quick knockout power early in his career, Banks has gone 12 rounds in 2 of his last 3 fights. Adamek, meanwhile, has simply been wearing opponents down, round after round and eventually imposing his will through attrition. This one could seemingly truly go either way.
My Pick: Adamek – TKO – 8th Round
Juan Manuel Marquez – 5’7”, 135 lbs. – (49-4-1, 36 KO) vs. Juan Diaz – 5’6”, 135 lbs. – (34-1, 17 KO)
In what looks like an early candidate for fight of the year on paper at least, Marquez and Diaz are both looking to get their careers back on the upswing following tough respectable losses, and both are looking to take control of a division that is seemingly up for grabs at this point. That’s not to say though, that either is fighting for respect, both fighters are clearly, very well respected.
For Marquez, this will be just his second fight since dropping a split decision to universally regarded pound for pound best in the world Manny Pacquiao. After the Pacquiao fight, Marquez stepped up in weight to 135, scoring an 11th round TKO win over Joel Casamayor in a fight that still seemed to be up for grabs on the judges cards at that point. Marquez has quickly positioned himself atop the lightweight rankings, regarded as the lightweight champion by Ring Magazine and the top ranked lightweight in the world by boxrec.com, Marquez has the chance to walk out of the ring with not only Diaz’ IBO lightweight title, but also with the WBO and WBA titles vacated 2 weeks ago when Nate Campbell failed to make weight in a mandatory defense against Ali Funeka.
Diaz, currently considered the top ranked lightweight contender by Ring Magazine, and 3rd ranked in the world at lightweight by boxrec.com, enters the fight with the IBO title he picked up in a split decision victory over Michael Katsidis in September of last year. The Katsidis fight came on the heels of the only loss of Diaz’ career, a split decision loss to Nate Campbell in March of 2008, in which Diaz lost his IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles.
Both orthodox fighters with heavy work ethic in the ring and modest power, this should be the fight of the weekend. Hopefully it won’t get to the cards though, as in the absence of a knockout, it could be a tough fight to score. I’d guess that the longer this one goes, the more it works to Diaz favor, but with the added weight, Marquez already the stronger puncher, could take advantage of his disparate power.
My Pick: Marquez – TKO – 11th Round
Mike Brown – 5’6”, 145 lbs. – (20-4) vs. Leonard Garcia – 5’10”, 145 lbs. – (16-3)
In his first defense of the WEC Featherweight Championship, Mike Brown will try to prove to the world that his knockout win over Urijah Faber in November of 2008 was no fluke. Undefeated in 3 fights since joining the WEC, Brown has scored 11 of his 20 career wins by submission, with 4 other coming by way of KO. Brown was submitted in each of his 4 professional losses, last losing to Masakazu Imanari in December of 2005 by a leg lock submission.
Garcia, for his part will enjoy a 2” – 4” height advantage depending on which source you use, Garcia is listed as being anywhere between 5’8” and 5’10”. Garcia lost 2 out of 3 fights as a member of the UFC before resurfacing in the WEC’s featherweight division in February of last year. Since his arrival in the WEC, Garcia has scored 1st round TKO victories over Hiroyuki Takaya and Jens Pulver, and is currently the 3rd ranked featherweight in the WAMMA rankings.
Garcia also would seem to prefer the submission game, scoring 9 of his 12 career victories by way of submission. The other 3 wins of Garcia’s career came by way of knockout, including his last 2 since dropping to featherweight. All 4 of Garcia’s career losses have come by decision, the last to Cole Miller in September of 2007.
I’d guess that Garcia will try to keep this one standing for as long as possible, taking advantage of his newly found power at 145. If it goes to the ground it won’t break his heart, but it will negate his height and seeming power advantage, playing into the champ’s hands. I’d also guess that the longer this one goes, the more it works to Brown’s favor. Neither of these fighters though has been past 3 rounds in their career, and this one is scheduled for 5.
My Pick: Garcia – TKO – Round 2
Bart Palaszewski – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (30-11) vs. Ricardo Lamas – 5-8” – 155 lbs. – (5-0)
Palaszewski, in his second fight since joining the WEC, spent the better part of the last 2 years fighting primarily in the IFL. Based on his record, he appears to be more comfortable on his feet and should look to keep the fight there. After an impressive 4 year run in his career, Palaszewski lost his last 3 fights in the IFL before leaving the league and picking up 2 straight wins. In his last fight, his WEC debut, he opened some eyes with a 2nd round TKO win over well-regarded Alexis Karalexis.
In Lamas, Palaszewski will have to deal with an opponent who is not only undefeated and virtually unknown, but also an opponent who is not the one that he’d been preparing for, for months leading up to the fight. Lamas is a late fill in for Richard Crunkilton on the card, and could benefit from the curveball that was thrown to Palaszewski just a day or so ago.
Lamas is 5-0 in his young career with all of his fights happening in 2008. He started his career with back-to-back guillotine choke victories, and has won 2 of his last 3 by unanimous decision. His last fight was in November, a 3 round decision win over Christopher Martin.
Given Lamas’ short notice in taking the fight, his conditioning could be an issue. But the last second switch, and Lamas’ virtually anonymity could make him tough to scout and prepare for. My pick on this one will be a shot in the dark for sure.
My Pick: Palaszewski – Unanimous Decision
Jose Aldo – 5’8”, 145 lbs. – (13-1) vs. Chris Mickle – 5’9”, 145 lbs. – (24-12-2)
Aldo, the more renowned of the two fighters is currently on a 6-fight winning streak dating back to 2006 and is 3-0, all by knockout, since joining the WEC in June of last year. His lone loss came by way of a choke, to Luciano Azevedo in November of 2005. Eight of Aldo’s 13 wins have come by knockout, with 2 submissions and 3 decision victories.
Mickle is making his WEC debut in this one, and is tough to find much information on. He’s either 24-12-2, or 25-11-1 depending on where you look, but seems to favor the submission game. His claim to fame so far has been getting knocked out twice by Jeremy Stevens; otherwise his opponent list is largely forgettable.
This one looks like an easy call, Mickle will try to get the fight to the ground and beat Aldo with technique, and Aldo will look to keep it standing and knock Mickle out. This almost looks like little more than a resume builder for Aldo, or an attempt to ease him into the deep waters against a modest submission specialist.
My Pick: Aldo – TKO – Round 3
Rob McCullough – 5’8”, 155 lbs. – (16-5) vs. Marcus Hicks – 5’6”, 155 lbs. – (8-1)
A Muay Thai specialist, McCullough is a WEC veteran, and former lightweight champ. McCullough, a bona fide knockout artist has lost 2 of his last 3 fights after reeling off 9 straight victories beginning in 2004. Nine of the former champ’s 16 wins have come by way of knockout, along with 3 submission wins and 4 by decision.
Hicks was on his way up the ladder at 8-0 before being stopped in the first round, by former lightweight champ Jamie Varner, in his last fight. Six of Hicks’ eight professional victories have come by way of knockout, with submissions in the other 2. He has never gone beyond the second round in his pro career.
Desperation should be a factor, as both fighters are in danger of falling through the cracks in this overly competitive division. In what could be a stand up war of Muay Thai and dirty boxing, this one should make up in excitement, for what it may lack in significance.
My Pick: Hicks – KO – Round 2
There are 7 other fights that are scheduled for the card on Sunday, but not guaranteed to be broadcast. You’re bound to see some of them, but which ones, and how many, will depend on how quickly the 4 live fights go, and which among the under card fights were the most entertaining. Here are my picks on those:
Danny Castillo – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (6-1) vs. Phil Cardella – 6’, 155 lbs – (12-2)
My Pick: Cardella – Submission, Choke – Round 1
Marcos Galvao – 5’7”, 135 lbs. – (9-2-1) vs. Damacio Page – 5’6”, 135 lbs. – (10-4)
*Galvao is the 8th ranked bantamweight by WAMMA
My Pick: Galvao – Submission, Arm bar – Round 3
Johny Hendricks – 5’9”, 170 lbs. – (4-0) vs. Alex Serdyukov – 6’2”, 170 lbs. – (12-4)
My Pick: Hendricks – TKO – Round 2
Kenji Osawa – 5’7”, 135 lbs. – (13-7-1) vs. Rafael Rebello – 5’5”, 135 lbs. – (5-2)
My Pick: Rebello – Submission, Choke – Round 3
Alex Karalexis – 5’8”, 155 lbs. – (9-4) vs. Greg McIntyre – 5’10”, 155 lbs. – (5-3)
My Pick: Karalexis – TKO – Round 3
Mike Budnik – 5’9”, 155 lbs. – (8-1) vs. John Franchi – 5’6”, 145 lbs. – (4-0)
*these are the weights that are listed on WEC’s website. It doesn’t say which one they’ll be fighting at.
My Pick: Budnik – Submission, Choke – Round 1
Justin Haskins – 5’10”, 170 lbs. – (4-2) vs. Mike Pierce – 5’8”, 170 lbs. – (6-2)
My Pick: Haskins – TKO – Round 2
Enjoy the fights.