Friday Night Fights, HBO Championship Boxing & Strikeforce MMA
April has been very good to fight fans so far, and expect that to continue once again this weekend, with plenty of free boxing and MMA action to look forward to all weekend long. Here’s a quick look ahead at some of the action, and my take on how the fights might go.
Friday Night Fights – Friday Night on ESPN 2
David Lopez – 6’ 2”, 154 lbs. – (37-12, 25 KO) vs. Ossie Duran – 5’ 10”, 154 lbs. – (23-6-2, 9 KO) – Scheduled for 10 Rounds
Despite his unimpressive record, Lopez, the lanky southpaw is currently ranked 13th in the world at middleweight by boxrec.com. He’ll drop down to junior middleweight for this one, to face the smaller, natural junior middleweight Ossie Duran, currently ranked 46th in the world at that weight class by boxrec.com.
Lopez comes into the fight riding a streak of 13 straight wins, dating back to May of 2005, 7 of which came by way of KO. Lopez has the advantage in total number of professional fights, as well as professional rounds boxed at 287-223, but hasn’t been in with the same caliber of competition that Duran has. Duran is winless in his last 2 fights since picking up an 8-round unanimous decision win over Jonathan Reid in February of 2007.
Since that big win, Duran suffered a loss at the hands of James Kirkland by unanimous decision in June of 2007, and scored a 10-round draw against Eromosele Albert, 13 months later. Orthodox and experienced, the smaller Duran will be looking to out point Lopez and take advantage of the crowd in his adopted home state of New Jersey.
My Pick: Lopez by Unanimous Decision
Hector Sanchez – 6’ 2”, 135 lbs. – (17-0, 8 KO) vs. DeMarcus Corley – 5’ 7”, 135 lbs. – (33-10-1, 19 KO) – Scheduled for 8 Rounds
Sanchez, the lanky 22-year old Puerto Rican comes into this fight ranked 88th in the world at lightweight per boxrec.com. So far, the level of competition he’s been in against has been suspect. In his last 3 fights, against Humberto Tapia, Albert Rodriguez and Wilson Alcorro, Sanchez has begun dealing with a higher caliber of opponent, and done so fairly effectively. In Corley, he draws an opponent with legitimate knockout power, enough to keep Sanchez honest, but also one unlikely to provide a real test for the young lightweight.
The 34-year old Corley, currently ranked 81st in the world at light welterweight by boxrec.com, will drop down to lightweight for this fight for just the second time in his career, and the first time since losing by KO to Jose Alfaro in May of 2007. Although his record suggests power, it’ll be a question as to whether he can still pack a punch down 5 pounds from his usual fighting weight.
Corley has been in against some of the best, and at times appeared to hold his own. In a span of 44 months between January of 2003 and September of 2006, Corley was in the ring with the likes of Randall Bailey, Zab Judah, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Daryl Tyson, Miguel Angel Cotto and Junior Wittier, in addition to Kevin Carter and Johnny Walker. He scored wins against Bailey, Tyson, Carter and Walker, and predictably lost in the others, very narrowly losing a split decision to Judah. After the Wittier loss though, Corley continued with 5 more consecutive losses, before picking up wins by KO in each of his last 2 fights.
My Pick: Sanchez by Unanimous Decision
The under card in this one will feature a number of up and coming undefeated fighters too. Although I’m not sure which ones or how many will be broadcast, Rock Allen (14-0, 7 KO), Carlos Velasquez (9-0, 5 KO), Hylon Williams (8-0, 3 KO), Eric Woods (5-0, 4 KO) and Karl Dargan (3-0, 1KO) will all try and remain undefeated on Friday night too. And to top it all off, Oscar De La Hoya promised to be on hand with a special announcement too.
HBO World Championship Boxing – Saturday Night on HBO
There’s a lot more to HBO’s boxing broadcast on Saturday than meets the eye. First of all, leading into the fight will be a new HBO documentary about the famous Rumble in the Jungle, as told from Joe Frazier’s perspective. After the fights, HBO will launch their 24/7, reality type series hyping up the upcoming Ricky Hatton vs. Many Pacquiao fight on May 2nd. Pacquiao vs. Hatton, coincidentally, will be the first boxing pay per view that I’ll commit to shelling out for this year.
I’m also hoping that during the fight broadcast, HBO finds some time to show at least Edwin Valero’s dominant KO win over Antonio Pitalua, if not a few of the fights from last week’s lightweight lightning pay per view. In any regard, they’ll have 2 good, live fights on for sure at least.
Paul Williams – 6’ 1”, 154 lbs. – (36-1, 27 KO) vs. Winky Wright – 5’ 10 ½”, 154 lbs. – (51-4-1, 25KO) – Scheduled for 12 Rounds
Paul Williams may be the most difficult opponent in boxing to prepare for today. At 6’ 1”, the lanky southpaw rarely sees any opponent with range even close to his own. Williams has legitimate power, but usually wears opponents down with attrition, peppering his jab, and following up with quick combos before ducking back out of range and beginning his attack all over again. One of the busiest fighters in the game, Williams normally tops out at well over 100 punches per round and currently enjoys the #1 light middleweight ranking per boxrec.com, and stands behind only Vernon Forrest as the #2 junior middleweight in The Ring Magazine’s lineal rankings.
Having lost only once in his career, at the hands of Carlos Quintana in his first WBO welterweight title defense, he has scored KO victories in each of his last 2 fights since avenging the Quintana loss by way of KO in June of 2008. Williams scored the WBO welterweight title by way of a narrow unanimous decision victory over since disgraced Antonio Margarito. Since the 2 Quintana fights, Williams has fought at a catch weight of 157 lbs. and this will be his second consecutive fight at junior middleweight.
The 37- year old Wright, a southpaw himself, should be less affected by Williams odd punching angles than most opponents. Widely considered to be one of the most avoided opponents in the middle and junior middleweight divisions, that reputation is well earned, as the pinpoint precise counter puncher has frustrated numerous world class opponents with his peppering right jab.
The fact that Wright is unranked by both boxrec.com and The Ring Magazine probably has more to do with the inability to put him into a weight class than anything else. Having bounced freely back and fourth between middleweight and junior middleweight, just in an attempt to get a payday, Wright has scored decision wins over Ring Magazine’s #5 pound for pound, Shane Moseley twice, Felix Trinidad, Sam Soliman, and Ike Quartey since 2004. He also fought Ring Magazine’s #5 super middleweight Jermaine Taylor to a 12 round draw, and lost a 12 round unanimous to #3 in the world pound for pound, Bernard Hopkins, all the way up at 170 lbs.
Age and style should give Williams the advantage in this one, but he’s been known not to show up with his A-game from time to time. Wright has made a living at catching fighters off of their A- games. If Williams leaves any openings, Wright will take them.
My Pick: Williams by KO – Round 8
Cristobal Arreola – 6’ 4”, 254 lbs. – (26-0, 23 KO) vs. Jameel McCline – 6’ 6”, 272 lbs. – (39-9-3, 23 KO) – Scheduled for 12 Rounds
At 28 years old, ranked 16th in the world by boxrec.com and 8th by The Ring Magazine at heavyweight, many consider Arreola to be the future of the American heavyweight division, if there still is such a thing. Despite the lack of name recognition on his resume, Arreola’s last 10 opponents had a combined record of 196-29-1. He made quick work of most of them. As his gaudy record suggests, the young American is a big swinger who’ll be looking to put a quick end to this one.
McCline’s career, while not as successful, certainly has been littered with a string of well respected opponents, which Arreola’s lacks at this point. The 38 year old American, ranked 34th in the world at heavyweight by boxrec.com has been in the ring with John Ruiz, Sam Peter, Nicolay Valuev, Chris Byrd, Wladimir Kiltschko and Shannon Briggs. Success though has been scarce, having only beaten Briggs, from that impressive list. McCline picked up the win against Mike Mollo by a close unanimous decision in his last fight, after losing 3 straight between January of 2007 and March of 2008.
My Pick: Arreola by KO – Round 3
Strikeforce on Showtime – Saturday Night on Showtime
Strikeforce MMA returns to Showtime on Saturday night and may be off on the right foot to at least build a brand that can survive in the market against, if not truly compete with the UFC. They’ll kick off their rebirth this Saturday, having scalped a bunch of talent from the now defunct Elite XC, along with some old familiar faces from the UFC. They’ll also apparently be announcing more details regarding their upcoming reality show Strikeforce Challengers, which will debut on Showtime on Friday May 15th. Here’s a look at the scheduled card:
Frank Shamrock – (23-9-2) vs. Nick Diaz – (18-7) – 179 lbs. – Scheduled for 3 Rounds
My Pick: Diaz by Submission – Choke – Round 2
Gilbert Melendez – (14-2) vs. – Rodrigo Damm – (8-2) – 155 lbs. – Scheduled for 3 Rounds
My Pick: Damm by Submission – Choke – Round 2
Scott Smith – (14-5) vs. Benji Radach – (19-4) – 185 lbs. – Scheduled for 3 Rounds
My Pick: Smith by KO – Round 1
Chris “Cyborg” Santos – (6-1) vs. Hitomi Akano – (14-5) – 140 lbs. – Scheduled for 3 Rounds
My Pick: Santos by TKO – Round 2
Brett Roger – (8-0) – 265 lbs. - vs. Ron Humphrey – (12-0) – ? lbs. – Scheduled for 3 Rounds
My Pick: Roger by KO – Round 1
Enjoy The Fights!!!