Don't ever say that TQBR is not interested in the future of sport. Last week's schedule brought you the innovation that is Taser Ball, this week it's blindfolded boxing. Sure, they thought of it in 1949, but it probably just needed better PR. Hell, it looks like Paul Williams learnt some of his technique by watching that tape.
Hohoho. Enough joviality. On to the week's schedule, which features some pretty damn good fights. There's a double header on HBO with Marcos Maidana vs. Devon Alexander at welterweight with Adrien Broner vs. Eloy Perez at junior lightweight sharing the billing. There's an interesting heavyweight match up from Germany in the form of former cruiserweight boss man Marco Huck vs. Alexander Povetkin, a former Olympic gold medallist. Add to that some decent shows on ESPN and Showtime, Welsh light heavyweight Nathan Cleverly fighting and the usual goings on and you have yourself a decent weekend of pooooogilism.
- Marcos Maidana vs. Devon Alexander and Adrien Broner vs. Eloy Perez, Saturday, HBO, St. Louis. The week's biggest show (which Tim will have an in-depth preview of) comes to us from St. Louis, the natural habitat of welterweight Devon Alexander and Budweiser beer. Unlike Budweiser, which is the same from Savannah to Sydney, Alexander (22-1) isn't particularly consistent. He looked like a world beater in knocking out Juan Urango, but laid an egg against Tim Bradley in January last year and it could be argued (by me, for example) that he's actually lost three on the trot but was given the benefit of the doubt at home against Lucas Matthyse and Andriy Kotelnik. Argentina's Maidana (31-2) is a baby-faced (a really scary baby) power-punching truth machine, but he can be outboxed due to the fact that he lacks any technique at all. So he's the perfect candidate to let us know whether Alexander is a zero or a hero. Fight of the Year candidate right here. There, I said it. On the undercard, junior lightweight prospect/contenders Eloy Perez and Adrien Broner are getting it on. In the fighting way. It's going to be a high-skill affair, since both Broner (22-0) and Perez (23-0-2) are excellent boxers. Broner is a very slick fighter who likes to use counterpunches to set up his combinations. Perez is a nice aggressive boxer but he doesn't have much pop, unless his 2nd round KO of Daniel Jimenez last September was no fluke and he's somehow maturing into a harder puncher. I doubt it, though. Gotta give Broner the edge, since he can hurt Perez and Perez likely can't hurt him. He knows how to finish too – he nearly decapitated Jason Litzau in Guadalajara last year. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (20-0) is fighting on the off-TV portion undercard.
- Alexander Povetkin vs. Marco Huck and Nathan Cleverly vs. Tommy Karpency, Saturday, Epix, Stuttgart and Cardiff. Two weeks, two intriguing heavyweight fights. What is happening? Did I accidentally step in a time machine back to the early 90s? I've have seen a lot of people wearing plaid shirts recently. Povetkin (23-0) is many people's hope for the heavyweight division. Despite not being hyoooge, he's very powerful and extremely well-schooled (he won a gold medal, always a good start). Huck (34-1) has been a top cruiserweight for years, but this is his first fight at heavyweight. Povetkin shouldn't be too much bigger than him, but the key to the fight will be how Huck adjusts to the new weight. If he carries his power up from cruiser, it could get very interesting. Povetkin is very compact, though, and Huck tends to swing for the fences, so I can see him getting caught be shorter, sharper shots. Also interesting will be seeing how Povetkin does without trainer Teddy Atlas, who decided he couldn't abandon his commentating/metaphor mixing duties at ESPN in order to train the Russian. Just to go back to my standard old beef, but it's very hard to find information about the boxing schedule – and that's a bad situation for fans. It's been widely reported that light heavyweight titlist and mathematician Nathan Cleverly (it doesn't matter what weight he is for the maths, I don't think) will be fighting on Epix – but there's no information online or on the Epix website about when. We'll just have to see. Anyway, Cleverly (23-0) is taking a relatively easy fight at home after a difficult affair against Tony Bellew last year. He's got options after this, including a rematch with Bellew, and fights with Carl Froch or American light heavyweights. He punches nicely in combinations, but he had a little trouble with Bellew's pressure. Southpaw Karpency (21-2-1) has a cool story, working as a psychiatric nurse at nights and coming from a very small Pennsylvania town, but it's unlikely he has much chance against the classier Cleverly. Most of his victories have come from fights in West Virginia and he lost to his one previous step up in class, Karo Murat. Cleverly beat Murat up in 2010. Still, Cleverly is an enjoyable fighter to watch. If this is actually on, it'll be worth catching.
- Juan Carlos Burgos vs. Cristobal Cruz, Friday, ESPN2/ESPN3, Dover Del. Junior lightweight Juan Carlos Burgos AKA “Miniburgos” looks to extend his streak against guys with the surname Cruz to two. Last time out, Burgos (28-1) upset undefeated prospect Luis Cruz on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III. It was his hard, accurate punching that did it for him that night. This Cruz (39-12-3), however, has been a professional boxer for twenty years -- the majority of his life. His 12 losses all came in the tough rings of Mexico and in title fights, though. He's a veteran and one of the roughest/dirtiest fighters in the game today. Even though he hasn't won a fight since 2009, he's always going to be a tough outing. Props to “Miniburgos” for taking him on. There'll be a lot of contact here, though it might not all be the fun kind.
- The Rest. Floyd Mayweather-promoted junior welterweight Jessie Vargas (17-0) faces Lanardo Tyler (25-6-2) on ShoBox on Friday night. It's a bit of a gimme for Vargas, who didn't impress against Josesito Lopez on the undercard of Mayweather/Ortiz in September. ShoBox seems to be showing these kinds of fights more and more... Puerto Rican welterweight prospect Ronald Cruz (15-0) faces Allen Conyers (12-5) in a fight available on gofightlive.tv from Atlantic City on Saturday night... The final episode of the outstanding documentary series “On Freddie Roach” airs on HBO on Friday night.