Red pandas are pretty cute. But they don’t handle fear very well, apparently. Kind of like the opposite of boxers. This week should give a few fighters a chance to show off their cojones – from Ricky Hatton trying his luck in a comeback to Roberto Guerrero continuing his campaign four divisions north of where he began. Apart from that there’s not a whole lot of televised boxing, so let’s get to it.
- Ricky Hatton vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko, Saturday, Showtime, Manchester. There’s only one Ricky Hatton, and he’s back after more than three years away from the ring. Once one of the most reliable action fighters in the sport, the Mancunian welterweight (formerly junior welterweight) has much to prove. Hatton (45-2, 32KO) hasn’t lived the healthiest life since his 2009 knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao; drinking, being caught in a cocaine sting by a British tabloid and ballooning in weight. It’s not like the “Hitman” set the world on fire in his last venture to welterweight, against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in 2008. His Ukrainian opponent might not be anything special, though, despite a record of 32-1, 21 KOs. In fact, a conspiracy theorist/slightly-switched-on-boxing-fan could be forgiven for believing that that’s the exact reason he’s been selected. He was outclassed and stopped (albeit on cuts) by Paulie Malignaggi, whose own best days are probably behind him. He’s a mechanical, Eastern European style fighter and I’d be willing to wager he won’t be able to stand up to Hatton’s pressure. If Hatton is anything like what he used to be, that is. And we’re back to the start of the preview. A rather good undercard features top flight, Hatton promoted British boxers Scott Quigg, Martin Murray and Gary Buckland. That same conspiracy theorist/common sense fan from before might also theorize that the only reason Hatton is fighting is to get TV dates for his boxers.
- Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto, Saturday, HBO, Ontario Calif. An interesting battle of welterweights on HBO, with former featherweight Robert Guerrero (30-1-1, 18KO) facing alleged performance enhancing drug user Andre Berto (28-1, 22KO). I say “alleged,” but what I really mean is “he tested positive but nobody did anything about it, nor do they seem to care.” Guerrero is the much better boxer here, at least in the traditional sense. He seems to have grown into being a (small) welterweight, retaining his conditioning and speed. Berto, on the other hand, is pretty all over the place. He’s fast, but he’s got a terrible jab and his footwork isn’t great -- he gets through his opponents by battering them, running on 100 percent from start to finish. He’s a very muscular welterweight, despite his height, and I think his size and strength advantage will be the difference in this fight. There are too many unknowns on Guerrero’s side for me to pick him, and whether he can take a flush punch from a hard hitting welterweight is chief among them. On the undercard, Al Haymon managed junior middleweight prospect Keith Thurman (18-0, 17KO) faces wily Puerto Rican southpaw Carlos Quintana (29-3, 23KO). Thurman looks to be extremely hard hitting and fairly technically sound, but he’s never been in with anyone as good as Quintana. This probably doesn’t deserve to be on HBO, but it’ll be interesting to see nevertheless. Quintana will be crafty, he’ll move and he’ll probably hit Thurman with more left hands than the pony-tailed Floridian is used to. But if Thurman manages to cut the ring off on Quintana, I think he can stop him, maybe even earlier than Berto did in 2010.
- Danny Green vs. Shane Cameron, Wednesday, Melbourne. Australia’s Danny Green (32-5, 28KO) is looking for a victorious swansong against New Zealand’s Shane Cameron (29-2, 22KO). He’s rigged the deck slightly in his favor by demanding a catch weight below the 200 lb. cruiserweight limit, when Cameron last fought as a heavyweight, weighing in at 219 lbs. So the Kiwi may well have lost this fight before the first bell even rings. He’s nowhere near as good a boxer as Green, who has an underrated ring IQ. The question hanging over Green is whether his chin is well and truly shot after consecutive losses to Antonio Tarver and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. It might be, but I expect him to one-two a weight-drained Cameron into the ground.
- The Rest. On Saturday, junior featherweight Fernando Montiel (48-4-2, 37KO) faces Mexican compatriot Giovanni Caro (29-22-4, 19KO). Montiel, who is nearing the end of his career, best not underestimate the spirited Caro, who made Takalani Ndlovu very uncomfortable last year… Manny Pacquiao will appear on Jimmy Kimmel live on ABC on Wednesday night. Kimmel calls himself Pacquiao’s “lucky rabbit’s foot.” He wasn’t so lucky when the Pacman lost to Tim Bradley. BOOM!... Episode two (actually episode five, if you think about it) of Pacquiao/Marquez 24/7 airs for the first time on HBO on Saturday night – it’ll be interesting to see where they take this series after a very different start in episode one.