SAN DIEGO – November 16, 2012 – From Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas, boxing heads will unwrap plenty of fights. A few of them will be thrilling surprise gifts; others will end up being the equivalent of socks and underwear from your mom.
But you have to unwrap – err, watch – them all, because you never know when an underrated contest might end up as Fight of the Year.
Starting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving until 10 days before Christmas, there are fights to please every fan. Ringside Seat has the highlights of the boxing schedule here.
Ricky Hatton vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko
Saturday, November 24, Manchester, England; Showtime, 5 p.m. Eastern/Pacific
Popular British boxer Ricky Hatton retired after a brutal early round knockout by Manny Pacquiao three and a half years ago. But the Hitman is ending his retirement for a bout with former WBA welterweight champion Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester. Senchenko lost his first professional fight to Paul Malignaggi. Despite his layoff, Hatton is still ranked the number five welterweight contenders by the WBA, with 21 knockouts to his credit. It’s great to see Hatton back in the sport. This bout will allow the fans and expert to see where Hatton’s skills stand now, and whether he’s got good enough form to take on the bigger names. The fight being rumored is Hatton vs. Malignaggi II, assuming Hatton wins. Credit to Showtime for picking up the live broadcast, and points for adding Malignaggi as the color commentator for the bout.
Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto; Richard Abril vs. Sharif Bogere; Keith Thurman vs. Carlos Quintana
Saturday, November 24, Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California, HBO BAD, 10 p.m. Eastern
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll need a break from football and you know your butt’s going to be on the couch anyway. You might as well watch this tripleheader, put together at the last minute after various deals involving Timothy Bradley and Cornelius Brundage fell through. It’s been a rough year for Andre Berto (28-1-0, 22 KOS), He lost a hard fight to Victor Ortiz in April 2011, then tested positive for steroids and blew his chance at a remartch. Substitute Josesito Lopez won and got the chance to face Canelo Alvarez in September. And yes, there will be drug testing, protocol TBD.
Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) is back after his controversial loss by decision to Brandon Rios, who had what may be the Fight of the Year against Mike Alvarado. He faces Sharif Bogere of Uganda (23-0, 15 KOs). If Abril wins big, it certainly raises questions about whether he and Rios should square off again. The third bout matches Keith Thurman (18-0, 17 KOs) and former welterweight champion Carlos Quintana (29-3, 23 KOs) of Puerto Rico at 152 pounds.
Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout
Saturday, December 1, Madison Square Garden, New York; Showtime, 9 p.m. Eastern
Miguel Cotto is fun to watch no matter who he’s fighting. Cotto is a fan favorite because he never plays it safe. He takes every opponent seriously and gives it his all. Cotto even has the potential to make a fight with the truly boring Austin Trout entertaining. But that’s a lot to ask. Sure, Trout is undefeated and the 154-pound WBA champion, but it still doesn’t make him fun to watch. It’s a shame Cotto doesn’t have a more worthy opponent, but it falls in the better than nothing category. Let’s hope Cotto enjoys the fight in front of his many Puerto Rican fans in New York and shows them a good time. Then we can look forward to a more exciting fight for him next year, perhaps with Sergio Martinez.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, December 8, MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas; HBO PPV, 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific
The first three fights between these boxers haven’t seemed to settle anything between them. The last fight was supposed to decide the rivalry, but all it did was generate more questions about whether Pacquiao is losing his focus and whether Marquez got robbed of the victory (he did in my opinion). So here we go again. We’re going to ask all the same questions and I’m not sure they’ll be answered. Both fighters have vowed to get a knockout. If either Pacquiao or Marquez fail to produce one this time, then they should not complain no matter what outcome is determined by the judges. Unless one of the fighters changes his tactics in some radical way, this fight will end up being like the last two fights, with fans arguing over who really won. Manny Pacquiao of all boxers should not want the decision to go to the scorecards. See Bradley, Timothy Jr.
Yuriorkis Gamboa is scheduled to fight on the undercard, but his opponent is still in question as of publication. Original opponent Miguel Beltran, Jr. dropped out.
Amir Khan vs. Carlos Molina
Saturday, December 15; Los Angeles Sports Arena; Showtime, 10 p.m. Eastern
Amir Khan’s career is in freefall after losing a close decision to a surprising Lamont Peterson, then getting a solid thrashing from Danny Garcia. Khan left trainer Freddie Roach and is now working with Virgil Hunter. He’s got a lot to prove. Khan needs to do more than just win. He needs to beat the undefeated Carlos Molina impressively. Molina is not a power puncher and probably not a knockout threat, but he isn’t a pushover.
For Khan, this is make or break, a test to show if he can reinvent himself and be a force once again as an elite fighter at 140 pounds. Khan says he wants a rematch with Garcia after he beats Molina. He needs to take care of business first and worry about a rematch later.
This fight is taking place at the iconic Sports Arena, an arena that has much history but the current generation of fight fans doesn’t know too well due to being overshadowed by the Staples Center now holding more of the big events.
Nonito Donaire vs. Jorge Arce; Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
Saturday, December 15; Toyota Center, Houston; HBO, 10 p.m. Eastern
Booked officially just in the last week, Top Rank put together this bout between the Top 5 pound-for-pound junior featherweight champion Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs), who turns 30 today, and the popular four-division titleholder Arce of Mexico (61-6-2, 42 KOs), age 33. It’s Donaire’s fourth fight of 2012. The undercard features rising Cuban star Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) against the former titleholder Kratingdaenggym (48-2, 33 KOs), from Thailand, who has won his last seven fights.
This fight seems tilted entirely toward Donaire, but Arce possesses one-punch potential. Fans will enjoy seeing Donaire with an opponent like Arce who engages. If Donaire wins big, the pressure to put together a fight with either Abner Mares or Rigondeaux in 2013 will grow even louder than it already is.
The reported bout between Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson II scheduled for Marlins Park in Miami on December 15 completely fell apart. When it was announced, Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz led a long line of people expressing dismay at the match up. Bradley doesn’t want or need to fight Peterson, and apparently he’s willing to wait for a decent opponent. Peterson is a step backwards for Bradley, and it’s smart for him to wait despite anxious promoters at Top Rank.
Now Santa, could you please put a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight under the tree for all the little boxingheads out there? We’ve been so good this year.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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