WILLIAMS, ISHIDA: fan-friendly fight tonight. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Williams -380; Ishida +240
Over 10.5 -160; under 10.5 +140
Once what could be called a feared fighter, Paul Williams has reached the stage where he seems to be on the way down. After getting flattened in the second round by Sergio Martinez in their rematch, Williams barely scraped home on a disputed, majority decision against Cuba’s Erislandy Lara last July. Williams, then, has a lot to prove when he meets Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida in the 12-round junior middleweight main event on Showtime from Corpus Christi, TX, tonight.
Williams is only 30, but his in-your-face style has seen him involved in some tough, bloody bouts. Frankly, he looked like a burnt-out fighter in the struggling showing against Lara — it was alarming to see the two-weight world champion getting hit so easily.
KLITSCHKO will be looking to hurt Chisora. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Klitschko -1500; Chisora +800
Over 8.5 -105; under 8.5 +115
By slapping Vitali Klitschko’s face at Friday’s weigh-in, Dereck Chisora might have opened himself up for a world of trouble in today’s heavyweight title fight in Munich (TV coverage on EPIX in the U.S., BoxNation in the U.K.)
This always looked like being an extremely difficult, even unwinnable, fight for Chisora. Now he has made it personal. Chisora is known to be an odd character, but taking it to the streets and disrespecting Klitschko in this way simply wasn’t a good idea. Klitschko won’t just be coming to win — now he will be coming to hurt Chisora.
CHAVEZ, RUBIO: Potentially dangerous fight for legend's son. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Chavez -350; Rubio +280
Over 11.5 +120; under 11.5 -120
There are sceptics to be sure, but Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has shown sufficient improvement to get respect from within the boxing industry. I don’t think anyone will ever call him the best middleweight in the world, but Chavez can fight, and he is the clear favourite over Marco Antonio Rubio in Saturday night’s all-Mexico middleweight championship bout on HBO.
On paper, this is Chavez’s stiffest test. Rubio is on a run of six consecutive stoppage wins, the most dramatic of which was his seventh-round victory over David Lemieux when he survived an early onslaught and came back to hammer an exhausted and discouraged opponent.
PEREZ: winning the WBO North American belt was a start. / Photo: Golden Boy Promotions
His opponent, Adrien Broner, is the budding superstar, an explosive puncher with 12 opponents stopped in his last 13 bouts, but Eloy Perez is in a sense a throwback in that he has fought his way to the top the hard way, taking on any fights that were offered. Now Perez has the backing of Golden Boy Promotions although he is still something of an unknown quantity to all but the hard-core fans.
Perez knows he is a massive underdog but seems genuinely confident that he will upset the odds in the Feb. 25 junior lightweight fight on HBO.
SALIDO (left) outlasted Lopez / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Upsets were the norm in 2011 but often only seemed shocking because the sportsbooks now offer such wide odds on boxers who are generally expected to win.
Odds of -1000 (10-1 on) once indicated a prohibitive favourite. Now, however, we are seeing boxers listed at -1400, -1800 and higher in fights that have a competitive look to them (such as Lamont Peterson on home ground in DC against Amir Khan).
FROCH, WARD: The long journey ends tonight. / Photo: TOM CASINO, Showtime
Ward -220; Froch +180
Over 11.5 -200; under 11.5 +160
The long, hard road comes to an end for 168-pound champions Andre Ward and Carl Froch tonight in Atlantic City, two years after starting their journey in the Showtime network’s innovative Super Six tournament.
Ward is the betting favourite but Froch, who looked in fantastic condition at Friday’s weigh-in, exudes confidence and will have his backers.
Viloria +140; Segura -180
Over 11.5 +140; under 11.5 -160
The little fighters just don’t get the respect they deserve. For instance there’s a tremendous fight in Manila today between Brian Viloria, the Hawaiian-born fighter of Filipino ancestry, and Mexico’s Giovani Segura but it has attracted little attention and most sportsbooks aren’t offering odds.
I just don’t understand this. The fight is a battle of champions: Viloria defending his flyweight title while Segura, a champion at junior flyweight, moves up four pounds in weight.
REVENGE OR REDEMPTION? Cotto sombre, Margarito smiling. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Cotto -165; Margarito +135
Over 10.5 -160; under 10.5 +140
Revenge and redemption are the themes when Miguel Cotto defends his junior middleweight title against Antonio Margarito at a sold-out Madison Square Garden tonight (HBO PPV).
Cotto has no doubt that Margarito used loaded handwraps to win their first fight in Las Vegas three years ago. Margarito denies this, of course, but a photo produced by Cotto showing a tear in Margarito’s wraps after the fight would appear to be damning evidence. This time, Cotto promises payback. Margarito says that he will hit Cotto so hard that Cotto will feel as if there ishardened plaster inside Margarito’s gloves.
CHAVEZ, MANFREDO: It should be fun. / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Chavez -550; Manfredo +350
Over 10.5 -185; under 10.5 +155
Probably no one outside his own family believes that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is the best middleweight in the world even though he is the WBC champion, but the son of perhaps Mexico’s greatest fighter always provides good entertainment. So, with that in mind, I’m looking forward to Chavez’s title defence against Peter Manfredo Jr. in Houston, TX on Saturday night (HBO Boxing After Dark).
This bout is what the boxing fraternity calls a “fun fight” although I sometimes wonder if it’s as much fun for the contestants as for the spectators — observers don’t have to take the punches.
PACQUIAO 143; MARQUEZ 142: Definitive ending this time? / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Pacquiao -800; Marquez +500
Over 9.5 -160; under 9.5 +140
The boxing world hopes for a sense of finality, a definitive conclusion, when welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao meets his bitterest rival, Juan Manuel, Marquez, on PPV from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Twice these proud warriors of the ring have fought down to the wire in compelling 12-round fights. Pacquiao has scored four knockdowns over Marquez, but the durable and accomplished Mexican veteran scored with such efficiency that an argument can be made that he was twice unlucky against Pacquiao — a draw and a heart-breaking one-point defeat.
JOHNSON, BUTE: They've sparred together, now it's for real.
Bute -950; Johnson +500
Over 9.5 -275; under 9.5 +220
It’s the turn of Lucian Bute to take on ageless warrior Glen Johnson, and the Montreal-based Romanian is ready for 12 rounds of boxing in Quebec on Saturday night. After all, who can stop the very tough, always superbly conditioned veteran from Miami by way of Jamaica?
In the Bute camp the plan is to win every minute of every round, although a stoppage would be a tremendous achievement.
ANGULO: Superior chin could be the key in give-and-take fight.
Angulo -280; Kirkland +220
Over 6.5 +110; under 6.5 -120
Some fights have “guaranteed action” written all over them, and one such contest tops the bill on HBO’s Boxing After Dark on Saturday night when Mexico’s Alfredo Angulo meets James Kirkland, from Austin, TX, in a clash of junior middleweight crowd-pleasers.
The only thing I am sure about is that the fight is very unlikely to go the scheduled 12 rounds. The other man in the ring never has to look very far to find Angulo or Kirkland: These are in-your-face fighters.