DONAIRE towers over Narvaez. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Donaire -1000; Narvaez +600
Over 8.5 +155; under 8.5 -185
It’s good big man against good small man on HBO on Saturday when Nonito Donaire, the fast and powerful Filipino Flash, defends his bantamweight title against Omar Narvaez, the veteran from Argentina who moves up in weight from the 115-pound division.
Donaire is, predictably, a massive betting favourite. He is the younger man, taller, bigger, far more explosive — and probably just as quick as Narvaez.
HOPKINS, DAWSON: Another age-defying performance? / Photo: Hoganphotos / GBP
Hopkins +110; Dawson -125
Over 11.5 -220; under 11.5 +185
Bernard Hopkins shows no sign of slowing down at 46. How long, though, can he keep defying age? That, once more, is the question everyone asks as the seemingly ageless wonder heads into his light-heavyweight title defence against Chad Dawson at the Staples Center, Los Angeles on Saturday (HBO PPV).
Dawson, 29, was once thought of as having a style that was “wrong” for Hopkins, being a rangy, fast southpaw. This perception has changed. Hopkins looked much younger than his age in the two fights with Jean Pascal while Dawson has now given two lacklustre performances in a row, losing the title to Pascal and then labouring to a points win over Adrian Diaconu.
MARQUEZ, NISHIOKA: Mexican fighter's last stand? / Photo: Sumio Yamada
Nishioka -200; Marquez +160
Over 7.5 -160; under 7.5 +120
Hammered into defeat by Juan Manuel Lopez in a bruising featherweight title bout November, Mexico’s Rafael Marquez is back for what will surely be a final world championship challenge when he meets Toshiaki Nishioka for the Japanese fighter’s 122-bound belt at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, with TV coverage on Fox Deportes.
Marquez hasn’t fought at 122 pounds in more than three years, but he trained for this fight in the Otomi Mountains outside Mexico City and says he had the best training camp of his life. I guess that fighters always say that, but Marquez looks ripped — he clearly has worked hard to get ready for a fight in which he is the underdog.
MAYWEATHER got mean at the weigh-in; Ortiz just smiled.
Mayweather -500; Ortiz +350
Over 11.5 -185; under 11.5 +145
I wanted to wait until after the weigh-in before settling down to preview Saturday’s welterweight title fight between Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on PPV from the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Now, I’ve seen it, and I am starting to buy into Mayweather’s assertion that he really is going to try to win inside the distance.
Mayweather has said all along that he won’t be running from Ortiz. “I’ll be coming straight ahead,” he told this week’s press conference in Las Vegas.
KLITSCHKO, ADAMEK: Polish fans will be proud. / Photo: Mike Gladysz
Klitschko -650; Adamek +400
Over 10.5 +110; under 10.5 -125
For some reason, when I think about Vitali Klitschko’s heavyweight title defence against Tomasz Adamek I think back to an all-British fight that took place many years ago involving the light-heavyweight Freddie Mills against heavyweight Bruce Woodcock.
Mills, who won a world title, was similar to Adamek in that he had a big heart and great fighting spirit. Giving away 20 pounds in weight, Mills fought courageously and did damage, but he was worn down by the bigger Woodcock and knocked out in the 14th round. “Weight and reach told against Mills all the time,” The Times reported.
Pitalua -225; Rivera +180
Over 9.5 -180; under 9.5 +140
The monthly fights on Boxeo Telemundo do not feature the biggest names, but the matches are consistently entertaining. Last month there was a cracking good bout at 122 pounds in which Puerto Rican sharpshooter Jose Reyes eked out his second narrow points win over Mexican pressure fighter Cuauhtemoc Vargas in Kissimmee, FL.
This Friday the scene shifts to Mexico for a clash of veteran former world title challengers, with Antonio Pitalua meeting Cosme Rivera in a 12-round welterweight match. I am expecting a tough, competitive contest.
AGBEKO, MARES: Well-matched bantams fight on Saturday. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Agbeko +130; Mares -150
Over 10.5 -195, under 10.5 +165
Put two excellent boxers in the ring against each other in a fight that either man can win and you have the ingredients for a highly competitive and compelling contest, which is what I am expecting when Abner Mares meets Joseph Agbeko in the final of the Showtime bantamweight tournament from Las Vegas on Saturday.
Mares was a slight betting favourite prior to the bout’s original date of April 23. This time, Mares is something like -215 at the sportsbooks although I would make the odds much tighter.
JUDAH has Pernell Whitaker behind him. / Photo: Chris Cozzone/cozzone.com
Khan -360; Judah +280
Over 8.5 -150; under 8.5 +130
Dominant but not altogether impressive against awkward southpaw Paul McCloskey in his last fight, Amir Khan meets another left-hander — but one of far greater repute than McCloskey — when he takes on the mercurial Zab Judah in a clash of junior welterweight champions at the Mandalay Bay casino resort, Las Vegas on Saturday (HBO in the U.S., Primetime PPV in the U.K.)
Khan has been as high as a -600 betting favourite but the lopsided odds surprised me. Judah, it is true, has lost in almost every major fight he has had, but he is fast, clever and experienced, and he hits hard with the left hand from his southpaw stance.
Klitschko -180; Haye +140
Over 9.5 +140; under 9.5 -180
DAY OF FIGHT: The waiting is nearly over and in a matter of hours Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye take to the ring in Hamburg in the most eagerly awaited heavyweight fight in years.
Raucous British supporters of Haye booed Klitschko at Friday’s weigh-in and launched into a chant of “Who are ya?” For the first time in his career, Klitschko is going to get a mixed reception of boos and cheers when he enters a ring in his adopted homeland of Germany — the Brits will make their presence felt in a noisy manner. Could this be a bit unnerving for the normally ice-cool Klitschko?
Pabon -180; Castro +140
Over 9.5 -155; under 9.5 +135
Jesus Pabon has become a staple on the Telemundo once-a-month boxing series and tonight he’s back on the Spanish-language network, meeting Javier Castro in a 12-round Latino junior welter title fight. The bout falls into promoter Tuto Zabala Jr.’s pattern of matching boxers from Puerto Rico against Mexican fighters, with Pabon coming from the Isle of Enchantment while Castro fights out of the border city of Juarez.
Pabon, a southpaw, has been involved in some exciting fights because he is a good puncher whose chin is, shall we say, unreliable. Pabon’s only loss was on a second-round stoppage, and even the almost completely “shot” Genaro Trazancos had him on the floor.
MACKLIN, STURM: EPIX has live coverage for U.S. fans
Sturm -350; Macklin +280
Over 10.5 -200; under 10.5 +150
Middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm feels he is now better than in any of his previous fights, while his challenger avows: “You’ll see the best Matthew Macklin ever.” If both men have got it right about what they will bring to the ring on Saturday in Germany we could be looking at one of the year’s best fights (EPIX is showing the bout live in the U.S., Sky Sports will have the fight for British fans).
Sturm is the favourite, of course. He is boxing at home in Cologne (he lives in nearby Leverkusen) and he looked strong and sharp in his last fight when stopping Ronald Hearns in the seventh round.
RHODES, ALVAREZ looked in great shape at the weigh-in. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Alvarez -600; Rhodes +400
Over 8.5 +115; under 8.5 -135
Although on paper he faces his toughest test, Mexico’s Saul Alvarez is a massive favourite to defeat Britain’s Ryan Rhodes in their junior middleweight title fight on Saturday (to be televised on HBO’s Boxing After Dark). The Mexican location is obviously a big factor, as is Alvarez’s impressive, undefeated record.
Rhodes has experience and he is a fast, tricky southpaw switch-hitter who can punch, but there is a sense that this fight has been made with perfect timing, similar to the one in Los Angeles earlier this month when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. gritted out a tough, close win over Sebastian Zbik. Alvarez was not particularly impressive in outpointing Matthew Hatton in March, but I think that he was a bit complacent and careless in that fight.