ACOSTA, RIOS: Challenger will need all his grit, toughness. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Acosta +120; Rios -140
Over 9.5 +125, under -9.5 -155
Brandon Rios has been reaching new levels with fight after fight — the destruction of Manuel Perez in their rematch after being held to a draw in the initial meeting, a third-round demolition of the towering Jorge Teron and then the dominant performance last September in overpowering Anthony Peterson.
On Saturday, the undefeated 24-year-old takes his biggest step, challenging Venezuela’s Miguel Acosta in a lightweight championship bout in Las Vegas, with TV coverage on Showtime.
BALE, WAHLBERG: Artistic licence but realistic portrayals .
There’s reality, and then there’s Hollywood’s version of reality. The Fighter, which will be released on DVD on March 15, is an excellent movie and it might well rank with the best boxing-themed films ever made, but artistic licence is given free rein.
In terms of broad brushstrokes, the film paints a realistic picture of the comeback and ultimate success of junior welterweight Micky Ward, intertwined with Ward’s troubled relationship with his older half-brother, Dick Eklund, the former welterweight whose chief claim to fame was that he officially scored a knockdown over Sugar Ray Leonard.
MONTIEL, DONAIRE: There will be drama on HBO. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Donaire -220; Montiel +180
Over 9.5 +125, under -9.5 -155
After last month’s lacklustre fight between Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, HBO should have a far more exciting main event on Saturday when Mexico’s Fernando Montiel defends his bantamweight titles against Nonito Donaire at the Mandalay Bay casino resort in Las Vegas.
Most of us expected a lot from Bradley against Alexander, and the overall reaction to the fight was one of disappointment. I am confident, though, that Montiel vs Donaire will provide the drama that makes boxing such a compelling sport.
VALDEZ, RAMOS: crowd-pleaser likely on ShoBox. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Ramos -350; Valdez +280
Over 9.5 -+105, under -9.5 -125
For the second week in a row we have an excellent main event on ShoBox, with an unbeaten fighter taking on a solid Mexican opponent. Last week we saw Luis Franco barely eke out a win over a very determined Leonilo Miranda, while tonight’s fight pits the sharpshooting 122-pounder Rico Ramos against Alejandro Valdez, a former world title challenger who has stopped his last two opponents.
Ramos, a 23-year-old from southeast Los Angeles, has outclassed everyone he has faced, but tonight I think he has a stern test ahead of him. The southpaw Valdez is a gritty, busy-punching fighter who fought bravely against Nehomar Cermeno in a title bid — he even seemed to be coming on strongly when he got a bit too reckless and ended up getting stopped in the 11th round.
MIRANDA (left) and FRANCO each weighed 126. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Franco -400; Miranda +300
Over 8.5 -155; under 8.5 +135
One thing I like about ShoBox is that fighters who have performed pleasingly on the series are invited back. So it is on Friday, with undefeated prospects Luis Franco and Lateef Kayode appearing in a double main event.
Franco, the former Cuban amateur star, dominated Eric Hunter in a ShoBox appearance in December. This looked on paper like being a competitive fight, but Franco was much too strong for his once-beaten opponent. A worn-down and disheartened Hunter threw so many low blows that his disqualification was inevitable.
BRADLEY weighed 139 1/2, ALEXANDER 140. / Photo: Carlos Baeza, Thompson Boxing.
Bradley -180; Alexander +150
Over 10.5 -190; under 10.5 +165
Unification matches can be dramatic or disappointing, but everyone in boxing seems to agree that we will see something special when Timothy Bradley meets Devon Alexander in a clash of junior welter champions in Michigan on Saturday night, with HBO televising.
Bradley and Alexander are all that is good about boxing — gritty, superbly conditioned intelligent young men who know how to fight and, refreshingly, shun the trash-talk rhetoric.
MAGDALENO (left) weighed 130; JIMENEZ 129. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Magdaleno -180; Jimenez +140
Over 9.5 -175; under 9.5 +145
Prospect Diego Magdaleno goes from fights he was expected to win easily to a major test that he could lose on Saturday night when he meets Marcos Jimenez for the vacant NABF 130-pound title, with Fox Sports Espanol televising the Top Rank Live! main event from the Texas Station casino in Las Vegas.
This Top Rank series has consistently produced pleasing fights and the first show of the new year is no exception. Magdaleno, a former U.S. national amateur champion, is undefeated and boxing on his home ground in Las Vegas, but Jimenez, born in the Dominican Republic but based in Puerto Rico, is a gritty, competent boxer-puncher who brings the superior firing power.
OTA outpunched Yuba. / Photo: Boxing Beat, Japan
Ota -400; Marumoto +260
Over 9.5 +100; under 9.5 -120
Charlie Ota, the Tokyo-based American boxer (real name Charles Bellamy), has been building a following in Japan with his big-hearted, exciting style of fighting. He got off the floor to win against King Davidson, the Australian-based Nigerian, and he came back from a shaky seventh round to finish strongly against the southpaw veteran Tadashi Yuba for a clear but heard earned decision win.
Ota defends his Japanese and Oriental light-middle titles on Saturday in what should be a fan-friendly fight against Taisei Marumoto, who, from, what I have seen of him, likes to come forward and let the punches fly.
KEB BAAS had NINO's number. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The soon-to-be-ending year has followed the trend of past years with an upset almost every week. We had the usual mixture in 2010: big upsets, mild upsets and those that fell somewhere in between. Some upsets we should have seen coming, others almost defied belief.
With some upsets, we could only shake our heads because the result seemed so obvious — once the fight had taken place, that is.
KAMEDA seeks to become a three-weight world champion against MUNOZ. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Kameda -150; Munoz +120
Over 10.5 -160; under 10.5 +140
The last big fight of 2010 takes place in Japan on Sunday, with Koki Kameda meeting Alexander Munoz in a bantamweight title fight that is intriguing and should be closely contested.
Kameda, a former champion at junior flyweight and flyweight, will be having only his second bout at 118 pounds. He was disappointing when beaten by Pongsaklek last March in a slight upset, which was Kameda’s last fight as a flyweight. The Thai veteran was too strong for him, and although one judge scored the bout a draw there was no doubt that Kameda had been clearly defeated. (The scores would have been wider had Pongsaklek not been deducted a point under the WBC’s head clash rule.)
PASCAL, HOPKINS: will youth be served?
Pascal -280; Hopkins +220
Over 10.5 -220; under 10.5 +185
If ever there was a youth versus experience fight it’s the one in Quebec City on Saturday when Jean Pascal defends his light-heavyweight title against Bernard Hopkins, with Showtime televising from the sold-out Pepsi Coliseum.
Pascal has the youthful energy and ambition of a 28-year-old champion who sees greatness in his future, but Hopkins, who turns 46 next month, has the wisdom and wiles of a fighter who has been boxing professionally for 22 years and has boxed in many title bouts in three weight divisions.
PEREZ: closer fight this time?/ Photo: Howard Schatz, Showtime
Perez -180; Agbeko +140
Over 11.5 -170; under 11.5 +130
Showtime’s Super Six tournament has run into difficulties but it has given us memorable fights. Tonight the network presents what it calls a single-elimination tournament in the bantamweight division, with Vic Darchinyan facing Abner Mares in the main event while Yonnhy Perez meets Joseph Agbeko in a rematch to start off the show.
I’ve previewed Darchinyan-Mares in the subscribers’ section. It is a fascinating fight and I’m not sure that Mares — much though I respect him — should be such a big betting favourite.