If you’re a boxing fan, prepare to feel like a doting dad at a One Direction concert. After this week, there’ll be nothing for you here (at least not for a little while). But this week is a good one, with an HBO triple header, some high quality fights from Japan and the return of an old favourite, lightweight Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz.
Daniel Geale vs. Darren Barker, Saturday, HBO, Atlantic City. Geale is going to dominate Barker with activity in this middleweight bout. Tim Starks will have a full preview of my countryman’s US debut later in the week, but I needed to put my $0.02 out there. Some are more excited about this bout’s undercard, part of which will be beamed in from Cardiff. That part is a fight between top light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev (20-0-1, 18 KO) and Nathan Cleverly (26-0-0, 12 KO), who are ranked #4 and #5, respectively, by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Most favour the Russian in this bout, based on the impressive knockouts he’s recorded in each of his last five bouts. He’s a puncher, but not a wild one -- he’s the really terrifying kind that sets up his knockouts behind some skills. I’m going to go with the upset, here, though. Cleverly has fought awful competition recently, but that’s not an indication of how good a boxer he is. I think his big engine, solid chin and volume punching will see him winning a decision with a strong performance in the second half of the fight. Back in New Jersey, the other undercard bout pits Colombian junior featherweight Jhonatan Romero (23-0, 12 KO) against Spain’s Kiko Martinez (28-4, 20 KO). The Spaniard is a solid opponent, but there’s little doubt he’s there to showcase Romero’s talents. The off-television portion of the card will see Australian featherweight prospect Joel Brunker fight Mike Oliver (who’s having a late career revival against Australians after a game effort in his loss to Billy Dib) and Puerto Rican prospect Thomas Dulorme continuing on the comeback trail.
Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Jose Nieves, Monday, Tokyo. A huge night of boxing in Japan, with #1 rated bantamweight contender Shinsuke Yamanaka (18-0-2, 13 KO) fighting Puerto Rico’s Jose Nieves (22-2-3, 11 KO). Yamanaka’s right jab, right hook and straight left are going to be way too much for Nieves. The Japanese fighter has every advantage over his Boricua counterpart and his killer instinct should see this fight end early. In the co-feature, flyweight champion and action hero Akira Yaegashi (17-3-0, 9 KO) fights Oscar “De La Renta” Blanquet (32-5-1, 23 KO). The Mexican offers the best fashion/boxing nickname fusion I’ve ever seen, along with some good old fashioned Mexican toughness. Fingers crossed for another Yaegashi war. Former bantamweight and featherweight titlist Hozumi Hasegawa (32-4-0, 14 KO) fights Genaro Camargo (42-15-0, 34 KO) on the undercard.
Andrzej Fonfara vs. Gabriel Campillo, Friday, ESPN2, Chicago. It’s a big week for the light heavyweights, with Chicago-based Pole and TBRB #9 Andrzej Fonfara (23-2-0, 13 KO) fighting #7 Gabriel Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KO) on Friday Night Fights. I’ve always thought that Fonfara was pretty rudimentary. I think a prime Campillo schools him. The question is which Campillo turns up, the masterful stick-and-move southpaw who should have beaten Tavoris Cloud, or the guy that got knocked out in three rounds by Sergey Kovalev. The undercard features a rematch between heavyweights Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KO) and Artur Szpillka (15-0, 11 KO), who had an insane war back in February. It’s probably taken them this long to recover -- worth the price of admission on its own.
The Rest. Noted Mexican windmill Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25 KO) fights Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19 KO), the TBRB’s #9 junior lightweight, in Cancun on Fox Deportes on Saturday. It should be a fun fight… Lightweight Juan Diaz (36-4, 18 KO) has his second comeback fight against Adailton De Jesus (30-7, 24 KO) on UniMas in Texas on Saturday. It’s about the kind of fight I can get behind for Diaz, who’s ring-age is well beyond his 29 years.