The world is watching on helplessly and wishing the best for the people trapped on the east coast of the USA in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Those people include TQBR founder Tim Starks and a handful of contributors, current and former. Our thoughts are with you guys. If the above picture tells us anything, it’s that ‘merica will take Sandy on the chin and move forward, and with that in mind it’s time to look at the schedule. This week there are a few high profile fighters in action, a big night in Japan for the lower weight classes and the usual bunch of other stuff.
Lucian Bute vs. Denis Grachev, Saturday, WealthTV, Montreal
Good on super middleweight Lucian Bute for not taking on a soft touch coming off his knockout loss to Carl Froch. Grachev (12-0-1) is exactly the kind of rough and ready brawler, more than willing to take three punches to deliver one, that has given Bute (30-1) trouble in the past. He can crack too -- you can hear the echoes of Librado Andrade. Grachev’s seemingly short career of 13 fights is probably a bit misleading too, since he was a kickboxer and MMA fighter before converting to the sweet science. On the other hand, the Russian eats punches. Against Ismayl Sillakh and Vladine Biosse he was open to the body and ate uppercuts all night -- not a great omen against a man whose specialty is fight ending uppercuts to the body. This could really go either way. Bute is skilled enough to avoid Grachev for 12 rounds, but he absolutely can’t let his concentration slip, lest he be permanently consigned to the “overrated” pile. Allan Green is fight on the undercard. Meh.
Marco Huck vs. Firat Arslan, Saturday, Halle Germany
Another former kickboxer, you can count on Marco Huck to put on an entertaining scrap. Coming off a controversial loss to Alexander Povetkin at heavyweight and a draw with Ola Afolabi, Huck (34-2-1) will be looking for a spectacular performance against mustachioed German cruiserweight Firat Arslan (32-5-2). Neither man is particularly nuanced, both fight in a chopping, high handed style. Arslan, a southpaw, probably won’t be able to hang with Huck, unless the Serbian expatriate has lost something in his last two outings. Huck seems motivated purely by spite – the Povetkin fight was like watching two large, exhausted men spit in each other’s eyes for 12 rounds.
Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Tomas Rojas, Saturday, Sendai Japan
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s number 3 bantamweight, Shinsuke Yamanaka (16-0-2) faces perennial contender Tomas Rojas (39-13-1) in Japan. Both are tall for bantamweights, at 5’7½” and 5’8”, respectively. They’re also both lefties to boot. Yamanaka, who beat Vic Darchinyan in April, seems to have a way of throwing fighters off their rhythm (I didn’t even think Darchinyan had a rhythm). You can never count Rojas out, though. He’s awkward and will pressure Yamanaka, a stand up kind of fighter, from start to finish. On the undercard, the reigning lineal flyweight champion, Toshiyuki Igarashi (16-1-1) faces Argentina’s Nestor Narvaes (19-0-2). Narvaes (who has copied his hairstyle from compatriot Lucas Matthyse, who copied it in turn from Jean Paul Van Damme circa 1992) doesn’t seem particularly polished from what I’ve seen. It’s hard to tell if he’s any good, since he’s only fought in Argentina, but I suspect his sloppy footwork and low hands will be picked apart by Igarashi.
The Rest. Friday brings a British junior welterweight title matchup in the form of Junior Witter (41-5-2) vs. Frankie Gavin (13-0) in London… Saturday there’s a FSN/Fox Deportes show from Texas featuring middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero (24-1) trying to recover his blue chip status against gatekeeper Juan Carlos Candelo (32-11-4). Fellow middleweight prospect J’Leon Love (13-0) fights the much avoided TBA on the undercard… In London there’s another “Prizefighter” tournament, this time at middleweight. The most notable name involved is Craig McEwan.