The schedule is headlined by a boxing video for once. Don’t get excited. It’s not because it’s going to be a great week of boxing. There will most likely be a very cool ring walk, but that’s all I can guarantee you, folks.
That might be a bit harsh. There’s a decent lightweight fight on Showtime featuring the man in the video, Sharif Bogere, and a good junior flyweight bout that’s not on TV. Such is life.
Sharif Bogere vs. Richard Abril, Saturday, Showtime, Las Vegas. This is an interesting lightweight fight, but one that fails to get me going in any serious way. Uganda’s Bogere (he of the impressive ring walk/cage carry) is a fighter who’s high on activity and low on refinement. He doesn’t have a huge fan base, probably because he’s Ugandan. Abril (17-3-1), of Cuba, doesn’t have a huge fan base because he’s a bit of a spoiler. And because he’s from Cuba. He does have a fair bit of sympathy from hardcore fans, though, after being on the wrong end of a puzzling decision against Brandon Rios. A decision almost as puzzling as the question: “If he’s from Cuba, why isn’t his name Ricardo?” Bogere (23-0, 15 KO) will have to press the action here and try to deal with Abril’s 5" height advantage. Don’t think that he won’t try though. Bogere is nothing if not tenacious. I just can’t see him getting around the Cuban’s "jab, jab, jab, right hand, tie up on the inside" routine. Give me Abril by unanimous decision.
Donnie Nietes vs. Moises Fuentes, Saturday, Manila. The best bout of the week is happening at junior flyweight. It’s not on TV, did I mention that? Mexico’s Fuentes (16-1, 8 KO), #2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s strawweight rankings, is moving up in weight and travelling to the Phillipines to face Nietes (31-1-3, 17 KO), the board’s #4 at junior fly. Despite that, Fuentes will still be the much bigger dude, at a relatively towering 5’ 7”. Lucky for Nietes, he doesn’t mind giving away a bit of height. In fact, he’s pretty good at getting taller guys to come on to him before he counterpunches them with looping rights. The question is, can he do it with a guy as good as Fuentes? It’ll be hard; Fuentes, in true Mexican style, will go to the body rather than chopping aimlessly at his Filipino opponent’s head. I reckon Fuentes will be a natural at the weight, so I’ll take him by closer-than-it-should-be split decision.
Billy Dib vs. Evgeny Gradovich, Friday, ESPN2, Mashantucket Conn. Billy Dib (35-1, 21 KO), promoted by 50 Cent, is back on TV. Despite my featherweight compatriot’s reputation for being boring, I don’t think this will be too bad a fight. It’s mainly down to his opponent, the man with the best nickname in boxing, Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich (15-0, 8 KO). As his name suggests, Gradovich fights like a man from Los Mochis, despite having grown up roughly 1,500 miles from Moscow on the western edge of Siberia. Gradovich is going to tuck his chin and plough forward like a serf in a wheat field and Dib is going to have to deal with it, which should lead to an entertaining game of cat and mouse at the very least. Not sure who wins – Gradovich hasn’t really fought anyone that good, though neither has Dib in the last five years.
The Rest. Friday offers another show, with flyweights Omar Soto (23-9, 15 KO) and Julian Rivera (12-7-1, 2 KO) doing battle on Telemundo… Saturday brings a FSN/Fox Deportes card headlined by junior welterweight prospect Omar Figueroa (19-0-1, 15 KO) against Henry Aurad (14-6-1, 11 KO)… HBO is debuting a new mini-documentary series on Tuesday March 5. The new series, called “Cornered,” will be similar to “2 Days” but will focus on boxing’s out-of-the-ring personalities. The first ep follows ring announcer Michael Buffer.