This weekend of boxing is a head to head televised showdown between the HBO network and Showtime. For those of you boxing fans that subscribe to both, as I do, then you also will be peeved by this head to head boxing card telecasts.
Which one do you watch, which one do you DVR…it’s a tough choice, but both cards are extremely interesting and important.
Helsinki, Finland & Oakland, California
The Super Six 168 pound tournament marches on despite the problems with two important showdowns in the super middleweight division. The most interesting is a showdown between Carl Froch, 26-1, 20 KO’s, and Arthur Abraham, 31-1, 25 KO’s, both coming off defeats in their last fights, which are the only defeats on their records and both of which can be disputed.
Froch came onto the American scene, after years of calling out Joe Calzaghe, with a come from behind knockout victory over former Middleweight Champion, Jermain Taylor. The ferocity of the fight itself mixed with the heart of a champion and the need to win made Froch a real player in boxing and when he entered the super six, he took on the role of dark horse. Froch would beat Andre Dirrell in his first fight by decision but then losing a disputable decision to Mikkel Kessler.
Arthur Abraham, the long time middleweight champion, is the toughest guy in boxing. I say this based solely on the fact that he fought 8 rounds with a severely broken jaw to defeat Edison Miranda in a defense of his title in 2006. Abraham came into the fight as a co-favorite along with Mikkel Kessler, and he fit the bill, dominating and stopping Jermain Taylor in his first outing. In his second appearance, he was confused by the highly skilled Andre Dirrell and when he had him in any trouble, the referee seemed quick to break it up and give his opponent time to recoup. Abraham would be disqualified after hitting Dirrell when he was down, knocking him out and out of the tournament, citing neurological problems.
When Abraham and Froch meet, there will be no true feeling out process. Both men want to win, both men are very cocky and confident and are looking to send a message. Abraham is as tough as they come, but Froch is one of the best punchers in boxing. You put that together, you have one hell of a fight this Saturday night. The vacant WBC title will be on the line.
The supporting bout is between the now tournament favorite, Andre Ward, 22-0, 13 KO’s, and Sakio Bika, 28-4-2, 19 KO’s, and this one looks incredibly ugly on paper. Ward smothers his opponents and makes for a bad fight, but is effective in his style, much the same way John Ruiz was. It’s not pretty, but it wins, as it did with Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green, but he has a tough opponent ahead of him as he defends his WBA title.
Bika lost his last fight after he knocked down the undefeated Jean Paul Mendy when he knocked him into tomorrow as he was on his knees. It was stopped in the first and Bika lost, but somehow managed to get this fight for the title. The thinking may be that he should’ve beaten Mendy, so give him the shot anyway.
Bika has never been beaten by stoppage and has an awkward and ugly style himself, but he does punch from different angles and maybe the two negatives will equal a positive and we will get a thrilling fight. Outside of the DQ loss and a very early loss to Sam Soliman, Bika has only lost to the best in Lucian Bute and Joe Calzaghe. If Ward underrates him or if Bika can figure out the puzzling style, then we may have a winner on our hands.
Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s risky business for Juan Manuel Marquez, 51-5-1, 37 KO’s, as he heads into Saturday’s showdown with Michael Katsidis, 27-2, 22 KO’s, in defense of his WBO/WBA Lightweight Titles. Marquez is currently in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes along with Andre Berto and Shane Mosley (if you can believe that). Marquez may be the frontrunner should Floyd Mayweather, JR., decline again, but a loss to Katsidis would remove him entirely.
Marquez is an amazing fighter with a storied history, but his association and competitive fights with Manny Pacquiao is what he’s most known for. He is 0-1-1 in his two bouts with the Filipino star, and the defeat was debatable, a loser by split decision. He proved too small for a returning Floyd Mayweather, JR., but when he fights at lightweight, he’s a hard man to beat and has beaten the likes of Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor, Rocky Juarez, and Marco Antonio Barrera. He now takes on the underdog in Katsidis, but we have a live underdog without question.
Katsidis lost a war where both men were down when he faced Joel Casamayor and then lost a disputable decision to Juan Diaz in his very next fight. He is a warrior that remind many of the late Arturo Gatti because of his heart and punch and has put together four straight wins since his back to back defeats. Three of the four were over very good opposition. He has the momentum and style that may shock the 37 year old veteran. We may see a new star emerge in the main even Saturday night as Marquez fights off the younger challenger and father time with Manny Pacquiao on his mind, perhaps.
In the co-main event, we have another contestant in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes in WBC Welterweight Champion, Andre Berto, 26-0, 20 KO’s, takes on the challenge of Freddy Hernandez, 29-1, 20 KO’s. Berto has been a spoon fed fighter throughout his career, to the point where HBO has even said: “No more stiffs,” referring to his limited opposition. The trend continues with Hernandez, a man that has not faced anyone of note outside of a shopworn DeMarcus Corley, and was defeated by an equally shopworn Golden Johnson in 2005. Berto has had the deck stacked in his favor in every outing and here we go again. This fight is a no-brainer. Berto by late TKO or decision.
A ten round super featherweight showdown makes this a televised triple header as Celestino Caballero, 34-2, 23 KO’s, takes on the exciting but limited Jason Litzau, 27-2, 21 KO’s, in a 10 round contest. Caballero hasn’t lost since 2005 and Litzau has been on a good run of it lately, getting the nod over former title challenger Rocky Juarez. This fight should be fun while it lasts.