Jingle belts on Dec. 13
With Christmas just around the corner, boxing gets ready to host some great action before the holidays set in. On Dec. 13, it’s a busy night in the fight game, so let’s take a peek at some of the more intriguing fighters and match-ups set to kick tomorrow night.
Royal Battle: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Showtime
Amir Khan, 29-3 (19) vs. Devon Alexander, 26-2 (14), 12-round main event: Huge upside for the winner here with a possible Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao fight going to the victor. Khan is the bigger name of the two, so he knows a loss isn’t an option, a huge setback for him if he comes up short. But Alexander is a tough out as he is determined to send Khan back home to England with a loss.
WBA interim welterweight champion Keith Thurman, 23-0 (21) vs. Leonard Bundu, 31-0-2 (11): The Italian-based Bundu is undefeated but he’s also relatively unknown and you know this is a “stay busy until the big fight comes along” scenario for future star Thurman. You can’t sleep on an undefeated fighter with little to lose but look for the talented Thurman to prevail without too much trouble.
Victor Ortiz, 29-5 (22) vs. Manuel Perez, 21-10-1 (4): “Vicious” needs a win – and badly – if he is going to continue as a player near the elite level of the game. He is 5-4-1 (3) in his last 10 and has lost three straight dating back to 2011. Must-win time for Victor. The well-spoken, good-looking young fighter has options outside the ring and has stated in recent interviews that he “doesn’t need to fight.” Ortiz has dabbled in acting and perhaps has a future in Hollywood. Another loss might convince him that he indeed doesn’t need boxing anymore.
Abner Mares, 27-1-1 (14) vs. Jose Ramirez, 25-4 (15): Mares looks to keep rebuilding his profile with his second straight win after his crushing loss to Jhonny Gonzalez back in 2013.
A little north down the strip to the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, HBO
Timothy Bradley, 31-1 (12) vs. Diego Chaves, 23-2 (19), 12-round main event: After going 31 straight without a loss, Bradley lost to Pacquiao last April. Chaves went 22 straight in the win column before going 1-2 in his last three bouts (to world-class players Keith Thurman and Brandon Rios). Both fighters know a win immediately puts them in title contention. Look for “Desert Storm” to prevail but he might have to go a full 12 to get the “W.” Chaves can get ugly in there so this one might get a bit nasty at times.
WBA interim junior welterweight champion Mauricio Herrera, 21-4 (7) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.,21-0 (15): Herrera isn’t a huge puncher but he is a tough guy who went nip-and-tuck for the full 12 with Danny Garcia. This is a big step up for the undefeated Benavidez, considered a “can’t miss” prospect by promoter Top Rank Promotions since he turned pro at 18. If Benavidez can use his height and jab and land his hard right cross, Phoenix, AZ may have a new world champion. I’m leaning toward Benavidez to show he’s ready to play at the title tier but he’s got a rugged guy in front of him in Herrera. This is a very good fight.
Matt Korobov, 24-0 (14) and Andy Lee, 33-2 (23), for the vacant WBO middleweight championship: Ireland’s Lee will try for the second time to capture a world title. He was stopped in his first try back in 2012 by WBC middleweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Lee has a tough nut to crack in undefeated Korobov in front of him. Good bout, tough call. Lee couldn’t be in a bad fight if he tried and it’s hard not to root for the nuts ‘n’ guts slugger. Something tells me this might be Lee’s night to shine and bring home the world title to the Emerald Isle.
The Championship Rounds
Great news! Nine-year-old Kennedy Cunningham, daughter of heavyweight contender and former world cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham and his wife, Livvy, was a recent KO winner in her heart transplant surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh! Reports are she came through the surgery well and is recovering nicely. Champions truly do come in all sizes!
Former Midwest club fighter Guy Solis sadly lost his battle with kidney cancer recently. The devoted, dedicated father and ex-Marine passed at the all too young age of 44. As nice a guy out of the ring as he was a tough competitor in it. Rest in Peace, champ!
The International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum announced its class of 2015. Living inductees include heavyweight champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, featherweight champion Prince Naseem Hamed and lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in the “Modern” category, light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken in the “Old-Timer” category, booking agent/manager Rafael Mendoza and referee Steve Smoger in the “Non-Participant” category and editor/journalist Nigel Collins and broadcaster Jim Lampley in the “Observer” category. Ceremonies take place in Canastota, New York the weekend of June 11.
Writing soundtrack this week: “Blak and Blu” by Gary Clark Jr. Imagine Eric Clapton but with soul ’til next Wednesday. Phenomenal!
Jean Pascal-Roberto Bolonti ended in a somewhat bizarre no-contest last Saturday night in Montreal. A loss to Bolonti would have derailed the planned Sergey Kovalev-Pascal light heavyweight title bout. Look for that match-up, which would be SRO in Montreal, in early 2015.
There is talk of IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage clashing with former WBA super middleweight champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine in Australia in early 2015.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson-promoted former IBF featherweight champion Billy “The Kid” Dib stopped Brazilian Isaias Santos Sampaio in two last Saturday in Australia.
Palm Springs resident and former two-division champion Timothy Bradley received his star on Saturday on the World Famous Palm Springs “Walk of Stars.”
Ya gotta love former world flyweight champion Brian Viloria for always entering the ring to the theme from “Hawaii Five-0.” But he also picked up a win Saturday night in Glendale, California with a fourth round knockout over Armando Vazquez. It would be fun to see Viloria in Macau, China against massively popular Chinese boxing icon Zou Shiming in 2015.