How to save 100 bucks and enjoy good fights this weekend
This report is courtesy of special guest contributor Tamas Pradarics.
For most of the casual boxing fans around the globe, tonight is all about a huge event that takes place at The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This vehemently hyped card will feature a boxer who is coming out of retirement versus a mixed martial arts fighter who has yet to taste leather in the squared circle, in a scheduled 12-round match under the rules of boxing.
To watch this show live in high definition, fans in the United States have to pay $99.95. There will be a couple of real boxing matches on that card, however, like Andrew Tabiti vs. Steve Cunningham, Badou Jack vs. Nathan Cleverly and former IBF junior lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis against fellow unbeaten Francisco Fonseca. Too bad one cannot manage to bypass the dollar-giveaway to watch these encounters on Saturday night.
For those who would like to watch real boxing tongiht and tomorrow for free, here are four healthy bouts that will most likely deliver real action and be competitive as long as they last. And no, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor does not fall within these parameters. It could be somewhat exciting in the first couple of rounds, based on the potential drama of “What if Conor lands flush with one of those swinging shots of his own?” but it will vanish from fans minds quickly after Floyd feels out his foe and starts to painfully wear him down with sharp jabs and precise counter-attacks. A UFC fighter belongs in the Octagon. A boxer belongs in the ring. And this bout takes place in a ring.
Of course, for those millions who chose to give their hard-earned money to watch #MayMac, this list will serve only as a Monday reminder that they could have saved their dough and still got something real. Yes, it will be too late to realize they were victims of a true money grab.
Yordenis Ugas, 19-3 (9) vs. Thomas Dulorme, 24-2 (16), August 26, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, welterweight, 10 rounds: Yes, this fight will take place in support of Mayweather vs. McGregor but at least it will be aired live on FOX (7:00 p.m. ET) for free before the Showtime Pay-Per-View broadcast kicks off. Puerto Rico’s Dulorme was originally scheduled to face former IBF world welterweight champion Shawn Porter, until Porter was forced to withdraw due to family issues. Yordenis Ugas took the fight on nine days’ notice. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist pro career went wrong after decision losses to fellow prospects in 2012 and 2014. The Cuban came back after a 27-month layoff last year. During his comeback, Ugas has belted previously undefeated foes Jamal James and Bryant Perrella, followed by a decision win over gutsy Levan Ghvamichava. These important wins put the Cuban back into title contention. Dulorme seemed to be a would-be champ in 2012 until Argentinean gatekeeper Luis Carlos Abregu dropped him several times before punching the will out of the then-22-year-old prospect. After a couple of tune-ups, Thomas did enough to earns nods over Karim Mayfield and Hank Lundy only to get stopped in his following appearance by debutant 140-pounder Terence Crawford for the vacant WBO title in 2015. Dulorme is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, which means he is the A-side of this matchup against Ugas. That, however, is far from a guarantee of a “W” against the dangerous Cuban. Good matchup between a well-skilled fighter with a questionable mentality and another well-skilled fighter who had issues with laziness in the past.
Rey Vargas, 29-0 (22) vs. Ronny Rios, 28-1 (13), August 26, StubHub Center, Carson, California, WBC super bantamweight title, 12 rounds: Rey Vargas is the latest world champion produced by legendary Mexico City-based trainer Nacho Beristain. The 26-year-old fighter won 28 bouts in a row in over six years as a pro to finally become a challenger for the WBC 122-pound title vacated by Japanese veteran world champ Hozumi Hasegawa, who retired late last year. Vargas left Mexico for a fight only for the third time in his pro career when he flew to Hull, England to face fellow unbeaten Gavin McDonnell for the green-and-gold belt. The tall, lanky Mexican proved his superiority against a game McDonnell to win the title by a well-earned 12-round majority decision. In his first defense tonight on HBO (9:45 p.m. ET), Vargas is facing longtime contender Ronny Rios. The 27-year-old Californian won his first 23 bouts as a pro following a successful amateur career with back-to-back gold medals in the USA Championships. Rios ran into upset-minded journeyman Robinson Castellanos in late 2014 and got stopped in five. Since then, Ronny is 5-0, including taking Jayson Velez’s “0” on the undercard of Saul Alvarez vs Miguel Cotto in late 2015. This is a solid first defense for young Vargas. He can prove to be a threat to the 122-pound division’s throne that can be vacant soon if Guillermo Rigondeaux really does sign for his weird super-fight with 130-pound world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, scheduled for later this year.
Miguel Cotto, 40-5 (33) vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai, 27-3-2 (24), August 26, StubHub Center, Carson, California, vacant WBO super welterweight title, 12 rounds: We should take this fight seriously because of two things: First, Miguel Cotto made sure, in the last couple of weeks, that he will leave boxing no later than December 31, 2017. That means this is one of the final ring appearances of his illustrious career. Second, Yoshihiro Kamegai will not be a walk in the park for Cotto, who last fought against Canelo Alvarez in a 2015 middleweight grudge match decision loss. The Puerto Rican four-division champion comes back in style, as he is fighting for the vacant WBO title vacated by his former rival Alvarez. Kamegai introduced himself to mainstream U.S. television in June 2014 in an exciting, 12-round, give-and-take with former world champ Robert Guerrero in the same venue he is scheduled to perform this weekend. The Japanese slugger had two brutal wars last year against Mexican counterpart Jesus Soto Karass. After a 110-round draw, the fresher Kamegai won the rematch via eight-round stoppage on HBO. Cotto knows everything about boxing and he is a 5-to-1 betting favorite for a reason but the taller Kamegai may try to use his longer reach and newfound legs to give a tough outing to the returning Puerto Rican on HBO.
Tatsuya Fukuhara, 19-4-6 (7) vs. Ryuya Yamanaka, 14-2 (4), August 27, Shiroyama Sky Dome, Ashikita-gun, Kumamoto, Japan, WBO minimumweight title, 12 rounds: This 105-pound world championship affair may not be televised in the U.S. but even catching a video of it on YouTube on Sunday can give a more enjoyable time for fight fans than the headliners in the “Undisputed Money Grab of the Decade” event. Fukuhara had moderate success early in his pro career, going 12-4-3 in his first 19 bouts. After back-to-back losses to future world champion Yu Kimura and highly-touted then-teenager Takuma Inoue – who today has a really good chance to become the next great thing among Japan’s long list of beltholders once he is back in full swing following a bad hand injury late last year – Fukuhara’s gotten more mature and turned things around. He is enjoying a 10-fight unbeaten streak with seven wins and three draws. Last February, he fought for the interim version of the WBO title against Mexico’s Moises Calleros. Fukuhara won the title in a strawweight-fashioned, all-out war. Not long after this bout, WBO champ Katsunari Takayama retired from boxing, making Fukuhara a full-time titleholder. Ryuya Yamanaka is a 22-year-old countryman of the reigning world champion and is the mandatory challenger, thanks to an upset win over far more accomplished former world titlist Merlito Sabillo. Yamanaka won a clear-cut decision over his Filipino opponent and that pretty much put him into position as challenger. The former is a slugger who never stops coming, in the hopes of trading bombs, and the latter is more of a boxer. Styles make it a pretty nice-looking matchup – something Mayweather vs. McGregor certainly is not.