‘Tis the boxing season in the Northeast
As the temperature begins to drop and the days seem shorter with the clock falling backward, the boxing calendar for the Northeast part of the country starts to heat up and shine, beginning with tonight’s card at Madison Square Garden. This means that almost every weekend from now until Christmas will feature a boxing event in the Atlantic City, Philadelphia and New York city areas. At the time of this article being written, there were still announcements being made featuring a card in Brooklyn just three days before Christmas. Sure, there may be more updates to this schedule between now and the time we unwrap gifts but the following is a list to give fans a chance to grasp all of the season’s beat downs that will be happening just off of I-95.
Granted, most of these shows will feature main attractions (or A-side fighters) for many of the major promoters. These fights are a great way for the fighters to stay busy, as the holidays approach and they gear up for bigger fights in 2019. Although this may be the case, as we saw last weekend in Las Vegas, nothing is a sure thing.
October 27: The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City – Matchroom Boxing USA (HBO)
Daniel Jacobs, 34-2 (29) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko, 12-0 (11)
Alberto Machado, 20-0 (16) vs. Yuandale Evans, 20-1 (14)
It’s the beginning of the end for HBO with one of its final shows featuring the middleweight battle for the vacant IBF title. With his huge advantage in experience and natural boxing skills, many feel this is a perfect chance for Jacobs to stake his claim as the true top challenger in the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes. Meanwhile there are others who believe that, after being on the other side of 30, Derevyanchenko is a true live dog in this one. That belief is based on his pressure style and power punching, as well as the fact that this is his chance at glory and he is a hard man who will bring his all to the fight. This is a fight that could be a blow out win for the hometown ex-champion still trying to prove he is the best in the division or he could be in for a tougher night than most expected.
The co-feature will shine on another hot division in the sport, as Machado makes the second defense of his WBA “regular” junior lightweight title. After the awesome performance by IBF champion Tevin Farmer last weekend in Boston, this is an opportunity for Machado to put an exclamation point on the great year he has had, especially since his and Farmer’s names are being mentioned as the fighters fans want a certain “Tank” to face in 2019.
November 3: Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York – Main Events (Facebook Live)
Sullivan Barrera, 21-2 (14) vs. Sean Monaghan, 29-1 (17)
After his loss to WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol earlier this year, Barrera suffered an arm injury, which prevented him from returning in August. That fight was supposed to be the kickoff of the new partnership between Main Events and Golden Boy Promotions for their Facebook Live series. With his recovery, there are no soft tests now for Barrera, as Monaghan will surely have the crowd in his corner, as the local fighter turned good. Will that help him translate his solid record (although against limited competition) into an upset victory? His only loss is to former Olympian Marcus Browne. If he can win, Monaghan could be the next Joe Smith Jr. or Chris Algieri and earn some good paydays in the future. Barrera needs to win this fight to keep his name relevant in the light heavyweight division moving into 2019.
November 9: Sugar House Casino, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Kings Promotions
Christian Carto, 16-0 (11) vs. TBA
Ricardo Garcia, 14-3-1 (9) vs. Tyrone Crawley (7-1-1)
Carto is one of the best prospects in the lower weight classes. While he doesn’t have the same promotional backing as, say, lightweight Teofimo Lopez Jr. (Carto is a promotional free agent), he has continued to evolve from a knockout puncher to utilize his more natural instincts as a boxer-puncher. This bantamweight fight against the always feared “TBA” is more about Carto’s continued development than anything else, as he continues to get used to his new coach, the celebrated Philly trainer Billy Briscoe. One thing is certain: There will be hundreds of Carto fans in attendance. Carto is one thing already and that’s a draw.
Garcia and Crawley had a spirited fight in their first encounter. Garcia got the nod from the judges with his aggressive power punching that gave the boxer Crawley problems. This junior welterweight rematch, along with another look at top-tier prospect Poindexter Knight support a still-unknown main event that features a possible feature star.
November 16: Showboat Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey – Rising Star Promotions
Thomas LaManna, 26-2-1 (9) vs. Mike Arnaoutis, 26-11-2 (13)
LaManna has had a productive 2018, both inside and outside of the ring. He is a member of the TKO Fitness stable, which is headed by Raul “Chino” Rivas and is home to fighters like Tevin Farmer and Jason Sosa. LaManna continues to climb the welterweight ladder but against the 39-year-old Arnaoutis, he looks to stay sharp and continue to have momentum going into 2019. Add to the fact that he has responsibilities as one of the promoters and a new family and this should be a good way for him to keep his tools sharp.
Also on the card is Miguel Cartagena, 15-5-1 (6), of Philadelphia. While the Philly flyweight has had some defeats of late, his recent signing with LaManna’s Rising Star Promotions has him trying to turn a page in his career. Stage One begins on November 16 at the Showboat.
November 16: 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Hard Hitting Promotions (Showtime)
Jaron Ennis, 21-0 (19) vs. Raymond Serrano, 24-5 (10)
Kenneth Sims Jr., 13-1-1 (4) vs. Samuel Teah, 14-2-1 (7)
After Showtime dropped out of putting on the Clarissa Shields fight the next night in Atlantic City, the network decided to join forces with Hard Hitting Promotions in order to put on a “Shobox” card in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Philly’s seemingly can’t-miss welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis, of the Ennis fighting clan, will face fellow Philadelphia welterweight and former prospect Ray Serrano. Ennis has looked sensational, including his total domination of Armando Alvarez in the summer in his national coming-out party, which was also on ShoBox. At one point, Serrano was a top prospect from the area but has only lost to top fighters in bouts that could have taken him to another level of fights. At 29, this could be the last chance for Serrano to make noise on a larger scale, were he to beat Ennis. As for Ennis, the question remains, how good is he really? It’s most likely a question to which we won’t learn the answer until he is in with the elite of the division starting in 2019.
Lightweight Jeremy Cuevas, 11-0 (8), will continue his development, as he continues to struggle between boxing and sticking to a game plan, which often has him en route to easy victory or swinging for the fences the moment he gets hit. Also Branden Pizarro, 12-1 (6), looks to finish the year with another victory, as a the 19-year-old junior welterweight anticipates a step up in competition next year, as his physical maturity continues.
November 16: Sands Hotel and Casino, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – Kings Promotions
Anvar Yunusov, 5-0 (2) vs. Joshua Davis, 11-3 (5)
Yunusov is a former three-time Olympian. His amateur record was stellar and he won medals in all the major competitions. Since he competed in three different Olympic Games, he is already 31 years old, which means this southpaw junior lightweight is going to be fast-tracked into trying to contend for championships in the near future. His most recent performance in Philadelphia was solid. He can punch with both hands and has good hand speed. His foot movement is also solid, as he moves in with his attack on angles behind his punches.
Kings Promotions always puts on good undercards and matches their stable of fighters tough, much to the enjoyment of the fans who purchase tickets. This night’s line up, which also features 130-pound Reading native Joshafat Ortiz, 5-0 (3), should be no different.
November 17: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey – Matchroom Boxing USA (DAZN)
Jarrell Miller, 22-0-1 (19) vs. TBA
Gabriel Rosado, 24-11 (14) vs. Luis Arias, 18-1 (9)
Claressa Shields, 6-0 (2) vs. TBA
Marcel Rivers, 6-0 (4) vs. Keasen Freeman, 4-4 (2)
This card was originally supposed to be on Showtime and feature a title unification fight between Shields and Christina Hammer. Hammer had to pull out of the fight and the entire card was thrown into jeopardy. Enter Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN. Now the card will keep Shields in action, as she awaits a healthy Hammer but will also feature Jarrell Miller as well as the solid middleweight showdown between Rosado and Arias.
Rosado hasn’t fought in his native Philadelphia area in over five years and in Arias, he is taking on a sturdy middleweight whose only loss is to Daniel Jacobs. As long as this fight lasts, fans will be in for a treat. Also, Marcel “Celly” Rivers returns to the ring against Freeman. Rivers is a fan favorite in the Philadelphia area and has continued to develop.
November 24: Mark G. Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey – Main Events (HBO)
Dmitry Bivol, 14-0 (11) vs. Jean Pascal, 33-5-1 (20)
The final Main Events show on HBO, after their relationship made so much boxing history over the course of the last four decades. WBA light heavyweight titleholder Bivol is certainly waiting for the winner of the rematch between Sergey Kovalev and WBO counterpart Eleider Alvarez next February. With this defense of his title, Bivol will be facing another fighter who has fought both Kovalev and Alvarez. After not looking his normal destructive self in August against Isaac Chilemba, Bivol has another chance to prove he is indeed the future of the division. Meanwhile for Pascal, we may just see the best version of him coming into this fight, since a loss to Bivol will most likely mean the end of the top fights for the 35-year-old ex-champion.
December 8: The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City – Top Rank (ESPN)
Vasiliy Lomachenko, 11-1 (9) vs. Jose Pedraza, 25-1 (12)
Isaac Dogboe, 20-0 (14) vs. Emanuel Navarrete, 25-1 (22)
Teofimo Lopez, 10-0 (8) vs. Mason Menard, 34-3 (24)
This is one heck of a card for the Theater’s size. After WBA lightweight champion Lomachenko pulled great numbers in the big room against Jorge Linares earlier this year, this should be an easy sell-out. Let’s see just how well Lomachenko comes back from shoulder surgery against WBO counterpart Pedraza. For my money, I think it’s a better fight stylistically for the fans than the fight with Ray Beltran, had the latter defeated Pedraza in the summer. Should be interesting to see how the two react to each other’s southpaw approaches.
WBO junior featherweight titleholder Dogboe has turned into a breakout whirlwind star this year. A win over Navarrete would close a great career year for the native of Ghana, putting him in position to take on some of the other champions in order to unify the talent-rich 122 pound division. Also with a win, Dogboe would have to be in the conversation for “Fighter of the Year.”
In Menard, Lopez is betting that, after just 10 fights, he is ready for this type of step up. Devin Haney simply outclassed Menard with his superior skills and all-around speed when they met last May in Philadelphia. Lopez has an added pop to his punches that he is banking will have him doing more backflips after the fight. Could be a good learning type of fight for the youngster. After his most recent performance, it’s not crazy to see him against a fighter with far more bouts to his name. Lightweight is sure looking like a division with a ton of real young, outspoken talent, which should mean fun for us in the future.
November 14: Bank of America Center, Corpus Christi, Texas – Top Rank (ESPN+)
Gilberto Ramirez, 38-0 (25) vs. Jesse Hart, 25-1 (21)
OK, so yeah, this fight is not taking place in the Northeast. However it is the rematch of a great fight from September of last year, which saw Philadelphia native Jesse Hart come close to winning the WBO super middleweight crown from the super-tough Ramirez. It was an underrated fight; however with Hart’s three-fight stoppage streak since the loss and calling out Ramirez for the rematch all year, after each knockout, didn’t exactly make Ramirez happy. I have a feeling this rematch will not go the distance or at least won’t disappoint like so many rematches do.
December 15: Madison Square Garden, New York City – Golden Boy Promotions (DAZN)
Rocky Fielding, 27-1 (15) vs. Saul Alvarez, 50-1-2 (34)
Alvarez has 365 million reasons to be happy, this upcoming holiday season. This fight with Fielding is clearly about two things: Alvarez fighting in New York City at the Garden and the chance to win a title in a third weight class, at super middleweight. With a win, every other super middleweight will call out Alvarez to unify but the Mexican superstar has stated that he will most likely return to middleweight, where he is the recognized world champion, With 10 fights remaining on his deal after this fight with Fielding, testing the waters at 168 isn’t a bad idea, since it will create more opportunities in the future. As for Fielding, well, cue all the articles comparing him to Rocky Balboa. Also rumor has it that Tevin Farmer may fight on the undercard.
November 22: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York – Premier Boxing Champions (Showtime)
Jermall Charlo, 27-0 (21) vs. Willie Monroe Jr., 23-3 (6)
Jermell Charlo, 31-0 (15) vs. Tony Harrison, 27-2 (21)
Jermall Charlo vs. Monroe is for the WBC interim title at middleweight. Just like the fight card that started this list, we end with a main event featuring a middleweight fighter trying to stake his claim in the “Canelo” sweepstakes. Charlo has talked – and talked a lot – but so far he has backed it up. Against Monroe Jr., he has another chance to prove he is the rightful name for a big fight with the Mexican star. Monroe is durable and has fought some of the best in the division, as he tries to put it all together on this night, in order to avoid the usual defeat he faces against the top champions and names of the division.
WBC junior middleweight titlist Jermell Charlo will be looking to close out 2018 with a victory over the always-game Harrison. This looks to be a fight full of action, while it lasts. Since his defeat to Jarrett Hurd, Harrison has won three straight, while Charlo earned a close win over the older Austin Trout earlier this year. The winner of this should be in line for a unification with Hurd, the reigning IBF beltholder, next year. Will it be a rematch with Hurd for Harrison or a fight that will feature plenty of smack-talking in its build-up, if it’s Charlo, is the question for this fight.
So after this in-depth look at the final schedule of 2018, things are looking good moving forward into the New Year. With the holidays mixed in, it could be hard to find extra finances for a night out at the fights. While this may be true, there is still enough variety listed here for you to hopefully choose the fights you would like to attend. That said, see you at the fights!
Feel free to contact me with comments at Luisacortes83@gmail.com.