by Paul Magno
Nate Campbell coined the phrase “Celebrity Boxing” to describe the recent pattern of signing huge, mega-fight, dream match-ups that were utterly insignificant to the sport as a whole. A few that come to mind most recently are De la Hoya-Pacquiao, Calzaghe-Jones and Hopkins-Pavlik. Now, next on the Celebrity Boxing circuit is Pacquiao-Hatton, likely a great fight that would be vital if there wasn’t so much unfinished business in both of their respective weight classes.
It’s hard to blame fighters for trying to cash in on their fame for their share of the remnants of Oscar’s golden pie, but these types of encounters do nothing other than pad the pockets of the fighters and the promoters; They do nothing to strengthen the continuity of their individual divisions- a must for the overall health of the sport and, essentially, they freeze out an entire generation of young fighters waiting to snatch the torch from the top dogs.
However, before the next addition of Celebrity Boxing on May 2nd, we have a weekend of ‘real’ fights that are truly significant to the fighters and/or the future of their divisions. We have veteran warrios fighting to stay relevant, young lions looking to make their mark and champions looking to unify…Crossroad fights abound this weekend. Here’s a brief look at each:
Friday, April 3rd
Randall Bailey vs. Frankie “Gato” Figueroa– The weekend kicks off with this Friday Night Fight gem featuring a hungry club fighter (Figueroa) looking to work his way out of the club circuit against a veteran former champ (Bailey), fighting to get one more shot. The winner of this IBF Jr. Welterweight Eliminator gets a shot at champion Juan Urango…The loser disappears.
Saturday, April 4th-
Kendall Holt vs. Timothy Bradley– Nobody twisted the arms of WBO Champ, Holt and WBC Champ, Bradley. They didn’t have to fight each other. They could’ve feasted on their much weaker mandatories in hopes of landing a big fish like Ricky Hatton, but real champions take risks and real champions, ultimately, are willing to put up or shut up. While the mesh of their styles may produce a less-than-combustible battle, nobody can downplay the importance of two champions in their primes taking a chance and behaving as champions do.
Alexander Povetkin vs. Jason Estrada– Not a huge fight and certainly nowhere near marquee, but this is among the rarerst of all occurences in the Heavyweight division- a fight actually pitting two young fighters against each other with something to lose. Some would say that Povetkin is ranked higher than he should be while some would argue that Estrada is ranked lower than he deserves…They’ll determine the accuracy of those rankings this Saturday.
Edwin Valero vs. Antonio Pitalua– Valero finally gets his chance to shine on American TV. He’ll have his chance to prove that his power isn’t just a YouTube myth, but he’ll have to prove it against the 39 year old banger, Antonio Pitalua, who will be, literally, fighting for his livelihood. By the way, the vacant WBC Lightweight title goes to the winner.
Librado Andrade vs. Vitali Tsypko– This IBF Super Middleweight Eliminator takes two crowd-pleasing veterans and mashes them together to see who has a chance at career redemption. A win for Tsypko erases the frustrating and razor-thin controversial loss to Jeff Lacy in 2006 while a win for Andrade bags him another shot at champion Lucian Bute, who he literally came within seconds of knocking out back in October of last year.
Jesus Chavez vs. Michael Katsidis– Simply put, Katsidis is 0-2 in big fights and another loss ends his run as a legit contender. And, even, simpler put, a loss for the 36- year old Chavez just, plain ends his career. Two brawlers+Must Win Fight= A Keeper.
Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez vs. Vicente Escobedo– The 38-year old Hernandez is on his way down while the 27-year old Escobedo is on his way up….They’re meeting somewhere in the middle. A title shot, and the much-needed payday that comes along with it, is a sure thing to the winner.
Julio Diaz vs. Rolando Reyes– At 29 and 30 years of age respectively, Diaz and Reyes are said to be on the downside of their careers. Expect action and lots of it with the winner staying relevant in the Lightweight division and the loser going back to small paydays on Telemundo.
Sure, none of these guys are superstars and none could fill the MGM Grand or sell a million+ PPV’s, but they’re doing the grunt work that’s so essential to keeping Boxing alive and healthy. In divisions where the best fighters won’t even pretend to fight their truest and most deserving challengers, these guys are taking matters into their own hands…