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Weekend Preview: Alvarez back in the spotlight
Rising junior middleweight star Saul Alvarez's first title defense against Ryan Rhodes on Saturday in Mexico is by far the most significant fight of the weekend.
The backdrop: Guerrero (21-0, 16 knockouts) has established himself as one of the top U.S. middleweight prospects over the past 3½ years, but the 24-year-old boxer-puncher wants to test the waters at junior middleweight, so he’s enlisted the services of Brewer (27-12, 15 KOs), a veteran gate-keeper who should let the Salisbury, Md.-based Dominican know if he’s making the right move. Brewer, who turned 40 last December, is no spring chicken but the tough Oklahoma native has only lost once -- a 10th-round TKO to talented prospect Erislandy Lara -- in his last 10 bouts dating back to January of 2006. The winner of season two of The Contender has defeated current 154-pound beltholder Cornelius Bundrage (SD 10) and undefeated (18-0) Albert Onolunose (KO 2) since participating in the reality TV tournament. On the undercard, San Francisco-area welterweight standout Karim Mayfield (13-0-1, 8 KOs) faces the most experienced foe of his 5-year career, former 130-pound beltholder Steve Forbes (35-9, 11 KOs), who has lost four of his last six bouts but two of those losses were 12-round decisions to Oscar De La Hoya and Andre Berto.
Also fighting: Karim Mayfield vs. Steve Forbes, 10 rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: B. This should be a solid Friday Night Fights show. Brewer is an awkward boxer who often makes for stinky fights but Guerrero’s aggressive southpaw style should force entertaining moments during the main event. Mayfield is taking a huge step up in competition, so it will be interesting to see if he sinks or swims against the still serviceable veteran.
Prediction: Guerrero wins a clear but competitive unanimous decision.
OMAR FIGUEROA vs. ERIC CRUZ
The backdrop: Figueroa (11-0-1, 9 KOs), a crowd-pleasing boxer from Weslaco, Tex., struggled in some of his bouts last year but the baby-faced 21 year old is coming off an impressive second-round stoppage of normally durable Puerto Rican journeyman John Figueroa (no relation) in April. In Cruz (11-6-3, 11 KOs), he faces another journeyman from Puerto Rico but this one is young (23) and heavy handed. Cruz has won his last four bouts by first-round stoppage. On the undercard, Gary Russell Jr. (15-0, 9 KOs), hands down the most talented U.S. featherweight prospect, faces capable Mexican veteran Antonio Meza (24-9-1, 16 KOs) in his first bout scheduled for eight rounds.
Also fighting: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Antonio Meza, eight rounds, featherweights
Rating the card: C+. The undefeated prospects should win their fights on this Solo Boxeo Tecate show, but their opponents won’t be easy. Figueroa has only faced one other opponent who could punch and that fighter, Arturo Quintero, held him to a draw last November. Russell has too much skill and raw talent for Meza, but the Mexican southpaw is used to going 10 and 12 hard rounds, so their contest could get interesting if it gets past the sixth.
Prediction: Figueroa wins a hard-fought, close unanimous decision.
Also fighting on Friday: THE RING’s No. 2-rated bantamweight Anselmo Moreno defends his WBA belt against former flyweight king Lorenzo Parra in Panama City, Panama. In the co-featured bout of that card, undefeated middleweight standout Gennady Golovkin defends his WBA "regular" title against former 154-pound beltholder Kassim Ouma.
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Also fighting: Adrien Broner vs. Jason Litzau, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Rating the card: B. Alvarez has his work cut out for him against Rhodes, who’s size, experience and unorthodox style could trouble the still-developing star. If Broner, who stank out the joint against De Leon, can’t put on an entertaining show against the always-game Litzau there’s no hope for the 21-year old Cincinnati native.
Prediction: Alvarez guts out a hard-fought unanimous decision in front of his hometown fans.
MIGUEL VAZQUEZ vs. MARLON AGUILAR
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / lightweights
Location: Toluca, Mexico
Also fighting: Giovani Segura vs. Eddy Zuniga, 10 rounds, flyweights
Rating the card: C-. Vazquez is one of the best lightweights in the world and Segura is one of the most exiting fighters on the planet but their opponents have no business being in the ring with them.
Prediction: Vazquez dominates Aguilar to a late-rounds stoppage.