Yuriorkis Gamboa (right) faces Jonathan Victor Barros on Saturday in just one of many must-see fights this weekend. Photo / Chris Cozzone-FightWireImages.com
This is the kind of weekend hardcore boxing fans dream about.
The list of elite fighters in action between Thursday and Saturday is so long that we’re not sure even the most-creative aficionado could manage to watch them all on television, although we're sure the most tech savvy will find a way.
Here’s a look at what's scheduled in a special version of our Weekend Preview.
ABNER MARES vs. FELIPE ALMANZA
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / bantamweights
Location: Club Nokia, Los Angeles
Television: RingTV.com (live stream); Fox Sports
The backdrop:Mares (19-0, 12 KOs) probably will have no trouble with Almanza (17-15-4, 8 KOs) in a tune-up fight in Golden Boy Promotion’s Fight Night Club series. The bantamweight contender, less active than is ideal, merely wants to get in a workout to be better prepared for his challenge of titleholder Yonnhy Perez on the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez fight on May 22 in L.A. Mares, a 2004 Mexican Olympian, has a perfect record but has fought only four times since 2007 for a variety of reasons, including a detached retina. The title shot against Perez will be his first if he gets past Almanza, a light-punching Colombian who is 5-0-2 against fellow journeymen in his last seven bouts.
Also fighting: Ronny Rios vs. Andres Ledesma, six rounds, lightweights; Derrick Wilson vs. Adam Ochoa, four rounds, junior featherweights.
Rating the card: C+. The main event isn’t competitive but any chance to watch the exciting Mares fight is worth the effort. Plus, the Fight Night Club shows are always fun to watch overall.
ARTHUR ABRAHAM vs. ANDRE DIRRELL
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / super middleweights
The backdrop: This is the first fight in the second-round of fights in the Super Six Boxing Classic and the biggest fight this weekend. Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs) was easily outpointing Jerman Taylor when, in the final round, he knocked Taylor unconscious and out of the tournament. The Armenian-German, fierce and skillful, might be the favorite to win the tournament now that Mikkel Kessler lost to Andre Ward. Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs) lost a decision to Carl Froch in his first Super Six fight but many believe he did enough to win. The Flint, Mich., product will stick and move as usual but must be more aggressive –- and take more risks –- against a complete fighter like Abraham than he did against Froch to stand a chance.
Also fighting: Lateef Kayode vs. Chris Thomas, eight rounds, cruiserweights; Dominik Britsch vs. Mark Berkshire, eight rounds, middleweights.
Rating the card: A-. A main event as compelling as this is must-see TV.
MARCOS MAIDANA vs. VICTOR MANUEL CAYO
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior welterweights
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: Maidana (27-1, 26 KOs) might be second only to Edwin Valero as a knockout machine. The baby-faced Argentine has stopped Victor Ortiz and William Gonzalez since he lost a close decision to Andreas Kotelnik in Kotelnik’s home base of Germany, which means Maidana probably should’ve won. Cayo (24-0, 16 KOs) is no pushover. The Dominican has beaten only one recognizable opponent, Julio Diaz, but is quick and skillful enough to pose a serious threat to Maidana. Ali Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KOs) and Joan Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KOs) fight in a rematch of their disputed –- and very entertaining -– draw in November. Most observers thought Funeka should’ve received the nod. The fight is for a vacant lightweight title.
Also fighting: Daniel Jacobs vs. Jose Luis Rodriguez Berrio, eight rounds, middleweights.
Rating the card: A. Maidana-Cayo AND Funeka-Guzman? Whew.
ERIK MORALES vs. JOSE ALFARO
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / welterweights
Location: Monterrey, Mexico
Television: Integrated Sports Pay-Per-View
The backdrop: This is no main even to celebrate. Morales (48-6, 34 KOs) is a future Hall of Famer who has delivered countless thrills but has lost his last four fights and hasn’t fought since 2007, when by retiring he seemed to admit he had nothing left. Plus, he gained a great deal of weight during “retirement.” Still, Morales is a big name and commands attention. And, who knows, maybe the time off and move up from lightweight will rejuvenate the Mexican star to some degree. Alfaro (23-5, 20 K0s) is a decent opponent. The Nicaraguan briefly held a lightweight title in 2007-08, beating Prawet Singwancha to win it. He’s coming off a 10th-round TKO against Antonio DeMarco. He also is moving up from lightweight for this fight. The main undercard fight, a light heavyweight title eliminator between Chris Henry and Hugo Garay, is more-compelling than the main event.
Rating the card: C. The curiosity factor regarding Morales is significant. And Henry-Garay is a good matchup.
YURIORKIS GAMBOA vs. JONATHAN VICTOR BARROS
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / featherweights
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Television: Integrated Sports Pay-Per-View
The backdrop: Gamboa (17-0, 15 KOs) might have a combination of dynamism, ability and power rivaled only by Manny Pacquiao and Valero. The Cuban defector has seven consecutive knockouts, four within two rounds. He stopped tough Rogers Mtagwa in two rounds in his last fight. We want to see Gamboa fight the best featherweights –- Juan Manuel Lopez, to be specific -– but we’re enjoying the ride so far. Barros (28-0-1, 16 KOs) has never tasted defeat but the Argentine also has never fought outside his native South America, making him an unknown. One thing seems obvious: Barros has never faced a fighter anywhere near the ability of Gamboa, meaning he’ll probably be KO victim No. 16.
Also fighting:Denis Bakhtov vs. Steffen Kretschmann, 12 rounds heavyweights; Juan Carlos Gomez vs. Alexey Mazikin, 12 rounds, heavyweights.
Rating the card: B. You don’t want to miss the knockout.
GIOVANI SEGURA vs. RONALD RAMOS
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior flyweights
Location: Acapulco, Mexico
Television: Fox Sports en Espanol / Fox Sports Net
The backdrop: Segura (23-1-1, 19 KOs) is the biggest-punching little man on the planet. The L.A.-area-based Mexican rebounded from his only loss –- a decision to Cesar Canchilla –- by stopping his next four opponents within six rounds, including a fourth-round KO of Canchilla in a rematch. He doesn’t know what the word defense means, which is one reason he’s so exciting. Ramos (28-7-3, 14 KOs) doesn’t have the best record but is unbeaten in his last 11 fights. The problem is that he has never faced an opponent even near Segura’s class, making him a long shot in this fight. Look for another KO by the exciting Mexican.
Also fighting: Ulises Solis vs. Bert Batawang, 12 rounds, junior flyweight.
Rating the card: C+. Segura is fun to watch regardless of opponent.
Big fights not on TV in U.S.: Koki Kameda vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 12 rounds for Kameda’s flyweight title and the vacant RING 112-pound championship in Tokyo (it’s a shame we don’t get to see Asia’s best on TV); Anselmo Moreno vs. Nehomar Cermeno, 12 rounds for a bantamweight title in Venezuela (two studs who would make for great TV); Steve Molitor vs. Takalani Ndlovu, 12 rounds for a vacant junior featherweight title in Rama, Ontario, Canada.