JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ VS. MICHAEL KATSIDIS Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / lightweights Location: Las Vegas Television: HBO The backdrop: Somehow Marquez (51-5-1, 37 knockdowns) keeps on rolling at age 37. The seasoned Mexican technician didn’t appear to lose a step in his rematch with Juan Diaz in July, which is why the lightweight champ is a 3-to-1 favorite to beat Katsidis (27-2, 22 KOs), the No. 1 contender whose aggressive style is believed to be tailor made for Marquez. However, the rugged Australian, who has dedicated his title challenge to the memory of his recently deceased brother, possesses the physical strength and relentless pressure that can overwhelm an aging, naturally smaller fighter. If Marquez has begun to slip at all, Katsidis will take advantage of it through brute force and sheer will power. Also fighting: Andre Berto vs. Freddy Hernandez, 12 rounds, welterweights; Celestino Caballero vs. Jason Litzau, 10 rounds, junior lightweights Rating the card: B+. The two opening bouts of HBO’s World Championship Boxing broadcast on this Thanksgiving weekend are light appetizers for what will probably be a very satisfying main course. Put short: for however long it lasts, Marquez-Katsidis will deliver action and drama. In the co-feature, Berto (26-0, 20 KOs) makes a relatively weak defense of his welterweight strap against Hernandez (29-1, 20 KOs), who “earned” his title shot with ShoBox-televised knockouts of faded (and much smaller) beltholders DeMarcus Corely (KO 5) and Mike Anchondo (TKO 4) this year. In the opening bout of the broadcast, Caballero (34-2, 23 KOs), perhaps the most avoided man at 122 and 126 pounds, hopes to impress HBO viewers by dominating the naturally heavier Litzau (27-2, 21 KOs) at 130 pounds.
ARTHUR ABRAHAM VS. CARL FROCH Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / super middleweights Location: Helsinki Television: Showtime The backdrop: In what is perhaps the most anticipated matchup of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, Abraham (31-1, 25 KOs), a brutish former middleweight titleholder with tight technique and freakish strength, takes on the toughest foe of his career in Froch (26-1, 20 KOs), a tall and rangy former super middleweight beltholder who can box or brawl with the best of the division. Abraham and Froch are guaranteed a place in the tournament’s semifinals next year, but both have a lot to prove in the scheduled 12-round bout for a vacant belt as both are coming off the first losses of their careers. In March, Abraham was disqualified in the 11th round of his fight with Andre Dirrell after hitting the American when he on the canvas from a slip. Froch lost a unanimous decision in a competitive fight with Mikkel Kessler in April. Both Dirrell and Kessler have since withdrawn from the Super Six with potential career-threatening injuries, an indication of how rough and punishing both Abraham and Froch are. Also fighting: Andre Ward vs. Sakio Bika, 12 rounds, super middleweights Rating the card: A-. Half of this Showtime Championship Boxing broadcast is one of the best matchups that can be made in the super middleweight division. Abraham owns impressive KOs of Jermain Taylor and Edison Miranda at 168 pounds. Froch knocked out Taylor before the former middleweight champ fought Abraham. The loquacious Englishman has also defeated current light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal and Dirrell. The other half of the Championship Boxing show isn’t bad, either. Ward (22-0, 13 KOs), the supremely skilled and confident 26-year-old titleholder already on some pound-for-pound lists, defends his belt against an awkward-and-experienced punisher in Bika (28-4-2, 19 KOs), who suffered a first-round disqualification in his last fight for viciously nailing Jean Mendy with an uppercut after dropping the unbeaten fringe contender with a legitimate punch. Bika’s brute strength and relentless nature was enough to give both Joe Calzaghe and Lucian Bute tough fights in decision losses in 2006 and 2007. The Australian-based Cameroonian figures to do the same with Ward, who didn’t lose a round against both Kessler and Allan Green.
GIOVANI SEGURA VS. MANUEL VARGAS Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / flyweights Location: Tijuana Television: Fox Deportes The backdrop: Segura (25-1-1, 21 KOs) stays busy with this flyweight bout while he decides whether or not to defend the RING junior flyweight title he won by stopping Ivan Calderon in the eighth round of their thrilling 108-pound showdown in August. The 28-year-old Mexican slugger isn’t sure he can boil his body down to the junior flyweight limit anymore. If Segura feels strong against the smaller-but-capable Vargas (28-6-1, 13 KOs) he will seriously consider vacating his title and campaigning at 112 pounds in 2011. Vargas should provide Segura with a decent fight. The 29-year-old journeyman is 4-4-1 in his last nine bouts but his only decisive loss was a third-round KO to ultra-talented Nonito Donaire in a junior bantamweight bout last February. Vargas, who has victories over former beltholders Edgar Sosa and Daniel Reyes, was a late substitute against Donaire. Also fighting: Miguel Vazquez vs. Ricardo Dominguez, 12 rounds, lightweights Rating the card: B. Segura is fun to watch regardless of what weight he fights at or who he’s fighting. Vazquez (26-3, 12 KOs), who won a lightweight belt by out-classing Ji-Hoon Kim in August, is also fun to watch if you’re one of the few fight fans who appreciates pure technique and ring generalship. Vazquez, whose only losses are decisions to Timothy Bradley and Saul Alvarez in 140- and 147-pound bouts, is like a mini-Mexican version of Bernard Hopkins, which means the 23-year-old technician will probably out-box seasoned challenger Dominguez (32-6-2, 20 KOs) as he did Kim and then-undefeated Breidis Prescott last July. However, Dominguez, who dropped a unanimous decision to titleholder Humberto Sosa in May and battled Brandon Rios to a rousing 10-round decision loss in 2008, should make things interesting.
Paulus Moses, THE RING’s No. 7-rated lightweight, takes on Argentina’s Sergio Omar Priotti in a 10-round bout in his native Namibia on Thursday.
Unbeaten featherweight prospect Juan Carlos Burgos challenges former bantamweight titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa for a vacant 126-pound belt in Nagoya, Japan on Friday. On the same card, Vitali Tajbert, THE RING’s No. 8-rated junior lightweight, defends a 130-pound belt against former featherweight titleholder Takahiro Ao.
Matthew Hatton defends his European welterweight title against Roberto Belge in Bolton, England on Friday.