RICO RAMOS vs. ALEJANDRO VALDEZ
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / junior featherweights
Location: Atlantic City, N.J.
The backdrop: Ramos (18-0, 10 KOs) is one of the most-exciting young contenders in the sport. The Los Angeles product is tremendously gifted – athletic, extremely quick hands and more power than his record might indicate – and well schooled. He is ranked in the top 10 of each major sanctioning body, No. 1 by the WBA. So a title shot is near. He should be ready for that challenge after one or two more fights worth of seasoning. Valdez (23-4-3, 17 KOs) should be a legitimate test. The tall southpaw from Mexico remains a fringe contender but he hasn’t fared well in his biggest fights, getting stopped by Hozumi Hasegawa and Nehomar Cermeno. His fight against Fernando Montiel was ruled a technical draw when Montiel was cut.
Also fighting: Cornelius White vs. Donovan George, 8 rounds, super middleweights; Eddie Chambers vs. Derric Ross, 12 rounds, heavyweights.
Rating the card: B+. A young contender against a still-capable veteran usually results in an interesting fight. Plus, Ramos is special. You don’t want to miss him. Also, White and George have knocked out a combined 32 of their 36 victims. Don’t look away for a second. And Chambers is making his comeback after taking a beating from Wladimir Klitschko last March.
ANTONIN DECARIE vs. SHAMONE ALVAREZ
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / welterweights
The backdrop: Decarie (24-1, 7 KOs) is a good boxer with little power and a thin resume. The native of Montreal bounced back from his biggest setback – a unanimous-decision loss to Souleymane M’baye for an interim welterweight title in May – by narrowly outpointing journeyman Irving Garcia, who had been stopped by Luis Abregu and Mike Jones in his previous two fights. Alvarez (21-3, 12) started his 19-0 but is only 2-3 since, his losses coming against Joshua Clottey (UD), Delvin Rodriguez (UD) and less-talented Ayi Bruce (MD). Steve Forbes, 33, remains active even though the former junior lightweight titleholder is 3-5 in his last fights.
Also fighting: Jo Jo Dan vs. Steve Forbes, 10 rounds, welterweights; Kevin Bizier vs. Edgar Ruiz, 8 rounds, welterweights.
Rating the card: C-. Decarie isn’t the most-entertaining fighter in the world and Alvarez, also a technician, seems to be slipping. That doesn’t add up to enjoyable viewing. One never knows, though.
PETER QUILLIN vs. DENNIS SHARPE
Rounds / weight class: 8 rounds / middleweights
Location: Vacaville, Calif.
The backdrop: Quillin (22-0, 16 KOs) is 2-0 since returning last year from a 17-month layoff, the result of nagging injuries. “Kid Chocolate” is an entertaining fighter with all the tools to make something of himself – athleticism, speed and considerable power – but he needs a bit more polish. Sharpe (17-4-3, 4 KOs) is a decent boxer with no power who has become an “opponent” for those with legitimate title hopes. He has lost five consecutive fights, to Giovanni Lorenzo, Pawel Wolak, Andy Lee, James McGirt and Ronald Hearns. Sharpe is from Bayonne, N.J.
Also fighting: Alan Sanchez vs. Steve Quinones, 8 rounds, welterweights.
Rating the card: C. Quillin is worth the effort to watch. Plus, his power and Sharpe’s vulnerability should result in a knockout.
Also Friday: Oleydong Sithsamerchai defends his WBC strawweight title against Kazuto Ioka in Osaka, Japan.
MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA vs. JOSE ARIAS
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / lightweights
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Television: Fox Deportes
The backdrop: Barrera (66-7, 43 KOs) fights for the second time since he was stopped by Amir Khan in March 2009. The 37-year-old former six-time titleholder is coming off a one-sided decision over Adailton De Jesus last June. Barrera is angling for one more shot at a major title – in what would be a Mexican-record fourth weight class — and the money that comes along with it. Arias (15-1, 9 KOs) has an interesting resume. The Dominican, who is 43, retired in 1999 but returned to boxing last year, during which he went 9-0 against nobodies primarily in Costa Rica. In other words, he’s in for a whuppin’ on Saturday.
Rating the card: B. Barrera has been one of the most-consistent and entertaining fighters of the past 20 years. We should enjoy him while we can, even against someone like Arias.
Also Saturday: Omar Narvaez defends his WBO junior bantamweight title against Victor Zaleta in Buenos Aires. And, on a deep card in Mulheim, Germany, Steve Cunningham defends his IBF cruiserweight belt against Enad Licina. Also on that card, Arthur Abraham will get in some rounds against Stjepan Bozic to prepare for his fight against Andre Ward in the spring.