MICHALE GRANT vs. TYE FIELDS
Rounds / weight class:
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: The most-interesting thing about this matchup is the average height of the participants, 6-foot-7½ (202cm). Other than that, we have two heavyweights who seem to be going nowhere. The 6-7 Grant (46-4, 34 KOs) received a chance to re-establish himself as a major player but was soundly outpointed by Tomasz Adamek in August. The 6-8 Fields (45-2, 41 KOs) has a striking record but has fed off overmatched journeymen. He has never really been relevant. On the undercard, former two-division titleholder Joel Casamayor faces late replacement Manuel Leyva. The Cuban southpaw, who lost a one-sided decision to Robert Guerrero in his most-recent fight, is trying to hang on at 39.
Also fighting: Joel Casamayor vs. Manuel Leyva, 10 rounds, welterweights; Ron Johnson vs. Garrett Wilson, 10 rounds, light heavyweights.
Rating the card:D+. Grant-Fields is more a curiosity than anything else. Casamayor has a little something left at 39 – but just a little.
Prediction: Grant probably will never be an elite heavyweight, particularly as he approaches 40, but he proved in a not-so-horrible performance against Adamek that he’s better than a plodding Fields. Grant by late KO.
SERGIO MARTINEZ vs. SERGEI DZINZIRUK
Rounds / weight class: 12 / middleweight
Location: Mashantucket, Conn.
The backdrop: Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) didn’t want this matchup. The 36-year-old Argentine is one of the hottest fighters in the world, having outpointed Kelly Pavlik to win the middleweight championship and knocked out Paul Williams in consecutive fights. The last thing he wanted was to face a superb southpaw technician who probably will make him look bad even if he wins, which would slow his considerable momentum. Dzinziruk (37-0, 23 KOs) also is extremely motivated. The Ukrainian, who recently moved his base to Los Angeles, has waited a long time to receive this kind of opportunity. Bottom line: This is a competitive fight, although it could prove to tactical because of Dzinziruk’s style. Martinez, No. 4 in THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings, will score major points in the boxing world if he can beat a difficult opponent like this in spectacular fashion. Dzinziruk will emerge as a major player with a victory.
Also fighting: Andy Lee vs. Craig McEwan, 10 rounds, middleweights; Javier Fortuna vs. Derrick Wilson, 10 rounds.
Rating the card:B+. The card doesn’t receive an ‘A’ only because Dzinziruk could make for a relatively boring fight.
Prediction: Tough one. Martinez has a distinct edge in athleticism and power while Dzinziruk is the much-better technician. Martinez gets the nod for two reasons: One, he also knows his way around a ring. And, two, Dzinziruk is moving up in weight to fight one of the three or four best fighters in the world. That’s a lot to ask. Martinez wins a clear decision.
MIGUEL COTTO vs. RICARDO MAYORGA
Rounds / weight class: 12 / junior middleweight
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) remains one of the world’s best fighters and biggest attractions. The three-division titleholder bounced back from a one-sided beating against Manny Pacquiao to win a junior middleweight title – stopping Yuri Foreman in June — and the promise of more lucrative matchups. There’s talk of a rematch with Antonio Margarito, who stopped Cotto in 2008, if he can get past Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs). The 37-year-old Nicaraguan hasn’t had much success in recent years, having gone 4-4 in last eight fights and losing consistently to big-name opponents. But his ability to sell a fight with his never-ending trash talk is a promoter’s dream. He also shouldn’t be counted out. He’ll have a significant size advantage over Cotto and his awkward style has given more than one elite opponent problems. He also seems to be in better shape than usual for this fight. Cotto, 30, is the favorite because he has youth and much better skills on his side. On the undercard, the Miguel Vazquez-Leonardo Zappavigna (Lenny Zappa) and Foreman-Pawel Wolak fights are both good matchups.
Also fighting: Miguel Vazquez vs. Leonardo Zappavigna, 12 rounds, for Vazquez’s IBF lightweight title; Yuri Foreman vs. Pawel Wolak, 10 rounds, junior middleweights.
Rating the card:B+. The decision to offer Ricardo Mayorga this fight was a reach given his recent track record but the trash-talking Nicaraguan has given the promotion life with his mouth. Same for the reunion of Bob Arum and Don King. Cotto might win easily but it has been fun.
Prediction: We want to give Mayorga a decent chance to win based on his size advantage, awkward style and (in the case) good conditioning. We can’t, though. He hasn’t looked good in a fight in years. Cotto might be on a slight decline but he remains an elite talent and seems to be rejuvenated a bit under Emanuel Steward. Cotto by late KO.
Also Saturday: Ricky Burns defends his WBO junior lightweight title against Joseph Laryea in Glasgow, Scotland on Sky Sports in the UK. No TV in U.S.