Michael Rosenthal

Weekend Preview: Maidana-Morales card highlights a busy weekend



Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, middleweights

Location: Montreal

Television: ESPN2

The backdrop: Lemieux (25-0, 24 KOs) looks like the complete package – good looking, charismatic, good boxer, one-punch knockout power. Twenty-one of his 24 knockout victims have fallen in two rounds or less. It’s no wonder he is becoming hugely popular in his native Montreal and in the Quebec region. He’s only 22, though. And he has yet to face a top-flight talent. So he has a lot to prove. A victory over Rubio (49-5-1, 42 KOs) would be a significant statement. The hard-punching Mexican, who also boxes well, bounced back from his knockout loss to Kelly Pavlik in 2009 to win six consecutive fights, five by knockout. He isn’t exactly Sergio Martinez but he is the type of opponent who will afford us the opportunity to see just how good this promising Canadian kid is.

Also fighting: Adonis Stevenson vs. Derek Edwards, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Arash Usmanee vs. Aldo Valtierra, 8 rounds, lightweights

Rating the card: B+. Lemieux and Rubio have knocked out a combined 66 of their 74 opponents, meaning you shouldn’t look away for a moment during this fight. It isn’t likely to go the distance, which is OK with us.

Prediction: This is a tough test for Lemieux. The fight probably will come down to boxing ability, not punching power. And Lemieux probably is the better boxer. He’ll outwork Rubio, break him down and score a late knockout.



Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, super middleweights

Location: Laredo, Texas

Television: Showtime

The backdrop: Johnson (20-0, 15 KOs) has been impressive in his young career, consistently displaying solid skills and eye-catching power. He is one of the leading American prospects. Davis (18-2-1, 9 KOs) represents a step up in opposition for the Houston fighter, though. The son of Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis is a very good boxer whose jab and ability to move well in the ring could frustrate Johnson, who will have to find a way to cut off the ring if he hopes to win. Davis is coming off a controversial draw with capable brawler Francisco Sierra, a fight he seemed to control with his boxing ability. A victory by Johnson would enhance his credibility considerably. He is making his fourth appearance on ShoBox: The New Generation.

Also fighting: Danny O'Connor vs. Gabriel Bracero, 8 rounds, junior welterweights; Willie Nelson vs. Vincent Arroyo, 8 rounds, welterweights

Rating the card: B-. A legitimate prospect facing a legitimate test is always interesting. The undercard fighters also are capable young prospects.

Prediction: Davis will give Johnson some trouble with his jab and movement, perhaps even winning the early rounds. Johnson will keep coming, though, and he’ll gradually cut off the ring and do damage. He will break down Davis by the late rounds but probably have to settle for a clear decision victory.



Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, welterweights

Location: Primm, Nev.

Television: Telefutura

The backdrop: Vargas (14-0, 7 KOs), a former amateur star who is trained by Roger Mayweather, is developing into a nice all-around prospect. His last two opponents took him the eight-round distance, a good learning experience for the 21-year-old. This is his first 10-round fight. Harris (29-5-1, 19 KOs) is a significant step up in opposition. The one-time junior welterweight titleholder has been stopped in three of last five fights (with one no-contest), leading to the resumption that he is badly faded at 32. However, it was Junior Witter, Lucas Mattysse and Victor Ortiz who beat him. The guess here is that he has enough left to give Vargas some trouble. A victory would be a solid step for the young fighter.

Also fighting: Eddie Gomez vs. Roberto Lopez, 6 rounds, junior middleweights; Bastie Samir vs. TBA, 6 rounds, middleweights

Rating the card: C+. The question of what Harris has left is the most-intriguing aspect of the main event, although Vargas is an exciting prospect.

Prediction: Vargas is aware that a victory over Harris would give his career a boost, meaning he’ll be sky high. Harris will give him some trouble because of his boxing ability. Ultimately, though, Vargas will get to him and do the same thing Witter, Matthysse and Ortiz did.



Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, featherweights

Location: Kobe, Japan

Television: None in U.S.

The backdrop: Too bad we can’t watch this card on television in the U.S. because it’s a very good one, with three major titles at stake. Hasegawa (29-3, 12 KOs) bounced back from his KO loss to Fernando Montiel by easily outpointing then-unbeaten Juan Carlos Burgos to win the vacant WBC featherweight title in November. The former bantamweight titleholder might’ve lost some power at 126 pounds but fights more aggressively and throws more punches. Gonzalez (47-7, 41 KOs), a big puncher, has stopped all seven of his opponents since he was knocked out by Toshiaki Nishioka in a bid for the junior featherweight title in 2009. Nishioka (37-4-3, 23 KOs) hasn’t lost since 2004, a streak of 14 victories (nine KOs). He is making the sixth defense of the WBC junior featherweight title against Mauricio Munoz (21-2, 9 KOs), an Argentine who has never fought outside South America. Takahiro Ao (20-2-1, 9 KOs) outpointed Vitali Tajbert (20-2-1, 9 KOs) to win the WBC junior lightweight title in November.  His opponent, Humberto Gutierrez (28-2-1, 20 KOs) has won twice since he was outpointed by Tajbert in 2009.

Also fighting: Toshiaki Nishioka vs. Mauricio Munoz, 12 rounds, for Nishioka's WBC junior featherweight title; Takahiro Ao vs. Humberto Gutierrez, 12 rounds, for Ao's WBC junior lightweight title

Rating the card: A-. The main event is an intriguing matchup, a boxer-puncher against a big puncher that is guaranteed to be entertaining. The other featured bouts probably won’t be as competitive but it will be treat to see Nishioka and Ao in action.

Prediction: Gonzalez has a chance because of his power but Hasegawa is a better all-around boxer than Gonzalez, which will be the difference in the fight. Plus, Hasegawa is fighting at home. He will win a clear unanimous decision.




Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, junior welterweights

Location: Las Vegas

Television: HBO Pay-Per-View

The backdrop: Morales (51-6, 35 KOs) talks a good game, good enough to make you believe he might have a chance. We know better, though. The future Hall of Famer has won three fights since returning from a 2½-year layoff but his opponents were marginal and he didn’t look particularly good. And we can’t forget that he lost four of his last five fights before his hiatus, two by KO. The guess here is that he doesn’t have much left. Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) isn’t the most-polished boxer (which might work in Morales’ favor) but he has crushing power and is in his prime (which doesn’t bode well for Morales). The Argentine is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Amir Khan which he almost won by KO in the 10th round, his second failed attempt to win a major title. Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) faces the biggest test of his career. He is a more-complete fighter than opponent Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs) but the Aussie is an animal who could give anyone trouble.

Also fighting: Robert Guerrero vs. Michael Katsidis, 12 rounds, for vacant WBO/WBA interim lightweight title; James Kirkland vs. Nobuhiro Ishida, 8 rounds, middleweights; Paulie Malignaggi vs. Jose Cotto, 10 rounds, welterweights; Danny Garcia vs. Nate Campbell, 10 rounds, junior welterweights

Rating the card: B+. The main event could be a mismatch but it’s intriguing given Morales’ history and Maidana’s power. Guerrero-Katsidis is an excellent matchup. And it’s always fun to watch James Kirkland fight.

Prediction: Morales is correct when he says he is a better boxer than Maidana but that won’t mean much when he’s unable to cope with the younger’s swarming attack and devastating punching power. Maidana will win by mid-round KO.



Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, heavyweights

Location: Newark, N.J.

Television: Integrated Sports PPV

The backdrop: This is a stay-sharp fight for Adamek (43-1, 28 KOs), who has a date with one of the Klitschko brothers for a major title or two this fall. McBride (35-8-1, 25 KOs) has almost no chance to win but, at 6-foot-6 (198cm), the Irishman will provide Adamek another opportunity to gain experience against an opponent as tall as the giant Ukrainians. Adamek has won all five of his fights since moving up from cruiserweight to heavyweight in 2009, including a fifth-round TKO of Vinny Madalone in his last fight. The Pole is a consummate professional and one of the most-exciting fighters in the world. McBride, 37, once stopped an aging Mike Tyson but has lost four of his last five fights. He’s strong but plodding.

Also fighting: Sadam Ali vs. Jorge Pimentel, 8 rounds, welterweights; Andrzej Fonfara vs. Ray Smith, 8 rounds, heavyweights

Rating the card: B-. Adamek is one of the most-entertaining fighters on the planet. And we love knockouts, one of which is all but guaranteed here.

Prediction: McBride can’t move quickly enough to cope with a fighter as skilled as Adamek, who should pick the bigger man apart before stopping him in the middle rounds.


Also Saturday: Robert Stieglitz of Germany defends his middleweight title against Armenian-born German Khoren Gevor in Magdeburg, Germany.



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