LAMONT PETERSON vs. VICTOR CAYO
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior welterweights
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: This Friday Night Fights main event is an excellent matchup of young and skilled 140-pound talents with much to prove and much at stake. Both Peterson (28-1-1, 14 knockouts) and Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs) want to put recent setbacks behind them with a high-profile victory on Friday. Peterson, a 27-year-old technician from Washington, D.C., was out pointed by Timothy Bradley in a 2009 title bout and held to a draw by current WBC beltholder Victor Ortiz last December. He performed well enough in those fights to earn a No. 7 ranking by THE RING, but he wants a title around his waist and he’ll get the opportunity to fight for the IBF 140-pound belt — currently held by Amir Khan — if he beats Cayo. However, the 26-year-old native of the Dominican Republic will pose a stern challenge to Peterson. Cayo’s only loss is sixth-round KO (on a body shot) to Marcos Maidana last March. Before the Argentine crusher beat him, the athletic stylist turned heads with a 10-round decision over former lightweight belthodler Julio Diaz and a third-round TKO of prospect Julio Reyes. Peterson has the technique and pressure to trouble Cayo and the Dominican has the speed and movement to bother Peterson. Hopefully, their styles mesh in a manner that produces a good fight. On the undercard, former middleweight contender-turned-super middleweight opponent Edison Miranda (34-5, 25 KOs) tries to jumpstart his lagging career at light heavyweight by taking on former Cuban amateur star Yordanis Despaigne (8-1, 4 KOs), who is coming off a 10-round decision loss to hot prospect Ismayl Sillakh in March.
Also fighting: Edison Miranda vs. Yordanis Despaigne, 10 rounds, light heavyweights
Rating the card: A-. This is a terrific show. Peterson-Cayo is good enough to be the opening bout of a Showtime or HBO Championship Boxing broadcast (in fact, it almost was) and Miranda-Despaigne is a classic cross-roads/puncher-vs.-boxer matchup.
Prediction: Peterson wins a close, competitive unanimous decision.
BEIBUT SHUMENOV vs. DANNY SANTIAGO
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / light heavyweights
Location: Las Vegas
The backdrop: Shumenov (11-1, 7 KOs) did not deserve the WBA title-winning split-decision victory he was awarded over Gabriel Campillo last January, but the 27-year-old Kazakhstan native displayed a lot of heart against the savvy southpaw from Spain, especially given that he was in his 10th pro bout. Shumenov, a self-promoted 2008 Olympian based in Las Vegas, has shown marked improvement, technically speaking, in his last two bouts — a 12-round decision over then-undefeated Viacheslav Uzelkov last July and a sixth-round KO of faded former middleweight titleholder William Joppy in January — thanks to new trainer Kevin Barry. And while Shumenov, a 6-foot-2 physical specimen who likes to overwhelm his opponents with raw power, may never develop elite-level skill, he can still make for fun slugfests against the more aggressive contenders of the 175-pound division, such as fellow beltholder Tavoris Cloud and Adrian Diaconu. However, he needs more TV exposure in the U.S. before those bouts can be made, which is why he’s fighting Santiago (31-4-1, 19 KOs), a 39-year-old fringe contender who has only fought twice since suffering back-to-back TKO losses to Zsolt Erdei and Antonio Tarver in 2007. Shumenov isn’t as talented or skilled as those two former champs but he’s bigger, stronger and more active than Santiago and shouldn’t have too much trouble defending his title against the stout Puerto Rican.
Also fighting: Lonnie Smith vs. Wilton Hilario, four/six rounds, junior lightweights; Ravshan Hudaynazarov vs. Hector Munoz, 10 rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: B. Shumenov isn’t in extremely tough but he’s a major titleholder with an entertaining style. Prospects Hudaynazarov and Smith also usually put on a show.
Prediction: Shumenov wears down Santiago to a late-rounds stoppage.
DANTE JARDON vs. ADRIAN TELLEZ
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / junior lightweights
Location: Mexico City
The backdrop: Jardon (17-1, 15 KOs) finally gets a little U.S. television exposure against Tellez (11-7-1, 8 KOs), a 25-year journeyman from his hometown of Mexico City. The 23-year-old boxer-puncher has attracted attention in Mexico with his recent stoppage victories over serviceable David Rodela (TKO 3) and usually durable Humberto Martinez (TKO 1), but it was his 10-round decision over veteran Rene Gonzalez that let industry insiders know that he isn’t a front-runner and could develop into a legitimate 130-pound prospect. The bout with Tellez is a showcase fight. Tellez is 3-3-1 in his last six bouts dating back to 2007. Each loss was via stoppage, including his last bout, a third-round TKO to veteran Martin Honorio.
Also fighting: Josue Veraza vs. Hector Morales, eight rounds, featherweights
Rating the card: C. Jardon is worth watching but he’s not in tough enough to get excited about this bout.
Prediction: Jardon scores a mid-rounds TKO.
MIKE ALVARADO vs. GABRIEL MARTINEZ
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / junior welterweights
Television: Fox Deportes/FSN
The backdrop: Alvarado (30-0, 22 KOs) should be a top-10 contender but brushes with the law and jail stints have impeded the 31-year-old puncher-technician’s progress in recent years. Alvarado, who is coming off an impressive third-round stoppage of once-beaten Ray Narh on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley PPV undercard in May, has kept his nose clean since late last year, and if he can continue to stay out of trouble he could become a major player at 140 pounds by the end of 2011. However, before he can be mentioned as a potential opponent for the elite junior welterweights he must defeat Martinez (27-2-1, 14 KOs) in his hometown. It won’t be an easy homecoming. Martinez, a 24-year-old native of Sonora, Mexico, is a naturally bigger former prospect whose only losses are to current 154-pound beltholder Saul Alvarez (TKO 12) and Mark Melligen (UD 10) in welterweight bouts. On the undercard, Roberto Marroquin (19-1, 14 KOs), the promising 21-year-old featherweight prospect from Dallas, looks to rebound from the first defeat of his career — a split decision loss to Francisco Leal in April — against hardnosed 35-year-old journeyman/spoiler Jose Beranza (33-20-2, 26 KOs).
Also fighting: Roberto Marroquin vs. Jose Angel Beranza, eight rounds, featherweights
Rating the card: B+. This is a solid Top Rank Live! show. Both of Top Rank’s standouts (Alvarez and Marroquin) are in with tough hombres.
Prediction: Alvarado wins a unanimous decision in a competitive fight.
LEO SANTA CRUZ vs. EVERTH BRICENEO
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / bantamweights
Location: Sinaloa, Mexico
Television: AT&T U-Verse TV / www.att.net/boxeo
The backdrop: Quiet as it’s kept, Santa Cruz (16-0-1, 8 KOs) might be the best bantamweight prospect in the U.S. If you haven’t heard about former lightweight contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz’s younger brother, you will soon. The 22-year-old body-punching technician is on a six-bout knockout streak and is displaying the form and poise of a bona-fide contender. The Southern Californian’s last bout was an impressive fifth-round KO of experienced former 115-pound beltholder Jose Lopez in June. Santa Cruz faces another seasoned fighter with Briceno (33-6-1, 26 KOs), a former two-time title challenger from Nicaragua. The 33-year-old veteran has only lost to quality opposition, including Fernando Montiel and Omar Narvaez in 12-round 115-pound title bouts.
Also fighting: Manuel Jimenez vs. Mario Rodriguez, 12 rounds, strawweights
Rating the card: B. Santa Cruz is worth watching and he’s in with a solid opponent.
Prediction: Santa Cruz wins a unanimous decision.
Also fighting on Saturday: Muhammad Rachman defends his WBA strawweight title against Porsanwan Porpramuk in Cibubur, Indonesia.