HECTOR SANCHEZ vs. VICENTE ARROYO
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, welterweights
Location: Hinkley, Calif.
The backdrop: This ShoBox main event shines the spotlight on two talented once-beaten welterweight prospects who might be under the radar of most fight fans. Sanchez (19-1, 9 knockouts), a 6-foot-1 boxer from Puerto Rico, is only one bout removed from a fifth-round stoppage loss to talented spoiler Cleotis Pendarvis in his last ShoBox appearance last April. It was an entertaining scrap but Sanchez, who has been inactive for one year, is need of a significant victory. Arroyo (11-1, 7 KOs), a 24-year-old boxer from the Bronx, N.Y., has scored back-to-back victories over unbeaten opposition since losing to then-unbeaten prospect Mike Dallas Jr. Arroyo’s recent wins have restored some of his reputation but a victory over Sanchez will put him back on the map. In the co-featured bout, ShoBox regular Lateef Kayode (17-0, 14 KOs) continues his much-needed development against former fringe contender Felix Cora Jr. (22-5-2, 13 KOs), who is coming off back-to-back 12-round decision losses to European standouts.
Also fighting: Lateef Kayode vs. Felix Cora Jr., 10 rounds, cruiserweights
Rating the card: B+. This looks like a typically solid ShoBox card. The main event looks like an even matchup on paper. Sanchez is bigger and more experienced, but Arroyo has been in with better opposition. Kayode, who has looked a bit raw in his last two ShoBox outings, both 10-round distance bouts, is in with another experienced vet who should give him quality rounds.
Prediction: Sanchez survives a few wobbly moments to narrowly outpoint Arroyo.
GABRIEL ROSADO vs. KEENAN COLLINS
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Location: Philadelphia, Penn.
The backdrop: Rosado (17-5, 10 KOs) has too many losses to be a prospect, has defeated too many solid fighters to be considered a journeyman but isn’t accomplished enough to be a contender. What is he? On Friday, the 25-year-old Philadelphia native will be the hometown hero, and as such, he’ll be fed the obligatory “gimme” opponent, in this case Collins (13-6-2, 9 KOs), a 34-year-old journeyman from Brooklyn. On the undercard, Ronald Cruz (13-0, 10 KOs), a 24 year old from Bethlehem, Penn., will also receive the “hometown hero” treatment with designated opponent Christopher Fernandez (19-13-1, 12 KOs), a 35-year-old journeyman from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Also fighting: Ronald Cruz vs. Christopher Fernandez, eight rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: D. Unless you’re a close friend or family member of Rosado or Cruz, this Solo Boxeo Tecate card will not provide much satisfaction. Both local fighters are all but guaranteed a victory. Collins has one victory (a first-round TKO over a journeyman) in his last eight bouts. Fernandez has lost six of his last seven bouts (although four of those losses were to unbeaten fighters).
Prediction: Rosado scores a lopsided unanimous decision.
ANTONIO PITALUA vs. COSME RIVERA
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, welterweights
Location: Mexico City
The backdrop: The two grizzled veterans in this main event have seen better days and will probably never earn another title shot, but they should make for a quality matchup. Both are experienced, both know how to fight, and both come to fight. Pitalua (52-5, 46 KOs), a 41-year-old Mexico City-based Colombian, has only lost two bouts in the past 10 years (a span of 22 bouts), a second round TKO to late KO artist Edwin Valero in 2009 and close 12-round split decision to Ed Paredes in a welterweight bout last December. Rivera, a 35-year-old southpaw from Culiacan, Mexico, has fought once, last May, since losing three consecutive bouts in ‘09. Still, the hunch is that Rivera can still fight. His losses are to quality opposition. The only fighters who have stopped him are a prime Zab Judah, in a ‘05 welterweight title bout, and Alfredo Angulo, in a very late notice junior middleweight bout in ‘09. Rivera is younger, taller, naturally bigger and probably more skilled than Pitalua, but the Colombian has an equalizer — power. All of his wins in the last 10 years have been by way of knockout.
Also fighting: Javier Hernandez vs. Manuel Garcia, eight rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: B. This fight will showcase pro seasoning and provide action.
Prediction: Pitalua scores a come-from-behind late-rounds TKO.
VITALI KLITSCHKO vs. TOMASZ ADAMEK
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, heavyweights
Location: Wroclaw, Poland
The backdrop: A showdown with one of the Klitschko brothers with a major title on the line was the ultimate goal of Adamek (44-1, 28 KOs) when he relinquished his RING and IBF cruiserweight titles to campaign at heavyweight, beginning with fellow Pole Andrew Golota in October of 2009. The 34-year-old veteran, who has won six heavyweight bouts, finally gets his wish with his challenge to Vitali Klitschko (42-2, 39 KOs), the 40-year-old WBC titleholder who has looked untouchable since ending a four-year retirement with an eight-round drubbing of Samuel Peter in October of 2008. Some will say that Adamek should have been careful for what he wished for, given the frightening amount of punishment the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Ukrainian usually administers to his opponents, but the fearless Pole will undoubtedly give the 45,000 fans who pack the newly built soccer stadium to watch the biggest prize fight in Poland’s history something to cheer about for as long as the title bout lasts. On the undercard, Andrzej Wawrzyk (22-0, 11 KOs), a 23-year-old prospect from Krakow, takes on the best opponent of his pro career in Devin Vargas (18-1, 7 KOs), a 29-year-old U.S. Olympian who hasn’t fought in almost two years.
Also fighting: Andrzej Wawrzyk vs. Devin Vargas, 10 rounds, heavyweights; Ola Afolabi vs. Lukasz Rusiewicz, eight rounds, cruiserweights
Rating the card: B. Although many regard Klitschko-Adamek as a gross mismatch, the fight involves two of the top heavyweight contenders in the sport. Klitschko says he’s going for a clean early knockout and Adamek is an aggressive boxer by nature, so the matchup may deliver some action and drama, which is rare for heavyweight bouts these days.
Prediction: Klitschko scores a mid-to-late rounds TKO.
YURIORKIS GAMBOA vs. DANIEL PONCE DE LEON
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, featherweights
Location: Atlantic City
The backdrop: De Leon (41-3, 34 KOs) appeared to struggle with the lightening-quick hands and fast feet of undefeated junior lightweight prospect Adrien Broner in a close 10-round decision loss in March. However, the 31-year-old Mexican veteran, who walked down the bigger and younger fighter enough to score a moral victory in the eyes of many, says he was merely fighting at an unnaturally high weight. Fans will see how De Leon handles a speed demon his own size when he takes on Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs), a 29-year-old former amateur star from Cuba. However, Gamboa, who looked like a pound-for-pound level fighter while dominating capable Jorge Solis to a fourth-round TKO in March, possesses more than speed. The Miami-based Cuban is a good ring general with considerable pop to his punches, which is why he’s a huge favorite to win on Saturday. However, unlike Solis, De Leon, who won seven straight bouts against quality opposition after suffering a first-round TKO to Juan Manuel Lopez in 2008, can punch back with authority. His power and awkward southpaw stance make him a dangerous opponent for Gamboa. On the undercard, undefeated prospects Luis Cruz and Wale “Lucky” Omotoso, both recently signed to Top Rank, take on faded veterans in showcase fights for the live audience.
Also fighting: Luis Cruz vs. Antonio Davis, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Wale Omotoso vs. Calvin Odom, eight rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: B+. Gamboa is must-see TV. The Cuban is the perfect blend of talent, skill and action and he’s in with a bona fide puncher.
Prediction: Gamboa survives one wobbly moment to wear De Leon down to a late stoppage.
Argenis Mendez takes on former beltholder Juan Carlos Salgado in a scheduled 12-round junior lightweight bout for the vacant IBF title in Guadalajara, Mexico
Paul McCloskey battles Breidis Prescott in a scheduled 12-round junior welterweight elimination bout for the WBA title in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Doug Fischer can be emailed at email@example.com