JHONNY GONZALEZ vs. ROGERS MTAGWA
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, featherweights
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Television: ESPN Deportes
The backdrop: Gonzalez (49-7, 43 KOs) has won nine consecutive bouts, all by stoppage, since suffering a third-round TKO to 122-pound beltholder Toshiaki Nishioka in May of 2009. The 30-year-old veteran from Mexico City has exhibited the best form of his 12-year career since recently hooking up with hall-of-fame trainer Nacho Beristain. His knockout of Jackson Asiku in 2010 and his WBC featherweight title-winning stoppage of Hozumi Hasegawa were impressive, which is bad news for Mtagwa (27-14-2,19 KOs), a grizzled fringe contender from Tanzania who is often too tough for his own good. Mtagwa, a 32-year-old Philadelphia resident, is only one bout removed from back-to-back title bout losses to Juan Manuel Lopez (UD 12) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (TKO 2). Mtagwa almost stopped Lopez in the final round of their barnburner in October of 2010, but he looked like a spent bullet against Gamboa, which suggests that the Lopez fight and his many other ring wars have finally caught up with him. On the undercard, two free-swinging sluggers who may be headed in the same direction as Mtagwa, Antonio Escalante and Miguel Roman, are in action against serviceable journeymen.
Also fighting: Antonio Escalante vs. Pipino Cuevas Jr., 10 rounds, lightweights; Miguel Roman vs. Antonio Jose Meza, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Rating the card: B+. The main event is probably a gross mismatch at this point of Mtagwa’s career, but the African warrior will likely put up a fight and one never knows when Gonzalez’s shaky chin will let him down. Escalante and Roman, who waged a fight-of-the-year candidate last February, are always in entertaining fights.
Prediction: Gonzalez scores a frightening mid-rounds KO.
SETH MITCHELL vs. HECTOR FERREYRO
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, heavyweights
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Television: Telefutura/Fox Sports Net
The backdrop: Mitchell (22-0-1, 16 knockouts) is the latest heavyweight hopeful from America who made a late transition to boxing from another sport. Mitchell, a 29-year-old boxer-puncher from Brandywine, Md., was a football standout in high school and college. He’s been gradually brought along in boxing and just stepped up to the 10-round level last year. Ferreyro (21-10-2, 12 KOs) is another developmental fight for Mitchell. The 36-year-old Texan has fought the 12-round distance four times but he’s naturally smaller than Mitchell and he’s been stopped in seven of his 10 losses, so he’s a reasonably safe outing for the unbeaten prospect, who will fight on a wide cable TV platform and in front of more media than usual because his bout is in Las Vegas on the eve of the big Mayweather-Ortiz event. On the undercard, well-traveled Dominican prospect Felix Diaz (9-0, 6 KOs) takes on capable journeyman Larry Smith (10-5, 7 KOs).
Also fighting:Felix Diaz vs. Larry Smith, eight rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: B-. Mitchell is still learning his craft but he’s in pretty soft in the main event. The Diaz-Smith fight will probably deliver more excitement for those who tune in.
Prediction: Mitchell by mid-rounds TKO.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER, JR. vs. VICTOR ORTIZ
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, welterweights
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Television: HBO Pay Per View
The backdrop: Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) hasn’t fought since dominating Shane Mosley to a unanimous decision last May but most expect the 34-year-old future hall of famer to still be on top of his game, which would explain why he opened as a 5-to-1 favorite to defeat Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs), the 24-year-old WBC welterweight beltholder who won his title by besting then-undefeated Andre Berto in a sensational 12-round battle in April. Ortiz, a powerful southpaw counter puncher, upset the odds against Berto, but he isn’t expected to do so against Mayweather, who possesses better skill and technique and much more world-class experience. However, Ortiz is viewed as a live underdog because of his youth, speed, punching power and southpaw stance. Most expect him to be more of a threat than Mayweather’s recent opponents, who were either past their prime (Mosley), undersized (Ricky Hatton) or both (Juan Manuel Marquez). The pay-per-view undercard features Mexican legend Erik Morales against undefeated but untested Pablo Cesar Cano with the vacant WBC 140-pound belt up for grabs, popular WBC 154-pound beltholder Saul Alvarez against Alfonso Gomez (from Los Angeles), and junior welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas in against talented young fringe contender Josesito Lopez.
Also fighting: Erik Morlaes vs. Pablo Cesar Cano, junior welterweights, 12 rounds; Saul Alvarez vs. Alfonso Gomez, junior middleweights, 12 rounds; Jessie Vargas vs. Josesito Lopez, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Said Ouali vs. Carson Jones, 10 rounds, welterweights; Marco Periban vs. Dhafir Smith, 8 rounds, super middleweights; Adonis Stevenson vs. Dion Savage, 6 rounds, super middleweights
Rating the card: A. Mayweather, one of the biggest stars in the sport, is in with a dangerous young up-and-comer. Morales, who is not in tough (but only because his original opponent Lucas Matthysse pulled out due to illness), is always entertaining. The Alvarez-Gomez and Vargas-Lopez bouts are all-action matchups. Fans should get their moneys worth with this PPV card.
Prediction: Mayweather wins a competitive, close but unanimous decision.
MERCITO GESTA vs. MANUEL PEREZ
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, jr. welterweights
Location: Parker, Ariz.
Television: Fox Sports Net
The backdrop: Gesta, a fast and flashy southpaw from the Philippines, is talented, popular and ambitious. The 23-year-old San Diego resident wants a crack at WBA lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios, but his new promoter, Top Rank, understands that he isn’t yet ready for the unbeaten slugger. Perez, a very capable boxer from Hawaii who held Rios to a 10-round draw in 2008, is a developmental test for Gesta. If the Filipino lefty can soundly defeat the 27-year-old Denver resident, who has only lost to prospects and future contenders, Top Rank will take his challenge to Rios a lot more seriously. On the undercard, popular teenage prospect Jose Benavides (12-0, 11 KOs), a native of Phoenix, takes on 31-year-old journeyman Jorge Pimentel (23-12, 17 KOs), who is coming off a third-round KO to Gesta.
Also fighting: Jose Benavidez vs. Jorge Pimentel, six rounds, jr. welterweights
Rating the card: B. Gesta and Benavidez are extremely talented and worth watching. Gesta, who is more advanced than Benavidez, is clearly in tougher than the rangy 19-year-old boxer-puncher.
Prediction: Gesta wins a close, unanimous decision.
Photo by Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos.com / Golden Boy Promotions
Doug Fischer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org