Doug Fischer

Weekend Preview: Hopkins-Dawson card highlights busy weekend




Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, lightweights

Location: Juncos, Puerto Rico

Television: Telefutura

The backdrop: Perez (14-0-1, 8 knockouts) has looked sharp since going life and death with tough Jose Hernandez in an exciting eight-round split-decision victory last December. The 21-year-old Newark, N.J., resident has stopped three consecutive opponents this year, none of whom were as skilled and battle tested as Harris (24-8, 16 KOs). The question going into this Solo Boxeo Tecate main event is whether the 30-year-old southpaw has enough left in the tank to test the young prospect. The hardnosed Michigan native has lost four of his last six bouts, though it should be noted that his recent losses were to solid contenders and fringe contenders. On the undercard, Jayson Velez (16-0, 12 KOs), a 23-year-old Puerto Rican prospect, takes on Jonathan Arias (16-6, 9 KOs), a capable prospect-turned-journeyman (after six consecutive losses) from Mexico.

Also fighting: Jayson Velez vs. Jonathan Arias, eight rounds, junior featherweights

Rating the card: C+. The two co-featured prospects, Perez and Arias, are in with solid guys, but both are pretty much guaranteed to win. Still, the fights might be entertaining.

Prediction: Perez wins a unanimous decision is that more competitive than the scorecards will indicate.



Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, lightweights

Location: Kissimmee, Fla.

Television: Telemundo

The backdrop: Franco (19-0, 12 KOs), a popular Southern California prospect, takes the sternest test of his career against Cruz (16-2-1, 7 KOs), a savvy former amateur standout from Puerto Rico. Franco, a 24-year-old resident of Riverside, Calif., has the edge in speed, strength and power, but the 30-year-old southpaw’s ring generalship and counter-punching ability could pose problems for the exciting but sometimes impetuous youth. Cruz, who is coming off back-to-back stoppage losses to Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce de Leon, is in a must-win situation. On the undercard, Cuban cruiserweight prospect Pedro Rodriguez (6-0, 5 KOs) takes on Francisco Alvarez (12-3, 10 KOs), Puerto Rican product who has lost all of his bouts by stoppage.

Also fighting: Pedro Rodriguez vs. Francisco Alvarez, six rounds, cruiserweight

Rating the card: B-. Franco is fun to watch and the young man should be tested by Cruz, who has played the spoiler role before.

Prediction: Franco survives some rough moments to outwork the battle-tested southpaw over 10 rounds.



• Jonathan Barros defends his WBA “regular” featherweight belt against former 122-pound titleholder Celestino Caballero in a rematch in Buenos Aires, Argentina.




Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, light heavyweights

Location: Los Angeles

Television: HBO PPV

The backdrop: Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) made history with his last fight, a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in May, which earned him THE RING and WBC light heavyweight belts and made him the oldest boxing champion ever at age 46. Pascal held Hopkins to a draw (thanks to scoring two early rounds knockdowns) in their first fight last December. In order to get the immediate return bout with Pascal, who contractually owed a rematch to Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), Hopkins had to agree to face Dawson if he beat the Quebec-based Haitian. So here we are. Prior to being defeated by Pascal last August, Dawson had lobbied for a showdown with Hopkins for at least two years while he was an undefeated titleholder on most pound-for-pound lists. Now the 29-year-old contender, who out-pointed Adrian Diaconu in his last bout, gets his wish. Odds makers view the talented southpaw as a slight favorite, but the boxing industry — primarily the media, who Hopkins has proven wrong many times — are backing the “old man.” In truth, it’s a toss-up fight. Dawson possesses the speed, mobility and style to trouble Hopkins, and the grizzled former middleweight champ has the technique, focus, experience and toughness to test the young challenger. On the undercard, Jorge Linares (31-1, 20 KOs) will attempt to win his third major belt (the vacant WBC lightweight title) in a third weight class against THE RING’s No. 7-rated lightweight Antonio DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs); former 140-pound titleholder Kendall Holt (27-4, 15 KOs) takes on THE RING’s No. 10-rated junior welterweight Danny Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) in a 12-round title elimination bout; and former junior welterweight titleholder Paul Maligaggi (29-4, 6 KOs) faces Orlando Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs) in a 10 rounder.

Also fighting: Antonio DeMarco vs. Jorge Linares, 12 rounds, for vacant WBC lightweight title; Kendall Holt vs. Danny Garcia, 12 rounds, WBC/IBF junior welterweight title eliminator; Paulie Malignaggi vs. Orlando Lora, 10 rounds, welterweights

Rating the card: A-. There’s a chance that the main event could turn into a chess match between a cagey old technician and skittish young boxer, which wouldn’t bother purists but would be a bummer to most who shell out there hard-earned dough to watch this show live. However, there‘s no denying that Hopkins is a bona-fide legend and that Dawson is talented top contender. There’s also no denying that the undercard is very solid. Holt-Garcia could be explosive. Linares-DeMarco is also a quality matchup.

Prediction: Hopkins wins a close, perhaps controversial, decision.



Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds, bantamweights

Location: Los Mochis, Mexico

Television: Fox Deportes

The backdrop: Hard-punching Ruiz (28-1, 25 KOs) battles fellow Los Mochis native Arce (31-7-3, 22 KOs), the younger brother of popular three-division titleholder Jorge Arce, in a rematch of their wild first bout, won by Ruiz. In that 12-round fight, which also took place in the boxing hotbed of Los Mochis in May, Ruiz was dropped in rounds three and eight. Arce was down in rounds five and 11. The two bantamweights obviously match up well. Ruiz, 25, is the bigger, stronger, younger man. Arce, 30, is faster, more experienced, and like his older brother, absolutely fearless. On the undercard, undefeated prospect Daniel Rosas (12-0, 9 KOs) takes on battle-tested fringe contender Jose Cabrera (20-2-1, 8 KOs).

Also fighting: Daniel Rosas vs. Jose Cabrera, 12 rounds, bantamweights

Rating the card: B+. Ruiz and Arce will deliver quality action. So will Rosas and Cabrera.

Prediction: Ruiz wins another close unanimous decision.



• Nathan Cleverly, THE RING’s No. 4-rated light heavyweight, defends his WBO title against Tony Bellew in Liverool, England.

Denver Cuello, THE RING No. 7-rated strawweight, takes on Carlos Perez in a scheduled 12-round bout in Chetumal, Mexico.



Photo by Gene / Golden Boy Promotions


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