ALFONSO BLANCO vs. LESHON SIMS
Rounds / weight class: junior middleweights
Location: Los Angeles
Television: Fox Sports Net/Fox Deportes (also streamed live on RingTV.com and Ustream.com)
The backdrop: Blanco (6-0, 2 KOs), an amateur star from Venezuela, gets some much-needed exposure with this Fight Night Club main event. The 25-year-old boxer, who is trained by Robert Garcia in Oxnard, Calif., is far behind amateur peers — such as 2008 Olympic champ James DeGale, who he beat during the ‘07 World Championships, and Matvey Korobov, who he lost to in the finals — in terms of professional development. He needs to be busier and look good while he’s at it if he ever hopes to land pro bouts against his amateur rivals. Blanco, who stands at least 6-foot-1 and appears to have the wingspan of a light heavyweight, should look sharp against Sims (5-9, 3 KOs), a 27-year-old journeyman who is coming off three consecutive losses and hasn’t fought in three years.
Also fighting: Ernesto Ocon vs. Javier Albonica, sx rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: C-. Blanco is talent worth keeping an eye on and Ocon (4-0, 2 KOs) is an entertaining local fighter, but neither fight appears competitive on paper.
Prediction: Blanco pitches a shutout decision.
BRANDON GONZALES vs. OSSIE DURAN
Rounds / weight class: middleweight
Location: Atlantic City, N.J.
The backdrop: Gonzales (14-0, 10 KOs), a bright and versatile prospect from Sacramento, Calif., takes on the most dangerous opponent of his career in his ShoBox: The New Generation debut. Duran (26-8-2, 10 KOs) is as tough and savvy as they come. The 34-year-old veteran has never been stopped and nobody has ever had an easy night against the New Jersey-based Ghanaian, including then-undefeated James Kirkland and Fernando Guerrero. Gonzales, who recently signed a promotional deal with Goossen Tutor, has his work cut out for him but new trainer Virgil Hunter — Andre Ward’s longtime coach — should have him ready. On the undercard, 21-year-old amateur standout Javier Molina (9-0, 4 KOs), continues to make up for lost time due to chronic hand injuries with his fifth bout of 2011, a showdown fellow Southern California prospect Artemio Reyes (13-1, 11 KOs), by far the most formidable opponent of the 2008 U.S. Olympian’s career. Reyes, a 25-year-old boxer-puncher from Colton, Calif., has only lost once as a pro, a four-round decision to fellow prospect Mike Dallas Jr. in his second pro bout.
Also fighting: Javier Molina vs. Artemio Reyes, eight rounds, junior middleweights
Rating the card: B+. This is another ShoBox dandy (the series has been on a roll in recent weeks). Both of the “favorites,” Gonzales and Molina, are in with the best opponents they’ve ever faced as pros, and both matchups should feature a mix of quality boxing and action.
Prediction: Gonzales wins a very close decision.
ELOY PEREZ vs. IRA TERRY
Rounds / weight class: Junior lightweight
Location: Salinas, Calif.
The backdrop: Hot off the most impressive performance of his career, a second-round TKO of Daniel Jimenez in September, Perez (22-0-2, 6 KOs) returns to his adopted hometown to face Terry (24-6, 14 KOs) in a stay-busy fight. Perez, a crafty-but-gutsy 25-year-old contender, has been promised a showdown with Vicente Escobedo in early 2012, which could lead to a 130-pound title shot if he beats the experienced 2004 U.S. Olympian. Terry, a young prospect-turned-journeyman, is an athletic stick-and-move fighter but he shouldn’t threaten Perez’s big plans for next year. The 24-year-old Tennessee native has lost his last four bouts by knockout, so Perez’s local fans can expect another explosive knockout.
Also fighting: Alan Sanchez vs. Carlos Musquez, six rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: C. Perez, who is usually matched against solid opposition, is in soft this time.
Prediction: Perez by mid-rounds stoppage.
Moruti Mthalane, THE RING’s No. 3-rated flyweight, defends his IBF title against Andrea Sarritzu in Cagliari, Italy.
VANES MARTIROSYAN vs. RICHARD GUTIERREZ
Rounds / weight class: middleweight
Location: Thackerville, Okla.
Television: Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net
The backdrop: Martirosyan (30-0, 19 KOs), who won a “semi-final” elimination bout for the WBC 154-pound title when he stopped Saul Roman in September, stays busy and in the public eye with this Top Rank Live! Headliner while he waits for a mandatory shot at popular WBC belt holder Saul Duran. The 25-year-old Southern Californian’s opponent, Gutierrez (26-7-1, 16 KOs), was once a world-rated welterweight. However, after losing six of his last nine bouts, the gutsy Colombian slugger has become a stepping-stone for young up-and-comers. The 34-year-old veteran has lost back-to-back bouts against Jonathan Gonzalez and Yudel Jhonson, two prospects with far les experience than Martirosyan, this year. Martirosyan can easily outclass the veteran if he chooses to box, but the Armenia often likes to prove his mettle by going to toe to toe, which could make for an entertaining scrap
Also fighting: Casey Ramos vs. Joselito Collado, eight rounds, junior lightweights; Andy Ruiz vs. Theron Johnson, six rounds, heavyweights
Rating the card: B-. Martirosyan, THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior middleweight, is a fun to watch and Gutierrez just might have enough left make for a semi-competitive contest.
Prediction: Martirosyan scores a late stoppage.
Former 108-pound champ Ivan Calderon, THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior flyweight, drops back down to strawweigt to face Felipe Rivas in a scheduled 12-round bout in Guyanabo, Puerto Rico.
Hernan Marquez, THE RING’s No. 1-rated flyweight, defends his WBA belt against former titleholder Luis Concepcion, the magazine’s No. 2 contender, in a rematch of their Fight-of-Year candidate in Hermosillo, Mexico.
Takalani Ndlovu, THE RING’s No. 5-rated junior featherweight, defends his IBF title against Mexican challenger Giovanni Caro in Colima, Mexico