The lead-off in a series of compelling fights offered by Showtime, Saturday night’s super middleweight clash featuring RING No. 3-rated, IBF beltholder Lucian Bute and former titleholder Glen Johnson could be the first gift of a bountiful holiday season.
A Romanian-born left-hander, the 31-year-old Bute is 29-0, with 24 knockouts and will be in pursuit of his seventh consecutive stoppage when he enters the ring against the durable, 42-year-old Johnson (51-15-1, 35 KOs) at Pepsi Coliseum.
Then, on Nov. 11, southpaw WBA “regular” junior middleweight titleholder Austin Trout (23-0, 13 KOs) will defend his belt against Frank LoPorto (15-4-2, 7 KOs) of Australia from Cohen Stadium in Trout’s hometown of El Paso, Tex.
The 26-year-old Trout earned the crown with a unanimous decision over Rigoberto Alvarez, the older brother of WBC counterpart Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, in February.
Showtime has a date set aside for Dec. 2 for fights still to be deterimined, but on Dec. 3, the IBF-ordered bantamweight rematch between Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) and Joseph Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) is slated for the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The bout was ordered in the wake of referee Russell Mora’s failure to penalize Mares for repeated low blows in their Aug. 13 fight on Showtime, during which Agbeko lost his title by unanimous decision.
A week after Mares-Agbeko II, the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight Classic title bout features RING No. 10-rated pound-for-pound WBA beltholder Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) and RING No. 2-rated super middleweight WBC counterpart Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) on Dec. 17.
Finally, on New Years Eve, IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs) will defend his belt against Hungarian Zsolt Erdei (33-0, 19 KOs) in a double-header also featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs) pursuing the ninth win of his burgeoning career when he meets undefeated WBA junior featherweight titleholder Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs).
Cloud will be making the fourth defense of the crown he earned by unanimous decision over former titleholder Clinton Woods in August of 2009. He is coming off an eighth-round stoppage of Yusaf Mack in June, the same month during which Erdei won his last bout by sixth-round knockout of former WBA super middleeight beltholder Byron Mitchell.
The 31-year-old Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs) won the WBA’s interim belt by split-decision in November over Ricardo Cordoba on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision over Antonio Margarito for the WBC’s since-vacated junior middleweight crown. His most recent win was a first-round knockout of Willie Casey (12-1, 8 KOs) in March.
The 24-year-old Ramos is coming off a seventh-round knockout of former WBA titleholder Akifumi Shimoda (23-3-1, 10 KOs) in July.
Considered one of the world’s all-time great amateur boxers in Cuba before he defected to the United States, Rigondeaux established a new boxing record by defeating Cordoba for a title in only his seventh professional bout.
Rigondeaux eclipsed the mark by Leon Spinks, who was 7-0-1, with five knockouts after dethroning Muhammad Ali for the WBC and WBA heavyweight crowns in his eighth professional fight in February of 1978.
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com