SERGIO MORA vs. JOSE ALFREDO FLORES
Rounds / weight class: Middleweight
Location: Indio, Calif.
The backdrop: Mora (22-2-2, 6 knockouts) is almost a decade younger than his opponent “Shibata” Flores (45-11, 26 KOs), who recently ended an eight-year retirement. However, the former 154-pound titleholder is in danger taking on the “stepping-stone” status the 39-year-old veteran has if he doesn’t win this Solo Boxeo Tecate main event. In a nutshell, Mora needs to beat Flores if he wishes to remain relevant. The winner of the first season of The Contender has only one victory — a seventh-round TKO of journeyman Calvin Green last April — in his last four bouts, dating back to September of 2008. Two of his non-wins were excusable setbacks to future hall of famers Vernon Forrest (UD 12) and Shane Mosley (Draw 12), but he dropped a 10-round split decision to gate-keeper Brian Vera in his last bout, which was televised on ESPN2 in February. That loss, which took place at super middleweight, knocked him out of the junior middleweight and middleweight rankings. If the 30-year-old stylist ever hopes to eventually regain a world rating he’s got to beat Flores, who was knocked out by Fernando Vargas in a bout for the vacant WBA 154-pound title 10 years ago. Flores won two comeback fights over journeymen last year, but he lost an eight-round decision to Roberto Garcia in March. The 6-foot-1 southpaw is no spring chicken but he’s got more skill than Green or Vera. So this fight is a step in the right direction for Mora. On the undercard, Hugo Centeno Jr., an entertaining 20-year-old prospect from Oxnard, Calif., faces 23-year-old Minnesota journeyman Hector Orosco (4-8).
Also fighting: Hugo Ceteno Jr. vs. Hector Orosco, six rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: C+. The main event is not a significant fight by any stretch of the imagination, but it has the potential to be entertaining since Mora, who doesn’t have the power to hurt Flores, knows he needs an impressive performance and the veteran will likely press him.
Prediction: Mora wins a close but unanimous decision.
Denis Lebedev, THE RING’s No. 5-rated cruiserweight, takes on former three-division champ James Toney in a scheduled 12-round cruiserweight bout in Moscow.
LUCIAN BUTE vs. GLEN JOHNSON
Rounds / weight class: Super Middleweight
Location: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
The backdrop: Bute (29-0, 24 KOs), an undefeated titleholder who has stopped his last six opponents, is 11 years younger than his opponent, Johnson (51-15-2, 35 KOs), and yet, most expect the 42-year-old former light heavyweight champ to give the talented southpaw from Romania his toughest fight to date. That’s because Bute, who is a huge draw in his adopted home province of Quebec, had never faced a fighter as accomplished as Johnson, who was THE RING’s Fighter of the Year in 2004. The Miami-based Jamaican is 4-4 in his last eight bouts, but his losses were to talented titleholders Chad Dawson (twice), Tavoris Cloud and Carl Froch, and except for the Dawson rematch, he was competitive with his younger adversaries. Bute, who has defend his IBF belt eight times, knows what he’s up against. He’s sparred close to 100 rounds with Johnson, who he considers a friend. However, don’t expect their mutual respect for each other to prevent the two world-class super middleweights from giving 100 percent on fight night. On the undercard, former amateur standouts Pier-Olivier Côté (17-0, 11 KOs), a 27-year-old Colombia-born Quebec City resident, and Jorge Luis Teron (25-2-1, 17 KOs), of the Bronx, N.Y., square off in a scheduled 12 rounder that will kick off the Showtime broadcast.
Also fighting: Pier-Olivier Côté vs. Jorge Luis Teron, 12 rounds, junior welterweights
Rating the card: B+. Bute, one of the most talented boxers on the planet, is taking on one of the most consistent and battle-tested veterans in the sports. This is a quality matchup.
Prediction: Bute will score a competitive unanimous decision.
ALFREDO ANGULO vs. JAMES KIRKLAND
Rounds / weight class: Junior Middleweight
Location: Cancun, Mexico
The backdrop: Both Angulo (20-1, 17 KOs) and Kirkland (29-1, 26 KOs) have lost career momentum in recent years due to personal troubles. Angulo, a 29-year-old 2004 Mexican Olympian, has fought less than two rounds — opening round stoppages of Joachim Alcine last July and Joseph Gomez in August — in the last 18 months due to visa and promotional issues. Kirkland, a 27-year-old native of Austin, Texas, was out of the ring for two years, from March of 2009 to March of this year, due to his incarceration for felony possession of a firearm. A plus for Kirkland is that he’s been more active than Angulo since getting out of jail, fighting five times this year already. However, the fearless southpaw suffered a first-round TKO to unheralded Nobuhiro Ishida in his third comeback bout in April. Not that the loss really matters in this bout. Regardless of their current standing in the sport (Angulo is rated by THE RING, Kirkland isn’t), these aggressive styles and seek-and-destroy mentalities of these two junior middleweights will always mesh to create a slugfest, which is why hardcore fans are so excited about this matchup. On the undercard, undefeated middleweight prospect Peter Quillin (25-0, 19 KOs) makes his HBO debut against once-beaten southpaw Craig McEwen (19-1, 10 KOs), who is coming off an entertaining 10-round TKO loss to Andy Lee in March.
Also fighting: Peter Quillin vs. Craig McEwan, 10 rounds, middleweights
Rating the card: A-. There’s no title on the line and nobody will ever mistake Angulo and Kirkland for “elite” boxers, but the two sluggers are going to go to war and give their all, and that’s what fans want to see in a prize fight. Quillin-McEwan should be a decent scrap as well.
Prediction: Angulo scores mid-rounds TKO in a thrilling shootout.
CHRIS ARREOLA vs. RAPHAEL BUTLER
Rounds / weight class: Heavyweight
Location: Leon, Mexico
Television: ESPN Deportes
The backdrop: Arreola (33-2, 28 KOs) continues to stay busy against Butler (35-11, 28 KOs), a former prospect-turned-journeyman, as he tries to keep his fighting weight under 240 pounds while awaiting his second title shot. THE RING’s No. 9-rated heavyweight has fought five times this year and he’s looked fairly sharp so far. Butler, who has lost five of his last eight bouts, doesn’t figure to make the 30-year-old Southern Californian look bad. The a 27-year-old Chicagoan is coming off back-to-back stoppage losses to British prospect David Price (TKO 1) and heavyweight hype-job Tye Fields (TKO 6).
Also fighting: Miguel Roman vs. Pedro Navarrete, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Rating the card: C. This is another “gimme” fight for Arreola, but the big lug is always fun to watch, and Butler might try to blitz the Mexican-American contender.
Prediction: Arreola scores an early-rounds TKO in an entertaining slugfest.
Former 130-pound titleholder Ricky Burns takes on lightweight contender Michael Katsidis in his 135-pound debut; and THE RING’s No. 10-rated super middleweight George Groves defends his British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles against Paul Smith in London.
THE RING’s No. 10-rated cruiserweight Guillermo Jones defends his WBA title against former heavyweight hopeful Mike Marrone in a Wealth TV-televised main event from Hollywood, Fla.
Photo by Tom Casino / SHOWTIME