In what is the last big boxing weekend of 2022, there is plenty to choose from. Here's a look at what's in store on Saturday from across the globe....
- WBO welterweight champion, Terence 'Bud' Crawford makes his '22 debut as he faces David Avanesyan at the CHI Health Center in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Fans were hoping for the long-awaited showdown versus unified champion, Errol Spence, but as those negotiations (which became very public) went to 'Bolivian, Crawford made the decision to link up with upstart BLK Prime for this pay-per-view event.
Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) reasoned that he didn't want to be left without a fight this year. His last outing came in November of 2021, when he stopped Shawn Porter in 11 rounds.
“It is business as usual. It’s great to have a fight date and a goal to work toward," said Crawford. "I have a solid group of guys who are pushing me every single day, and we had a close-knit community during camp. This was one of my best camps, and I am motivated to put on a show for my fans in Omaha, who have had my back from the start of my career."
Avanesyan (29-3, 17 KOs) is a solid-if-unspectacular fighter who is rated eighth by Ring Magazine at 147.
“David Avanesyan is a good fighter. He’s on a good winning streak, and beat a guy in the U.K., in Josh Kelly who people thought was going to be a star," stated Crawford. " I have to train like I am facing King Kong on December 10th, because Avanesyan has everything to gain and nothing to lose. I know he is going to bring everything on December 10th, so I’m not looking past him. This will be the best Avanesyan, so I have to be the best Terence Crawford."
Marv Kelly/Marvelous Photography
But truth be told, this is not the fight the public yearned for. And with that we have Crawford-Avanesyan, and it looks like Spence will face the semi-retired Keith Thurman in the first quarter of the upcoming year. This is the modern day boxing business in a nutshell.
Spence-Crawford may not necessarily be past it's expiration date, but with Spence turning 33 in March, and Crawford having just turned 35, this match-up is certainly past it's best-buy date.
- Going on at the same time as this card is Top Rank's annual 'Heisman' show from Madison Square Garden in New York that features a junior welterweight battle between former lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, and Spaniard Sandor Martin.
Lopez(17-1, 13 KOs), who was upset by George Kambosos last year, bounced back in August with a seventh round stoppage of the hand-picked Pedro Campa, in what was his 140-pound debut. Lopez says he will be going big game hunting in '23 in what is now a loaded division that has the likes of Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Jack Catterall, Subriel Matias, Gary Antuanne Russell and Arnold Barboza.
The experienced Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) burst onto the scene when he upset Mikey Garcia last fall. He's a well-schooled southpaw but doesn't possess much power. His movement might be an issue for Lopez in the early rounds, but expect Lopez to take over in the late rounds. Talent has never been the issue with 'the Takeover', but you do wonder about his temperament.
This card which will be broadcast on ESPN (with the undercard starting on 'the Plus), features Top Rank's deep stable of blue-chip prospects. The likes of heavyweight Jared Anderson, who is by far America's best young big man, Olympic silver medalist, Keyshawn Davis, and junior middleweight, Xander Zayas, who is being groomed to be their next Puerto Rican star, are on this bill.
Also on this card are Bruce 'Shu Shu' Carrington, Delonte 'Tiger' Johnson and Jahi Tucker. There is no company that has the depth of quality young talent as Top Rank, which now includes the likes of Emiliano Vargas, Raymond Muratalla and now Brian Norman.
So while Top Rank no longer has Crawford, their future is bright.
- In the afternoon on DAZN, IBF featherweight champion, Josh Warrington, headlines at the First Direct Arena in England. Warrington takes on the hard-charging Luis Alberto Lopez. Many insiders believe that Lopez, who's on a nine-fight winning streak since losing a decision to Ruben Villa in 2019 is a very live 'dog. He is no stranger to winning in the UK, last year he stopped Isaac Lowe last December, and this will be his third outing of '22.
As for Warrington captured this title by defeating the aged Kiko Martinez back in March. While an active fighter, he is one that isn't particularly heavy handed. He has just eight stoppages in 33 pro outings (31-1-1, 8 KOs). He will have to work like hell to stave off Lopez (26-2, 15 KOs) and retain his title. It says here that Lopez brings the IBF strap back home with him
- For 11-plus rounds back in March, it looked like Michael Conlan was on his way to capturing the WBA featherweight strap versus Leigh Wood at the Nottingham Arena. Conlan floored Wood early, and dominated the early action. But the game Wood battled back and eventually he closed the gap on him and started to wear him down along the ropes.
Then dramatically Conlan was knocked out through the ropes in the final round in what was the best bout of the year. So close, yet so far from being a world champion. Conlan bounced back with a 10 round decision against veteran Miguel Marriaga in August. Now he is paired against Karim Guerfi in Belfast, Ireland at the SSE Arena on a card that will be streamed on ESPN+.
Some sad news to report, legendary referee, Mills Lane, has passed away at the age of 85. Here's more on this unfortunate development:
All I can say is that when Lane was the third man in the ring, you knew you were getting an honest referee. It just felt like a big fight when he was in there. In fact, it felt like he was the referee for most of the significant bouts in the 80's and 90's. His most notable bout was the infamous 'Bite Fight', the rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
Lane had an iconic catch-phrase in 'Let's Get it On' and was an American folk hero. He later had his own syndicated television show ('Judge Mills Lane') and later dabbled as a promoter. Lane was an elite referee, and an even better person.
Rest in peace.
Also you have the Manny Pacquiao exhibition bout in South Korea.....While former multi-division champion, Jorge Linares fights in Russia against Zhora Hamazaryan...Jaron 'Boots' Ennis, Demetrius Andrade and Rashidi Ellis will be on the 'Tank' Davis card on January 7....Heading up the 2023 International Boxing Hall-of-Fame class are Tim Bradley, Carl Froch and Rafael Marquez, along with the likes of Brad Goodman, Joe Goossen, Tim Ryan Brad Jacobs and Seth Abraham....Looks like Ryan Garcia will face veteran Mercito Gesta as a tune-up prior to his expected meeting with Davis...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org...