It's the best of fights, it's the worst of fights. A pair of bouts takes place that weekend that are part of trilogies that used to be a regular part of boxing lore. One is among the most highly anticipated on the schedule, the other is more or less a nuisance that is being foisted upon the public.
From the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, the third and most likely final chapter takes place between a pair of big little men as the great Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez faces WBC super flyweight champion, Juan Franciso Estrada, who is an elite fighter in his own right.
Currently, Estrada is the Ring Magazine champion at 115, with his arch-rival rated number one.
Back in 2021, they battled hammer-and-tongs over 12 memorable rounds at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
It was a memorable battle, but truth be told while it was Estrada who won a split decision, the majority of observers believed that it was 'Chocolatito' who truly deserved to have his hands raised in victory. There have been attempts to make this bout earlier, but Estrada has had various issues that made him unavailable.
While this rubber match will be streamed to a world-wide audience on DAZN this weekend, this rivalry -- which began way back in 2012 -- was a much less heralded bout that had problems gaining traction. Chapter one took place at the LA Sports Arena (which has since been torn down, and now in it's place stands the Banc of California Stadium) on a cold rainy November night.
Organizers of this event did their best to sell this event to various networks to no avail. If I recall correctly it was broadcast by Wealth Network. There was a time when a card of this nature, which also featured the flyweight unification tilt between Brian Viloria and Hernan 'Tyson' Marquez, would have been perfect for 'Boxing After Dark' during the Lou DiBella-era, but that network was doing another card from Atlantic City that evening.
You could call this the precursor to 'the SuperFly ' series that later gained traction on HBO.
What I recall most about covering this event was that press row basically consisted of regular seats with no table, no internet connection (yeah, this building was old), and no media room. Which basically meant we were fans like everyone else. Which was just fine with most of us as we got to enjoy a great night of fights. Viloria stopped Marquez in 10 action-packed rounds. Then Gonzalez and Estrada went back-and-forth for 36 minutes, with the Nicaraguan legend getting his hands raised in victory.
There were just a few thousands people in attendance, probably about as many people that came to USC basketball games before the Trojans built the Galen Center. But I vividly recall a swath of Gonzalez's countrymen who were sitting in the second level of the venue.
The rematch was fought during the pandemic, so seating was limited for their rematch. There will be no such issues on Saturday night and according to Jim Boone, 'Mr. KO Tickets', tickets are selling so well that they may have to open up sections.
Gonzalez-Estrada is more than just a good fight, it will complete one of the last great rivalries in the sport.
Earlier that day from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in England, WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, takes on Derek Chisora for the third time. While the announcement of the aforementioned clash was met with anticipation from boxing fans, this one was met with a collective groan.
They first met in 2011 as up-and-coming prospects with Fury winning a wide decision, then in 2014, Fury stopped Chisora in 10 round. A short time later, Fury became the heavyweight champion, and after some turbulence in the wake of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko, has established himself as the premiere big man of this generation. While Chisora is a respected war horse that consistently engages in entertaining battles.
But Chisora is a fighter who has shown noticeable corrosion in recent years, prior to defeating Kubrat Pulev, he had lost three straight. To be fair, he was facing the likes of Joseph Parker and Oleksandr Usyk, but he has clearly shown signs of an aged fighter.
Fury, who retired for about 15 minutes after downing Dillian Whyte back in April, made some overtures to face British rival, Anthony Joshua, that predictably went nowhere. Now, he's back to facing Chisora as sort of a retirement gift. Think of it as his version of a gold watch to a guy that has served boxing well throughout the years.
Truth be told, this third go-around is unwanted and unnecessary. It's the classic stay-busy bout, for a boxer who rarely stays busy.
Fury-Chisora III, which will be streamed on ESPN+, will also feature Daniel Dubois, who faces Kevin Lerena...Julio Cesar Martinez defends his WBC flyweight belt versus Samuel Carmona as part of the DAZN telecast....Golden Boy Promotions will be staging a card from the Commerce Casino on Dec. 17th featuring Raul Curiel....Top Rank announced their first card of 2023, which will be on January 14 a pair of heavyweight bouts with Efe Ajagba facing Oscar Rivas, and then Guido Villanello-Stephen Shaw from the Turning Stone Casino in (my) Verona, New York....So who is most likely to be upset in their conference title games on Saturday?....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.....