It's a busy boxing weekend in Southern California with nationally televised card on ESPN at the Pechanga Casino on Friday, and a show that will be streamed on DAZN taking place at the Crypto.com Arena (which will always be the Staples Center to me) on Saturday.
Junior welterweight contender, Arnold Barboza(26-0,10 KOs), headlines in Temecula, as he faces the undefeated Danielito Zorrilla (16-0, 10 KO's), in what is his first outing since last August when he pounded out a 10 round decision over Antonio Moran.
So why did he take nearly a year off?
Barboza explained to SNAC.com, "To be honest, we were kind of waiting for a bigger opportunity, a name. But it kept kept getting pushed back, and we couldn't wait no more. That's why it took so long."
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
By 'name', did he mean former unified lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez?
"Yeah, we were trying to get that fight," said Barboza, with a chuckle. Lopez, who is coming off his stunning loss last November to George Kambosos, is facing Pedro Campa on August 13 in Las Vegas.
So why didn't this fight come to fruition?
"They just had a lot of different problems going on, stuff would pop up, one thing and then another thing. So it was just a headache all around," explained the 30 year old Barboza. "So we just couldn't wait. We had to stay active."
Like many other 140 pound contenders, Barboza is stuck in a logjam after Josh Taylor's struggles versus Jack Catterall. In the aftermath of that controversial bout in late February, it looks they will run it back in the fall. Recently, Taylor vacated the WBC belt, and it looks like Jose Ramirez and Jose Zepeda will box for the second time for that vacant title.
Meanwhile the other three belts are still held by Taylor.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Barboza, who is rated eighth by the WBO and 11th by the WBC, is just focused on the task at hand. "We've got a fight on the 15th, so we're not even worried about that, right now. That all went out the window once I signed the contract."
For this particular contest, the native of Los Angeles spent over a month in Las Vegas. Barboza says he was able to procure quality sparring out in 'Sin City' for what was purely a business trip.
When asked about ring rust, Barboza says it may be a factor for, "maybe a round or two, but at the same time (Zorrilla), he's been just as inactive as I have. He fought I believe in September of last year. So it's going to be a little bit for both, I believe."
Last September Zorrilla scored a second round stoppage of Pablo Cesar Cano. This figures to be a fan-friendly fight, as Zorrilla is a long-limbed puncher with above-average pop, and Barboza being a rugged, pressure fighter.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
It's not clear what will be next for Barboza, should he come out victorious. Carl Moretti, VP of Boxing Operations for Top Rank says, ''depending on how he looks Friday, will probably determine what happens next."
He warns that Lopez (should he come out victorious next month) may be after bigger names, himself. As for Barboza, he would welcome that match-up.
"Yeah, of course," he stated. "If I can't get a title shot -- he'd be the first name on the list."
Meanwhile on Saturday night in Los Angeles, Ryan Garcia faces veteran Javier Fortuna in what will be his second outing under the guidance of Joe Goossen. Back in April, Garcia chased around the reluctant Emmanuel Tagoe around the Alamodome for 12 rounds in winning a wide unanimous decision.
It will be interesting to see if Garcia has a more crowd pleasing effort his time around. He was actually scheduled to face Fortuna last year before he bowed out of the assignment citing mental health issues. So in his place last July, Joseph Diaz stepped in to face Fortuna, who he beat in a 12 round decision.
This should be one of those fights that Garcia should win -- and he is the huge favorite this weekend -- but what observers will be looking for is just how he does so. For all his speed and flash, Garcia still has fundamental flaws that are often covered up by his power, and quite frankly, favorable matchmaking.
There's no doubting the marketability of 'KingRy', but it still remains to be seen if he's ready to challenge the elite at 135.
The WBA announced a couple of days ago that they have mandated that their light heavyweight belt-holder, Dmitry Bivol, face Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez in his next outing. In theory, this fight should be relatively easy to make because both boxers are aligned with DAZN. They have till August 10 to strike a deal.
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions (which handles Ramirez) told SNAC.com that he believes coming to an agreement should not be all that difficult.
"No, not at all. We have no problem making it," he stated. "It's a good fight, both guys are undefeated. 'Zurdo' wanted it. We're happy."
Golden Boy Promotions
Bivol, is co-promoted by World of Boxing and Matchroom Sports, and managed by Vadim Kornilov.
According to Gomez, they have already made contact with Bivol's camp.
"There's interest on their side, as well," said Gomez. "So we'll start negotiating and go from there."
The hope is that Bivol-Ramirez will be consummated for either October or November, and Los Angeles is in play to host it.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller, Mario Lopez and I are joined by Tim Bradley, as we reviewed last weekends fights, and talked about the biggest stories in boxing halfway through 2022:
Kazuto Ioka retained his WBO jr. bantamweight title on Wednesday by winning a wide decision over Donnie Nietes in Japan....With Keyshawn Davis a scratch for this Friday's card, Raymond 'Danger' Muratalla is the new co-main on ESPN (9 pm, ET/6 pm, PT)....Alexis Rocha and Lamont Roach are on the Garcia-Fortuna card....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....