We've had a couple of high profile boxing events the past few weeks that garnered great interest from the general public. This Saturday we have a pair of cards on Showtime from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and ESPN has a card emenating from the Stockton Arena in Northern California.
To be frank, in order to care all that much about these two shows you have to be a hard-core fan.
In short, what we have this weekend is flotsam and jetsam.
In Las Vegas we have a main event between the raw Rolando Romero and the ancient, Ismael Barroso, in what is a WBA title fight at 140. Originally, it was Alberto Puello who was supposed to face Romero, but he popped dirty on a VADA drug test.
The last time we saw Romero (24-3-2, 22 KOs), he was running into a left hand from 'Tank' Davis and getting stopped in six round las May. He's a rather colorful and glib character who packs a punch, but is a terribly flawed fighter in terms of fundamentals. But by the basis of his association with Al Haymon/PBC, he is not only given the main event slot by Showtime, but gift wrapped a title opportunity by the WBA.
This is a case of not what you know, or how good you are, but who you know.
“It doesn’t matter who I fight on May 13,” said Romero. “I’m a star and I’m gonna shine no matter what. I can’t wait to put on a show in my hometown of Las Vegas and for everyone watching on Showime. I’m leaving the ring with that belt.”
As for Barroso, the Venezuelan is really a natural lightweight, and has been struck down at the world-class level every time he's stepped up. Not helping things is that he's 40 years old.
Last Sunday (May 7) was the 18th anniversary of the all-time classic slugest between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo (still the best fight I've ever covered from ringside), this was during their era of 'great fighs, no rights', that vowed not to be stuck in exclusive deals with promoters, and have the free reign to make the best fights possible for their subscribers. We really didn't know how good we had it back then.
For years, Showtime has been exclusively a PBC portal (save for their lower budget 'ShoBox' series) and now their higher profile events like Davis-Garcia are pay-per-view. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of quality control over there.
Jay Larkin must be rolling over in his grave.
But to be blunt, this weeks offering on ESPN presented by Top Rank is just nominally better. Their main event features WBO middlweight titlist, Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs), defending his title versus Stephen Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs). For Alimkhanuly this figures to be a relatively easy night at the office as Butler track records suggests that he's overmatched. He's been stopped in all three of his losses, and his one prior title shot saw him get halted by Ryoto Murata in five rounds back in 2019. The Canadian doesn't seem to take it to the body too well.
Of couse, Denzel Bentley was thought to be cannon fodder against Alimkhanuly back in November, and he gave him all he could handle. The defending champion is as high as a 30-1 favorite in this contest.
To be fair to Alimkhanuly, in the last year or so the likes of Jaime Munguia -- who never saw a title fight at 160 that he would take -- and Demetrius Andrade both made the decision to not face him for this WBO strap. Long-time stalwart Gennadiy Golovkin is seemingly retired, while WBC belt-holder, Jermall Charlo has been inactive now for more than 700 days.
Currently the 160 class could be best described as the 'mid' division.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Alimkhanuly, is currently rated third in the division by Ring Magazine, but you wonder if he'll ever truly get that definining fight every career needs. At this moment, he is a piece of biannunal programming on ESPN, one that is avoided and ignored by the marquee names in the division.
“The middleweight division runs through me now. I am here to stay. While the other champions continue not to fight, I will challenge the best and knock out everyone in my path.”
At this moment, Alimkhanuly Ave. is the road not traveled.
A fight I do like on Saturday night is the match-up between Kenneth Sims and Batyr Akhmedov at junior welterweight, that is on the Showtime telecast....And Rances Barthelemy faces Omar Juarez to kick things off... Meanwhile, the co-feature on ESPN has Vincent Astrolabio-Jason Moloney for the vacant WBO bantamweight strap....Ruben Villa makes his Top Rank debut on this card from Stockton.... Good to see that Tim Tszyu will stay active with another fight in he summer....Yes, 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and I is returning starting next week....Enjoying 'Beef' on Neflix.....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org......