The calendar will soon turn to the month of September, and things heat up a bit in boxing after a bit of a lull the past couple of weeks. Here's a look at the five fights I'm most looking forward to in the upcoming month. To make this clear, this is just about my preference, not necessarily how big a fight is, or what is deemed important.
Again, just one scribe's opinion...
5 - Richardson Hitchins vs. Jose Zepeda -- Caribe Royale Orlando, Orlando, FL -- Sept. 23
A classic crossroads match-up, as the young and undefeated Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs) tries to make a statement versus Jose Zepeda (36-3/ 27 KOs), who had recently competed for the WBC 140-pound title, and was stopped in the late rounds by Regis Prograis last November. But Zepeda has generally been a very difficult out for anyone he faces.
And the last time he faced a prospect, Zepeda dispatched the over-confident, Josue Vargas, in one round. Delivering a brutal and embarrassing comeuppance. Zepeda is still ranked number seven at junior welterweight by Ring Magazine.
The 25-year old Hitchins is a solid, well-rounded technician, who believes he's going places -- and he wants to get their fast. In his most recent outing, he easily out-boxed the previously undefeated John Bauza.
Should Hitchins come out victorious, he clearly stamps himself as a legitimate contender at junior welterweight.
4- Zhilei Zhang vs. Joe Joyce II -- Wembley Arena, England -- Sept. 23
This here is a heavyweight rematch of a bout that took place on April 15, which saw 'Big Bang' Zhang tax Joyce from the very beginning of the bout with booming lefts that immediately had an impact. Joyce simply could not get started on this night.
Eventually, Zhang scored a sixth round TKO, in a fight he dominated from start to finish. "the Juggernaut' looked like a fighter who aged overnight. So was this his new reality, or just a bad day at the office?
3- Ken Shiro vs Hekkie Budler -- Ariake Arena, Japan -- Sept. 18
This here is a battle of little big men. Ken Shiro (Kenshiro Teraji is his government name) is one of the better fighters in the sport but is largely ignored by the casual fan due to his weight class and being a foreign boxer. Shiro (21-1, 13 KOs) is currently the defending WBA and WBC belt holder. Ring Magazine has also designated him as their champion.
In Buddler (35-4, 11 KOs) you have a scrappy boxer from South Africa who has won titles at minimumweight and light flyweight in the past. He's no stranger to winning title bouts in 'the Land of the Rising Sun' having defeated Ryoichi Taguchi in 2018.
Does he have one last good one left in him?
2- William Zepeda vs. Mercito Gesta -- Commerce Casino, California -- Sept. 16
Zepeda (28-0, 24 KO's) is a personal favorite of mine with his high-pressure, frenetic style. This southpaw comes out winging leather and is relentless in his attack. In the past, I've labeled him 'must-watch TV' and it will be interesting to see how he does against the upper echelon of the lightweight division. 'Camaron' is currently ranked seventh at 135 by Ring.
(***photo 3, photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions***)
In Gesta (34-3, 17 KOs) he is facing an experienced guy who has had a couple of title shots in the past. He recently kept his career alive by out-working Joseph Diaz in March. In the past, there has been criticism that Gesta simply doesn't stay active during fights, but against Zepeda he may no choice to get his hands moving early and often against what is going to be an all-out assault.
1- Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo -- T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas -- Sept. 30
This was a rather easy choice given who's involved. Alvarez, the reigning undisputed super middleweight champion takes on the challenge of Charlo, who is the undisputed junior middleweight title(at least till the bell rings on this night).
Any time 'Canelo' (59-2-2 39 KOs) fights its a major event. His last outing took place in Mexico as he took care of the pesky John Ryder over 12 rounds. Given how many fights he has under his belt, some are wondering if he's lost an inch or two off his fastball. How will he deal with the quickness and speed of Charlo, who should have advantages in those departments?
As for Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), he's not only taking on the daunting task of moving up two full weight classes, but he hasn't seen faced bullets since May of 2022(where he stopped Brian Castano in their return bout). There is no questioning his guts but there is a alarming trend this year that sees fighters coming off year-plus layoffs getting beat handily in major fights (Josh Taylor, Stephon Fulton and Errol Spence)
Once again, we'll see just how much activity matters.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Doug Fischer, editor of Ring Magazine joined Mario Lopez and I in-studio:
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Speaking of September fights, the rematch between Liam Smith and Chris Eubank takes place this Saturday....Other fights of note this month include -- Junto Nakatani-Argi Cortes, and 'Venado
Lopez-Joet Gonzalez...So will Errol Spence enforce his rematch clause against Terence Crawford?....So is Regis Prograis-Devin Haney gone to 'bolivian?....'BS High' on HBO is worth a watch....I can be reached at email@example.com.....