The dog days of summer are upon as the calendar turns to August. But there is still a full and robust boxing schedule to look forward to. Here's one mans opinion of the top 10 fights for the upcoming month...
1- Errol Spence vs. Manny Pacquiao (August 21, Las Vegas, Nevada -- FOX PPV): This is really a no-brainer. You have all all-time great in 'the Pac Man' at age 42 facing what many consider the best 147 pounder in the world. Spence, who comes into this contest with the WBC and IBF titles, with an emphatic victory looks to become a household name to the general sports fan.
As for Pacquiao, he proved many pundits wrong by defeating Keith Thurman in the summer of 2019. A win over the favored Spence has many believing that this puts him up among the greatest, ever. But at a certain time, Father Time has to catch up to him -- doesn't it?
2- Vergil Ortiz vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (August 14th, Frisco, Texas -- DAZN) : Unlike other young stars handled by Golden Boy Promotions, 'Low Maintenance' Ortiz is a boxer that can be counted on, and routinely delivers one solid outing after another. He stopped former world champion, Maurice Hooker in March. Now the 23 year old Ortiz faces another seasoned vet in 'the Mean Machine' who has just one loss in 24 bouts. Back in December of 2019 gave Terence Crawford one of his tougher outings. He then rebounded by stopping Mikael Zewski in eight rounds in September.
An emphatic triumph for Ortiz at 'the Star' will be another clear indication that the 23 year old is truly a legitimate welterweight contender. This should be a fun back-and-forth battle with plenty of leather being thrown.
3- John Riel Casimero vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux ( August 14, Carson, California-- Showtime) : This is the classic confrontation between boxer and puncher. Casimero is a hard-hitting Filipino who's on a recent run of eye-opening knockouts, while the Cuban southpaw stylist, while up in age, still remains one of the most difficult outs in boxing.
Casimero, the defending WBO titlist, is rated second in the division by Ring Magazine, while Rigondeaux is number eight.
Originally, this bout was supposed to be all-Pinoy affair between Casimero and WBC belt-holder, Nonito Donaire, but that fight went to 'bolivian' as Donaire's team expressed concerns about the pre-fight drug testing for this fight.
4- Murodjon Akmadaliev vs. Ronny Rios ( August 28, Carson, CA -- DAZN): OK, this card and match-up have not been formally announced, but the plan (for now) is to stage this on the last Saturday afternoon of the month. Regardless, this is a bout I really like. You have 'MJ' Akmadaliev, who is perhaps the least heralded of boxing's unified champions, facing Rios, who has gone through a career renaissance the past few years after getting stopped by Azat Hovhannisyan a few years ago.
These two styles mesh well, and Rios (who hails from Santa Ana) could be buoyed by the home crowd, in what might be his last title shot. Akmadaliev is rated number one at 122 by Ring Magazine, while Rios is ninth.
5- Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney III ( August 14, Tulsa, Oklahoma -- ESPN): This has turned into a bit of a grudge match after what took place between the combatants in 2020. Last June inside 'the Bubble' at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Franco won the WBA 115-pound title by pulling away from Moloney in the second half of their 12 rounder. Then the rematch was called off after the second round because of swelling in Franco's eye due to a clash of heads, after Moloney had jumped out to a quick lead.
Moloney and his side argued vehemently it was a series of jabs that caused the damage to Franco. During this fight back in November, there was an extended delay as the Nevada State Athletic Commission mulled over replays, and finally ruled the bout a no-contest, meaning that Franco retained his belt.
6- Roger Gutierrerz vs. Rene Alvarado III (August 14, Frisco, TX -- DAZN): Back in early January, Gutierrez pulled the upset (and gained revenge) by taking the WBA 'regular' junior lightweight title by dropping Alvarado twice in the third, and again in the final stanza. Those knockdowns were the difference as Gutierrez won by the score of 113-112 across the board.
Back in 2017, Alvarado scored a seventh round TKO of Gutierrez at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles.
7- Jake Paul vs. Tyrone Woodley ( August 29, Cleveland, Ohio -- Showtime PPV): Yeah, yeah, I know, but I have to admit, I'm intrigued by this match-up. Believe it or not, I think Paul is actually getting better, and has become a pretty good puncher. And that formula works for him with the right matchmaking.
8- Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Danielito Zorrilla (August 14, Frisco, TX -- DAZN) : OK, this fight is bit under-the-radar, but I have personal interest in this one as Zorrilla was a prospect out of Puerto Rico that I had been high on. But after his last outing on 'Ring City' back in March, where he was getting pushed to the brink by Ruslan Madiyev, before the fight was waved off as the fighter from Kazakhstan hit Zorrilla in the back of the head in the eighth round, and Zorrilla was deemed unable to continue. His reaction drew mixed reviews, to say the least.
Regardless, even before that truncated ending, his performance left question marks. Matching him up with the hard-hitting Cano could be Golden Boy's way of really testing his guts.
9 - Jason Moloney vs. Joshua Greer (August 14, Tulsa, OK -- ESPN): Really interesting bantamweight crossroads battle, here, as Moloney (rated seventh by Ring Magazine) is looking to rebound after getting halted by Naoyo Inoue back in October. While Greer was a rising contender coming into last summer, before his bubble experience was burst as he was defeated by Mike Plania in June, and then was held to a draw against Edwin Rodriguez in November.
10- Victor Ortiz vs. Robert Guerrero (August 21, Las Vegas, NV -- Fox PPV): Yeah, call this a 'Hot Tub Time Machine Fight' because it would've been really good around 2010. But y'know what? I'm still here for it in 2021. Hey, we all can't help but gawk at train wrecks, right?
I just hope that if Ortiz wins, that we get the long-awaited 'Garden City Grudge Match' with Brandon Rios.
CANELO vs ????
So with the Saul Alvarez-Caleb Plant fight seemingly dissolving, the focus is now on making a fight between 'Canelo' and WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol, for September 18th. As news broke that things had hit an impasse between Alvarez and the PBC, Bivol's representatives were contacted about stepping him.
On Sunday morning, Bivol's manager, Vadim Kornilov, told me:
Leigh Wood just simply out-boxed and out-fought Xu Can, who simply couldn't get off consistently. What is usually a monsoon of punches, was nothing more than scattered showers from the defending champion. Wood is now the WBA 'regular' featherweight champion after stopping Can in 12 rounds at the Matchroom Fight Camp (aka 'Hearn Square Garden) in Brentwood, England.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Sports
Can hadn't fought since November of 2019, and many believe ring rust did impact his performance. But Wood certainly has to be given credit for his strong effort, early on he beat Can to the punch and kept the tempo of the bout to his advantage. The expected onslaught of Can never came to fruition.
One source at Golden Boy(which represents the Chinese boxer) explained that an early 2020 bout against Emiliano Sanchez had to be scrapped as China banned all travel due to the world-wide pandemic. Later on a bout with Josh Warrington in the UK fell through, and Can was sidelined the whole year.
Regardless, it just wasn't his night. But Mike Coppinger of ESPN reported that Can has a rematch clause for this bout.
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