It is now officially the fall and soon we will be turning the calendar to October, and this is a month that has a strong slate of fights scheduled, unlike the previous one which was dubbed 'Slimtember' by yours truly. So with that, we go with the top 10 fights for the upcoming month.
Just remember, it's only one mans opinion...
1- Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder ( October 9, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas -- PPV)
Finally this long drawn out saga is set to end -- hopefully. Regardless of what has surrounded this star-crossed rivalry, it's still an intriguing match-up, even though Fury has won the large majority of the rounds in their first two meetings. Because while Wilder does not have the boxing acumen of 'the Gypsy King' he still has the proverbial punchers chance, and you wonder just how big of an impact the instructions of trainer Malik Scott will have on this contest, both technically and strategically for 'the Bronze Bomber'.
Even if you believe that Fury -- who stopped Wilder in their rematch last February -- will once again reassert his dominance next weekend, you still have to believe that Wilder's power is still very much a factor in the early stages.
One interesting note, neither Fury or Wilder has not laced'em up in live action since their rematch. So both boxers are coming into this bout with extended layoffs. Who will be more severely (and negatively) impacted by this?
2- Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson (October 23, State Farm Arena, Atlanta -- ESPN)
This has become a true grudge match between two former allies, who have worked side-by-side in training camp and have sparred a few rounds in the past. Herring, the defending WBO 130 pound belt-holder is coming off a statement victory in Dubai as he sent Carl Frampton into retirement by halting him in six. It erased the bad taste of his shaky victory over Johnathan Oquendo last September inside the Top Rank bubble in Las Vegas.
Photo Credit: Top Rank
The precocious Stevenson is a talented and skilled boxer, but he's coming off a dull 12 round victory over Jeremia Nakathila. But that certainly has not humbled him, as he's been more than confident leading into this match-up.
The question is which of these two well-schooled southpaws will come out of their normal comfort zone to force the other into a fight. The oddsmakers have made Stevenson the favorite, but the public sentiment is squarely with the classy Herring.
3- Emanuel Navarrete vs. Joet Gonzalez (October 15, Pechanga Arena, San Diego -- ESPN+)
Navarrete in recent years has not only been one of the most active world-class boxers (eight outings since the beginning of 2019) this Mexican windmill is one of the more entertaining ones, with his free-swinging style. He throws punches early, often and late. In Gonzalez, he's facing a solid contender, who's lone defeat came to Stevenson, who just had a style he could not decipher.
It says here that Naverrete, for as difficult as he is to stave off, presents a more favorable style for Gonzalez than Stevenson did. And with that, we'll get some solid two-way traffic on this Friday night in San Diego. The question is will Gonzalez have enough to not get run over?
'El Vaquero', the current WBO featherweight titlist, is ranked number one by Ring Magazine in the division, while Gonzalez is rated number 10.
4- Efe Ajagba vs. Frank Sanchez (October 9th, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas -- PPV)
While Fury-Wilder III is the main course on this night, Ajagba-Sanchez is an enticing appetizer featuring two undefeated heavyweights still working their way up the ladder. It's rare that you see two undefeated boxers be paired up against one another without a title on the line. It's even rarer in the heavyweight class.
But Ajagba is 27, while Sanchez is 29, so perhaps there is a bit of a sense of urgency to see what these guys have.
This is a contest between the consummate puncher (Ajagba) and the sound boxer (Sanchez). The winner may just find him as a legitimate top 10 contender.
5- Liam Smith vs Anthony Fowler (October 9, Echo Arena, UK -- DAZN)
Alright, a good ol' fashioned British dust-up. Smith, the former WBO junior middleweight champion, is still a very serviceable 154 pounder. In his last bout, he was on the short end of a disputed decision versus Magomed Kubranov. His other two defeats came at the hands of Jaimie Munguia and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.
Fowler is a fighter on the rise, having won six consecutive bout since his lone defeat to Scott Fitzgerald in 2019. He on a four-fight stoppage streak against rather mediocre opposition, but we'll see just how real his ascension is as he takes on his countrymen.
6- Jose Zepeda vs Josue Vargas (October 30, Hulu Theater, New York -- ESPN+)
The best way to Zepeda is to describe as an inconsistent fighter, who's performances fluctuate based on how much of a threat his opponents pose to him. Last fall he was involved in one of the most action-packed bouts of 2020 as he and Ivan Baranchyk took turns bouncing one another off the canvas, before Zepeda ended things for good in round five. Then in late May, he put forth a desultory effort in out-pointing the aged Henry Lundy.
It's not clear how he'll view Vargas, the fellow left-hander from the Bronx, who has been chomping at the bit for a step up fight. Given that this event is in 'the Big Apple', he has the home canvas advantage, here.
Vargas has never faced a fighter as accomplished, or as talented as Zepeda. But the question is: which Zepeda will show up on this night?
7- Jamal James vs. Radzhab Butaev (October 30, Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas -- Showtime)
The tall and lanky James is welterweight who has established himself as a legitimate contender. Since losing to Yordenis Ugas several years ago, he has ripped off seven victories, and this bout is part of a four man tournament organized by the WBA as they try and pare down the number of boxers who can call themselves WBA 'champions'. The organization announced that the aforementioned Ugas must face Eimantas Stanionis, with the winners of these two bouts to clash in the near future.
In Butaev you have a rough and rugged character, who will continually press James. Butaev is undefeated in 13 bouts, his loss to Alexander Besputin in 2019 was overturned from a 12 round defeat to a no-contest as Besputin tested positive for banned substances.
While James is currently a 'regular' WBA champion, Butaev is rated fifth by the organization.
8- Jaron Ennis vs Thomas Dulorme (October 30, Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas -- Showtime)
Yeah, some will look at this bout as a backwards step for 'Boots', but the fact is that the talented Ennis is the type of guy who will have to become a mandatory challenger for any of the champions to get inside the ring with him. Ennis, is one of the most gifted fighters to come out of Philadelphia in years. He possesses size, speed and power, all wrapped around the ability to switch hit. And he has that classic Philly fighting spirit. He isn't in there to stink it out.
Photo Credit: Showtime
Dulorme, not-too-long-ago was considered a welterweight contender, but now is clearly on the back nine of his career. But to his credit he is still durable. In his last two outings he went the 12 distance in losing to Stanionis and James. If Ennis should stop Dulorme, it would be another strong statement.
Currently Ennis comes in at number eight in the Ring Magazine welterweight rankings..
9- Dillian Whyte vs Otto Wallin (October 30, O2 Arena, London -- DAZN)
This is an interesting heavyweight bout, Whyte (who has seemingly been the non-mandatory top ranked heavyweight by the WBC since the Obama administration) is still waiting around for his title shot. And to his credit, outside of running into an uppercut from Alexander Povektin in the summer of '20, he has put forth a solid resume'. It's a loss he quickly reversed in three rounds in March. Whyte is currently listed at fourth by Ring Magazine in their rankings.
In Wallin, he's facing a Swede who is just a few fights from throwing a scare into Fury, and he has since followed up that performance by defeating Travis Kauffman (TKO5) and Dominic Breazeale (W12).
Wallin's movement and athleticism should give Whyte a few things to think about.
Tie 10- Esteban Bermudez vs Jesse Rodriguez (October 16, Chukchansi Park, Fresno -- DAZN)
OK, put aside that Bermudez is one of those 'regular' WBA champions at 108 pounds, this is about seeing 'Bam' Rodriguez, who many consider one of the special young talents in the sport. The 21 year old (who's older brother is Joshua Franco) could be the heir apparent to Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada in the near future.
As you watch him in the gym and witness his mastery of technique, the perfect fundamentals from his southpaw stance, and his ability to box and bang, it's hard to not envision him winning major world titles in several weight classes. That's what his trainer, Robert Garcia, is expecting from this native of San Antonio.
Tie 10- Ted Cheeseman vs Troy Williamson (October 9, Echo Park, Liverpool -- DAZN)
Yeah, I'm hedging a bit here, but it's Ted F'n Cheeseman!!! And anytime he fights, 'the Big Cheese' deserve a spot on this list.
Manny Pacqiuao announced his retirement over social media on Tuesday night. We'll have more on this in an upcoming K9's Corner... So it looks like Triller's attempts to move the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos fight to October 16 to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn have imploded. Kambosos and his side are insisting that this fight take place on October 4 as originally announced...Keith Idec of Boxingscene.com has reported that Top Rank has won the purse bid for the Artur Beterbiev-Marcus Browne match-up. Yeah, those purse bids can be interesting....Really enjoy the 'Peyton and Eli' Monday Night Football broadcasts....I can't believe this season of 'Billions' on Showtime is over already....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org