After a month of lengthy disputes, sprained body parts, and broken promises, one of the most lack luster months in prizefighting this year is now behind us (October).
Boxing fans have something to look forward to as this weekend marks a dramatic uptick in meaningful or top matchups and title fights.
Tonight sees the not-so-surprising “unretirement” of eight-division world champion from the Phillipines, (also a Senator in their Congress) Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2 38KO) as he challenges welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas (27-1 10KO) on the main event for the WBO title.
The bout is one of four title matches on an exciting card in a year which has been the complete opposite for the sweet science.
The undercard consists of Oscar Valdez (20-0 18KO) defending his WBO featherweight title against challenger Hiroshige Osawa with Zou Shiming (8-1 2KO) fighting Prasitsak Phaprom (39-1-2 24KO) for the vacant WBO flyweight title.
Fellow Filipino Nonito Donaire (37-3 24KO) fighting on the same card as Pac-Man for the first time, as he looks to defend his WBO junior featherweight belt from opponent Jessie Magdaleno (23-0 17KO).
There could be some show-stealing here as Valdez is quiet the knockout artist, stopping almost every opponent he’s faced with crushing brute force.
Donaire has been on a roll ever since coming back from a stoppage defeat by Nicholas Walters back in 2014. Some of Pac-man’s fans will surely have some energy to cheer on the “Filipino Flash” against the undefeated Magdaleno
The bouts promoted by Bob Arums’s Top Rank has earned praise from many writers and fans alike, and are to be held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The matches, while not the elite versus elite that many clamor about and crave, should prove to be both entertaining and intriguing.
All the fighters on the card are hungry and talented, and despite some lopsided betting odds on certain boxers, no one is really that mismatched, with anything being easily in the realm of possibility.
In only a week another card in Monte Carlo, Monaco seeks to be just as electrifying.
November 12 sees the debut of Cuban heavyweight leviathan Luis Ortiz (25-0 22KO 2NC) under promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport.
The undefeated Ortiz, who has been destroying everyone in his path fairly easily, vacated his secondary title for not facing mandatory Alexander Ustinov, faces Malik Scott (38-2-1 13KO) for a chance down the road to face either IBF champion Anthony Joshua or WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder when Wilder returns from injuries sustained in his last defense against Chris Arreola.
Adding to the card, two title bouts are on schedule for Monte Carlo. Jason Sosa(19-1-4 15KO) faces off against Steven Smith (24-2 14KO) for the WBA junior lightweight “regular” title and Jamie McDonnell (28-2-1 13KO) goes toe-to-toe with Liborio Solis (23-4-1 10) for McDonnell’s WBA “regular” bantamweight title.
Martin Murray (33-4-1 16KO) squaring off against Dmitry Chudinov (19-1-2 12KO) for 12 round super middleweight match closes off the card barring any further additions.
Enough for you?
I sure hope not, because the next week after that on November 19th, the long-anticipated light heavyweight match against top pound-for-pound pugilists Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1 26KO) and Andre Ward (30-0 15KO) happens at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
One of the “fight of the year” potential candidates in many circles for sure, both contenders are still in their primes. Despite both boxers not looking too great in their respective warm-up matches, the two are still dominant, undefeated, training furiously, and ready to battle for Kovalev’s WBO,IBF,WBA light heavyweight titles.
Fans in attendance are treated to another fantastic card as if the sport were trying to undo months of neglect and boredom in 90 days.
The professional debut of Olympic gold medalist Clarissa Shields is scheduled against rival Franchon Crews in the female super middleweight division.
Other noteworthy bouts are Isaac Chilemba vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0 9KO) for 10 rounds in the light heavyweight division.
Chilemba (24-4-2 10KO) seeks to climb the ladder again after he made a worthy yet unsuccessful challenge to Kovalev in both fighters’ last bout.
Both fighters are ranked in the top 15 in BoxRec’s light heavyweight rankings.
Curtis Stevens (28-5 21KO) will clash with James De La Rosa (23-4 13KO) as middleweights on a recent addition to the televised undercard.
Both fighters, while not top contenders in the division, are looking to disprove critics and hope to earn their way back to a title shot.
Stevens was dominated in his test against middleweight annihilator Gennady Golovkin, and has since been in the press bashing critics of “GGG,” challenging naysayers to either fight him or keep quiet.
The final weekend of the month puts two entertaining bouts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Back in Las Vegas, a fight between junior lightweights Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1 4KO) and Nicholas Walters (26-0-1 21KO) has the potential to be an explosive contest with both boxers fast, skilled and hard-hitting.
Lomachenko with his impressive amateur record of 396-1 garners constant comparisons to another amateur legend, Golovkin.
All that experience will hopefully come through as he will need every ounce of it versus Walters.
The undefeated Jamacian known as the “Axe Man” has scored impressive knockout victories against the likes of Nonito Donaire.
Back in Britain, two more title defense close out one of the most promising months in boxing in the last couple years as an audience finally gets to see WBO Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (23-0 12KO) finally make his first defence, not against Golovkin like many had hoped but against Artur Akavov (16-1 7KO).
What could be seen as the most possible mismatch of the month sees lightweight Terry “Turbo” Flanagan (31-0 12KO) making his fourth defense of his WBO belt against Orlando Cruz (25-4-1 12KO).
Flanagan was initially supposed to defend his title on the undercard of the Tyson Fury-Wladamir Klitschko rematch before the subsequent withdrawal of Fury due to mental health and drug issues and the vacation of Fury’s heavyweight titles.
…And that was just November. Are you ready?