Chavez-Gomez PPV card may lead to anticipated fights in 2011
Top Rank's stacked Dec. 4 pay-per-view card from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., features (from left to right) Humberto Soto, Nonito Donaire, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Alfonso Gomez, Urbano Antillon, and Brandon Rios. Chavez, Donaire and Rios have major bouts to look forward to in 2011 if they win on Dec. 4. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank
Fans will enjoy the four fights Top Rank has put together for its Dec. 4 show, but the anticipated showdowns to which the bouts might lead next year are really worth getting excited about.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes on Alfonso Gomez in the main event of Bob Arum’s independent pay-per-view event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The 12-round middleweight bout is supported by Nonito Donaire’s bantamweight debut against former titleholder Wladimir Sidorenko and an can’t-miss lightweight slugfest between beltholder Humberto Soto and top contender Urbano Antillon.
If Chavez (41-01, 30 knockouts) prevails against Gomez, his next fight will be against junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto, according to Chavez’s co-promoter Fernando Beltran. Many fans thought the fight, which would stoke boxing’s storied Mexico-vs.-Puerto Rico rivalry, would happen on Dec. 4. But Cotto, who won a 154-pound title in May, wanted to take the rest of the year off. Whenever and wherever the fight eventually takes place it is all but guaranteed to pack the venue, even it winds up in a stadium.
If Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs) beats Sidorenko (AKA Volodymyr Sydorenko), Arum says fans can expect the former flyweight titleholder to finally face Mexican rival Fernando Montiel in a fascinating 118-pound clash with pound-for-pound implications sometime in the first half of 2011.
And if those two bouts aren’t enough to look forward to, Arum says the winner of the Soto-Antillon fight will face Brandon Rios next March, provided the budding attraction beats tough Noe Bolanos in the opening bout of the Dec. 4 card.
Arum described Rios as a “new sensation” at the kick-off press conference for the Chavez-Gomez card on Monday in L.A. That description is a bit premature for Rios, who is coming off an impressive victory over heavily favored Anthony Peterson. But it might fit if the 24-year-old slugger were to win a world title, especially if he does so in thrilling fashion.
And Rios (25-0-1, 17 KOs) would likely create a fight-of-the-year candidate against either Soto (53-7-2, 32 KOs), a seasoned boxer-puncher, or Antillon, (28-1, 20 KOs), a heavy handed pressure fighter.
Hardcore fans aren’t the only people who realize this, according to Arum.
“Both HBO and Showtime want to do the fight in March,” Arum said. “That’s why we wanted to keep (Rios) active.”
Rios, who is expecting the birth of his daughter on Dec. 4, said news of his impending title shot is “another blessing” but the Oxnard, Calif., resident shouldn’t lose focus of his next opponent.
Bolanos (21-5-1, 13 KOs) is a journeyman, but the 23-year-old Mexico native is young, durable and confident despite going 2-5-1 (with one no contest) in his last nine bouts. Perhaps that’s because Bolanos, who began his career with 18 straight victories, has only lost to undefeated prospects and fringe contenders. And the aggressive fighter was competitive in some of those losses.
At the very least Bolanos, who has never been stopped, should take Rios rounds and put up a decent fight.
Donaire will probably get more than a decent fight from his Dec. 4 opponent. Although the San Francisco-based Filipino boxer-puncher is considered one of the sport’s brightest talents, he should receive a test from Sidorenko (22-2-2, 7 KOs), a former amateur star from Ukraine who won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic Games.
The 34-year-old veteran held a bantamweight title for three years (2005-08) and defended it six times against top-notch opposition. Among Sidorenko’s victories are decisions over former 122-pound titleholder Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym and former 118-pound titleholder Joseph Agbeko. Both Kratingdaenggym and Agbeko were undefeated when they faced the well-schooled technician, who is now trained by Freddie Roach.
“Nonito wanted to test the waters at bantamweight before the big fight with Montiel was made but the guy he picked is no piece of cake,” Arum said.
Donaire is giddy at the prospect of fighting Montiel in a high-profile bout that Arum says would be televised on HBO, but he also understands that Sidorenko is not to be underestimated.
“I’m fighting a guy who is an Olympic medalist and a former champ,” Donaire said at Monday’s press conference at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. “He’s a very good fighter. You can’t say that he’s not on my level.”
More than a few boxing insiders are saying that Gomez (22-4-2, 11 KOs) is not on Chavez’s level. This is due in part because the son of the Mexican legend was so impressive in his last bout — a one-sided drubbing of fringe middleweight contender John Duddy — but mainly because Chavez appears too big for the graduate of the first season of The Contender reality TV series.
Chavez-Gomez basically matches a 6-foot middleweight against a stocky welterweight at a 157-pound catch weight.
However, Gomez has overcome size disparities in previous bouts. The 29-year-old Southern Californian defeated Peter Manfredo Jr. (then 21-0) and Jesse Brinkley (then 25-2) in five-round middleweight bouts that were part of The Contender series.
Gomez, who has won four in a row since being outclassed by Miguel Cotto in 2008, exhibited underrated boxing skills in victories over fringe contender Jesus Soto-Karass and shopworn former lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo.
Chavez, who seemed amused when Gomez surprised the media by reciting a Spanish-language rap during his time behind the podium at the press conference, says he’s expecting a tough fight from his countryman.
“The styles we bring to the ring are going to make the fans the real winners on the night of the fight,” he said, “and I promise you that I’m going to look better than I did against Duddy.”
Chavez looked like he weighed a solid 175 pounds at the press conference, but Beltran isn’t concerned.
The Mexican promoter, who handles most of Chavez’s business affairs, says that he’s putting the ever-growing 24 year old on a plane to the Philippines this week where the fighter will be reunited with trainer Freddie Roach, who is currently in Baguio City preparing Manny Pacquiao for the Filipino icon’s Nov. 13 showdown with Antonio Margarito.
Beltran says a month in the Philippines and a month in Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., will ensure that Chavez makes the 157-pound limit for his bout with Gomez.
“If he can make 157 pounds without trouble, I think he’ll be able to make 154 pounds for a Cotto fight,” said Beltran, who believes Chavez-Cotto could happen as early as March of 2011.
Beltran admits that middleweight is probably the natural weight class for Chavez but he prefers the star of his stable to fight at junior middleweight because of the opportunities the 154-pound division presents.
“Junior is probably the perfect sparring partner for Pacquiao to prepare for Margarito, but I don’t want him to spar with Manny,” he said. “You never know, maybe one day they will fight each other.”
Much was made of the weight Rios weighed the night he fought Peterson. The Kansas native weighed in at 135 pounds but put on 16 pounds overnight to enter the ring at 151, making him significantly heavier than Peterson, who only put on four pounds after the weigh-in.
Rios is unapologetic about his weight fluctuation.
“Get used it,” he says to those who cried foul after the Peterson fight. “I’m a big lightweight, and 151 is my walk-around weight. If I broke the rules, I’m not the only one who does.”
Indeed. Many young fighters campaign in divisions that are far lighter than their natural weights.
Donaire, who held a 112-pound title, says he often weighed as much as 140 pounds between fights.
“I’m around 130, 133 pounds right now,” Donaire said at Monday’s press conference.