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Weekend Preview: Lopez-Marquez, Judah-Matthysse highlight super Saturday

04
Nov

FRIDAY

JOSE COTTO VS. CHRISTOPHER HENRY
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior welterweights
Location: Catano, Puerto Rico
Television: Telefutura
The backdrop: The older brother of Miguel Cotto returns to a more reasonable weight when he takes on Henry (24-20, 18 knockdowns), a naturally bigger journeyman who has lost five of his last six bouts, in a 140-pound bout in this week’s Solo Boxeo offering. Cotto (31-2-1, 23 KOs), a former two-time lightweight title challenger who began his career at junior featherweight, is coming off a spirited ninth-round TKO loss to unbeaten Mexican star Saul Alvarez in a junior middleweight bout in May. The 33-year-old member of Puerto Rico’s 1996 Olympic squad hit hard enough to badly rock Alvarez in the first round of their fight. He should have the strength to get the respect of Henry, who is more than six inches taller than the 5-foot-5 Puerto Rican but has only fought once in 2008 and once in 2009 (in January of last year).
Also fighting: Jesus Rojas vs. Reynaldo Lopez, 6 rounds, featherweights
Rating the card: C. The main event is pretty much a 10-round workout for Cotto but the co-main features Rojas (15-1, 12 KOs), a heavy-handed featherweight prospect trained by Evangelista Cotto, in against Lopez (31-8-3, 22 KOs), a serviceable Colombian journeyman. Lopez was tough enough to go 12 rounds with Cristian Mijares and Dmitry Kirillov (in a close fight) at junior bantamweight, but he’s not as sturdy above 122 pounds. Rojas, a somewhat plodding “Cotto clone,” might easily overwhelm Lopez with his strength but he’s still worth watching.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ VS. JAMES MCGIRT
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / super middleweights
Location: Fargo, N.D.
Television: Showtime
The backdrop: Rodriguez (16-0, 12 KOs) takes his first step-up bout against McGirt (21-2-1, 10 KOs) in this ShoBox main event. The Worcester, Mass.-based Dominican is strong, talented and entertaining but he’s still a largely unproven prospect. Rodriguez has out-performed McGirt against a few of their common opponents, but the son of the former two-division titleholder and prominent trainer should provide a suitable challenge. McGirt is a tall southpaw who has gone the eight- and 10-round distance numerous times. Rodriguez has gone eight rounds once and has never fought beyond that distance.
Also fighting: Dyah Davis vs. Aaron Pryor Jr., 8 rounds, super middleweights; Marcus Johnson vs. Kevin Engel, 8 rounds, super middleweights
Rating the card: B. This ShoBox triple-header gives fans a glimpse into the future of the super middleweight division. The favored fighters, Rodriguez, Davis (18-1, 12 KOs), and Johnson (19-0, 14 KOs), may not be future titlehodlers but they should make for some entertaining fights as they mature into contenders. If Pryor (14-2, 11 KOs) wasn’t the son of the legendary “Hawk” I’d suggest that he drop the “Junior” from his name. The man is 32 years old and hardly a prospect. Engle (18-3, 15 KOs), two years younger than Pryor, has a decent record but he’s still a bona fide journeyman.

SATURDAY



JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ VS. RAFAEL MARQUEZ
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / featherweights
Location: Las Vegas
Television: Showtime (10 p.m. ET (live); PT (delayed)
The backdrop: Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs), THE RING’s No. 2-rated featherweight, and Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs), the magazine’s No. 9-rated contender, should make for an elite-level shootout as their high KO percentages and world-class experience would suggest. Marquez is a 3-to-1 betting underdog in some places as he probably should be against the younger, fresher southpaw technician, but the battle-tested Mexican veteran will be a threat to Lopez for however long the contest lasts. Fans can expect knockdowns in this Puerto Rico-vs.-Mexico showdown as neither featherweight is known for his chin.
Also fighting: Allan Green vs. Glen Johnson, 12 rounds, super middleweights
Rating the card: B+. The main event to this Showtime Championship Boxing broadcast is a can’t-miss thriller. The co-featured Super Six bout between Green (29-2, 20 KOs) and Johnson (50-14-2, 34 KOs) ain’t bad. Green has been known lay eggs in big fights, as he did in his last bout, a dreadful shut-out decision loss to Andre Ward, but Johnson’s pressure-fighting style should keep things interesting. Most fans favor Johnson, but the 41-year-old veteran has to answer two questions: how much he has left and how well he’ll fight at 168 pounds — a weight the former light heavyweight champ hasn’t made in 10 years.

ZAB JUDAH VS. LUCAS MATTHYSSE
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior welterweights
Location: Newark, N.J.
Television: HBO (11:15 ET (live) / PT (delayed)
The backdrop: Judah (39-6, 27 KOs), who seemed doomed to finish his career as a welterweight stepping stone, appeared to recapture his prime form when knocked out Jose Armando Santa Cruz in the third round of a junior welterweight bout in July. The former welterweight champ, who has lost to Carlos Baldomir, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey in 147-pound bouts, looked so good against Santa Cruz that many fans became excited about the possibility of the fast-and-powerful New Yorker joining the mix in the deep junior welterweight division. However, despite Judah’s claim to have finally “grown up” and the highlight-reel nature of the Santa Cruz KO, we have to keep in mind that he beat a limited former lightweight contender, not a 140-pound player. Enter Matthysse (27-0, 25 KOs), who isn’t a junior welterweight contender, but is a real 140 pounder with much-ballyhooed power and toughness. The Argentine slugger is hungry and confident but he’s never faced an opponent as talented and experienced as Judah (sorry folks, his premature stoppage of Vivian Harris doesn’t count for much). The winner of this veteran-vs.-prospect showdown will earn contender status and hopefully a place in the round robin of elite junior welterweights that starts up later this year.
Also fighting: Robert Guerrero vs. Vicente Escobedo, 12 rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B. This is a very solid Boxing After Dark card. The Judah-Matthysse matchup promises fireworks and the co-feature between California standouts Guerrero (27-1-1, 18 KOs) and Escobedo (21-2, 13 KOs) will make for a high-intensity boxing match that should produce a legitimate lightweight contender.

Also fighting:

Brian Viloria, THE RING’s No. 6-rated junior flyweight, takes on Thailand’s experienced young journeyman Liempetch Sor Veerapol in a 10-round flyweight bout in Manila on Friday.

Omar Nino, THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior flyweight, defends a 108-pound belt against former junior flyweight and flyweight title challenger Gilberto Keb Bass in a scheduled 12-round bout in Merida, Mexico on Saturday.

Undefeated junior featherweight prospect Rico Ramos, stays busy in a 10-round bout vs. veteran journeyman Heriberto Ruiz in special ESPN2 broadcast from Jacksonville, N.C., on Monday.

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