Weekend Preview: Povetkin-Chagaev takes center stage on Saturday
JUAN GARCIA vs. HECTOR SERRANO
Rounds / weight class: six rounds / lightweights
Location: Los Angeles
Television: Fox Sports Net (tape delay)/RingTV.com/Ustream.tv
The backdrop: This main event is a welcome departure from the usual Fight Night Club formula. The club series usually matches a developing up-and-comer with a veteran journeyman on the downslide and — surprise, surprise — youth always triumphs over experience. However, this main event matches two young fighters with comparable skills and experience who are at similar points in their careers. Both Garcia (14-3, 5 knockouts) and Serrano (13-2, 5 KOs) need a victory. Garcia, a 25-year-old technician from Phoenix, is coming off three consecutive losses (to capable fighters) and a two-year layoff. Serrano, a 26-year-old boxer-puncher from Huntington Park, Calif., is coming off back-to-back losses (to solid opposition). Both fighters are a little more seasoned than the usual prospects featured on FNC and they should make for a quality competitive fight. On the undercard, Ramon Valadez (9-1, 5 KOs) looks to win his ninth consecutive fight against young journeyman Noe Lopez Jr. (8-9, 5 KOs).
Also fighting: Ramon Valadez vs. Noe Lopez Jr., six rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B-. Garcia and Serrano may not have sparkling undefeated records and high KO percentages but they’ve both well-rounded young fighters and evenly matched. It says here they’ll make for a good fight. Valadez is always entertaining.
Prediction: Garcia overcomes his inactivity and Serrano’s greater size with a close but unanimous decision.
FRANKIE GOMEZ vs. ADRIAN GRANADOS
Rounds / weight class: eight rounds / junior welterweights
The backdrop: On paper, this Solo Boxeo Tecate main event is an even matchup of two young10-bout prospects, but Gomez (10-0, 8 KOs) is a strong favorite to beat the Chicago-area native. Gomez, a 19-year-old former national amateur champ from East L.A., is the “blue chipper” that Golden Boy Promotions signed with very high expectations last year. Granados, a 22-year-old from Cicero, Ill., is more of a popular club fighter. However, Granados, who has never been stopped, is not without skill and ability. He was a good enough amateur to be an alternate on Mexico’s 2008 Olympic squad and talented enough for Nacho Beristain to invite him to become one of Juan Manuel Marquez’s main sparring partners in 2009. On the undercard, Omar Figueroa (12-0-1, 9 KOs), a popular 21-year-old prospect from Texas, takes on Marcos Herrera (6-6-1, 2 KOs) a normally durable young journeyman from Colorado who has lost his last five bouts.
Also fighting: Omar Figueroa vs. Marcos Herrera, eight rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B-. Gomez and Granados will mix it up and give the fans in Chicago something to cheer about for as long as the bouts lasts. Figueroa usually makes for good fights.
Prediction: Gomez wins by late stoppage.
JOSE NIEVES vs. CUAUHTEMOC VARGAS
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior featherweights
Location: Kissimmee, Fla.
The backdrop: Nieves (18-2-3, 8 KOs), a 31-year-old southpaw from Puerto Rico, will try score a repeat victory over Vargas, who he out pointed via 12-round split decision in April. Vargas (15-5-1 10 KOs), a 26-year-old Mexican veteran who has lost five of his last six bouts (two of which were to future titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez and Rico Ramos), needs a victory keep from taking on the dreaded “journeyman” label.
Also fighting: Xavier Burgos vs. Jose Duran, four rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: C+. Both fighters are experienced, capable and evenly matched, but neither is really going anywhere.
Prediction: Nieves scores another close, perhaps controversial, decision.
Also fighting on Friday: Vyacheslav Senchenko, THE RING’s No. 5-rated welterweight, defends his WBA title against Marco Antonio Avendano in Donetsk, Ukraine.
ALEXANDER POVETKIN vs. RUSLAN CHAGAEV
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / heavyweights
Location: Erfurt, Germany
The backdrop: Two legitimate top-five heavyweight contenders from Russian square off in this interesting main event in Germany. Povetkin (21-0, 15 KOs), a 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist (2004) and world amateur champ (2003), is THE RING’s No. 3-rated heavyweight. Chagaev (27-1-1, 17 KOs), a 32-year-old former WBA titleholder, is THE RING’s No. 5-rated heavyweight. Chagaev’s only loss was a ninth-round stoppage to RING champ Wladimir Klitschko in 2009. The skilled southpaw has won two bouts since that setback and should provide Povetkin with a stern challenge. On the undercard, undefeated Finnish standout Robert Helenius (15-0, 10 KOs), THE RING’s No. 9-rated heavyweight, takes on former WBO beltholder Sergei Liakhovich (25-3, 16 KOs).
Also fighting: Robert Helenius vs. Sergei Liakhovich, 12 rounds, heavyweights
Rating the card: A-. Povetkin is an aggressive boxer-puncher who should bring the best out of the more experienced Chagaev. Helenius is a beast who makes for fun fights. If Liakhovich has any thing left, their fight could steal the show.
Prediction: Povetkin outworks Chagaev to win a close but unanimous decision.
ULISES SOLIS vs. JETHER OLIVA
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior flyweights
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Television: Fox Deportes
The backdrop: Solis (33-2-3, 21 KOs), a 29-year-old two-time junior flyweight titleholder, makes the first defense of his second IBF reign against Oliva (17-0-1, 11 KOs), a 24-year-old Filipino prospect. On the undercard, Garcia, a 28-year-old two-time 105-pound titleholder, makes the first defense of his WBO belt against Fuentes (13-1, 6 KOs), a 25-year-old Mexican prospect.
Also fighting: Raul Garcia vs. Moses Fuentes, 12 rounds, strawweights
Rating the card: B+. Solis and Garcia are skilled veteran titleholders in against hungry young fighters, however both have too much experience for their title challengers to cope with.
Prediction: Solis wins a lopsided unanimous decision.
LIBRADO ANDRADE vs. MATT O’BRIEN
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / super middleweights
Location: Leon, Mexico
Television: AT&T U-Verse
The backdrop: Andrade (29-4, 22 KOs), a former three-time title challenger, is in desperate need of a victory if he ever hopes to fight for a major belt again. The 32-year-old veteran, who dropped a majority decision to Aaron Pryor Jr. in May, has lost three of his last five (two of which were title bouts against Lucian Bute). He cannot afford to lose to O’Brien (18-2, 7 KOs), a 34-year-old Canadian standout who has lost two of his last three bouts. On the undercard, Enrique Ornelas (31-7, 20 KOs), Andrade’s 30-year-old younger brother who looked sloppy out pointing Hector Hernandez in his last bout, takes on Alfredo Contreras (11-11-2, 5 KOs), a tough 26-year-old journeyman from Los Mochis, Mexico.
Also fighting: Enrique Ornelas vs. Alfredo Contreras, 10 rounds, light heavyweights
Rating the card: C+. Andrade and Ornelas always make for entertaining scraps both are in pretty soft on Saturday. O’Brien is not only comparatively inexperienced but he’s naturally smaller than Andrade.
Prediction: Andrade scores a mid-to-late rounds stoppage.