Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Commentary: A September to remember

Roman Gonzalez (left) with Naoya Inoue. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

As I sit down to spin out my thoughts, I pledge not to mention the names but let’s just say the Mystic Mac Money Show has finally left town and we have more pressing business.

For “true” boxing fans, this month is as good as it gets.

On September 9, at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, the junior bantamweight division takes center stage in an unprecedented show dedicated to the finest of little big men. Three contests are main event worthy and two of them have world titles at stake.

Former four-weight world champion Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38 knockouts) looks to avenge the only defeat of his career, and regain his WBC title, from ferocious volume-puncher Wisaksil Wangek (AKA Srisaket Sor Rungvisai). The first fight was action-packed and the result was controversial. Simply put, the return fight cannot fail to dazzle.

If that isn’t good enough, one of the most exciting fighters in the world will be making his U.S. debut. Japanese powerhouse Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) will make the sixth defense of his WBO title against Antonio Nieves. The advice is — don’t blink. Nieves is likely to be in for a heap of trouble and fight fans are in for a treat.

There is no world title on the line when Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras meet in a battle of former champions. In fairness, though, who the hell needs one? The pair have a combined record of (71-3-1, 52 KOs) and have contested 15 world title bouts between them. Their quality is undeniable and this could very well be fight of the night.

Also appearing on the card is former unified flyweight titleholder Brian Viloria.

Just one week later, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) will face-off against Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) in the most eagerly anticipated middleweight showdown for well over a decade.

Not since Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins put his sword through the 160-pound ambitions of fellow superstars Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya has the boxing world been as electrified for a middleweight championship bout.

Both are champions. Both are pound-for-pound entrants. Both carry state-of-the-art weaponry. Both have dedicated fan bases. Both have exciting, hard-hitting styles that all but guarantee a showdown for the ages.

The match up evokes memories of middleweight glory days. LaMotta versus Robinson versus Fullmer versus Basilio. Leonard versus Hagler versus Hearns versus Duran. Put your nostalgia to one aside and recognize that Cinnamon versus GGG is in that class.

That is not a commercial – that is a nailed-on fact.

And finally, on the same day that Canelo and Golovkin throw down, the World Boxing Super Series gets under way in Liverpool, England.

Over the next few months, 16 world class operators from the super middleweight and cruiserweight divisions will do battle in an elimination tournament with the finals scheduled to take place in May. The overall prize money is $50 million and the respective winners will have the right to call themselves the best fighter in their weight class.

Normal service has resumed in world boxing and you have been upgraded to business class. No homophobia or racial slurs. No staged press conferences. No ludicrous matchups that are over before the first bell sounds.

The circus is over and fistic heaven awaits.


Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel.  Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing


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