The major fights which will be televised in America this weekend will probably land, both on the sporting and entertainment scales, somewhere between last week’s shining Vazquez-Marquez 3 and the previous week’s stinking Klitschko-Ibragimov 0.
Highly-touted South African featherweight Thomas Mashaba (20-1-4, 12 KOs) makes his American debut Friday, March 7, on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” and at the final fight card at the Fox Theatre in the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. His opponent is Mexican journeyman Cristobal Cruz (31-11-2, 23 KOs), who has dropped two of his last three and four of his last seven fights, albeit against accomplished fighters Zahir Raheem, Francisco Lorenzo (twice), and Steven Luevano. This is a showcase for Mashaba, but what else can we expect from this increasingly dreadful show?
Saturday, March 8, brings a full slate of important title fights on the American premium networks.
Showtime, as usual, has a compelling fight with their telecast from England of the cruiserweight unification fight between David Haye (20-1, 19 KOs), holder of two of these belts and generally regarded as the best in that division, against another titleholder, Enzo Maccarinelli (28-1, 21 KOs), trained by Enzo Calzaghe. This fights starts at 2 AM GMT at the O2 Arena in London to accommodate us Yanks, who will see it live at 9 PM EST. Setanata has the TV honors in the UK. Haye says he will move up to heavyweight after this one. Both men’s knockout power may be especially on display before this international audience. In the U.S., Showtime’s boxing telecast is followed by a mixed martial arts card, also from England.
At basically the same time, HBO gives us more heavyweights. Finally, after many had given up on ever seeing this fight, WBC regular heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs) takes on WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel Peter (29-1, 22 KOs) in Cancun, Mexico. Supposedly the winner has WBC heavyweight champion emeritus Vitali Klitschko next, another matchup about which we skeptics shake our heads. With Peter being dropped three times and almost stopped by late substitute Jameel McCline last year in Madison Square Garden, and the 39-year-old Maskaev sitting inactive since Dec. 2006 and postponing this bout a couple of times, it seems best to wonder who will lose rather than who will win this fight.
If these heavyweights manage to deliver yet another performance worthy of purgatory, the HBO co-feature has the exciting and unbeaten multiple lightweight beltholder Juan Diaz (33-0, 17 KOs) defending those straps against the slick and dangerous Nate Campbell (31-5-1, 25 KOs). A lot of the prefight drama has focused on the battle between Diaz’s promoter Don King and his manager Willie Savannah. King announced yesterday that he will no longer promote Diaz after this fight, citing his numerous disputes with Savannah over money, opponents for Diaz, and the like. This controversy may or may not play a role in the fight’s outcome between the 24-year-old college student Diaz and the 35-year-old veteran Campbell, or, if it goes to the judges, their decision. But this one will be televised widely, so whatever happens in Mexico may not simply stay there.
HBO will not be televising the undercard, which includes the return of the vastly underrated heavyweight (and supposedly retooled by trainer Manny Siaca Sr.) John Ruiz (42-7-1, 29 KOs), still just 36, against Jameel McCline (38-3-3, 23 KOs), and a super lightweight eliminator between unbeaten Timothy Bradley (21-0, 11 KOs) and former champion Jose Luis Castillo (56-8-1, 48 KOs).
Ruiz, the victim of questionable decision losses in Germany against Nikolai Valuev and Ruslan Chagaev in the WBA title roulette game, only fought once in 2007, against journeyman Otis Tisdale. Showing movement heretofore absent or at least underutilized in his approach, Ruiz stopped Tisdale in two. If he is given the chance, and especially with today’s heavyweight wreckage, Ruiz could capture one or more of these belts once again.
If you want to see the undercard on this typically loaded Don King show, you either have to be in Mexico, be in a country where the international feed is available, or know how to watch these things online. The same can be said of Friday’s card in Nottingham, England, featuring unbeaten junior featherweight Kiko Martinez vs. Rendall Munroe; Saturday’s fourth bout between flyweight champ Daisuke Naito and former champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in Tokyo, Japan, which should be available both on Japanese and Thai TV; and the women’s fights of Ina Menzer vs. Sandy Tsagouris and Alesia Graf vs. Fatuma Zarika from Krefeld, Germany, which will be telecast there on ZDF (http://www.zdf.de/
). The latter telecast will apparently feature just the two women’s fights on that card, but after all, March 8 is International Women’s Day, so what better way to celebrate that than televising women fighting each other?
Now make sure that you do all your shopping and errands before this busy weekend.
Labels: boxing, David Haye, Don King, Eddie Goldman, Enzo Maccarinelli, HBO, Jameel McCline, John Ruiz, Juan Diaz, Nate Campbell, Oleg Maskaev, Samuel Peter, Showtime, Thomas Mashaba, Vitali Klitschko