|Photo: AP/Polfoto/Thomas Sjorup|
Bare schedules sometimes don't keep boxing from maintaining its buzz from weekends past, but they're the price we pay for staying in an abusive relationship with a sport that has no official "season."
Sure, summer and autumn have become popular times to host big events, but the trade off of having a year-round sport is that we have to endure some breaks here and there.
It's not difficult to find enjoyment away from the heavily covered fight cards though. Bouts needn't have a huge promotion to host worthwhile action, and that's the potential scenario this weekend.
Borderline-great Dane Mikkel Kessler faces off against fizzled out kinda contender Allan Green in Copenhagen, Denmark; 31-year-old undefeated prospect Karim Mayfield will see fellow unbeaten up-and-comer Raymond Serrano across from him in Albany, New York; another potential talent in Mauricio Pintor fights Ivan Cano in Mexico City; plus some other stuff that could entertain.
MIKKEL KESSLER VS. ALLAN GREEN
It's tough to believe that Kessler, 44-2 (33 KO), has only lost twice in his near 15-year career. Less than five years ago, he'd crept onto numerous "pound for pound" lists after defeating a handful of upper echelon guys, unifying belts in the process, and was poised to unseat undefeated Welshman Joe Calzaghe as tops at super middleweight. A tough, but occasionally entertaining loss to Calzaghe later, and Kessler had gone inactive (yet picked up a WBA trinket) before joining the "Showtime Super Six" 168 lb. tournament. Even with the defeat to Calzaghe, Kessler was the "consensus favorite" to win the whole thing. A loss to Andre Ward that saw Mikkel scuffed and handcuffed, and a fun and maybe undeserved win against Carl Froch changed the landscape of the tourney a bit though, and led to Kessler pulling out of the Super Six. Since then, Kessler has had to walk away from or postpone fights twice due to injury, yet only fought once.
Allan Green, who enters the bout at 31-3 (21 KO), dug his way into the discussion with a semi-sickening 1st round KO win over highly touted prospect Jaidon Codrington in 2005, and has since run hot and cold, depending on the level of his opposition. He became something of an ESPN Friday Night Fights staple in his next few fights, generally matched against guys who simply weren't on his level. But when he ran into Edison Miranda and literally stared at his feet to the tune of being knocked down twice late and losing a decision, fans got a glimpse into Green's mental makeup. Quite plainly, it seems as if Allan Green cannot climb past a certain level of opponent, and perhaps Miranda set the limit. Losses to Andre Ward and Glen Johnson are defensible, but his lack of effort or adjustment in them could be telling. He is coming off a decision win over former middleweight title challenger Sebastian Demers, but it should be noted that Demers appears to be on a sharp downward slide.
The question becomes whether or not Kessler has enough left to outclass Green, who in terms of skill just isn't on the same level as the 33-year-old from Denmark. And since the fight is in Copenhagen, the idea of Green winning a decision makes little sense. Essentially all Kessler has to do is throw punches consistently, and Allan Green will shut down offensively and start touching gloves or congratulating him for having a good round, which he did incessantly against Ward. Green's best shot is to either come out guns blazing and relive the Codrington glory by catching Kessler cold, or hope the man has deteriorated. Peeking at Kessler's picture up there, his face looks weathered, so the idea might not be that far-fetched. Regardless, even a dusty and oft-injured Kessler should be able to turn the trick in this light heavyweight bout.
PREDICTION: Mikkel Kessler by unanimous decision
KARIM MAYFIELD VS. RAYMOND SERRANO
This week Friday Night Fights matchmaking has made another sincere effort to deliver something good to us fans. Maybe plenty of pissing and moaning about the quality of fights in the early part of the season reached ESPN's folks in charge, maybe not. Either way pairing up undefeated guys is appreciated.
Karim Mayfield brings a 15-0-1 (9 KO) record into the main event, while Raymond Serrano's stands at 18-0 (8 KO), and both have been featured on FNF before. In Mayfield's most recent showing, he scored a last-round stoppage of former junior lightweight titlist Steve Forbes, though the plug may have been pulled a mite early as Forbes didn't appear very hurt.
Neither of these two junior welterweights are world class, and they may not even brush by that level, much less reach it. At 31, Mayfield likely doesn't have a lot of time remaining, but his style of countering at a distance and clubbing forward intermittently may prove problematic for Serrano, whose opposition hasn't been much to send a telegram about. Both men have weighed in for fights much higher than 140 lbs. though, and somehow Serrano is ranked #9 by the WBA.
A ray of sunlight could be that both men have also risen from the canvas to score wins -- Mayfield against Mario Lozano, and Serrano against both Kenny Abril and Anthony Bowman.
The bottom line here is that Karim Mayfield has been in tougher, albeit not by a ton. Both men mix pressure with countering though, moving in or out at will, and both have a habit of leading with their heads. Based on recent fights, Serrano may be a tad busier, but Mayfield has no problem tying up or roughing it on the inside if need be. There should at least be moments of entertainment.
On the undercard, hard-hitting middleweight Jason Escalera, 13-0 (12 KO), meets up with 9-1 (5 KO) Nick Brinson, and former light heavyweight title challenger turned cruiserweight David Telesco, 30-7-1 (25 KO), faces Vincent Miranda, 14-1 (8 KO). How Telesco only has 38 bouts in over 20 years is baffling, but it's probably why he's still able to quasi-compete at 44-years-old.
PREDICTIONS: Mayfield by unanimous decision, Escalera by TKO, Miranda by unanimous decision
MAURICIO PINTOR VS. IVAN CANO
Telemundo tends to be one of those fallback networks for boxing on weekends -- at least to American fans. The problem is start times inconsistent, or inconsistently-reported, if U.S. fans get these channels at all. But there are more spirited efforts than not, it seems.
This weekend, Telemundo showcases 17-0-1 (11 KO) junior welterweight Mauricio Pintor, nephew of former bantamweight and junior featherweight titlist Lupe Pintor, in a bout that may or may not be interesting. Pintor appears to have some talent and he's a fairly free swinger, but he leaves himself open quite a bit, and has already been decked early despite being matched very light. His feet look a little heavy too.
Fortunately, his opponent Ivan Cano is 20-4 (14 KO), and three of those four defeats have been to guys who did not have winning records. However, the guy has a funny haircut and likes to put his head down and just throw. The lack of overall skill here, though it's not totally absent, could make for a couple of good, sloppy rounds.
PREDICTION: Pintor by split decision
JERRY BELMONTES VS. RAMESIS GIL
At 15-0 (5 KO), Belmontes headlines this Telefutura card facing Dominican "opponent" Ramesis Gil, who comes into the bout with a 7-3-5 (5 KO) ledger. Gil has fought five unbeaten guys in a row in various jurisdictions, going 1-4-1.
Though he lacks a big punch, Belmontes likes to use angles and control distance with a solid jab, but this Gil will likely be looking to replicate what Gil Garcia was able to do with Belmontes on a Top Rank Live! (exclamation point theirs) card two years ago. Garcia was able to reach Belmontes with sweeping shots, admittedly with the help of some forearms and headbutting, and apply pressure that Belmontes seemed uncomfortable with.
Not completely unskilled, Ramesis Gil fights with similar tenacity and looks to smother opponents backwards, then unleash swings upstairs and down. He walks into quite a bit though, and his punching power hasn't been proven on anyone with a legitimately solid chin. That said, Belmontes also hasn't exactly been in with Earnie Shavers or Julian Jackson himself, while Gil's only stoppage loss came at the hands of Colombian Darley Perez, who at 25-0 (18 KO) may have legit punching power at this point.
On the undercard, former six-time Cuban National Champ and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis takes on Kazakhstan-born heavyweight Konstantin Airich. Thus far Solis has been more of a baleen bust than anything else, ballooning up to over 270 lbs. and looking skilled, but sluggish. He managed to whittle his way down to 246 lbs. for a shot at Vitali Klitschko, but injured his knee in the first round after taking a light 1-2 from the WBC heavyweight belt holder and was subsequently TKO'd. Three surgeries and one year later, whether or not he'll be in any type of fighting shape is a legitimate concern.
Airich, on the other hand, is probably best known for being stopped by Tye Fields in less than a round in 2011, and also being promoted by the shady Ahmet Oner, who attempted to illegally ring the bell and end a round early for Airich as he was getting battered by Danny Williams in 2008. Oner, who also promoted Solis, should hopefully be hands off on this one, but Airich has lost to everyone of note that he's stepped in with.
Konstantin does like to throw bombs though, and he does have a little bit of power. It wouldn't be shocking to see something similar to Yamplier Azcuy, AKA Yanqui Diaz vs. Juan Carlos Gomez (video) in 2004, where Azcuy battered Gomez early and forced a stoppage with some wild swinging. The similarities between Solis and Gomez are a bit striking too: both Cubans with extensive amateur records, both relocated to Germany, both have battled weight and stamina issues. And oddly enough, Gomez' last win before losing for the first time to Azcuy was over Oner-promoted heavyweight Sinan Samil Sam.
The likelihood, however, is that Solis puts together a relatively easy win.
PREDICTIONS: Belmontes by unanimous decision, Solis by TKO
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