Boxing: Previews and Predictions of the Weekend's 10 Biggest Fights
The biggest boxing weekend of the year so far is upon us.
We have three solid heavyweight bouts with Vitali Klitschko, Chris Arreola and Johnathon Banks all in action.
Paul Williams looks to get his career back on track with a win over Nobuhiro Ishida, the conqueror of James Kirkland.
Tavoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo look set to have one of the most entertaining bouts of the year when they fight on Saturday.
Mike Dallas and Miguel Gonzalez meet when they headline ESPN2's Friday Night Fights. While over on ShoBox, Thomas Dulorme takes on Aris Ambriz.
With Jorge Arce, Pablo Cesar Cano and Gilberto Keb Baas all also in action, there should be something for every kind of fight fan this weekend.
Here are the previews with my predictions of this weekend's fights.
Which fights are you looking forward to the most? Don't agree with my picks? Comment below.
Mike Dallas vs. Miguel Gonzalez
The main event on this week's edition of Friday Night Fights sees Mike Dallas (17-2-1 7 KOs) take on Miguel Gonzalez (20-2 15 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout.
Gonzalez has amassed a fairly impressive record, but it has very little name recognition on it. He needs the win against Dallas to show that he can mix it up with a higher class of opponent.
Dallas needs to seize this opportunity as it could be the last one to come along for a while. He lost twice on FNF last year. While knocked out by Joselito Lopez in January, the second was more controversial points loss to Mauricio Herrera.
After hooking up with new trainer Virgil Hunter just a month before the Herrera fight, this will give a good indication of how the pairing has worked out.
Gonzalez will likely look to take the fight to Dallas early. If Dallas can survive the early rounds, look for him to outbox Gonzalez to a points win.
Protheroe's Prediction: Dallas to win by close decision after being knocked down early.
Thomas Dulorme vs. Aris Ambriz
Undefeated Puerto Rican welterweight Thomas Dulorme (13-0 10 KOs) fights Aris Ambriz (16-2-1 8 KOs) for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) welterweight title on ShoBox.
Dulorme was scheduled to fight Jose Reynoso, but after Reynoso pulled out with a hip injury, Ambriz was drafted in.
Dulorme had knocked out 10 opponents in a row before being taken the distance in his last two fights, he will look for the KO in this one.
Meanwhile in the ring, he is quick and unerringly accurate. All of this is underpinned by serious power.
He throws his left from a slightly awkward angle that some fighters have had trouble picking, while his right is powerful enough to give anyone problems.
Ambriz may look to take the fight to Dulorme in the early rounds, but the Puerto Rican will have the skills to deal with it and take the victory.
Protheroe's Prediction: Dulorme to win by KO in the third round.
Vitali Klitschko vs. Dereck Chisora
Britain's Dereck Chisora (15-2 9 KOs) finally gets his shot at a Klitschko when he takes on Vitali (43-2 40 KOs) in Munich.
Chisora's record may have taken some damage since then after losses to Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius, but in the Helenius fight he showed how much he has improved as a fighter.
He has stepped up his conditioning and looked in good form against Helenius, a fight that he won despite what the home-cooked scorecards might have said.
The sad fact for pretty much everyone going up against either Klitschko is that they only ever have a puncher's chance of winning.
Vitali is simply too strong, too tall, too experienced and simply too good for any heavyweight other than his brother to have a chance against. Unlike his brother, he is not afraid to open up and knock an opponent out.
With a stunning knockout percentage of 89, Vitali is unstoppable even at the age of 40.
With that in mind, Chisora won't be afraid to bring the fight to Vitali and it should be an entertaining scrap while it lasts.
A good comparison would be when Vitali fought Albert Sosnowski in May 2010. Sosnowski gave it his all for nine rounds, connecting with a solid uppercut in the fourth and winning some rounds.
Vitali sprung into action in the ninth, however, pinning Sosnowski on the ropes and opening up before hitting an obliterating right hand to secure the KO in the tenth.
Protheroe's Prediction: An entertaining fight by heavyweight standards to end by way of a Vitali KO in the eighth round.
Johnathon Banks vs. Nicolai Firtha
NABF heavyweight champion Johnathon Banks (27-1-1 18 KOs) puts his title on the line against Nicolai Firtha (20-9-1 8 KOs) on the Klitschko-Chisora undercard.
After moving up to heavyweight following a loss to Thomas Adamek, Banks has racked up seven wins and a draw, winning the NABF heavyweight title along the way.
Firtha's biggest win came in 2010 with a second-round TKO victory over Tony Grano. He also has the experience of being in the ring with the likes of Alexander Povetkin, Tyson Fury and Neven Pajkic.
Ironically, Grano will be the likely opponent for the winner following his NABF Heavyweight Title eliminator victory over Brian Minto last month.
This is a good step-up fight for Banks, who is looking to advance into the upper echelons of the division.
Firtha will be the biggest name on his resumé and if all goes well in the fight, Banks could be headed for big fights in the near future.
Protheroe's Prediction: Banks to win by TKO in the ninth round.
Tavoris Cloud vs. Gabriel Campillo
IBF light heavyweight champ Tavoris Cloud (23-0 19 KOs) takes on Spain's Gabriel Campillo (21-3-1 8 KOs) in Texas on Showtime.
Cloud is coming into the fight on the back of an eighth-round TKO of Yusaf Mack, a solid but not elite opponent.
His only big win came in 2010, when he beat Glen Johnson.
Cloud needs to start fighting real contenders soon, and this is a good start.
Campillo comes into the fight after a controversial draw against Karo Murat. Campillo looked to be in control of the fight and easing to a win when Murat rallied in the late rounds. Enough, by two the judges' standards, at least to save the German from his second professional loss.
This should be an entertaining fight with a good contrast of styles.
Cloud has the ability to end this fight early. Campillo has a tendency to start fights slowly, and if Cloud comes out swinging it could be an early knockout.
The longer the fight goes on, the more it should favor Campillo. The Spaniard is a slightly better boxer than Cloud, but Tavoris has undeniable power and underrated skills.
Campillo has an awkward style that could trouble a pressure fighter like Cloud. But over the course of the fight, Cloud will land the more telling punches that will sway the judges to awarding him a very close victory.
Protheroe's Prediction: Cloud to win by late knockout or majority decision.
Paul Williams vs. Nobuhiro Ishida
Paul Williams (40-2 27 KOs) looks for redemption against James Kirkland conqueror Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2 9 KOs).
Ishida propelled himself into boxing fame by knocking down heavily-favored James Kirkland three times en route to a stunning first-round knockout.
Will lightning strike twice for Ishida? No.
Williams is a better fighter than Kirkland and will be wary of having the same fate. His performance against Kirkland aside, Ishida is not a strong puncher.
Only nine of his 24 wins have come by way of KO. His one fight since destroying Kirkland was against Mexican debutant Edson Espinoza.
Williams' freakish reach and high work rate will be far too much for an average fighter like Ishida to handle.
Some have accused "The Punisher" of being a spent fighter since the Martinez knockout. While it is true that he didn't look great while eking out a majority decision against Erislandy Lara, Lara is an excellent fighter and Williams still got the win.
Ishida is rightly enjoying his time in the sun but it will be over on Feb. 18. Expect Williams to inflict the first KO of Ishida's career.
Protheroe's Prediction: Williams to win by KO in the fourth round.
Chris Arreola vs. Eric Molina
Chris Arreola (34-2 29 KOs) continues his rehabilitation after losses to Vitali Klitschko and Thomas Adamek on the Cloud-Campillo undercard.
This time his opponent is Texas native Eric Molina (18-1 14 KOs).
Arreola is a huge step up for Molina, who has fought no one to speak of up until now. At 6'5", his height is the only thing that is likely to give Arreola any trouble.
The key here is for Arreola to get a knockout on Showtime to create some interest in a new go at the heavyweight title.
Arreola really needs to step up the level of competition soon or risk falling into insignificance.
After this fight, it is likely that he will pursue a rematch with Adamek or go once again after a Klitschko.
Protheroe's Prediction: Arreola to win by KO in the eighth.
Jorge Arce vs. Lorenzo Parra
Jorge Arce (59-6-2 45 KOs) defends his WBO bantamweight title against Lorenzo Parra (31-3-1 18 KOs) in a rematch of their 2010 fight that ended in a draw.
This should be a very different fight to the first. Since drawing with Arce, Parra has only fought once, losing against Anselmo Moreno by TKO.
Parra, fighting at his lightest weight in over four years, looked slow and plodding against Moreno, who outboxed him with ease throughout the fight until Parra quit with a hand injury.
By comparison, since the draw Arce has fought and won four times, including a fight of the year candidate with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Arce looked in good shape back at 118 pounds when he beat Angky Angkota in a near shutout.
Protheroe's Prediction: Arce to win by a wide margin on all three scorecards.
Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Francisco Contreras
Pablo Cesar Cano (22-1 17 KOs) looks to rebound from his first loss to Erik Morales with a win over Dominican Francisco Contreras (16-1 13 KOs).
Cano will want to wipe away memories of being bloodied and swollen as his corner stopped the fight against Morales.
The Mexican showed great spirit in that fight and can still rise to the top of the sport.
Cano has good skills and undisputed knockout power; this will likely be evident on Saturday against Francisco Contreras, a far more limited fighter than Morales.
Contreras has an extremely padded record. The only name of any note was his last fight against undefeated Sharif Bogere. He was knocked out in three.
Protheroe's Prediction: Cano to make short work of Contreras, knocking him out in two rounds.
Gilberto Keb Baas vs. Mario Rodriguez
The Ring's number one rated junior flyweight, Gilberto Keb Baas (35-21-4 22 KOs), will be the heavy favourite against Mario Rodriguez (12-6-4 8 KOs) this Saturday.
Keb Baas is looking for a comeback win after almost 10 months out of the ring following his loss to Adrian Hernandez, where he lost his WBC junior flyweight title.
His opponent, Rodriguez, has racked up some solid victories over fellow prospects, but the experience and skills of Keb Baas should be far too much for him.
Protheroe's Prediction: Keb Baas to win by KO in the fourth round.