Heavyweight knockout machine Deontay Wilder returns to action on Friday night.
The summer heat is still blazing as we enter the first full week of August, and you know what that means.
In baseball they call these the dog days. But for boxing fans, when the calendar shifts from July to August you know that it's only a matter of time before you get to the fall—one of the peak times of year for the sport. And that means we are just a few weeks from the biggest fight of the year.
But just because there aren't many big fights doesn't mean there aren't big storylines brewing. In the first of our weekly installments, we will preview the top stories, fights and news you'll want to pay attention to for the week.
Let's take a look at some of them.
Stevens was once a highly touted prospect.
Middleweight contender Curtis Stevens has been everywhere on the spectrum during his nine-year professional career. He was once a highly touted prospect, but saw his career fall to the wayside after losing a wide decision to Jesse Brinkley in 2010.
Stevens took two years off after that defeat, and he dropped from super middleweight down to middleweight. Since then he's won four straight bouts, including this past Friday's one-round demolition of veteran Saul Roman, and he appears to be coming into his own as a fighter.
The 28-year-old Stevens hasn't been circumspect about who he wants to fight next—Kazakh wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin—and if you believe various reports from this past weekend, such as one from Kieran Mulvaney of ESPN.com, the fight has a serious chance of happening this fall.
Obviously Stevens would be a massive underdog having not beaten anyone close to the caliber of GGG, but he has tremendous one-punch power, and that alone makes for an intriguing matchup.
Team Alexander is none too impressed with Amir Khan.
IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander and former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan have done a lot of fighting lately. The only problem is that all of it has come in the press and none of it in the ring.
The two fighters and their camps have been trading barbs and accusations for months now, but they seem no closer to actually stepping through the ropes. This past weekend did produce something funny, and some would argue accurate, as Alexander trainer Kevin Cunningham had this to say to Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com:
Devon has never ducked anybody. He faced the biggest punchers in the division...Maidana, Matthysse, Urango and Bailey. So why would he duck a glass-jawed con job like Amir. Team Khan has this arrogant, sense of entitlement attitude. But like I said before, they don't dictate sh*t over here. Khan said Devon ducked a fight with him at 140, we were never offered a fight with him at 140. Now he's saying Devon doesn't want to fight. Hey Amir, you and your daddy stop f***ing around, sign the contract so Devon can check your chin and make you do the St. Louis boogaloo
Truly hilarious stuff. But that doesn't change that we're rapidly approaching the time for talking to stop and fighting to begin. Somebody needs to let Alexander and Khan know before the public loses interest.
When will Wilder take the plunge?
American heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder is undefeated and has knocked out all 28 men to step in the ring with him. There is no doubt he can punch, but he's still very raw and has yet to be truly tested.
He'll face former WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich on Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The "White Wolf" hasn't fought in over a year, and he's been stopped in each of his last two fights. It's clear he doesn't have much, if anything, left in the tank.
The question now becomes: when is Wilder going to take the plunge and fight someone with a pulse?
Amazingly enough he's managed to come quite far—he's ranked No. 6 by both the WBA and WBO—despite having beaten a virtual who's who of nobodies, no-hopers and has-beens. He should have little trouble dispatching of Liakhovich, but then what?
Moreno is back at his comfort weight.
Anselmo Moreno was considered by many to be the best bantamweight in the world before he chose to move up in weight to challenge Abner Mares for the 122-pound title last November.
That bout didn't go so well for the 28-year-old Panamanian. He was knocked down, roughed up and lost a clear unanimous decision. But now he's back to his familiar stomping grounds, and he'll be defending his WBA 118-pound title against William Urina on Saturday night.
Moreno will be looking to reestablish himself as the top dog at bantamweight in front of his hometown fans in Panama City. His opponent has won seven straight fights since losing a lopsided decision to Omar Narvaez, but should provide little that can trouble the champion.
Russell's opponent is a no-hoper.
Gary Russell Jr. is always mentioned among the can't-miss young guns of the sport. He's a southpaw with great boxing ability and good power. But somebody has to explain why he's fighting Juan Ruiz on Friday night.
After all, isn't Russell supposed to be moving up from that type of opponent at this point?
Ruiz doesn't appear all that bad at a first glance. He sports a professional record of 23-11, which isn't awful, but he's lost nine of his last 10 fights and hasn't won since 2008.
Russell is 25 years old, and he's going to need to start fighting upper-tier opposition to prove whether his talent matches the hype.