Boxing's Top Storylines to Watch in Week of August 19
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Boy, what a week it has been, and what a week we have coming up.
The boxing calendar heated up in a big way this past weekend, with a slew of good fights, three new world champions and the emergence of several new stars.
In other words, it's a good time to be a boxing fan. This week should provide no dropoff in the drama, with Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz returning to action in separate bouts on Showtime. We'll cover those stories, as well as the fallout from Sergey Kovalev and Darren Barker's big championship victories this past weekend.
These are the top storylines for you to watch in boxing for the week of Aug. 19.
Can Abner Mares Continue His Dominance?
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Abner Mares is one of the best fighters in boxing, but he seems to fly a bit under the radar.
The WBC featherweight champion—who impressively won the belt by stopping Daniel Ponce de Leon on the Mayweather vs. Guerrero undercard—will get a chance to be front and center this week when he headlines a Showtime televised event on Saturday night.
His opponent—a former WBC featherweight champion in his own right—is the always exciting Jhonny Gonzalez. The 31-year-old might not be the fighter he once was, but he's still dangerous and always comes to fight.
Mares has all the talent to become a major player in the sport, but he'll need a big performance in this showcase event to continue his rise.
In many ways, that makes Gonzalez the perfect opponent. He's rugged, tough and exciting, but it's hard to see how he can unseat the champion at this point. He'll provide excitement, and that's just what Mares needs.
How Far Can Sergey Kovalev Go?
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Sergey Kovalev is a beast, a force of nature and clearly the next big thing in the light heavyweight division. He absolutely stomped Nathan Cleverly on Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales, to win his first world championship, and he scored his 20th knockout in 22 fights in the process.
The question for Kovalev now becomes: How far can the Florida-based Russian knockout machine go?
The answer—if this past weekend is an indication—is very far.
He's the newly crowned WBO light heavyweight champion, has a growing fanbase and seems to have won over the suits at HBO who are enamored with his potential star power.
In the aftermath of his impressive fourth-round demolition of Cleverly, there has already been a fair amount of chatter about who he will face next. The winner of an HBO televised bout between WBC and lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and former IBF champion Tavoris Cloud makes a lot of sense.
It'd certainly be interesting to see Stevenson match his power against the frightening Russian.
Can Leo Santa Cruz Capture a World Title at Junior Featherweight?
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Leo Santa Cruz, remember him?
The 25-year-old Mexican took the sport by storm in 2012, winning five times and earning some consideration for Fighter of the Year.
Santa Cruz has taken a far less demanding schedule thus far far in 2013. He's only fought once this year—on the Mayweather vs. Guerrero undercard—against the thoroughly overmatched Alexander Munoz.
He'll be stepping up this Saturday night, in the toughest test of his career, when he attempts to capture a world title at super bantamweight.
His opponent—WBC 122-pound champion Victor Terrazas—cannot be taken lightly and has the skills to knock off the former bantamweight champion.
These are two of the best in an absolutely loaded division, and it'll be interesting to see who emerges from this fight on top.
How Deep Is the Middleweight Division?
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Don't look now, but the middleweight division just might be the deepest in all of boxing.
This past weekend, boxing fans were treated to an absolute war between newly crowned IBF 160-pound champion Darren Barker and Daniel Geale.
Geale, who had held his title since 2011, dropped Barker with a vicious left to the body in the waning moments of the sixth round. It was the type of shot that signals the end for virtually any fighter on the receiving end, but not only did Barker rise, he also came back to take over the fight down the stretch and secure his first world title.
Until toppled, the division kingpin remains Sergio Martinez. But sniffing on his heels are a bevy of talented fighters including WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, WBO champion Peter Quillin and the newly crowned Barker.
Amongst the second-tier contenders include former champions Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Hassan N'Dam, Felix Sturm and Geale, resurgent contenders in Brian Vera and Curtis Stevens and veteran challengers Martin Murray, Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin.
There aren't many soft touches in the middleweight division these days, and it might just be the most dangerous neighborhood in boxing.
Can Danny Jacobs Continue His Improbable Comeback?
Danny "Miracle Man" Jacobs is one of the most inspirational stories in all of sports.
In May of 2011, the 26-year-old middleweight contender was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive and life-threatening form of bone cancer, and was given little chance of walking again, much less boxing.
After a successful surgery to remove the tumor, which was wrapped around his spine and caused partial paralysis, Jacobs began training for a return to the sport against his doctor's wishes.
Just over a year after his diagnosis, and less than a year after surgery, Jacobs successfully returned to the ring last October in the inaugural boxing event held at his hometown Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He has since won all three fights of his comeback, against low-level opposition, and will return to the ring on Aug. 19 against the durable Giovanni Lorenzo.
It's virtually impossible to root against Jacobs, given all he's overcome and how humble he is as a person, but it'll be interesting to see how he fares with his opposition level rising. Lorenzo isn't a world-beater, but he's certainly tougher than any opponent the "Miracle Man" has faced in his return.