The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of September 2
This past week was the calm before the storm in the boxing world, with little going on, but a palpable sense that we are finally nearing the end of the road before the biggest fight in years.
Floyd Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez are now less than two weeks away from stepping into the ring, and there will be plenty written and said about that fight in the next 13 days. It's obviously the biggest story in boxing, and one of the biggest in all of sports, but it's not the only thing going on.
This week in boxing will feature a crossroads heavyweight fight, the return of a Mexican warrior we thought done, a lightweight title defense across the pond and of course some additional hype for "The One," as if it needs it.
So then, fans, these are the hottest boxing storylines you'll need to watch for the week of Sept. 2.
Worth the Weight?
Much has been written about the potential size advantages Canelo Alvarez will enter the ring with on Sept. 14. He's the natural junior middleweight, and often comes into the ring on fight night closer to light heavyweight.
Floyd Mayweather, on the other hand, is a natural 147-pounder who needs to add weight in order to compete anywhere north of the welterweight limit.
When the terms for their fight were agreed back in May, it was the pound-for-pound king who insisted the fight take place at a catchweight of 152 pounds, rather than the 154-pound junior middleweight limit. Two pounds might not seem like much to the average person, but in the rough-and-tumble world of a boxing training camp, it could make all the difference.
Making weight is one of the hardest things to do in the sport, and it often requires great sacrifice on the part of the fighters in order to drain their bodies and cut those last few pounds. That won't be a problem for Mayweather: in fact, he says he's already at fighting weight with just under two weeks to go.
"My weight is made. I came into training camp weighing 150 or 149 and I came into the gym probably weighing 150 or 149,” Mayweather said at his boxing club in Las Vegas during this past Thursday's open media day.
Canelo has consistently stated that the two-pound difference won't be an issue, something he reiterated this past Thursday at his open media workout at his training camp in Big Bear, California.
"The weight is not going to be a factor. I'll be fine for the fight. It's no big thing. Actually, I feel I'm ahead of the curve. I'm not worried at all. It will come off and I will be fine," Canelo told the packed facility on Wednesday.
We'll just have to wait and see how that plays out. Luckily for us, we won't have to wait much longer.
All quotes were obtained directly by the writer.
Can Seth Mitchell Erase the Bad Taste of His Last Two Fights?
It's been a rough two-fight stretch for Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell.
The former Michigan State football standout was being primed for a title shot before he ran into Johnathon Banks last November in Atlantic City. Coming into the fight, the 31-year-old Banks was better known for his work in the corner of unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko than for his own fighting ability.
Mitchell was expected to roll over Banks on his way to a meeting with Wlad, but that's why they fight the fights in the ring and not on paper.
Banks floored Mitchell in the second round and polished him off shortly after in one of the bigger upsets of 2012. The two then met again in a woeful rematch earlier this summer at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Mitchell won a very uninspired decision this time around, but he couldn't avoid being badly hurt, and nearly stopped, by an opponent who seemed wholly uninterested in the fight. It wasn't the type of performance that would impress either the fans or pundits, and Mitchell will need to drastically improve his defense if he wants to be a player in the heavyweight division.
He'll get a chance to secure the biggest win of his career this coming Saturday, when he takes on former world title challenger Chris Arreola at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
Arreola is coming off a hard-fought unanimous-decision defeat at the hands of Bermane Stiverne, but he has a ton of power in his punches, and he has the stuff to check Mitchell's chin. It's a true crossroads fight for both guys.
Can Ricky Burns Rebound from a Disappointing Win?
Ricky Burns was extremely fortunate—and then some—to leave the ring on May 11 with his WBO lightweight championship still around his waist. He was taken to the woodshed by little-known challenger Jose Gonzalez for the majority of the rounds, before an injury to the challenger forced a ninth-round stoppage.
Gonzalez, who claimed he had injured his wrist, was ahead 87-84 on all cards when the fight was called off, handing Burns an improbable victory in a fight where he looked woefully unprepared.
Burns will get a chance to erase that memory when he defends his title against the rugged Raymundo Beltran this Saturday night in his native Scotland.
He's going to need an impressive performance to make fans forget how bad he looked against Gonzalez. With Adrien Broner apparently ready to continue his career at welterweight, the lightweight division doesn't have a clear-cut top fighter.
There's a lot of room to make a statement, and Burns will be looking to do that this weekend.
Is Rafael Marquez's Comeback Legit?
Rafael Marquez is one of the most exciting fighters of the past 20 years. He's a two-time world champion, and his four-fight series with Israel Vazquez showed why we watch boxing. It was pure brutality, as two Mexican warriors laid it all on the line, threw everything in the arsenal at each other and refused to give an inch.
Marquez and Vazquez fittingly split their series, with each man winning two fights, and boxing fans being treated to one of the more memorable rivalries in all of sports.
You may not have noticed, but the now 38-year-old Marquez is fighting on, and will be featured on the undercard of this Saturday's Mitchell vs. Arreola main event.
His opponent, the unheralded Efrain Esquivias isn't expected to put up must resistance, but we must ask the question: At 38 years old, and with so many wars under his belt, how much does Marquez have left? And even more directly, what is he fighting for?
Marquez has lost three of his last five bouts—including being stopped in his most recent fight by Cristian Mijares last October—and hasn't looked particularly good in a while.
It will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank, and where he's going with this comeback.
Can Nonito Donaire Rebound Against Vic Darchinyan?
It wasn't surprising that Nonito Donaire was defeated by Guillermo Rigondeaux this past April. Many observers felt the 32-year-old Cuban former amateur standout had the style to give the Filipino fits.
The surprising part was the ease with which Rigo forced Donaire off his game, and how he completely blunted his offensive attack.
Donaire looked amateurish for nearly every second of the 12-round fight. His punches were easily avoided or blunted by Rigo's defense, and the "Filipino Flash" wasn't able to sustain any sort of offensive attack.
It was a stunningly lopsided defeat, and Donaire did himself no favors by making excuses in the ring after the loss.
He'll get a chance to right the ship on Nov. 9, when he takes on Darchinyan in a 10-round featherweight rematch of their 2007 bout. On that night Donaire was able to score a spectacular fifth-round knockout in a fight that helped to launch him to stardom.
The bout will be the middle fight of an HBO televised triple-header that will feature Roman Martinez's defense of his WBO super featherweight championship against Mikey Garcia.
It's a great chance for Donaire to get back into the ring with an opponent whose style will produce action, and not the tactical boxing match we saw against Rigondeaux.