The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of November 4
It's a great time to be a boxing fan.
We are literally in a stretch where there is a big fight pretty much every weekend between now and the new year, and this coming weekend is no different.
We'll get you setup right for all the storylines heading into HBO's big three-fight, two-championship triple-header on Saturday night from Corpus Christi, TX, and recap this past weekend's action from Madison Square Garden.
Consider yourself armed for the week ahead. These are the hottest boxing storylines for the first full week of November!
Can We Declare Gennady Golovkin Legit Now?
Gennady Golovkin staked his claim for 2013 Fighter of the Year honors on Saturday night, bulldozing Curtis Stevens in eight brutal, but dramatic rounds at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. It was GGG's fourth spectacular stoppage win of the year, and it firmly reemphasized his place as one of the best middleweights in the world today, if not the best.
But it also highlighted the conundrum that has befallen the Kazakh wrecking ball. Some still question whether his meteoric rise to the top has more to do with his immense talents, or the lack of fighters willing or able to exploit his perceived deficiencies.
In some circles, there still exists a reluctance to anoint him the best middleweight in the world without having beaten anything resembling an elite-level fighter.
But most of that isn't really Golovkin's fault. Longtime division kingpin Sergio Martinez seems to have little interest in fighting him at this point in his career. He's reportedly deep in negotiations for a bout with former junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto next year, and that leaves GGG without the fight most want to see.
WBO champion Peter Quillin remains an attractive, but at this point impossible option due to the ongoing Cold War between HBO and Golden Boy Promotions, and there really isn't a whole lot left in the cupboard after him. Would anyone give Golovkin substantially more credit for beating Darren Barker or Felix Sturm than he got for beating Matthew Macklin or Curtis Stevens?
The lone lucrative and high-profile fight then would be Andre Ward, and it's hard to see HBO matching two of their biggest names—one of whom is being marketed as their next big star—against one another at this point.
So for now, many questions remain unanswered. But to these eyes at least, it's just a matter of time.
Is Mike Perez a Threat in the Heavyweight Division?
Cuban heavyweight prospect Mike "The Rebel" Perez emerged from a battle of undefeated heavyweights with his hand raised on Saturday night, capturing a well-deserved unanimous decision over power-punching Magomed "Mago" Abdusalamov.
The 28-year-old Perez doesn't have the height of today's top-level heavyweights, but he's a southpaw with exceptional boxing skills, and he showed an ability to adapt to circumstances and change his gameplan between rounds.
In the early rounds, it appeared the two big boys would engage in a slugfest, but that was the type of fight that could've provided advantages to Abdusalamov, who entered the bout with 18 knockouts in 18 professional fights.
Perez gave as good as he got in those exchanges, and he refused to wilt to his foe's thudding punches. By the middle rounds, it was "Mago" who was winded, bloodied and bruised from the encounter, and that's when Perez really began to take over the fight.
By the end of the 10-round affair, it was Abdusalamov who was in a bad way. He was reportedly taken to a local hospital with a broken hand, broken nose and a small blood clot on the brain that required a minor surgical procedure.
The big question remains whether Perez can be a serious factor in the heavyweight division. He doesn't appear to have the size to compete with the super-heavies like the Klitschkos, but his boxing ability will make him a dangerous out as he continues to develop.
Will the Real Nonito Donaire Please Stand Up?
Boxing can be an unfair game at times.
When Nonito Donaire met Guillermo Rigondeaux at New York City's Radio City Music Hall this past April, many were expecting the "Filipino Flash" to bulldoze through his opponent as he had so many before him. The general consensus was that while Rigo was a talented fighter, he hadn't been in the pro game long enough to handle Donaire's power and aggression.
So much for that.
Rigondeaux didn't just beat Donaire, he dominated him in every facet of the game, and he won a much-deserved unanimous decision.
But it'll be Donaire featured as the co-main event on an HBO telecast this coming weekend—despite the loss—even as Rigondeaux struggles to convince the suits at the network to continue broadcasting his fights.
Donaire will face old foe Vic Darchinyan in a rematch of their 2007 flyweight contest, which the Filipino won by brutal fifth-round knockout, capturing the IBF 112-pound championship in the process.
On a professional level, this year has been every bit as bad for Donaire as last year was good. In 2012 he fought four times, winning all in impressive fashion, and he staked a claim to a top-five spot in most pound-for-pound rankings.
But the Rigodeaux fight was a disaster, and it left a bad taste in many people's mouths.
The question is whether Donaire was exposed on that night, or whether it was simply a bump in the road against another supremely talented fighter.
We know one thing for sure, Darchinyan will come to fight, and he'll be willing to engage much more than Rigo would. That should mean advantage Donaire.
Can Mikey Garcia Make the Transition to Super Featherweight?
Mikey Garcia has been a buzzsaw of late, but he's struggled to conquer one foe.
Garcia has struggled to make the featherweight limit of 126 pounds—he failed in his last fight and lost his WBO championship on the scales—and has finally given up. He'll be making the jump to super featherweight on Saturday night, and he'll be taking on one hell of an opening challenge.
Roman "Rocky" Martinez is as tough as they come, and he's very durable. He won the WBO Super Featherweight Championship in a war with Miguel Beltran last year, and he's successfully defended it twice (although many felt he deserved a loss against Juan Carlos Burgos in January).
The fight has explosive potential, and the jump in weight shouldn't be too much of a factor for Garcia.
He does deserve a lot of credit for making that leap and immediately taking on one of the biggest dogs in the yard. A win would clearly establish his credentials at the new weight and open the path for potentially interesting fights next year.
Can Either Demetrius Andrade or Vanes Martirosyan Be a Factor at 154 Pounds?
The junior middleweight division is extremely top heavy. At the peak sits pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, and sitting just below him are a bevy of talented fighters including Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara and a resurgent Miguel Cotto.
That doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for the fighters that fall below that level.
Two of them—Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan—will compete on Saturday night for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight Championship on HBO. Perhaps more important than the belt is the chance to gain some separation from the crowded pack and establish themselves at true contenders.
Andrade represented the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He's undefeated in 19 professional fights but hasn't beaten any top contenders, and he's been frequently criticized for a less-than-exciting style.
Martirosyan is much more experienced and, like his opponent, also represented the United States at the Summer Olympics. The California-based fighter of Armenian descent fought in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, but he has struggled to attract viewers to his fights. Last November, he fought fellow contender Lara to an ugly ninth-round technical draw in a fight that was stopped after a headbutt opened a nasty cut over his eye.
This is a bout that HBO had previously been reluctant to televise due to the less-than-appealing style of both fighters, but now that it's on, both fighters badly need to win.