Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao will no doubt be the main draw for HBO's huge April 12 pay-per-view, and some may argue that they'll be the only draw.
The undercard has drawn some criticism from fans who've come to expect a little more substance beyond the headline bout.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, though, argued that in his experience, the undercard bouts don't drive many fans to purchase a PPV or buy tickets for the event. Instead, they're seduced by the main event and little else.
As a result, he's more than happy to put on fights that will only cater to the more die-hard followers, per Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole:
In theory, yes, it makes sense to say, let's go get a lot of good, interesting fights and put them on the [pay-per-view] undercard, but the truth is—and I've been doing this a long, long time—90 percent of the people don't want to see the undercard and don't care about it. But there is a point to the argument that we should give the other 10 percent something to watch that they'll enjoy, so we decided to try to put together a fun card for them.
Rather than stacking the undercard with guys like Amir Khan and Adrien Broner, which Showtime has done with the Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana PPV, Arum and Top Rank chose bouts that are arguably better in terms of matchmaking.
What Pacquiao vs. Bradley II lacks in a high-profile undercard, it should more than make up for with strong, evenly matched fights.
Bryan Vasquez (+250) vs. Jose Felix Jr. (-325)
This will be a great test for Jose Felix Jr. He's looked good in the ring since turning pro, but he's never fought an opponent the caliber of Bryan Vasquez. If Felix can defeat the 26-year-old, it would be the biggest victory of his career and earn him a lot of respect.
On the other side of the ring, Vasquez still hasn't lived down his loss to Takashi Uchiyama in 2012. Despite getting three wins since that defeat, it's the one thing that most fans associate with the Costa Rican star.
He should redeem himself on Saturday.
Vasquez has more speed and endurance than Felix, and he's more experienced in the ring. Felix's camp may have aimed a little bit too high with this fight, as Vasquez is too big of a jump from Felix's former opponents.
Prediction: Vasquez by decision
Khabib Allakhverdiev (-270) vs. Jessie Vargas (+230)
Since leaving Mayweather Promotions to join Top Rank, the returns on Jessie Vargas have been mixed. While he's 4-0 following the switch, his career hasn't taken off like it was expected to a few years ago.
On the other side is Khabib Allakhverdiev, whom some fans view as more of a paper champion. Since winning the WBA junior welterweight title, he beat Souleymane M'baye, which begs the question: If nobody saw the fight, does it count?
Neither guy has a style that's particularly pleasing to the eye, so throwing them together in the ring might be a recipe for disaster, especially given the lack of star power on the undercard.
Vargas will be dropping from 147 pounds to 140 pounds for this fight, and that could have an adverse effect on his performance.
Allakhverdiev will go to the inside on Vargas early and often. Since he lacks knockout power, the champion probably won't end this fight early, but he'll be the clear victor on the judges' scorecards.
Prediction: Allakhverdiev by decision
Raymundo Beltran (-175) vs. Rocky Martinez (+137)
The winner of this fight will challenge WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford, who won a unanimous decision against Ricky Burns on March 1.
Between Raymundo Beltran and Rocky Martinez, it's hard to determine which of the two has more momentum heading into the PPV. Beltran earned a draw against Burns last September, though some would argue that Beltran had won, while Martinez was knocked out in the eighth round by Mikey Garcia last November.
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said back in January that this fight could be the best on the undercard, per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael:
This is a really interesting crossroads fight. Both guys have had wars with Burns. Neither guy has ever been in a bad fight. Beltran is a strong puncher who makes good fights. Rocky has been in a lot of good fights. I expect fireworks. I wouldn't be shocked if both guys hit the canvas.
Considering Martinez is both coming off a loss and jumping a weight class, you have to give the edge to Beltran. He's likely still seething from that draw with Burns, and even though he'd face Crawford in the event he wins, this is still an opportunity for him to clear his name in the lightweight division.
Prediction: Beltran by knockout
Note: Betting odds are courtesy of OddsShark.com.
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