Bernard Hopkins, undisputed champion of the light heavyweight division, takes on Chad Dawson, The Ring magazine's third-ranked contender, on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
The promotion and event has been dubbed "Believe It or Not," Golden Boy's latest uninspiring title to go with "Star Power" and "Action Heroes" earlier this year. "Believe it or Not"...what does that even mean? Hopkins is fighting Dawson...okay, seems pretty believable to me.
Perhaps, as Boxing Scene's David Greisman noted "believe it or not, some people will actually buy this." The event has no business on pay-per-view, but unfortunately, due to budgetary restrictions, HBO couldn't air the fight.
I'm not advocating that people don't buy it; merely that of the three remaining pay-per-view shows, this would probably be the one to skip if you find yourself with your own budgetary restrictions. Manny Pacquiao is a sensation and even though I suspect a serious mismatch this time around, his third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez is a must-order.
And December 3, another anticipated rematch pits Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito. That pay-per-view may very well be the best of the entire year, with a ridiculous undercard featuring Brandon Rios, the Pawel Wolak/Delvin Rodriguez fight-of-the-year rematch, and Mike Jones vs. Sebastian Lujan. That is a stacked card—a no-brainer for boxing fans.
So with those two big events coming up, I wouldn't blame anyone for passing on this one. Hopkins vs. Dawson has been described as..."it could be a technical masterpiece." And that's probably the best-case scenario.
Which HBO PPVs do you plan on buying?
All that said, yeah, I'm likely to take the plunge and pop down for it anyway. For all my harshing on it above, I'm actually looking forward to Hopkins/Dawson quite a bit, but it's more of an intriguing fight than a potentially great one, if that makes sense.
I want to see how the styles mesh—if Dawson can do anything other than buzz around the outside and throw a lot of meaningless punches. The main event, whatever its shortcomings, delivers a legitimate champion (one of only a handful in the world) against a top three contender, in a pretty interesting division.
Here is a recent piece I wrote previewing the fight.
Lending support to the broadcast will be three televised undercard fights. Here's some thoughts and predictions on these:
Paul Malignaggi (29-4) vs. Orlando Lora (28-1-1)
Malignaggi is well known in boxing circles. He's brash and outrageous with a personality the size of Brooklyn. He's a skilled boxer with tons of heart, but just a step out of his league against the upper echelon. Lucky for him, Orlando Lora is not in that class.
Lora's lone defeat came at the hands of David Estrada last year (himself more of a middling journeyman than bona fide contender at that point). Malignaggi should easily outclass Lora, but Paulie's fragile hands and minuscule power always keep things interesting.
Who gives the best performance of the undercard?
Expect the bout to go the distance and I'll take Malignaggi in a wide, unanimous decision.
Kendall Holt (27-4) vs. Danny Garcia (21-0)
Garcia is a rising prospect/wannabe contender on the fringe of the top 10 in the junior-welterweight division. He has recently handled the familiar likes of Nate Campbell and Mike Arnaoutis—traditional stepping stones for Golden Boy's rising stars.
Holt is a different story; a very dangerous man. Holt carries an underwhelming 15 KOs in his 27 wins, but boxing fans have witnessed his striking power time and time again. From his wild, one-round war with Ricardo Torres, to his most recent jaw-dropping ouster of Julio Diaz in May, Holt has shown the type of power that can change a fight. Even in defeat, he dropped Tim Bradley twice.
Garcia appears to be a solid fighter, there's no question. He has the tools and pedigree, but when in doubt, I'm going with the proven commodity. Holt has fought far better opposition. I think Garcia could out-box Holt easily if he chooses to so. But Holt has a knack at goading his opponents and I think there comes a time when Garcia gets too eager, tries to make it a firefight, and Holt makes him pay.
I'm going with Holt KO8 in this one.
Jorge Linares (31-1) vs. Antonio DeMarco (25-2-1)
Antonio DeMarco has two career losses on paper, but only one of those is really worth examining, as he dropped a six-round majority decision many years ago as a young, unknown prospect in Mexico.
Since emerging as a viable contender, DeMarco has but one loss on the world stage. It was a rough one—a savage beating at the hands of the psychopathic Edwin Valero in February 2010. Valero, gushing blood from a vicious, unintentional elbow, bullied and battered DeMarco around the ring for nine rounds until the corner mercifully threw in the towel. DeMarco was in way over his head and too courageous for his own good.
The only blemish on the record of Linares is a first-round knockout at the hands of a not particularly powerful puncher in Juan Carlos Salgado. The chin of Linares is a major question mark and DeMarco is the only man to knock out Anges Adjaho (something decent hitters Joel Julio and Miguel Acosta couldn't do). DeMarco is also a tall lightweight and quite comfortable at the weight. Linares is not short but he has fought most of his career at junior lightweight and below.
DeMarco has fought just twice since the brutal loss to Valero, most recently winning a decision against Reyes Sanchez in February of this year. DeMarco didn't look spectacular in that fight, and Sanchez is clearly a notch below Linares.
Against Linares, I'd say DeMarco has a bit more than just a puncher's chance. He's a good fighter who will have some decent physical advantages. But I expect the athletic skill and quick combination punching of Linares will get to DeMarco by about the fourth or fifth round, and wouldn't be surprised at all to see Linares take it down with a late stoppage.
I like Linares by TKO or wide unanimous decision.