Boxing: Fight Night Guide for Dec. 7

Guillermo Rigondeaux
Apr 13 2013 New York NY USA Nonito Donaire YellowBlack Trunks and Guillermo Rigondeaux GreenWhite trunks trade punches during their 12 round WBOWBA Super Bantamweight title fight at Radio City Music Hall Ed Mulholland USA TODAY Sports

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla previews the fights you need to follow every week.

Atlantic City N.J., Dec. 7

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko, 12 rounds, WBA/WBO jr. featherweight title

It’s not often that you see an unbeaten champion having to prove more than his opponent in a title fight, but that appears to be the case in this 122 lb title bout that will pit Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KO) and Agbeko (29-4, 22 KO) in what could end up being a more interesting fight than what the great multiple Olympic medalist from Cuba has us accustomed to. His shutout victory against of one of the house fighters in Nonito Donaire back in April was as dominant as it could be (he made Donaire miss about 300 punches and frustrated him all the way through with his masterful elusiveness), but it did very little to win him any new fans, and at 33, Rigo needs to start showing some fireworks before he ends up being bumped down to basic cable once again. All eyes will be on Rigo, and he seems to have gotten the memo this time, much to the chagrin of poor Agbeko.

What to look for in this fight: Feeling the pressure from fans, press and TV suits alike, Rigo will put on a boxing exhibition against the willing but limited Agbeko.

Glen Tapia vs. James Kirkland, 10 rounds, middleweights

An interesting middleweight scrap, by all means. Kirkland (31-1, 27 KO) is the formerly fearsome KO artist who lost some of his luster in an upset defeat at the hands of unheralded Nobuhiro Ishida two years ago. Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs) is a young, largely unproven former amateur standout taking on what is by far his biggest challenge to date. This should be a very entertaining “early crossroads” fight with a lot at stake for both fighters, in which not only the eventual loss but also the way in which the loser gets the L will determine what lies ahead for both of them. Could be the sleeper of the day, easily.

What to look for in this fight: It’s all good and dandy for the first few cautious rounds, but once Kirkland starts throwing some serious leather, the fight could have a surprise early end.

Matthew Macklin vs. Lamar Russ, 10 rounds, middleweights

More of the same, and then some. Just like in the Kirkland-Tapia affair, this bout will feature a former middleweight title challenger in Macklin (29-5, 20 KO) going up against an untested but talented up-and-comer in Russ (14-0, 7 KOs). Macklin is remembered for his tough showing against Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin in his two title bouts, and Russ has racked up a series of respectable wins, including a couple of victories against unbeaten foes. Another very early reality check for a young fighter against a solid, proven veteran who wants to get back on the big scene.

What to look for in this fight: Russ has youth on his side, but after his gutsy title bouts, Macklin is more than ready to handle him and cut him up to size with a unanimous decision.

Matt Korobov vs. Derek Edwards, 10 rounds, middleweights

Korobov (21-0, ,12 KO) was an immensely promising two-time amateur world champion born in Russia and brought to the States to fulfill his promise of greatness. He is still working on that promise, but he has failed to impress. In Edwards (26-2-1, 13 KOs) he’ll be facing a fringe contender who failed in his two step-up fights (against Adonis Stevenson and Marcus Johnson) and who has not looked good enough since that 2-fight losing streak to even worry Korobov in his path towards a title shot.

What to look for in this fight: With a crowded picture at the top of the 160 lb division, look for Korobov giving his best to invite himself into that elite and secure a title shot within 2014.

Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 7

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Zab Judah, 12 rounds, welterweights

In what is shaping up as a return to those classic Northeastern rivalries of old, former titlists and local residents Judah (42-8, 29 KO) and Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO) will meet in an interesting cross-town battle in an arena (Barclays Center) that is rapidly becoming a mainstay of the boxing circuit. Already capable of badmouthing each other into submission, the colorful pair will surely deliver a great contest of skill, with both of them being consummate boxers. Judah’s weakened chin and Malignaggi’s new-found power should add a measure of uncertainty to an already dead-even matchup, at least in my card.

What to look for in this fight: A solid display of boxing and a few theatrical antics from both of them, with Malignaggi getting the slight advantage on both fronts.

Devon Alexander vs. Shawn Porter, 12 rounds, IBF welterweight title

Alexander (25-1, 14 KO) is a skilled southpaw who has been considered a top welterweight for quite a while, but his uninspired loss in his own hometown against Timothy Bradley in 2011 proved to be too much of a disappointment for his fans to overcome, and he has gone out to prove himself on every fight ever since. He did prove he can handle bigger and tougher fighters with a one-sided win against ultra-tough Marcos Maidana in 2012, and hopes to continue working on a lucrative bout in his future with this fight against the unbeaten Porter (22-1, 14 KO), who’s fresh off a convincing win against former titlist Julio Diaz in a rematch of their previous draw. Two slick and ultra fast fighters who are looking to put together a solid performance that could take them to the next level. Should be interesting.

What to look for in this fight: Unless they come out to bull-rush each other, we’ll get a chess match of a fight that will do very little to establish them as future headliners.

Erislandy Lara vs. Austin Trout, 12 rounds, WBA interim junior middleweight title

Trout (26-1, 14 KO) and Lara (18-1-2, 12 KO) are on a very similar path. Both of them are highly respected after a string of solid achievements against much more experienced fighters, and deserving a wider recognition that will come only if they produce an explosive, come-from-behind dramatic win that earns them at least some resemblance of a fan base. If they choose this fight to make that kind of statement, they will certainly do themselves and the fans a great favor – and gain a lot of exposure in the process.

What to look for in this fight: They both have what it takes to do it, but Trout simply wants it more. It will be an upstream swim for a few rounds (nice pun, uh?), but Trout should emerge victorious once more.

Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 7

Darren Barker vs. Felix Sturm, 12 rounds, IBF middleweight title

Barker (26-1, 16 KO) is looking to succeed where two of his English countrymen have failed: go to Germany and beat local hero Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KO) in a middleweight title fight. Both Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray were beaten in dubious decisions against Sturm during his long title reign, but now Barker is aiming to make the third one the charm for him, especially now that he’ll be risking his own belt instead of trying to wrestle Sturm’s away. But after wrestling his version of the title from Sturm’s latest conqueror Daniel Geale, it would appear that Barker is more than ready for the job at hand.

What to look for in this fight: Third one will definitely be the charm for Barker, who will return to his island-nation with the IBF trinket still wrapped around his waist after a dominating performance.

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