Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla previews the most relevant fights you need to follow every week around the world.
Corona, Calif., April 3
Petr Petrov vs. Gamaliel Diaz, 10 rounds, lightweights
A great beginning for a weak weekend in boxing. Russian-born, Spain resident Petrov (35-4-2, 16 KO) is the winner of the Boxcino 2014 title at 135 lbs and currently on a 4-0 streak in America after losing in Argentina against Marcos Maidana in 2011, and he’ll be facing a tough customer in former world titlist Diaz (39-11-3, 18 KO) in what looms as an entertaining 10 rounder that could land the winner a chance for a title in the near future. It should be a terrific crossroads fight between two tough fighters in a decisive stage of their careers.
Quebec City, Canada, April 4
Adonis Stevenson vs. Sakio Bika, 12 rounds, WBC light heavyweight title
The light-heavyweight division is one of the very few divisions in which the best have fought the best consistently, and now we are approaching a time in which the top fighters will have a chance to decide who is “the man” in the division. Right now, that claim belongs to Stevenson (25-1, 21 KO), the current WBC, The Ring and linear champion, but he is being stalked by multi-titlist Sergei Kovalev and may be cornered into a decisive fight with him in the near future. But first, Stevenson will have to take care of Cameroon-born former super middleweight titlist Bika (32-6-3, 21 KO) in a new PBC on CBS card that would pave the way for Haitian-born, Canadian-resident Stevenson to finally claim to have cleared the division before meeting Kovalev in the biggest fight at 175 lbs in years. Should be an interesting fight to watch, especially if Bika keeps it clean and stays away from his dirty tactics.
Artur Beterbiev vs. Gabriel Campillo, 12 rounds, IBF light heavyweight eliminator
As much as Stevenson-Bika could determine the fate of the next mega-bout at 175, this bout may very well determine the next challenger for that eventual unified group of titles now held by Stevenson and Kovalev. Russia’s Beterviev (7-0, 7 KO) and Spain’s Campillo (25-6-1, 12 KO) are fighting for a chance to dispute one of Kovalev’s belts, but the winner will clearly have to wait until the the “Krusher” meets “Superman” in an eventual unification bout, and then they’ll be able to have their own chance. They both have the resume and the experience that would make that fight an easy sell, so expect these two to give it all in this fight, knowing that a solid performance will earn them a seat at the table for a future negotiation in an undisputed title fight sometime in 2016.
Julian Williams vs. Joey Hernandez, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
A rare chance to see one of boxing’s most promising fighters out there will take place in the undercard, when the fast-rising Williams (18-0-1, 11 KO) meets Hernandez (24-2-1, 14 KO) in what could end up being his toughest fight to date. “J-Rock” should emerge victorious in another showcase performance, but it would be interesting to see his progress and have his skills tested against a proven trialhorse.
Las Vegas, Nev., April 4
Gabriel Rosado vs. Curtis Stevens, 7 rounds, middleweights
In case you haven’t seen it yet, Big Knockout Boxing is a new modality for the sport in which combatants face each other in a round pit without ropes for either five or seven two-minute rounds. It is a relatively new concept that is still developing before our eyes, and this will be a great chance to see two usually exciting fighters in a new environment. Rosado (21-9, 13 KO) is winless in his last five bouts, but he became the first winner in this format with his stoppage victory over Brian Vera in the organization’s debut and is still considered an entertaining fighter who always puts on a show. Stevens (27-5, 20 KO) is a tough veteran with terrific but slightly eroded boxing skills, and this should be a great opportunity to test the BKB format with two fighters who are known for their all-action styles.
Jesus Soto Karass vs. Ed Paredes, 5 rounds, junior middleweights
The BKB organization has recruited a few solid former titlists and contenders for their bouts, and these two warriors are no exception. Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18 KO) needs all the redemption he can get against Paredes (35-5-1, 23 KO) after dropping his last two bouts, but given Soto’s level of opposition lately, even in defeat, he is the favorite to make the most out of his debut at the BKB level. Should be a fun slugfest while it lasts.
Metepec, Mexico, April 4th
Carlos Cuadras vs. Luis Concepcion, 12 rounds, WBC junior bantamweight title
It is said that true boxing fans are lower-weight division fans. And if that holds true, then this is the one fight they shouldn’t miss this week. Both Cuadras (31-0, 25 KO) and Concepcion (32-3, 23 KO) are known for their entertaining, all-out action styles, and this is probably one of the best matchups in a very interesting month of April in boxing. Even though Concepcion is the flashier of the two and is unbeaten in the past two years, expect Cuadras to impose his strength and natural size to grab a victory by decision in what should be a terrific bout.
Newcastle, England, April 4th
Anthony Joshua vs. Jason Gavern, 8 rounds, heavyweights
Joshua, 10-0 (10 KO), a superbly talented former super heavyweight Olympic medalist, saw his career temporarily delayed by an injury, but is scheduled to return against Gavern (26-19-4), a 37-year-old contender who will probably serve as a mere prelude for Joshua’s already scheduled first ten-rounder against former contender Kevin Johnson. Still, it will be a terrific chance to see the progress of a heavyweight champ in the making.
Tokyo, Japan, April 4th
Yu Kimura vs. Hayato Yamaguchi, 10 rounds, junior flyweights
Kimura (15-2-1, 2 KO) was supposed to fight Shin Ono in a rematch of their superb 2014 clash, but an injury sidelined Ono until further notice, and he was replaced with Yamaguchi (12-5-1, 2 KO), a former title challenger with a deceptive record and an upset mentality. A nice fight to look for on YouTube during the week.