By Fox Doucette
Over the past couple of months we’ve gotten boxing shows that have been long on star power (including a pay-per-view by that name) and short on actual quality in the main event. The fight fan who is frustrated at the big names putting on mediocre fights (Pacquiao-Mosley, Mayweather-Ortiz, Hopkins-Dawson, the list goes on), if he can find an Internet stream or other means to watch Saturday night’s card at Arena Roberto Duran in Panama, will have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, as this might be the deepest card from doors open to final bell of any event in boxing this year.
The ostensible main event is between Alberto Mosquera (16-0-1, 12 KOs) and Brunet Zamora (21-0-1, 10 KOs) for the WBA interim title at junior welterweight, which in turn will make the winner a likely challenger for Marcos Maidana’s regular title in the WBA at 140. Why the WBA needs an interim belt holder when Maidana just defended the regular title less than a month ago (and Amir Khan holds the “super” title after the win over Zab Judah unified the WBA and IBF belts), no rational person can say other than that this is a naked grab for 3% of the purse. Whatever the lame excuse, it got two undefeated fighters together for 12 rounds of action, so maybe it would be impolitic of the fan to complain in this specific instance. Mosquera-Zamora promises a well-matched contest between two guys with quality prospects on their list of guys they’ve beaten fighting for a chance to take their careers to the next level and crack the list of the best guys in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
If one interim belt contest isn’t enough for you, the co-main event, five pounds down the scale at lightweight, pits Venezuelan veteran Miguel Acosta (29-4-2, 23 KOs), two fights removed from losing his shot at the WBA lightweight championship of the world to Brandon Rios by 10th-round TKO, against fringe contender Richard Abril (16-2-1, 8 KOs), who has stepped up twice in his career and lost twice, once by split decision to ESPN stalwart “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy and once by split decision to Amir Khan conqueror Breidis Prescott, in both cases when Abril’s foe came in undefeated. Abril has never truly beaten a quality opponent, but on the other hand he has never been truly beaten up and soundly defeated either. Will the underdog pull out a win against a guy who owns a knockout win over Urbano Antillon (in round 9 on July 25, 2009) or will Miguel Acosta earn himself a potential rematch with Rios for the crown at 135?
Speaking of Friday Night Fights regulars, fans of ESPN’s weekend starter will find two more gentlemen who are no stranger to having Teddy Atlas call their names on television. Thomas Dulorme (12-0, 10 KOs), who beat DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley utterly senseless en route to a 10-round “how is that guy even upright?” unanimous decision on FNF in June, takes on Charlie Jose Navarro (20-4, 15 KOs) for the kind of minor piece of flair that only requires eight rounds to fight for. Navarro is no slouch; last year he lost a close unanimous decision to Viacheslav Senchenko for a world title at welterweight. Much like Corley, Navarro is a good but not great opponent for a prospect on the rise, but he will be far from a soft touch. Credit goes to Dulorme’s team; they are bringing him along solidly, not taking unnecessary risks but not making their fighter regress his skills due to a lack of good opponents.
Kenny Galarza (15-1, 14 KOs), who has been a shrinking violet on US television, losing soundly to Brad Solomon in 2010 on FNF and looking utterly pedestrian in a split decision win against tomato can Irving Garcia on the same card as the Dulorme-Corley fight, gets to ply his craft away from the bright lights of the Worldwide Leader against Johan Perez (13-0-1, 10 KOs) in an oddly scheduled nine-rounder for a minor belt in the WBA hierarchy (the WBA, headquartered in Panama, has its hooks into every fight on this card.) Perez holds the interesting distinction of having been the most recent opponent of main event combatant Alberto Mosquera; that fight, in the same arena as Saturday’s contests, ended in a majority draw, a fight many observers thought Perez won. While Mosquera has moved on to a second-tier title shot, Perez seems to be stuck in neutral, but a win over Galarza would do wonders toward establishing in hindsight who the better fighter was in Panama City four months ago. An impressive win should put Perez in line to advance his career as he is still an unbeaten prospect.
The full schedule for the rest of the night’s fights (16 in all, which will span 137 rounds of boxing if every fight goes the distance) is available at Boxrec.com; interestingly, every fight save one is at 147 pounds or below. The exception involves Larry Donald (42-5, 24 KOs), and yes, he’s still fighting—at age 44 he will be making a comeback against an opponent to be determined in a six-rounder. Donald’s last fight was in 2007, a shutout unanimous decision loss to a then 12-0 Alexander Povetkin. In his younger days, Larry Donald beat Evander Holyfield, and his five losses were to Povetkin, Nikolay Valuev (in 2005), Vitali Klitschko (2002), Kirk Johnson (2001), and way back in 1994 Donald lost to Riddick Bowe during the interregnum of the heavyweight division when guys like Bowe and Michael Moorer and George Foreman held world titles, a time in heavyweight boxing akin to the NBA’s struggles during Michael Jordan’s baseball days. Nobody knows what Larry Donald has in his tank and it is unlikely they are choosing a top-notch opponent on short notice for this fight.
Just for what it’s worth, the WBA is very strongly deserving of praise here. This card, the exception to every rule you thought you had about sanctioning bodies, shows what such a body can do when it puts all of its contenders and minor titlists and influence to work on matchmaking. Every fight on tonight’s card is either for a regional or minor title somewhere in the WBA’s hierarchy or otherwise has rankings implications. If more sanctioning bodies stepped up to focus not on the short-term cash grab of a pay-per-view and instead on putting guys with plenty to prove who are still hungry into an arena in a place like Panama City which is chock-full of rabid boxing fans, the sport would be better off for it. Here at the Tribune we love to rip the 3%-of-the-purse gangsters (and gods know they deserve it 99.9% of the time), but you can’t tell me this card would have been possible without the WBA’s muscle behind it. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and credit should go where it is due.
This fight card is not scheduled to air on US television; anyone who can find either an Internet feed or a stream from a European or Latin American broadcaster is, however, strongly advised to tune in. Roberto Duran may be famous for saying “no mas”, but his namesake arena will host mucho, mucho mas Saturday night.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and those spiffy Panama Jack hats can be sent to email@example.com.
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