There was a time when HBO’s Boxing After Dark series brought us quality contests from fighters yet to make their impact on the mainstream boxing fan. It’s the series that brought us Gatti-Ward, Barrera vs. Morales, and a whole host of other memorable wars. Designed to appeal to the hardcore fan, BAD offered good matchmaking and fighters who were hungry for opportunity.
Over the years, though, the BAD product became just another show, often featuring showcase mismatches for fighters on the way up the career ladder.
Now, after a change in HBO Sports leadership, the network seems focused on returning to the original premise of their secondary boxing show. It’s certainly a riskier proposition than simply cruising to decent ratings based on name recognition. But when it all clicks, legends are born.
For every Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado classic, there’s a chance of a stinker or a bout where one of the young fighters is so obviously not prepared for the main stage. But that’s what Boxing After Dark is for– Sink or swim, eat or be eaten. The inherent risk is part of the charm.
This Saturday, at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, Boxing After Dark presents a triple header, featuring six hungry fighters very capable of producing memorable efforts.
Fans will see Puerto Rican welterweight prospect, Thomas Dulorme (16-0, 12 KOs) against Argentina’s Luis Carlos Abregu (33-1, 27 KOs) in a ten-rounder. The 22-year-old Dulorme certainly appears to be the complete package, but he’s been matched carefully with his career high water mark being a one-sided unanimous decision over DeMarcus Corley in 2011. Abregu, 28, has been brought along similarly. Except for a unanimous decision loss to Timothy Bradley in 2010 and a couple of decent wins over journeyman, Abregu’s resume is barren, He has nowhere near the raw talent of a guy like Dulorme, but he can punch. And that saving grace may add some spice to a bout the Puerto Rican should win.
Also, Mauricio Herrera (18-2, 7 KOs) will meet Karim Mayfield (16-01, 10 KOs) in a ten round junior welterweight bout. Herrera has shown himself to be somewhere between Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov on the contender scale, having dropped a tough ten round decision to Alvarado in April and having eaked out a twelve round unanimous decision over Provodnikov in 2011. But regardless of where you rank him in the stacked junior welterweight division– and he does deserve a ranking– he has undisputed toughness and a warrior’s mindset. Mayfield has the edge in raw ability and athleticism, but has been relatively untested in the area of mental toughness. Saturday, we’ll find out a lot about Mayfield’s ability to go to war and Herrera’s ability to hang with a significantly different style of fighter than what he usually faces.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez (31-3, 13 KOs) defends his IBF lightweight title against countryman, Marvin Quintero (25-3, 21 KOs) in what will likely be a strange mix of styles. Vazquez is a boxer and, despite his Mexican heritage, more of a stylist than a come-forward battler. As a result, the skilled fighter from Guadalajara has been slow to win fans among the hardcore Mexican fan base despite three solid title defenses and a reign that goes back more than two years. Quintero, on the other hand, is all bluster and hand grenades. His last eleven bouts (9-2) have ended early, either with a stoppage win or a stoppage loss. Expect an interesting tactical battle with both fighters trying to control the tempo and the pace of the bout.
All in all, this Saturday’s Boxing After Dark show is for the hardcore fan– a demo group often overlooked by network big shots and promoters. It may not bring in the big numbers, but it will keep the sport’s most loyal fans happy. And, who knows? It could be the HBO debut of a real star or two.