Saturday, March 5 in Anaheim, CA (HBO): Saul Alvarez (35-0-1, 26 KOs) vs. Matthew Hatton (41-4-2, 16 KOs), for WBC jr. middleweight (154 lb.) title
Prediction: Alvarez by TKO
First, a word about Jose Sulaiman and the other no-good dogs at the WBC, because no one can ever complain about the alphabets enough, and frankly because the media lets them off easy: Since 2008, they have now stripped distinguished champions Vernon Forrest, Sergio Martinez and Manny Pacquiao of this division's belt purely to maximize their profit, and now they are attempting to hand it to their homeland's Alvarez for the doubly beneficial purpose of getting him his first crown and, of course, obtaining a sanctioning fee. No amount of derision suffices when it comes to the alphabet organizations and their audacious leader, the WBC. Any endorsement, condonation or tolerance reveals an unacceptable level of investment, competence or integrity from the media.
With that off my chest, this bout could arguably be considered a reasonable step for 20 year old Alvarez, if not for the fraudulent "championship" label. The Hit Man's brother represents a competitive, even if limited, challenger, despite his apparent perfect style for the young Mexican's showcase. He should hang around long enough to justify his spot on the card... and to make Alvarez look like a world beater. Whether he is that or not will be answered on another night.
Adrien Broner (19-0, 16 KOs) vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon (41-2, 34 KOs), jr. lightweights (130 lb.)
Prediction: Broner by decision
Speaking of answers that we won't get Saturday night on "Boxing After Dark," Broner had better hope it's not us finding out how tough he is, because he's not as tough as De Leon, one of the more exciting gunslingers in the lower weight classes. As the younger, fresher, bigger and faster combatant, Broner shouldn't have to out-tough De Leon, connecting plenty enough for a win on the cards. Unusually intriguing matchmaking by HBO here, featuring the classic pairing of the rugged veteran trying to walk down the athletic, skillful up-and-comer.
Saturday, March 5 at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ (Integrated PPV):
Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KOs) vs. Kaizer Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs), for IBF jr. welterweight (140 lb.) title
Prediction: Judah by decision
This generation's most overhyped and amnesia-inducing name fighter returns yet again, with so-called experts proclaiming that Judah's rededicated, refocused and will show us something new (or again). We may not know who Judah is now, but we should. It's a shame, really, because he has has some admirable attributes, including speed, athleticism and the occasional display of power, but with the hype he undeservedly receives, focus turns to his overrating.
That said, the New York-based IBF really looked out for the regional favorite in this one, making him the challenger of a flawed champion, in spite of Mabuza's significant upset last year of the imposing Kendall Holt. With Judah's proven capacity to fade in the last third of a bout, no one should get surprised if he loses; however, he should get out ahead enough this weekend to capture this 140 pound belt.
Saturday, March 5 in Mexico (Fox Deportes):
WBC champ Humberto Soto (54-7-2, 32 KOs) vs. Fidel Monterrosa (25-2, 19 KOs), lightweights (135 lb.)
Prediction: Soto by decision
Monterrosa's fairly glossy record is filled with club fighters, and Soto decisioned him without controversy less than six months ago. For whatever reason, he scored a rematch with one of the sport's lunch-pail titlists, who's won ten in a row but the last five by decision. Unless Soto hasn't recovered from December's war with Urbano Antillon, he'll have too much game and experience for the Colombian.
Editors Note: Here are Yesterday's Predictions from Brian Gorman:
Friday, March 4 in Kissimmee, FL (ESPN 2):
Ismayl Syllakh (14-0, 12 KOs) vs. Yordanis Despaigne (8-0, 4 KOs), light heavyweights (175 lb.)
Prediction: Syllakh by decision
Can't remember the last time I saw a former Cuban Olympian with less amateur experience than his opponent, but that's what we have here, with two decorated amateurs turned early pro title contenders due to hundredes of amateur bouts. Despaigne is generally polished, physical and rugged, but Syllakh should prevail on points due to his superior athleticism, speed and skill.
Whatever the result, it once again shows that "Friday Night Fights" remains the best pound-for-pound (or dollar-for-dollar) boxing show on television. In this main event, either or both of the fighters may become future champions; it says here thought that Syllakh will become a star.
Ray Narh (24-1, 21 KOs) vs. Freddie Norwood (43-3-1, 23 KOs), jr. welterweights (140 lb.)
Prediction: Narh by TKO
Former featherweight champ Norwood may have the great Juan Manuel Marquez on his resume in a past boxing life, but at 40 and largely inactive over the past few years, he's in for a beating by the Ghanaian, even though Narh has also made disappointingly sparse ring appearances. Narh competed in boxing hotbed Accra, Ghana until moving to PIttsburgh several years back, but his career stalled a bit in the past few years despite winning 14 in a row and the past seven by stoppage. Hopefully this win portends bigger and better things for him.