Saturday, March 12 at Foxwoods Resort, Conn. (HBO): WBC-Ring Champ Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) vs. Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-0, 23 KOs) , middleweights (160 lb.)
Prediction: Martinez by decision
In the only real championship fight of the night (but who would know the difference?), the 2010 fighter of the year makes his first 2011 defense against WBO junior middleweight titlist Dzinziruk, in a bout where he's the clear if not heavy favorite. And despite his advantages in speed and agility, the Argentinian might have to weather a sluggish start: Dzinziruk is a more conventional boxer with a stiff, heavy jab, and in the early rounds expect him to time Martinez and disrupt his attacks with that straight right hand.
This is Martinez's time, though, and when he gets into a rhythm, he can become an offensive force. Once he finally finds a comfort zone with the Ukrainian, Martinez will show his challenger the kind of hand and foot speed and two-fisted attack he's never experienced. It my not make for an aesthetic showcase, and Martinez probably won't get all of the credit he deserves for enduring a stiff challenge from yet another distinct style of fighter.
Andy Lee (24-1, 18 KOs) vs. Craig McEwan (19-0, 10 KOs), middleweights (160 lb.)
Prediction: Lee by decision
Lee's stock plummeted after gassing against Bryan Vera and getting TKO'd, but the 2004 Irish Olympian has right the ship, winning nine in a row, and perhaps that loss can be forgiven and forgotten. Vera's proven to be a spoiler by outlasting and out-toughing other notables since, and it appeared to be a case of Lee punching himself out while going for the stoppage.
Whatever the case, undefeated Scot McEwan represents what many probably see as a pick 'em opponent. This could turn out as the unexpected fight of the night, but in the end Lee should outclass McEwan with sharp, effective combinations. In fact, Lee's stock might be restored tonight.
Saturday, March 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV):
WBA Champ Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) vs. Ricardo Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs), junior middleweights (154 lb.)
Prediction: Cotto by TKO
First things first: What we have here is an ass-whupping. That said, the sport's most fun villain returns with his audacious and obnoxious pre-fight hype, and certainly we can expect ring bravado and fireworks. Actually, Mayorga's boxing ability is underrated; he's given several elite, if not prime, opponents some troubles, and he's not purely a brawler.
Unless he faces an intimidated foe (Vernon Forrest) or an unconditioned one (Fernando Vargas) though, the Nicaraugan usually runs his mouth, swings wildly, runs his mouth more and then dutifully gets tagged again and again until the hero dramatically triumphs. (See Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley.) It's Cotto's turn.
IBF Champ Miguel Vazquez (27-3, 12 KOs) vs. Leonardo Zappavigna (25-0, 17 KOs), lightweights (135 lb.)
Prediction: Vazquez by decision
Though Vazquez is the one here with numbers on the right side of the ledger, those defeats came at the hands of Saul Alvarez twice (the first in Vazquez's debut!) and junior welterweight champ Tim Bradley. He then upset Breidis Prescott as his B-side and snatched the IBF title as Ji-Hoon KIm's. He may not be a special boxer, but he's a real pro with a little bit of everything, not the least of which is heart.
Despite Zappavigna's first round stoppage of Kim in October, he hasn't faced Vazquez's level of competition, and when he did in Fernando Angulo, he struggled. He'll be a competitive and dangerous oppoent, but Vazquez hasn't been stopped by anyone, including the likes of Alvarez, so expect the judges to decide the winner, and expect Vazquez to take a close but clear decision.