by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #3 Jose Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda (Sunday, ESPN, 7 PM EST)
If boxing is going to continue to find ways to grow, big fights can’t always be on Saturday night. They don’t even have to be on the weekend, but a Sunday night in prime time on ESPN is fine enough.
Ramirez (23-0, 16 KO) makes his second defense of the WBC belt at 140 lbs. against former lightweight title challenger Jose Zepeda (30-1, 25 KO). This clash of Californians will play to a hot crowd and could end up being the best action scrap of the weekend.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday – TyC (11 PM PM EST): Fernandez vs. Balmaceda
It’s not often two fighters face off when both are 10-1 and the numbers hint that one man’s dreams already sit on the precipice. Boxing is cold that way. 28-year old welterweight Demian Fernandez (10-1, 4 KO) lost his fourth fight in the first round but, sometimes, new pros have to learn early lessons. Did Fernandez learn his? The 28-year old Balmaceda (10-1-2, 3 KO) might not have the power to find out but he lost on points the only time his hand wasn’t raised.
Saturday – DAZN (7:30 PM EST): #2 Machado vs. Cancio
28-year old Alberto Machado (21-0, 17 KO) is the man who beat the man…at least when it comes to the lineage of the WBA ‘sooooper’ belt at 130 lbs. Somehow, he ended up with their regular belt instead. All he can do is defend it until the WBA orders a fight with Gervonta Davis, which is sure to happen someday, right? Machado faces 30-year old Andrew Cancio (19-4-2, 14 KO). Also on the card, WBO 122 lb. titlist Rey Vargas defends against Franklin Manzanilla.
Saturday – Showtime (10 PM EST): #3 Davis vs. Ruiz
This likely would have been the pick of the week had Davis’s original opponent, Abner Mares, not been forced to withdraw with an eye injury. Instead, 24-year old Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KO) defends his version of the WBA Jr. lightweight honors against former Jr. featherweight titlist Hugo Ruiz (39-4, 33 KO). Ruiz has won three straight since being stopped by Hozumi Hasegawa in 2016. Don’t bet too much on the streak getting to four, much less this fight getting to the fourth round.
Saturday – TYC (10 PM EST): Aumada vs. Nascimento
After consecutive losses, 32-year old cruiserweight Marcos Aumada (20-6, 15 KO) has won three in a row by knockout. Can he make it four? Opponent Carlos Nascimento (16-6, 12 KO) is 1-3 in his last four fights and all the losses were by stoppage.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]