by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #2 Shawn Porter vs. #8 Yordenis Ugas (Saturday, Fox, 8 PM EST)
It’s hard not to look forward to a Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KO) fight. They may not always be pretty, but Porter is always there to fight. The 31-year old WBC welterweight titlist makes his first defense since besting Danny Garcia for the vacant belt in September.
Stakes are high at a moment when the PBC has the welterweight market a Terence Crawford from cornered. Errol Spence, Manny Pacquiao, and Keith Thurman are all realistic options for Porter if he keeps winning. 32-year old Cuban Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KO) would love to break into that party and may have a real chance to do it. After some early struggles, the 2005 World Amateur champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist has won eight in a row. Neither man has ever been stopped. This fight could be a real sleeper.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday – DAZN (1:15 PM EST): Scardina vs. Kekalainen
Middleweight aspirations take center stage sometime around lunch in the US. 26-year old Daniele Scardina of Italy (15-0, 14 KO) is facing prospect opponents so far and the trend continues here. 27-year old Henri Kekalainen (11-5, 5 KO) of Finland was stopped for the first time two fights ago. Scardina will look to make this another early exit.
Friday – ESPN+ (2:45 PM EST): Dubois vs. Cojanu
Heavyweights get the spotlight on this afternoon card. 21-year old Daniel Dubois (9-0, 8 KO) is an interesting UK prospect with size and pop. He’s working the circuit with some recognizable veterans, following a win over Kevin Johnson with his second straight former title challenger. 31-year old Razvan Cojanu (16-5, 9 KO) raised questions about then-WBO beltholder Joseph Parker in 2017, surprising many by lasting the distance. Will he raise some questions for Dubois as well?
Friday – TyC (9 PM PM EST): Cusolito vs. Chacon
30-year old Jr. featherweight Luis Cusolito (27-2, 21 KO) hasn’t lost since a stoppage to Moises Flores in 2015 and comes in off a frustrating second round no-contest after a clash of heads. Before that, he’d won six straight. 37-year old Javier Chacon has scored consecutive stoppage wins after being stopped in six by then-future titlist Isaac Dogboe.
Friday – Telemundo (11:35 PM EST): Juarez vs. Andrade
28-year old Jr. flyweight Saul Juarez (24-9-2, 13 KO) makes his first start since losing a decision to Ken Shiro for the WBC belt at 108 lbs. One fight prior to Shiro, Juarez escaped with a split draw over 30-year old Mario Andrade (14-7-6, 4 KO) in July of last year. Since then, Andrade has won once by knockout. Juarez and Andrade tussle again for a WBC regional belt and the chance to stay in contention. Andrade is currently rated #7 by the WBC while Juarez is at #13.
Saturday – DAZN (9 PM PM EST): #1 Bivol vs. #8 Smith
28-year old WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KO) of Russia doesn’t have his pick of the litter right now in terms of opponents, given network affiliations but all he can do is keep winning until the right opportunities open up. 29-year old New Yorker Joe Smith (24-2, 20 KO) ended the career of the great Bernard Hopkins in 2016 but has fought only twice since, including a defeat to Sullivan Barrera. Can Smith make the most of this title shot? He’s a certain underdog. Maurice Hooker defends the WBO belt at 140 lbs. in support against Mikkel LesPierre.
Saturday – TyC (10 PM PM EST): Bracamonte vs. Strunz
Want to see some heavyweights who are unlikely to be contenders but might make a good little brawl? 26-year old Ariel Bracamonte (8-2, 5 KO) of Argentina was stopped for the second time in his last fight. 37-year old countryman Mariano Strunz (13-12-1, 6 KO) loses a lot but has never been knocked out.
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]