by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #2 Deontay Wilder vs. #8 Tyson Fury (Saturday, Showtime PPV, 9 PM EST)
Styles make fights and given the styles at play it might not be a classic in the ring. It’s still so damn intriguing. Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KO) is history’s heavyweight king, the man who beat the man, Wladimir Klitschko, before and with less difficulty than Anthony Joshua and then couldn’t keep it together.
Just past his thirtieth birthday, he has a chance to give teeth back to his lineal claim to the crown. Wilder (40-0, 39 KO) defends his WBC belt and has a chance to make a statement against rival Anthony Joshua.
Joshua would have more belts; Wilder would have Fury. Coupled with a win over Luis Ortiz earlier this year, it’s a chance for Wilder to end 2018 having answered the questions about quality of opposition that dogged him for years. Either man against Joshua would be a super fight already. The final showdown, whatever it proves to be, only gets bigger after Saturday. This isn’t just the pick of the week. It’s one of the best-made fights of the year.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday – ESPN+ (3:30 AM EST): Horn vs. Mundine
At 43, one can wonder if there will ever be an Australian grudge match Anthony Mundine (48-8, 28 KO) can’t talk his way into. He’s sort of like a down under Shannon Briggs that way. Former welterweight titlist Jeff Horn (18-1-1, 12 KO) moves to middleweight to make his first start since a loss to Terence Crawford. It will be a fun show for the folks in Brisbane, available in the United States online.
Friday – DAZN (1 PM EST): Turchi vs. Conquest
DAZN’s investment in cruiserweight keeps coming with this afternoon card from Italy. Fabio Turchi (15-0, 11 KO) is just 25 years old and looking to build local interest. The UK’s Tony Conquest (18-2, 6 KO) will hope to avoid being conquered.
Friday – TyC (8 PM EST): Aumada vs. Martinez
There will be more cruiserweight action in Argentina. Marcos Aumada (19-6, 14 KO) lost three times in five fights before a modest two-fight win streak. Nahuel Martinez (9-2, 4 KO) has also won two straight since a knockout loss.
Friday – Telemundo (11:35 PM EST): Vargas vs. Espinoza
An undefeated bantamweight gets an early career test. Colombia’s 28-year old Yeison Vargas (17-0, 12 KO) makes a step up in his career against a promising young Mexican. Ricardo Espinoza (21-2, 18 KO) can punch and he’s growing up in the ring. Since a split loss in 2017, Espinoza has won eleven in a row, ten of them by stoppage. Take a look at this one. The winner could be a real contender in the thick 118 lb. class sooner than later.
Saturday – Showtime (7 PM EST): World Champion Stevenson vs. #7 Gvozdyk
Showtime’s most entertaining fight of the weekend is a hell of a chance to hype the pay-per-view’s potential while delivering serious fire in the ring. Lineal champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KO) was hammered for years for failing to take some of the toughest tests at light heavyweight. That criticism is hollow in 2018. After a stirring draw defense against Badou Jack, he faces one of the most dangerous contenders in the field. Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KO) is younger, talented, and he can crack. Any other week, this is the top pick. This week, it’s just the best action fight on paper.
Saturday – TyC (9:30 PM EST): Bustos vs. Pacheco
For fans willing to wait a week for the Showtime replay of Wilder-Fury, there will be women’s lightweight title action available. Victoria Bustos (18-5, 0 KO) lost her last to Katie Taylor and now fights for the vacant IBF title. Enis Pacheco (17-4-2, 8 KO) enters having won two straight.
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]