Frank’s Weekend Preview for October 13-15: Lots of Boxing, A Kickboxing Freak Show, The Female Jiu Jitsu Wizard, and The Return of Evolve
Friday, October 13th
Fidel Maldonado (24-3-1, 19 KOs) vs. Ismael Barroso (19-1, 18 KOs)—10 rounds, Junior Welterweights) Fantasy Springs Casino—Indio, California—(ESPN2), 10pm Eastern
Golden Boy and ESPN kick off a busy boxing weekend with a battle of crowd pleasing fighters. Barroso, a former interim WBA lightweight champion, is a big puncher from Venezuela who is coming off the biggest fight of his career, where he had then WBA champion Anthony Crolla in trouble early, only for the resilient Crolla to come back and stop him in the seventh round. Before that fight, Barroso had won the interim belt in stopping Englishman Kevin Mitchell in his hometown. He will be fighting for the first time since the Crolla loss against Maldonado, a Mexican American brawler on a three-fight winning streak. Maldonado isn’t the kind of guy whose hard to find and will be the bigger man coming into this fight. This one has the potential to be really fun, so it shouldn’t pass under the radar.
On the undercard, popular Mexican brawler Pablo Cesar Cano (30-6-1, 21 KOs) meets Argentinian Marceleno Lopez (32-2-1, 17 KOs). Cano has fought some of the very best, including Erik Morales and Shane Mosley and his wins over the likes of Mauricio Herrera and Ashley Theopane. He also got robbed several years ago against Paulie Malignaggi, but I digress. Cano should also have a willing dance partner in Lopez, who is fighting in the United States for only the third time, but has been sitting down on his punches more and going for knockouts since he arrived. It looks to be a good night of scrapping.
LFA 24—Comerica Theatre—Phoenix, Arizona (AXSTV)—9pm ET
The latest LFA card pits seasoned welterweights against each other in the main event, as Australian WSOF veteran Matthew Frincu (11-2) battles Bellator vet Curtis Millender (12-3). Both men are riding four fight winning streaks, and an impressive win for either man could lead to a call-up to the big show, so it’s a big fight for both men.
But what most of the MMA world will be looking at this night is Mackenzie Dern (3-0), who will be fighting in the cage for the first time in seven months, moving up to 125 pounds for the first time against former fitness competitor Mandy Polk (3-3.) The Brazilian American is a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion in both gi and no gi competition and probably gets into the UFC with a win here. In addition to her top-notch grappling, Dern is probably the hottest woman in MMA (do yourself a favor and visit her Instagram if you haven’t) and has all the makings of a potential superstar. But she has to get past Polk first.
Saturday, October 14th
Erislandy Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs)—12 Rounds—for the WBA and IBO Junior Middleweight Titles—Barclays Center—Brooklyn, New York (Showtime)—10 pm ET
The main event of a 154 championship triple-header pits Lara, the former Cuban amateur world champion, against Gausha, the 2012 US Olympian fighting for his first world title.
Lara began his career with plenty of hype, including big wins over Austin Trout and Alfred Angulo. Before that, suffered one of the worst robberies over recent boxing history against Paul Williams in 2011, but in his biggest fight against Canelo Alvarez, Lara laid back far too much and lost a close, but clear decision. Lara has one of the strangest fanbases in boxing, as they don’t seem to buy tickets to his fights or watch them on TV, but they sure crow for him on Twitter. Lara has won five in a row since the Canelo fight, but against increasingly incompetent opposition. Gausha is someone what of a step up with his extensive amateur background and undefeated record, but this will be Gausha’s first twelve rounder and he has never fought a top 10, or top 20 for that matter fighter. It should be another easy, useless win for Lara, unless Gausha decides to shock us all.
Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) vs. Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs)—12 Rounds—for the WBC Junior Middleweight Title
The co-main event is a much more interesting affair and one of the fighting Charlo Twins makes the second defense of his world title. One Charlo twin has charisma, punching power, and an entertaining style. Sadly, for us, it’s not the one fighting this Friday.
While Jermell has good wins over the likes of Vanes Martirosyan and Gabriel Rosado and knocked out John Jackson with one punch to win the title in May 2016, he makes for ugly, vomit inducing fights, and lacks the style of his brother. But he will have his hands full with Lubin, who has been looked at as one of the greatest prospects in boxing for some time now. Signing at age nineteen with the short-lived Iron Mike Promotions, Lubin has explosive speed and power, and has scarcely lost a round in his pro career. Lubin has been so much better than his opposition that he’s never been remotely challenged, which makes this fight very interesting on paper. Lubin is a world championship talent, but does Jermell stink him out to a decision? Seems likely.
Jarett Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) vs. Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs)—12 rounds—IBF Junior Middleweight Title
The first of three title matches on this night will probably be the most entertaining of the three fights, as Hurd, who knocked out Tony Harrison in the ninth round to win the title in February, defends his belt for the first time.
Hurd has an entertaining style and punching power, evidenced by his current seven fight knockout streak (his finish of Frank Galarza Jr in November 2015 is particularly notable.) He is fighting the best opponent of his career in Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Trout, who the WBA junior middleweight title in February 2011 and defended it four times, including a shocking upset of Miguel Cotto in December 2012, making him the only man ever to beat the Puerto Rican legend in Madison Square Garden. This earned Trout in a date the following April against Canelo Alvarez in front of 46,000 people in the Alamodome, but Trout was dropped in the seventh round and lost a decision. He has failed in two attempts to win back titles since, including losing a decision to Jermall Charlo for this very title last May. This is probably his last chance at the title, while Hurd looks for the biggest scalp of his career so far. It’s a classic crossroads matchup.
Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) vs, Chris Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs)—12 rounds—WBA Super World Featherweight Title—(FOX)—StubHub Center—Carson, California—7:30 pm ET
The three-division world champion takes a tune-up here, as Santa Cruz fights for the first time since out pointing Carl Frampton in a rematch of their 2016 Fight of The Year candidate. This card is basically a commercial for the eventual rematch between Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, who engaged a terrific fight in Los Angeles in August 2015. Avalos is coming off a win in July, but was knocked in three of four fights before then, including being starched by Frampton and current WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez. Again, strictly a tune-up fight.
Abner Mares (30-2, 15 KOs) vs. Andres Gutierrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs)—12 rounds—WBA Featherweight Title
Meanwhile, Mares may have a much tougher fight against the Mexican Gutierrez, a largely unknown fighter fighting in the United States for the early the third time.
In his biggest fight, he came in overweight and lost a close decision to former two division champion Christian Mijares, but he does have some power and solid experience. Mares, a three-division champion, was on some pound for pound lists when he got sledgehammered in the first round by Jhonny Gonzales in August 2013 and has struggled against an eye injury for most of his career. He came up short against Santa Cruz in their first fight, but after fifteen months off, came back to drop the red-hot Jesus Cuellar and win a close decision and the WBA title last December. He and Santa Cruz are likely to rematch if both win on Saturday, but Mares looks to have the tougher test. Of course, these fights are taking place at Stub Hub Center, the place known to hardcore boxing fans as “The War Grounds.” Will the venue’s magic rub off on any of the fights this Saturday? We can only hope.
Evolve 94—LaBoom—Queens, New York—6pm ET—(WWNLive.Com)
Ah, Evolve. The independent company was enjoying one of its best years ever, with a successful WrestleMania weekend, a cushy relationship with WWE, and shows across the country, as well as benefitting from some of the mistakes made by their rival promotion, Ring of Honor. But with the fracturing of their relationship with FloSlam, long-time stalwart Ethan Page leaving the company, and a minor controversy of their GIF policy (that’s a new one), things have been uneasy for the promotion. A video from their crack videographer, Kenny Johnson, even seemed to hint that the promotion was coming to an end…
But the show goes on this Saturday at their home arena of LaBoom in Queens, which has become a bucket list venue over the last two years. The main event will see WWN Champion Matt Riddle defend his title against Keith Lee in a Last Man Standing Match, the latest in a series of matches that are thrilling fans from PWG to Progress and places in between. Lee has thrived since debut in Evolve earlier this year and his winning the belt here wouldn’t seem out of a place. Also this night, Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr meets one of half of the tag champs, Jaka, in a non-title match, and former members of the Catch Point stable, Tracy Williams, with Stokely Hathaway, meets Fred Yehi. Booker Gabe Sapolsky has also promised the debut of new talent, which should be interesting to see.
Rico Verhoeven (51-10, 14 KOs) vs. Bigfoot Silva (Debut) in a non-title bout—Glory 46—(UFC Fight Pass)—5am ET
You read that right, not just one person, but a bunch of people thought that it would be a good idea to let Bigfoot Silva, who has never had a pro kickboxing fight, fight the Glory Heavyweight Champion. If that feels insanely stupid, it’s because it is. It wouldn’t have been smart for Silva in his prime, and it’s much less smart after Silva was cut from the UFC for being stopped in five of his last six fights and was also stopped in his last fight in Russia. But whatever I guess. If you want to wake up early and see Bigfoot try to kickbox with your eggs and bacon, you do you, boo boo.
Sunday, October 15th
Evolve 95—Melilo Middle School—East Haven, Connecticut—6pm ET—(WWNLive.com)
Evolve completes the double-header with a shot in Connecticut featuring an excellent main event as Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr faces Tracy Williams, and if Williams beats Fred Yehi the night before, it will be for the title. Meanwhile, Yehi gets a non-title shot at WWN Champion Matt Riddle, and if Riddle gets past Keith Lee the first night, this could be a big opportunity, for Yehi, who’s having a big year, to get himself a future title shot. Also that Keith Lee takes on Darby Allin. Now Lee is 6’3 and 300 pounds (yet can move like a cruiserweight) and Allin is the goth version of Evolve’s 1-2-3 Kid. This one is gonna be FUN!
So it’s a boxing heavy weekend, with five world championship matches on Saturday, but whether your taste is fists, kicks, submission, or table breaking, there is a little bit of something for everybody in the world of combat sports this weekend.