The days on this year’s boxing schedule have hurriedly dwindled, but on Thursday news broke about some interesting upcoming bouts:
-- The Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton super-featherweight title rematch will be Jan. 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with a co-main event of Riverside’s unbeaten Mikey Garcia fighting for Dejan Zlaticanin’s World Boxing Council lightweight belt.
-- The rescheduled Abner Mares-Jesus Cuellar featherweight title bout is coming Dec. 10 at USC’s Galen Center, as well as the super-welterweight title fight between unbeatens Jermall Charlo and Julian Williams.
Here’s a quick look at the best of the remaining bouts scheduled for 2016.
1. Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, Nov. 19, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
Both men have waited long enough for their first pay-per-view bout, and the prospect of Kovalev’s relentlessness versus Ward’s brilliance in this light-heavyweight title battle creates an intriguing bout between unbeatens. The disclaimer is that Ward’s boxing mastery has the potential for this to be a dull fight. What makes the investment worth it is Kovalev’s knockout power.
2. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters, Nov. 26, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Intimate venue. Two power punchers. This is a can’t miss. Lomachenko was spectacular in knocking out Roman Martinez and taking his super-featherweight belt in June, and this defense against the hard-hitting Walters is a test of how willing Lomachenko is to take risks in the ring.
3. Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas, Nov. 5, Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s short-lived retirement lasted less than seven months. Vargas wears the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt that Pacquiao has held in the past. Has his Senate work in the Philippines softened, distracted or aged Pacquiao? If so, forget about the talk of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. rematch, a bout that many aren’t so excited about, anyway.
4. Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares, Dec. 10, Galen Center.
Cuellar has aligned with famed trainer Freddie Roach, who has a devilish gleam in his eyes about the possibility of further developing this power puncher from Argentina. Concerns remain over Mares’ right eye after the New York State Athletic Commission prevented this bout from taking place in June. But California has cleared Mares, who insists he can see fine, and the three-division champion wants to wear the belt again.
5. Jermall Charlo vs. Julian Williams, Dec. 10, Galen Center.
Another pair of unbeatens fighting for a belt. Charlo, whose twin brother, Jermell, is the WBC’s 154-pound champion, successfully defended his belt for the third time in May against veteran Austin Trout. The confident Williams proclaimed his punching speed and power will make him the champion.
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