What: Shawn Porter vs. Danny Garcia, WelterweightsWhen: Sept. 8
How to Watch: Showtime 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because it’s a 50-50 fight in the best division in boxing.
The welterweight division is so good right now. How good? ESPN ranks Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter as the fourth and fifth best welterweights in the world, in a list that leaves off Keith Thurman due to inactivity. Yes, these two men who have just three losses between them (both lost to Thurman while Porter lost to Kell Brook) and have beaten the likes of Erik Morales, Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah are ranked fourth and fifth in their own division. It’s that good.
In a division this stacked with talent a loss for either fighter would be devastating. But, this one comes with a little added motivation. Danny Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel took a shot at Shawn Porter this week by claiming Porter was not a born fighter like Danny, but that he was “supposed to be a football player, but was too little for it” after earlier implying that bringing in Barry Hunter to help train Porter showed a lack of confidence.
Stylistically, everyone knows what Shawn Porter is going to do. As always, he will put his head down, charge forward and try to use his relentless pressure and consistent bodywork to wear down Garcia. Garcia believes he will be able to outbox Porter, though his father Angel warned “If he jumps in and Danny catches the right spot…sweet Mary, mother of Christ. That bozo’s gonna be snoring.”
Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia will likely be a very good fight, but more importantly it sets up a ton of big fights for the future. With Manny Pacquiao showing no signs of retiring, Mikey Garcia constantly talking about moving up to the weight class, Keith Thurman coming back at some point, and guys like Terence Crawford and Errol Spence reigning as the kings of the division, there are so many great matchups and big money fights to be made for you if you win. So don’t lose.
What: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Felipe Orucuta, SuperflyweightsWhen: Sept. 8
How to Watch: HBO 9:45 ET
Why You Should Care: Because Juan Fransisco Estrada is very good, but will face 36 minutes of constant danger.
Juan Fransisco Estrada was riding a 10-fight win streak when he lost a decision to Sor Rungvisai in an exciting bout, which Estrada thought he should have won and is desperate to avenge. He has beaten guys like Brian Viloria and Carlos Cuadras, while he’s only lost to Rungvisai, Chocalatito and a Mexican journeyman named Juan Carlos Sanchez back in 2011, never by stoppage. Simply put, he is really good. But while Rungvisai seems content to easily knockout subpar competition in Thailand, Estrada is opting to take on a fighter that has knocked out 75 percent of the fighters he has ever faced. Felipe Orucuta is 36-4 with 30 knockouts and has stopped his last five opponents. Although this will be his first fight at super flyweight, it’s hard to imagine this power not translating to 115 pounds.
That leaves us with a classic boxing matchup, the more talented fighter who should win facing a brutally powerful opponent who presents him with 36 minutes of nonstop danger. Sor Rungvisai has claimed he is “open” to the idea of a rematch with Estrada, which is unlikely given the logistical issues that would be involved, but if Orucuta can a few clean shots none of that will matter; Estrada won’t be daydreaming about the matchup in his post-fight victory party, he will be dreaming about the Rungvisai rematch unconscious on the mat.
What: Donnie Nietes vs. Aston Palicte, SuperflyweightsWhen: Sept. 8
How to Watch: HBO 9:45 ET
Why You Should Care: Because Donnie Nietes Can’t Just Keep Moving Up in Weight and Beating Everyone. Can He?
Donnie Nietes lost once in his career, way back in 2004, but nobody outside of Thailand has ever heard of him. Such is the life of those who dominate the lightest weight classes in boxing, as the five-foot three-inch fighter has held titles at minimumweight (105), light flyweight and flyweight. Unfortunately, Nietes realized that the only thing he could do to get people interested in him was to keep moving up in weight, and to keep winning. So, for years he’s done both.
Which brings the 36-year-old to Saturday night’s all-Thai matchup against Aston Palicte, in a fight for the vacant WBO Junior Bantamweight title. Palicte is 24-2 with 20 knockouts, and more importantly is four inches taller than Nietes. While that may not sound like a lot, you have to understand what that means at such a small size. Four inches is over 6 percent of Donnie Nietes total height.
If he continues this path, it’s a matter of time before Donnie Nietes moves too far up in weight and gets beaten by a man much naturally larger than himself. His countryman Aston Palicte is a hard-punching knockout artist with a significant size advantage over him. So on Saturday night, we’ll see if that time is now.
What: Kazuto Ioka vs. McWilliams Arroyo, SuperflyweightsWhen: Sept. 8
How to Watch: HBO 9:45 ET
Why You Should Care: Because Everyone Watching A Fight in the Stands Thinks They Could Beat the Guys in the Ring. But Ioka Gets a Chance to Prove It.
When Kazuto Ioka became a boxer, his goal was clear; he wanted to win world titles in three weight classes to one-up his uncle, former two weight class world champion Hiroki Ioka. And with titles at 105, 108 and 112 Kazuto Ioka accomplished that goal and, opted to retire from boxing at the young age of 28 years old. But, after attending HBO’s “Superfly 2,” Ioka was convinced he could beat every fighter on that card, so he is returning from a 17-month layoff to face Mcwilliams Arroyo for his potential fourth world championship, the WBC Silver Superflyweight title.
McWilliams Arroyo, Puerto Rico’s flagholder at the 2008 Olympic Games, is 17-3 with 14 knockouts as a professional and is coming off a decision win over Carlos Cuadras in February. Of his three losses, one was to a then undefeated Thai fighter named Amnat Ruenrong in Thailand, one was a shocking loss to Japan’s Takashi Okada in Arroyo’s fourth professional fight, and one was to Roman “Chocalatito Gonzales. So, while Arroyo may not have a sparkling, unblemished record, he is still a very solid fighter.
Ioka will be returning from a seventeen-month layoff, in a weight class he’s never fought in that’s 10 pounds heavier than the weight at which he debuted, to face a fighter that has stopped 14 of 20 opponents. Kazuoto Ioka watched “Superfly 2” as a fan and was convinced he could beat all the fighters involved. Plenty of fans think that. We’ll see if he was right on Saturday.
What: Amir Khan vs. Samuel Vargas, WelterweightsWhen: Sept. 8
How to Watch: DAZN Facebook and Twitter (free) 5 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if a new trainer can hide Amir Khan’s fatal flaw.
Amir Khan has recently teamed up with Joe Goossenn, the famed former trainer of fighters like Riddick Bowe, Shane Mosley and Joel Casamayor. This will be the first time the British star and Californian trainer have worked together for a full camp, and so far, Goossenn’s praise of the British star has been nothing short of glowing. He has said that Khan, like all of the champions he has worked with, has a very open mind and praised his hand speed as “the fastest I've ever seen.”
Unfortunately for Khan, his hand speed has never been the issue. Like a video game character who maxed out one attribute at the cost of another, we have consistently seen Khan and his blindingly fast hands outbox an opponent round after round, only for his porcelain chin to fail him at some point in the fight. What tweaks Goossenn can bring to Khan’s game to make up for this glaring flaw won’t be fully seen in this fight, as Vargas has only stopped 14 of his 35 opponents, but it may give us a glimpse as to how Goossenn plans to hide the most obvious weakness in boxing.
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