What: Kubrat Pulev vs. Bogdan Dinu, HeavyweightsWhen: March 23
How to Watch: ESPN 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see which fighter can come to the USA and win a difficult fight for the first time ever.
Kubrat Pulev has only lost to Wladimir Klitschko, and Bogdan Dinu has only lost to Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller as professional prizefighters. That looks great on paper, but doesn’t mean either of these guys are actual contenders in the heavyweight division, mainly because neither has shown an ability to win a big fight in the United States.
Pulev hasn’t gotten any of the biggest names to fight him, despite having 26 wins in the division, because up until now he has refused to fight outside of Europe, specifically his home nation of Bulgaria.
Bogdan Dinu was 18-0 until Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller knocked him out in November. His resume, though not as impressive as Pulev’s, was also bolstered by hometown victories in Romania, until he came to Kansas to face “Big Baby.”
On Saturday, the two will face off in Costa Mesa, California to see if either can pick up a victory on the road. While Wladimir Klitschko became a huge star in Germany eventually, it is still a prerequisite for boxing greatness to come to the United States and win a big fight. Whichever fighter wins this matchup will show an ability he haven’t yet as a professional: to come to the United States and beat a possible heavyweight contender. That will put the winner in good position for the future, and show that he may have a chance to become a legitimate heavyweight contender.
What: Jessie Magdaleno vs. Rico Ramos, FeatherweightsWhen: March 23
How to Watch: ESPN 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Jessie Magdaleno needs to rebound now, or his career could mirror Rico Ramos’ in a bad way.
Jessie Magdaleno was stopped in the 11th round of his fight with Isaac Dogboe, a bout which saw Dogboe’s father and trainer promise to deport Magdaleno after his son beat him. That ugly trash talk made Magdaleno’s loss very painful, but Dogboe’s sudden rise to stardom and supposed future pound for pound greatness potential, had to soften the blow at least a little.
However, after Dogboe was dominated in what was supposed to be his ESPN coming out party, Magdaleno’s once “good loss” now doesn’t look so good, and his future is far more uncertain despite his not fighting since that loss. That’s a rough turn of events for a guy who beat Nonito Donaire for the WBO super bantamweight title just two fights ago.
Rico “Suavecito” Ramos had a super bantamweight belt once too. He was the WBA Titleist at the weight class in 2011, for just one fight before he was knocked out by Guillermo Rigondeaux. After that loss, he went into a serious rut, going 4-5 in his next nine fights, before turning his career around with a six-fight win streak.
If Jessie Magdaleno is looking to see how quickly a career can go into a tailspin after one bad loss, he needs to look no further than across the ring on Saturday night. While Rico Ramos has worked hard to get back (at least close to) where he once was as a fighter, Magdaleno needs to win now to make sure he doesn’t end up crumbling after a loss like the man who calls himself “Suavecito” once did, and having to work his way up from the bottom of the boxing ladder.
What: Joshua Buatsi vs. Liam Conroy, Light HeavyweightsWhen: March 23
How to Watch: DAZN 3 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see why Joshua Buatsi is getting murals and being spoken of as a future PPV star, just nine fights into his professional career.
Raised in Ghana until the age of nine and now 9-0 with seven knockouts as a professional, former Olympic Bronze medalist Joshua Buatsi already has murals applauding his career in his hometown of Croydon England. He believes he can become a PPV star, because of his ability to simultaneously “win and entertain.”
Those are strong words that Buatsi is going to need to back up soon. This weekend he will face Liam Conroy, a 16-3 fighter out of the UK who thinks that he fights best as an underdog, a position he will be in against Buatsi.
Joshua Buatsi thinks he is a future superstar, and is being treated like one, with very little concrete reasoning behind the idea. This weekend, we’ll see if he can show us why.
What: Lamont Peterson vs. Sergey Lipinets, WelterweightsWhen: March 24
How to Watch: FS1 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Lamont Peterson needs a win to stay relevant, but Sergey Lipinets needs to impress to make people believe in him.
Sergey Lipinets is the former IBF 140-pound champion but lost his title via decision to Mikey Garcia. It was this fight, where Garcia moved up a weight class to take Lipinets’ title, that gave many Garcia fans their erroneous hope that he could move up to 147 and at least take a couple of rounds off Errol Spence Jr.
After last weekend, that win looks far less impressive than it once did, and Sergey Lipinets looks like a far worse fighter than we thought he was. Now fighting at 147, Lipinets needs to look very good against Peterson to make anyone think he’s good enough to challenge for a welterweight title, when he couldn’t beat Mikey Garcia at 140.
Peterson doesn’t have to look great, but he really needs to win. Peterson held two world titles at junior welterweight and held the WBA welterweight title. In his last fight, he challenged Errol Spence Jr. for the IBF title, but was stopped in the eighth round when Peterson’s corner threw in the towel. The issue for Peterson is simple; nobody is talking about him anymore.
Read a list of future opponents for Spence, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter and you’ll see pretty quickly that nobody is talking about Lamont Peterson. In a welterweight division this stacked, there’s no room for a Lamont Peterson that has a loss to Sergey Lipinets.
Lipinets needs to look good enough for people to believe in him at welterweight after Mikey Garcia’s disastrous 147 pound debut, while Peterson needs to win to make sure he’s not forgotten at the weight he once held a title. On Saturday, we’ll see what happens.
What: Anthony Peterson vs. Argenis Mendez, Junior WelterweightsWhen: March 24
How to Watch: FS1 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Anthony Peterson can’t be patient for much longer.
Ring Magazine once called Lamont’s brother, Anthony Peterson “boxing’s most patient man," noting how long Peterson had been fighting, and winning without ever getting a title shot.” That article came out over a year ago, and Peterson isn’t much closer to a title shot right now.
Peterson is 37-1 -- he used to fight at 135 but will now be fighting at 140 -- with his one loss being a 2010 disqualification to Brandon Rios after he hit Rios with a bunch of low blows while down on the scorecards. Still, 37-1 should be enough to warrant a title shot at some point, but Peterson hasn’t been fighting.
Anthony Peterson has only fought twice since April 2016 but credits his homeless childhood with keeping him patient. He recently said “We had to wait to get on the list to be placed in a shelter, we had to wait to be on the list for foster care and just to be homeless we had to wait. We had to wait for bad things, so why would I not wait for good things you know what I’m saying?” That’s a great attitude to have, but the truth is at 34 years old, Peterson can’t afford to be patient much longer, he needs to win now.
Argenis Mendez once held a world championship title. In 2013 he held the IBF super featherweight title but lost it soon after to Rances Barthelemey. But that was six years and 10 pounds ago. In his last six fights, he is 4-2, with losses to Robert Easter Jr. and Luke Campbell.
If Anthony Peterson wants to finish his career having at least fought for a world title, “boxing’s most patient man” can’t be patient much longer.
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