WHAT: Rocky Fielding vs. Abdallah Paziwapazi, Super Middleweights
WHEN: Nov. 15
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if Fielding can bounce back from what was an embarrassing loss to Canelo Alvarez that does not seem so embarrassing anymore.
Fielding’s last fight was a knockout loss to Alvarez at 168 pounds. At the time, the idea was that Alvarez cherrypicked a 168-pound champion he knew he could easily beat to win a title in his third weight class. When he was dropped in the first, second and third rounds before the fight was finally stopped, people mocked Fielding for being so thoroughly beaten by a smaller man. However, after seeing what Alvarez did to Sergey Kovalev at 175 pounds, the setback does not look so bad, does it? Fielding will return to the ring for the first time since the Alvarez loss in December. Targeting either a fight with Billy Joe Saunders or a rematch with WBA champion Callum Smith, who stopped him in 2015, Fielding tells anyone who will listen that he has put the Alvarez loss behind him to get ready to work his way back to being in the title mix at 168. However, with 160-pounders like Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs moving into the weight class, there are bigger names than Fielding kicking around, and they were not embarrassed in their fights against the Mexican superstar the way he was. As such, Fielding needs to look impressive in this matchup while simultaneously reminding people of how good Alvarez has looked above 160 pounds.
Paziwapazi is a 26-year-old Tanzanian who owns a 26-6 record with 23 knockouts. While on a seven-fight winning streak, this bout takes place in the United Kingdom, and Paziwapazi is 2-4 outside of Tanzania. While Paziwapazi obviously hits hard, this is a pretty easy bounce-back fight for Fielding and a good chance to impress in his home nation.
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WHAT: Erik Vega Ortiz vs. Alberto Palmetta, Welterweights
WHEN: Nov. 15
HOW TO WATCH: Showtime, 10:30 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if Ortiz, an undefeated but unknown Mexican, is better than the Argentinian Olympic hero who has already tasted professional defeat.
Ortiz has raced out to a 16-0 start, but little is known about him. His BoxRec page does not yet have a picture, and his promoter is Paco Damian of “Paco Presents Boxing.” When you search for him on YouTube, you get some grainy footage filmed from 10th row. Considering he has almost exclusively fought sub-.500 fighters in places like the Cheer’s Bar in Tijuana, it is not shocking to find that no one seems to know his name. However, he does have one familiar face in his corner: He is trained by Romulo Quirarte, who has worked with fighters like Jose Luis Castillo and Julio Cesar Chavez.
While not undefeated due to a bad one-punch knockout loss to Gonzalo Caria, Palmetta’s much heralded amateur career has made the Argentinian well-known in his country. A 2016 Olympian, the southpaw is trained by Charles Mooney, best known for being a member of the famed 1976 American Olympic team. Mooney, if you recall, opted to remain in the Army and never had a professional fight. Palmetta is recognizable enough in Argentina that ESPN put him in its “Body” issue. He will be the favorite in this fight.
A well-known Olympian who walked into one huge left hand is taking on an unheralded unknown who has been fighting Tijuana cab drivers at their local drinking holes. Did Palmetta have one bad night, or is Ortiz better than his competition leads us to believe?
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WHAT: Andrew Moloney vs. Elton Dharry, Junior Bantamweights
WHEN: Nov. 16
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 3 a.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if Moloney can do any better than the champions did a week ago on another famous celebrity-led boxing card.
If you thought we were done seeing world championship fights on the undercard of bouts between famous figures, you were wrong. Moloney and Dharry are fighting for the interim WBA super flyweight title on a card headlined by Paul Gallen, a 38-year-old former Australian rugby star with a 9-0 record, as he takes on debuting 42-year-old former Aussie rules football player Barry Hall. While Moloney-Dharry does not serve as the main event, it is the highest-level matchup. Moloney is 20-0 with 13 knockouts and has stopped his last three opponents. He is the undefeated twin brother of Jason Moloney, who has one loss on his resume -- a decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez. Ironically, the twins only got into boxing to try and get in better shape for Australian rules football, but they fell in love with the sport and opted to quit playing football almost immediately.
Ghana’s Dharry started his career 3-5-1, but he had the unfortunate luck of running into three-weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz’s fourth fight. Remarkably, he is undefeated since 2009, and while some of those wins came in Ghana, he has moved to Brooklyn and fought in New York and other American cities many times. This is not to say his competition has been good. In fact, in his last 10 fights, he has faced three opponents with losing records, so it needs to be asked whether Dharry is enjoying a career renaissance or just being more selective about who he fights. Still, he has shown he can win fights in a couple different countries, which is a useful skill to have when traveling to Australia to face a beloved Aussie.
The main event is not quite on the level of the KSI-Logan Paul YouTube battle, but Moloney’s big title shot nevertheless comes on the undercard of a fight between essentially two well-known amateurs. Will he perform any better than Billy Joe Saunders or Devin Haney and expand his fanbase, or will this be another example of a celebrity boxing crossover card backfiring for the professionals.
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WHAT: Dominic Boesel vs. Sven Fornling, Light Heavyweights
WHEN: Nov. 16
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 2:30 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if these guys deserve a WBA title. This fight is going to be for the WBA light heavyweight championship. Wait, you might ask, is Jean Pascal not the WBA light heavyweight champion? No, he was crowned as the WBA regular champion. What about Dmitry Bivol? He holds the WBA super light heavyweight title. Yes, this fight will give us an absurd third WBA champion at 175 pounds, despite neither of these guys, at least on paper, deserving any kind of belt.
Fornling is 15-1 with seven knockouts, with his only defeat coming via technical knockout to journeyman Yevgeni Makhteienko in a fight in which he was never knocked down. While there are not any big names on his record -- his biggest win was over Karo Murat and brought him the IBO title -- we have seen fighters like Otto Wallin come from Sweden having faced little competition of note and do quite well, so who is to say Fornling is not any good? Speaking of Murat, he is the only man to ever beat Germany’s Boesel. The 30-year-old is 4-0 since that bout and is coming off a win over Timy Shala in April that moved his career record to 29-1 with 11 knockouts.
Do either of these men deserve a WBA belt when there are already two titlists at the same weight class? It would be hard to argue that they do on merit. Time will tell whether or not one of them can change that opinion in the ring.