Boxing
Weekend card backs up the big talkers
Lyle Fitzsimmons

By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The hyperbole is easy to come by.

As a routine lead-in to nearly every big fight, promoters rarely duck a microphone opportunity to tag the imminent show as a "classic," a "must-see" or a "fight-of-the-year" favorite.

Yet in spite of those wordy promises, the delivery too frequently falls short.

Fans across the spectrum -- particularly the few thousand who schlepped their way to Pontiac a few weeks ago -- are still smarting from the 280-pound disappointment concocted by drama-reticent 140-pound champions Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander.

The 30 or so minutes the two spent in the Silverdome ring set the sport back at least a few hours in terms of momentum, and might have prompted a prolonged tide of negativity similar -- in relative terms, at least -- to the colossal Mayweather-De La Hoya stylistic flop of 2007.

Might have, that is...if not for this weekend.


Fernando Montiel hasn't
lost a fight since 2006.
On Saturday night, a few dozen more than 2,000 miles away from Michigan, the amalgam of Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions has a legitimate chance to claim a PR novelty -- backing up the breathless talk with a fight card that meets or exceeds it.

With a main event matching Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire at Mandalay Bay, Arum & Co. have a tasty mix of bona fide elitists stewing in the juices of an increasingly bitter nationalistic duel between Mexico and the Philippines.

The Sinaloa-based Montiel is the WBC/WBO champion at 118 pounds, hasn't lost a fight since 2006 and hasn't had an opponent last the distance over his last six fights.

Donaire, meanwhile, is unbeaten since his second pro bout and has climbed to a solid No. 2 in his nation's heart while stopping 17 of 25 victims and claiming myriad jewelry in three weight classes.

It's a strong style mesh and should surely be the high point of the month, if not more.

Truth told, though, it might not even be the best bout on the card.

Alongside in a 12-rounder at welterweight, barely still-unbeaten Mike Jones will face California-based Mexican export Jesus Soto Karass in a rematch of their remarkably polarized 10-round bout three months ago on the Pacquiao- Margarito bill in Texas.

There, the Philadelphia-honed Jones controlled the first round and nearly registered a stoppage in the second while pinning his foe along the ropes and unleashing a lengthy flurry that opened a jagged cut on Soto Karass's right eye.

The prolonged assault at least temporarily sapped Jones, however, and allowed Soto Karass to both survive and thrive through the middle, before a gallant final stand by the American allowed for a majority decision verdict with scores of 97-93, 95-94 and 94-94.

HBO will broadcast the two bouts on its "Boxing After Dark" program at 9:45 p.m. ET.

"The interesting thing for me about [the Montiel-Donaire] fight -- the countries where these fighters come from, the Philippines and Mexico -- there is almost frenzy about this fight," Arum said.

"It is my hope that the enthusiasm that is coming from the Philippines and Mexico permeates in the United States, that people that follow boxing and casual sports fans watch this fight on HBO because it truly will be a fight for the sport of boxing.

"I am proud that Top Rank can present such a splendid card and thanks to the two fight camps that are willing to engage in this climactic battle."

Aged 31 and 28, respectively, Montiel and Donaire are familiar to each other from past days as training partners, and each referred to the other as a "friend" during a recent media conference call.

But the sentiment seems unlikely to snuff Saturday's violence.

"We have a lot of respect for each other," Montiel said. "But inside the ring everything changes. We are very competitive. We both want to win. We both want to do our best. No mercy. You go in to win the fight and forget about everything else."

Donaire, a slight betting favorite at World Sports Exchange (wsex.com), concurred.

"When you are in there, there is no one else but you and your opponent. That person in front of you is a wall you need to jump over," he said. "That's the way it is with Montiel regardless if he is a friend of mine. I'm going to go over there and tear his head off."

* * * * * * * * * *

TV TOPICS

(Some fights may not be televised)

FRIDAY

ESPN2 -- Wicomico Civic Center, Salisbury, Md.

Fernando Guerrero (20-0) vs. Derrick Findley (17-4) -- 10, middleweights

Shawn Porter (17-0) vs. Anges Adjaho (25-4) -- 10, welterweights

TeleFutura -- Longshoreman Hall, San Francisco, Calif.

Eloy Perez (19-0-2) vs. Roger Gonzalez (27-3) -- 8, junior lightweights

SATURDAY

HBO -- Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev.

Fernando Montiel (44-2-2) vs. Nonito Donaire (25-1) -- WBC/WBO bantamweight title

Mike Jones (23-0) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (24-5-3) -- 12, welterweights

Mark Jason Melligen (20-2) vs. Gabriel Martinez (27-1-1) -- 10, welterweights

Televisa -- Auditorio Ernesto Rufo, Rosarito, Mexico

Rocky Juarez (28-7-1) vs. Alejandro Sanabria (26-1-1) -- 12, junior lightweights

Pablo Cesar Cano (20-0-1) vs. Jorge Romero (17-5) -- 10, lightweights

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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