The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Showtime Announces Boxing Schedule

Showtime Announces Boxing Schedule

By James Bell


On January 24th, Showtime Sports had a gathering in New York to hold a press conference of sorts called “Boxing Upfront” to give the people in attendance and those that were watching online a glimpse into the schedule that they have planned on their network for the next few months. There were some matchups that were known already but confirmed and others that were rumored but were not necessarily official until it was announced in this event. Either way, fans of the sport were looking forward to what Showtime had in store for this year. I will go through the announced schedule and give an analysis into most of the fights…

February 17th – Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios and David Benavidez vs. Ronald Gavril

The first card that was highlighted will feature a rematch for the WBC super middleweight title as David Benavidez defends his title against Ronald “The Thrill” Gavril. It will be his first defense as the youngest super middleweight champion ever, winning it when he was 20 years old. Now at 21, he wants to be more impressive against Gavril as he got a split decision victory over him in September of last year. He was impressive in his TKO win over Rogelio Medina before his first fight with Gavril, but Gavril gave Benavidez a tough fight that some felt could have gone either way. For Benavidez to retain the title and get closer to becoming one of the best in the division, he will have to be a little more sharper and watch for Gavril’s counters which got him in the previous matchup.

In the main event, Danny Garcia returns to the ring since his loss to Keith Thurman to face Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios. Garcia suffered the first loss of his career to Thurman and I felt that it was not as close as the judges made it out to be. It will be almost a year since that fight happened, and now Danny will be facing a guy in Rios who some feel is not the caliber of an opponent that Garcia should face. Danny was a two-division world champion at super lightweight and welterweight while Rios had been a world champion at lightweight but had not won world titles at super lightweight and welterweight. He did lose to Timothy Bradley for the WBO welterweight title and had been on the shelf for nearly two years after that, so we don’t know where he is as a fighter, much less in the welterweight division. Garcia may be heavily favored in this fight, but Rios has been known to be tough and may not make it too easy for Danny.

March 3rd – Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz, Andre Dirrell vs. Jose Uzcategui, and Jermell Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno Jr.

Hey….this may become one of the best cards of the year if the fights live up to the hype. First I would like to get into the WBC heavyweight title match between champion Deontay Wilder and challenger Luis Ortiz. This may be one of the best heavyweight matches that could be put together other than the March 31st bout between champions Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker. This fight could have happened on November 4th but the WBC took out Ortiz due to testing positive for illegal substances that were in pills that he was taking. As a result, Wilder fought Stiverne again this time getting a knockout in the first round. Ortiz fought on December 8th and immediately called out Wilder after his win, and Wilder said that he would “bless him” with another opportunity to fight him.

Now, many may see how good Wilder really is. We know of Ortiz’s background in Cuba and that he may be one of the most skilled fighters in the division. Wilder has knocked out every fighter that he has faced, but people have been critical of the type of opponents that he has faced in a pro career that has lasted about nine years. Here could be Wilder’s chance to show the public that he is among the best in the heavyweight division, or it could be the first world title for Ortiz.

In the co-feature, we have a rematch in the super middleweight division. The last time Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui fought which was in the MGM National Harbor, it was marred by an attack on Uzcategui by Leon Lawson Jr. (Dirrell’s uncle) after Uzcategui was disqualified for hitting Dirrell after the bell which led to Dirrell going to the canvas. Before that happened, it seemed like Jose had the upper hand against Andre and was winning the fight. There wasn’t enough activity coming from Dirrell to make Uzcategui change his attack pattern. Dirrell will have to do a better job of boxing if he intends to win this rematch and retain the interim IBF title and potentially face the IBF champion Caleb Truax.

Dirrell and Uzcategui face off before their first fight in May 2017. (Photo by James Bell)

Dirrell and Uzcategui face off before their first fight in May 2017. (Photo by James Bell)

Jermell Charlo will take on Hugo Centeno Jr. in his second fight in the middleweight division. The former IBF super welterweight champion will also have his second consecutive fight at the Barclays Center. This time he will face an opponent in Centeno who is coming off a TKO win over former unbeaten prospect Immanuel Aleem and is someone who is taller and has a longer reach than he is. It will be interesting to see how Jermell adjusts to that in order to get a victory and stay in the hunt for a world title shot in the middleweight division.

March 10th – Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets and Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh

This fight card was originally scheduled for February 10th, but an injury to Lipinets right hand delayed it a month. This will be the first defense of the IBF super lightweight title for Sergey after winning it on November 4th against Akihiro Kondo…his opponent is one of the most skilled fighters within the sport and may be making a case to be one of the best fighters in it. Mikey Garcia had a big year last year with a knockout win over Dejan Zlatcanin and a clear decision win over Adrien Broner to be 37-0, and he is going after a fourth title in four weight classes here against Lipinets. There have been big plans put forth by Garcia for 2018, but first he has to defeat Lipinets in order to move forward with those plans.

The co-feature bout is a rematch between Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh, this time it will be for the vacant WBA super lightweight title. In their first match at the MGM National Harbor, Barthelemy was able to get a unanimous decision win in a fight that was closer than the scorecards indicated. Relikh was able to get to Barthelemy at times and did score a knockdown in the fifth round before getting knocked down himself in the eighth round. It was a good back and forth fight which could end up happening again in this rematch. The winner not only gets a world title, but makes themselves available for bigger and better matches in a deep division.

Barthelemy and Relikh battle up close in their first bout. (Photo by James Bell)

Barthelemy and Relikh battle up close in their first bout. (Photo by James Bell)

April 7th – Erislandy Lara vs. Jarrett Hurd

One of the surprising announcements of the day came when a super welterweight unification became official as the IBO and WBA “super” champion Erislandy Lara will go up against the IBF champion Jarrett Hurd on April 7th. We have seen Lara go against the likes of Paul Williams, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, and Canelo Alvarez in the division years ago and many feel that he is the best in the division but he has not had the high-profile fights recently. Hurd won the IBF title by defeating Tony Harrison last February and defended it in October against Trout in a very good fight. Now he looks to get in the ring against one of the best boxers in the sport. The winner of this bout could go against the WBC champion Jermall Charlo which would have three of the four major belts on the line for the first time since Winky Wright faced Shane Mosley in 2004.

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