Pondering Saturday Scraps On Showtime and HBO



Pondering Saturday Scraps On Showtime and HBO

When I run boxing, and word is I start my term next Neveruary, I will work like the devil to have HBO and Showtime stagger their dates, so fight fans don’t have to do the DVR dance, watch one live and tape the other one.

That wouldn't be illegal collusion, would it?

The dance will be in effect tomorrow, when Showtime screens a high profile event, topped by a rematch of the pretty stellar Carl Frampton versus Leo Santa Cruz scrap, and throwing in what should play out to be a rock-solid B side, with Mikey Garcia in tough against bulldog Dejan Zlaticanin. Their effort kicks off at 10 PM ET. HBO has a Boxing After Dark kicking off at 10 PM ET (Takashi Miura v Miguel Roman start things off from Cali), with Fight of the Year perennial entrant Franscisco Vargas in against Miguel Berchelt, who has a glossy record, looks good on paper and video, but hasn’t been in with A listers to this point.

All the top tier principals made weight today, so there's that.

Here are a few points of interest which are intriguing me especially the day before the fight fest:

—Everyone’s been saying it, what does Santa Cruz do differently to this time get the W against a guy whose confidence has to be high as an elephant’s eye, Frampton. Word dropped Friday that “The Jackal” won the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) Fighter of the Year award for 2016, and he looks and sounds in a zone of complete self control, mastery of his craft. We saw trading in the first tango, and Frampton getting the judge love, and taking Leo’s WBA super feather crown. Is someone going to showcase more power in this one, so they can deliver more punishing blows, which would give them some distance from the other guy on scorecards? Yeah, scorecards seem imminent, and most seem to like Frampton backing up his confidence level leading into this re-do. “He’s not a big one punch guy,” said Paul Malignaggi of LSC, but his workrate is sick, the Showtime analyst noted. Paulie before the first mashup wasn’t sure that the Irishman could have the lungs to hang. He does and he did. Barclays Center saw that classic, this time Vegas gets the pleasure. I poked Showtime analyst Steve Farhood to get a sense on how he thinks the re-go could look. “I can see LSC trying to use reach more, as per instructions of his dad…if he can box as he did in second half of their fight … That will force CF to be more aggressive, which could lead to him getting hit more.” We think this one will be as good or better than the 2016 scrap? “Tough act to follow…how can it be better…unless there are KDs,” he said.

Frampton has A grade footwork, a similar level beard, stays ultra composed at all times, and in fact, we think he might be able to nudge his power up a tick, and win by a bit more of a measure this time. But no, we’d not be surprised to see LSC’s connectivity up a notch, giving him the W and setting the table for a third faceoff. Bottom line, this fight won't not deliver the goods.
—Miguel Berchelt, the guy facing Francisco Vargas, is 30-1, but that record was built against non A listers. On video, we see a solid boxer, but what about against an A lister, as certainly Francisco Vargas is now for certain that. I don’t think anyone knows if we see a person who deserves that record or something less than that, and so we enter into the BAD main event with a question mark cloud hanging over the tussle. On video, Berchelt (27 KOs), a Mexican, keeps a high guard, isn’t reckless, moves pretty good, looks to slide to get a good angle, works off the back foot a lot, but then looks to exploit an opening or a weakness, and explodes. Vargas will need to be aware of a sharp left hook, which can detonate from near or far. Berchelt can work outside or in close if need be. I think, off a video check, his record isn’t built on popsicle sticks. But we will only know when he steps up a big ole step against Vargas. Vargas will without a doubt push him harder than anyone has, see just how good he does work off that back foot. Vargas (23-0-2 wth 17 KOs) has the hand speed edge, and the big fight experience which should likely keep him undefeated. Golden Boy exec Eric Gomez was asked how he sees this one coming in. “50-50,” is how Gomez sees it. So, presumably, he thinks Berchelt absolutely belongs on this sized stage.

“You’ve been called the Mexican Arturo Gatti. Have you heard that,” asked HBO’s Kieran Mulvaney. “No, I haven’t heard that but it really motivates me,” Vargas answered. Yeah, if by chance you haven’t seen him, that should whet the appetite. But he might not have the power edge and might that spring the upset win for Berchelt? Crazier things have happened…I’m guessing it’s a fun to watch tiff; two Mexicans are going at it, and that bodes well for us.

—-Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza has since the Mikey Garcia v Dejan Zlaticanin match was made been raving about it. He has lauded Garcia and company for agreeing to go in so tough after being off from 1-26-14 to 7-30-16, when he TKO’d Elio Rojas. So, the cable honcho thinks a lot of a fighter with a 22-0 (15 KOs) mark who hails from the nation of Montenegro. Yeah, I am not sure where on the globe it is, either. Zlatty, promoted by Lou Dibella, opened eyeballs when he dropped the maybe slight favorite in a ShoBox tango, Ivan Redkach. Z, who won the vacant WBC lightweight crown over Franklin Mamani last June, hopped on Redkach like the dude owed him money and called his mum a filthy expletive, to boot. Z also fought Ricky Burns, getting a SD12, where he was not favored and yeah, won that one too. So, Lou, could Z upset Mikey? “Absolutely could,” Dibella told me. “Should be a war!” Z is a lefty who presses forward, edges forward, stays pretty flat footed, has decent head movement, but could get picked apart if he stays too stationary. Staying static too long could also give Garcia (35-0 with 29 KOs) too much time to have his way in Vegas with the Montenegro man. I tend to think Mikey makes this one look easier than some of the hopeful are predicting.

READERS, fire me predictions on these fights, would ya?

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.

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