With fight week in full stride and the underdog predictions in abundance it’s easy to forget about some of the other stars on the card. It seems like every other day for the past two weeks a different writer or boxing analyst has picked Timothy Bradley. If boxing worked like twitter then #bradleybeatspacman would be trending worldwide. In the hoopla of the main event and the margin for competition growing closer by the hour the truth is the undercard has gone a bit underappreciated. The fact that not one of the fighters on the undercard is Canelo or Mosley doesn’t help the depreciative nature of the card, but the undercard for this Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley welterweight showdown has its positives features.
Since the undercard began to take shape a few months back there have been some negative views on the matter. It didn’t help that this PPV comes off the heels of another PPV that featured four of the most notable names in the sport. Regardless of the backlash that comes from the success that was May 5th and the comparisons the two PPVs will draw it must be said that Saturday’s card has the potential to be more than just a solid main event.
The interest is spread out pretty equally throughout the card. On one side you have the fast rising Guillermo Rigondeaux taking on Teon Kennedy, who has made some strong statements regarding Rigondeaux being a fluffed up amateur. Rigondeaux, who was a guest of thaboxingvoice.com’s radio show last week, made some strong statements of his own through his manger/translator. Speaking with Rigondeaux last week has lead me to believe that he takes Kennedy very serious and is looking to put on a show. Rigondeaux is the type of fighter who can put on a show every time out and when he does it’s a must-see affair.
The other variable on the card is welterweight standout Mike Jones who is fighting Randall Bailey for a vacant IBF welterweight title. This fight could serve as a Mike Jones coming out party of sorts. Jones is in prime position to get a meaningful fight at the end of the year if he can put Bailey away in impressive fashion.
However, the fight that I’ll have my eye on is the co-main event between Jorge Arce and Jesus Rojas in a scheduled 10 round affair in the junior featherweight division. This fight has the potential to steal the show and could serve to be a real barn-burner.
Arce, 32, has proven to be one of the best action fighters of the last several years. He always comes to fight and puts up tremendous outings more times than not. The last time he was the co-main event of a Pacman undercard was back in May of last year when he fought Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. on the Pacquiao-Mosley PPV. In that fight, Arce (60-6-2) had a career performance beating the (at the time) undefeated WV2 who was the favorite. Arce got off the canvas in round 4 and rallied to stop Vazquez Jr. in the 12th. That fight was a fantastic one and definitely stole the show on what was a lackluster main event.
Of Arce’s remarkable 60 wins, 46 have been by KO/TKO. He is the epitome of a Mexican fighter and I believe he is somewhat underrated when compared to the other great Mexicans that make up that list of greatest ever. As the current WBO bantamweight champion (118lbs), which he claimed by defeating Angky Angkota in November of last year, he will be fighting at junior featherweight (122lbs) for the 2nd time in a row since claiming the belt, however he has fought at the 122lb weight class for the majority of his fights over the last three years. He won a title in the junior featherweight division when he defeated Vazquez last year but vacated it to fight for the WBO bantamweight belt he now owns ( ironically enough Nonito Donaire won Arce’s vacated WBO junior featherweight title when he too defeated Vazquez back in February ). Although there is no title at stake, the fight between Arce and Rojas still holds merit.
The Puerto Rican Jesus Rojas, 25, is younger and doesn’t have nearly as many fights as Arce (but then again who does?). Rojas (18-1-1) has 13 KO/TKOs on his record and although his resume isn’t filled with a ton of notable opposition, Rojas is still a viable opponent. The Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry will be in full affect. Also, with the fight being a 10 rounder it doesn’t add to the perceived disadvantage for Rojas like it would if the fight was a 12 rounder. Up until now, Rojas has never been in a fight scheduled for more than 8 rounds. This could be interesting but I doubt it makes or breaks the fight.
Rojas has never been stopped and he possesses the kind of hand speed and accuracy to cause problems for the aging Arce. Rojas doesn’t have a high level of power, but he does have some pop in his gloves. What I’ve been impressed with is his overall ability to sustain a body attack on a consistent basis over the course of a fight.
The most dynamic aspect of this fight is Rojas’s willingness to exchange. I doubt he stands toe to toe with Arce for an entire round; however I believe there will be explosiveness sprinkled throughout the fight. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Rojas will upset, but he’ll be plenty game and up for the challenge.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the PPV, things like Pacquiao’s alleged declining abilities, Bradley’s apparent probability to pull the upset and the number of buys in comparisons to Mayweather-Cotto, it is nice to have a bit of certainty that contains fireworks.
As excited as I am to watch Pacquiao-Bradley in the ring, I won’t let the other fights on the card go unnoticed and neither should you. The guaranteed aggressiveness of Arce means a boxing fan can soak up the moments leading up to the main event and the worst thing a fight fan can do is buy a PPV that cost $54.95 (Tecate is offering a rebate for the fight) and not smell the roses, especially when those roses are worth the attention.