Come on baby let the good times roll. The Las Vegas strip will be rocking this weekend as “Super September” (as I like to call it) cranks out another great night of boxing. The Thomas & Mack Center will host Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. which may be the most anticipated fight of the evening, but the MGM Grand will be the site of the most intriguing overall card.
An action packed event that will feature 3 world title bouts and a guaranteed slugfest will be headlined by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez. Alvarez’s WBC Jr. Middleweight title will be on the line. The other 2 title fights are Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon for Gonzalez’s WBC Featherweight belt and Leo “Teremoto” Santa Cruz vs. Eric “Little Hands of Steel” Morel for Santa Cruz’s IBF Bantamweight title. But the fun doesn’t stop there, Marcos “El Chino” Maidana will face off against Jesus “Renuente” Soto Karass in a scheduled 12 round Welterweight clash.
Canelo (40-0-1 29KO’s) has been a wrecking ball since his pro debut in late 2005 with 11 of his first 13 fights coming by KO. Since a draw in his 5th fight, he has waltzed through his opponents while being virtually untested. The notion that Alvarez has been coddled during his career is a cloud hanging over his head. His most notable win came in May when he dominated a washed up Shane Mosley, who retired after the fight.
Canelo will be making his 5th title defense versus Lopez. Again, this will be another showcase of his talents against lesser competition. Lopez is entirely too small and doesn’t have the power to get Canelo in trouble. Alvarez needs to step up his level of opposition, bottom line. Assuming victory is inevitable for Canelo in his 42nd pro fight against Lopez, rumors of a fight between him and pound-4-pound king Floyd Mayweather have been whirling around the Internet recently.
On June 23rd of this year, all Victor Ortiz had to do was get past “undersized”, “less talented” Josesito Lopez and he would have a date with Canelo Alvarez. Even before taking on Lopez the fight between Ortiz and Alvarez was already in the works. Things didn’t quite go as planned, after 9 rounds of back and forth action Lopez won by TKO after breaking Ortiz’s jaw, forcing him to quit.
Lopez (30-4 18KO’s), who is actually a Jr. Welterweight, moved up to Welterweight to take on Ortiz. Saturday he’s moving up another weight class, this time to Jr. Middleweight in by far the toughest fight of his career. Outside of besting Ortiz, Mike Dallas Jr. is the only fighter he’s beaten with any notoriety. To think this time last year Lopez lost a very closely scored split decision to Jesse Vargas. Now he’s standing on the doorstep of one of the biggest names in the game.
Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7 45KO’s) enters his fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon(43-4 35KO’s) looking to add to his 12 fight win streak and defend his WBC title. Gonzalez has been red hot since his loss to Toshiaki Nishioka in May of 2005. During his streak, 11 of his victories have come by way of knockout. He has power in both hands and applies pressure from the opening bell.
Gonzalez has some stiff competition facing him this weekend in Ponce De Leon. When you look at his recent fights you see that Ponce De Leon is 2-2 in his last 4. When you look closer, those 2 losses came from Gamboa and Broner in consecutive fights. Doesn’t seem that bad now does it?
Like Gonzalez, Ponce De Leon is an aggressive fighter that has knockout power in each hand. As both competitors have stated in the weeks leading up to the fight, we have a potential fight of the year candidate on our hands. This will be a battle between two typically tough Mexican warriors. With a combined 80 knockouts between the two of them, a KO is inevitable.
Newly crowned IBF Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz(20-0-1 11KO’s) will be facing his most notable and most difficult foe in his 6 year career. Eric Morel is coming off a lopsided loss to Abner Mares but he will give Santa Cruz everything he can ask for, and more.
Santa Cruz brings that tough grittiness expected from Mexican fighters. The destruction of South Africa’s Vusi Malinga in June brought Santa Cruz his 1st world title and earned him a spot on this card. A win against a top of the line veteran like Morel will land Santa Cruz in a position to fight for another world title. Strangely Santa Cruz holds a major title but isn’t ranked in the top 10 by the WBC, WBA or WBO, he hopes to change that Saturday.
Puerto Rico’s Eric Morel(46-3 23KO’s) will be looking to add a 3rd world title to his resume. The loss to Mares ended an 11 fight win streak. “Little Hands of Steel” will need to pack a punch, have a “Jaw of Steel” and be able to outbox the talented Santa Cruz to pull this one out. Morel will be making return back to Bantamweight for this battle.
Competition to Gonzalez-Ponce De Leon for fight of the night will come in the form of Marcos Maidana (31-3 28KO’s) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3 17KO’s). An all-out slugfest should be in order for this one.
Maidana will attempt to right the ship at Welterweight after getting dominated by Devon Alexander in his last outing. It doesn’t seem that his normally iron chin or punching power followed him in his move up from Jr. Welterweight. The Argentine Maidana is a stalker, who has to rely on a relentless assault to slow down and eventually finish his opponents off. If his opposition is absorbing his punches then his game plan is shot at this weight.
The road to this weekend has been a lot bumpier for Mexico’s Soto Karass than any other fighter on the card. He is 2-4 with 1NC in his last 7 fights. This will be an opportunity to put himself back on the map. The confidence gained by beating a name and a talent like Maidana will take him a long way. Expect nothing but action for as long as this fight lasts.
My predictions for this card won’t shock anyone. In the Maidana-Soto Karass fight I expect Maidana to come out on top. While Soto Karass does have power I don’t see it being enough to impede Maidana’s forward progress that he’s known to make throughout a fight. Maidana will give a dose of body shots to slow down Soto Karass to where it will be target practice en route to a 7th round KO victory.
Santa Cruz will make his 1st title defense a successful one. I know Morel will make it a difficult night for Santa Cruz, but at this point in his career Morel won’t be able to keep up with the young boy for 12 rounds. Superior boxing skills and sharper punching will earn Santa Cruz the unanimous decision. The score could be as one sided as 117-111.
In my pick for fight of the night, Jhonny Gonzalez will defeat Daniel Ponce De Leon by a late round TKO. Neither fighter will go anywhere so there will be punishment handed out by each. Gonzalez being the harder puncher gets the nod from me. With De Leon being a southpaw he will line up perfectly for Gonzalez’s right hand all night.
I don’t think the main event will be at all close. Lopez is a game fighter but he’s taking a serious step up in class squaring off with Alvarez. The body attack that Alvarez unleashes will be way too much for the much smaller Lopez. Like he was against Ortiz, Lopez will be right in front of Canelo for him to catch him, and with the body shots Canelo is known for, Lopez won’t be able to get away if he tried. I see a 3rd knockout of the night coming in this one, no later than the 8th round. Canelo being one of the biggest stars in Mexico will bring great pride to his country on Mexican Independence Day.
This event will be brought to you by Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo Promotions in association with Goosen Tutor Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions. Sponsoring the event will be Corona, DeWalt Tools, AT&T and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Showtime will air prelim fights on Showtime Extreme starting at 8pm with the main card being aired on Showtime at 9pm.