Six Fighters. Three Fights. One Man’s Opinion. A Look At Saturday Night’s Fight Card.

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

Andrzej Fonfara is a fan-friendly TV fighter.

Have I just praised him or insulted him? Maybe a little of both.

Glass half-full: A TV fighter is someone who’s fun to watch. Aggressive. Capable of scoring KOs. Never in a bad fight. Certainly worth an hour of your viewing time.

Think Gabriel Rosado. Or Chris Arreola. Or Josesito Lopez.

Glass half-empty: A TV fighter gets hit more than he should, which usually prevents him from attaining championship-level status.

Think Gabriel Rosado. Or Chris Arreola. Or Josesito Lopez.

In his most recent bout, the 26-year-old Fonfara, 25-3, challenged WBC 175-pound titlist Adonis Stevenson in May on SHOWTIME®. The Polish light heavyweight was a 10-1 underdog, and when he went down twice in the first five rounds, the odds might as well have risen to 100-1. But Fonfara roared back to drop and almost stop the imposing Stevenson.

The challenger faded late and lost by unanimous decision, but made a name for himself in the process.

Glass half-full: It was a moral victory that significantly raised Fonfara’s stock. Now he was somebody.

Glass half-empty: There are no moral victories in boxing, nor any such thing as a good loss. A somebody could be anybody.

Whatever your perspective, Fonfara, who’s based in Chicago, returns home to face France-based Doudou Ngumbu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ngumbu, 33-5, is a road warrior who’s faced local fighters in the Ukraine, Poland, and South Africa, so the 32-year-old veteran is not likely to cower in his corner.

This time it’s Fonfara who’s the favorite (5-1), and his in-the-pocket style and reasonable punching power give him a sizable advantage. But Ngumbu is as awkward as his name, and he’s been stopped only once. If he lands his right hand often enough, he’ll trouble Fonfara.

Remember, Fonfara hits and gets hit. Add the fact that Polish fans might just top even Puerto Ricans and Mexicans as the most passionate in boxing and we’re looking at a lively and energized main event.

In other words, both a good live fight and a good TV fight.

Kameda

In the co-feature, WBO bantamweight titlist Tomoki Kameda returns to SHOWTIME after his one-punch KO win in July. (Remember, little guys can punch!) The Mexico-based Japanese 118-pounder will defend against a countryman of sorts, 28-year-old Alejandro Hernandez of Mexico City.

It’ll be Hernandez’s third try at a world title; he previously fought for championship belts at 112 and 115 pounds.

For a four-month period, Kameda and his brothers, Daiki and Koki, simultaneously held world titles. They are the only trio of brothers to have won world championships.

Kameda came to Mexico at age 15 because he wanted to be “different from his brothers.” His entire amateur career was fought in Mexico, and he lives there now. He’s known as “Mexicanito,” and his hook-to-the-body kayo of Pungluang Singyu on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara PPV was evidence that it’s not just a nickname of convenience.

The 23-year-old Kameda, 30-0, seems a complete package, with exceptional speed and eye-popping power. Having committed to fighting in the USA, he has an opportunity to do something unique: How many Japanese fighters have established themselves as championship-level stars in the West?

In Hernandez, who is 28-10-2, Kameda faces a veteran boxer-puncher who’s been tested by the likes of world titlists Leo Santa Cruz, Omar Narvaez and Marvin Sonsona. The Mexican, who’s a big underdog, will try to become the only current world champion with double-digit losses.

Hernandez is game (he’s been stopped only by Santa Cruz), but on paper, at least, he’s out of his depth.

The first televised fight will feature a 130-pounder who’s demanded attention for good reason: His one-punch power has produced several spectacular knockouts.

I called Javier Fortuna’s U.S. debut back in 2010, and his first-round wipeout of prospect Victor Valenzuela was nothing short of frightening. Since then, the southpaw Fortuna, 25-0-1, has also obliterated Yuandale Evans and Miguel Zamudio via first-round knockout.

Quality of opposition? Valenzuela, Evans, and Zamudio were a combined 49-1-1.

This’ll be the 25-year-old Fortuna’s fourth fight at 130 pounds. As was the case with junior lightweight titlist Rances Barthelemy on the most recent SHOWTIME boxing broadcast, Fortuna, a native of the Dominican Republic, has a precious opportunity to separate himself from the other top fighters in his underwhelming division.

For a pure puncher, all it takes is one timely performance…

Fortuna will take on Abner Cotto, who’s on a bit of a run. Last time out, Cotto, 18-2, outpointed former world title challenger Jerry Belmontes on the road in Corpus Christi. Before that, he lost a competitive decision to unbeaten top-10 contender Francisco Vargas.

Here’s the key: Fortuna often comes out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, while the 27-year-old Cotto has had his share of first-round issues. (In April 2013, Omar Figueroa blasted out Cotto in one round, and Belmontes hurt the Puerto Rican in the first round as well.) It’s imperative that Cotto extend the fight; Fortuna has scored only one stoppage past the fourth round.

The guess is that Fortuna has a bit too much of everything for Cotto. But the only thing I’ll be looking for is that put-away punch.

See you on Saturday!

Weigh-In Replay: Porter vs. Brook

“A Common Opponent” – SHOSTATS Pre-Fight Analysis of Figueroa vs. Estrada

Estrada and Figueroa

From CompuBox/SHOSTATS
This Saturday, undefeated Omar Figueroa Jr. will take on Daniel Estrada, a southpaw with 24 knockouts under his belt in a WBC Lightweight World Championship bout.

What can fight fans expect? SHOSTATS® analysts find insight on Figueroa vs. Estrada can be gained from a number of factors, including one opponent who gave both fighters tough and very memorable fights … Nihito Arakawa.

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Both have fought Arakawa and both have beaten him — Figueroa by unanimous decision, Estrada by 10th round technical decision. But the Japanese warrior’s off-the-charts courage forced both to dig deep.

Arakawa’s extremely high-octane attack (97.5 punches per round) pushed Figueroa to average 78.5 but the Japanese’s leaky defense enabled Figueroa to create massive — and historic — numbers. Figueroa’s 480 total connects and 450 landed power shots were both the third highest totals ever recorded among lightweights in CompuBox history and his connect percentages were eye-popping — 51% overall and 57% power to Arakawa’s 24% and 28% respectively. Figueroa-Arakawa also was a power punching tour-de-force; 84.3% of Figueroa’s attempts and 93.8% of his connects were power shots while 82.1% of Arakawa’s total punches and 95% of his connects were either hooks, crosses or uppercuts. Figueroa-Arakawa was a contender for 2013 Fight of the Year and had the field of contenders not been so crowded it just might have won. (Watch the full-length fight below.)

Like Figueroa, Estrada exploited Arakawa’s lack of defense by out-landing him 201-125 overall, 62-42 jabs and 139-83 power. After a slow start in round one (57 punches), Estrada revved up his attack by averaging 84.5 punches per round the rest of the way. In rounds 7-10, he out-threw Arakawa 388-303 overall and out-landed him 98-57 overall and 62-38 power. But Estrada produced those numbers through a crimson mask, for a punch opened a gash over the right eye in round five. An accidental elbow, however, led to Estrada’s eye slamming shut and the fight being stopped between rounds 10 and 11. Estrada was awarded the technical decision over Arakawa.

Prediction: The road gets no easier for Figueroa, for Estrada is an experienced and cerebral fighter who can take advantage of the titlist’s troubles against thoughtful boxers. However, Figueroa’s aggression and high volume may well result in an accidental butt that could rip open the challenger’s vulnerable brows. For as long as it lasts there will be action but there’s a high probability that Estrada’s tender tissues will render moot whatever work he gets done against the champ. Figueroa by cut-induced TKO.

Thurman, Matthysse, and Figueroa Headline April 26 Tripleheader

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StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., has rapidly become known amongst boxing aficionados as the place to be to see world-class fights and fighters. On Saturday, April 26, that reputation continues to grow as Golden Boy Promotions and SHOWTIME Sports® team up for an all-action tripleheader featuring some of the top fighters in the sport today. In the 12-round main event, Florida power-hitter Keith “One Time” Thurman defends his interim WBA World Welterweight Championship against former World Lightweight titleholder Julio “The Kidd” Diaz.

In other televised bouts on SHOWTIME, Argentine knockout king Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse returns in a 10-round matchup against hard-hitting Californian John Molina and Omar “Panterita” Figueroa Jr. defends his WBC Lightweight World Championship against fellow Texan Jerry “The Corpus Christi Kid” Belmontes.

“To headline a show like this against a former world champion is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and that day is here,” said Thurman. “I respect Julio Diaz and I will not underestimate him. He knows that this may be his last shot, and I expect the best from him, but I’ll be the one leaving with the victory.”

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Nihito Arakawa Added to Canelo vs. Angulo PPV Replacing Injured Figueroa

arakawa-ready-to-fightPhoto: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME
The Canelo vs. Angulo PPV event was to be a reunion of sorts for Omar Figueroa and Nihito Arakawa. Both young lightweights electrified the boxing world last summer with an unforgettable slugfest in San Antonio. Arakawa ultimately lost by decision, but delivered a 12-round performance that left fight fans awaiting his next fight. On March 8, Figueroa and Arakawa where scheduled to take on Ricardo Alvarez and Jorge Linares, respectively.

However, Figueroa injured his hand in training late last week and is now off the PPV card. As a result, SHOWTIME officially announced today that the 10-round lightweight slugfest between Linares and Arakawa has been elevated to open the four-fight pay per view event.

Relive every moment from the July 27, 2013 fight between Nihito Arakawa and Omar Figueroa, and prepare to catch the Japanese brawler live on March 8.

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Canelo vs. Angulo PPV Guarantees Fireworks With Stacked Undercards

It’s billed as “TOE-TO-TOE: CANELO vs. ANGULO,” an action-packed four-fight event on SHOWTIME PPV® headlined by two of Mexico’s most exciting sluggers, Canelo Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo.

But it just as easily could have been called “BANG FOR YOUR BUCK,” because the undercard is stacked from top to bottom with three world title fights, all featuring talented boxer-punchers who make for thrilling scraps.

Punching machine Leo Santa Cruz, who’s never in a dull fight, will defend his WBC featherweight belt against crowd-pleasing former three-time world titleholder Cristian Mijares.

Omar “Panterita” Figueroa, who was involved in a Fight Of The Year candidate in his last fight, will risk his unbeaten record and WBC lightweight crown against Canelo’s older brother, Ricardo Alvarez.

“King” Carlos Molina will put his IBF junior middleweight belt on the line against undefeated Jermall Charlo.

Don’t miss this sensational event, Saturday, March 8 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas live on SHOWTIME PPV (9 P.M. ET/ 6 P.M. PT).

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Who Are the Biggest Punchers in the Lightweight Class? – ShoBox Analyst Steve Farhood Weighs In

figueroa-vs-ayalaPhoto: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

Fernando Carcamo, 15-5 (12): He’s inconsistent, but check out YouTube to find what this tall Mexican did to Vicente Escobedo and Fidel Maldonado.

Omar Figueroa, 22-0-1 (17): Young star has one-punch power. Don’t hold it against him that he hit Nihito Arakawa five million times and failed to stop him.

Jorge Linares, 35-3 (23): Is so technically sound that every punch is heavy and hard. Best Japan-based Venezuelan in history. And probably the only one, too.

Angelo Santana, 14-1 (11): Cuban’s left hand is destructive, but he has to prove he’s not one-dimensional. Watch him in action: ShoBox Rewind: Angelo Santana vs. Johnny Garcia » And don’t miss Santana’s return to ShoBox on Friday, February 21st.

Sergio Thompson, 28-3 (26): Compact “Yeyo” clubs his opponents into submission. Mexican’s last nine wins have come in five rounds or less.