Pugilism's Super Bowl Weekend
Yes, we're creeping ever closer to Super Bowl Sunday, but if you're a fight fan you already know the most compelling action this weekend will take place on Friday and Saturday.
You probably know all about some of those fights, and as much as I have complained about seeing guys old enough to be my uncle fight in main events (that goes for boxing and MMA), I will probably tune in with the rest of you when Couture and Coleman throw down Saturday night.
Still, there are a few other fights taking place a little further under the this weekend that we should pay attention to.
In no particular order they include:
1. Edwin Valero vs. Antonio DeMarco (Saturday, 9 p.m., Superchannel)
If you're one of these folks who hates boxing because you can't stand the powerless picking and poking of the pretty boy slicksters who tend to populate every division south of heavyweight, watch Valero fight and see if he doesn't change your mind about the sweet science. Not that Valero, the WBC lightweight champ, is that much of a scientist.
He's long on power and short on polish, loading up on big shots and pressing forward with his hands low and chin high. And if you're wondering how a fighter that raw can steamroll 26 opponents, wonder no more.
Personally, I prefer technicians, but even I can't pass up the opportunity to see the type of action Valero brings to the ring.
And if you like concussive punchers who disdain defense, neither should you.
2. Phillipe Nover vs. Rob Emerson and Melvin Guillard vs. Ronys Torres (UFC 109)
Focusing specifically on Nover and Guillard here, because they have so much in common.
Like skill sets. In a 155-division stacked with great athletes, these two are especially explosive.
And nicknames. Nover is a "The Filipino Assassin" while Guillard is the "Young" ... you guessed it..."Assassin."
And potential. Each of these guys has teased us with glimpses of what they might accomplish in the octagon. Nover showed so much talent in season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter that UFC president Dana White compared him to welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, while Guillard tantalized fans with one-shot KOs over Gabe Ruediger and Rick Davis.
So far in the UFC, their performances haven't equaled the sum of their considerable parts.
Nover dropped a decision in the TUF finale, suffered a TKO in his next start, then had to abort a September bout with with London's Sam Stout when he suffered pre-fight seizure.
So even though these two are so far from the main event that they may as well be ushers, I'm interested to see if one -- or both -- of them can turn potential into consistent performance, and avoid the "Permanent Prospect" label hanging over them.
3. Cubano Libre -- Guillermo Rigondeaux
The most polished 4-0 fighter you will ever see steps into the ring tonight on Friday Night Fights (10:30 p.m., TSN2) to try to extend his undefeated record and take another huge leap up the 122-pound ladder.
Don't let Rigondeaux's record deceive you. He's a contender already at junior featherweight, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba who defected in 2008 and turned pro last year. He's training with Freddie Roach and on the fast track to a title shot.
And with Juanma Lopez and Pelenchin Caballero moving up a weight class, and with Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez apparently only interested in fighting each other (chapter four is slated for this spring), Rigondeaux is also an fresh face in a division that needs an infusion of new talent.