COMMENTARY | March may have produced two Fight of the Year candidates in Bradley-Provodnikov and Alvarado-Rios II, but April promises to deliver plenty of its own quality action with several key match-ups throughout the month.
From young stars looking to prove their worth to veteran champions fighting to stay on top, this month's schedule is as solid as they come and blessed with the true star power of fighters such as Saul Alvarez, Nonito Donaire, Amir Khan, and Sergio Martinez.
Here's a look at April's ten "must see" fights:
Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs)
It's not Donaire-Abner Mares, but it's, literally, the next best thing. Donaire is a legitimate pound for pound star and one of the sport's very best; Cuba's multi-time gold medalist, Rigondeaux, is one of the most skilled fighters in the sport. To sweeten the pot, this will also be a junior featherweight title unification bout with Donaire putting his WBO belt up against Rigondeaux's WBA strap.
Victor Terrazas (36-2-1, 21 KOs) vs. Cristian Mijares (47-6-2, 22 KOs)
With all the big names fighting in April, this one will likely fall under the radar. However, be aware that this all-Mexican battle for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title could very well be yet another candidate for Fight of the Year. Terrazas is eager to prove his worth at the world class level while former champ, Mijares, is fighting to stay on the main stage. The winner could also be in line for a shot at the winner of Donaire-Rigondeaux.
Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KOs) vs. Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs)
Fury, the boisterous British heavyweight, makes his American debut against former cruiserweight champ, Cunningham, in a rites of passage bout leading to possible bigger and better things. Philadelphia's Cunningham is quick and talented, but may lack the size and strength to compete with the 6' 9" Fury. Still, Cunningham never goes down easy and could, quite possibly, be the Brit's toughest challenge to date.
Saul Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) vs. Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs)
Some are saying that the popular 22-year-old "Canelo" Alvarez will be stepping into the ring for the first time against someone truly capable of taking his WBC junior middleweight title. 27-year-old WBA titlist, Trout, is talented and well-skilled with enough of an edge to take the fight to the red-headed Mexican champ. If Alvarez wants to climb to that next level of stardom, he needs to prove that he can go through Trout first.
Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) vs. Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11 KOs)
In his first bout back after defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Martinez will have to answer the call of tenacious British battler, Murray, in a bout held in Martinez's native Argentina. The 38-year-old defending WBC middleweight titlist is beginning to show his age and is just recovering from knee surgery following the Chavez bout. Big fights await Martinez should he win, but beating a truly solid Murray is no guarantee.
Amir Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) vs. Julio Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs)
Although this is likely a mismatch, the possibility is still there for some real entertainment value. Former lightweight titlist, Diaz, is well past his prime, but is a two-fisted battler, who will keep punching until he's carried from the ring. Khan, on the other hand, is vulnerable to a big punch. Expect some compelling moments in an otherwise one-sided affair.
Deontay Wilder (27-0, 27 KOs) vs. Audley Harrison (31-6, 23 KOs)
2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder, takes his first step up in class to meet the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, Harrison, in what should be a competitive heavyweight battle on the Khan-Diaz undercard. The UK's Harrison has been a disappointment as a pro with an up and down career that has left him as little more than a fringe contender. Meanwhile, the painfully slow to come along Wilder has yet to even fight a top notch journeyman in his five-year pro career. It should be noted that this bout, while publicly agreed upon by both parties, has yet to be officially confirmed.
Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) vs. Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs)
This WBC heavyweight title eliminator has been on and off several times due to injuries and scheduling conflicts. Now that it's officially back on the schedule, expect a solid heavyweight dust-up between the colorful Mexican-American and the Haiti-born Canadian.
Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs) vs. Fernando Guerrero (25-1, 19 KOs)
It's a stretch to say that this will be a true world class test for WBO middleweight titlist, Quillin, but the offense-minded Guerrero should provide an entertaining challenge for the world title and stand a legitimately solid chance at scoring the upset. Both Quillin and Guerrero like to come forward and throw punches, so expect a nice scrap.
Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) vs. Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KOs)
Garcia is the WBA and WBC junior welterweight titlist and has earned his spot at the top of the jam-packed 140 lb. class. Judah has "been there and done that" for the last seventeen years as a former junior welterweight and welterweight world titlist. Despite getting a bad rap for delivering inconsistent performances, the talented southpaw always fights well in the really big bouts, just falling short against superstars like Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. For Garcia, this may just be another defense, but for Judah it's likely his last shot at a major title-and that may be enough to turn a good title scrap into a great one.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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- Nonito Donaire
- Guillermo Rigondeaux
- Saul Alvarez
- Sergio Martinez