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Grading the Pacquiao-Marquez 4 Undercard

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The main event of December 8's pay-per-view card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is guaranteed to provide some quality action. Manny Pacquao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez will be a war, at best, and solid elite-level chess match, at worst. As such, Fans will not likely be disappointed with the effort put forth by either fighter this Saturday-- But what about the event's undercard?

Big PPV undercards have a tendency to be lean on quality and heavy on fluff to ensure overall profitability for the event. So, let's take a look at this Saturday's Pacquiao-Marquez televised supporting card to see if the fans really are being given full bang for their boxing buck:

Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) vs. Michael Farenas (34-3-4, 26 KOs)

"El Ciclon de Guantánamo" is so talented that he'd get a solid C+ just for hitting a heavy bag in the ring for a few minutes, which, ironically, we may see when he faces Filipino super featherweight, Michael Farenas. It's not that Farenas is bad, it's just that he's sorely unproven. He has a couple of solid wins, but his one test at the world class level was cut short by a fight-ending headbutt in the third round of a bid for Takashi Uchiyama's WBA super featherweight title last July.

Gamboa, on the hand, is a former featherweight titlist with legitimate pound-for-pound talent and ability. The Cuban Olympic gold medalist has been sidelined for fifteen months due to promotional issues and disputes, but he's now firmly with SMS Promotions as 50 Cent's "blingiest" new toy. This Gamboa bout, officially, will be the rapper's debut as promoter.

The only point of intrigue in this contest may be Farenas' propensity for headbutting and rough play-- His last four fights have featured prominent, blood-drawing headbutts. An awkward, rough Farenas and a rusty Gamboa could be the perfect recipe for an early, headbutt-induced end to Gamboa's evening.

Grade: B-

Miguel Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs)

Vazquez, the defending IBF lightweight champion since August of 2010, will be putting his belt on the line against 25-year-old Filipino prospect, Gesta. Unlike most Mexican fighters, Vazquez is a boxing stylist who looks to outclass his opposition rather than brutalize them. Also 25, Vazquez has the massive edge in experience, with fights against Saul Alvarez, Timothy Bradley, Breidis Prescott, Ji-Hoon Kim, and Ammeth Diaz on his resume. Gesta, however, is a much more dominant physical presence and will be looking to steamroll Vazquez en route to his first world title.

The thrill in this bout is in the fact that Gesta's resume is so thin and we just don't know how well he'll step up in class. No matter what, though, Vazquez will be forced to do more toe to toe combat than what's considered normal for him and that should produce a compelling contest.

Grade: A-

Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs)

Both fighters are undefeated 20-something boxers making their main stage debut and fighting for their first major title (The interim WBA featherweight title), but that's where the similarities end. The 23-year-old Fortuna, from the Dominican Republic, is a blue chip prospect and unique talent already boasting some major victories over ranked opposition. On the other hand, the 29-year-old Irishman, Hyland, is best known for being promoted by The Jersey Shore's Snooki. Hyland has some solid wins, but nothing so far that would suggest him being anything greater than a solid New York/New Jersey club fighter.

If Hyland is anything short of stellar, Fortuna should walk right through him, quite possibly within three rounds.

Grade: B-

Overall, the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard should be solid enough. It'll be great to see Gamboa back in the ring while Gesta-Marquez should be a close, entertaining battle. And fans should pay special attention to Fortuna, who is, in this writer's assessment, an underexposed prospect.

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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 The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.


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