Friday’s Stateside Appetizers to Saturday’s Big Boxing Show in London


This Saturday there are important fights in Los Angeles and Stockholm, not to mention a little skirmish in London that will upstage them all. Two Friday events at venues nearly 2500 miles apart will get the weekend off to a good start.

The most arresting of the two shows transpires in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions presents a 12-bout card topped by two world title fights. Daniel Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs; that’s him pictured) defends his WBA World middleweight title against Sergio Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs). In the co-feature, Toledo’s Robert Easter Jr. opposes Richard Commey of Ghana in a battle of unbeatens for the vacant IBF World Lightweight title. The bouts will air on Spike TV.

This will be Daniel Jacobs’ first outing since December of last year when he polished off previously unbeaten Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillen in 85 seconds. Sergio Mora, who came to the fore in 2005 when he defeated Peter Manfredo Jr. in the finals of NBC’s short-lived “The Contender” series, has been out of action since August of last year when he fractured his right ankle in the second round of his match with Jacobs at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The first round of that fight was a doozy in which he and Jacobs exchanged knockdowns — hence, the rematch.

The lightweight title match has the earmarks of a very good scrap. Easter (17-0, 14 KOs) and Commey (24-0, 22 KOs) are both capable of turning the tide with a single punch. Easter on paper is the better technician, but the well-traveled Commey, who has fought almost exclusively overseas, has overcome every challenge.

The PBC matchmakers had no trouble fleshing out this card. The southeastern Pennsylvania city has very quietly developed a strong boxing culture. Former IBF World welterweight champion Kermit Cintron resides in Reading, as does fellow Puerto Rican Frankie De Alba, a 19-2-2 super featherweight. Both will appear on the undercard in 8-round bouts. Cintron (37-5-2) opposes Manny Woods (15-5-1) of St. Petersburg, Florida. De Alba is in against Little Rock’s Kion Evans (12-2-1).

A late addition to the show is a 10-round heavyweight contest between Travis Kauffman (30-1, 1 ND, 22 KOs) and Josh Gormley.

Kauffman was born and bred in Reading. In his last outing, he lost a 12-round split decision to Chris Arreola that was changed to a “no contest” when Arreola tested positive for marijuana. He figures to make short work of the 42-year-old Gormley who returned to the ring last year in the Dominican Republic after an extended absence. A very promising prospect in his younger days when he fought under the name Josh Dempsey, Gormley was blown out of the water by Andy Ruiz Jr. in his last start in what was his first bout on American soil in more than 17 years.

By the way, Kauffman has been calling out Luis Ortiz. That fight is likely to materialize someday as Ortiz has few options – none the more prominent heavyweights want any part of him.

The other Friday show, at the Downtown Events Center in Las Vegas, doesn’t have as many recognizable names, but you can’t beat the ambience. There isn’t a bad seat in the cozy little open-air arena where the boxing shows, titled “Knockout Night at the “D”, are held under the stars.

In the main go, San Diego’s Emmanuel Robles (15-0-1, 8 KOs) looks to keep his unbeaten string intact at the expense of Calgary’s Steve “The Dragon” Claggett (23-4-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-round bout for a minor 140-pound title. Claggett’s personal press agent says that the Canadian’s “unrivaled speed and power is delivered in a graceful but deadly elegance.” We’re not so sure about that, but Claggett is a very capable fighter with a crowd-pleasing style.

The semi-main is an 8-round contest between undefeated super welterweights Neeco “Rooster” Macias (12-0, 6 KOs) and Rolando Garza (9-0, 6 KOs). Ismail Muwendo (17-0, 12 KOs), a Ugandan who fights out of Minneapolis, and up-and-comers Jeremy Nichols and Max Ornelas add spice to the 7-bout card. Ornelas, who turned 18 in June (and looks younger) made his pro debut at this venue the week of his high school graduation, scoring a first round knockout, and has had two victorious fights in Mexico in the interim. A local lad, he will bring a large and vocal following.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with the first bout at 6:15. The televised portion of the show commences at 8 p.m. PT / 11 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network with veteran broadcasters Al Bernstein and Jim “J.R.” Ross calling the action. — AKL