Three Punch Combo: The Return of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” and Lots More

HBO vs SHOWTIME ON SATURDAY — Many of us remember when HBO began its “Boxing After Dark” series in February of 1996. The series was originally about making well matched, entertaining fights. And boy did it ever. The card this Saturday is reminiscent of those original Boxing After Dark shows that HBO once put together on a consistent basis.

The main event features Francisco Vargas (pictured on the right) facing power punching Miguel Berchelt. Vargas is coming off back-to-back Fight of the Year type bouts against Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido. Though he tries to box and can do so quite successfully, he can easily be baited into a slugfest.

Berchelt is a natural counterpuncher but much like Vargas has a history of getting in exchanges when he tastes leather. Berchelt has a habit of throwing wide punches as well and this entices his opponents to open up some more, seeing wide openings. Berchelt does have an eraser and can hurt his opponents in those exchanges with one punch. It is hard not to envision this fight with Vargas turning into an all-out shootout in spots with the winner being determined by whoever absorbs punches better.

In the co-feature, the aforementioned Miura takes on veteran Miguel Roman. We all remember Miura from his fight with Vargas. He is aggressive and relies on getting inside to do his work. And Roman fights in a very similar manner. He is also an aggressive fighter who will try to force his way inside where he ultimately does his best work. As a bonus to fans, neither man is very defensively sound. This is a fight that can’t possibly be bad and should turn into a high contact slugfest for however long it goes. Of all the fights on the boxing calendar, this is the one personally I have been looking most forward to seeing given the styles of the combatants.

HBO is going back to its roots this weekend with an old school Boxing After Dark card that has similarities to the shows produced in the 90’s. This is going to be an all action card that should bring back a lot of memories to those of us that fell in love with the original Boxing After Dark series.

Is Mikey Garcia Ripe to be Upset?

Mikey Garcia is one of the most naturally gifted boxers in the sport today. He is incredibly fluid with his combination punching and foot movement inside the ring. Garcia is undefeated in 35 fights and due to his natural talent has hardly been tested in any of those fights. But this Saturday night, he could be ripe for the picking when he faces Dejan Zlaticanin on SHOWTIME.

Zlaticanin is built like a tank and fights like one as well. The ultra-aggressive southpaw tries to overwhelm his opponents with his constant pressure. In his most impressive performance to date, Zlaticanin used unrelenting pressure to break down and stop then top prospect Ivan Redkach in four rounds. Zlaticanin is himself undefeated with 22 wins and aside from the Redkach win also has wins against former champion Ricky Burns and contender Petr Petrov.

Garcia has never faced an opponent that puts on the kind of pressure that he will see from Zlaticanin. Though Garcia is talented, his passion for the sport has often been questioned. If his heart is not fully in boxing, how will he respond if things are not going his way against a fighter that just keeps coming and coming? Garcia’s inactivity will also not help against such a pressure fighter. With only one fight in the past three years, how sharp can we expect Garcia to be on Saturday? Finally, Garcia began his career at featherweight while Zlaticanin has fought most his career at or above lightweight. Will Garcia’s punches have the impact they did at the lighter weight classes on a naturally bigger man? And how will Garcia handle the punching power of the bigger, stronger Zlaticanin?

This being said, there is a reason why Garcia is favored to win his third world title belt. Garcia is quicker, much more fluid and has the much better technique. But the ingredients are in place for a potential upset. Zlaticanin is no doubt a very live underdog and come Sunday may find himself the talk of the boxing community.

About Young Fighters and Losses

Many times in this sport, managers are afraid to put their young fighters in with solid competition for fear of losing that precious undefeated record. Often, it is when a fighter suffers a loss or two that he begins to learn more nuances of the sport and what it takes to be successful. As the old saying goes, more is learned from suffering a loss than all of the previous wins combined. But too often, young fighters are coddled and not properly prepared when the time comes to take that next step.

We saw such an example of a young fighter being prepared for the moment despite suffering some early career losses this past Friday night in Atlantic City. Danny Roman dominated and stopped previously unbeaten Adam Lopez in the 9th round of their scheduled 12 round title eliminator fight in what was considered a mild upset.

Roman honed his skills on club shows in California. He was put in fights from the start of his career in which he could possibly lose, and he did lose on a few occasions. But those losses made him better and he began to improve significantly, correcting errors made along the way. The result was a picture perfect performance this Friday showcasing all his skills. He knew when to throw at the right range as well as when to counter. His defense was air-tight and he frustrated Lopez by picking off most his shots. Roman’s own punches were sharp and landed with maximum efficiency. He methodically broke down Lopez and earned his best win to date.

Roman’s performance should be a lesson to other young fighters and managers. It’s not always about just winning and looking great blowing out overmatched fighters. It’s instead about what is learned in the early stages of a career and making strides towards getting better. The only way to do this is to face stiffer competition and possibly suffer some setbacks along the way. But those setbacks can be positives in the long haul as we saw from the development of Danny Roman into a championship contender.

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