The Fight Night Guide brings you a brief preview of every upcoming weekend’s most relevant fights compiled by the writing staff of Zona de Boxeo and The Sweet Science, with all the basic information you need to know to check out the action and to know what to expect from every fighter. Follow us every week at #FNG @TSSboxingnews @Morillaboxing
Barclays Center, New York, Saturday, Jan. 20
Errol Spence Jr. vs Lamont Peterson, 12 rounds, IBF welterweight title
Big stakes in the first big fight of the year. The welterweight division is poised to become, once again, the homeland of the pound-for-pound throne, and with names such as Crawford, Thurman, Garcia, Matthysse and others poised to make a lot of noise in 2018, the stakes couldn’t be higher in this bout. The unbeaten Spence Jr. (22-0-0, 19 KOs) stands to gain the most out of this bout, coming off a very early signature win in his career when he defeated Kell Brook last May and being on the short list of heir-apparents to the crown once worn by Floyd Mayweather. On the other side of the spectrum, Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) will soon turn 34 and has been on “rebuilding mode” for a while, especially since he lost to Lucas Matthysse when they were both prospects on the rise a few years ago. The matchup is wide open, though, as their needs will collide with more force than their boxing skills and punching power put together, with Spence already looking towards greater challenges and Peterson struggling to stay alive in an elite division. – Diego M. Morilla
What to look for in this fight: Barring a miracle, Spence Jr. should start what could end up being a relatively short trip to the very top of the pound-for-pound throne. If he wins and then manages to beat Keith Thurman sometime in the future, it will be hard to deny him the position as the new king of boxing.
Robert Easter Jr. vs Javier Fortuna, 12 rounds, IBF lightweight title
A cyclopean task is what Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) has ahead of him in this fight if he really wants to grab the 135-pound belt currently in the hands of the unbeaten Easter Jr. (20-0-0, 14 KOs). And it’s not like he lacks the boxing attributes to do it, after being a super featherweight titlist three years ago, but rather, because Easter Jr. is almost six inches taller and almost eight inches rangier in a fight in which the Dominican lefty will be forced to try to get up close in order to do some damage on his American foe’s body. Easter Jr., a 26-year old from Toledo, Ohio, had to fight an uphill battle against Ghana’s Richard “Terminator” Commey in his title-winning bout, but he finally grabbed the title in September of 2016 by the slimmest of margins, and will be happy to repeat his performance this time around. – J. J. Alvarez
What to look for in this fight: Something unexpected will have to happen for Fortuna to come out victorious, because Easter Jr. says that he will pursue his desire to victory with everything in his power to get to his dream matchup against Venezuela’s Jorge “Golden Boy” Linares. He has the desire and the tools, and Fortuna has his work cut out for him.
Marcus Browne vs Francy Ntetu, 10 rounds, light heavyweights
Even though the southpaw Browne (20-0-0, 15 KOs) is not truly way up there in the top of the 175-pound food chain, he is not shy to say that he will dominate Congolese-Canadian Ntetu (17-1-0, 4 KOs), and that this victory will help him get his dream fight with Haitian-Canadian world titlist Adonis Stevenson. Aside from whether he deserves the nod or not, they are both signed with uber-promoter Al Haymon, which should ease the situation at the negotiation table. – J. J. Alvarez
What to look for in this fight: Browne has the tools to get Ntetu out within the first half of the fight, and Ntetu will have to watch out for that left hand if he wants to make it to the 10th and final round on his feet.
San Fernando del Valle, Catamarca, Saturday, Jan. 20
Cesar Barrionuevo vs. Adrian Veron, Argentine welterweight title
The first fight between these two talented southpaws ended with a spectacular stoppage win for Barrionuevo (33-3-2-1 ND, 23 KOs), who sent Veron (21-2, 13 KOs) to the canvas on his back. And Veron was unable to stand on steady legs for a few minutes after that. Even though he is technically superior, Veron was unable to withstand the power of Barrionuevo, and in this rematch (signed even before the first fight took place, as a two-fight series regardless of results) the now local fighter will seek to further establish his dominance against the Southern visitor, and thus negate the chance of a rubber match. Veron desperately needs a solid performance to remain in consideration as one of Argentina’s top welterweights. Two young, hungry fighters in need and looking forward to inherit the shoes of Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse in the world stage? The recipe is right, let’s hope the final result is just as great also. – Diego M. Morilla
What to look for in this fight: There is no reason not to expect, at least on paper, another dominating performance by Barrionuevo, who will be fighting in front of his people and after such a crushing victory in the first fight. However, Veron’s highlight reel is full of KOTY-worthy performances, and his power cannot be underestimated, as well as his superior skills and speed.
Also on this card:
Emanuel Cusolito (25-2, 20 KOs) vs. Sergio Estrela (20-14-3, 11 KOs)
Claudio Echegaray (20-0-1, 10 KOs) vs. Diego Sañanco (21-26-5, 6 KOs)
Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Jan. 21
Ferenc Zsalek vs Zoltan Kiss Jr. 6 rounds, heavyweights
Promoter Tibor Feja could be on his way to break a record for the combined amount of losses among the fighters he picked for this lovely soiree of boxing in the Hungarian capital. The headliners are just an example of this, as heavyweights Zsalek (21-64-6, 7 KOs) and Kiss Jr. (33-24-3, 13 KOs), are just the tip of what appears to be an iceberg ready to crash into an even bigger iceberg. They have 90 defeats combined, which goes well with the rest of the records being featured in this evening’s lineup, such as Serbian-German Aleksandar Jankovic (17-56-0, 11 KOs) and local credits Richard Voros (6-45-0, 1 KO) and Jozsef Kormany (18-31-1, 5 KOs), 220 losses among them, with 113 being by way of stoppage against only 95 wins. The only way is up! – J. J. Alvarez
Pictured left to right: Robert Easter Jr., Errol Spence Jr., Lamont Peterson, Javier Fortuna. (Photo credit: Tom Casino / Showtime).
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.