Last time these boxers met it was in a Los Angeles press conference. It was one of the most entertaining press conferences seen in a while. If the fights are half as good as the press conference it should be electrifying.
Aside from the main event between Antonio Tarver and Lateef “Power Kayode, there are several excellent match ups including Winky Wright versus Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, Austin Trout versus Delvin Rodriguez, and Leo Santa Cruz facing Vusi Malinga on the “Four Warned” fight card on Saturday June 2, at the Home Depot Center. Showtime will televise.
The Home Depot is one of the best venues for boxing and has been the site for some pretty colorful fights, such as two battles between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, the welterweight showdown between Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley’s last round knockout of crazy Ricardo Mayorga.
The outdoor setting brings out the best in prizefighters.
Quillin, a tall sinewy chatty Cuban-American middleweight training in Los Angeles, has willingly agreed to take on ring legend Winky Wright. Two big questions await: is it too early for Quillin to face the experience of Wright? Second, does Wright have anything left in his legs and reflexes to be fighting an aggressive puncher like “Kid Chocolate?”
“I never really said I was going to knock him out. When I say Pluto it's a metaphor for a place that we've never been to. He's never fought a fighter like me and I've never fought a fighter like him. The fans can expect a fight that they've never seen before,” said Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs).
Wright smiles at the attention given to his opponent.
“We're glad to get an opponent like Peter. I'm here to prove that I want to fight the best. I'm not coming back just to fight and get a win, I want to fight the best. I want to be champion. If I can't be champion there's no reason to do this,” said Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) a former world champion. “He's young, hungry, tough and that's what I'm looking for.”
Wright last entered the ring three years ago and looked almost statue-like against the punching machine Paul Williams. But then, that was Williams and few other boxers punched non-stop like the “Punisher.” Wright was set to fight twice in the past two years but both fell out due to injuries to the opponent, then to Wright.
“It was nobody’s fault,” said Wright. “Just getting old.”
It’s a very interesting match. A win by Quillin propels him into the middleweight championship category. A win by Winky could get him a title shot. The former champion hasn’t had his hands raised since 2006. But, he does know how to fight. Losses to Williams and Bernard Hopkins are nothing to be embarrassed about.
Trout vs. Rodriguez
WBA junior middleweight titleholder Austin Trout of New Mexico fights hard-nosed boxer Delvin Rodriguez in an expected tug of war between talented but relatively unknown 154-pounders.
“Delvin is a world class fighter,” says Trout (24-0, 14 KOs). “This is the toughest fight of my life.”
At one time Trout was one of the most sought after sparring partners for junior middleweights to middleweights. His upset win in Mexico over Rigoberto Alvarez followed by another win in Mexico over David Lopez established him for good as the champion. He expects his greatest challenge to come from Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also expects his toughest challenge.
“He's not just going to go there and fight just for the heck of it. I know that I have to be very focused. I'm facing someone that I know I can't make any mistakes (against) and I definitely cannot look past him,” Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs) said.
Few have grabbed the fight world audience on ESPN like Rodriguez did against mega-tough Pawel Wolak. In two battles Rodriguez exhibited upper class skills in his first fight with the Polish warrior ending in a draw, then he amped up his game in the second fight and walked away with a unanimous victory.
It’s skill versus skill in this junior middleweight confrontation.
Santa Cruz vs. Malinga
A battle for the vacant IBF bantamweight title features East L.A.’s undefeated Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KOs) against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga (20-3-1, 12 KOs).
“I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I think it's my time to win this title,” said Malinga.
Santa Cruz knows very little about the South African boxer.
“He's a good fighter and he looks strong and he has a good uppercut. I've been learning how to block uppercuts,” Santa Cruz says. “Ever since I was a little kid my dream was to have the opportunity to win a world championship.”
Former IBO super middleweight titleholder Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika (29-5-2, 20 KOs) meets Dyah Davis (21-2-1, 9 KOs) in a 10 round super middleweight bout. Bika is a hand full for anyone he meets in the ring and Davis has the clever boxing skills to counter. It will be interesting to see how this fight develops. You can watch it on Showtime's Extreme channel at 8 PM ET.
Other boxers of note on the fight card are lightweight contenders Sharif Bogere (22-0, 14 KOs) from Las Vegas and hard-hitting Omar Figueroa (16-0-1, 13 KOs) of Texas in separate bouts.
The first bout begins at 3:15 p.m.
Fights on television
Fri. NBC Sports, 6 p.m., Sechew Powell (26-4) vs. Gabriel Rosado (19-5).
Sat. Showtime, 10 p.m., Antonio Tarver (29-6) vs. Lateef Kayode (18-0); Winky Wright (51-5-1) vs. Peter Quillin (26-0); Austin Trout (24-0) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3); Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1) vs. Vusi Malinga (20-3-1).
Sat. Telefutura, 11 p.m., Andrew Cancio (13-1-2) vs. Rocky Juarez (28-9-1).
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV