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“Towering Inferno” And Boxing Saturday

Image Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

NEW YORK– I am not alone here in saying that boxing has to avoid these conflicts because, and again Saturday three of the prime promotion and televised networks are showcasing main events with implications.

It’s not good for the sport, then again those at the PBC (Showtime), Top Rank (ESPN), and Matchroom (DAZN) are committed to meeting their dates. Scheduling and consulting with each other is never going to occur, so here we go again with a busy Saturday.

Showtime Boxing Saturday – (PBC)
Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora (Mexican-American) vs. Brian Mendoza (WBC Junior Middleweight Title Eliminator) and undercard.

ESPN – (Top Rank)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Shuichiro Yoshino (WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator at Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.) plus undefeated Dominican heavyweight George Arias and undercard.

DAZN Streaming Network – (Matchroom Boxing)
Jesse Rodriguez (Mexican-American) aims to become a two-time world champion when he challenges Christian González (Tultitlán, Mexico) for the vacant WBO Flyweight title. Plus an exciting undercard.

Friday Night Showtime presents SHOWBOX “The New Generation) to get a jump on the weekend: Super lightweight prospect Shinard Bunch (20-1-1, 16 KO’s) and undefeated Mexican prospect Bryan Flores (23-0-1, 13 KOs) 10-round main event.

Bunch vs. Flores – Image Credit: ShoBox

Yes, as I say this is the boxing season. Beware, though, because boxing can’t get it right. The Showtime Boxing and ESPN Top Rank telecasts are televised at the same time (10pm ET) starts. The Matchroom DAZN stream undercard on YouTube begins at 5PM ET from San Antonio, Texas. DAZN stream and first fight prior to Rodriquez and Gonzalez begins at 8pm ET.

Fundora (20-0-1) has established himself as one of the 154-pound division’s most dangerous and exciting fighters, reinforcing his status by stopping Erickson Lubin last April in one of 2022’s best fights. He returns to fight at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson Ca. for his second-straight bout after dominating Carlos Ocampo at the venue last October and faces the fast-rising Mendoza, (21-2-0) who scored a career-best win his last time out by knocking out the former unified champion Jeison Rosario in November.

“I’m becoming more comfortable in this role as a headliner,” he said Thursday. “It’s given me a good kind of overwhelming feeling for some past fights, but I’ve been very relaxed this whole camp and I’m just ready to go. “[Undisputed Super Welterweight Champion] Jermell Charlo of course is the guy we want. Whoever falls in line though, we’ll take who we can get. The job is to beat the guy in front of you.”

Of course, if Fundora prevails that inevitable clash with Charlo would occur. It’s a fight for boxing and could be on the agenda at some point this year.

“My whole life has prepared me to face a fighter who’s unique physically like Fundora,” said Mendoza. “Even when I was an amateur I used to help a tall UFC fighter Tim Means prepare for his fights and in this camp we brought in Mykal Fox who’s another tall and lanky guy. Everything has led up to this moment and I’m ready to take full advantage.”

Prediction: Fundora gets the split 12-round decision Rodriquez and González are evenly matched in a division that provides back-and-forth action, this could be one of those potential candidates for fight of the year.

“I’m happy to be back in the ring and do what I love to do,” Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KO’s) said Thursday. “I have the opportunity on Saturday night to become San Antonio’s first two-weight World champion and that would make the night just that little more special.”

April 6, 2023; San Antonio, TX, USA; Jesse Rodriguez and Cristian Gonzalez pose at the final press conference ahead of the April 8, 2023 Matchroom Boxing card at the Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Melina Pizano/Matchroom.

“I would have been ready to fight at 115 lbs as I entered camp on weight, I just came into camp more disciplined and a little more in shape coming into camp; I’ve had a ten-week camp away from my family, so I’ve sacrificed a lot and come Saturday night it’s going to show.”

He added: “I want to go out and show everyone I’m still ‘Bam’ Rodriguez. After my last performance, people wrote me off, so I am ready to do what I do and I’m a different person in that ring.”

Gonzalez (15-1, 5 KO’s) is coming off three fights, three-10 rounders of unanimous decision and via knockout in the opening round.

“We’ve studied him, we understand his qualities, we’ve worked hard in camp and as a Mexican I must give everything to try to become World champion on Saturday night,” he said about Rodriguez.

PREDICTION: Back-and forth as they do in this weight class. Tough one to score, but Rodriguez can sneak in a right and end it sooner. I expect a split decision for Rodriguez. Then again judging a close one has never been my strength. Neither is it a strength for many judges at ringside.

Stevenson (19-0, 9 KO’s) can finish a fight early, one one the exciting and young stars in the sport. This is his second consecutive fight in his hometown of Newark at Prudential and is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision over Robson Conçeicão, perhaps his toughest test. A win could lead to an eventual meeting with Gervonta Davis or Ryan Garcia for supremacy in the lightweight division.

“This dude been running around here saying that I don’t have any power,” Stevenson said Thursday. “He’s been saying that he’s going to push me mentally. Let’s see if he’s ready to go to deep waters with me. I’m going to drown him.”

In the co-feature, heavyweight destroyer Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (13-0, 13 KOs) faces fellow unbeaten George Arias (18-0, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. For Arias, his toughest test and Anderson, the Top Rank prospect can go for the knockout early.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – APRIL 06: Jared Anderson (L) and George Arias (R) pose during the press conference prior to their April 8 heavyweight fight at Prudential Center on April 06, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Arias (18-0, 7 KO’s), coming off six straight wins via decision, is returning after a six-month layoff. He said, “On paper, he (Anderson) is the toughest fighter I’ve faced because it seems like he’s the new face of the heavyweight division. As for me, I see it as a sport. I got to do what I can to win. It’s boxing. You do what you have to do to win. It’s just another fight to me.”

PREDICTION: Stevenson will start slow and come on strong. The jab is too tough to handle and he gets the TKO in the 8th round. The 31-year old Arias, now residing in the Bronx, NY will get his work in but will face a hungry and young opponent who is destined to become a force in the heavyweight division in the next year. Anderson in a 4th round TKO. The ring rust of Arias will show who is accustomed to fighting on a consistent schedule.

Throwing The Punches: There’s one month to go until Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder will clash for the Undisputed Super-Middleweight title in Canelo’s long-awaited homecoming bout at the Akron Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday May 6, live on DAZN and DAZN PPV.

Canelo (58-2-2 39 KOs) fights in his homeland for the first time in over 11 and a half years, and defends his Undisputed crown for the second time after beating bitter rival Gennadiy Golovkin in their trilogy battle in Las Vegas in September, having ripped the IBF crown from Caleb Plant in Sin City in November 2021 with an 11th round stoppage.

The Mexican superstar will make an emotional return to his homeland for his latest Cinco de Mayo showdown, and it will be 4180 days since he last stepped through the ropes in Mexico, when he stopped Kermit Cintrón in Mexico City in five rounds to defend his WBO World Light-Middleweight title.

March 31, 2023; San Diego, California; Saul “Canelo” Alvarez works out with trainer Eddy Reynoso ahead of his bout against John Ryder on May 6, 2023 in Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico. Mandatory Credit: Meg Oliphant/Matchroom.

The 32 year old four-weight World Champion fights for the 63rd time of his storied career as he closes in on 18 years as a pro. Cinco de Mayo weekend will see him fight for the 35th time in his homeland and it promises to be a spectacular occasion with the state of Jalisco marking 200 years of independence.

March 31, 2023; San Diego, California; Saul Canelo Alvarez works out ahead of his bout against John Ryder on May 6, 2023 in Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico. Mandatory Credit: Meg Oliphant/Matchroom.

“I don’t watch a lot of my opponents, but I’ve seen highlights of Ryder,” said Canelo. “I had my eighth sparring session yesterday and I did good, I feel good, and I can throw my left hand good. That’s made me feel confident that I am 100 percent.”

“I don’t think so far ahead, there’s a lot of fights for me to come. Every fight is dangerous, I’m training 100 per cent for Ryder and I will be ready.”

Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and senior writer Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso.

Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube

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