Naoya Inoue, Jermall Charlo and so much more: 15 fights to watch this weekend


Editor’s note: The Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. lightweight title fight, and Franchon Crews-Dezurn’s super middleweight unification fight against Elin Cederroos were originally on this list before that card was postponed due to Lopez testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Multiple title fights. Famous names in exhibitions. A bunch of younger fighters in bouts that could push their careers forward.

Saturday, for a moment, might feel like boxing used to before the pandemic. There were times in the last year and a half where there were surely questions about when a day like this might again happen.

So here we are, with boxing cards on the books across the world and multiple major title bouts on different fight sheets all at once. It’s a sign the sport is busy again, that boxers might be able to make a living and schedule fights regularly if they want to.

Trying to catch all of these fights will be a challenge, but here are the fights — in order — that I believe you’ll want to watch.

1. Jermall Charlo vs. Juan Montiel

What: 12 rounds for Charlo’s WBC middleweight title
Where: Toyota Center, Houston
TV: Showtime

The skinny: While there are other interesting fights for Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) to take down the road, this is one that should give him a good bit of work as he waits to take on another top middleweight. Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs) has won three of his last four fights, but he was knocked out in the second round of perhaps his most notable fight to date — against Jaime Munguia in 2017.

2. Naoya Inoue vs. Michael Dasmarinas

What: 12 rounds for Inoue’s WBA and IBF bantamweight titles
Where: Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas
More Inoue fights on ESPN+

The skinny: Inoue (20-0, 17 KOs) is an impressive fighter who continues to handily beat anyone thrown in his way. He knocked out Jason Moloney in the seventh round last October, Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round in 2019 and earned a difficult unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire in 2019 to win the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20 KOs) won a title eliminator in a decision over Kenny Demecillo in 2019 to reach this point, but he hasn’t faced many top fighters, and this should end up as a main event showcase fight to build Inoue’s profile in the United States.

3. Mikaela Mayer vs. Erica Farias

What: 10 rounds for Mayer’s WBO junior lightweight title
Where: Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas
More Mayer fights on ESPN+

The skinny: Mayer (14-0, 5 KOs) makes her first-ever title defense after beating Ewa Brodnicka last Halloween to win the crown. While her initial plan entering 2021 of only fighting unification title bouts didn’t pan out, Mayer instead will face Farias (26-4, 10 KOs), who is used to big-time fights. The former WBC junior welterweight titlist’s four losses have all come in title fights (Delfine Persoon in 2014, Cecilia Braekus in 2017 and Jessica McCaskill in 2018 and 2019).

4. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Anderson Silva

What: 10 rounds, cruiserweights
Where: Estadio Jalisco, Jalisco, Mexico
TV: beIN sports/PPV
More Silva fights on ESPN+

The skinny: In a world where MMA fighters have been crossing over into boxing matches and YouTube stars are creating some of the more buzzworthy fights — rightly or wrongly — in boxing, this is an underrated one to watch. Silva (1-1, 1 KO) is an MMA legend now stepping into a boxing ring, where he hasn’t fought since 2005. Chavez (52-5-1 1 NC, 34 KOs) hasn’t won back-to-back fights since 2015-16 and is coming off a win over Jeyson Minda last November. He’s lost three of his last five fights, including to Canelo Alvarez in 2017.

5. Adam Lopez vs. Isaac Dogboe

What: 10 rounds, featherweights
Where: Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas
More Dogboe fights on ESPN+

The skinny: This is a supremely interesting non-title fight between young boxers who have gotten big chances and suffered losses. Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) is 26, Lopez (15-2, 6 KOs) is 25 and the winner might put himself in a good place to push for a bigger fight the next time out. Both of Dogboe’s losses came to Emanuel Navarrete, including a close unanimous decision defeat in 2019. One of Lopez’s two losses came against now-WBC junior lightweight champion Oscar Valdez in 2019 when he stepped in as a late replacement. This is a good one.

6. Jaime Munguia vs. Kamil Szeremeta

What: 12 rounds, middleweights
Where: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas

The skinny: This fight was initially going to be more interesting for the 24-year-old Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs), as he was supposed to face Maciej Sulecki. But Sulecki pulled out, leaving Munguia needing an opponent. Szeremeta (21-1, 5 KOs) steps in; in his last fight in December, he was outclassed and suffered his first loss at the hands of Gennadiy Golovkin. This won’t be the fight it could have been for the former WBO junior middleweight titlist as he continues transitioning to a new weight class.

7. Ibeth Zamora vs. Marlen Esparza

What: 10 rounds, for Zamora’s WBC flyweight title
Where: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas

The skinny: If you’re not familiar with either fighter, you’re likely not alone. Esparza (9-1, 1 KOs) won bronze in the 2012 Olympics and was last seen outclassing Shelly Barnett on the all-women’s Claressa Shields pay-per-view card in March. Zamora (32-6, 12 KOs), the flyweight titlist, has never fought in the United States. She’s won her last five fights, and the only bout she’s lost since 2013 was a split decision to Esmeralda Moreno while defending her junior flyweight title in 2017.

8. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs. Hector Camacho Jr.

What: 6 rounds, middleweight exhibition
Where: Estadio Jalisco, Jalisco, Mexico
TV: beIN sports/inDemand PPV/Fite TV PPV
More “Macho” Camacho fights on ESPN+

The skinny: Chavez (107-6-2, 86 KOs) and Camacho’s father, the late Hector “Macho” Camacho, fought in 1992, a bout Chavez won by unanimous decision. Now the 58-year-old Chavez is fighting Camacho’s 42-year-old son. Should this fight happen? No, probably not, but considering that in the last year there have been returns to the ring for Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather in exhibitions and there are scheduled returns for Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya, why shouldn’t Chavez Sr. and Camacho Jr. (58-7-1, 1 NC, 32 KOs) get involved?

9. Angelo Leo vs. Aaron Alameda

What: 10 rounds, junior featherweights
Where: Toyota Center, Houston
TV: Showtime

The skinny: This is the first time Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) is going to be in the ring since losing his WBO junior featherweight title against Stephen Fulton in January — also the first loss of his career in his first title defense. In Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs), Leo gets another opponent coming off his first career defeat, as Alameda lost a chance to win the WBC junior featherweight title against Luis Nery last September. While it is two fighters coming off losses, it’s a chance for one of them to put themselves at least back in the conversation for a title shot down the road.

Seven more fights of interest:

  • Damian Sosa vs. Abel Mina, 10 rounds, junior middleweights

  • Francisco Vargas vs. Isaac Cruz Gonzalez, 10 rounds, lightweights

  • Ludumo Lamati vs. Jose Martin Estrada Garcia, 12 rounds, junior featherweights

  • Bektemir Melikuziev vs. Gabriel Rosado, 12 rounds, super middleweights

  • Yuri Foreman vs. Jimmy Williams, 8 rounds, junior middleweights

  • Lindolfo Delgado vs. Salvador Brinceno, 8 rounds, junior welterweights

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