Good news: Tonight, both HBO and Showtime will be broadcasting fight cards beginning at 10 EST/7 PST.
Bad news: You have to make the tough decision about which want you to watch. And, if you haven't already decided, you only have me to help. Sorry, dude. But here's a little decision tree to get you through it.
Okay, well, which one will have the more exciting fights? Showtime, in a landslide. The main event features two marginally skilled bombers with questionable chins who are all but guaranteed to produce fireworks. Argentina's Marcos Maidana burst onto the scene in 2009 when he stunned the then-highly-regarded, Victor Ortiz in a fantastic action-packed fight. The two sluggers traded knockdowns and both looked ready to go on several occasions. Ortiz was the man to finally cry uncle, quitting in the sixth round. Since then, Maidana has fought a number of other top fighters, narrowly losing to the then-highly-regarded Amir Khan and narrowly sneaking past the once-highly-regarded-now-106-years-old Erik Morales, while consistently showing a big punch and an absence of finesse and talent that can only be described as "Skip Baylessian." If you've ever played a boxing video game where you design your own fighter and used up all your points boosting his "Power" ranking so you have nothing left over for "Technique," you know Maidana.
Maidana's opponent tonight is Jonesito Lopez. Like Maidana, Lopez burst onto the scene by stopping Victor Ortiz, albeit the significantly-less-regarded 2012 version of Ortiz. Before Ortiz, Lopez had a tough go of it, often losing controversial decisions at the hands of more heralded opponents. In his last fight, he had an even tougher go of it, when he got the living daylights beat out of him by the much larger Canelo Alvarez in a fight that was clearly just an opportunity for Lopez to cash in on his Ortiz win. Back at his best weight tonight, against an opponent who is comforably sub-Canelo, Lopez has a big shot to bounce back and win.
Both men can hit and be hurt. It's going to be a slugfest and it will end with one man going to sleep. It can't miss.
The undercard is also intriguing. The - stop me if you've heard this - big punching but technically limited Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo steps in with the polished Cuban ex-pat Erislandy Lara. Lara has only one loss on his card, but it was a travesty. Against the more established and popular Paul Williams, Lara put on a clinic, only to be robbed in a majority decision. How bad was the decision? All three judges were suspended after the fight, including one who scored the bout even. Angulo should make this fight fun, but look for the more refined Lara to put El Perro on a leash and win a wide decision.
By contrast, the HBO card features two strategic bouts that are both likely to end in decisions.
Oh, so I obviously want to watch the Showtime card then? No. Didn't you read the part of this where I said this was going to be a tough decision. The HBO card is nowhere near as loaded with drama, but it has the bigger names. The main event features 175lb kingpin Chad Dawson - the guy who finally deposed Bernard Hopkins - and the undercard features a guy, Yuriorkis Gamboa, that our own Hamilton Nolan recently suggested may be the "most talented fighter in the world."
The technically minded Dawson meets big puncher, Adonis Stevenson, a former pimp and abuser of underage girls. There's no doubting Dawson's skill, but there's good reason to doubt almost everything else about him. He can look disinterested in the ring. He rarely throws his punches with bad intentions, preferring to pepper his man and rack up points. And, perhaps most distressingly, he is coming off of an absolute wipeout at the hands of the smaller Andre Ward. Now, Ward is almost certainly the best fighter on the planet right now, and Dawson probably depleted himself dropping in weight to meet Ward, but there's no telling what impact that sort of humiliating defeat will have on his already-fragile psyche. Against a big puncher like Stevenson, Dawson will need to use all of his technical ability. He certainly cannot allow himself to be drawn into a brawl with a man he considers to be far below his skill level: that was the same mistake that led to Ricardo Mayorga's two victories over Vernon Forrest.
Gamboa is an unbeaten amalgamation of unadulterated raw talent and recklessness. He is blazing fast, he can box, but he also can deliver one punch knockout power. At the same time, he's always a moment away from being knocked on his ass because he isn't paying attention or is showing off too much. And, showing that his attention deficit disorder is not limited to the ring, Gamboa recently broke away from top promoter Top Rank to sign with, and I'm serious, 50 Cent. Since doing that, he's gone from headlining cards to being a featured attraction on other people's cards and that's only on those rare occasions where he does fight: Gamboa is 31 years old and has only 22 professional fights (for comparison, Manny Pacquiao is 34 years old and has 61 professional fights).
Gamboa has the sort of talent where he will either end up being boxing's Willie Mays, or its Raul Mondesi. Hamilton thinks it might be the former, and I've got a bet with him that it will end up being the latter. He should beat his opponent tonight, the unbeaten but untested light-punching Darleys Perez of Colombia, but that's not the outcome anyone cares about. The more salient question is whether Gamboa will take advantage of his talent before it's too late, and that answer is, sadly, much foggier.
Okay, but I still think I want to watch the knockouts live, so maybe I'll go with Showtime... Hey, it's your choice, but Showtime has really poor production values compared to HBO. The camera work, the commentators, even the music, just doesn't measure up. On the upside, Showtime shows the Ring Card Girls, and HBO does not.
Fine, so it's HBO then? Well, the Showtime card is in the 8,000 seat outdoor tennis arena at the Home Depot Center in LA, and that place always produces great cards. It's tiny and draws a passionate, boisterous crowd, which creates an energy level reminiscent of the classic outdoor fights at Caesar's in Las Vegas.
You know what? I'm just going to watch Baggage on the Game Show Network. I love that show.