By Eric Raskin
Is the perfect record a sign of a special fighter or of a fighter who’s been matched carefully? That varies from one boxer to the next. What’s always true is that when a fighter’s zero is at stake, it automatically ratchets up the drama by a few degrees. On Saturday’s pay-per-view undercard, all three bouts feature one undefeated fighter trying to stay undefeated. Here’s a look at each matchup and what (besides one man’s perfection) is at stake:
Timothy Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) vs. Joel Casamayor (38-5-1, 22 KOs), 12 Rounds, Junior Welterweights
If you like the rough stuff, this is the fight for you. The 40-year-old Casamayor is one of the craftiest veterans in the game—which is a nice way of saying he picks and chooses which rules he follows. Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Bradley has a knack for acquainting opponents with his shiny, shaved noggin. These are two experienced fighters, one the former king of the lightweight division, the other currently regarded as one of the two best junior welters in the world. The question is whether the “former” fella has enough left to trouble the “current” guy.
Bradley scored a clear-cut win over then-unbeaten Devon Alexander in a major unification bout in January 2011, but due largely to promotional squabbles, “Desert Storm” hasn’t stormed anybody since. He ends a 10-month layoff against a Cuban warrior who has shared the ring with the likes of Diego Corrales, Acelino Freitas, Jose Luis Castillo, and even one of this card’s headliners, Juan Manuel Marquez.
For Bradley, the goal is clear: Shake off some rust, win, and then move on to a major showdown at 140 or 147 pounds (possibly against Manny Pacquiao). For Casamayor, an upset win would reinvigorate his career, and even a strong showing in defeat would keep him in the mix for meaningful fights.
Mike Alvarado (31-0, 22 KOs) vs. Breidis Prescott (24-3, 19 KOs), 10 Rounds, Junior Welterweights
Is Prescott a one-hit wonder? If so, it was a heck of a hit. Prescott’s claim to fame is that he shockingly iced Amir Khan in one round three years ago. Alvarado, on the other hand, is still looking for his first big hit. He’s more prospect than contender at age 31, and the biggest name on his resume is an over-the-hill Cesar Bazan. It’s time for Alvarado to make the leap to the next level, and that means trying to beat the Colombian bomber who once conquered Khan.
Alvarado seems to have the edge in skill, and it’s troubling that Prescott, 28, has lost three times since the Khan fight. But Prescott is always a one-punch threat. And we haven’t really seen Alvarado tested. This is the sort of intriguing fight that might become exponentially more intriguing the first time Prescott lands cleanly.
Luis Cruz (19-0, 15 KOs) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (27-1, 19 KOs), 12 Rounds, Junior Lightweights
Pacquiao-Marquez and Bradley-Casamayor give us veteran vs. veteran. Alvarado-Prescott offers prospect vs. gatekeeper. Cruz-Burgos is our prospect vs. prospect appetizer, a clash between two young pugilists looking to make a name for themselves in the opening bout of a major pay-per-view extravaganza.
Mexico’s Burgos is the younger man at 23 but is the more tested fighter, having challenged for a featherweight belt a year ago, only to lose a unanimous decision in Japan to Hozumi Hasegawa. At 26, Puerto Rico’s Cruz has the prettier record—but that might only be because he hasn’t faced anyone of Hasegawa’s ilk yet.
The Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry has provided no shortage of classic fights, and with so much at stake for these two up-and-comers looking to steal the show, perhaps we’re due for another memorable chapter.