by Kieran Mulvaney
Summer is officially over, and its demise presages the start of HBO's Epic Fall Boxing Season (download poster). From now until late November, HBO is broadcasting bouts from four countries – the United States, Canada, Russia, and China – across three continents, featuring fighters from super bantamweight to heavyweight. Here's a brief rundown of what the first half of that schedule has in store:
Chavez returns in his first outing since losing to middleweight champ Sergio Martinez 12 months ago. Can he return to winning ways against Vera, a gritty competitor best known for his 2008 upset win over Andy Lee, but who also owns victories over the likes of Sergio Mora and Sergiy Dzinziruk? Also on this international double-header, light-heavyweight Adonis Stevenson, fresh off his stunning one-round knockout of Chad Dawson, takes on former titlist Tavoris Cloud in Montreal. A previously scheduled bout between British heavyweights David Haye and Tyson Fury has been canceled.
For the first time in his professional career, future Hall-of-Famer Cotto suffered back-to-back losses in 2012. But after taking nine months away from the ring and joining forces with trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto is ready to take on Rodriguez— who defeated Pawel Wolak on the undercard of Cotto's revenge win over Antonio Margarito in 2011—in a junior middleweight bout from Orlando. The co-main event will feature rising lightweight star Terence Crawford, while the broadcast will also include Wladimir Klitschko defending his heavyweight belts against Alexander Povetkin in Moscow.
HBO returns to Las Vegas for pay-per-view action featuring the two men who scored victories over Manny Pacquiao last year. Marquez is lacing them up for the first time since his sensational knockout win in December, while Bradley's most recent action was a fight-of-the-year candidate in which he survived being rocked in the first and knocked down in the 12th to score a points win over Ruslan Provodnikov.
Despite dropping a decision to Bradley, Provodnikov's stock rose on the back of his stellar performance, and his reward is a mouth-watering battle with fellow junior welterweight Alvarado. Alvarado avenged last year's loss to Brandon Rios in a hellacious rematch in March, and will be fighting in front of his hometown Denver crowd for the first time as a champion.
The month ends with the October 26 return of "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley". November brings another flurry of action featuring Gennady Golovkin defending his middleweight crown against Curtis Stevens in New York; Rocky Martinez against Mikey Garcia and Nonito Donaire against Vic Darchinyan in Corpus Christi, Texas; and a pay-per-view blockbuster in Macau, China, where Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios. We'll preview that action, and provide more in-depth analysis of the fights thumbnailed above, over the coming weeks.