Boxing: Fight Week Preview
By Gary Kittilsen
Fight fans have another big weekend of boxing in store for them as one of the two biggest stars in the sport return from a quick layoff to defend his title in the US. Additionally, two massive heavyweights collide in New Zealand.
The action kicks off in Auckland, New Zealand as former WBO heavyweight champion and Auckland native Joseph Parker battles fellow countrymen Junior Fa in a meaningful heavyweight clash that should put the winner back in heavyweight title contention.
Despite, actually being two years younger Parker, the former world champion, is the far more experienced fighter. He has already secured wins over the former world champion Andy Ruiz as well as Carlos Takam and Hughie Fury. He most recently fought back on February 29th at The Star in Frisco, Texas, when he destroyed fringe contender Shawndell Terell Winters over five lop-sided rounds on the undercard of Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas.
31-year-old Junior Fa is a hard-hitting knockout specialist who has kicked off his career with 19 consecutive victories. Parker will be a massive step up for Fa whose best wins come against the likes of veteran Dominick Guinn and Rogelio Omar Rossi. Both men are levels below the former world champion. Due to the pandemic, Fa will be coming off the longest stretch of inactivity of his career having last fought in November of 2019 when he outpointed Devin Vargas over 10 one-sided rounds at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City Utah.
The action then moves over to the US as Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez returns to the ring just 10-weeks after destroying long-reigning 168-pound kingpin Callum Smith in San Antonio, Texas, back in December of 2020.
Canelo travels to Miami, Florida, this time to battle his mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim for both the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles. Canelo is considered by most to be one of the two biggest stars in the sport as well as the pound-for-pound king. Having fought just once in 2020 he looks to fight at least three times this year. First up is Yildrim who is coming of a 10 round technical decision loss against former world champ Anthony Dirrell back in February of 2019. The only other premier name that Yildirim has faced was Chris Eubank back in 2017. A fight Eubank won via third-round knockout.
In the co-main event fan favourite and WBC flyweight champ Julio Caesar Martinez, of Mexico City, Mexico puts his title on the line against longtime contender and former World title challenger McWilliams Arroyo of Puerto Rico.
Arroyo went the distance but came up short against Roman Gonzalez back in 2016 and against Amnat Ruenroeng in 2014 in his two other previous world title shots. The undercard features the long-awaited debut of American amateur stand-out Keyshawn Davis. The 21-year-old Davis battles Lester Brown in a 140-pound bout.
In the final card of the weekend former super-middleweight world titleholder Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell returns to the ring for the first time since losing his world WBC strap to David Benavidez 17-months-ago.
Dirrell lost a competitive fight that was stopped in the ninth round due to a cut he received from a legal punch in the sixth round. Dirrell has twice held the WBC super-middleweight crown and at now 36-years-old “The Dog” looks to make one last run at a final world title.
The path back to a world title starts with little-known contender Kyrone Davis of Wilmington, Delaware. Davis has accumulated a record of 15-2 (6) and has come up short in both of his fights of note, losing competitive decisions to both Patrick Day in 2018 and Junior Castilo in 2016.
Davis last fought in January of last year and stopped Antonio Todd in Philadelphia in four rounds. The undercard features undefeated hard-hitting American prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr of Belleville, New Jersey battles 10-3-1 Noe Alejandro Lopez in a welterweight scrap.