The action begins on Friday with Britain’s David Price (19-2, 16 KOS) who takes on German Erkan Teper (14-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant European Heavyweight title in Germany. Price has spent the last two years rebuilding his career following back-to-back knockout defeats to the American Tony Thompson. In the two years since those defeats he has fought lower level opposition but in Teper he is meeting an opponent with the potential to test his chin. Teper’s punching is evident in his one round demolition jobs of both Martin Rogan and Michael Sprott.
He has only gone twelve rounds once, in his last fight with Frenchman Johann Duhaupas for the IBF Inter-continental heavyweight title. In contrast Price has never gone twelve rounds, and doubts remain over his punch resistance. Despite those concerns Price’s concussive power always gives him a punchers chance. If Price were to lose this one his career would effectively be over, as at thirty-three his best years may be behind him. The make or break nature of this fight should provide for an intriguing match-up that may just end inside the distance.
On Saturday, Belfast’s Carl ‘The Jackal,’ Frampton (20-0, 14 KOs) defends his IBF Super-Bantamweight title against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. (25-1-2, 15 KOs) at the Don Haskins Convention Center, El Paso, Texas. For Frampton this will be his first fight on US soil and it appears Gonzalez has been hand-picked for the occasion. Gonzalez has fought almost exclusively in Mexico and he has faced some very mediocre opposition. This fight will be a showcase for the talented Frampton and an opportunity for his manager former world champion Barry McGuigan to gain exposure for his stable of fighters on the undercard. Frampton should complete the job within the scheduled twelve rounds.
On the same bill, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (48-2-1, 32 KOs) faces a tough test as he aims to get back to winning ways with a victory over fellow Mexican Marcos Reyes (33-2, 24KOs). Chavez Jr is on the comeback trail following his loss to Andrzej Fonfara at light-heavyweight in April this year. Since then he has enlisted the help of former world champion Robert Garcia as his trainer and signed with promoter Al Haymon.
This is a crossroads fight for Chavez Jr, many pundits feel that he lacks the qualities required to be a great fighter and that his partying outside of the ring has taken a toll on his career. He needs a win this weekend to get his career moving in the right direction. In Reyes he is meeting a puncher, who has only gone twelve rounds twice in his career. His most notable wins have came against the tough former world champion Luis Ramon ‘Yory Boy,’ Campas and the journeyman Saul Duran.
However he has mainly campaigned at light-middleweight and this will be his second fight at super-middleweight. Reyes was also previous trained by Garcia so it will be interesting to see if that provides any advantages to Chavez Jr. He desperately needs an impressive win and he just might get it against a tailor made opponent.
Meanwhile back in the UK, Carl Frampton’s undefeated rival Scott Quigg (30-0-2, 22 KOs) defends his WBA Super-bantamweight title against the man whom Frampton beat for the IBF title; Kiko Martinez (32-5, 24 KOs) in the Manchester Arena. In his last fight against the tough Hidenori Otake, Quigg turned in a workmanlike performance with a comfortable points win. That fight will have provided Quigg with perhaps the perfect preparation for Martinez. The Japanese fighters’ pressure and ability to mount a rally late on in a fight mirrors Martinez’s style.
However, Martinez has to be one of the toughest fighters in the sport, he has only been stopped once, by Carl Frampton, after that he bounced back with four knockout victories on route to claiming the IBF title. He gave Frampton a hard time in the rematch despite losing on points and since then he has won his sole comeback fight by knockout. Both fighters share an opponent in former Commonwealth Super-bantamweight champion; Jason Booth who Martinez stopped in ten rounds, and who Quigg subsequently stopped in seven. Although Martinez may favour his chances against Quigg based on the two draws on his record. The first against Rendall Munroe was set straight in a rematch and the second against Yoandris Salinas was more a case of fortune favouring the Cuban with the judges rather than Quigg. Despite that Quigg’s classy boxing should be enough to earn him a hard fought win over Martinez. Whether he wins by knockout depends largely on whether he can match Frampton’s punching power. This fight should provide the answer.
Also on the same bill Manchester fighter Anthony Crolla (29-4-2, 11 KOs) will challenge Darleys Perez (32-1, 20 KOs) for the WBA Lightweight title. This fight comes seven months after Crolla suffered a fractured skull following a burglary in his neighbour’s home. Now fully healed and fighting fit the Mancunian will be hoping for a comeback win in front of his home crowd. His Colombian opponent, Perez has spent the majority of his career in his native country, the only blemish on his record, a close points loss, against the only notable opponent on his record Yuriorkis Gamboa came in a previous challenge for the interim WBA lightweight title. Since then he has won the interim title against Argenis Lopez and was elevated to a full title holder when champion Richar Abril pulled out of a number of defences citing illness. Perez carries power and currently enjoys a four fight winning streak but Crolla will be hoping that he can make the most of this opportunity. It should be an interesting fight.
Also on the same night Arthur Abraham (42-4, 28 KOs) defends his WBO Super-middleweight world title against Robert Stieglitz (47-4-1, 27 KOs) in Germany. This will be the fourth meeting between both fighters. Abraham won the first fight by unanimous decision and the third by split decision. Stieglitz won the second by technical knockout when he hammered Abraham’s eye shut in the fourth round. However, on the balance of recent results Abraham should be considered the favourite. During their third fight Stieglitz started brightly, but he suffered a twelfth round knockdown in what was a tough fight. He bounced back with a knockout victory over Sergey Khomitsky before his most recent fight which saw him battle to a draw with Felix Strum in November 2014. In contrast Abraham is on a three fight winning streak since their last meeting including back-to-back victories over Paul Smith Jr. This fourth meeting has the potential to be another thrilling encounter as Stieglitz will want to restore pride, whereas Abraham will want to cement his status as one of the toughest fighters in boxing.
Finally, on Saturday undefeated Russian Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) defends his WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight titles against Frenchman Nadijib Mohammedi (37-3, 23KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas. Kovalev is one of the most feared and fearsome fighters on the planet defeating Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins in his last two fights. On paper Mohammedi looks like a formidable opponent as he currently enjoys a thirteen fight winning streak. However he has mainly fought in France against lower level opposition and the last Russian opponent he faced; Dmitry Sukhotsky stopped him in two rounds in 2011. In addition to that result Mohammedi lost a twelve round unanimous points decision to Welshman Nathan Cleverly for the interim WBO light heavyweight title in 2010. Kovalev smashed Cleverley’s undefeated record in 2013 with a technical knockout in the fourth round, acquiring the WBO belt in the process. Expect another Kovalev stoppage in this one.