SAN DIEGO, May 5, 2016 – The traditional party line in boxing says fans don’t care all that much about undercard fights; they buy a pay per view based only on the main event. Sales numbers generally support this thinking.
Nevertheless, there are smart reasons to offer a solid undercard lineup for a big PPV matchup like this Saturday’s Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan bout in Las Vegas. First among them is the opportunity to showcase lesser known stars and emerging talent, Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya gets it, so fans will get a solid undercard lineup capable of providing plenty of entertainment.
Fighters featured on the pay-per-view undercard of Canelo vs. Khan, held an open workout for fans at the MGM Grand Hotel on Wednesday and conducted their final news conference Thursday. They include middleweights David Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs), and Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia (23-2, 15 KOs) who will meet in a 10-round co-main event; Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera (22-5, 7 KOs) taking on undefeated Frankie “Pitbull” Gomez (20-0, 13 KOs) in a 10-round all-Southern California welterweight fight; and undefeated Brazilian Patrick Teixeira (26-0, 22 KOs) and Curtis Stevens (27-5, 20 KOs) who will open the PPV telecast in a 10-round middleweight bout.
The non-televised undercard includes Golden Boy fighters Jason Quigley (10-0 9 KOs) vs. James De La Rosa (23-3, 13 KOs) in a middleweight fight, and Diego De La Hoya (14-0, 8 KOs) of Mexico against Californian Rocco Santomauro (13-0, 1 KO) in a super bantamweight bout.
Lemieux will be in the ring for the first time since his first professional loss to middleweight Gennady Golovkin in October. He was scheduled to fight De La Rosa in March but had difficulty making weight and the bout was cancelled. At the Thursday news conference, De La Rosa reminded everyone about it, even though Lemieux isn’t hs opponent Saturday. Lemieux assured everyone he doesn’t intend it to happen twice.
“My fight with [Glen] Tapia is absolutely at 160 and it’s not going to be an issue making weight. It won’t be a problem dropping the week before, and our program is right on track. I feel great, and I’m very close to making my weight now,” said Lemieux.
Tapia knows he’s the underdog, but is looking forward to producing a surprise. “To tell you the truth, I know most of you guys have me losing this fight but I know what I can bring to the table,” said Tapia. “I learned from all my losses and I can’t wait to show you guys what I can do. And when we look back, we can show you how wrong you were.”
Lemieux wants to prove the loss to Golovkin was a one-time event. While Tapia should give him plenty to handle, Lemieux should be able to emerge with a win – and he needs to if he wants to keep his career on track in the busy middleweight division.
Another former Golovkin challenger, Curtis Stevens is playing middleweight gatekeeper in the fight featuring the undefeated Teixiera who is not well known in the U.S. Teixiera would like to impress fans with a good showing to get more big opponents for bigger purses. “I expect a tough fight,” said Teixiera. “He’s a tough fighter that throws really hard, but I’m going to throw a lot of punches and I expect to come out with the victory on Saturday.”
Stevens trained in Canelo’s camp and said the experience motivated him to clean up his act, and strive to extend his career a few more years. “This fight is important, to get past [Teixeira] and get back into title contention. I just gotta take this all the way.”
Former middleweight champion and future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins of Golden Boy Promotions said at the undercard news conference, “Undercard boxers have an opportunity to get into it. Two of the biggest months in boxing are May and September. The middleweight class is my baby and in the conversation and that makes me happy.”
Former lightweight champion Mauricio Herrera should have several more wins on his record due to questionable judging in fights with Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez Jr., but he’s never let it slow him down. “Nothing fazes me at this point in my career,” said Herrera. “I’ve been through struggles in my career like all fighters. I’m hungry, I still have fire and nothing is going to get me down. I’ll fight the best and undefeated, whatever it takes.” Herrera said Thursday fighting undefeated fighters is nothing new, and relishes his role as a ‘dream killer.’ “Bring me any prospects and lets see if they are the real deal,” declared Herrera.
Herrera has moved up to welterweight for this fight, and he says he feels so good and strong he should have done it several fights ago.
Gomez also needs a win after battling to make weight at junior welterweight and lightweight multiple times over the last few years, lacking focus in training and having brushes with legal problems. “On Saturday night, I’m going to show people a different Frankie Gomez,” he said. It’s a golden opportunity for a boxer who once looked like the heir apparent to the Golden Boy himself. Fighting a motivated Herrera, Gomez will have all he can handle.
On the non-televised portion of the undercard, imagine making your professional debut in a brand new state-of-the-art arena. Super lightweight prospect David Mijares is being given this opportunity. “Man, this is something else and I am very fortunate to be treated like this. I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions for the fight and for being on the undercard of these amazing fighters. I can’t wait to get in there and get my job done,” said Mijares. Stepping into the ring is a moment Mijares, his family and team will never forget.
When Golden Boy put a fight between Japanese champion Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas on the undercard of the Cotto vs. Canelo fight last November, who knew it would turn out to be the 2015 Fight of the Year? It energized the crowd ringside and generated tremendous social buzz among fans watching around the world. Now Vargas is headlining his own card in a month against Orlando Salido, who delivered a fan-pleasing performance on the Mayweather vs. Berto undercard in September.
This is how boxing develops a deep talent pool and builds fan support for potential main event matchups between athletes who make the most of their opportunities. Who will seize the opportunity and put on a 2016 Fight of the Year candidate on Saturday?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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