SAN DIEGO, August 1, 2014 – It’s a tale of two coasts with fan friendly fighters in action on Saturday, August 2 on HBO.
The match-ups might not generate a lot of enthusiasm, but better to see both Sergey Kovalev and Brandon Rios in action rather than sitting on the sidelines and holding out for bigger competition. Boxers risk being forgotten by the fans when they are absent from the action too long.
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev started 2014 right where he left off in 2013, scoring three knockdowns before he took care of Cedric Agnew in the seventh round of their March bout. The fight was originally expected to be a stepping stone toward a contest with 2013 Fighter of the Year Adonis Stevenson.
Those expectations were dashed when Stevenson’s manager Al Haymon bailed out of their contract with HBO and signed with rival Showtime instead. Kovalev said he’d fight anyone, so here we are with Kovalev back in the ring against Australian Blake Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KOs) in the first bout of a card from both coasts on HBO Saturday, August 2, at 9:45 p.m. ET.
Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs) is making his third title defense in the light heavyweight division against a competitor whose only fight on American TV came on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights,” and if you don’t remember the uninspiring 10-round decision he won, it’s a good thing.
Credit to Caparello for taking on powerful punching Kovalev. It’s a risk, but a good performance will speak well for Caparello and advance his career. Sometimes limited expectations work in a fighter’s favor. Kovalev is smart to get in the ring, put on a show, prevent ring rust and position himself for bigger things.
Those bigger things came together on the eve of this fight. ESPN reported a deal was made for the winner to fight the ageless champion Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) on HBO in November. It will be the first fight for a Golden Boy Promotions boxer (Hopkins) in 18 months on HBO versus its rival Showtime. This is nothing but hopeful for boxing and additional matchups across networks and promoters in the future.
So consider Kovalev vs. Caparello the “50 Shades of Gray” trailer for a tasty matchup later in the year. Yes, Kovalev has to get past Caparello, and there is always a chance of an upset (see Algieri, Chris). Set your sights on entertaining rather than competitive here.
HBO then heads west from Atlantic City to Las Vegas for the return of brawler Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios to the ring for the first time since he lost last fall to Manny Pacquiao. Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs) faces Diego Chaves of Argentina in a 10 round welterweight fight. In his only American televised appearance, Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs) lost to Keith Thurman in a tenth round knockout a year ago, but he put on a competitive, entertaining fight.
Rios, who’s often said he likes to hit and likes to get hit, didn’t deliver the fight fans hoped he would against Pacquiao. It seemed to deflate Rios like a balloon losing its air. Rios admits it took a lot out of him to lose to Pacquiao and to Mike Alvarado in the third fight of their triology before that. Rios worked with a sports psychologist to get his head right.
Now the thearpy Rios needs is to put on one of his trademark no holds barred performances to remind fans why they love this rough around the edges competitor so much. Chaves should be a willing dance partner. There are a lot worse ways for fight fans to spend a Saturday night in August.
HBO will also show the undercard fight from Las Vegas between junior welterweights Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs) and Anton Novikov of Russia (29-0 10 KOs) for Vargas’s WBO title belt. Vargas is a two-time Mexican national amateur champion and Mexican Olympian. He is also a two-time U.S. junior national champion. Novikov is an unknown in the U.S. Neither is a knockout artist, so expect this to go all 12 rounds. The fighters are an even match physically and are only a year apart in age.
HBO presents Kovalev vs. Caparello and Rios vs. Chaves, Saturday, August 1, at 9:45 p.m. ET.
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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