Fighting

Cable networks close year with big fights

A file photo shows former champion Bernard Hopkins during training at Normandy Gym in Miami Beach.
A file photo shows former champion Bernard Hopkins during training at Normandy Gym in Miami Beach. el nuevo herald

December boxing activity will feature a noticeably increased presence on the two premium cable networks that showcase the sport.

Before boxing shuts down for the year, HBO will telecast fights on consecutive Saturday nights. Fighters at contrasting stages of their respective careers will headline the two telecasts.

Gradually earning consideration among the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters, Terence Crawford will defend his two sanctioning body 140-pound titles against John Molina on Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is now one of HBO’s signature attractions.

On Dec. 17, HBO will broadcast the final ring appearance of Bernard Hopkins’ Hall of Fame-bound career. Hopkins, a part-time Miami Beach resident, will face Joe Smith in a light-heavyweight match at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

Hopkins, who turns 52 in January, said he will not succumb to any comeback tease. The former middleweight and light-heavyweight champion appeared in 17 bouts after he turned 40.

“I am done, this will be the final one,” Hopkins said. “There is no stone that has not been unturned, meaning that when I look back, I would have done everything that I wanted to do.”

On Saturday, Showtime will provide fans an afternoon-evening doubleheader of title fights.

IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will defend his belt against Eric Molina in an afternoon broadcast from Joshua’s native England. Later on Saturday, Showtime will broadcast two title fights from Los Angeles.

Jermall Charlo will defend his 154-pound title against Julian Williams and Jesus Cuellar will make the second defense of his featherweight crown against Abner Mares.

“Abner Mares is a high-level fighter,” Cuellar said. “I have to beat him to reach the next level of this sport. That’s what I’m preparing to do.”

A three-division world champion, Mares will attempt to reclaim a 126-pound title he lost against Jhonny Gonzalez three years ago. Mares had an unsuccessful featherweight title bid Aug. 29, when he lost a majority decision against Leo Santa Cruz in one of the year’s top fights.

“I think Cuellar only has one style and that’s to rely on his power punches,” Mares said. “He’s a come forward type of fighter that seems to always be looking for the knockout. But I’ve been known to give a fight, too, and make for great fights.”

“Abner Mares is a high level fighter. I have to beat him to reach the next level of this sport.

That’s what I’m preparing to do

“Abner Mares is a high level fighter. I have to beat him to reach the next level of this sport.

That’s what I’m preparing to do

The Charlo-Williams and Cuellar-Mares bouts resume TV activity by Premier Boxing Champions, the company headed by influential manager Al Haymon. After securing deals with multiple networks to televise fights at a frequent pace last year, PBC’s visibility has dropped since early fall with the exception of a welterweight bout between Danny Garcia and Samuel Vargas last month on Spike TV.

Miami resident Niko Valdes remained unbeaten after his first-round knockout win over Will Williams in their light-heavyweight bout Friday in Los Angeles. A Gulliver High graduate, Valdes is now 3-0 with knockouts.

Miami heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz will have his second bout in less than a month. Ortiz (26-0, 22 KOs) will face David Allen on the undercard of the Joshua-Molina heavyweight title fight Saturday afternoon.

Ortiz won a lopsided decision over Malik Scott Nov. 12 in Monte Carlo.

La Scala at the Four Ambassadors in downtown Miami will be the site of the last local card of the year Friday night. The show is scheduled to feature Miami fighters Hairon Socarras and Neslan Machado in separate bouts.

Socarras and Machado were announced headliners in previous local shows. But their bouts were cancelled either because of failures to make weight or disagreements with the show’s promoters.

AROUND THE RING

▪ Miami resident Niko Valdes remained unbeaten after his first-round knockout win over Will Williams in their light-heavyweight bout Friday in Los Angeles. A Gulliver High graduate, Valdes is now 3-0 with knockouts. 

Coming up

Friday (8 p.m., at La Scala, 905 Brickell Bay Dr., Miami): Announced 10-bout show, headlined by Neslan Machado vs. Bernardo Uribe, 8, featherweights; for ticket information, call 305-788-4919 or visit www.pintosobox.com

Saturday (5:30 p.m., Showtime): Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina, 12, for Joshua’s IBF heavyweight title.

Saturday (9:35 p.m., HBO): Terence Crawford vs. John Molina, 12, for Crawford’s WBC and WBO super-lightweight titles.

Saturday (10 p.m., Showtime): Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares, 12, for Cuellar’s WBA featherweight title; Jermall Charlo vs. Julian Williams, 12, for Charlo’s IBF super-welterweight title.

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