Cuban defector Erislandy Lara says Cubans unable to defect would shine here

Erislandy Lara/photo by Associated Press

Cuba’s amateur program has always been top-notch, so one has to wonder how many of its great amateurs would have been fine  pros here in the States had they been able to freely come here to fight.

Sure, some have defected. But not everyone who tries succeeds. Erislandy Lara, a Cuban defector, first tried to defect in 2007. He was caught and returned. He defected again in 2008, that time successfully.

Lara, who Saturday will take on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view), agreed we have missed out on a lot.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Obviously, Cuba’s a very strict country. It’s a country that you’ve got to do a lot of things to get over here to be free. And there are a tremendous amount of fighters in Cuba that would be world champions or very good fighters over here that are never able to make it.”

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Luis Ortiz of Cuba puts unblemished record on line; Dominic Breazeale on undercard

Undefeated heavyweight Luis Ortiz of Miami via Cuba will put his record of 20-0 with 17 knockouts on the line when he takes on journeyman Monte Barrett of Queens, N.Y. on Thursday in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio (on Fox Sports 1).

Barrett, 42, is 35-10-2 with 20 knockouts. Ortiz is 35, but only turned pro four years ago.

Dominic Breazeale (9-0, 9 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian out of Alhambra, will square off with Nagy Aguilera (19-7, 13 KOs) of the Dominican Republic in a heavyweight bout scheduled for eight rounds on the undercard.

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Catch ‘Road to Chavez Jr./Vera II’ tonight after Zou Shiming, Miguel Vazquez fights on HBO2

Tonight’s tape-delayed fights from Macau, China featuring Zou Shiming and Miguel Vazquez in separate fights, will be followed on HBO2 by the 15-minute documentary “Road to Chavez Jr./Vera II,’ which promotes next Saturday’s rematch between super middleweights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera from the Alamodome in San Antonio (on HBO).

Shiming, the two-time gold-medal winner from China, will take on Yokthong Kokietgym of Thailand in the flyweight division. And Mexico’s Vazquez will defend his lightweight title against Denis Shafikov of Russia.

The fights begin at 5 p.m. West Coast time with the documentary to air about 7:15.

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‘No Mas’ to premiere tonight at 5 on ESPN

“No Mas,” a documentary chronicling the two 1980 welterweight title fights between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, will premiere tonight at 5 (Pacific time) on ESPN.

Duran won their first bout via 15-round decision June 20, 1980 in Montreal. Five months later, on Nov. 25 in New Orelans, Leonard won via 8th-round TKO when Duran quit, saying “No mas.”

This documentary, by Emmy award-winning  director Eric Drath, will air as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series.

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Ricardo Alvarez, brother of ‘Canelo’, to be featured Saturday on Fox Deportes

Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez of Mexico will square off with Humberto Martinez (27-7-1, 21 KOs) of Colombia in the super lightweight main event Saturday from Jalisco, Mexico (on Fox Deportes at 7 p.m. Pacific time).

Alvarez (21-2-3, 13 KOs) is the brother of former champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Another brother, Rigoberto, is a former interim champion.

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Timothy Bradley not worried about scoring for fight with Juan Manuel Marquez

With the recent scoring controversy in Las Vegas on Sept. 14 as well as one this past Saturday in Carson, it wasn’t surprising to hear a reporter ask Timothy Bradley during a conference call if he is concerned about getting a fair shake from the judges when he defends his welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez on Oct. 12 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Apparently, he’s not.

“Man, I am going to whoop his (butt) and the judges are going to give me the fight,” Bradley said. “Just like the U.S. Government, I am going to shut down Juan Manuel Marquez on Oct. 12. I am going to win the fight – that is the bottom line.

“I’m not concerned about any judges or any ref. I am going to get in there and do my job and beat Marquez. And that’s it. And the world’s going to see it.”

On Sept. 14, C.J. Ross scored the junior middleweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at MGM Grand a 114-114 draw. Alvarez appeared to have won no more than one round. Fortunately, Mayweather still won a majority decision.

Last Saturday at StubHub Center, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was scored a unanimous-decision winner over Bryan Vera. Most ringside observers had Vera winning a close fight. A few had it even, this newspaper had Chavez winning 96-94. The scorecard of Carla Caiz was 96-94 for Chavez, which at least seemed reasonable. The outcry really came over the cards of Marty Denkin and Gwen Adair, who had Chavez winning by respective scores of 97-93 and 98-92. Adair’s card, in particular, seemed well off the mark.

The judges for Bradley-Marquez will be Robert Hoyle, Patricia Morse Jarman and Glenn Feldman. The referee will be Robert Byrd. The fight will be available on HBO pay-per-view.

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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. weighs in at 172.4 pounds, makes new weight limit for Vera

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. weighed in at 172.4 pounds Friday, just under the 173-pound limit to which he agreed to fight Bryan Vera on Saturday at StubHub Center in Carson (on HBO).

Chavez, a former middleweight champion, told his promoter (Bob Arum) this week he was not going to be able to make the 168-pound super middleweight limit – the agreed upon weight that originally was 163 and then 165.

Arum and Vera’s promoter, Artie Pelullo, came up with the new 173-pouind limit Wednesday.

Vera, 31, of Austin, Texas, weighed 171.2 pounds. He is 23-6 with 14 knockouts. Chavez, 27, of Mexico, is 46-1-1 with 32 knockouts.

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It’s understandable that Bernard Hopkins won’t pick a winner for Mayweather-Alvarez

Ageless light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins is in a tough spot. He fights for Golden Boy Promotions, so he might feel almost obligated to pick stablemate Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their junior middleweight title fight Saturday at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay–per-view).

Then again, he might want to pick Mayweather because he is favored and most think he’ll win. Well, Hopkins took the easy way out, and that’s understandable.

“This fight is 50-50,” Hopkins said. “It can go either way. Floyd has speed and wisdom. ‘Canelo’ is strong and big. This is a massive fight and the outcome will impact both of their careers in a major way.”

Hopkins, 48, will defend his title against Karo Murat on Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (on Showtime).

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Check out tonight’s “Faceoff” premiere with Kellerman, Bradley and Marquez

HBO’s “Faceoff with Max Kellerman: Bradley/Marquez” premieres tonight at 11. It will preview the upcoming welterweight title fight between champion Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez on Oct. 12 at Thomas & Mack Center (on HBO pay-per-view).

Bradley and Marquez will be interviewed by Kellerman. The fighters will also get the opportunity to address one another, as well as their fans.

Bradley, 30, is 30-0 with 12 knockouts. Marquez, who turned 40 on Aug. 23, is 55-6-1 with 40 knockouts.

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Fox Deportes to televise previous Broner, Malignaggi fights ahead of theirs

Golden Boy Classics, a series televised on Fox Deportes, on Sunday will show previous Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner fights ahead of their June 22 welterweight title clash at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime).

The 2 p.m. telecast will replay Malignaggi’s 10-round unanimous decision over Jose Miguel Cotto in April 2011 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was just Malignaggi’s second fight at welterweight.

It will also show Broner’s 10-round unanimous decision over Daniel Ponce De Leon in March 2011 at Honda Center.

Broner, one really talented fighter, is 26-0 with 22 knockouts. He has won major titles in two weight classes and is jumping up two weight classes from lightweight. Malignaggi is  32-4 with just seven knockouts and is a former junior welterweight champion.

One thing about Malignaggi, he doesn’t have much of a punch, but he has big-time heart, and that can make any fight interesting.

Look for Broner to take Malignaggi’s belt.

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