From Famine to Feast: A Weekend for Fight Fans to Gorge Themselves

By Teron Briggs on November 8, 2014
From Famine to Feast: A Weekend for Fight Fans to Gorge Themselves
Forty-nine-year-old Bernard Hopkins is set to face the second toughest Russian alive.

From Atlantic City to Stuttgart, there are significant fights involving current or former world champions taking place around the globe…

After a number of restless weekends with little to no boxing action of note, unless you want to note just how horrible the Showtime tripleheader card headlined by Kameda vs. Hernandez was, the second week of November offers fans a glut of action. From Atlantic City, New Jersey to Stuttgart, Germany there are significant fights involving current or former world champions taking place around the globe. Here’s a list of the most compelling bouts this weekend, in order of relevance from top to bottom.

Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) vs. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs)

HBO World Championship Boxing – Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
12 Rounds – WBA Super World Title, IBF & WBO World Light Heavyweight Titles

There’s been plenty written and said about this fight and rightfully so because it’s one of the most intriguing contest of the year. Forty-nine-year-old Bernard Hopkins is set to face the second toughest Russian alive, behind Vladimir Putin, Sergey Kovalev. When Krusher started his professional boxing career in July of 2009 Alien had already participated in 39 fights. The current odds have the WBO titleholder Kovalev as a -250 favorite. It’s normally as hard to bet against the old man as it is pick against Peyton Manning in the regular season but Kovalev looks like the kind of fighter who could finally put Hopkins down for the count. Krusher has stopped 13 of his last 14 opponents and he’s even vowed to get “dirty” with the wily curmudgeon if forced to. Hopkins, formerly nicknamed the Executioner, has built his reputation in the latter part of his career as a boring fighter who relied almost solely on ring generalship to win fights. His last two bouts have been Gatti/Ward-esque contests in comparison to his previous fights. Hopkins even floored his last opponent, then WBA light heavyweight titleholder Beibut Shumenov, the first time he’s dropped an opponent since Joe Calzaghe in 2008. This fight certainly won’t be a barnburner, because Hopkins will dictate the fighters’ battle at a near snail’s pace, but it will be fascinating to see how the defensively gifted Alien fends off the offensively talented Krusher. The winner of this bout becomes the clear second best fighter in the division behind the lineal champion Adonis Stevenson who ducked the chance to face both men.

Felix Strum (39-4-2, 18 KOs) vs. Robert Stieglitz (47-4 27 KOs)

No U.S. TV – Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
12 Rounds – Catch-weight of 166 – No titles at stake

Hallo! Guten Morgen (Good Morning)! Those are pretty much the only words I’ve picked up from my travels to Germany but it is a wonderful country and it’s the home of the World Cup champions. They will host an all-German showdown between two of the country’s most popular stars of the last 10 years when former two-time super middleweight titleholder Robert Stieglitz faces former four-time middleweight belt-holder Felix Strum. The fight will be at a catch-weight of 166 lbs. to accommodate the career 160-pounder Strum, who enters the bout with only two wins in his last five contests. In his last fight, Strum was somehow soundly outpointed by Sam Soliman, in Germany where Strum has been awarded more gift decisions then the number of Fast & the Furious films. The same 40-year-old Soliman was last seen limping around the ring in a unanimous decision loss to the faded former champion Jermain Taylor in October, relinquishing the IBF belt he previously won from Sturm. Stieglitz enters the contest after fighting Arthur Abraham for what seems like 10 or 11 straight times. Neither fighter is a spring chicken, though Strum is two years older at 35, but Stieglitz certainly appears to be the fresher of the two and enters as the betting favorite. Expect a raucous atmosphere at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart for Strum, who resides in Cologne, and Stieglitz, a native of Madgeburg.

Sadam Ali (20-0, 12 KOs) vs. Luis Carlos Abregu (36-1, 29 KOs)

HBO World Championship Boxing, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
10 Rounds – Welterweight – No titles at stake

I’ve penned an awesome article; at least my mother told me it was, for where I talk about this fight at length. Unlike any of the other fights on this list it features a fighter under 30 who’s undefeated, the 2008 U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali, against 30-year-old veteran contender Luis Carlos Abregu. Abregu’s only defeat came in 2010 against former junior-welter and welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley. Since that loss he’s reeled off seven straight wins including one over top-tier prospect Thomas Dulorme and another over borderline contender Antonin Decarie. Ali is a talented 26-year-old with good skills who’s been spoon-fed a bunch of oatmeal-like fighters before getting this assignment against USDA Choice cut. This could turn out to be a Fernando Vargas vs. Raul Marquez kind of fight where a young lion beats an established contender, which would make fans of Ali happy. Or, it could end up like Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Jesse James Leija, where a young gun gets his lunch box broken over his head, stuffed into his underwear and he’s sent scurrying away in tears.  Either way this fight should be fun.

Tomasz Adamek (49-3, 29 KOs) vs. Artur Szpilka 16-2, 12 KOs)

No U.S. TV, Krakow Arena, Krakow, Poland
10 Rounds – IBF International Heavyweight Title (aka a belt no one has ever heard of)

There might not be a crazier or more vociferous crowd in the world on November 8th then at the Krakow Arena in Poland when former titleholder at light heavyweight and cruiserweight and former heavyweight title challenger Tomasz Adamek faces Arthur Szpilka. Adamek is from Zywiec, Poland but now lives in Jersey City, NJ, which resembles Little Poland when he fights there, and Szpilka is from Wieliczka, Poland where he still resides. Three years ago Adamek unsuccessfully challenged Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title and helped sell over 50,000 tickets in the newly built soccer stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Szpilka isn’t as popular but he has a strong following and people in Poland love boxing. When I say love, I mean love like thousands and thousands of Polish fans still turn out to watch way, way past his prime Polish heavyweight Andrew Golota fight. Adamek arguably might be shot, but he’s an accomplished former champion who’s almost always in good fights and has an iron chin that’s only been dented by Vitali. Szpilka appears to be a guy with a ceiling in the heavyweight division, because his defense is lacking, but he’s a southpaw with a little punching power and a flare for the dramatic. This fight is scheduled for 10 rounds but I doubt it last that long.

Amir Mansour (20-1, 15 KOs) vs. Fred Kassi (18-2, 10 KOs)

NBC Sports Network Sands Casino Resort – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
10 Rounds – Heavyweight – No titles at stake

This is the swan song for the Main Events and NBC Sports deal that brought us fighters like Sergey Kovalev, Steve Cunningham, Curtis Stevens, Chris Algieri, Tyson Fury and many others top names in some memorable contests. It unfortunately goes out with a bit of an Oliver McCall-like whimper this weekend, but more on that later. Back in 2011, Main Events entered into an exclusive output deal with the network and managed to stage some excellent cards for a fraction of the budget of HBO or Showtime. The most powerful figure in the sport, Al Haymon, has reportedly reached a deal with the network now, after offering them enough money to make Floyd Mayweather Jr. blush. Hopefully he’ll be able to build upon the standard that was set by Main Events during their tenure producing excellent content.

Featured in the main event, 42-year-old Mansour, a late bloomer in the sport, due to a near 10-year prison stint, enters the fight on the heels of an exciting nip and tuck 10-round decision loss to former cruiserweight title holder Steve Cunningham. Mansour has a few “names’ on his record that he’s beaten, though most of them were journeymen or past their prime contenders. His opponent, Fred Kassi, is a fighter that I’ve never heard of and I have no idea where Main Events found him. According to BoxRec he’s from Cameroon and now resides in New Orleans but I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup on Bourbon Street if he were the only one on it. He’s got a couple of recognizable names on his record, but he’s lost to all of them, with the exception of Rubin Williams who he stopped in two rounds. Williams, a former super middleweight, is now campaigning at heavyweight and has lost 23 straight fights. This main event should be on before the start of the HBO telecast and Mansour, who has goals of securing a significant fight down the road, should make quick work of this guy.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter@TeronBriggs

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

24/7 Hopkins vs Kovalev Full Episode (HBO Boxing)

Felix Sturm vs. Robert Stieglitz - Fight Network Preview

Tomasz Adamek vs Artur Szpilka PROMO (Polsat Boxing Night 08.11.2014)

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