February is looking fairly busy, with a host of marquee matchups set to take place, even if some of them have us scratching our heads. For a more extensive boxing line up, plus next year’s fixtures, be sure to check out BB’s updated Complete 2017 Schedule. Let’s get to it.
Chris Eubank Jr vs. Renold Quinlan (ITV Box Office)
February 4, London, England; Super Middleweight
Only an extremely casual fan would get excited about this encounter, which, amazingly, is airing on PPV . Eubank Jr vs. Quinlan has a big name attached to it, and therefore I must include it, albeit reluctantly.
Anyway, rising Middleweight star Chris Eubank Jr will be back in action as he looks to capture his first ‘world title’ against Renold Quinlan. That’ll look great on the poster, no doubt, but this is purely a showcase outing for Eubank to accomplish a few key things:
- Claw back an army of lost casual UK fans who frequently tuned in to watch his father fight in the 90’s (on free-to-air TV)
- Make a career-high payday in a very low-risk matchup
- Lift the IBO portion of the world title (even if hardly anyone recognises, let alone discusses said belt these days)
- Arguably escape the 160-pound arena – where Gennady Golovkin lurks – for a while to raise his profile in shallower waters
Frankly, I’m not entirely sure this event is going to be a hit. Bringing the Eubank name back to a popular free-to-air network like ITV is one thing, but demanding Pay-Per-View dough is another. It’ll be interesting to see if British fans, who may already be shelling out for Sky Sports, Box Office and Boxnation, will be willing to dig even deeper. Perhaps ITV, who’ll be airing their very first Box Office show, are merely conducting an experiment?
I guess we’d better discuss Eubank’s opponent. Well…there’s not an awful lot to mull over. Besides a 2nd round knockout of a battle-worn Daniel Geale last October, Quinlan’s boxing slate is pretty empty, plus he’s never fought outside of his native Australia. It is what it is, I’m afraid.
Eubank Jr vs. Quinlan: Undercard
- Adam Etches vs. John Ryder | Super Middleweight
- Kid Galahad vs. TBA | Featherweight
- David Price vs. Christian Hammer | Heavyweight
- Ardin Diale vs. Andrew Selby | Flyweight
Adrien Broner vs. Adrian Granados (Boxnation, Showtime)
February 18, Cincinnati, US; Junior Welterweight
When it was announced, this fight looked like another soft-ish touch for Adrien Broner. Then I remembered who Adrian Granados actually is. This is the guy who relentlessly stalked and pounded away at touted prospect Amir Imam en route to a TKO in late 2015. That was quite an upset, and therefore means Granados’ 18-4-2 (12 KOs) record is incredibly misleading.
There’s nothing too fancy about the way Granados operates. That is true. But the man can fight. And it’s very possible that his iron will could be enough topple a fighter like Broner who’s already come unstuck against rugged, hungry fighters before, such as Marcos Maidana in 2013 and Shawn Porter in mid-2015. Broner’s desire is questionable, and the ‘invincibility bubble’ is certainly long burst.
At first glance, it’s fairly easy to envision Broner winning due to his superior boxing ability, but an upset is far from impossible. Granados isn’t the biggest threat out there, but we know he won’t be coming just to fall over and pick up a paycheck on the way out. I’m looking forward to this one.
Broner vs. Granados: Undercard
- Gary Russell Jr vs. Oscar Escandon | WBC Featherweight Championship
- Jermell Charlo vs. Charles Hatley | WBC Junior Middleweight Championship
- Marcos Browne vs. Thomas Williams Jr | Light Heavyweight
Miguel Cotto vs. James Kirkland (Boxnation, HBO PPV)
February 25, Texas, US; 153 lb Catchweight
This is an odd matchup that surely couldn’t be truly competitive unless future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto is significantly faded. The smart money says the savvier, equally powerful Cotto will be far too much for Kirkland, a decent, crowd-pleasing banger who nonetheless looks out of his depth. It’s also another catchweight affair (they seem to be all the rage these days), which makes my eyes roll to the back of my skull.
Both have fought with the King of Catchweights, Canelo Alvarez, with Cotto losing a close decision in late 2015, and Kirkland getting obliterated earlier that same year. That alone probably tells you just about all there is to know about Cotto vs. Kirkland. The only reason to get even remotely optimistic is that Kirkland will be reuniting with former trainer Anne Wolfe, and that a more strategic Kirkland may last a few rounds longer.
The fact you’ll have to cough up some dough to HBO might displease a lot of boxing fans, and that’s fair enough considering the appetizers aren’t all that appealing. The undercard is decent-ish, depending on your ‘appreciation level’ of technician Guillermo Rigondeaux, and also includes questionable 140 lb prospect Maurice Hooker.
Cotto vs. Kirkland: Undercard
- Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Moises Flores | WBA Junior Featherweight Championship
- Maurice Hooker vs. Juan Pablo Lopez | Junior Welterweight
Deontay Wilder vs. Andrzej Wawrzyk (PBC on Fox)
February 25, Alabama, US; WBC Heavyweight Championship
This is a terrible matchup for one of the world’s best Heavyweights, Deontay Wilder. And that’s actually not a direct pop at the man or his team. Wilder was set to lock horns with a fellow Top 10 bruiser in Alexander Povetkin last July – a very good matchup – but had to settle for replacement Chris Arreola when that fight caved.
Still, there’s no getting around the fact that Wilder vs. Wawrzyk stinks. As for the Heavyweight undercard, there could be something there in terms of excitement and entertainment. Artur Szpilka is probably the best talent overall, and won a ton of respect after giving Deontay Wilder a good fight last January. Szpilka will be taking on Anthony Joshua victim Dominic Breazeale, and Travis Kauffman the gnarly veteran Amir Mansour.
Wilder vs. Wawrzyk: Undercard
- Artur Szpilka vs. Dominic Breazeale | Heavyweight
- Travis Kauffman vs. Amir Mansour | Heavyweight
Gavin McDonnell vs. Rey Vargas (Sky Sports 1)
February 25, Hull, UK; vacant WBC Junior Featherweight Championship
Someone’s ‘0’ has got to go here, with two unbeaten 122-pounders trading blows for the vacant WBC crown. Gavin McDonnell, the twin brother of WBA Bantamweight champ Jamie, is taking a big step up against Rey Vargas, but it’s hard to say exactly how much until both of these guys start throwing leather.
Vargas is the bigger puncher, is four years younger at 26, has twice as many fights as McDonnell under him, and has fought the better opposition overall. These facts make Vargas a clear favourite without question. But McDonnell, like his brother, is also tall, rangy, busy with his hands, and known for diligently hammering home effective fundamentals. If anything, you’ve got to respect McDonnell simply for rising to the challenge.
The undercard will feature a couple of other fan-friendly British favourites, with former foes Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle in action. Campbell, who viciously crushed respected domestic rival Derry Mathews last October, will be looking to further ascend the 135 lb ladder.
McDonnell vs. Vargas: Undercard
- Luke Campbell vs. Jairo Lopez | Lightweight
- Tommy Coyle vs. Kofi Yates | Junior Lightweight
Boxing in February: Best of the Rest
Sammy Vasquez vs. Luis Collazo (PBC on FS1)
February 2, Mississippi, US; Welterweight
Felix Verdejo vs. Oliver Flores (UniMas)
February 3, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Lightweight
Robert Easter vs. Luis Cruz (PBC on Bounce)
February 10, Ohio, US; IBF Lightweight Championship
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Abel Ramos (Showtime)
February 10, Oklahoma, US; Welterweight
Chime in with your own picks for this coming February. Which matchups are you anticipating the most? And what would you rather shell out for: Eubank Jr vs. Quinlan, or Cotto vs. Kirkland?