DAZN, 1:30 pm ET, Francesco Patera vs Devis Boschiero, Luca Rigoldi vs Gamal Yafai, Maiva Hamadouche vs Nina Pavlovic. A huge weekend for DAZN kicks off early Thursday from Milan with this monstrous card! Alright, there, got the snark out of the way, so now here’s why this card is actually pretty decent and why the big guy (that’s me!) will be tuning in even when the big guy (again, me!) usually skips the Italy shows now. Patera-Boschiero is for the WBC “silver” belt at lightweight, which kinda means nothing but does at least put the winner in discussion for a 2021 fight with Devin Haney, which may be all but certain if Haney continues his same plan of attack toward becoming a legacy-heavy boxing billionaire. Neither of them are the guy you’re asking Haney to fight, or even close to it, but you might as well be informed. Patera’s been on a good European level run, while Boschiero is a fairly typical solid Italian veteran. Rigoldi-Yafai is for the European title at 122, and Hamadouche is defending her IBF 130 belt against Nina Pavlovic. Hamadouche is a potential unification partner for Terri Harper. BLH will have live coverage.
NBC Sports Network, 9:00 pm ET, Charles Conwell vs Madiyar Ashkeyev, Jelena Mrdjenovich vs Paola Torres, Stephan Shaw vs Lyubomyr Pinchuk. A nice main event here (knock on wood!) between Conwell and Ashkeyev, a pair of unbeaten prospects at 154 pounds. Mrdjenovich is defending her WBA featherweight title, or she might be, anyway. This might be another stay-busy for her. The matchup is the same either way. Shaw is a heavyweight hopeful, Pinchuk is really a cruiserweight but it’s a shot for him to take. But Conwell-Ashkeyev really is good stuff, the sort of thing we used to see on ShoBox but only sometimes see on ShoBox anymore. If the fight holds (!) then I really would recommend tuning in and giving Ring City a try if you haven’t yet. BLH will have live coverage.
DAZN, 5:00 pm ET, Gennadiy Golovkin vs Kamil Szeremeta, Ali Akhmedov vs Carlos Gongora, Hyun Mi Choi vs Calista Silgado. Well, GGG had to get this fight in at some point, because Szeremeta is his IBF mandatory, and Golovkin does not want to vacate the belt. So here it is. As for the early start time, not sure why, but that’s official from DAZN, it’s been doubly confirmed. Akhmedov-Gongora is a matchup of undefeated super middleweights. Akhmedov is a prospect, Gongora isn’t, really, despite being a two-time Olympian. I don’t know how to put this softly so I’ll just say it flat: Olympians aren’t always particularly good, which you know well if you’ve watched Olympic boxing. Gongora’s 31 and has fought lousy pro opposition, but, well, he does have high level amateur experience. You never know! This is why we sports. Choi is defending her WBA 130 title against Silgado as Large Ed continues his attempt to corner the 130 market in women’s boxing and leave Mikaela Mayer with nobody to fight. It is what it is. Mayer might throw frustrated shade or whatever but maybe her promoter should have invested money into getting her opponents, which Hearn has for Terri Harper, and that’s with Harper having looked more vulnerable than Mayer so far. BLH will have live coverage.
FITE TV, 8:00 pm ET, Gilberto Ramirez vs Alfonso Lopez. This is a $25 PPV that nobody’s going to buy, but hey, Zurdo Ramirez gets himself back in action, as does Michael Hunter, maybe. Zurdo’s big plans to promote himself are most likely going to go about as you’d expect, which is “not great,” unless the goal is to just hold a bunch of lower-to-mid-level events in places like Galveston. He’s not a big enough name brand to do much more with this. He’s not Canelo Alvarez. Canelo is going to work with power promoters like Matchroom for his fights going forward, but Canelo can do that without giving them anything back because he’s CANELO. Getting your guy a fight with CANELO is major. There is no ZURDO. There is just Zurdo, a good fighter who, in theory, a promoter would have no great reason to entertain without at least getting options on him if he wins, and Ramirez might not want to do that. I can appreciate his intentions if sincere, it’s just a tough row to hoe if you’re not a legitimate big star, and he’s not.
DAZN, 8:00 pm ET, Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith. Canelo returns for his first fight post-Golden Boy, taking a shot at Smith’s WBA super middleweight title, with the vacant WBC belt on the line, too, because the WBC do whatever the “H” they want based on the scenario and the parties involved. It’s a good main event and obviously huge to have Canelo back in action. The co-feature was going to see WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez against Francisco Rodriguez Jr, but Martinez is out. Heavyweight Frank Sanchez and a slew of Matchroom prospects are on the rest of the show. BLH will have live coverage.
SHO, 9:00 pm ET, Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Reymart Gaballo, Jaron Ennis vs Chris van Heerden, Gary Antonio Russell vs Juan Carlos Payano. This show was originally supposed to happen on Dec. 12, originally supposed to be Nordine Oubaali vs Nonito Donaire and Ennis against Thomas Dulorme, then was moved to Dec. 19, then Oubaali was pulled and Emmanuel Rodriguez drafted in, which was a good replacement, then Dulorme out and van Heerden signed, which is fine, and now Donaire is out, and the whole thing has become a pretty unfortunate situation, unless you’re Reymart Gaballo, in which case this is a magnificent opportunity. The show goes on and the fighters get activity and paydays, which is good. And it’s really not a bad card all in all, would be a decent one for the hardcores if it were running unopposed in the afternoon, which they probably could have done, it’s not like it would lead to less people watching, but schedules at networks are what they are. With Donaire, we would have done shoulder coverage. As is, there just won’t be enough interest, so full focus goes to the Canelo card.