Tonight’s ESPN card, for which we’ll have live coverage at 9 pm ET, has taken some hits, and it’s a tough sell to get people to tune in for this one.
The original main event was to see Jamel Herring defend the WBO 130-pound title against Jonathan Oquendo, which had been postponed from July 2 when Herring tested positive for coronavirus. Unfortunately, Herring had another positive test on Monday, which scrapped that fight.
But the show goes on, because there are eight other fighters still signed up to fight, still wanting to make some money, still wanting to get in the ring, still having trained for this night, still having made weight and all that on Monday.
Probably the same 300,000 are going to tune in pretty much no matter what, but here are some reasons to check in this evening, if you need some.
Mikaela Mayer is now in the main event slot, having been out from a coronavirus positive of her own about five weeks ago. Mayer (12-0, 5 KO) just turned 30 less than two weeks ago (10 days to be exact), and is an emerging title threat at 130 pounds as women’s boxing continues its evolution with more and more quality talents. Mayer is one of those talents, an ex-Olympian with an intriguing background story that you’ll surely hear some about this evening, probably thanks to Essayist Mark Kriegel.
Mayer has already started calling for a shot at WBC titleholder Terri Harper, another rising star in women’s boxing. But to get to that, she has to keep winning. Tonight, she faces Helen Joseph (17-4-2, 10 KO), a 31-year-old Nigerian fighter now based in Connecticut. Joseph last fought in November, losing a decision to Delfine Persoon in Belgium, and also fought for a vacant featherweight title back in 2015, losing a decision to Jennifer Han. Joseph is the most tested pro that Mayer has faced to date.
Emerging folk hero and diehard favorite Clay Collard is also back this evening. The former UFC fighter is basically in a co-feature role for his six round bout with LT Nelson (5-3, 4 KO), a 30-year-old Colorado club fighter. The good news about Collard (7-2-3, 2 KO) is he’s always scrappy, always rugged, always brings the fight. He can’t be dull, and he’s made a mark for himself with the hardcore fans this year with two straight upsets over teenage prospects Raymond Guajardo and David Kaminsky. Both fights were slugfests, and Collard out-slugged the more gifted opponents.
Javier Martinez, pictured up top, is making his pro debut. He signed with Top Rank last month, and now the 24-year-old southpaw middleweight from Milwaukee will look to bring his game to the paid ranks. He was a good amateur, a domestic standout for the U.S., and this could be the start of a nice pro run for him. Worth taking a first look at a new talent.
The fourth fight has Ruben Cervera (11-2, 10 KO) taking on Clay Burns (9-8-2, 4 KO) in a lightweight bout. Not going to sugarcoat it: this fight means very little in the grand scheme of things and doesn’t have a ton to offer. BUT! Cervera can punch a little, even if he’s been exposed badly in his losses to Ruben Villa and Miguel Marriaga, and Burns is another scrappy fighter named Clay, and his nickname is “Third Degree,” so that’s fun. Burns just had an entertaining ESPN fight on June 25 against Reymond Yanong, losing a six-round split decision at welterweight.
Hey, maybe I can’t convince you to tune in for this one. Again, I get it’s a fairly hard sell, harder even than the rest of these shows, which haven’t had any buzz or much public interest. But if you’re someone who usually would watch and are considering passing tonight, maybe there’s a reason here for you to watch. I hope so. If you do, join us for live discussion!