Boxing has a long history of poor undercards.
And frankly, this could be one of the most underwhelming yet.
While Alvarado vs Provodnikov is a main event which will set any fight fan’s heart racing, the previous bouts in the evening are, on paper, barely enough to make one pay attention.
Undoubtedly the biggest name on the undercard is former 135lbs unified title holder Juan Diaz. “The Baby Bull” had a long and successful career at 135lbs, picking up the WBO belt before unifying with first Acelino Freitas and then Julio Diaz and at one time had a legitimate case for being considered the best lightweight in the world and arguably a top 10 pound for pound talent. That said, his career did entire a distinct downward streak following the victory of Diaz. He was out muscled, out though and out fought by Nate Campbell to lose his belts, he had a good comeback win over Michael Katsidis (which was wider than the judges would have you believe) and then was stopped in an absolute war with Juan Manuel Marquez. His next bout was a very controversial decision victory over Paul Malignaggi and he then lost a rematch to the Magic Man before losing a second bout to Marquez which was more tactical but still fairly exciting.
And at this stage Diaz bowed out. And no-one blamed him.
Diaz may have been in his late 20’s but he had a lot of miles on the clock. 39 bouts and a number of them action packed wars where he had taken a lot of punishment. The feeling was that he had reached his limit, that he would never be as good as he once was, that continuing his career would just cause him more physical harm. Unlike many boxers Diaz had stuck to his education and intended to qualify from law school. Almost every boxing fan I know thought it was the right decision and wished him well. He’d entertained us, for a while been one of the best in the world, made a lot of money but now it seemed his time was up. Good for him for knowing when to get out… for retiring from boxing rather than letting boxing retire him.
And now, three years later he’s back, having already knocked off a couple of journeymen in a handful of rounds each.
Stylistically Diaz is a highly active pressure fighter. Technically he’s flawed, defensively he’s often wide open and his power is limited at best but at his peak he made up for all of that with relentless pressure and a very high workrate, draining and breaking down opponents over the course of a bout. His style lends itself to exciting bouts and none of those who faced him… even those who beat him… had an easy night.
Diaz is currently campaigning at 135lbs and considering the relatively open state of the division, without any dominant champions it may be Top Rank are looking to position him for a title shot. I suspect that he may also be in line to face one of the main event fighters in future (likely the loser). Diaz has flirted with 140lbs previously and his style means that a bout between him and either Alvarado or Provodnikov should be an entertaining watch.
So why aren’t I excited? If Diaz is so exciting, why am I utterly ambivalent about this?
Because he’s facing Juan Santiago. The 14-10-1 Santiago who’s won one of his last seven bouts (including losing six in a row) and losing them to boxers who are, on paper, a level below even a faded Juan Diaz. It’s hard to even call the bout a showcase it’s so one-sided on paper.
That basically goes for the rest of the undercard as well. There is literally nothing that stands out. Some guys with poor records are facing other guys with poor records. A couple of prospects with four to six bouts taking on each other. Perhaps the only name who leaps out is the 6-0 Donovan Dennis, who had a fairly decent amateur career, reaching the Olympic trials, coming second at the National Golden Gloves and winning the Iowa State Championship 11 times but honestly, when I say “leap out” it’s actually more along the lines of “stumble forward”.
I believe the undercard will be streamed on TopRank.tv as usual. I’m not sure I can actually recommend anyone makes plans to watch it considering the quality on display but this is boxing. A bout doesn’t have to be good on paper to be good to watch and you don’t need two world class boxers to put on a great bout. I’m sure a couple of the bouts will be worth a watch.