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This Week in Boxing.

This week sees many important fights taking place across the world as the sport of boxing finally shakes off the holiday season doldrums. From Africa to North America to Europe to South America and beyond, this week will bring title bouts and other important action to many, many places. Come along for the ride as we explore these fantastic fights and the effect that they may have on the foundations of the sport.

Our first stop is in Cuxhall, Germany where on Tuesday an important European cruiserweight match is taking place. German and European Economic cruiserweight titlist Firat Aslan gets his toughest assignment since losing to Rudiger May three years ago. Opponent Alexander Petkovic narrowly missed taking away Johnny Nelson's WBO crown in 2003 and at twenty-four is ten years younger than Aslan. The winner takes home the WBO's Intercontinental belt and a possible shot at the WBO title.

Egypt! Most people don't think of boxing when Egypt is mentioned but this Thursday night at the Sports Stadium in Cairo, the leather will be flying. Hard punching former WBU light middleweight and IBU middleweight titlist Rashid "Snakeboy" Matumla of Tanzania continues to try and mount a successful comeback as he goes up against experienced Argentine campaigner Enrique Areco. It will be the first bout in over three years for forty two year old former longtime WBO Latino light middleweight strap-holder Areco. Matumla is no youngster at thirty-six but has been active of late and is expected to prevail. Also on the card is popular local Egyptian undefeated light middleweight Ahmed "The Riot" Mustafa.

Next up we pull into Houston, Texas which is fast becoming one of the new fight capitals of the US. Friday night sees undefeated WBA lightweight champion Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz looking to defend his crown in front of an adoring hometown audience, as he'll meet former IBO and Commonwealth titlist Billy "The Kid" Irwin. The thirty-six year old Canadian will bring a long resume and a good left hook to the contest but will have to pull off the fight of his life to withstand the determined pressure and accurate head and body combinations of the twenty-one year old Diaz. The champion has looked very good in his last two bouts, winning the crown from Lavka Sim and then turning back the challenge of former world titlist Julian Lorcy. On the under-card, heavyweight hopeful Calvin Brock will take on former contender Clifford "Black Rhino" Etienne. Two years ago, Etienne saw a promising career evaporate after he was stopped in a round by Mike Tyson, but in 2004 has won all six of his bouts against increasingly difficult competition. This is a test of sorts for Brock, a former US Olympian, as he'll be facing his first opponent of true consequence.

Continuing on we head in a northeasterly direction and arrive in Connecticut where undefeated welter Chris "The Mechanic" Smith takes a step up to face fellow prospect David Estrada. The fight is an IBF eliminator of sorts with the winner taking the number two position in that organization's welterweight rankings. Estrada's only career loss came at the hands of Ishe Smith in 2003 but has since returned to prominence by defeating former amateur superstar and promising pro Nurhan Suleymanoglu. Any questions concerning the validity of Smith's future should be answered by the outcome of this bout. Undefeated light middle Sechew Powell and Dutch middleweight Raymond Joval are also on the bill, along with Joshua Clottey, who faces the aforementioned Suleymanoglu, and cruiserweight prospect Ehinomen Ehikhamenor.

Heading back out west, this time all the way to California, we have the old warhorse and former IBF light middleweight champion Yory Boy Campas facing the much taller and younger Eric Regan at middleweight. Ninety-one bouts into his career, Campas is still fighting but twenty-eight year old six-foot-four former kick-boxer Regan may be too much for the Mexicanhero tohandle at this stage. Campas has only lost six bouts and five were world title matches to the likes of Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Daniel Santos and Jose Luiz Lopez. The veteran may yet prevail if he can get inside the long reach of Reagan, who's only loss in twenty-three fights was to another rugged Mexican puncher, Pedro Ortega.

Ready for a little British flavor? Good, because we go transatlantic for our next destination, Wales. Hammer fisted WBU cruiserweight king Enzo Maccarinelli will be in Bridgend, defending against American and fellow big puncher Rich LaMontagne. Few foes have lasted the distance against either fighter and this pairing is almost certain to feature fireworks and repeated trips to the canvas. Should the Welshman Maccarinelli prevail, a title shot against WBO champion Johnny Nelson could be on the menu. Also seeing action will be come-backing middleweight Gary Lockett, promising welter Tony Doherty and a grudge match at super feather between former amateur stars (and rivals) Jamie Arthur and Haider Ali.

Continuing on in the UK, we next travel to cosmopolitan London where former British boxing golden boy David Haye seeks to shake off the tarnish he acquired after getting stopped by ageless wonder and IBO cruiserweight titlist Carl "The Cat" Thompson last year. Haye punched himself out and was mauled by the former WBO champion, bringing an end to his electrifying eleven-fight win streak. Since then the twenty-four year old has returned to the victorious path but will find opponent and former Commonwealth light heavy titlist Garry Delaney no pushover. The fight takes place in the heavyweight ranks and despite losing his last three bouts, Delaney should provide a stern test as he has faced a long list of solid competition.

Which brings us to Saturday. We start off in the US with the mighty Floyd Mayweather Jr., continuing his campaign for a world title at light welterweight as he meets the very good but largely unknown Puerto Rican fighter Henry Bruseles in Miami. It will be the former WBC super-featherweight and lightweight champion's second foray into the 140-pound ranks, having previously bested former WBO belt holder DeMarcus Corley last year. Should the undefeated Mayweather win, as widely expected, a match up with WBC Champion Arturo Gatti is in the works for this summer. Bruseles, trained by Miguel Cotto's father Evangelista, is the current WBO Latino champion and formerly held the NABO crown. Another good fight on the bill is a heavyweight bout between Samuel Peter and Yanqui Diaz. Peter is fresh off an impressive destruction of Jeremy Williams and Diaz is a former Cuban amateur star who came to prominence by knocking out former cruiserweight titlist and promising undefeated heavyweight Juan Carlos Gomez within one round this past August.

Heading to Texas once again, Saturday sees the return of former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia. The thirty-seven year old Tapia was unbeatable as a super flyweight and didn't lose a bout until his forty ninth match, but has gone 7-4 since stepping up to first bantamweight and then featherweight. Pledging this will be his last year in the game, the fifty-nine fight veteran will likely still have too much skill for opponent Nicky Bentz, who returned to the ring with a loss two months ago after a three- year layoff. Also making an appearance will be promising undefeated featherweight prospect Cuauhtemoc Vargas.

In nearby Kinder, Louisiana, transplanted Uzbek and former heavyweight contender Oleg Maskaev looks to build upon his recent victory over David Defiagbon last summer by taking on journeyman Quinn "Cujo" Navarre. Maskaev has won his last seven bouts and looks to be back on the right path in a career that's seen it's share of promising stretches interrupted by disappointing stoppages. Navarre is a journeyman who has come up short against upper echelon foes and was most recently knocked out by both Audley Harrison and Timo Hoffman. Also on the bill will be welterweight veteran "Bad"Chad Broussard, as well as a great women's match-up that has "tear-up" written all over it. Sumya Anani defends her IBA welterweight title a very good opponent in Belinda Laracuente. Anani holds wins over Christy Martin, Jane Couch, Lisa Holewyne, Fredia Gibbs and Liz Mueller and will be seeking to solidify her hold on the junior welter and welter divisions. The Puerto Rican born Laracuente has her career back on track after losing three bouts in a row several years ago, including a very controversial decision to Martin.

Moving right along, we next hit Argentina for another women's bout, with Marcela Acuna and Maria Miranda squaring off for the vacant WIBA featherweight title. Acuna, known as "La Tigresa", is the current WIBA super bantamweight champion and will likely be favored to prevail against the unbeaten Miranda of Columbia.

Going back to the US, we next travel to Fort Lee, Virginia where perennial fringe contenders Dorin Spivey and Larry Marks see action against opponents yet to be determined. Spivey, a lightweight, holds victories over Mike "No Joke" Stewart and Billy Irwin but lost his last outing, a unanimous decision to Omar Bernal a year and a half ago. Light middle Larry Marks is also on the comeback trail and is seeking to build on a victory over Elias Cruz last November. Marks has had an up and down career, incurring competitive losses to future undisputed welterweight king Cory Spinks and Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis in a WBC welterweight championship contest four years ago.

That's about it for this week, stay tuned for the next installment of "This Week in Boxing" where we'll breakdown the best fights that the world has to offer.


Curtis McCormick can be reached at thomaspointrd@aol.com

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