While the boxing world is eagerly anticipating the clash between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter for the vacant WBC welterweight title on September 8, it’s easy to forget some of the fights on the undercard.
Even if you take out the top-5 welterweight fight between Garcia and Porter, there is certainly no shortage of storylines and fighters to follow on this boxing card from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, some even more interesting than the main event itself.
Perhaps the most compelling fighter on the undercard is the one that isn’t even fighting on the televised portion of the card: Amanda Serrano.
Serrano’s fight against Yamila Esther Reynoso will be for the vacant WBO women’s junior welterweight title, the only other world title fight on the card. The fight itself might not be the most compelling on paper as Serrano is likely a heavy favorite to win the title, but Serrano herself is looking to achieve boxing history: becoming the third boxer in history, regardless of gender, to win a major world title in six different weight classes, joining Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao as the only boxers to achieve such a feat.
The Puerto Rican star already owns the Puerto Rican and women’s boxing record for most titles in different divisions, but reaching a Pacquiao-esque level of stardom is unheard of in women’s boxing, even in this era of seemingly never-ending divisions and world titles available. Even in the budding world of women’s boxing that seems to be finally getting it’s long-overdue attention from the boxing world, Serrano has always been a premier star for years now. In fact, with boxing pundits starting to take a look at Serrano’s credentials, there are some who believe the five-division champion is bound for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Moving on to the televised portion of the undercard, the Showtime-televised bouts start with a heavyweight bout between New York’s adopted heavyweight, unbeaten Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki, and former IBF titleholder Charles Martin.
For Martin, the fight against Kownacki represents a chance to get back into the world title picture after his only reign as world heavyweight champion ended in extremely quick fashion with a second-round TKO loss to Anthony Joshua. Since then, Martin scored quick TKO victories against journeyman-level fighters, but hasn’t been active in more than a year.
Despite this, Martin is still ranked by the WBC and a victory over fellow-ranked Kownacki could be the true catalyst for another run at a world title down the line once the dust settles in the three-man war between Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
On the other side, Kownacki has spent his entire pro career fighting in the United States. A common fixture on promoter Lou DiBella’s New York boxing card, Kownacki has developed a following in the city as a knockout artist, but he’s still somewhat untested at this point. Although Kownacki has not fought a true contender yet, a win over a former world champion from two years ago on television will give the undefeated heavyweight’s resume a solid boost as he could emerge as a potential contender a year from now.
While the main event has the WBC welterweight title at stake, the co-main event, Yordenis Ugas vs. Cesar Barrionuevo in a WBC eliminator, could provide a mandatory challenger for that title.
Ugas is perhaps one of the welterweight division’s best stories of the past year and arguably the non-champion with the most momentum inside the welterweight division. After winning 15 of his first 16 fights, Ugas’ career was stopped in its tracks after consecutive losses to Emmanuel Robles and Amir Imam in 2014, Ugas was away from the sport for two years. After returning in 2016, Ugas returned to winning fights again and then was handed the opportunity of a lifetime: headlining the FOX undercard portion of the historic Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing fight last year.
The fight wasn’t even supposed to have Ugas in it as it was supposed to be Shawn Porter facing Thomas Dulorme in the main event. But after Porter had to withdraw from the fight, Ugas was inserted into the fight and then turned in one of the better performances of the night.
Since that fight, Ugas started to emerge as a potential top 10 welterweight with a television wwin over Ray Robinson back in February. Now riding a seven-fight win streak, Ugas could emerge as the next challenger for the WBC welterweight title with a win over Barrionuevo.
The 29-year-old Barrionuevo has never really popped up on anyone’s radar as a top 10 welterweight. Fighting mostly in his native country of Argentina, Barrionuevo has won a number of national and regional titles in his near-decade long career, winning 34 of his 39 pro fights.
While Barrionuevo has achieved a top 10 ranking in the WBC’s welterweight rankings, certainly no small feat, he hasn’t really been tested, or rather has never had a chance to be tested. Barrionuevo will be fighting in the United States for the first time as a pro and he will be facing one of the hottest welterweights around. Defeating Ugas will not only validate Barrionuevo as a legit welterweight, but also put him in position to become the first Argentine boxer to win a world title since Sergio Martinez.
All in all, this will provide fans at the Barclays Center and tuning into Showtime one of the biggest nights of boxing in New York in 2018. But don’t take it from me, as DiBella, who knows the New York boxing scene as well as anyone, told me recently that he’s looking to this card as much as any card he’s promoted in recent memory.
“Everything else on this card is important, has significance, history being made. There’s going to be a major contender, either Martin again or Kownacki in the heavyweight division. It’s a great, great card, headlined by two great champions in Garcia and Porter. It’s another great card in the run of great cards that Showtime Boxing and Brooklyn Boxing has done,” DiBella said.
When it’s all said and done, September 8 could end up being a truly memorable night at the Barclays Center.