Thursday, December 9 in Newark, NJ (Integrated PPV):
Tomasz Adamek (42-1, 27 KOs) vs. Vinny Maddalone (33-6, 24 KOs), heavyweights (201+ lb.)
Prediction: Adamek by TKO
Unlike his last bout against Michael Grant, this isn't as much a Klitschko prep class for the Polish Adamek as it is an adopted hometown showcase against another local favorite. Former Toughman Maddalone has had a loyal following but also a track record of not being in the class of the elite. With inferior skill and speed and no significant size advantage, Maddalone will serve his purpose of helping fill the seats while making Adamek look and feel good in his continuing pursuit for a world title shot.
Saturday, December 11 in Las Vegas (HBO):
WBA Champ Amir Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) vs. Marcos Maidana (29-1, 27 KOs), junior welterweights (140 lb.)
Prediction: Khan by TKO
On paper, this makes for a very intriguing contest: Khan, a highly-skilled boxer with a very suspect chin, versus Maidana, a rough brawler susceptible to getting outboxed where he fails to impose himself. One might expect a classic boxer-brawler bout, with constant drama about whether Khan can survive 12 rounds with the Argentine and an assumption that he'll get the decision if he can. With less skill, speed and size though, Maidana seems tailor-made for Khan. Instead of a terrific even battle between polar opposites, this could turn into another Amir Khan coming out party.
Victor Ortiz (28-2-1, 22 KOs) vs. Lamont Peterson (28-1, 14 KOs), junior welterweights (140 lb.)
Prediction: Ortiz by decision
Ortiz was one of the several young stars HBO crowned the sport's next generation before they earned such a moniker, and like the others he suffered a rude awakening when facing a veteran who refused to lay down. In Ortiz's case, Maidana refused to play the chosen opponent role and ferociously fought back when Ortiz attacked. Ortiz waved the white flag, prompting legitimate questions about what he'll do when the going gets tough in the future. Though an interesting opponent with a real chance to win, Peterson probably won't put Ortiz in a position where his mettle gets tested again.
Saturday December 11 in Tacoma, Wash. (Showtime):
IBF Champ Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1, 14 KOs) vs. Joseph Agbeko (27-2, 22 KOs, bantamweights (118 lb.)
Prediction: Perez by decision
Just because Perez won a fairly comfortable decision in their first fight last year doesn't necessarily mean to expect a replica this time. In addition to that one being competitive throughout, boxers have historically had some trouble duplicating wins against the same opponents, whether that's due to a lack of motivation or some other factor. Yet, with more strength, skill and discipline, Perez remains the favorite to reach the bantamweight tournament final.
Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs) vs. Vic Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KOs), bantamweights (118 lb.)
Prediction: Mares by decision
The fact that Mares fought Perez to a stand still draw, and Perez soundly defeated Agbeko who easily beat Darchinyan in and of itself means nothing with respect to the outcome here. Anyone who doesn't get that with all due respect doesn't know boxing or its history. Also, Darchinyan has some history of developing ways to get to skilled boxers, most notably when he annihilated Cristian Mijares. Having said that, Mares brings a complete package as a boxer-puncher and is entering his prime. Unless "The Raging Bull" finds a home for his devastating left hand, he's in for a long, painful 36 minutes.