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TV Picks of The Week: Richardson Hitchins-Gustavo Lemos, Plus Six More Shows

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Pick It: Richardson Hitchins vs. Gustavo Lemos

When to watch: Saturday, April 6. The prelims begin at 5:40 p.m. Eastern Time; the main broadcast begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Time

How to watch: DAZN

Why to watch: Hitchins and Lemos are two undefeated junior welterweight contenders who are fighting for a title shot — and to be in the mix in a division full of other young talent.

Their fight, which headlines at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, is an elimination bout for the IBF belt currently held by Subriel Matias. As much as we criticize the sanctioning bodies (and they do deserve it), the world titles can open up opportunities. Josh Taylor had been the undisputed champion, owner of all four world titles. He vacated or was stripped of three of them, then lost the fourth — and the lineal championship — to Teofimo Lopez.

What that means is that instead of gridlock as fighters waited for a shot at the king, they’re vying for their own fiefdoms.

Hitchins, a 26-year-old from New York City, is coming off his biggest victory yet, though not his most entertaining. He shut out former titleholder Jose Zepeda on two of three judges’ scorecards last September; the third judge gave Zepeda only one round. The victory moved Hitchins’ record to 17-0 (7 KOs).

“I know this is a show business,” Hitchins said afterward. “I know I gotta be more exciting.”

Lemos’ style is fan-friendly. It’ll be interesting to see how Hitchins approaches him.

Lemos, a 28-year-old from Buenos Aires, is 29-0 with 19 KOs. His entire pro career until now has taken place in Argentina. He hasn’t been overly active in the past few years, going 11 months between a win in April 2021 and a March 2022 technical knockout of former featherweight titleholder Lee Selby. That put him in line for a title shot at 135, but Lemos had weight problems, according to Diego Morilla of RingTV.com. Lemos then didn’t fight again until December 2023, and he only got in 50 seconds of action that night while putting away Javier Jose Clavero.

The Hitchins-Lemos winner will be included in a long list of junior welterweights. There are the four titleholders — Lopez (WBO belt and lineal champ), Isaac Cruz (WBA), the winner of this month’s fight between Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia (WBC), and the winner of Matias’ fight in June against Liam Paro (IBF). And there are plenty of contenders, former titleholders, recent title challengers and prospects such as — in alphabetical order — Adam Azim, Arnold Barboza, Jack Catterall, Lindolfo Delgado, Shohjahon Ergashev, Batyrzhan Jukembayev, Brandun Lee, Sandor Martin, Ernesto Mercado, Jose Ramirez, Gary Antuanne Russell, Kenneth Sims Jr., Dalton Smith, and Taylor.

More Top Fights to Watch

The undercard for Hitchins vs. Lemos includes a women’s featherweight title fight between Skye Nicolson and Sarah Mahfoud, plus a few notable prospects: Diego Pacheco, Marc Castro and Galal Yafai.

Nicolson vs. Mahfoud is for the WBC title vacated by Amanda Serrano, formerly the undisputed champion at 126. Serrano wants to fight 12 three-minute rounds, while the WBC’s rules for women’s fights calls for 10 two-minute rounds.

Nicolson, a 2020 Olympian representing Australia, now fights out of London. The 28-year-old is coming off the first knockout win of her career, a ninth-round stoppage of Lucy Wildheart last November that brought Nicolson’s record to 9-0 (1 KO).

Mahfoud, 14-1 (3 KOs), is a former titleholder who captured the IBF belt in 2022 against Nina Meinke but then lost it to Serrano five months later. The 34-year-old from Denmark has notched three straight victories since, including a shutout of Marcela Eliana Acuna last October.

Pacheco, a 23-year-old super middleweight from Los Angeles, is 20-0 (17 KOs). He’s coming off a ninth-round knockout of Marcelo Coceres last November. Pacheco’s opponent, Shawn McCalman, is also undefeated at 15-0 (7 KOs). The 30-year-old from Colorado’s recent victories include decisions over Money Powell IV and Cristian Olivas.

Castro, a 24-year-old junior lightweight from Fresno, California, had an accomplished amateur career and is now 11-0 (8 KOs) as a pro. His last appearance was in November, a TKO7 of Gonzalo Fuenzalida. Castro faces Abraham Montoya, a 29-year-old from Mexicali, Mexico. In 2018, Montoya took a split decision over future featherweight titleholder Luis Alberto Lopez, though his fortunes have taken a downward turn lately. Montoya lost three in a row in a 12-month span but has picked up two wins since, bringing his record to 22-5-1 (14 KOs).

And rounding out this card is Yafai, a flyweight who won gold in the 2020 Olympics. The 31-year-old from Birmingham, England, is 6-0 (4 KOs) and coming off a December decision over Rocco Santomauro. Yafai continues to face experienced opposition, more advanced than others at this early stage of their pro career, but fitting choices given his age, acclaim and compressed timeline. This time he meets Agustin Mauro Gauto, a 26-year-old from Buenos Aires who is 21-1 (15 KOs). Gauto suffered a TKO2 loss in 2022 but has won four straight since, including a TKO3 win over Ernesto Martinez in January.

Additional Shows For You Boxing Addicts

Thursday, April 4: Jose Tito Sanchez vs. Erik Ruiz (DAZN, undercard begins at 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Sanchez, a 24-year-old from California, is an unbeaten junior featherweight/featherweight prospect with a record of 12-0 (7 KOs). In the main event of this show in Indio, essentially in front of Sanchez’s hometown crowd, he’ll face Ruiz, a 32-year-old veteran whose record of 17-10-1 (7 KOs) is full of defeats against recognizable names. Among those Ruiz has lost to — though never been stopped by — are Jessie Magdaleno, Daniel Roman, Rico Ramos, Diego De La Hoya, and Angelo Leo.

Thursday, April 4: Jordan Panthen vs. Ravshan Hudaynazarov (TrillerTV pay-per-view, 10 p.m. Eastern Time)

Panthen, a 27-year-old middleweight with a record of 7-0 (6 KOs), headlines this card in Costa Mesa, California. He faces Hudaynazarov, 19-5 (14 KOs). The 39-year-old was last seen two years ago, dropping a unanimous decision to Joey Spencer.

Friday, April 5: Ernesto Mercado vs. Deiner Berrio (DAZN, 7 p.m. Eastern Time)

Mercado, a junior welterweight who is 14-0 (13 KOs), has a few recognizable names on his record: the aged versions of Jayson Velez (KO6 in 2022) and Henry Lundy (KO1 in 2023), as well as divisional measuring sticks such as Xolisani Ndongeni (UD10 in 2023) and Jeremia Nakathila (KO2 in 2023). 

The 22-year-old from California shares this main event in Houston with Berrio, who is 22-4-1 (13 KOs). Berrio, a 33-year-old originally from Colombia and now fighting out of Los Angeles, has become a test for up-and-comers. He’s dropped four of his last six, and all four of those losses came against foes who were unbeaten at the time and went on to varying degrees of success, or a lack thereof.

None of them stopped Berrio. Mercado will hope to do better than the rest on Friday night — and better from there on out as well.

Friday, April 5: Erick Rosa vs. Yudel Reyes (TrillerTV, start time TBA)

Rosa is an unbeaten contender moving up to the 108-pound division after a few years down at 105. The 24-year-old is from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and that means he’ll be headlining at home on this card. Rosa’s last appearance was in August, a TKO8 of Orlando Pino, bringing his record to 6-0 (2 KOs). 

Reyes, a 27-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, lost to Oscar Collazo in an elimination bout at strawweight at the start of 2023, then returned with a TKO8 of Jose Calderon Cervantes last may. Reyes is now 16-2 (6 KOs).

Saturday, April 6: Jimerr Espinosa vs. Angel Martinez Hernandez (ESPN+ for the United States and Canada, 8 p.m. Eastern Time. This show will air on TVC Deportes in Mexico and DAZN for the rest of the world)

Espinosa, a 26-year-old junior welterweight fighting out of Mexico City, is headlining in nearby Naucalpan. He is coming off his first fight outside of his country, a split decision loss to unbeaten Delante “Tiger” Johnson — a 2020 Olympian — this past December on the undercard of a Top Rank show. That brought Espinosa’s record to 15-2 (14 KOs). 

He faces Martinez Hernandez, a 25-year-old from Mexicali who is 15-3-2 (14 KOs). Those losses include a fifth-round TKO defeat to Shohjahon Ergashev in 2022 and the short end of a unanimous decision in his last appearance, against David Moreno Potrero last April.

Saturday, April 6: Richie Rivera vs. Matthew Obinna (StarBoxing.TV, start time TBA)

Rivera, known not only for being nicknamed “Popeye the Sailor Man” but also for dressing up like the famed cartoon character on the way to the ring, will headline in front of his home-state crowd at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 33-year-old light heavyweight from the capital city of Hartford is 25-2 (19 KOs). That first loss came at cruiserweight via split decision to Badou Jack in 2022. After notching four straight wins, Rivera suffered his second defeat in his last outing, dropping a majority decision to Luis Antonio Tejeda just last month.

Obinna has fought his entire career in Ghana and his native Nigeria, going 23-0 (23 KOs). On paper, at least, this will be a step up in opposition for the 36-year-old from Lagos.

Follow David Greisman on Twitter @FightingWords2. His book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” is available on Amazon.

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