What: Tevin Farmer vs. Jono Carroll, Junior LightweightsWhen: March 15
How to Watch: DAZN 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Jono Carroll is a next generation bum of the month, or the man to end Tevin Farmer’s Gervonta Davis dreams.
Everybody talks about fighting Tevin Farmer, but nobody does. Gervonta "Tank" Davis, for example has been engaged in a twitter war with the IBF super featherweight champion out of Philadelphia for months, and reports are that Eddie Hearn is offering him $5 million to fight Farmer, and unify their titles. Even with that kind of an offer, it is highly doubtful that fight happens anytime soon. What is happening is Tevin Farmer fighting anyone willing to face him.
Like Joe Louis’ famed “bum of the month club,” Farmer has been fighting at an incredibly frequent rate against whatever fighters are available. He is the most active world champion in boxing, with this being his third title defense in five months, as Farmer himself has noted, “I’m fighting more than anyone and I’m winning. I’ve probably defended my title more times since winning it than some champions that have had the belt for two years.”
So, while Farmer stays busy waiting for Gervonta Davis, he will next face Ireland’s Jono Carroll. The question is if Carroll is just another stay-busy bum. At 16-0-1, but with only three knockouts it would appear Carroll will need to outbox Farmer, who hasn’t lost in seven years, and considering Carroll struggled in a draw against Guillaume Frenois in Francois’ first ever fight outside of France, it’s hard to see him coming to the USA and beating Farmer.
Tevin Farmer keeps fighting while waiting for one of the big names in boxing, we’ll see if Jono Carroll can prove he should have kept waiting.
What: Katie Taylor vs. Rose Volante, Women’s LightweightsWhen: March 15
How to Watch: DAZN 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because a three-title unification bout should be getting far more attention than it is.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor is a former Olympic gold medalist who is the female WBA and IBF lightweight champion of the world. As a professional, her record is a perfect 12-0 with five knockouts. On Friday, she will be fighting Rose Volante, the WBO female champion of the world, who is also perfect as a professional at 14-0 with eight knockouts.
A unification fight between two undefeated lightweight champions with knockout rates hovering around fifty percent needs to get more attention, for female boxing as well as male. Ronda Rousey’s success in the UFC gave the sport an immediate boost in mainstream media attention and may well be one of the reasons that the UFC is making a run at boxing in terms of worldwide popularity. But, when it comes to the long-term success of boxing, women’s fights like these need to attract attention for male boxing.
If the best fight the best in women’s boxing, and nobody watches, then why would the best male boxers fight each other? If a women’s lightweight unification bout doesn’t sell, then why would male boxers try to unify their titles instead of fighting big name, bad record fighters like Adrien Broner and Amir Khan? The answer is simple, they won’t.
If boxing is going to right itself as a sport, boxing fans need to watch fights like Katie Taylor-Rose Valante.
What: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia, WelterweightsWhen: March 16 How to Watch: Fox PPV 9 p.m. ET Why You Should Care: To see what Mikey Garcia’s plan is.
Why is Mikey Garcia doing this? Why would the WBC and IBF lightweight champion of the world move up in weight 12 pounds to challenge Errol Spence Jr., the IBF welterweight champion who is a -400 favorite in the fight? There are three options.
Option One: Garcia knows he won’t likely win but doesn’t care if he loses.
The fight for Mikey Garcia has been and remains a lightweight unification bout with Vasyl Lomachenko. However, most people believe Lomachenko is to good, and would beat Mikey Garcia. So, if Mikey Garcia wants to maximize his money and fame, jumping up in weight and taking on Spence accomplishes that whether he wins or loses. Think about it, if Garcia loses this fight after being fawned over for his bravery because of the weight jump, he won’t have lost much at all. More people will know who he is, he will still have gotten paid big PPV money, and he can always say “well I guess I’m not big enough for this weight class, I’ll have to go fight Lomachenko” to thunderous applause, as that big money fight would remain essentially untainted. It’s very possible this is a no-lose situation for Garcia.
Option Two: Garcia can’t make lightweight anymore and doesn’t see anybody worth fighting at 140.
While it’s true that Mikey Garcia fights at lightweight, where he holds two titles, he has fought at 140 before. In March 2018 Garcia beat Sergey Lipinets for the IBF title at 140 but dropped the title immediately. The reason Garcia became a lightweight was because, as he acknowledged in 2014, his weight can get as high as 161 pounds. If Garcia was struggling to make 130 and ballooning to 161 at 26 years old, it wouldn’t be shocking that at 31 he can’t consistently hit 135 anymore. Maybe Garcia plans to move up in weight, but didn’t see anybody at 140 with big enough name so figured he’d fight Errol Spence Jr.
Option 3: Garcia really thinks he can win.
Or, maybe Mikey Garcia just thinks he can win. All week, rather than talk about fighting at welterweight Mikey Garcia and his trainer have spoken about how “basic” Spence is, how Robert Easter Jr. was taller than Spence, and how easy it was to find sparring partners to mimic him. So, maybe he sees some flaws in Spence that most people (including Ronnie Shields and Paulie Malignaggi) don’t. While the overwhelming majority of boxing media favor Spence, he does have some believers. Ring Magazine’s Tom Gray thinks he will win, as does Teddy Atlas, Craig Scott over at thefightcity.com, and ESPN’s Steve Kim. Maybe this will be De La Hoya-Pacquiao all over again, and everybody pushing the “too big, too strong” narrative will be embarrassed by the end of the night.
On Saturday night, we’ll find out just what Garcia was thinking all along.
What: David Benavidez vs. J'Leon Love, Super MiddleweightsWhen: March 16
How to Watch: Fox PPV 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if David Benavidez can right his career, or if J’Leon Love can create one.
David Benavidez’s poor life choices have cost him in a major way. Once the WBC Super Middleweight champion of the world, Benavidez tested positive for cocaine and was stripped of his title and suspended for four months. As a result, Benavidez hasn’t fought in over a year, but at 20-0 with 17 knockouts, and having won a world title already many believe the 22-year-old is still a future force in the division.
J’Leon Love isn’t so lucky. 31 years old and sporting a 24-2 record including a loss to Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, the former Olympian is still looking to make good on the promise that he once had. His career has largely been a disappointment, including testing positive for a banned diuretic after a draw with Gabriel Rosado, and a bad KO loss to Rogelio Medina that had Love twitching on the ground and nearly stumbling through the ropes. Any chance ha has to create the career he once thought he would have, needs to begin with a win over Benavidez this weekend.
So, on Saturday we will see if David Benavidez can return to the career he had before a bad decision, or if J’Leon Love can create the career he always thought he would.
What: Michael Conlan vs. Ruben Garcia Hernandez, FeatherweightsWhen: March 17
How to Watch: ESPN+ 6 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Mick Conlan should have saved a tough matchup like this for another day.
You know how college football teams always schedule a terrible opponent for their homecoming game? All the co-eds get to pregame and party, then cheer on their team in an easy win over somebody like Samford or Alcorn State. All the backups get to play in front of their parents, and everybody starts thinking their quarterback can win the Heisman or that they could beat Alabama.
Well, Ruben Garcia Hernandez is no Samford. Yes, over the course of a two-year professional career, Mick Conlan has established his St. Patrick’s Day cards in Madison Square Garden as huge New York City events, where special guest appearances by guys like Conor McGregor happen, and Conlan always gets the knockout win. That’s how it has been the last two St. Patrick’s Day cards, and that’s how Conlan would like it to be again.
But Ruben Garcia Hernandez can end that festive celebration quickly. Hernandez is 24-3 with 10 knockouts, and has only lost to Nonito Donaire, Rafael Rivera and Randy Caballero. And while Conlan believes he is on a higher level than Hernandez, he acknowledges that he come-forward brawler will make him answer some questions about himself that he has yet to ask as a professional.
Mick Conlan has established his St. Patrick’s Day fights as the go-to event on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City. But Ruben Garcia Hernandez is nobody’s homecoming opponent.