By: William Holmes
Saturday’s Golden Boy Promotions card from Indio, California will be the last major US televised boxing card before next week’s Mayweather vs. Alvarez PPV event. It features an intriguing matchup in the junior featherweight division between Rafael Marquez and Efrain Esquivias as well as a heavyweight title between Seth Mitchell and Cristobal Arreola.
As the Klitschko brothers get older, it’s refreshing to see heavyweight fighters get main event status on US television again. The competition beneath the Klitschko brothers is fierce and extremely competitive.
The following is a preview of both televised bouts:
Rafael Marquez (41-8) vs. Efrain Esquivias (16-2-1); Junior Featherweights
Early on in his career, Rafael Marquez was considered by many to have a higher ceiling for potential than his more famous older brother, Juan Manuel Marquez. But a brutal trilogy with Israel Vazquez took its toll on the younger Marquez. Rafael is now struggling to remain relevant, but he has an opponent that he should be able to handle on Saturday night.
Efrain Esquivias is roughly the same height as Marquez but nowhere near as tested. He won the National Golden Gloves Championships in the bantamweight division in 2006 so he does have an impressive amateur background, but his professional record so far is only ok.
Esquivias has stopped nine of his opponents, but it pales in comparison to the knockout ratio of Marquez. Marquez has stopped an eye opening 37 of his 41 opponents. Esquivias also has not won one bout in his past four matches. He had a technical draw in his last bout against the sub .500 in Victor Sanchez when the bout was stopped due to a cut. He lost a decision to Jhonatan Romero last year. Romero is the same fighter that was exposed and blown out by Kiko Martinez last month in Atlantic City. He also lost a majority decision to former world champion Rico Ramos.
His list of impressive victories is short. He defeated Fernando Beltran in November of 2011 and Juan Ruiz in August of 2011. His other victories were against less than impressive fighters.
The biggest disadvantage Marquez will have coming into the ring is age. He’s thirty-eight years old and he has gone 2-3 in his last five fights. Marquez has fought as high as the featherweight division, but the junior featherweight division is better suited for him.
Marquez is probably the most experienced and battle tested boxer in the junior featherweight division. His losses were to all notable opponents: Cristian Mijuares, Toshiaki Nishioka, Juan Manuel Lopez, Israel Vazquez (X2), and Victor Rabanales.
Marquez has also defeated some noteworthy opponents. He has beaten the likes of Israel Vazquez (X2), Silence Mabuza (X2), Tim Austin and Marc Johnson.
Marquez is a faded fighter, but he is still a dangerous one. He has looked shaky in recent bouts, but he should be able to use his ring experience to win against Efrain Esquivias.
Cristobal Arreola (35-3) vs. Seth Mitchell (26-1-1); Heavyweights
There is a very small chance of this fight going all twelve rounds. Mitchell has stopped 19 of his opponents while Arreola has stopped 30 of his opponents. Both fighters show little regard for defense at times and are willing to go toe to toe in the center of the ring and exchange.
Mitchell’s prior collegiate football career and lack of significant amateur experience is well known. His power will always be a threat for any opponent, but his chin can be considered “questionable.”
Mitchell surprisingly fought cautiously against Johnathon Banks in their rematch and picked up a close decision after being knocked out by Banks early in their first bout. Still, Mitchell was seriously rocked again early in the Banks rematch, and Banks later claimed a hand injury prevented him from going all out for the win.
Mitchell’s only other impressive victories were against Chazz Witherspoon and Timur Ibragimov.
Mitchell’s only defeat came by knockout to Banks, and Arreola is a much harder puncher than Banks.
Arreola has considerable more experience than Banks. He won the National Golden Gloves before turning pro and has been competing as a professional since 2003. Four of his last five victories have come by stoppage. His defeats were to Bermane Stiverne in his last bout, Tomasz Adamek in 2010, and Vitali Klitschko in 2009. In all of those bouts, Arreola’s conditioning was less than ideal.
This time, trainer Henry Ramirez removed Arreola from his usual California stomping grounds, taking him as a virtual prisoner to Phoenix to train with no way to escape (Henry held the only car key). In contrast to the Stiverne match, where Arreola barely trained, this time he should be firing on all cylinders.
Arreola has never been knocked out and can take a good punch and recover. Even though Arreola has never held a legitimate heavyweight belt, he has faced some of the best in the heavyweight division. He has defeated the likes of Eric Molina, Nagy Aguilera, Joey Abell, Brian Minto, Jameel McCline, Travis Walker, and Thomas Hayes.
If Mitchell can avoid the big punches of Arreola early and fight smart and cautiously all twelve rounds he should be able to pull off the decision. But Arreola is much more aggressive and powerful than the only man to have even defeated Mitchell. Arreola is also more experienced and not yet past his prime.
It’s unlikely that Mitchell will be able to avoid a slugfest with Arreola. Arreola should be able to get the stoppage on Saturday night.