Sweet Science Takes Spotlight in UFC-Free Weekend

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A midweek holiday creates chaos for everyone. With the Independence Day holiday happening on Thursday, many employees inside the United States are taking a short work week this week if they’re even heading into their place of business at all.

The extended holiday weekend brings with it the possibility to expose new sets of eyes to longstanding combat sports promotions. Although MMA is largely taking this week off, aside from ONE Championship on Friday and the LFA on Saturday, there’s still plenty of competitive violence to be watched.

This weekend, fans of the sweet science are going to be in heaven. Three boxing cards will take place on Saturday night. If you like knockouts, this weekend is for you.

A Rescheduled Rematch in Anaheim

First up in your itinerary on a UFC-free Saturday night is the renewal of a rivalry formed in the famous Octagon. Onetime UFC BMF contender Nate Diaz (0-1 boxing,) who went 36-16 in MMA, will return to the squared circle for the second time to fight Jorge Masvidal (boxing debut), who posted a record of 35-17 during his MMA career, in a pay-per-view main event.

Dubbed Last Man Standing (no relation to the former situation comedy), this card is a rescheduling of a postponed event that was originally slated to take place on June 1 in Inglewood, CA at the Kia Forum. That June 1 date was scrubbed so as to not coincide with UFC 302 from Prudential Center. More on the Prudential Center’s plans for this weekend a little later on.

On May 13, it was revealed that Honda Center in Anaheim was named as the new host venue for the rebooked card available on Fanmio PPV, as well as through pay-per-view for subscribers to UFC Fight Pass. It’s a 10-round fight at three minutes per round.

Diaz/Masvidal Series So Far

Heading into their rematch in the squared circle, the all-time series between Diaz and Masvidal stands at 1-0 in favor of the latter. Back in November of 2019, during UFC 244, Jorge Masvidal scored a third-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage) after Nate Diaz’s cut was too severe to allow the fight to continue at Madison Square Garden.

Less than five years later, Diaz and Masvidal meet on the left coast. Only time will tell how the rematch plays out when the enclosure switches from an octagon to a ring.

Golden Boy Returns With 12-Round Non-Title Main Event in Ontario, CA

The Golden State of California may as well be the de facto “home” of boxing over the holiday weekend. Not only will Honda Center in Anaheim be the site of the Diaz/Masvidal rematch, a 49-minute drive by car leads you to nearby Ontario, CA.

There, the Toyota Arena will play host to another Saturday night of action from Oscar de la Hoya‘s Golden Boy Boxing. While there won’t be any titles at stake in the Golden Boy card, those who tune into DAZN will be treated to a 12-round headlining bout.

In it, you’ll see No. 1 contender William Zepeda (30-0, 26 KOs) taking on 10th-ranked Giovanni Cabrera (22-1, 7 KOs). This should be an interesting 12 rounds (or less) of pugilism on Saturday night. Both men are coming in off of wins in their last fights and both are southpaws.

Prudential Center Hosts Top Rank Twin-Bill to Cap Big Saturday Night

Finally, the boxing world tour reaches its last stop for the weekend when Top Rank heads eastward to Prudential Center for another ESPN card. Without a UFC Fight Night to go up against it, the Disney-owned cabler focuses its full attention to action inside the squared circle two days after the Fourth of July.

Live action begins Saturday evening at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT on ESPN+ with the undercard before switching to ESPN proper at 8:30 pm ET/ 5:30 pm PT with the main card immediately following coverage of an NBA Summer League California Classic doubleheader. Two WBC title fights are at the top of the bill on The Worldwide Leader.

First up, the WBC Junior Lightweight Championship is up for grabs when current champion O’Shaquie Foster (22-2, 12 KOs) squares off against challenger and No. 1 contender Robson Conceiao (18-2-1, 1 NC, 9 KOs) in a 12-round contest. Immediately following, the WBC Lightweight Championship will be at stake in the fight between incumbent titleholder Shakur Stevenson (21-0, 10 KOS) and challenger and No. 7 contender Artem Harutyunyan (12-1, 7 KOs).

Saturday Shaping Up to Be a Great Night

These are the Saturday nights that most combat sports fans salivate over and dream about all year long. While these types of evenings don’t come around very often, when they do, it’s something to make note of on the calendar.

Between the three cards, you have two world championships at stake, a 12-round showcase bout, and two UFC veterans settling the score. One must wonder if there’s any more entertainment that can be crammed into an evening on the back-end of a holiday weekend.

If you’ve got relatives in town for the Fourth of July and they’re thinking about going out that evening, pull them aside and convince them to stay in and watch the fights on your TV or mobile device.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t too often that boxing promotions get a Saturday night all to themselves, but with the UFC taking a bye week before heading to Denver, this is the sweet science’s biggest chance to impress so far this year. The final decision on what to watch is yours.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.