This Weekend in Sports: Pacquiao vs. Marquez, Army vs. Navy
One of the biggest boxing matches of the year, the return of UFC to Fox and a storied college football rivalry highlight the upcoming sports calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, December 7
Caesars, Atlantic City, N.J.; 7 p.m. (ET) on MTV 2
Southpaw Rad Martinez takes on Shahbulat Shamhalaev for the featherweight championship on Friday in Atlantic City. Martinez is skilled, but Shamhalaev is exceptionally quick and strong. Jessica Eye vs. Zoila Gurgel and Anthony Leone vs. Zach Makovsky are two of the best fights on the undercard.
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Okla.; 9:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Los Angeles (9-10) faces Oklahoma City (15-4) in a match of Western Conference powers. The Lakers could be without forward Pau Gasol, who missed the past two games with knee tendonitis. Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant is averaging an NBA-best 27.9 points per game. On Wednesday, he became the fourth NBA player to score 30,000 points in his career. The Thunder are on a season-best six-game win streak.
Saturday, Dec. 8
Army vs. Navy
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 3 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Navy (7-4) has won 10 straight in its long series against Army (2-9). These service academies will meet for the 113th time on Saturday. The Midshipmen move the ball with an effective ground attack, and the Cadets have had problems stopping the run all season long. While this is Army’s last game of the season, Navy will play against Arizona State in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco Dec. 29.
Temple vs. (2) Duke
Izod Center, East Rutherford, N.J.; 3:15 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Led by guard Khalif Wyatt, Temple (6-0) is off to its best start since 1987-88. The Owls will face Duke (8-0), which has a 19-1 lifetime record at the East Rutherford arena. Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee pace the Blue Devils attack.
UCLA at Texas
Reliant Stadium, Houston; 5:15 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
UCLA (5-3) has had a difficult start to the 2012-13 season. The Bruins are unranked as they face Texas (5-3) at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Jordan Adams and highly-touted freshman Shabazz Muhammad lead UCLA, while Sheldon McClellan is the Longhorns’ go-to scorer.
(13) Illinois at (10) Gonzaga
McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.; 10 p.m. (ET) on ESPN-2
Illinois (9-0) travels to Gonzaga (9-0), as two solid college basketball programs compete in an early-season bracket-buster game. Guard Brandon Paul leads the Illini in both points and assists per game. Gonzaga is 110-7 in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
MGM Grand, Las Vegas; 9 p.m. (ET) on HBO PPV
Welterweights Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2) and Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1) have fought three, epic 12-round fights since 2004. Perhaps the greatest fighter of his generation, Pacquiao is 2-0-1 in the three bouts, but he has struggled to defeat Marquez. Their fourth match won’t be a title fight, but that won’t matter to either boxer. Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Michael Farenas, Miguel Vazquez vs. Mercito Gesta, and Javier Fortuna vs. Patrick Hyland are among the fights on the undercard.
UFC on Fox 5: Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
KeyArena, Seattle; 8 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Current UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson fights Nate Diaz with the title on the line. Diaz is talented and aggressive, and Henderson is riding high after taking out Frankie Edgar twice. Fights between B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald and Alexander Gustafsson vs. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua highlight a start-studded undercard.
Sunday, Dec. 9
New Orleans Saints at N.Y. Giants
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Drew Brees and New Orleans (5-7) look to extend the Giants’ recent woes. New York (7-5) has its own high-powered offense led by quarterback Eli Manning. The Saints defense gives up 440.5 yards per game, the most in the league.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers — 8:20 P.M.
Lambeau Field, Detroit; 8:20 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Detroit (4-8) sends quarterback Matthew Stafford and the NFC’s top-ranked offense against a Green Bay (8-4) defense that rushes the passer very well. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes in his team’s 24-20 win over the Lions in Week 11.