Showtime Boxing Report Card: High Stakes Matchup’s in Montreal
By Tyson Bruce
Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara
Match Up: B
Despite being considered a showcase fight for Stevenson, Fonfara is a legitimate light heavyweight contender that is deserving of a title shot. This is not a Kovalev-Agnew situation where Agnew was a virtual unknown without a single notable victory. The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board has Fonfara ranked number five in the division. Still, Fonfara is a big underdog for a reason: he’s been knocked out and is a very straightforward, predictable fighter. That’s bad news against a guy like Stevenson, who the late great Emanuel Steward called, “the best natural puncher [he’d] ever trained.” Fonfara doesn’t represent Mt. Everest for Stevenson but it’s a solid title defense with an appealing styles matchup.
Anytime you have the lineal champion of a major division fighting it’s a big deal. Combine that with the tabloid controversy created by Stevenson’s exodus from HBO to Showtime and you’ve got a pretty darn important fight. If Stevenson is victorious a matchup with the legendary Bernard Hopkins is basically a formality. If Fonfara were to do the unthinkable and upset Stevenson it would completely alter the face of the division. In other words, it’s a high stakes fight.
David Lemieux vs. Fernando Guerrero:
Of all the televised fights on this weekends Showtime card the Lemieux-Guerrero bout is the most evenly matched. It pits two guys who have unquestionable firepower but who have not always proved the most durable. Both guys were among the most highly regarded prospects in the sport until each suffering a pair of upset defeats. Lemieux is among the best pure punchers in all of boxing and clearly possesses the edge in strength and punching power. In order to win Guerrero will have to box an extremely disciplined fight that will exploit his edge in hand speed and athleticism.
This is truly a make or brake fight for both guys. Both Lemieux and Guerrero have failed whenever attempting to take that next big step in their careers. The winner will become a genuine contender in a middleweight division that is wide open for business. Despite their relative youth, the loser will likely enter into gatekeeper territory. That is one hell of an incentive for victory.
Jermell Charlo vs. Charlie Oka:
This is one of the those strange title eliminator fights where one guy is a legitimate contender and the other is some guy from an exotic country that nobody has ever seen fight. Jermell Charlo is coming off a virtuoso boxing performance against Gabe Rosado and can put himself in a mandatory position for the IBF title if he is to defeat the little known Japanese contender Charlie Ota. Ota has a sterling record but a deeper investigation shows that it’s built on a bevy of soft opposition. When asked about the mysterious origins of his opponent Charlo replied, “I just know that he comes to fight and that I need to go out there and destroy him.” On paper that looks like exactly what might happen.
The sole reason this fight is taking place is to establish a mandatory challenger for Carlos Molina’s IBF championship. Molina was recently incarcerated for a sex offence with a minor that was committed years previously and has subsequently been deported to Mexico. Whether the winner would actually go to Mexico to fight Molina is anyone’s guess. But a title shot is the ultimate goal for any professional boxer so that makes it a very important fight. For Charlo it’s also a chance to showcase his talent to an international audience and build a following in the boxing crazed Montreal. If Ota were victorious it would be an upset of epic proportions and one that would transform him into a top contender virtually over night.