by B.A. Cass
This Saturday at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Mayweather Promotions brings us some interesting fights—well, potentially interesting. The fights will air on Bounce TV starting at 9 PM EST. I’m particularly excited to watch the main event between Julian Williams an Ishe Smith and the undercard fight between Earl Newman and Lionell Thompson. Here’s why.
Earl Newman (10-0-1) vs. Lionell Thompson (18-4); 10 rounds; light Heavyweight
In September, after a layoff of nearly a year, Newman fought Paul Parker, a contest that ended in a draw. Newman is a two-time New York Golden Gloves winner. He’s to be a talented boxer. However, he’s a top-heavy athlete who operates with a certain amount of caution in the ring. It’s unlikely that anyone is going to catch him with that one devastating shot.
Back in 2014, Thompson was knocked out by a fresh-faced Sergey Kovalev, a devastating loss that came in the third round. He has since won more than he’s lost, and he’s still a solid fighter. He doesn’t seem to like to let his hands go. He may just be the perfect opponent for Newman. Like Newman, no one would call Thompson fleet-footed. As far as styles go, they’ll be equally matched. Newman won’t have to worry about a barrage of combinations coming his way, which means he can concentrate on doing what he does best—working down his opponent and slowly breaking him down.
I’ll be watching to see whether Newman can finally distinguish himself as a future contender. He’s got skill and intelligence, but he needs an impressive win.
Julian “J-Rock” Williams (23-1-1) vs. Ishe Smith (28-8); 10 rounds; Junior Middleweights
The hard-hitting Williams may be best known for being the knocked out by Jermall Charlo. Williams landed a jab and right that just barely reached Charlo, who then stepped in with a sharp right uppercut. Williams’ legs gave out and he face-planted into the canvas. The referee started the count and, wavering slightly, Williams got to his feet. The fight continued, but only for a few seconds. Charlo came at him, throwing solid, though not hard-hitting, combinations. Williams fell to canvas again, this time on his back.
Since his defeat to Charlo, Williams has fought once, against Joshua Conley. For most of their fight, Conley was so inactive that he could be said to be stagnant. And although Williams worked Conley down, I doubt anyone would say he put on an impressive performance. In fact, for a man who hadn’t received much damage, he looked almost as tired as Conley.
Ishe Smith is twelve years older than Williams, and you can look at that two ways. One on hand, he clearly doesn’t have the speed he used to have, which should give the 27-year-old Williams a clear advantage. On the other hand, Smith has twelve years of experience on Williams. Also, Smith has faced superior opponents, and, even though he has lost to men like Erislandy and Lara and Danny Jacobs, he has never been knocked out.
Smith is crafty. He knows how to take a hit, knows how to draw an opponent in, knows how to tire a guy out, he knows how to duck and weave away from punches. He is a consummate professional.
Williams may be the favorite, he may have a better record, but from the looks of it, he still hasn’t gained his confidence back from his loss to Charlo—which means, Smith could surprise us.
Smith has had a hard year, a hard life actually. Not a man given to self-pity, Smith remains driven despite all the obstacles he’s had to face. He has put his children before his boxing career but this year was particularly hard for him as the mother of his three children was executed. At thirty-nine, he has only so much time remaining as a professional fighter. This fight will determine whether he continues. It’s hard not to root for a guy who’s been through so much.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
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