By: William Holmes
Showtime’s Championship Boxing series will televise three fights from two different locations on Saturday night as Kell Brook defends his IBF welterweight title against Jo Jo Dan in Sheffield England, while in Las Vegas Jhonny Gonazalez takes on Gary Russell Jr. for Gonzalez’s WBC Featherweight Title and Jermell Charlo takes on Vanes Martirosyan in the junior middleweight division.
The Kell Brook vs. Jo Jo Dan bout will be available live for Showtime subscribers in the afternoon and will be shown again on replay later on that night.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts.
Kell Brook (33-0) vs. Jo Jo Dan (34-2); IBF Welterweight Title
When you hear boxing pundits talk about British welterweight boxers, you usually hear the name of Amir Khan before Kell Brook, but that has started to change since Brook won the IBF Welterweight title over American Shawn Porter in August of 2014.
Kell Brook will make his first defense of his title when he faces the veteran Romanian Jo Jo Dan in Brook’s home country.
Brook is in his prime and has considerable power. He has stopped twenty-two of his opponents, including four of his past five fights. This might be Dan’s last title shot at a legitimate title as he is currently thirty-three and may be slowly starting to fade. He also doesn’t have the power of Brook, as he has only had two stoppages in his past five fights and two of his wins were by a close split decision.
Brook is arguably a top five welterweight and has faced some decent opposition at this point in his career. He has defeated the likes of Shawn Porter, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Carson Jones, Hector David Saldivia, Matthew Hatton, Lovemore Ndou, and Michael Jennings.
The one knock against Brook is that he has fought most of his career in the United Kingdom, and he has only fought outside of the United Kingdom twice.
Jo Jo Dan has held several regional titles in the past but he has never been a world champion. He has fought all over the world, with most of his fights being in Canada.
Jo Jo Dan has defeated the likes of Kevin Bizier twice by a close split decision and a faded Steve Forbes. He also faced and lost to Selcuk Aydin twice.
This should be an easier fight for Book in his home country. There is a risk that he is looking past Dan and forward to a possibly fight with Amir Khan, but it’s unlikely that Dan will score the upset.
Jermell Charlo (25-0-0) vs. Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1); Junior Middleweights
The first televised bout of the night from Las Vegas will be between undefeated Jermell Charlo and Vanes Martirosyan in the junior middleweight division.
Martirosyan had a notable amateur career that includes an appearance in the 2004 Olympics for the United States that saw him go 1-1. Jermell Charlo is one half of the noted twin Charlo brothers and he also had a successful amateur career, thought not as successful as Martirosyan. Charlo won the bronze medal at the 2005 Junior Olympics.
Charlo is four years younger than Martirosyan and they are both similar in height and reach. Martirosyan has stopped twenty-one of his opponents, but has only stopped one of his past five. Charlo isn’t known for his power either, as he has only stopped eleven of his opponents and one in his past five.
At this stage of their careers, Martirosyan has faced the better opposition. He had an excellent win over Willie Nelson in his last bout and has also defeated the likes of Ryan Davis, Troy Lowry, Richard Gutierrez, Saul Roman, Joe Greene, and Kassim Ouma. His lone loss was to Demetrius Andrade in November of 2013.
Martirosyan’s best bout was actually a draw against Erislandy Lara in November of 2012.
Charlo has yet to challenge for a legitimate world title, but he has passed every test so far with flying colors. He has defeated the likes of Charlie Ota, Gabriel Rosado, Demetrius Hopkins, and Harry Joe Yorgey.
Martirosyan is experienced enough to give Charlo problems inside the ring, but Charlo is just too quick and smart of a boxer to lose this bout if it goes the distance. Martirosyan’s best shot at victory will come by way of stoppage, but Charlo’s defense is good enough to allow him to stay on his feet for the entire fight.
Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8) vs. Gary Russell Jr. (24-1); WBC Featherweight Title
Gonzalez won his first world title down in the bantamweight division way back in 2005 against Ratanachai Sor Vorapin for the WBO World title. Ten years later, he’s still a champion, but this time in the featherweight division for the WBC title after winning it in a shocking upset over the highly rated Abner Mares.
Gary Russell Jr. is a former amateur standout who won the Junior Olympics as well as the Golden Gloves. Russell was a highly touted prospect, but he has lost some of his shine when he lost a wide decision to the very talented Vasyl Lomachenko.
Gonzalez will be seven years Russell’s elder, and at the age of thirty-three it appears his physical prime should be behind him. Gonzalez, despite starting his career at a lower weight, will have five-inch reach advantage and about an-inch-and-a-half height advantage over his younger opponent.
Russell has been criticized for facing lesser opposition and never challenging himself prior to his fight with Lomachenko. His notable wins include Christopher Martin, Christopher Perez, and Vyacheslav Gusev. When Russell was inside the ring with someone who could match his hand speed and in ring generalship, he lost to Lomachenko in a fight that was closer on the scorecards than it was in the ring, but Russell did show tremendous heart during those twelve tough rounds.
Gonzalez has been in the ring with some of the best lighter weight boxers in the past ten years, and has had mixed results against them. His biggest wins have come against a past his prime Jorge Arce, an upset knockout over Abner Mares, and victories over Rogers Mtagwa, Hozumi Hasegawa, Irene Pacheco, Fernando Montiel, and Marc Johnson. His notable losses were to Israel Vazquez, Gerry Penalosa, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Gonzalez’s eight losses at first glance will make it seem like that he should be a walk-over for the much younger Gary Russell, Jr.; however, it should be noted that he has gone 9-1 in his last ten fights and has the power to score a flash knockout like he did against Mares.
That being said, this writer expects Gary Russell Jr. to be able to avoid the power of Gonzalez and cruise to a twelve round decision to win his first legitimate world title.
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