By: William Holmes
Carson, California is one of the west coast’s premier destinations for world title fights and on Saturday night Golden Boy Promotions will be broadcasting a WBO Featherweight Title bout between Vasyl Lomachenko and Gary Russell Jr. as well as two welterweight bout featuring top rated contenders Robert Guerrero and Devon Alexander.
Photo: Hogan Photos/ Golden Boy
Saturday’s tripleheader will be the last major card that Showtime will telecast until their July 12th PPV between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara.
The following is a preview of all three televised bouts on Saturday.
Devon Alexander (25-2) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (28-9); Welterweights
Devon Alexander has long been on the cusp of stardom but has never been quite able to get over that hump. Jesus Soto Karass has long been a veteran gatekeeper, but he has been able to shock several rising contenders with upset victories.
This is an intriguing matchup between two veterans, and a loss for either could prove fatal to any future title shots.
Devon Alexander is four years younger than Karass and will be giving up about an inch and a half in height as well as two inches in reach to Karass. Alexander is also the better technical boxer with a deeper amateur background. He’s a three time Police Athletic League National Champion, a junior golden gloves champion, a junior Olympics national champion, and the 2004 United States Light Welterweight National Champion.
Alexander is a well groomed fighter but he does not have a crowd pleasing style. He only has fourteen stoppages to his record and only one stoppage victory in his last five fights. Karass has a slight power edge over Alexander in that he has often competed in the light middleweight division and has eighteen stoppages on his record. Two of his past five fights resulted in a stoppage victory for Karass.
The glaring hole in Karass’ resume is his nine losses, but a majority of them have come to top rated contenders. He was blasted by Keith Thurman in the ninth round in his last bout, and he has also lost to Marcos Maidana, Gabriel Rosado, Mike Jones (twice), Alfonso Gomez, and losses to Yuri Foreman and Freddy Hernandez early on in his career.
But, as stated earlier, Karass has been able to score a few shocking victories during his career. Few gave him a chance to beat Andre Berto in July of 2013 but he pulled off the TKO victory in the twelfth and final round. He has also beaten the likes of Selcuk Aydin, Euri Gonzalez, and David Estrada.
Alexander’s two losses came to Shawn Porter and Timothy Bradley, two fighters that are considered by most to be at the top or near the top of their division. He also holds victories over Lee Purdy, Randall Bailey, Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse, Juan Urango, and Andriy Kotelnik.
Alexander was stunned several times when faced off against Shawn Porter in his last bout, but Karass does not have the power of Porter. Alexander should be able to outbox Karass and cruise to a comfortable decision victory, but he needs to erase the memory of losing his IBF Welterweight belt to Shawn Porter if he wants to be successful.
Vasyl Lomachenko (1-1) vs. Gary Russell Jr. (24-0); WBO Featherweight Title Bout
Lomachenko might be the only boxer to get two major world title shots before his third professional bout. There are some arguments over whether or not his World Series of Boxing victories should be considered as part of his professional resume, but he’s still able to receive the good fortune of two major world title opportunities based on his success as an amateur.
Few boxers have the amateur pedigoree of Lomachenko. He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist for Ukraine in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. He had an amazing amateur record of 396-1. Russell was a successful amateur and he is an ex Junior Olmypic Champion as well as a Golden Gloves champion. He qualified for the Olympics in 2008, but he missed the Olmypic weigh-in after losing consciousness prior to the weight in.
Amateur boxing is vastly different from professional boxing and that was evident in watching Lomachenko’s two professional fights. His first professional bout was a fourth round TKO over Jose Ramirez in October of 2013, but he followed that up with a disappointing split decision loss to Orlando Salido in his first world title opportunity.
Salido did come in overweight for his bout with Lomachenko and he was forced to vacate the WBO title.
Russell is a great technical boxer with decent power, he has fourteen stoppages on his record. However, Russell has a reputation for being a “protected” fighter. He holds no victories over any boxers that are well known, and he has never faced a boxer with more than ten victories and less than two losses.
Russell’s notable victories include Vyacheslav Gusev, Roberto Castaneda, and Christopher Perez. He’s beaten a lot of fringe contender, but never a top rated contender.
This is a tough fight to pick, mainly because of Lomachenko’s lack of professional experience. However, he has faced the pressure of a big fight by competing for an Olympic Gold Medal twice and his lone loss came against a rugged veteran with an awkward style who came in overweight.
This writer feels that Lomachenko will escape with a narrow decision victory, but this bout will be the most competitive bout of the night.
Robert Guerrero (31-2) vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-1-1); Welterweights
Robert Guerrero has not been seen inside a ring since he lost an uninspiring decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May of last year. A year of inactivity could hamper Guerrero inside the ring, but Kamegai seems like the perfect type of bounce back opponent for a top rated contender.
Kamegai is about an inch and a half taller than Guerrero and also about one year older. His record indicates he’s a hard puncher, he has stopped twenty one of his opponents including four of his past five victories. Guerrero has eighteen stoppages on his record, but hasn’t had a stoppage victory in over four years.
Kamegai has spent nearly his entire career fighting in Japan. He has fought in the United States twice which resulted in a wide decision loss to Johan Perez and a majority draw to Jorge Silva.
Kamegai has made a living at beating inferior opponents in Japan. His most notable victories include Tim Hunt, Jose Alfaro, and Yosukezan Onodera. It’s actually hard to consider those victories notable but they do have the best records of his defeated opponents.
Guerrero is a smaller welterweight but there won’t be much of a size difference between himself and Kamegai. Guerrero is a decent boxer with victories over Andre Berto, Selcuk Aydin, Michael Katsidis, Vicente Escobedo, Joel Casamayor, and Jason Litzau. He’s a former interim WBC Welterweight title holder, an interim WBA and WBO Lightweight Title holder, a IBF Super Featherweight Champion, and an IBF Featherweight Champion.
Quite simply, the main event of the night is also the biggest mismatch of the night. Guerrero should win and win easily, but a year away from boxing could hurt his performance inside the ring.