By William Holmes
On Saturday night a special edition of Showtime Boxing will be televised live from the Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. It will feature at least three televised bouts, including Philadelphia super welterweight contender Julian “J-Rock” Williams taking on Italian boxer Marcello Mantano in an IBF Eliminator. Other televised bouts will include middleweight contender Antoine Douglas as well as the up and coming prospect Tony Harrison and former world title challenger Fernando Guerrero.
The following is a preview of the televised portion of the card.
Tony Harrison (22-1) vs. Fernando Guerrero (28-3); Super Welterweights
The first bout of the night will likely be the most competitive, as Tony Harrison’s status as a top rated prospect was slightly damaged when he was stopped by Willie Nelson in July of 2015, while Fernando Guerrero is a former world title challenger who has come up short when he faced some of the elite in the middleweight division.
Harrison is four years younger than Guerrero but Guerrero is still in his athletic prime at the age of twenty nine. Harrison will have about a four inch height advantage as well as a four and a half inch reach advantage. Guerrero does have a better amateur background than Harrison, as he won the National AAU Championship in the middleweight division and was a silver medalist in the 2006 National Golden Gloves Tournament. Harrison, however, comes from a boxing family and both his father, Ali Salaam, and grandfather, Henry Hank, are former professional boxers.
Harrison has more power in his punches. He has stopped eighteen of his opponents while Guerrero has stopped twenty of his opponents while also having eight more fights.
Harrison’s first loss was to Willie Nelson, a fight in which he was winning before the bout was stopped. His notable victories include Pablo Munguia, Antwone Smith, Bronco McKart, and Grady Brewer. Harrison has also been very active recently, as he fought four times in 2015 and three timesin 2014.
Guerrero’s notable victories include Abraham Han, Raymond Gatica, Ishe Smith, Jessie Nicklow, Ossie Duran, and Gabriel Rosado. He has lost to Grady Brewer, Peter Quillin, and David Lemieux. It should be noted that all of Guerrero’s losses have come by stoppage.
This will be the toughest fight that Harrison has had since he lost to Willie Nelson, but it’s a fight he should win. If Harrison can rediscover his power that’s been missing the past two fights he should stop Guerrero within ten rounds, as Guerrero has not shown to have a durable chin.
Antoine Douglas (19-0-1) vs. Avtandil Khurtsidze (31-2-2); Middleweights
Douglas was originally scheduled to face former world middleweight champion Sam Soliman, but an injury to the former champ gave Khurtsidze an opportunity to fight on a televised card and serve as a last minute replacement.
Khurtsidze is thirty six years old and stands at 5’4”, which is extremely short for the middleweight division. Douglas will be eight inches taller than Khurtsidze and will also have the reach advantage. Additionally, Khurtsidze is thirteen years older than Douglas.
Khurtsidze hasn’t been very active in recent years. He only fought twice in 2013 and 2015, and he did not have any fights in 2012 or in 2013. Douglas fought six times in 2014 and three times in 2015.
Both boxers have decent amateur experience but neither achieved any notable medals on the international stage.
Khurtsidze has twenty stoppage wins and one stoppage loss. He hasn’t lost since 2010 and has won eight fights in a row. He has beaten the likes of Melvin Bentancourt, Ossie Duran, and Mariusz Cendrowski. His losses were to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Tony Marshall. He has held several regional titles as well as the IBO Middleweight Title.
Douglas has thirteen stoppage victories. He has defeated the likes of Thomas Lamanna, Istvan Szili, and Lee Sherrington. He also drew with Lee Sherrington.
Khurtsidze hasn’t been seen in the ring against good opposition since he lost to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and his age and lack of activity in recent years will hurt him. Douglas is young, strong, active, and a lot taller and longer than Khurtsidze.
Khurtsidze may survive all ten rounds, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to pull off the upset against his much younger opponent.
Julian Williams (21-0-1) vs. Marcello Matano (16-1); IBF Junior Middleweight Eliminator
The main event of the night is also probably the biggest mismatch of the night.
Julian “J-Rock” Williams is a young undefeated prospect that will be three inches taller than his opponent as well as four years younger. He also has thirteen knockouts on his record, which is more than double of Matano, who only have five stoppages.
Williams had a successful amateur career and lost in the US National Championships to Errol Spence. Matano has no notable amateur success to write about.
Three of the past five fights for Williams resulted in a stoppage victory. He has beaten the likes of Luciano Leonel Cuello, Joey Hernandez, Jamar Freeman, Michael Medina, Freddy Hernandez, and Joachim Alcine.
Williams has also been very active recently as he fought three times in 2015 and four times in 2014. Matano has also been active, as he fought three times in 2015 and four times in 2014. However, Matano has never fought outside of Italy.
Matano has no notable victories and his lone loss was to an unheralded and virtually unknown Felice Moncelli by TKO.
This is clearly a stay busy fight for Williams, and it’s unlikely the fight will go past the fifth round.