By: William Holmes
On Saturday night, Showtime presents another night of championship boxing as Richard Abril takes on Sharif Bogere for the vacant WBA Lightweight title, and former Olympian Gary Russell Jr. takes on Vyacheslav Gusev in the featherweight division.
Saturday’s card will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gary Russell Jr. (21-0) vs. Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2); Featherweights
Gary Russell Jr. is an immensely talented prospect who was a former Golden Gloves Champion and a former Olympian. However, he did not compete in the Olympics, as he missed weigh-ins after losing consciousness.
Russell’s been boxing professionally since 2009, and his critics have been insisting that he should be fighting elite competition at this point in his career. However, his opponent, Vyacheslav Gusev, is not considered by many to be elite competition.
Russell will have a slight one-inch height advantage and is three years younger than his opponent. He’ll also have a considerable power advantage inside the ring: 13 of Russell’s fights have ended in a stoppage, while Gusev only has five stoppages. Russell has stopped his last three opponents, Roberto Castaneda, Christopher Perez, and Heriberto Ruiz.
His talents are obvious inside the ring, but he has yet to be seriously tested.
Guzev has only fought once in the past year, a decision victory over Padjai Yongyuthgym in his backyward of Moscow, Russia. His competition has also been exceptionally weak and he rarely fights outside of Russia.
The only time he’s faced notable competition was against Juan Carlos Burgos in 2009 in California. He lost that fight by a unanimous decision.
Gusev represents a “safe” opponent for Russell on national television. He has little power and he’s been inactive for the past year.
Russell should win this fight easily on Saturday night.
Richard Abril (17-3) vs. Sharif Bogere (23-0); WBA Lightweight Title
Bogere is an undefeated Ugandan boxer who has a lot of boxing expert salivating at his potential and raw talent.
Richard Abril is an veteran Cuban boxer who was robbed in his last title fight against Brandon Rios, and the type of fighter who can give young fighters fits inside the ring.
This has the potential to be a very exciting and close fight.
Abril is six years the elder of Bogere, but by no means is he over-the-hill. He’ll also have a five-inch reach advantage.
Abril began boxing in the welterweight division in 2005, and has since made the drop to the lightweight division. He has decent power: 8 of his victories have come by stoppage. He had his first real test against Breidis Prescott in 2008 and lost by a close split decision. His other two losses also came by way of a split decision, one to Hank Lundy in 2010 and the aforementioned one to Rios in 2012.
Abril is a veteran who’s much better than his record suggests. He holds victories over Miguel Acosta, Sergio Rivera, and Jose Reyes.
Bogere has been fighting since 2008 and has yet to taste defeat. He also has 15 stoppages out of his 23 victories, and on paper he appears to have considerable more power than Abril.
He’s began to take a step up in competition recently.
Bogere defeated the always tough Raymundo Beltran in 2011 by a decision, knocked out the then undefeated Francisco Contreras, and is coming off a 2nd round KO over Manuel Levya.
He’s signed by Golden Boy Promotions and Golden Boy does have a very good eye for good young talent.
It’s going to be a close fight, with the experience and reach of Abril likely coming into play on Saturday night.
If Bogere can work his way inside and pound the body of his taller opponent, he should pull off the victory. But if Abril can stay on the outside and pop shot Bogere with precise jabs, he can emerge as the winner.
Regardless, look for Bogere to pull off the victory and perhaps challenge Ricky Burns or Adrien Broner for lightweight supremacy.