Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Pedraza vs. Smith, Hyland vs. Russell
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Foxwoods Resort Casino will televised two world title fights live on Showtime as Gary Russell Jr. defends his WBC Featherweight Title against Patrick Hyland in the main event of the evening and Jose Pedraza defends his IBF Junior Lightweight Title against Stephen Smith.
Other noted boxers will appear on the undercard including Antonio Russell in the bantamweight division as well as former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson facing Cornelius White. Only two fights are currently scheduled to be televised on Showtime, but highlights of the undercard may be shown.
The following is a preview of both the televised championship fights.
Jose Pedraza (21-0) vs. Stephen Smith (23-1); IBF Junior Lightweight Title
Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza had some considerable hype when he turned a professional for he represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Summer Olympics and medaled in several international events. He is the current IBF Junior Lightweight title holder and has a significant edge in amateur experience over his opponent Stephen Smith, despite the fact Smith won the gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games as an amateur.
Neither boxer is known for their power, as Pedraza has twelve knockouts on his record while Smith has thirteen. Pedraza is four years younger than Smith at twenty six years old. He will also have about a two inch height advantage as well as a four and a half inch reach advantage.
Smith has never fought outside of the United Kingdom and Saturday will be his first fight in the United States. Smith’s resume is lacking in big name victories, and his biggest wins to date were over Devis Boschiero, Mauricio Munoz, and Gary Buckland. Smith’s lone loss was by TKO to Lee Selby back in 2011.
Pedraza’s last victory was against Edner Cherry which he won by split decision. Other notable victories include Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Sergio Reyes.
This is a bout that Pedraza should win, quite easily. However, Pedraza has shown that he may have difficulty against crafty veterans as was evident in his bout against Edner Cherry. Unfortunately for Smith, he does not appear to have the power to catch Pedraza by surprise and he was stopped the last time he faced a big name opponent.
Gary Russell Jr. (26-1) vs. Patrick Hyland (31-1); WBC Featherweight Title
Gary Russell Jr. has a reputation for fighting boxers that are way overmatched, and Saturday night appears to be another fight that he should win easily.
Patrick Hyland is one half of the Hyland brothers and is more famous for his previous management deal with Snooki of MTV’s the Real World than for his actual boxing ability. Patrick was the better of the two Hyland brothers, but it appears he no longer has a working relationship with Snooki.
Both Hyland and Russell have fifteen knockouts on their resume. Hyland will have a significant height advantage as he is three and a half inches taller than Russell. Russell, however, is five years younger than Hyland.
Russell also holds an edge over Hyland in amateur experience. Russell qualified for the United States in the 2008 Olympics but failed to compete due to missing weight.
Despite the fact Russell has a reputation for fighting inferior opponents, he has a vastly better resume than Hyland. He has defeated the likes of Jhonny Gonzalez, Christopher Martin, Vyacheslav Gusev, and Christopher Perez. His lone loss was the current world champion and amateur standout Vasyl Lomachenko. Russell has two stoppage wins in his past five fights.
Hyland’s only notable victories came against Emmanuel Lucero and Frankie Arhculetta. His lone loss was to Javier Fortuna in 2012.
Hyland is the type of opponent that Russell should dispatch of easily. Russell does have problems when he’s facing someone that can match him in hand speed as was evident in his bout with Lomachenko, but Hyland will be outmatched in hand speed.
This is a bout that Russell should look incredible in, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where Hyland pulls off the upset.