ESPN Boxing Preview: Garcia vs. Velez, O’Sullivan vs. Abreu
By: Eric Lunger
While Saturday night is Cinquo de Mayo, a traditional Red Letter day on the boxing calendar, boxing fans should not miss Friday night’s ESPN/ESPN Deportes broadcast of the Golden Boy Boxing card from Carson, CA, featuring Ryan Garcia vs. Jayson Velez at junior lightweight and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan vs. Berlin Abreu at middleweight.
The headline bout features a young (19 year-old) undefeated, and charismatic prospect from Los Angeles, Ryan “the Flash” Garcia (14-0, 13 KOs). Riding a nine-fight knockout streak, Garcia recently stopped tough veteran Fernando Vargas in the first round in March of this year. Velez will be clearly the most challenging opponent of Garcia’s young career, but he is sure to have the StubHub crowd behind him: Garcia proudly enters the ring with the Mexican and American flags in his entourage. And, classically, his opponent hales from Puerto Rico.
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Twitter Account
Jayson Velez (26-4, 18 KOs) is coming off the biggest win of his career, a twelth-round TKO of Puerto Rican star Juan Manuel Lopez, also in the March of this year. Other notable fights for Velez include an unanimous decision (on wide cards) over noted prospect Alberto Mercado in March of 2017, an unanimous decision loss to rising star JoJo Diaz in March of 2016, and a failed IBF world title shot against Evgeny Gradovich (split decision draw) in 2014.
Some might characterize this fight as the “young prospect versus declining veteran” type of cross-roads matchup, but it promises to be more competitive and compelling than that. Velez is coming off a career-making win, headlining a nationally televised card, and looking for another title shot. He is going to be hugely motivated. Garcia has knockout power, is trying to take the next step on the ladder to greatness, and is fighting in front of his hometown fans — he will be under serious pressure to perform. It should be an excellent bout.
In the co-feature, Irishman Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan will try to continue his three-fight knockout streak. O’Sullivan is an entertaining fighter to watch, and he is damn good. He’s beaten everyone he’s faced except for Chris Eubank, Jr. (December 2015) and Billy Joe Saunders (July 2013). O’Sullivan is coming off a seventh-round stoppage of Antoine Douglas on the Lemieux vs. Saunders undercard last December. At age 33, with a lot of tough miles in the tank, this might be O’Sullivan’s last run at another title shot. But don’t let the age fool you; O’Sullivan is tough, highly conditioned, and will punish any mistakes by the man in front of him.
Abreu, 23, was born in Puerto Rico but currently resides in the Dominican Republic. He is coming off a ten-round split decision win over rugged Argentine David Peralta in December of last year. With Saturday night being his second foray at the ten-round distance, this bout more accurately fits the “cross-roads” appellation. Youth and desire from Abreu faces grit and experience from O’Sullivan.
The broadcast begins live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT.
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Saunders vs. Lemieux, Seldin vs. Ulysses, Douglas vs. O’Sullivan
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada will be the host site for an HBO Triple Header to take place on HBO World Championship Boxing.
The opening bout will be between Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin and Yves Ulysse, Jr. in the junior welterweight division. The second bout of the night will be between Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the middleweight division. The main event of the night will be between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight title.
Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/Eye of the Tiger Management
This fight card will help lend some clarity to the middleweight division behind the two current kingpins of the middleweights, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. This card will also feature Cletus Seldin, a popular Jewish fighter that HBO seems keen on featuring in the future.
The following is a preview of all three bouts.
Cletus Seldin (21-0) vs. Yves Ulysse, Jr. (14-1); Junior Welterweights
The opening bout of the night is between the Hebrew Hammer Cletus Seldin and Yves Ulysse.
Seldin is a compact power puncher who has seventeen stoppage victories on his record. He’s thirty one years old and needs to make a serious run now if he ever wants to fight for a legitimate world title.
He’ll be about the same height as Ulysse as both are 5’7”. Seldin is also the more powerful puncher of the two. Ulysse only has nine stoppage victories to his credit. However, Ulysse is two years younger than his opponent.
Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Ulysse fought four times in 2017 and once in 2016, while Seldin has fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Neither boxer had a notable amateur career, but Seldin appears to have had more success than Ulysse. Seldin was a Long Island Amateur Champion and lost in the finals of the New York State Golden Gloves.
Seldin has defeated the likes of Robert Ortiz, Renald Garrido, Jesus Selig, Orlando Vazquez, and Bayan Jargal.
Ulysse has defeated the likes of Ricky Sismundo and Zachary Ochoa. His lone loss was in his last fight to Steve Claggett.
Seldin fights a style that leaves him open to counters but puts on an exciting fight for his fans. Ulysse has a good record, but is the underdog going into the fight.
However, Ulysse was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and will have the support of the fans in attendance.
Antoine Douglas (22-1-1) vs. Gary O’Sullivan (26-2); WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title
Antoine Douglas is a good middleweight prospect who’s rise to the top was briefly derailed when he faced and lost to Avtandil Khurtsidze. He has since won three fights in a row and looks to reclaim his spot as a can’t miss prospect.
Douglas is still young and is in the middle of his prime at twenty five years old. O’Sullivan is getting near the end of his prime and is currently thirty three years old.
O’Sullivan and Douglas have similar knockout power. Douglas has stopped sixteen of his opponents and has one stoppage loss. O’Sullivan has stopped eighteen of his opponents and also has one stoppage loss.
Both boxers fought once in 2016 and three times in 2017.
Douglas has defeated the likes of Juan De Angel, Istvan Szili, and Thomas Lamanna. His lone loss was to Avtandil Khurtsidze and he drew with Micahel Soro.
O’Sullivan has defeated the likes of Nick Quigley, Melvin Betancourt, Milton Nunez, and Matthew Hall. The two times he faced good opposition, Chris Eubank Jr. and Billy Joe Saunders, he lost.
Douglas has quick hands and is willing to throw combinations and take risky exchanges. But his opponent is a veteran with knockout power.
This fight should be a tense and close fight, but it’s a fight that Douglas should be considered a close favorite.
Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) vs. David Lemieux (38-3): WBO Middleweight World Title
The main event of the evening is between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight Title. The winner of this bout may set himself up for a future fight with either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.
Both boxers are twenty eight years old and are in the midst of their prime. Saunders will have a slight inch and a half height advantage on Lemieux, but Lemieux has thirty three stoppage victories to his credit while Saunders only has twelve stoppage victories.
This will be Saunders first fight outside of the United Kingdom, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He recently stated, “I’m used to fight outside the UK, I’m a traveler of the world. I don’t care if there’s a million people. It’s just me and him in that ring, end of the story. As for the rest, I don’t care.”
Saunders does have a better amateur resume than Lemieux. He is a former Commonwealth Champion and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Lemieux was the Canadian Junior National Champion in 2006.
However, Lemieux does seem confident in his power and his ability to hurt Saunders with his power. He stated, “I’ve never said that I doubted his chin. Regardless he will hit the floor. And whether I win by knock out or go 12 rounds, it’s no matter. But I will drop him and I will hurt him”
Saunders has defeated the likes of Willie Monroe Jr., Artur Akavov, Andy Lee, Chris Eubank Jr., Gary O’Sullivan, Matthew Hall, and Jarrod Fletcher.
Saunders though has not been very active the past two years. He only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.
It should be noted that his win against Andy Lee was a majority decision and his win against Eubank was a split decision.
Lemieux has defeated the likes of Curtis Stevens, Glen Tapia, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, Fernando Guerrero, Hector Camacho Jr., and Elvin Ayala. His losses were to Marco Antonio Rubio, Joachim Alcine, and Gennady Golovkin.
The biggest intangible of this fight is the fact it takes place in Quebec, Canada and Lemieux is Canadian. The fans will be backing Lemieux in this fight and that kind of support has been known to influence the judges.
Saunders two biggest victories were close decisions in the United Kingdom. It’s unlikely he’ll get a close decision in Canada.
As long as Lemieux can keep up his energy and pressure for all twelve rounds it’s a fight that he can and should win.