Wilder vs. Ortiz and Santa Cruz vs. Flores Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will host a Pay Per View showdown between WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder and his challenger Luis Ortiz.
Their first bout was a close fight until Wilder was able to stop Ortiz in the tenth round. Wilder was ahead with a score of 85-84 on all three scorecards at the moment of the stoppage.
Their rematch will be televised on Fox Sports PPV.
The co-main event of the evening will be between Leo Santa Cruz and Miguel Flores for the vacant WBA Junior Lightweight title.
Other bouts on the card include a bantamweight bout between Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez and a junior lightweight bout between Leduan Barthelemy and Eduardo Ramirez. Other boxers on the undercard include Vito Mielnicki Jr., Omar Juarez, Viktor Slavinskyi, Arnold Alejandro, and Shon Mondragon.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1) vs. Miguel Flores (24-2); WBA Junior Lightweight Title
Leo Santa Cruz has been a champion in the featherweight division for a long time and now looks to capture a title in the junior lightweight division.
He’s still in his athletic prime at 31 years old and is four years older than Flores. They both have the same reach and Flores will have a very slight ½ height advantage on Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz does appear to have the edge in power as he has stopped nineteen of his opponents while Flores has only stopped twelve.
Inactivity may be an issue for Santa Cruz, as he has only fought once in 2019 and once in 2018, but he did fight twice in 2017. However, Flores hasn’t been very active either and fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017.
Santa Cruz’s lone loss was to Carl Frampton, which he later avenged. He has also defeated the likes of Abner Mares, Rafael Rivera, Kiko Martinez, Cesar Seda, and Chris Avalos.
Flores has losses to Dat Nguyen and Chris Avalos, and both times he failed to make it to the final bell. He notable wins include Ryan Kielczweski and Ruben Tamayo.
Santa Cruz also had the edge in amateur experience as he was a US National Silver Medalist while Flores has no notable amateur experience.
This fight looks to be an easier challenge for Santa Cruz in the junior lightweight division. It will be interesting to see if his power holds up in the higher weight class.
Deontay Wilder (41-0-1) vs. Luis Ortiz (31-1); WBC Heavyweight Title
Deontay Wilder is the undisputed king of the heavyweight division. There used to be an argument about whether Wilder or Joshua is the top dog in the heavyweight division, but an upset loss by Joshua to Andy Ruiz has killed those talks.
Wilder is nearing the end of his athletic prime at 34 years old but is still six years younger than his opponent. Wilder will also have a three inch height advantage and about a five inch reach advantage over Ortiz.
Both boxers are known for their power, but Wilder’s knockout power is legendary. He has stopped forty of his opponents. Only Bermane Stiverne and Tyson Fury went the distance against Wilder, and Stiverne was stopped in the rematch and Fury was knocked down. Wilder has forty stoppage victories and Ortiz has twenty six.
Both boxers have been fairly active. Wilder fought once in 2019 and twice in 2018 and 2017. Ortiz fought once in 2018, three times in 2018, and once in 2017.
Wilder and Ortiz both has successful amateur careers. Wilder was a bronze medalist in the 2008 Summer Olympics and Ortiz is a former Cuban Amateur National Champion.
Wilder does appear to have an edge in his resume of defeated opponents. He has defeated the likes of Dominic Breazeale, Luis Ortiz, Bermane Stiverne, Gerald Washington, Chris Arreola, Artur Szpilka, Johann Duhaupas, Eric Molina, Malik Scott, and Siarhei Liakhovich. Ortiz previously lost to Wilder and has defeated the likes of Christian Hammer, Travis Kauffman, Malik Scott, Tony Thompson, Bryant Jennings, and Lateef Kayode.
Their first bout was close, but Ortiz is getting older and you can age quickly in a sport like boxing. Wilder has to be considered the favorite as he looks forward to more lucrative matchups against either Tyson Fury or the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz fight.
Canelo Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev, Garcia vs. Duno Fight Preview
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the MGM Grand Garden Arena will be the host site for the next fight of Canelo Alvarez, arguably boxing’s biggest star in the sport today. He will be jumping up two weight classes to face Sergey Kovalev for Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight Title.
The co-main event of the evening will be a lightweight fight between Ryan Garcia and Romero Duno. Garcia was able to resolve his issues with Golden Boy Promotions in time to fight on the co-main event of this card.
Other fights on the undercard include an IBF Junior Middleweight eliminator between Bakhram Murtazaliev and Jorge Fortea and a WBA Interim Women’s Flyweight Title Fight between Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza. Other boxers on the undercard include Blair Cobbs, Carlos Ortiz, Evan Holyfield, and Tristan Kalreuth.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Ryan Garcia (18-0) vs. Romero Duno (21-1); Lightweights
Ryan Garcia was able to resolve his promotional issues with Golden Boy Promotions and land himself as the co-main event in one of the biggest cards of the year. The opportunity isn’t lost on Garcia.
“This is a big moment for me.” said Ryan Garcia. “These opportunities don’t come often. It’s my chance to show what I’m capable of on the biggest stage in boxing. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip. I’m fighting against Romero Duno, the opponent I wanted since the beginning, so I’m going to show that I’ve reached another level on November 2nd.”
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions Twitter Account
Duno, a Filipino born fighter, is three years older than Garcia at twenty four years old. However, he will be giving up about three inches in height and two inches in reach to Garcia. Both boxers have decent power. Garcia has stopped fifteen of his opponents while Duno has stopped sixteen.
Both boxers are also extremely active. Garcia fought once in 2019, four times in 2018, and six times in 2017. Duno fought three times in 2019, 2018, and in 2017.
Both boxers didn’t accomplish much as an amateur on the international stage, but both were successful on the national level as an amateur. Garcia is a former US National Gold Medalist and Duno won local titles in the Philippines. Garcia is also a former ESPN Prospect of the Year.
Garcia has beaten the likes of Jose Lopez, Braulio Rodriguez, Carlos Morales, Jayson Velez, and Fernando Vargas Parra. Duno has beaten the likes of Ivan Delgado, Juan Antonio Rodriguez, Kuldeep Dhanda, Gilberto Gonzalez, Yardley Cruz, and Christian Gonzalez. His lone loss was to Mikhail Alexeev in 2016.
This bout represents Garcia’s toughest fight of his career, but Duno isn’t an elite level opponent. It’s a good stepping stone fight for Garcia as he angles for bigger fights in the future, and it’s a fight that he should walk away as the victor.
Sergey Kovalev (34-3) vs. Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2); WBO Light Heavyweight Title
Canelo Alvarez looks to make history as he attempts to capture a world title in a fourth weight class when he faces Kovalev. At a recent press conference he stressed that he’s motivated and recognizes the difficulty in moving up weight classes.
“I’m very grateful to all the fans as always. I’m very motivated here, it’s an honor for me to share the ring with a fighter like Kovalev who I met in 2012. Now we’re about to make history. I know it’s going to be the most difficult fight of my professional career. I will give the best in the ring and that day we can yell “Viva Mexico!””.
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions Twitter Account
Canelo is in the midst of his athletic prime at twenty nine years old while Kovalev is nearing the end of his at thirty six years old. Kovalev will have a significant height and reach advantage on Saturday. He is four inches taller and has about a two inch reach advantage.
Kovalev and Canelo both are fairly active. Kovalev already fought twice in 2019, twice in 2018, and twice in 2017. Canelo has fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and twice in 2017.
Kovalev has the edge in amateur experience. He is a former Russian National Champion as an amateur while Canelo turned pro as a teenager.
Kovalev has losses to Eleider Alvarez and Andre Ward. His loss to Alvarez is a loss he later avenged. He has defeated the likes of Anthony Yarde, Igor Mikalkin, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Nadjib MOhammedi, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Cedric Agnew, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, Cornelius White, Gabriel Campillo, and Lionell Thompson.
Canelo’s lone loss was the Floyd Mayweather. He has draws with Gennadiy Golovkin and Jore Juarez. He already has a hall of fame resume and has defeated the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Rocky Fielding, Gennadiy Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Josesito Lopez, Shane Mosley, Carlos Baldomir, and Miguel Vazquez.
Kovalev’s weakness is his ability to take body shots while one of Canelo’s strengths is his attacks to the body. This is an intriguing bout and Canelo may be jumping up too high in weight to face Kovalev, but he’s facing Kovalev at a moment in his career when he appears to be on a downward trajectory.
They previously met and sparred with each other, and Canelo must have seen something during that session to believe he can jump up in weight to challenge Kovalev. For that reason, this writer feels Canelo will win on Saturday.
Berchelt vs. Sosa Fight Preview
By: Robert Aaron Contreras
In 2017, Vasyl Lomachenko turned away Jason Sosa to affirm his position as the super featherweight touchstone, the 130-pound king. Meanwhile, Miguel Berchelt was fighting through a violent field of warmongers—namely Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas—to put together a tremendous ledger… for its time. The problem is the Mexican champion has hardly added to it since.
Nearly three years on, Berchelt (36-1, 32 KO) is still universally recognized as the No. 1 boxer in the class, set to defend his WBC championship against none other than Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KO) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The broadcast will air on ESPN, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET. A win this weekend would mark five consecutive title defenses. While the belt may be firmly in his grasp, the plaudits for his reputation continue to slip away.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The Mexican titleholder earned the throne in a terrific year of action that saw the 130-pound hierarchy arranged by a de-facto tournament across HBO. The last man left standing was Berchelt, savagely dispatching Vargas in the eleventh round. That same night Miura bounced Mickey Roman for a shot at the divisional helm.
Berchelt’s return to California is his first start in the west coast since defeating Miura. Outlasting the Japanese berserker over the distance, he minted his new green belt with a crippling power-hitting attack en route to a decision verdict.
After Berchelt took care of Miura, he opened the year 2018 with two soft touches. In the form of an unheralded southpaw Maxwell Awuku and a washed featherweight in Jonathan Victory Barros, perhaps the champ had earned it after such a tough run up the ranks. But as Lomachenko jumped up to 135 pounds, the weight class opened up again. And, ultimately, Berchelt’s decision to recycle familiar names—picking off the aforementioned Roman—provided no further grist for his placement atop the new super featherweight elite that emerged in 2019.
This year, Cinderella champions Andrew Cancio and Jamel Herring picked up respective crowns, staging giant upsets. And gaining traction most of all is IBF beltholder Tevin Farmer. Streaking up the win column, with the dizzying style to play foil to a demolition man like Berchelt, Farmer took part in five championship bouts. This in the same time period that Berchelt only defended his title twice—including an indefensible return match with Vargas.
Farmer, having already won twice this year, pleaded for a unification with Berchelt. But the dedicated WBC envoy has recently turned his focus in-house to Herring or, worse, Oscar Valdez. Note, Valdez has yet to officially compete at the 130-pound limit. In the end, Berchelt is instead fighting another figure from 2017 in Sosa. A rejuvenated, classy box-fighter in Sosa, to be sure. But a quondam bit player nonetheless.
Assuredly, the bookies are shorting Sosa at eight-to-one odds. His three-fight win streak should be at four straight. Following a short stint as WBO champion—proving himself a notch above the likes of Javier Fortuna and Stephen Smith—he was robbed in 2017 against Yuriorkis Gamboa. Sosa, the definition of a two-handed banger, routinely beat Gamboa to the punch, forced to unbind himself from the Cuban’s grappling. Only to be handed a majority-decision loss.
In August, Sosa returned to form, headlining an ESPN+ show. He overpowered the sizable Haskell Rhodes to a TKO victory. Rhodes, a former Floyd Mayweather Sr. pupil and longtime lightweight, had never before been stopped inside the distance—in the past extending bombardiers like Sergey Lipinets and Edner Cherry. Sosa floored Rhodes three times, twice with a right hand, once with a left. The third knockdown of the fight in the seventh round was one too many for Rhodes’ corner and they promptly threw in the towel.
Sosa doesn’t work off of a jab. Instead initiating punch combinations with either hand—sometimes even squaring up his shoulders to his opponent. A high output guy, through and through. Also a master of punching out of clinches, muscling up his man before hitting and separating.
Ancajas defends super flyweight world title
It does not take much for a world champion to lose his legitimacy in the public conscious. Win or lose on Saturday, Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21 KO) is in with another unproven challenger. This one named Jonathan “Titan” Rodriguez (21-1, 15 KO) continuing his run of lackluster title defenses over the last three years.
In his first action of the year, Ancajas returned in chief support of light heavyweight ruler Artur Beterbiev on ESPN, battering Japanese veteran Ryuichi Funai to a doctor’s stoppage ahead of Round 7. The stoppage represented his seventh title defense—currently the longest reigning super flyweight beltholder. He picked up the title in 2016. Though, before crushing Funai, Ancajas swallowed an arduous split-decision nod against Alejandro Santiago, an obscure and undersized brawler out of Mexico.
Next up to bat is Rodriguez, who is exactly the same age as Santiago. And hardly more accomplished. On paper, the 24-year-old Mexican has a respectable record, knocking out 70 percent of his opponents—a passing grade, at least. Never competing outside of his own backyard, Rodriguez’s only opponent of note is countryman Felipe Orucuta.
The two met in the main event of Fox Sports-Latin America broadcast. Rodriguez was the winner by seventh-round TKO, hospitalizing Orucuta for two whole months.
Closing in on the weekend, Ancajas is as high as a -1200 favorite to get by Rodriguez, the considerable underdog (+600).
Fight Preview: Greer vs. Nieves, Stevenson vs. Gonzalez
By: William Holmes
On Saturday Night the Reno/Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada will be the host site for a Top Rank Promotions Card that will be televised live on ESPN+.
Former Olympian Shakur Stevenson will be fight for the vacant WBO Featherweight Title as he takes on veteran Joet Gonzalez. The co-main event of the night is a bantamweight fight between Josh Greer and Antonio Nieves.
Other bouts on the card include a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Alejandra Soledad Zamora.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Promotions Website
Boxers such as Albert Bell, Frank De Alba, Jason Sanchez, Andy Vences, and Mark Bernaldez will be fighting on the undercard.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Josh Greer Jr. (21-1-1) vs. Antonio Nieves (19-2-2); Bantamweights
Josh Greer is a young prospect that has been extremely active since 2017. He fought twice in 2019, four times in 2018, and four times in 2017. His opponent, Antonio Nieves, is seven years older than him and has not been as active. He fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017…in which he lost both fights in 2017.
They are the same height and Nieves will have about a two and a half inch reach advantage over him. Neither boxer is known for their power, Greer has twelve stoppage wins while Nieves has eleven. However, Greer has won four of his past five fights by stoppage.
Nieves does appear to have an edge in amateur experience, as he was a National Golden Gloves Silver Medalist while Greer does not have any notable amateur titles or medals.
Greer has defeated the likes of Nikolai Potapov, Giovanni Escaner, Daniel Lozano, Glenn Dezurn, and James Smith. His lone loss was to the undefeated Stephen Fulton and he has a draw with Mario Ayala. Both his loss and draw were early on in his career.
Nieves has defeated the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Christian Esquivel, and Alejandro Santiago Barrios. His losses were to Naoya Inoue and Nikolai Potapov.
This should be an intriguing and possibly close fight. Nieves has been in the ring with some very tough opponents and Greer is a young up and coming contender. Greer has to be considered a slight favorite in this fight, and it should help determine if he’s a legitimate challenger or not.
Shakur Stevenson (12-0) vs. Joet Gonzalez (23-0); WBO Featherweight Title
On paper, this looks to be the toughest fight of Shakur Stevenson’s career.
Stevenson will have a two inch height advantage over Gonzalez, but that will be negated by the two inch reach advantage that Gonzalez has. Both boxers are young, with Stevenson being twenty two years old and Gonzalez being twenty six years old. Both boxers are undefeated as a professional and have been fairly active.
Stevenson fought three times in 2019 and five times in 2018. Gonzalez fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2018. It appears that Gonzalez might have a slight edge in power as he has stopped fourteen of his opponents while Stevenson has only stopped seven. But three of the past four fights by Stevenson have resulted in a stoppage victory.
Stevenson does have a significant edge in amateur experience and accolades. Stevenson was a former US National Champion as an amateur and a Silver Medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Gonzalez has no notable amateur championships.
Stevenson is a southpaw and Gonzalez fights out of an orthodox stance. This can often be a problem for less experienced fighters, but for a boxer with the amateur pedigree of Stevenson, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Alberto Guevara, Christopher Diaz, Jessie Cris Rosales, Viorel Simion, and Aelio Mesquita. Every boxer Stevenson has defeated had a winning record at the time.
Gonzalez has defeated the likes of Manuel Avila, Rodrigo Guerrero, Rafael Rivera, and Derrick Murray.
This fight will be a good test for Stevenson as he chases his first legitimate world title. Gonzalez should challenge him, but Stevenson is one of the sport’s brightest prospects and it’s likely he will show the world why on Saturday night.
Usyk vs. Witherspoon, Bivol vs. Castillo Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
Oleksandr Usyk will return to the ring nearly a year after he was last seen competing. On Saturday night he will be facing last minute replacement Chazz Witherspoon at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This will be Usyk’s long anticipated heavyweight debut.
Usyk was originally scheduled to face kickboxing legend Tyron Spong, but a positive test for Clomiphene has derailed that match. Instead, thirty eight year old veteran Chazz Witherspoon will be taking his spot.
Eddie Hearn stated at the final press conference, ““When you get a call like I did on Monday that Tyrone Spong had failed a drug test, you need to move quickly or there is a chance that there is no show at all. We want to say a special thank you to Chazz Witherspoon. He has been undefeated for nearly six years now and we have talked to him about a bunch of different fights of the years. He stepped up here to take a shot at Oleksandr Usyk and we are grateful.”
The co-main event of the evening will be between Dmitry Bivol and Lenin Castillo for Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title.
Other fighters on the undercard include Anthony Sims Jr., Jessica McCaskill, Charles Conwell, Patrick Day, and TJ Doheny.
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Dmitry Bivol (16-0) vs. Lenin Castillo (20-2-1); WBA Light Heavyweight Title
Dmitry Bivol has been angling for a big fight, but appears to have trouble getting other light heavyweight champions into the ring with him.
He’s 28 years old, three years younger than his opponent, and still in the midst of his athletic prime. Castillo will have about a two inch height advantage on Bivol. Both boxers have moderate power. Castillo has stopped fifteen of his opponents while Bivol has stopped eleven.
Both boxers also have had successful amateur careers. Castillo competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics while Bivol was a Russian Amateur Champion.
Both boxers have been fairly active. They both fought three times in 2018 and once in 2019. However, Bivol has clearly faced the better opposition.
Bivol has defeated the likes of Joe Smith Jr., Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Sullivan Barrera, Trent Broadhurst, Cedric Agnew, and Samuel Clarkson. Bivol has won three decisions in a row and never tasted defeat as a professional.
Castillo has defeated the likes of Reinaldo Gonzalez, John Cortez, and Aaron Mitchell. His losses were to Marcus Browne and Joseph Williams.
This is a fight that Bivol should win rather decisively. An impressive stoppage may help raise his profile to help him reach his goal of unifying the light heavyweight titles.
Oleksandr Usyk (16-0) vs. Chazz Witherspoon (38-3); Heavyweight Division
The original planned fight between Usyk and Spong was intriguing in that it put together two combat sport athletes from different genres in a ring together. Usyk was still considered the favorite, but it would have been interesting.
Unfortunately for fight fans, Witherspoon does not appear to bring the same intrigue into this bout as Spong did.
Witherspoon is thirty eight years old, past his prime, and will only have a slight one inch height advantage despite this being Usyk’s first fight in the heavyweight division. Not only is Usyk six years younger than Witherspoon, but he also has the edge in amateur experience. Usyk was a gold medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics while Witherspoon was a former Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion, but nearly fifteen years ago.
Both boxers have moderate power, with Witherspoon having twenty nine stoppages on his resume to Usyk’s twelve. However, Usyk has been more active despite this being his first fight in 2019. Usyk fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017. Witherspoon fought once in 2019, once in 2018 and zero times in 2017.
Witherspoon has wins against Jonathan Haggler, Ty Cobb, and Santander Silgado but nobody really of note. He has losses to Seth Mitchell, Tony Thompson, and Chris Arreola.
Usyk has defeated the likes of Tony Bellew, Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis, Marco Huck, Michael Hunter, Thabiso Mchunu, Krzysztof Glowacki, Pedro Rodriguez, and Johnny Muller. He has no defeats as a profressional.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a fight that Usyk should win rather easily. They say every fighter has a puncher’s chance, and that might be the only chance that Witherspoon has on Saturday.
UFC Fight Night 161: Jedrzejczyk vs. Waterson
By: Jesse Donathan
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. You never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.” – “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.
UFC Fight Night 161 is taking place on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida live on ESPN+ and will feature a scheduled women’s strawweight bout between Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3-0, 4 KOs) and “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson (17-6-0, 3 KOs). The evenings co-main event will feature a featherweight showdown between mixed martial arts veteran Cub Swanson (25-11-0, 11 KOs) and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu prodigy Kron Gracie (5-0, 0 KOs). Kron is the son of legendary Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master Rickson Gracie, who of course is the brother of mixed martial arts legend Royce Gracie.
According to Ken Pishna of MMAWeekly.com, “Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 19 main event between former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and top contender Michelle Waterson was in danger of being canceled because of Jedrzejczyk struggling to make weight,” writes Pishna in his October 9, 2019 Yahoo Sports article titled, “Joanna Jedrzejczyk rebukes rumors of possible UFC Tampa main event cancellation.”
Citing an ESPN report by Ariel Helwani, the Yahoo Sports article went on to note that, “Multiple unnamed sources said that Jedrzejczyk informed UFC official(s) more than a week ago that she would be unable to make the 116-pound limit for the fight.” According to Pishna, “Waterson’s camp refused to accept a catchweight bout.”
“Did I miss something?” Jedrzejczyk told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “Was the weigh-in today? It’s Friday, right? Today is Wednesday. There’s nothing to be stressed about. I should be the one stressed, and I’m not,” said Jedrzejczyk.
Digging deeper into the equation, according to an October, 9, 2019 Andrew Whitelaw YouTube video titled, “Michelle Waterson REACTS to reports that Joanna Jedrzejczyk will MISS WEIGHT!” Whitelaw would interview Waterson in an attempt to get to the bottom of the UFC Fight Night 161 main event controversy. Referring back to the original ESPN report, Whitelaw asked Waterson for her take on the situation as it presently stands.
According to Waterson, “You know what, um, that is something that my management team is working on currently. It’s not something that I am focused on, I’m focused on fighting Joanna Saturday, that is my main focus and I hope that she is professional enough to make weight and put on a show for the people who came to watch.”
“We knew this was going to be hard for her to make the weight,” Waterson explained. “Coming from 125 after fighting Shevchenko, putting muscle on, and not just like, not just regular weight, actual muscle,” said Waterson. “And with the extent of how long it’s been since she’s fought, we knew it was going to be rough for her. But we figured if she wanted to have the advantage of being the bigger girl, that she would sacrifice and make the weight.”
Cutting right to the chase, Whitelaw asked Waterson point blank, “Would you fight her, if she can’t make the weight, would you fight her at a catch weight?”
“It depends,” said Waterson with a smile. “You know, like, I think that is the most frustrating part, because you know, her claim to the UFC is the strawweight queen. So, if you’re the strawweight queen, make strawweight weight,” a clever Waterson said with a laugh.
Interestingly, according to an October 9, 2019 Twitter social media post from TSN Sports UFC reporter Aaron Bronsteter, “Combate have updated the story and report that the UFC have given Michelle Waterson two choices: Face Joanna this weekend at a catchweight or face Jessica Andrade at UFC 244.”
In response to the Combate report, Showtime combat sports analyst Luke Thomas weighed in on the latest developments in the on-going saga with Jedrzejczyk’s alleged weight issues. “Imagine training for a particular fighter with specific skills and body type for weeks,” writes Thomas. And, “By no fault of your own, they come to you last minute & say ‘fight her heavy now or her opposite soon.’ This is one of those areas where fighters having less leverage than boxers is glaring,” opined Thomas.
With Waterson’s hand seemingly forced into a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation at UFC Fight Night 161, a glimpse of how promotions can ultimately make or break fighters is gleaned through questionable ultimatums and threats of unfavorable matchups should they not bow to the promotions demands.
While a cancelled main event would be disastrous for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its affiliates, one cannot help but wonder if there was another way to approach this situation beyond ultimatums to athletes who have did absolutely nothing wrong in this equation beyond train to meet their contractual weight requirements.
If Joanna Jedrzejczyk has lost her strawweight queen crown, it should not be incumbent on Michelle Waterson to help her find it by conceding the size, strength and weight advantage to appease an opponent who did not walk the line. Michelle Waterson is playing with a stacked deck of cards with a free trip behind the woodshed as a consolation prize Saturday night. Unless Friday’s weigh-in yields a 116-pound strawweight limit Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Waterson’s knowledge of knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away and when to run is going to be tested.
Fight Preview: Warrington vs. Takoucht
By: Oliver McManus
IBF world champion Josh Warrington looks to defend his featherweight title for a third time when he faces Sofiane Takoucht this Saturday. Having cast his eyes across the horizon and to unifications Stateside, another fight in Leeds arrives very much as a ‘bonus’ for his home city.
Warrington’s first two world title bouts – against Lee Selby and Carl Frampton – were full-throated, high-tempo encounters with merely the edge of your seat required. His latest, against Kid Galahad, resulted in a more stuttery, cagey affair to test the temperament of Warrington but he scraped past. Takoucht represents a separate kettle of fish and, Warrington will hope, a more routine night of work.
The French fighter, obscurely nicknamed ‘Babyface’ despite looking every bit his 33 years, is an experienced operator having been professional since 2006. In 2010 he won the ‘Golden Gloves’ – awarded to the best French boxer each year – for his win against Oleg Yefimovych to become European champion. Since then his career has stalled substantially as he lost then regained the EBU title whilst perpetually staying busy in six and eight rounders.
Two fights for the IBF International strap, against win-some-lose-some opponents, has seen Takoucht installed at 4th in the IBF rankings. Indeed he’ll represent the first official southpaw challenge for Warrington since Dennis Tubieron in April 2015; though Kid Galahad did dally with the stance in their fight.
His sticky southpaw stance would look to be his greatest hope to upset the applecart with Warrington visibly struggling whenever Galahad operated from southpaw. Warrington was unable to dip the knees and utilise his ferocious work-rate against Galahad and was nullified for much of the fight as a result. If Takoucht can replicate those ‘spoiler’ tactics in order to disrupt the forthright pocket-pressure fighting of Warrington then it could be a very, very long night for the Leeds boxer.
Should all go to plan for the defending champion then he could move to 30-0 in breezy fashion; Warrington has proven himself against elite fighters and Takoucht has yet to step up from borderline continental. His fight against Carl Frampton was a perfect display of self-confidence transferring into the ring with a perfect game plan.
He refused to box recklessly nor get carried away when he dropped Frampton in the first round but remained resolute in boxing in bursts to ensure he was picking up rounds. It really was an impressive performance, dare you say ‘a coming of age’. Takoucht could be a banana skin but it seems more likely he’s a toffee apple ripe for Warrington to get stuck into.
The undercard sees Zelfa Barrett defend his Commonwealth super featherweight belt against Jordan McCorry. Barrett, still just 26, is becoming increasingly joyous to watch with a real respect for the ‘craft’ of boxing. ‘Brown Flash’ has grown rapidly as a fighter to collect 22 wins since turning pro in 2014 but, arguably, his sole loss has been his biggest blessing. That blemish came against Ronnie Clark in February 2018 and it is evident just how much Barrett took from that experience.
There was no licking of wounds after a very close and enthralling contest but an immediate desire to better himself and correct that wrong. A rematch, for various reasons, has yet to materialise but he has already pushed on to a different level. Against Leon Woodstock in June he boxed beautifully from range with a real slick, sleek finish to his work – nothing scrappy, nothing done by half measures. In a way he’s an ‘old school’ fighter prioritising the technique over any showmanship but – in doing so – he’s emerged as a breath of fresh air in a crowded division.
McCorry will be facing his third Frank Warren fighter in the 2019 – having already boxed Sam Bowen and Archie Sharp – but he’ll be hoping to register his first such win. Three of his last four fights have been losses. The Cambuslang man has proven himself to be a gritty operator to test the top domestic fighters but he’s yet to go one further and mount a serious challenge.
Hot prospect Lyndon Arthur is rewarded for his patience with the first title shot of his career; the Moston boxer has been picking up the wins without much fuss since debuting in 2016. Now 15-0 he’ll face Emmanuel Anim for the vacant Commonwealth light heavyweight title. The former WSB boxer has yet to look troubled with Charles Adamu the only opponent not to be stopped or kiss the canvas.
Four knockouts since have seen Arthur hit a nice rhythm and he always looks slightly more menacing than his previous contest. This fight is a real opportunity to loosen up and make a statement to open doors. Anim isn’t expected to be a stiff test, having campaigned at super middle for most of his career, but he can swing speculatively and that’s always a risk.
Fellow Team GB representative Troy Williamson gets his first title crack: against Navid Mansouri for the WBO Intercontinental super welterweight title. The fight represents a significant step up for Williamson as he fights a former English champion but the Darlington man has been relishing such a test for a while. He finds himself on a three fight knockout streak but Mansouri is likely to test his technical ability.
Mansouri has boxed exclusively in Spain since 2018 with four wins and a loss. He is a proven title fighter, mainly at super welter, with a highlight win over Sam Sheedy. The MTK fighter is penciled in to challenge Stephen Danyo at super welter in November so perhaps hedging his bets for this one.
A hatful of six rounders feature with Shabaz Masoud, Mark Heffron, Shakiel Thompson, John Jouce and Reece Mould all in action. Callum Simpson and, debutants, George Davey and Muhammad Ali greeting the early visitors in a trio of four rounders.
Shields vs. Habazin Fight Preview
By: Oliver McManus
The self-styled ‘greatest woman of all time’, Claressa Shields (9-0) returns to her home city of Flint this Saturday for a long awaited homecoming bout. Waiting for her in the ring will be Ivana Habazin (23-3) of Zagreb, Croatia, with the WBO and WBC ‘Diamond’ super welterweight titles on the line.
Shields has been a dominant force in women’s boxing since making the decision to turn professional in 2016: she’s been a world champion since her third fight and became ‘undisputed’ in her most recent. Habazin is somewhat of a stalwart in the European scene, a bit like Shields’ last opponent Christina Hammer, having boxed professionally since 2010. The 29 year old has had limited success at world level with one win (three if you count the IBO) to counter her three losses – against Mikaela Lauren, Eva Bajic and Cecilia Braekhus.
Her confidence is high going into this postponed contest having recently avenged the loss to Bajic and comfortably won the IBO middleweight title. Dropping down to super welterweight suits Habazin well – it is her more natural weight class – but it’s likely she’ll be the smaller fighter on the night with Shields likely to gain more in the rehydration process.
The lure of any potential knockout finish to proceedings should be minimal. Couple that with more methodical approaches from the protagonists and you could be forgiven for labelling this fight an ‘intriguing chess match’, ‘a battle of wills’ or any other such well-worn cliché. It is an approach that has served Shields well, however, with a brash confidence to expose her opponents through sheer technical superiority.
Against Hammer we saw Shields respond to Hammer’s more upright, rangy style by cutting the ring off effectively. The movement of Shields loosened as the fight progressed and that’s when the ‘showman’ or ‘show-woman’ aspect of her boxing came to the fore Hammer began the fight as the instigator looking to disrupt a rhythm but it was Shields who was dominant and that’s the sort of game-plan you’d expect her to take against Habazin.
Not really a ground-shaking opponent to return her home city with but few are really on a palpable level when it comes to Shields. Should be routine but at least is has sentimental value.
The undercard will see Jaron Ennis taking on Demian Daniel Fernandez over the course of a ten round welterweight contest. The unbeaten (23-0) Philadelphian has impressed here at Boxing Insider since making his debut at the age of 18. Now 22 it’s safe to say he’s served his apprenticeship and is looking to creep closer to a world ranking; he’s already got a foot in the WBC’s door via their USNBC Silver title.
No such additional trinket will be on offer for his but on Saturday but Fernandez (12-1) is the ‘interim’ WBO Latino champion so is likely to be a fair gauge of his current ability. Indeed the 30 year old Argentine was particularly impressive against, fellow Argentine, Diego Ramirez last October when he refused to buckle under the planted feet of his compatriot. He ultimately won the contest 96-94 (x2), 97-93 against the man who would go on to defeat, former British champion, Bradley Skeete.
Ennis will look to replicate that aggression of Ramirez, with better results albeit, as he looks to continue his run of 13 early finishes.
A heavyweight co-feature has Jermaine Franklin (19-0) battling Pavel Sour (11-1) in a fight which has potential to throw up ANYTHING. It could be a re-run of Dubois vs Tetteh from the weekend – a clear gulf in levels – or it could result in a thrilling slug fest a la Ibeabuchi-Tua (admittedly hyperbolic but you get the point). Franklin has underwhelmed for a long time now and his progression has significantly stagnated; a split decision against Jerry Forrest in July was particularly painful to watch.
Nonetheless Dmitry Salita perseveres with the 25 year old who continues to promise he’s ‘the next big thing’ whilst offering up little supporting evidence. Sour doesn’t make such bold claims and, by all accounts, the 36 year old is happy with his lot but clearly sees this as an avenue to more testing contest and, importantly, more lucrative purses. The sole blemish on his record was a 1st round knockout loss to the ever-ferocious Filip Hrgovic. Since then he has claimed, and defended, the Czech national title against Vaclav Pejsar and a subsequent defence against Tomas Salek. A puncher, but against untested opposition, his best hope is that Jermaine Franklin well, does yet another ‘Jermaine Franklin’.
The main event looks to provide the main talking point from the show and, certainly, if Claressa Shields has her way it’ll be her cries of “I AM the Greatest Woman of All Time” that ring in our ears as we try to sleep. The party in Flint, Michigan, if she wins will run for some time longer.
Fox Sports PPV Preview: Spence vs. Porter, Dirrell vs. Benavidez
By: William Holmes
On Saturday Night the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California will be the host site for a pay per view offering by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
The main event of the evening will be a highly anticipated welterweight title fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter. The co-main event of the evening will be between Anthony Dirrell and David Bennavidez for Dirrell’s WBC Super Middleweight Title.
The undercard is also stocked, and it is headlined by a WBA Junior Welterweight Title Fight between Mario Barrios and Bartyr Akhmedov. Other fighters on the undercard include Josesito Lopez, John Molina Jr., Robert Guerrero, and Joey Spencer.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Anthony Dirrell (33-1) vs. David Benavidez (21-0); WBC Super Middleweight Title
The co-main event is a title fight between a thirty four year old Anthony Dirrell and a twenty two year old David Benavidez. It’s an intriguing fight in that one fighter appears to be on an upward trajectory in his career while the other fighter may be near his downslide.
Dirrell will have a slight ½ inch height advantage on Benavidez but will be giving up two and a half inches in reach. Dirrell has twenty four stoppages on his resume while Benavidez has eighteen stoppage wins, but Benavidez has less fights than Dirrell.
Both boxers haven’t been very active. Dirrell fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017. Benavidez fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and three times in 2017.
Dirrell does have an edge in amateur experience. He was a PAL champ as an amateur and came in third place in the US Olympic trials. Benavidez only had fifteen fights as an amateur.
Benavidez has beaten the likes of J’Leon Love, Ronald Gavril, Rogelio Medina, Denis Douglin, and Francy Ntet. Dirrell has to be given the edge in defeated opponents as a professional. He has defeated the likes of Avni Yildirim, Abraham Han, Denis Douglin, Caleb Truax, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Sakio Bika. His lone loss was to Badou Jack.
This is an intriguing fight, but Benavidez looked spectacular in his win against J’Leon Love and he has a significant reach and age advantage. Dirrell’s experience may carry him through the day, but Benavidez has to be considered a slight favorite.
Errol Spence Jr. (25-0) vs. Shawn Porter (30-2-1); IBF/WBC Welterweight Titles
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. is considered by many to be the best welterweight fighter in the world.
But he will be facing the toughest test of his career on Saturday; a hard charging, relentless, in his prime champion by the name of Shawn Porter.
Both Spence and Porter are still in the middle of their athletic prime, with Spence being twenty nine years old and Porter being thirty one years old. Spence will have about a two and a half inch height advantage and a two and a half inch reach advantage.
Spence also appears to have an edge in power. He has stopped twenty one of his opponents while Porter has only stopped seventeen. Spence fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and once in 2017. Porter has fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017.
Spence has never tasted defeat as a professional. He thoroughly outclassed Mikey Garcia in his pay per view headlining debut. He has also defeated the likes of Carlos Ocampo, Lamont Peterson, Kell Brook, Leonard Bundu, Chris Algieri, Chris Van Heerden, Phil Lo Greco, Samuel Vargas, and Ronald Cruz.
Porter has two losses on his record, but they were close losses to Keith Thurman and Kell Brook. He has defeated the likes of Yordenis Ugas, Danny Garcia, Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Paul Malignaggi, Devon Alexander, Phil Lo Greco, and Alfonso Gomez.
Spence had a decorated amateur career. He was a former US National Champ and a National Golden Gloves Champion as an amateur. He also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Porter also had a decorated amateur career, but not on the level of Spence. He was a US National Silver Medalist in the amateurs and a Golden Gloves Gold Medalist.
If Porter can keep the fight tight he can rough Spence up on the inside. However, Spence’s reach, height, and speed advantage will come into play and Spence will likely be able to keep Porter at bay.
Porter will have his moments, but this writer expects Spence to win rather convincingly on Saturday.
Dubois Aims For the Commonwealth; Adams On Verge of World Title
By: Ste Rowen
The famous Royal Albert Hall this weekend will see Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois, the heavyweight flavour of the year ever since his comprehensive fifth round stoppage of domestic rival, Nathan Gorman. The two unbeaten men put it on the line early on in their careers to claim the prestigious British heavyweight title, but it was Dubois, now 12-0 (11KOs), who was underrated in his technical ability beforehand, but he broke down Gorman round after round before finishing the previously 16-0 fighter before the halfway mark.
But that victory has set a precedent. Now fans, at least knows who’ve watched his previous bouts, know Daniel has both the skill AND the power to take out opponents, so his next opponent, Ebenezer Tetteh, for the Commonwealth belt, should surely be, if anything a slight step down.
If you’re following boxing twitter, Ebenezer Tetteh, 19-0 (16KOs), of Ghana is probably most famous for literally taking a twirl midway through a fight, showing off to the crowd and then continued fighting to a victory. The 31-year-old Ghanaian is rough; if the British champion doesn’t lay down his marker early, he could be in for a long, awkward night that coud end up ripping away the momentum ‘Dynamite’ has multiplied after his impressive win over Gorman.
The British champion spoke to the media during the week, both trying to hype his fight and keep one keen eye on the future,
‘‘I believe this is the ideal step up for me against an unbeaten fighter with a lot of KOs to his name…I cannot wait to get back in there and do my thing.
I’m carving out my legacy. All I have to do is fight and knock out whoever is in front of me.
I’m going to create my legacy and become a legend in this sport.’’
In defence of Dubois, the route from British to Commonwealth, and beyond is common and logical and certainly not the ‘Dynamite’s’ fault that Tetteh is the chosen challenger the rainbow belt rankings could come up with but, if Dubois really wants the momentum to continue, the young steamroller should make easy work of, according to Boxrec (I know, I know their rankings can’t be trusted), Ghana’s second best heavyweight. For the record, Dubois has already diminished Ghana’s supposed top heavyweight boxer in Richard Lartey last April within four rounds.
On the undercard…
Amateur flyweight legend, Nicola Adams is vying for her first proper world title in just her sixth fight. Adams, 5-0 (3KOs) will step into the ring with 21-7-3, Maria Salinas of Mexico for the vacant WBO world title on the line.
Salinas loves throwing punches in bunches, but Adams’ precision and prowess should be more than enough to claim her first world title, and if she claims it within single digits of the pro game she’ll share the stage with the likes of Claressa Shields and equal Jane Crouch’s record of winning a world title so early in her career.
And, the ratio of underwhelming of top fighter to opposition goes to Archie Sharp, 16-0 (7KOs who is on the card but without an opponent so far.
Also FYI, Jane Crouch’s book, The Final Round – buy it now.
Fight Preview: Colbert vs. Beltran Jr., Angulo vs. Quillin
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfile California will be the host site for Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions Card. This event will be shown live on Fox Sports 1.
The main event will be a Super Middleweight bout between former world titlist Peter Quillin and Alfredo Angulo. The co-main event of the evening will be between Miguel Beltran Jr. and Chris Colbert in the lightweight division.
The undercard is stacked with fights and well known contenders and prospects. Fighters on the undercard include Thomas Dulorme, Jesus Ramos, Gary Antonio Russell, Francisco Ochoa, and Gary Antuanne Russell.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Chris Colbert (12-0) vs. Miguel Beltran Jr. (33-7); Lightweights
The co-main event of the night will be between Chris Colbert and Miguel Beltran Jr. in the lightweight division.
Colbert is a high ceiling prospects that actually qualified for the 2016 Olympics but decided to not participate and turned pro instead. Colbert is a former Golden Gloves Champion. Beltran has faced some significant opposition as a professional, but has no notable amateur experience.
Colbert is only twenty two years old and is eight years younger than Beltran. Colbert has also been significantly more active ein the past two years. He fought three times in 2019 and twice in 2018. Beltran has yet to fight in 2019 and fought twice in 2018.
Beltran does appear to have an edge in power. Beltran has twenty two stoppage victories while Colbert only has four stoppage wins. However, Beltran has been stopped twice in his career while Colbert is undefeated.
It should also be noted that Beltran is 2-2 in his last four fights.
Beltran doesn’t have many notable wins. His biggest wins were against Fernando Garcia, Miguel Roman, and Eduardo Lazcano. He has losses to Yuriorkis Gamboa, Casey Ramos, Francisco Gabiel Pina, Luis Sanchez, Carlos Diaz Ramirez, Roman Martinez, and Joksan Hernandez.
Colbert has never been defeated as a pro. He has defeated the likes of Alberto Mercado, Mario Briones, Josh Hernandez, Fatiou Fassinou, Austin Dulay, and Titus Williams.
This should be an easier win for an uprising Colbert against a downward trending Beltran.
Peter Quillin (34-1-1) vs. Alfredo Angulo (25-7); Super Middleweights
Peter Quillin is a former belt holder in the middleweight division, until he lost it by TKO to Daniel Jacobs. Since then he hasn’t been very active and only fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and once in 2017.
Luckily he is facing someone who has fought only once in 2019, once in 2018 and zero times in 2017. Both Angulo and Quillin are past their primes, but Quillin is one year younger at thirty six years old. They are about equal in power, with Angulo having twenty one stoppage victories and Quillin having twenty three stoppage victories.
Quillin will have a four inch height advantage and about a two inch reach advantage. Quillin also has a clear edge in speed over the at times plodding Angulo.
Quillin had a rather short amateur career and turned pro at a young age. Angulo competed for Mexico in the 2004 Olympics.
Quillin has defeated the likes of J’Leon Love, Michael Zerafa, Lukas Konecny, Gabriel Rosado, Fernando Guerrero, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Ronald Wright, and Craig McEwan. His lone loss was to Daniel Jacobs.
Angulo does not have the professional resume of Quillin. He has defeated the likes of Evert Bravo, Jorge Silva, Raul Casarez, Joachim Alcine, Joel Julio, Harry Joe Yorgey, and Gabriel Rosado. His losses were to Kermit Cintron, James Kirkland, Sergio Mora, Freddy Hernandez, James De La Rosa, Canelo Alvarez, and Erislandy Lara.
Angulo has struggled as of late and has gone 3-5 in his last eight fights. Even though Quillin is getting older, he still has the goods to dispatch of Angulo.
Sunny Edwards Set to Headline First Event
By: Shane Willoughby
The UK has many top prospects touted for big things in the sport but one fighter who is destined for a world title is Sunny Edwards. After only 12 professional fights he is already being seen as one of the most talented fighters in the country pound for pound.
This weekend he will get a perfect opportunity to showcase his tremendous skillset when he takes on Rosendo Guarneros for the IBF international title, live on ESPN+ and BT sport.
Edwards has fought the majority of his career at 115lbs and is ranked 4th with the WBO at that weight class but is dropping down to Flyweight for this bout, where his brother Charlie Edward’s is the WBC champion.
His fight on Saturday is more an exhibition and an opportunity to display the high level of skills that he is known for. It will be hard to see how Guarneros puts up much of a contest, because once Sunny Edward’s steps on the gas, he will prove that there are levels and levels between them.
If you haven’t seen the kid fight you are definitely missing out, he is arguably the most rounded prospects England have right now and not to mention the fact that he is a fantastic entertainer.
When the little guys get in the ring, sometimes it gets quite boring for fans. We expect to see speed and skills but what tends to be the problem is we don’t get the highlight-reel knockout.
Although Edwards only has 4 KO’s on his record he is definitely a showman, and whilst he might not have the power to stop his opponents he definitely knows how to keep the fans interested.
Despite that, it will be good to see if he can apply some pressure and get the stoppage. However, Guarneros is a tough fighter who has only been stopped once in his 20 fights as a professional.
David Haye once labelled Sunny Edwards a mini Lomachenko and after watching him fight a few times there are many similarities. Hopefully this Saturday he can showcase the skill that has got him this far and prove why he belongs at the highest level.
UFC 242 Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier
By: Jesse Donathan
On Saturday, September 7, 2019 UFC 242 is slated to go take place at The Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on ESPN + pay-per-view (PPV) with the main event featuring a UFC lightweight unification bout between the UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0, 8 KOs) and the UFC Lightweight Interim Champion Dustin Poirier (25-5, 12 KOs). This is among the most anticipated main events of the year and one that may have superfight implications on the line with UFC legend Georges St. Pierre according to Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz.
This is controversial and problematic information for former Interim Champion Tony Ferguson and his legions of fans, many of whom believe “El Cucuy” to be the rightful number one contender and next in line for the UFC lightweight throne. Stripped of his interim title by the UFC back in 2018, Ferguson never actually lost his belt in the Octagon and has been left on the outside looking in ever since.
Though there is some hope for Tony Ferguson fans, with UFC President Dana White claiming he is next in line should he prove to be ready however contradictory the two separate, but credible reports may appear to be in conjunction with one another.
The current Interim Champion Dustin Poirier is a game fighter, not afraid to stand in the pocket and trade with his opponents, he can dish it out just as well as he can take it. Poirier possesses an effective left hand for an orthodox fighter and a devastating leg kick-based attack, both of which we can expect to see this weekend on full display against the Dagestani champion. Poirier trains out of American Top Team (ATT) in Coconut, Florida and has some of the best coach’s in the game today. The results of which are obvious in the Octagon; Dustin Poirier is an outstanding kickboxer who is not to be taken lightly on the feet.
Poirier would be best suited to remain elusive in the cage, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee in an effort to keep Nurmagomedov from closing the distance where he does his best work. Speed, footwork and avoiding certain key positions in the fight where Nurmagomedov shines are crucial in effectively game planning to defeat the undefeated champion.
“Look, if you can keep your back off the fence, you are very likely to not be taken down by Khabib,” explained ESPN MMA analyst and former UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen’s in his September 3, 2019 Bad Guy Inc. YouTube video titled, “INTANGIBLES: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier.”
In critiquing the main event fighters ahead of UFC 242, in Sonnen’s view of Nurmagomedov, “Okay, he’s not Georges St. Pierre, where he is going to come across the ring, two steps later hit you with a flash double that you never saw coming and run your ass down. Khabib is a little bit more methodical, he gets his hands and pushes you into the fence. He’s got some tricks, he’s got some step overs, behind the knee’s, ways to pull you off the fence, ways to get you down. “
“And I can tell you as a guy who lived on ground and pound, who trained with Randy Couture, and Randy Couture and Mark Coleman are the two guys who coined the phrase, literally, of ground and pound, who had the best training in the world, Khabib is doing stuff on top that I have never even seen shown. I have never even seen it in competition or practice until I saw Khabib doing it,” explained Sonnen.
That is high praise coming from “The Bad Guy,” who famously beat the breaks off UFC legend Anderson Silva for approximately 23 minutes before succumbing to a come from behind Triangle Armbar submission hold from Silva at 3:10 in the fifth and final championship round that forced Sonnen to tap.
The only fighter in the world to have stepped into the cage with Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko and Jon Jones, three fighters widely considered the best to have ever competed in the sport of mixed martial arts; Sonnen fought a murderer’s row of competition throughout his career that his overall record simply does not accurately do justice in reflecting his true overall skillset and position in the hierarchy of all-time greats. For Sonnen to sing such high praise of Nurmagomedov is an indication of just what kind of uphill battle Poirier faces this weekend in dealing with a fighter nobody thus far has been able to defeat, though Gleison Tibau did give Khabib a run for his money in a widely disputed controversial decision victory that is likely not soon to be forgotten.
If Poirier did not train extensively in takedown defense and dealing with the absolute worse case scenarios on the ground with Nurmagomedov in the lead up to this fight then I would be very surprised, because there is a high probability that is exactly where Poirier is going to find himself come Saturday night, perhaps for a significant amount of time at that.
There are opportunities here for Poirier to submit Nurmagomedov, who has a tendency to lead with his head up, neck exposed and a propensity to sit in top position with his arms prime for the taking from a competent Jiu-jitsu practitioner. Though if Poirier is unable to stop Nurmagomedov from taking him down and immobilizing his base with Khabib’s patented leg ties it’s going to be a long night for the American Top Team representative.
Historically, Nurmagomedov has struggled to make the 155-pound lightweight limit which is an indication that Khabib is a large framed lightweight who is going to enjoy a size and strength advantage in the evenings main event. Coming off a long long lay-off due to a suspension stemming from a post-fight brawl at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov is dominant wrestler in the Octagon who smashes opponents with a relentlessly high pace. If the past is any indication of the future, Poirier is going to have his work cut out for him this weekend if he hopes to unify the belts and become the divisions undisputed UFC lightweight champion.
The betting man is going to take Nurmagomedov in this fight for these reasons alone, but Poirier is a game stand up fighter who is not afraid to step into the pocket to create the opportunities necessary to win the fight. Its going to be do or die Saturday night in a classic striker versus wrestler matchup with a potential superfight looming on the horizon with former two-division champion Georges St. Pierre for who is no doubt looking to make history as the UFC’s first three division champion. There is a lot riding on the line Saturday night, tune into UFC 242 on ESPN+ for all the action and live results.
Erislandy Lara vs. Ramon Alvarez Fight Preview
By: Robert Aaron Contreras
The Minneapolis Armory in Minnesota was ready to welcome back its pride and joy Caleb Truax on Saturday, August 31, until the hometown champion was scrapped from his rematch with Peter Quillin, leaving Erislandy Lara to carry the bill.
Lara, a former unified beltholder, meets Ramon Alvarez, of Mexico, elder brother to one Canelo Alvarez. In chief support, Sebastian Fundora puts his giant blue-chip reputation on the line against a standout southpaw in Jamontay Clark.
The broadcast begins on FOX at 8pm ET.
Erislandy Lara (25-3-3. 14 KO) vs. Ramon Alvarez (28-7-3, 16 KO), WBA super welterweight title
In more ways than one has Lara broken the mold of the boring, avoided Cuban stylist. First, he traded fire with Jarret Hurd over 12 rounds in one of the most exciting fights of 2018. Now, after losing his two world titles, he is this weekend being pushed back into the title picture.
Not only is the WBA allowing Lara to skip the line back to the top—note, without winning a fight in almost two years±he is clearly the A-side, the betting favorite to lift the strap against what could be described as a prizefighter’s dream come true: an opponent with a big name but subpar game. His opponent is Alvarez, that being “Inocente” Ramon, the more crude, the inferior sibling of the fighting family.
In 2014, Lara engaged in a stylistic clash with Canelo Alvarez. This after crashing the Mexican superstar’s post-fight presser, where Alvarez publicly accepted Lara’s challenge against behest of his promoter. The two fought the complete 12 rounds. Lara plied his trade, accurately tagging his front-foot opponent. The Cuban technically landed more punches than his counterpart (107 total punches to Canelo’s 97). But the ringside panel were not a fan of fighting in reverse, turning in a split-decision nod for Canelo.
The loss was just the second of Lara’s career. In fact every blemish of his career has come with some sort of asterisk.
Earlier this year, Lara fought Brian Fastano to a split-draw. Castano’s efforts were valiant, though Lara clearly controlled the mid-range fighting. In his fight before that, Lara against connected at a higher rate than his man. This time against Hurd, remaining neck and neck with the sizable champion until sugaring a score-swinging knockdown in the final round.
Alas, Lara settled for a split-decision loss—again. The same way he did against Canelo. And unsurprisingly it was a disputed decision that really introduced his immense skill to the boxing world back in 2011.
In New Jersey, Lara met the nightmarish fighter that was Paul Williams, a freakishly long southpaw. Williams was another underrated fighter, who had arguably at the time got the better of every man he fought: avenging himself against former contender Carlos Quintana and pushing middleweight luminary Sergio Martinez to the limit.
Williams employed his usual strategy against Lara, as he would anybody else. But Lara wasn’t anybody else. The Cuban matched Williams’ high output with supremely accurate counterpunching and Lara wasn’t shy about matching the bigger man’s holding and ruffian tactics.
Still a majority-decision loss was all that Lara was left with—HBO’s Harold Lederman memorably scored the widely in Lara’s favor. The state commission found the cards so poor that all there judges were barred from working in Jersey ever again.
Alvarez heads into the weekend with a much lighter reputation, banking on his familial name. He has never before fought for a world title, and will be making just his second stateside appearance. He somehow appeared on the WBA rankings in April after edging out Jose Carlos Paz, an unheralded veteran who had just been flattened by Anthony Fowler inside a round.
In his first fight in the U.S., Alvarez battled the ever-brawling Brandon Rios, who was interchanging wins and losses since 2015. Fighting far above the lightweight limit where Rios found short stardom for his brawling ways, the former champion eventually pounded out Alvarez in nine rounds.
The rest of Alvarez’s ledger includes a split-decision loss to Antonio Margarito—that being a washed, 2016, squinty-eyed version of Antonio Margarito. Alvarez also split a pair of fights with Omar Chavez, a ferocious puncher and another fighter unable to shake the shadow of their younger, more talented brother.
Given their contrasting career arcs and pedigree, the 36-year-old Lara is far and away the favorite to win—opening as high as -5000. Alvarez, 33, is sitting at 25-to-1 dog odds.
Sebastian Fundora (13-0, 9 KO) vs. Jamontay Clark (14-1, 7 KO)
Making his third appearance of the year, and for the second time in his career over the 10-round distance, Fundora continues to turn heads. The great Tommy Hearns was once marbled at for fighting around 154 pounds at a towering 6’3”. Fundora actually has nearly three inches on Hearns, and drastically more height than any of his current day competition.
Clark, for one, is no chump at the junior middleweight limit. He is 6’2” and is equal measure with Fundora’s staggering reach at 80 inches long.
There still isn’t a super welterweight—or middleweight or super middleweight—alive who can match Fundora’s massive frame. He is a spindly puncher, aged just 21, and will likely pack on much more weight over the years. But at the moment he is jarringly thin.
More shocking is his preference for fighting inside of his shorter opponents. To his credit, he doesn’t cower away from scraps, nearly having his head spun around in multiple fights, eating giant right hands from Ve Shawn Owens for example.
Still undefeated, Fundora has recently proven more adept at leveraging his giant arms. In February, the California native tore up the previously unbeaten Donnie Marshall, with a keen focus on his left uppercut, overwhelming Marshall along the ropes until the referee jumped between the two in the third round.
Previously, in June, Fundora added to his repertoire, pelting away at Mexican prospect Hector Manuel Zepeda: extending a long jab, and ripping left hands up and down. Zepeda’s corner couldn’t bring themselves to send him back out for the fifth period, resulting in the first loss of his career.
Clark, 24, has the athleticism to make him competitive. He will look to extend his record on the year, where he is already 1-0 after decisioning the previously undefeated southpaw Vernon Brown as a part of the PBC on FS1 undercard in March. The Ohio native does have a notable name on his ledger in the form of the standout sharpshooter Ivan Golub. But Clark’s decision over the touted Ukrainian has been widely disputed, aided by an incompetent judging panel.
Fight Preview: Sosa vs. Rhodes, Berlanga vs. Trenel
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Top Rank Promotions will partner with Peltz Boxing Promotions to put on an event at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The main event was originally scheduled to be a featherweight fight between Emmanuel Dominguez and Carl”The Jackal” Frampton, but a freak accident caused a facture in the left hand of Carl Frampton, and that fight had to be scrapped.
The junior lightweight fight between Jason Sosa and Haskell Lydell Rhodes was elevated to main event status and the co-main event will be between Edgar Berlanga and Gregory Trenel in the middleweight division.
Other boxers on the undercard include two time Cuban Olympic Gold Medalist Robeisy Ramirez, as well as prospects Paul Kroll, Donald Smith, and heavyweight Sonny Conto.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Edgar Berlanga (11-0) vs. Gregory Trenel (11-4-2); Middleweights
It should probably be noted again that this fight was bumped up to co-main event status after Carl Frampton broke his left hand.
Berlanga is a 6’1 prospect from New York that has stopped every opponent he has faced at this point in his career. He’s a tall middleweight at 6’1 and took second place several times at the National Police Athletic League as an amateur.
Trenel doesn’t have any notable amateur experience. He’s 28 years old and only has three stoppage wins. He has never been stopped in defeat, but has losses to Vincenzo Bevilacqua. Mickael Sanches, Christopher Guedes, and Karim Hayani. None of those boxers are very well known.
Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Berlanga fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2018. Trenel fought once in 2019 and three times in 2018. However, Trenel has never fought in the United States before and the combined record of his past two opponents was 13-55-2.
This fight should be a blowout. Anything less than a stoppage victory for Berlanga would be considered disappointing.
Jason Sosa (22-3-4) vs. Haskell Lydell Rhodes (27-3-1); Junior Lightweights
Jason Sosa is a Camden native that formerly held the WBA Super Featherweight Title. He’ll likely have a large contingent of supportive fans in attendance since Camden is a short trip from Philadelphia.
Sosa is the same age as his opponent and will be giving up about two and a half inches in reach but will have an inch height advantage. Both Sosa and Rhodes have not been very active the past two years. Sosa only fought once in 2019 and once in 2018. Rhodes fought three times in 2018, but zero times in 2019 and zero times in 2017.
Neither boxer has an extensive amateur background.
Sosa has gone 2-2 in his past four fights, but two of his losses were to big time opponents. He has losses to Yuriorkis Gamboa and Vasiliy Lomachenko. He also has a loss early in his career to Tre’Sean Wiggins. He has a majority draw with Nicholas Walters and has defeated the likes of Reynaldo Blanco, Stephen Smith, and Javier Fortuna.
Fortuna was the biggest win of his career and he win the WBA Super Featherweight Title in that fight.
Rhodes has losses to Omar Douglas, Edner Cherry, and Sergey Lipinets. His notable wins were against Miguel Huerta, John Nater, and Yakubu Amidu. Rhodes briefly competed in MMA.
Sosa has to be considered a favorite, but Rhodes is a live underdog. The home field advantage should help Sosa on his way to victory.