Shakur Stevenson vs. Miguel Marriaga, Magdaleno vs. Lukas Fight Preview
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City will be the host site for a Top Rank Promotions boxing card. This event will be televised live on ESPN starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.
The co-feature of the evening will be a bout between former world champion Jessie Magdaleno and the unbeaten Sakaria Lukas in the featherweight division. The main event will be between US prospect Shakur Stevenson and Miguel Marriaga. Stevenson’s WBO Featherweight title will be no the line.
The undercard will feature boxers such as Edgar Berlanga, John Bauza, Frederic Julian and Matthew Gonzalez.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Jessie Magdaleno (27-1) vs. Sakaria Lukas (23-0); Featherweights
Magdaleno is a former champion, who only experienced one loss in his career to Isaac Dogboe in 2018. He looks to get back into the title picture with a win over the inexperienced Sakaria Lukas.
Magdaleno has eighteen stoppage victories, two more than Lukas. Both boxers have been fairly active in the past three years. Magdaleno fought twice in 2019, once in 2018, and once in 2017. Lukas fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2017.
Magdaleno has a big edge in age over Lukas. He is still in his athletic prime at 28 years old. Lukas is thirty five years old.
Magdaleno also has a significant edge in level of opposition faced. He has defeated the likes of Rafael Rivera, Rico Ramos, Nonito Donaire, Rey Perez, Erik Ruiz, and Roberto Castaneda.
Lukas has no notable wins. In fact, this appears to be his first fight in the United States and only his second fight outside of Namibia. His most notable wins were against Nbodana Ncube, Tello Dithebe, Mudde Ntambi, and Oscar Chauke.
Magdaleno also has the edge in amateur experience. He’s a former US National Golden Gloves Champion. He also comes from a boxing family as his brothers Diego and Marco also box. Lukas has no notable amateur experience.
This is a fight that Magdaleno should win convincingly and impressively. A win by Lukas would be considered a massive upset.
A fight against Stevenson could be on the horizon for Magdaleno if both are victorious on Saturday.
Shakur Stevenson (13-0) vs. Miguel Marriaga (29-3); WBO Featherweight Title
Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank Promotions’ most prized prospects. In only his twelfth fight he was able to win the WBO Featherweight title against Joet Gonzalez.
His opponent, Miguel Marriaga, came up short in his three other title shots.
Stevenson and Marriaga are about the same height, and Stevenson will have about a one inch reach advantage over Marriaga. Stevenson is also eleven years younger than Marriaga.
Marriaga does have some knockout power, as he has twenty five stoppage victories on his resume. Stevenson has stopped seven of his opponents.
Marriaga’s losses came to Vasiliy Lomachemko, Oscar Valdez, and Nicholas Walters. All three of these losses came in title matches. He has defeated the likes of Alfredo Mejia Vargas, Ruben Cervera, Guy Robb, Adones Aguelo, and Christopher Martin.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Alberto Guevara, Christopher Diaz, Jessie Rosales, Viorel Simion, Carlos Ruiz, and Roxberg Riley.
Stevenson has been extremely active in the past two years. He fought four times in 2019 and five times in 2018. Marriaga fought twice in 2019, 2018, and in 2017.
Stevenson also has an edge in amateur experience. He was an Olympic Silver Medalist for the United States while Marriaga has no notable amateur accomplishments.
This is a fight that Stevenson should win convincingly. A much more compelling fight between Stevenson and Magdaleno appear to be on the horizon.
Fight Preview: Adam Kownacki Closer to a Title Shot but Needs to Get Past Robert Helenius
By: Rich Lopez
Premier Boxing Champions returns back to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday. Three fights are scheduled to be televised on the Fox telecast and the focus will be on the heavyweight division. Three undefeated heavyweights are looking to make a name for themselves and all three will have worthy challengers.
In the main event, one of the most exciting heavyweights is back and now aiming closer to a world title shot. Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (20-0, 15 KO’s) of Poland, will be making his tenth appearance at the Barclays Center. Kownacki was a good amateur boxer who won the 2006 and 2009 New York Golden Gloves Championships. He started his professional career in 2009 and he had a brief absence from the sport from 2011-2012 due to injuries. He resumed his career in 2013 and he started to make a name for himself. In 2017, Kownacki really opened our eyes when he stopped fellow countrymen Artur Szpilka in an all-out Polish showdown. Kownacki made a huge statement and stopped Szpilka in the fourth round. He had a stellar 2019 with two impressive victories over Gerald Washington and Chris Arreola. His fight with Arreola was one of the best fights of 2019. Both men slugged it out for twelve rounds which produced a CompuBox heavyweight record of 667 punches landed and 2,172 punches thrown from both fighters combined. This is one of the reasons why Kownacki is must see TV. He is an action fighter that is aggressive. He also has power and he throws many punches.
On Saturday, he will be fighting in a WBA World Heavyweight Title Eliminator and his opponent will be Robert Helenius (29-3, 18 KO’s) of Finland. Helenius, who is known as “The Nordic Nightmare,” was actually a top heavyweight when Kownacki was just getting started in his pro career. Helenius secured victories over Samuel Peter, Siarhei Liakhovich, and Dereck Chisora in 2010 and 2011. He was being talked about as an opponent to possibly dethrone Wladimir Klitschko at that time. From 2012-2014, his career was set back due to injuries and layoffs. Since returning to the ring in 2015, Helenius has struggled to get back on top and has lost when stepping up in competition. Most recently, in his American debut last year, he was stopped by Gerald Washington in the eighth round. He did bounce back with a win in November against easy competition with a TKO over Mateus Roberto Osorio.
Kownacki will be looking for another knockout victory in his hometown in front of his Polish fans. He is getting closer to a bigger fight but he needs to get past Helenius first. As for the 36 year old Helenius, this will probably be his last shot in a big fight and he will try to make the most of it.
In the co-main event, Efe Ajagba (12-0, 10 KO’s) of Nigeria, looks to continue his rise in the heavyweight division. Ajagba is a former 2016 Olympian that has gotten a quick start to his professional career and has gained a lot of attention. Since he started his pro career in 2017, he has kept a busy schedule with most of his knockout victims not seeing past the fifth round. The 6’6” heavyweight is a fearsome puncher with a devastating right hand. Ajagba is also known to be involved in the shortest boxing match in history in 2018. His opponent Curtis Harper walked out of the ring in the first round when the bell rang which resulted in a disqualification win for Ajagba. In Ajagba’s last fight in December of last year, he had to battle through adversity. After dropping his opponent Iago Kiladze in the first round, Ajagba was dropped in the third round. Ultimately, Ajagba recovered and stopped Kiladze in the fifth round. On Saturday, Ajagba will square off with battle tested Razvan Cojanu (17-6, 9 KO’s) of Romania. Cojanu is 1-4 in his last five fights but on paper this will be a solid test for Ajagba. Cojanu has only lost to top fighters in his career.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Frank Sanchez (14-0, 11 KO’s) of Cuba, is also looking to continue his rise in the heavyweight division. Sanchez was a decorated amateur who got his start to his professional career in 2017. Sanchez has been on a quick start and has looked good so far in his career. He has shown quick hands and good power. He will take on his toughest opponent up to date. His opponent will be Joey “Tank” Dawejko (20-7-4, 11 KO’s) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Don’t be fooled by the record. Out of his seven losses, he was only stopped once earlier in his career which was to former heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Dawejko is solid and has good skills and should serve as a solid test for Sanchez.
Fight Preview: Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas
By: Rich Lopez
After the big heavyweight showdown this past weekend between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, our focus will be in the welterweight division this Saturday. DAZN will be streaming a huge fight card at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. The main event will be a clash of former world champions between Mikey Garcia and Jessie Vargas. The undercard will also feature two world title fights and a return of a top heavyweight contender.
The main event will be for the vacant WBC Diamond Welterweight Title. Former four weight division champion Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KO’s) of Moreno Valley, California, will square off with former two weight division champion Jessie “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KO’s) of Las Vegas, Nevada. Garcia, who has won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140, moved up to the welterweight division last year. In an effort to win a title in a fifth weight division, he fought one of the best welterweights in Errol Spence Jr. Garcia ended up losing a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision but in a gutsy effort. With almost a year off, Garcia is back and ready to make another attempt at a world title in the welterweight division. First, he needs to get by the tough Jessie Vargas. Vargas who has won titles at 140 and 147, is looking for a major title shot himself. Since losing his WBO World Welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao in 2016, he has gone 2-0-2 in his last four fights. Both fighters are looking for a big win this weekend. Garcia is the favorite to win the fight as he is the more superior boxer. Vargas on the other hand is the natural bigger fighter between the two. You would have to think that Vargas has more to lose in this fight than Garcia. If Vargas loses, this can set his career back and further away from a title shot. If Garcia loses, he will be reminded to move back down to 140 or 135 where he is at his best. Expect an entertaining fight between two boxer punchers that love to mix it up.
One of the most intriguing fights on the undercard will be the co-feature in the super flyweight division. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KO’s) of Nicaragua, is back for another chance to become a world champion again. Gonzalez, who was a four weight division champion, was once heralded as the pound for pound king. In 2017, Gonzalez lost back to back fights against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai which set him back to the point that some critic’s think he is not the same fighter anymore. That can change on Saturday with a win but it won’t be easy. His challenger is WBA World Super Flyweight Champion Khalid Yafai (26-0, 15 KO’s) of the United Kingdom. Yafai, who was a decorated amateur, won the world title in 2016. He has made five successful title defenses and now will be looking for his sixth title defense. Yafai is a good boxer with speed and good foot work. However, he still needs a signature win and a win over Gonzalez would do it. This will be an interesting fight with a contrast in styles. Yafai will look to box and move while the aggressive Gonzalez will be coming forward. Will Yafai breakthrough as the new star in the division or does Gonzalez have another big win left in him?
The other world title fight on the undercard is in the flyweight division. WBC World Flyweight Champion Julio Cesar “El Rey” Martinez (15-1, 12 KO’s) of Mexico, will be making his second defense of the title. He will face off with Jay Harris (17-0, 9 KO’s) of the United Kingdom. Martinez, who lost his professional debut in 2015 by split decision has won fifteen fights straight since then. Last year, Martinez was on his way to stopping Charlie Edwards in a WBC title fight, but the fight was ruled a no contest. Martinez unintentionally hit Edwards while he was down. However, Martinez ended the year winning the vacant WBC title with a stoppage victory over former world champion Cristopher Rosales in the ninth round. Martinez is one of most exciting world champions today. He has a fan friendly style and he likes to mix his punches to the body and head. In addition, Martinez has a unique style of switching stances while he attacks. Harris is a fast fighter and likes to throw combinations. The undefeated Welshmen is a skilled boxer and is looking for the upset come Saturday night. Can Harris dethrone the hard punching Martinez or will Martinez add another stoppage victory to his resume? Based on styles, this should be an action packed fight.
Also on the undercard, former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (26-2, 20 KO’s) of New Zealand, makes his return. He will face off with Shawndell Terell Winters (13-2, 12 KO’s) of Harvey, Illinois. Parker was scheduled for a showdown with Dereck Chisora back in October of last year. However, an illness prevented Parker to move forward with the fight. Parker’s last fight was in June of last year when he stopped Alex Leapai in the tenth round. Parker is aiming for another title shot but needs to shake off some rust and is taking a warm up fight against Winters.
Also there will be other undefeated prospects being showcased on the card like Alexis Espino (5-0, 4 KO’s), Diego Pacheco (8-0, 7 KO’s) and Israil Madrimov (4-0, 4 KO’s).
The card is stacked and it should be a fun filled night of action.
Fight Night in Nashville Preview: Caleb Plant vs. Vincent Feigenbutz
By: Alex Perl
This Saturday a fight card will be underway which is in unfamiliar territory for most boxing fans. Nashville, Tennessee will be hosting a card headlined by IBF super middleweight champion and hometown hero Caleb Plant. The night will consist of nine total fights, but this preview is going to talk about the two main fights.
Bryant Perrella vs Abel Ramos is a welterweight fight that should catch some attention. Ramos may be a familiar name to some as he has faced some well known opposition. Some of the opponents that the 28-year old Ramos (25-3-2) has fought along the way include former champions in Regis Prograis and Ivan Barachyk. Ramos came up short against Prograis and Barachyk, but despite these losses, Ramos actually had a draw with former WBO light welterweight champion Maurice Hooker.
Perrella (17-2) is no fluke himself. His only two losses were to familiar names Luis Collazo and Yordenis Ugas. The hard hitting Perrella has knocked out 74% of his opponents. You can expect a dog fight in this one, with a very possible knockout from one of the two power punchers.
The main event should be an interesting fight. 27-year old champion Caleb Plant looks to defend his title in his home state of Tennessee. Plant (19-0) from nearby Ashland City, will defend his belt for the second time against challenger Vincent Feigenbutz (31-2) of Germany. The 24-year old Feigenbutz, despite being three years younger then Plant, is the more experienced of the fighters, with 33 total professional bouts.
Although the competition for Feigenbutz has not been at the level of Caleb Plant, Feigenbutz has not lost a fight in four years. Although the undefeated Plant is a heavy favorite in this hometown fight, you can never quite call anyone out of it in this sport and Feigenbutz will be looking for the upset. If Feigenbutz could pull an upset in this hometown reunion for Plant, it could be reminiscent of Julian Williams upsetting Jarrett Hurd in his hometown fight in Virginia.
One thing is for sure, we will not know who takes this one until the bell rings, with that being said, expect some fireworks from this one with both fighters possessing more than their fair share of power.
Gary Russell Jr. Defends Featherweight Title Against ‘King Tug’ Nyambayar
By Robert Aaron Contreras
Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KO) does not move at the same speed as everybody else. Quick to strike but slow to sign, he finally has another worthy challenger, facing Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KO) in defense of his WBC featherweight championship, headlining a PBC on Showtime billing on February 8 from the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The fight comes a week after a scalp of Russell’s, that being JoJo Diaz, dethroned former titleholder Tevin Farmer by decision. His own points win over Diaz only looks better in hindsight. And without doubt the oft-criticized American could use the goodwill. Totaling four title defenses since lifting the WBC’s green belt, Russell has routinely maneuvered his way into easy touches and sparse ones at that, turning away Diaz two years ago already.
Fighting on Saturday will be his first since May 2019: par for the course, having fought once a year since 2014. That same year he was wildly outboxed by Vasyl Lomachenko. A year later, in 2015, Russell astonishingly lifted the strap from Jhonny Gonzalez, at the time featherweight’s most lethal hitter.
That was March 2015 when Russell ripped Gonzalez apart, earning a fourth-round TKO. His fists moving in blinding patterns, it was his masterwork. But the frustration surrounding Russell has little to do with him as a fighter instead Russell, the champion, who like his fists, operates at a different frequency, a timetable only he can decipher.
Five years on, Russell, 31, is preparing for just his fifth defense, making an art of inactivity and manipulating time: pushing the sanctioning body’s patience from the sidelines before slipping in a mandatory defense at the eleventh hour. Russell enjoys the throne, transfixed and immovable at the center of a raging continuum. Last May, he even seemed to go backwards in time in order to resurrect Kiko Martinez, presumably from the coffin he had been laying in since his past days as as super bantamweight contender.
Unsurprisingly, Martinez did not last five rounds with Russell. But against every boxer’s will, the clock keeps ticking. Father Time (and gravity, they are related after all) having recently forced out Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton and Oscar Valdez to junior lightweight, Russell is by far the oldest beltholder at 126 pounds. Older than Shakur Stevenson by practically a decade. Of TBRB’s top-8 featherweights in the world, Russell is the only one over the age of 30. Helping round out the Top 10 is Oscar Escandon, 36, who lost three straight before a miraculous upset over Jhack Tepora propelled him into the rankings.
In 2018, Russell pulverized Escandon. It took the champion seven rounds to do it. And that was seven too many for most as the the fight was chided when it was announced. Escandon being only 3-2 in his previous five fights, it was deservedly labeled a squash match.
So what was the difference when a year later Nyambayar, commonly referred to as “King Tug,” did the same thing to Escandon? For starters, Nyambayar did it faster: ending his man’s night in three rounds. Knocking him out in fewer than his previous opponents was just what the former Olympian should aim for. Moreover, the 27-year-old California transplant was just nine bouts into his career, laying the foundation to a healthy career after a notable rise out of Mongolia.
King Tug’s two-handed sequence that left Escandon on his back was a tremendous follow-up to the flash knockdown he suffered just before that against Filipino veteran Harmonito Dela Torre. Nyambayar would otherwise have little trouble, winning a wide decision verdict over eight rounds. But nothing was more impressive than his most recent appearance.
In a WBC eliminator, Nyambayar met Claudio Marrero, who is no slouch of a puncher, and a well scienced southpaw. It was a sink or swim contest for Nyamabar, a hump every blue-chipper has to get over, but not one every blue-chipper welcomes after just 10 fights. He would handle Marrero, stunning him early and eating his opponent’s biggest shots to earn a unanimous decision victory and a date with Russell.
Rigondeaux highlights undercard
In chief support, Guillermo Rigondeaux will be trying his fragile hands at bantamweight. Unlike most aging fighters found ballooning up in age, the 39-year-old Rigo is moving down, from 122 pounds to 118.
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KO) will be welcomed to the category with a WBA title fight against Liborio Solis (30-5-1), who years ago briefly held a belt at 115 pounds. The contest will be Rigondeaux’s third performance under the handling of Al Haymon. Opting to sign an exclusive contract with the PBC after calling “no mas” opposite Lomachenko in 2017. The Cuban legend has since won two straight, each by knockout.
Solis 37, is no spring chicken. But his recent run fighting in Latin America, after a failed series of bouts with Jamie McDonnell, has paid off, winning five in a row, including three by KO. Rigondeaoux, despite pushing 40, is still leagues above that competition Solis saw, made up of part-timers and tomato cans.
In other bouts scheduled for the show, Russell’s brothers are also suiting up for action. Sharing the same first name, both Gary Antuanne and Gary Antonio are the undefeated, younger siblings to the featherweight champion. Antuanne, 23, competed in the 2016 Olympics and Antonio, 27, was a runner up in the national amateurs.
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.