By AC on Wednesday, January 22, 2020
What to watch for in boxing’s best weekend this year
From The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Time: 6:00 PM PT, 9:00 PM ET, 2:00 AM GMT Online: UFC Fight Pass Steve Rolls 19–1 (10 KOs) vs Gilberto Pereira dos Santa 16–10 (12 KOs) 10 rounds middleweight division Steve Rolls entered the public spotlight when he was chosen as the comeback opponent for Gennadiy Golovkin. Golovkin was coming off his first career loss and this was seen as a holding pattern fight to set up the trilogy with Canelo. Rolls didn’t appear to have a chance heading into the fight, however there was a sliver of a moment when Rolls appeared to at least stagger him. Combine this with the crisp shots Rolls managed to slip past Golovkin’s guard and there’s reason to pay attention to Rolls. Maybe it was an off-performance, maybe Rolls was a better competitor than expected. Rolls will return in a get back fight of his own and it will come against an opponent with probably less of a shot than Rolls did in his meeting with Golovkin. Custio Clayton 17–0 (11 KOs) vs Diego Ramirez 21–3 (6 KOs) 10 rounds welterweight division You may take a look at Clayton’s record and the fact that he’s a welterweight and ask yourself why isn’t he ever brought up as a potential opponent for the guys with names at welterweight. The answer is that he’s in a similar situation as Steve Rolls. He’s 32 years old which would firmly place him outside of the prospect category and typically that this age with no significant wins usually isn’t coincidentally. Clayton is due though and he will get his shot in due time. Canadians had high hopes for their former Olympian, but jumping between three promotions has prevented him gaining any momentum. He even spent a year as Terence Crawford’s mandatory in a fight that never came to be. #5 with the IBF, #6 with the WBO, and #13 with the WBA, it should be a matter of time so long as he doesn’t take a shock loss. Thursday January 30th From Meridian at Island Gardens, Miami, Florida Main Card: 6:00 PM PT, 9:00 PM ET, 2:00 AM GMT Undercard: 4:00 PM PT, 7:00 PM ET, 12:00 AM GMT Online: DAZN Demetrius Andrade 28–0 (17 KOs) vs Luke Keeler 17–2–1 (5 KOs) 12 rounds WBO world middleweight title Keeler’s no stranger to being an underdog. Perceived as an overmatched feather-fist going into a fight with Luis Arias, he did what Danny Jacobs and Gabriel Rosado couldn’t and dropped him twice. But this should be a bridge way too far. Boo Boo has a questionable chin, but the southpaw technician has neutralized far better opponents in the past. He’s had a bizarre career. As an amateur, he beat Keith Thurman twice to become a 2008 Olympian (and expected by many as a gold medalist) before a highly controversial decision loss drove him to turn professional. And as a professional, Andrade’s managed to become a 2-division titlist, but for a variety of reasons, several meaningful match-ups failed to materialize for him. Having claimed a piece of the middleweight crown and returned to activity, things look a bit better for Boo Boo. But the pressure is now on Andrade to impress and find a way to move the needle for the big names. Tevin Farmer 30–4–1 (6 KOs) vs Joseph Diaz 30–1 (15 KOs) 12 rounds IBF world super featherweight title This fight has high potential to be incredibly controversial. The styles of Farmer and Diaz are polar opposites and it is conceivable that both can have an equal amount of success in the fight. What adds fuel to that fire is that neither guy has shown much power in their career. We’ve see Diaz struggle with his offense in fights and we’ve also seen Farmer lose. It should be an interesting fight to see how the two styles fit together. Diaz has impressed with combinations and body-work, but has difficulty getting them off against mobile opposition. Farmer can be slick, but his questionable power and offense might get him overwhelmed and outworked. If there’s a clear winner, it’ll likely be the guy who brought in better adjustments. ⭐️FIGHT OF THE WEEK⭐️Daniel Roman 27–2–1 (10 KOs) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev 7–0 (6 KOs) 12 rounds WBA super world bantamweight title IBF world super bantamweight title This has potential to be one of those fighters where you think to yourself afterward about how it was entirely predictable. Danny Roman carries with him a world of experience, he’s faced guys with contrasting styles all over the world and after a couple of early hiccups in his career has transformed himself into a world class fighter. Akhmadaliev enters with just 7 pro fights. Yes, you can talk about his amateur pedigree as much as you want which includes 5 fights in the World Series of Boxing, but at the end of the day the book says 7 fights. We’ve seen this play out before as well. Guys who have a handful of pro fights and get rushed into fights they aren’t ready for getting embarrassed. But what does that say about Murodjon if he’s able to turn that conventional wisdom away and beat the life out of a unified champion? He certainly has one of the most pro-ready styles of any 2016 Olympians and didn’t need long to start putting hurt behind his punches. Lots of talented amateurs have the skill, but this level of aggression and power is uncommon. In spite of Danny’s belts and experience, some still view him as one of the sport’s more vulnerable world champions. The betting odds have shifted to favor the Uzbek as they believe the pressure will bring out his potential. A disrespected unified champion searching for legitimacy and acclaim, an amateur prodigy who believes he’s ready to explode on the scene, two guys happy to take one to give one back. Who’s in for a rude awakening? Anthony Sims Jr 20–0 (18 KOs) vs Roamer Alexis Angulo 25–1 (22 KOs) 10 rounds super middleweight division Sims hasn’t looked incredible thus far, but he’s looked good enough to be considered amongst the most interesting prospects in the sport. Angulo is a solid opponent for him at this stage in his career. Angulo went the distance with Gilberto Ramirez and even managed to stun him a few times… which doesn’t say much about Angulo, but it’s something. Vaughn Alexander upsetting Money Powell IV has that win looking better in hindsight for the Magician. The cousin of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Sims believes he has the skill and the charisma to make waves. Fighting in the torrid 168 pound division is both a blessing and a curse. The questionable depth should ease Anthony’s path to a world title, but making people care about a low-profile division is its own challenge. Friday January 31st From Kinshasa, Democratic Republic Of The Congo Illunga Makabu 26–2 (24 KOs) vs. Michal Cieslak 19–0 (13 KOs) 12 rounds vacant WBC World Cruiser Title It’s been 4 years since Tony Bellew came off the canvas to stop Illunga Makabu for the WBC belt. The Congolese boxer hasn’t lost since, adding wins over Dmitry Kudryashev and the undefeated Aleksei Papin to his record. Meanwhile, the Pole has impressed against Radchenko (who knocked Krzysztof Glowacki down), Kalenga (who lost a split-decision to Kevin Lerena), and Durodola (who went 10 with Wlodarczyk and Vlasov, but just 2 with the Pole). But he’s the far less proven boxer with a lower knockout rate to boot. Cieslak’s looking for a coming out party in a division searching for a king, while Makabu knows that the end-game is in sight: the final piece of his comeback story.
From Yantarny Sports Palace, Kaliningrad, Russia Sergey Vorobiev 9–0 (6 KOs) vs. Karen Chukhadzhyan 15–1 (7 KOs) 10 rounds welterweight division The Ukrainian 23 year old has done well to win every fight (including a decision against Ali Funeka) since losing his debut. But the man with the most hype around him is the Russian standing in the other corner. As a 23 year old in his 7th professional fight, Vorobiev defeated a 34–0 Konstantin Ponomarev on the doorstep of a title shot. For unclear reasons, a WBC 154 pound final eliminator against Hassan Mwakinyo never materalized and now Vorobiev instead hopes to make a splash in the sport’s deepest division. From Hirsch Coliseum, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA Main Card: 7:00 PM PT, 10:00 PM ET, 3:00 AM GMT TV: Showtime (US) Ruben Villa 17–0 (5 KOs) vs Alexei Collado 26–2 (23 KOs) 10 rounds featherweight division Ruben’s 166–17 amateur record has him beating guys like Shakur Stevenson (twice), Devin Haney, Stephen Fulton, Gary Antonio Russell. He has a score to settle with Stevenson, who beat Villa twice in the 2015 Olympic trials and denied him a trip to Rio. The Salinas native’s speed, skill, and footwork have impressed so far, with his apparent lack of power drawing the most concern. This bit of matchmaking is clearly meant to give Villa a chance to work against a guy with heavier hands. Villa should show he’s able to fully neutralize his opponents or gain their respect to set himself up as a true contender. Taras Shelestyuk 17–0 (10 KOs) vs. Luis Alberto Veron 18–1–2 (9 KOs) 10 rounds welterweight division A 2011 AIBA gold medal and 2012 Olympic bronze medal had many hoping the Ukrainian southpaw would be the next best thing at 147. Hype dissipated with struggles against gatekeepers (to be fair, Jaime Herrera was known as a prospect killer). Then a promotional dispute kept him out of the ring for 2 years. At 34 years old, this is the final run for a fascinating fighter who still believes he has something left to prove. A year back, the (formerly) #6 ranked Veron was nearing a WBO title shot before losing to Michael McKinson and exiting the rankings. Hard to say for sure if the winner of this bout can gain any help from the sanctioning bodies, but an emphatic win for either guy could at least be parlayed into future television dates. Jerry Pérez 12–0 (9 KOs) vs. Zhora Hamazaryan 9–1–1 (6 KOs) 8 rounds lightweight division The two stains on the 23 year old Zhora’s record were highly controversial decisions to fellow prospect Thomas Mattice, who recently upset the undefeated Michael Dutchover. At just 23, Zhora might still have a story to write, while Perez looks to distinguish himself from the field against a provenly difficult competitor. These are the exact fights that ShoBox: The New Generation is meant to produce. Saturday February 1st From Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi Main Card: 5:00 PM PT, 8:00 PM ET, 1:00 AM GMT TV: FS1 (US) Yordenis Ugas 24–4 (11 KOs) vs Mike Dallas Jr 23–3–2 (11 KOs) 12 rounds welterweight division After several close decision losses to nondescript opposition, the Olympic bronze medalist revitalized his career and came within a hair of claiming a world title. At 33, time is of the essence for Ugas. He’s ranked in position to consider options for the WBC interim and WBA regular belt, but the pathway to a full world title will be even quicker if he’s able to impress here. Michel Rivera 17–0 (11 KOs) vs Fidel Maldonado Jr 27–4–1 (20 KOs) 10 rounds lightweight division Rivera is a prospect that has slipped under the cracks. He has looked electric at times, however like with most prospects who don’t get the big upfront deals he’s had some fights where he floundered. That’s not to say he’s not worth checking out or he isn’t a future world champion. Prospects need time to grow and develop and this is a good fight for where Rivera is at this point in his career. He’s 21 with massive upside. Omar Juarez 6–0 (4 KOs) vs Angel Martinez Hernandez 10–1 (10 KOs) 6 rounds super lightweight division Omar Juarez had one of the more devastating knockouts of 2019 and he’s back with a much more dangerous opponent. Angel Martinez Hernandez comes in with a pretty decent record albeit he’s not facing tough competition, however the same could be said about Juarez. The thing that makes this intriguing is that Hernandez has won every fight by knockout and Juarez has shown he’s a bit of a puncher himself. It’s rare you see a prospect matched like this so early in their career.