Dec 10 Preview & Predictions - HUGE Fight Day
Here's a breakdown of the entire boxing day with my predictions added for you beautiful diehards out there:
Joseph Parker (21-0, 18KO's) vs Andy Ruiz (29-0, 19KO's) coverage starts at 3PM eastern time on BoxNation and is also re-aired on the HBO broadcast later on at 9:35PM eastern time. This is a very intriguing fight. Ruiz came in at 255lbs, which is higher than expected, but that could also be a blessing in disguise. Had Ruiz came in at the lightest weight of his career as many would expect that could also indicate overtraining or undue stress on a body that could be ready to go at any time. Many injuries occur when fighters try extreme measures when taking off weight and Andy would likely be no exception given his unique body. That being said what makes this fight most interesting to me is that Ruiz has the hand speed advantage and straight punching advantage. By all means his faster and straighter shots should land first but Parker seems to have that thoroughbred "X-Factor" about him that we especially like in heavyweights. In all honesty, I could see a TKO in this fight due to Parkers body holding up and Ruiz's body breaking down.
Another early fight card is from Manchester, which should kick off around 1PM eastern time. First up is the quick return to the ring of Luis "King Kong" Ortiz. By all means he is looking to get back in the knockout category which is the expected outcome of this fight. I do not expect his opponent David Allen to go the distance, which he surprisingly did in his last outing against Dillian Whyte.
After Ortiz we have Scott Quigg (31-1-2, 23KO's) making his first appearance at featherweight. My all time favorite division, the featherweight division, gets even more stacked with his move up! Quigg was very large a weight below so this should be a natural progression for him. For his first appearance at the weight Quigg has been thrown in with Tijuana toughman Jose Cayetano (20-4, 9KO's). Quigg is a massive favorite at 35/1, and rightly so, but beware that Cayetano is no walk in the park as he can fight from either southpaw or orthodox stance and has went the distance with world class fighters having never been stopped. As usual, Eddie Hearn knows exactly what he is doing in getting Quigg some rounds but not at a huge risk.
After Quigg we have Hosea Burton (18-0, 9KO's) vs Frank Buglioni (18-2-1, 14KO's). Burton is the undefeated fighter and clear favorite in the matchup but you just never know with Buglioni as far as his up and down performances. Don't get me wrong - Buglioni always comes to fight - but is this the type of fight he can win with his leaky defense? It's interesting and it will tell us a lot about the calibre of fighter Burton is because Buglioni is no gimme matchup. In fact, I think the odds should be a lot closer than they are.
Next up is the tall and lanky phenom Callum Smith (21-0, 16KO's) taking on Luke Blackledge (12-2-, 7KO's). While Blackledge is a capable fighter I believe this fight is set up for building Smith. Blackledge is the perfect style of standup fighter with little head movement or foot movement to even make him guess. Rocky Fielding had a Field day with Blackledge while Smith blasted right through Fielding, which should really say something about this fight. I understand that "Fighter B beating fighter C while fighter A drubbed fighter B so he should easily beat fighter C" logic doesn't always turn out true because styles play massive roles but Smith isn't likely to get tested until he hits world class opponents in my opinion.
Next up in Manchester is a nice big man fight with Dillian Whyte (19-1, 15KO's) vs Dereck Chisora (26-6, 18KO's). After the table throwing incident at the press conference this fight has drummed up more interest, which it should have rightly had from the start. Chisora will be starting off the new year with a two year suspension as the result of his table tirade but can he pull off the upset to become relevant on the boxing scene instead of just a name that can provoke headlines? I believe so but it is certainly going to be an uphill battle. I think Chisora's best chance is to land a fight-changing right hand to get on top of Whyte. Chisora's problem is he is looking old of late, which is why his quicker aggressive style is more a thing of the past that he only shows flashes of from time to time. He is dangerous, but Whyte should be able to steer clear of danger and outpoint a slow moving target.
Pre main event is Khalid Yafai (20-0, 14KO's) vs Luis Concepcion (35-4, 24KO's). Concepcion surprisingly lost his title on the scales today which is a bit of a worry going into this one. Concepcion is ever the classy veteran that always comes to fight so it makes me wonder if it is a calculated move to try and close the gap in size against the much larger Yafai. As I broke down in my audio blog with BoxingChanneltv I see Yafai as being along the lines of Kell Brook and how he was brought up methodically. Could Concepcion be the Carson Jones to throw a wrench in the big plans laid out for Yafai? Not likely, as that is not his style of fight. Concepcion is at his best when using his great footwork to get angles on opponents that they don't see coming which is the extra weight worries me a bit. Perhaps it shouldn't, because Concepcion is not known for gassing out in any of his fights. He has a tall task to overcome in this one though as Yafai is much larger and super athletic to go with the size. Not to mention trained to a T no doubt for this big event. I have to favor Yafai because of the aforementioned, but with all the wars and great fights Concepcion has offered up over the years it really wouldn't surprise me if he at minimum revealed some flaws to Yafai's pro game.
Main event in Manchester is of course Anthony Joshua (17-0, 17KO's) defending his IBF title against Eric Molina (25-3, 19KO's), which should take place around 4:30PM eastern time. This is one of those interesting bouts from a viewing standpoint. What I mean is Joshua is a 50/1 favorite and I'm not going to argue a case of Molina winning but I foresee fireworks exploding in a short fight. Molina, although stopped in all three of his losses, hurt his opponent in every single one of those losses. He rocked Chris Arreola and he rocked Deontay Wilder. He has a powerful right hand and he lands it at some point every single fight he has been in. Joshua is skilled enough to prevent that from happening of course but Molina is just one of those guys that isn't going to go quietly. It will be interesting to see if he lands that right hand on Joshua; perhaps he can rock the young gun like Whyte did.
In Wroclaw, Poland, there is a cruiserweight title fight with Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (51-3-1, 37KO's) vs Leon Harth (14-1, 10KO's). "El Diablo" should have no problems at all in this one as the paper trail says it all. What boxing fans should hope, however, is to get more viewing time of Wladarczyk. He is getting older and has had lots of fights and he is really a world class boxer that is fun to watch.
This brings us to the HBO broadcast that starts airing at 9:35PM eastern time. Aside from the re-airing of the Joseph Parker vs Andy Ruiz card from Auckland, New Zealand, the first televised fight on this card is a very intriguing one in Mason Menard (32-1, 24KO's) vs Raymundo Beltran (31-7-1, 19KO's). Mason Menard is a late replacement for Juan Diaz, who has been trying to burst back onto the scene for what seems like forever now but cannot get past injuries. In any case "Rock Hard" took this fight on three days notice and is entering as the underdog after coming off a lackluster performance against Bahodir Mamadjonov where he looked frozen in time and bothered by a cut until he got the knockout. Before that he scored the knockout of the year against Eudy Bernardo, so we have ourselves an interesting case of a fighter with over 30 fights where we do not know what to expect out of him. This is why Beltran enters as the favorite; we know what to expect. Beltran always comes in tip top shape and has had a bit of a late career surge along the lines of Orlando Salido. What to expect here? I could make a good case for either guy and since I leaned towards Beltran initially when this fight came together I am going to stick with him. Believe it or not what worries me more than Menards fight against Mamadjonov is his third and fourth professional bouts from 2008. Ancient history? Perhaps. Or perhaps he is hiding a vulnerable chin, as he almost started his career 2-2 with two stoppage losses.
The main event for the HBO broadcast from Omaha Nebraska features Terence Crawford (29-0, 20KO's) vs John Molina Jr. (29-6, 23KO's). Nothing too special to talk about for this fight as I expect Crawford to easily outpoint Molina for all twelve rounds. I don't think Molina is going to get anywhere near landing his powerful right hand and even if he does Crawford can take it.
On HBO's rival network, Showtime has a very good boxing card from the Galen Center in Los Angeles. They will be re-airing the Anthony Joshua vs Eric Molina fight and then they have Sergey Lipinets (10-0, 8KO's) vs Leonardo Zappavigna (35-2, 25KO's). Lipinets enters as a nearly 5/1 favorite but I think this is a much closer fight than the betting lines indicate. Lipinets has knockout power but he is not a smooth, natural boxer with his kickboxing background and he showed just that in March when Levan Ghvamichava gave him some boxing lessons before succumbing to the pressure. Zappavigna has a serious amateur boxing background to go with his professional one and it's hard for me to imagine someone walking straight through him because of heavy hands. I believe Lipinets will have to show another dimension in being able to methodically break down, or outbox, Zappavigna. On the other side I can see Zappavigna using both of his hands to catch Lipinets off guard with his leaky defense. Zappa has a very good left hook and he allows follows with a straight, accurate right hand that has pop on it as well. I expect this fight to be a war and I think Zappa's deep boxing background will see him through in the end, although in the war that could break out we may just get any sort of surprise. Don't miss this fight.
Next up is what I believe to be potentially the most meaningful fight of the day in Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18KO's) vs Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14KO's). This is an amazing matchup that I am really happy came through in the end after failed negotiations and then other various postponements. This should by all means be the main event, in my opinion. But in any case; a case can be made for either man in this fight. Charlo is the more seasoned fighter having fought Austin Trout and Cornelius Bundrage. K9 was tailor made for him but Trout gave him some serious problems. Charlo looks a lot like fellow Texas native Donald Curry to me, as he likes to sit in the middle of the ring and line up power shots straight down the pipe. He is a patient fighter but appears to be looking for one single punch most the time. Williams, on the other hand, looks like he has more styles to fight as he can press and create openings or he can sit back and counterpunch. That is not to say, however, that Williams is the better fighter. We don't know that yet due to level of opposition. They both look like thoroughbred fighters to my eyes - blue chippers. If I had to pick one I would Charlo just based off of his level of opposition but I will admit that we have yet to see if he learned anything from the close fight against Trout that was his big step up. Williams, on the other hand, has to prove he is at the world class level he appears to be. This is a fight no boxing fan should miss.
Finally in the Showtime main event we have Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21KO's) vs Abner Mares (29-1-, 15KO's). This fight could produce some great fireworks as well. Cuellar likes to be the bully in the ring and is always coming forward but I question what happens when he cannot be the bully. In his lone career loss to Oscar Escandon he got broken down when he did not get his way. Lone aberration on his record and a bad night? Perhaps, but I saw the same trend in his last fight against Jonathan Oquendo a year ago when he suffered a cut and looked very frustrated for a period of time in the ring. He pulled off that win with no problems and threw over a thousand punches but Cuellar strikes me as the type of man that likes getting his way and likes being the bully. Against Mares, I would not expect him to get his way for the entire fight. Mares also likes going forward, just like Cuellar, but Mares is not at all afraid to roughhouse and use dirty tactics to get his way in the ring. What will Cuellar do if he gets held? What will he do if he gets head butted and cut? What will he do if Mares hits him with a low blow to slow him down? All valid questions going into this one. When you have two pressure fighters that fight best going forward you sometimes have to favor the bigger one, which is Cuellar, but I question how he will react to adversity and rough tactics that Mares is sure to bring.
Finally tomorrow night we have a beIN card featuring the comeback of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It is not grabbing a lot of headlines here in the states but in my opinion Chavez could still potentially offer some interesting fights if he can put his career together. I would not bet on any line for him coming into a fight in shape and proper weight but if he can get reinvigorated like he once was he can shake up the super middleweight division. People forget that once upon a time he was a guy fighting every couple months and very slowly and gradually stepping up in class methodically. You have to be some sort of a fighter to beat guys like Andy Lee, Brian Vera, Sebastian Zbik, Peter Manfredo Jr., etc. Also let's not forget that he spelled the beginning of the end of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who was never the same after slowly breaking down against Chavez Jr. only to nearly suffer the same fate as Meldrick Taylor in the final round. All I am saying is that once upon a time Chavez Jr. was a decent fighter that made things interesting and perhaps he could reach that level yet again.