Archive for boxing

Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana Preview

Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana

(WBA Welterweight Title)

 12 Rounds, San Antonio, TX, December 14, 2013 (Showtime)

Adrien “The Problem” Broner packs up the circus tent and heads to San Antonio, Texas this weekend to defend his newly acquired WBA Welterweight Title against hard hitting veteran Marcos Maidana.  Just 24-years of age, Broner is 27-0 with 22 knockouts, he is currently rated 5th according to boxrec.com, and he is one of the most talented and flamboyant stars in the sport today.  Unfortunately , Broner’s title winning effort against  Paulie Malignaggi back in June was anything but decisive, and now he is looking to make a statement this weekend against formidable Argentine Marcos Maidana, a 30-year old with a record of 34-3 (31 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #9.  Maidana, a former WBA junior welterweight champion, is a tremendous puncher with experience in high profile fights, and he feels he has the style to pull off the upset.  “When I fight Broner I am going to hit him everywhere and be busier,” said Maidana.  I’m prepared to throw many punches in the fight, pressure him, and cut off the ring.”

So tune in to Showtime this Saturday to see whether Adrien Broner can successfully defend his WBA crown, or whether Marcos Maidana can step up and claim his second divisional world title.     

Adrien Broner

27-0 (22)

 

Marcos Maidana

34-3 (31)

A

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

B+

A+

Hand Speed

B

B

Opposition & Experience

A

A

Defense

C+

A+

Power

A+

F

Punch Output

B+

A

Chin

A

C+

Punch Accuracy

D

A+

Conditioning

A

B-

Aggression

A

The Break Down

Adrien Broner is fast, powerful, accurate, and next to impossible to hit, but his lack of sustained offense can be a problem against more active punchers.  For example against Paulie Malignaggi, Broner showed excellent accuracy (landing at a 47% clip) but his anemic output (only 43 punches a round) made what should have been an easy fight, very, very close.  In this fight, Broner is facing an opponent who averages more than 70 punches a round, and despite distinct advantages in boxing ability, defense, and hand speed, if he plays around and gets cute in the same way, he could be in for another close fight (or much worse).  The good news, for Broner, is that his quick-strike ability and defense are so good, that even when he’s up against a high-volume attack, he is still usually the one that does the most damage.  In fact, against Malignaggi, Broner was out-thrown by 319 total punches, but he still managed to change the dynamic of the fight by landing 51% of 418 power shots (120 more than Malignaggi).  In this fight, however, Broner is facing an aggressive, action packed fighter, who relies heavily on power punching and is experienced in applying pressure to achieve desirable results.  From a statistical standpoint, Maidana is also one of the hardest hitters in the sport today, laying waste to Josesito Lopez (#23), Angel Hernandez (#548), and Jesus Soto Karass (#13) in his last three fights, and posting a career KO percentage of 83%.  He is guaranteed to come forward and make an exciting fight, utilizing his “shotgun” style of offense, and if he can keep Broner under constant duress, he is definitely capable of outhustling him over the distance.

Conclusion

This is a very intriguing boxer/puncher matchup, and the outcome of this fight really comes down to Maidana’s willingness to put everything on the line and fight consistently for 3 minutes of every round (something he did not do against Devon Alexander).  Any time spent in neutral is an advantage for Broner, and Broner is very good at winning rounds with sporadic bursts of offense.      

In the end, Broner has the advantage in five of the categories above; boxing ability, hand speed, defense, accuracy, and conditioning, while Maidana is favored in experience, punch output and aggression.  If Maidana can commit to an ultra-aggressive/high volume strategy (something he has failed to do consistently), and smother Broner without leaving himself open to counter shots, then he can do enough to win a decision.  Unfortunately, Broner is very difficult to land cleanly against as the futile punch numbers of many previous opponents can attest (Malignaggi landed just 25% of his power shots against him, Eloy Perez landed only 26 total punches through four rounds (16%) against him, Ponce De Leon mustered only 21% (well below the junior lightweight average of 32%), and Antonio DeMarco, while better, still managed to land just 26%).  If Broner can avoid the big looping shots of Maidana and counter with straighter shots, I think he will beat him to the punch, he will land the harder blows, and he will win another somewhat disputed decision victory.

(Broner by decision: 117-111)

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Zab Judah-Paulie Malignaggi Preview

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Zab Judah

(NABF Welterweight Title)

 12 Rounds, Brooklyn, NY, December 7, 2013 (Showtime)

This Saturday night, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah do battle for the vacant NABF welterweight title on a special Showtime telecast from Brooklyn, New York.  After losing 3 out of 5 fights from 2008 to 2010 to Rickey Hatton, Juan Diaz, and Amir Khan (2 by knockout), it looked as if Paulie Malignaggi’s career was reaching its end.  Since May of 2010, however, the 33-year old has won 5 out of 6 fights, including a narrow decision loss to Adrien Broner back in June of this year.  He is 32-5 with 7 knockouts, he is currently rated 15th according to boxrec.com, and he is confident that he has what it takes to win “The Battle of Brooklyn.”  The competitor in me is driven by winning,” said Malignaggi.  “Winning means everything to me. Yeah, Zab is someone I respect and looked up to coming up, but winning means everything to me. I’m a competitor in anything I do, especially boxing. It’s not hard to get up for a fight like this.” 

Malignaggi’s opponent, Zab Judah, enters this fight with a 42-8 record (29 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #5.  Now 36-years old, Judah has lost 2 of his last 3 fights (to Amir Khan and Danny Garcia), but he decisioned 3rd ranked Lucas Matthysse in the not too distant past, he put forth a good effort against Danny Garcia, and he is still a motivated fighter in the peak of physical conditioning.  My motivation comes from the opportunity,” said Judah.  “The opportunity of still being here 18 years strong, to be competitive against young fighters like Paulie Malignaggi and Danny Garcia, and to still be competing at a high level of boxing. As far as age goes, I’m far from old. This is nowhere near my last fight. This is the beginning of a turn of a new leaf. I am going to go in there and come out of this fight successfully.”
This should be an interesting matchup between two skilled veterans fighting for bragging rights on their home turf, and you can catch all the action as part of a Showtime tripleheader this Saturday night beginning at 8:00 pm ET.   

Paulie Malignaggi

32-5 (7)

 

Zab Judah

42-8 (29)

A-

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

A-

B+

Hand Speed

A-

A+

Opposition & Experience

A+

C+

Defense

B+

F

Power

B-

B-

Punch Output

D-

B+

Chin

B+

D+

Punch Accuracy

D+

A

Conditioning

A

C+

Aggression

C+

The Break Down

Paulie Malignaggi is an experienced boxer with good skill and hand speed, and in recent performances he has also displayed good combination work, and defensive skills.  If he can effectively use the ring and utilize his jab like he did against Pablo Cesar Cano (throwing 54 per round and landing double the weight class average (13)), or Adrien Broner (when he landed 10 of 39 per round) then he may able to maintain space and box successfully at distance.  While he is typically an active puncher (he averaged 70.25 punches a round versus Broner), Malignaggi is not terribly accurate (landing at around 28%), he lacks power, and he is not difficult to hit (Broner connected on 47% of his total punches).  In this fight, Malignaggi is facing an opponent with better hand speed, better defensive ability, and power, and he will need to stay active, land with combinations, and try to out-work Judah during the idle moments if he hopes to get a favorable decision.

Zab Judah is a quick-handed defensive specialist who lives and dies with the jab.  In fact, in 5 previous fights, about 70% of Judah’s total offense consisted of jabs (1356 out of 1938 total punches). Judah is elusive (in the vein of Pernell Whitaker), and he punches well from varying angles, but he doesn’t throw a tremendous amount of punches (only 44 per round-11 under the junior welterweight average of 60.3), his accuracy is slightly below the class average (28%) and his average number of power punches per round (13.6) is WELL below the median of 35.5.  I know that fights can be won with just a jab, but in this case, I believe Judah would be better served by incorporating a more forceful approach and not let Malignaggi steal rounds with his pitter-patter attack.  Judah is a good boxer with good lateral movement and hand speed, but he is facing a light puncher, and he must take more chances on offense in order to keep Malignaggi from winning a dull battle of jabs. 

Conclusion

This fight will be determined by Judah’s ability to assume the role of aggressor.  He is the faster, more polished of the two fighters, but style-wise, he needs to offer up something more noteworthy on offense if he wants to separate himself from another “jab-oriented” opponent.  If he can score with the jab, shoot lead left hands, and throw meaningful combinations I think he can get the decision nod, but throwing 44 punches a round (and only 13 power punches) will result in a dull fight with an unsatisfying, controversial ending.

In the end, I look for Judah to fight a smart, defensive fight, relying on his hand speed and experience to win the limited exchanges.  Both fighters have tremendous respect for one another, and there is little animosity between them, and as a result, I expect something resembling a glorified sparring session.  At the end of the day, I just don’t believe that Malignaggi will be able to muster up enough quality offense to get the win.  He does throw at a decent rate, and I think he will win a number of rounds because of it, but against Broner he displayed the power of a full time commentator in a charity tickle contest.  Therefore, while I think there will be many close rounds, and much pawing and posturing, I think Judah will land the more telling blows, and I think he will win a narrow victory on the cards.

(Judah by decision: 116-112)

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Fight Predictions for December 1 to December 7

Fight Predictions for Dec 1 to Dec 7

Dec 3, 2013

#3 Daiki Kameda 29-3 (18) vs. #4 Liborio Solis 15-3-1 (7), 12 rounds, IBF/WBA Junior Bantamweight Unification

Osaka, Japan

WBA junior bantamweight champion Liborio Solis and IBF champion Daiki Kameda square off in a unification bout this Tuesday in Osaka, Japan.  Solis is a 31-year old Venezuelan with a record of 15-3-1 (7 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #4.  He is a conventional fighter who covers well, has a good jab, and subtle movement, and he has won 6 fights in a row, including victories over 22nd rated Jose Salgado and 7th rated Kohei Kono.  Solis’ opponent in this fight is 24-year old Daiki Kameda, a 2-division champion with a record of 29-3 (18 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #3.  Kameda is a hard-nosed fighter with good power who has won 7 fights in a row (and 14 out of his last 15), including a recent decision over 19th rated Rodrigo Guerrero.  If he can stay active and keep Solis on the defensive, I think he will be rewarded when the “scorecard reveal” comes due. In the end, Solis is a highly skilled boxer with good defense and hand speed, but he is not a terribly active fighter, and I don’t believe he has the power to hurt Kameda.  Therefore, if Kameda can fight at a more spirited pace (something he has proven he can do), I think he will get off first, he will grab and hold on the inside, and he will win an ugly decision to unify the titles.

(Kameda by close decision: 115-113)

Dec 6, 2013

#5 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk 48-2-1 (34) vs. #29 Giacobbe Fragomeni 31-3-2 (12), WBC Cruiserweight Title

Chicago, IL (ESPN3)

5th rated cruiserweight, and current WBC champion, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, puts his title on the line this weekend in Chicago, Illinois against former 2-time cruiserweight champion (and former foe), Giacobbe Fragomeni.  Wlodarczyk is 32-years old, he is 48-2-1 with 34 knockouts, and his last loss was by way of a majority decision to Steve Cunningham back in May of 2007 (13 fights ago).  Wlodarczyk is about as no-frills as they come.  He simply comes in behind a high guard, absorbs everything thrown at him, and returns fire with a good amount of power.  In May of 2010, Wlodarczyk stopped Fragomeni in the 8th round, and in his last 3 fights he beat former 2-division world champion Danny Green, former amateur standout Francisco Palacios, and 19th rated Rakhim Chakhkiev.Wlodarczyk’s opponent in this fight is 44-year old Giacobbe Fragomeni, an Italian with a record of 31-3-2 (12 KO’s) and a boxrec.com raying of #29.  Fragomeni is unbeaten (against very modest opposition) in his last 6 fights, and he did win a controversial decision over 24th rated Silvio Branco back in December of last year, but at 44, his time at the top of the division may be running out. I expect Wlodarczyk to win the third meeting with little problem.  He is younger, he has been fighting better opposition of late, and if you have seen him recently (against Danny Green or Rakhim Chakhkiev perhaps) you know that he can be out-boxed and out-worked at times (2 things Fragomeni is unlikely to do), but he is seldom beaten.  Green was able to tag him and hurt him (and he actually led the fight on the scorecards going into the fateful 11th frame), and Francisco Palacios fought Wlodarczyk tough before losing a close decision, but in both cases Wlodarczyk came on late to win.  In this fight, Wlodarczyk is facing a lumbering fighter who doesn’t offer much offensively, and I think style-wise, he is tailor-made for the champion.  Therefore, in an exciting scrap, I think Wlodarczyk finishes the aging champion off in less time than it took before.    

(Wlodarczyk by 6th round TKO)

Dec 6, 2013

#2 Akira Yaegashi 18-3 (9) vs. #5 Edgar Sosa 49-7 (29), 12 rounds, WBC Flyweight Title

Tokyo, Japan

WBC Flyweight Champion Akira Yaegashi makes the 2nd defense of his title this Friday night against Mexican veteran Edgar Sosa in Tokyo, Japan.  Yaegashi won the WBC version of the title this past April with a comfortable decision over 14th rated Toshiyuki Igarashi, and now, the 30-year old, two-time champion is looking to extend his reign against arguably the toughest opponent of his career.  Currently, Yaegashi is 18-3 with 9 knockouts, he is rated 2nd according to boxrec.com, and his only loss in his last 12 fights came against Kazuto Ioka in June of 2012.  He has a very good jab, he is relatively busy, and he is a quick puncher with excellent accuracy.  If he can apply effective pressure, I think he will be tough to beat in this fight.Yaegashi’s opponent in this fight is 34-year old Edgar Sosa, a 2-division champion with a record of 49-7 (29 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #5.  Sosa has been in with the absolute best fighters from 108 to 112 pounds, and he has won 6 fights in row (since losing to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in October of last year), including a recent decision win over 3rd rated Giovani Segura.  He is decent inside fighter, but his true talents lie in his ability to score from the outside, effectively counter, and avoid being hit.  If he can utilize his foot movement and hand speed advantages in this fight, he may be able to steal a victory by “covering and getting out” and boxing from distance.   This should be a very interesting fight.  Sosa is an experienced boxer whose only loss in the last 3 and a half years was against future hall of famer Pongsaklek Wonjonkam, and in recent outings, he appears to be fighting better than ever.  For the past 3 years I have been expecting a downturn from him (he has been boxing professionally for more than 13 years now), but so far, he continues to impress.  In this fight, I think Sosa will have difficulty with the pressure of Yaegashi, and I don’t know if he can counter and box his way to a victory against a more aggressive, offensive-minded fighter.  Yaegashi is exciting to watch, he cuts the ring off nicely, he can take a punch well, and I think his offense will win out over the defensive skills of Sosa.  Therefore, in a close fight, I think Yaegashi will get the benefit at home, and I predict he will win a close, controversial decision by narrow margins.

(Yaegashi by close decision: 115-112)

Dec 6, 2013

#4 Chris John 48-0-3 (22) vs. #11 Simpiwe Vetyeka 25-2 (15), 12 rounds, WBA Featherweight “super” Title

Perth, Australia

This Friday, current WBA “super” featherweight champion, Chris John, makes the 19th defense of his WBA title (that’s right 19th defense) against former South African bantamweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka in Perth, Australia.  John is one of the longest reigning champions in the entire sport, and has spent more than nine straight years on Ring Magazine’s top ten featherweight list; however, despite his 48-0-3 record and his boxrec.com rating of #4, he is still relatively unknown to most outside of Southeast Asian boxing circles.   He is a sharp, accurate puncher with good hand speed and defense, he is actively aggressive, and he holds wins over Juan Manuel Marquez, Shoji Kimura, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Duad Cino Yordan.  In his last fight, John fought 12th rated Satoshi Hosono to a 3-round technical draw after suffering a severe cut from a clash of heads, and in this fight (8 months later) he faces 11th rated Simpiwe Vetyeka, a 32-year old with a record of 25-2 (15 KO’s) and wins in 9 of his last 10 contests.  Vetyeka is a quick-handed fighter with good defense and movement, and he scores often with his jab and overhand right.  If he can stand outside, leap in occasionally with combinations, and tie John up on the inside, he could possibly do enough to get the win here, but he will have to steer clear of John’s dangerous left hook, and he will have to land enough power shots to keep John at bay.Once again, I think this is another dangerous, but beatable, opponent for Chris John that provides a good deal of risk.  Vetyeka is a durable fighter that has never been stopped, and he has recently registered impressive wins over 30th rated Daud Cino Yordan and 73rd rated Giovanni Caro, but he can be a bit cute at times, and he has a tendency to carry his hands dangerously low.  It is possible that he can frustrate John with his movement and earn a decision win, but I think John will dictate the pace, he will throw more (and land more), he will keep Vetyeka up on his toes, and he will force him to fight going away for much of the night.  Therefore, while I expect Vetyeka to challenge all the way to the final bell, I think John will do enough offensively to earn a close decision win.

(John by decision: 116-112)

Dec 7, 2013

15 Paulie Malignaggi 32-5 (7) vs. #5 Zab Judah 42-8 (29), 12 rounds, Welterweights

Brooklyn, NY (Showtime)

(Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of the fight)

Dec 7, 2013

#4 Devon Alexander 25-1 (14) vs. #17 Shawn Porter 22-0-1 (14), 12 rounds, IBF Welterweight Title

Brooklyn, NY (Showtime)

IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander returns to the ring this Saturday night to take on competent up and comer Shawn Porter on a Showtime televised card from Brooklyn, NY.  Alexander is 25-1 with 14 KO’s, he is currently rated 4th by boxrec.com, and he has won 4 fights in a row since losing to Timothy Bradley in January of 2011 (including wins over 8th rated Marcos Maidana and 2nd rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse).  Alexander is an excellent ring technician with good hand speed, boxing ability, defense, and punch accuracy.  Against Matthysse, Alexander showed his toughness, and against Maidana he showed his ability to dominate a powerful, highly skilled pressure fighter.  In this fight, Alexander faces a talented 26-year old from Ohio with a record of 22-0-1 (14 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #17.  A former sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, Porter is a strong, compact fighter with excellent hand speed and defense, and he can pick shots on the outside or wrestle and out-physical his opponents on the inside.  If he decides to make things rough (the way Timothy Bradley did against Alexander), then this could be a very interesting fight.  This is an exciting matchup.  Porter is a fast, powerful fighter with a nice give-and-take style, and Alexander is a crafty southpaw that uses angles and catches punches well, and if he can create some space and make good use of the entire ring (even when he is tired), I think he can win a comfortable decision.  He has demonstrated the ability to take punches well in the past, and he certainly has the boxing ability and hand speed necessary to extricate himself from dangerous situations.  If he can dictate the pace and score and slip away he should be very successful against his shorter, “reach impaired” opponent.In the end, I think the experience and boxing ability of Alexander, combined with the fact that Porter’s power has been less conspicuous as his level of opposition has increased, makes Devon the choice to win a clear but competitive decision. 

(Alexander by decision: 116-112)

Dec 7, 2013

#6 Erislandy Lara 18-1-2 (12) vs. #4 Austin Trout 26-1 (14), 12 rounds, WBA  Junior Middleweight Title

Brooklyn, NY (Showtime)

This Saturday night on Showtime, top junior middleweights Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout do battle for the vacant WBA title in Brooklyn, New York.  Lara, one of the hottest junior middleweights on the scene today, is 18-1-2 with 12 knockouts, he is rated 6th according to boxrec.com, and recently he defeated 31st rated Alfredo Angulo as well as 100th rated Freddy Hernandez.  An excellent amateur in his native Cuba, Lara is an excellent defensive fighter (he has a Compubox “opponents landed” percentage of 20% in his last 6 fights), and he is an accurate counter puncher (36%) who gives angles and works nicely off the jab.  In this fight, Lara faces former WBA champion Austin Trout, a 28-year old with a record of 26-1 (14 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #4.  Trout has not fought since his decision loss to 2nd rated Saul Alvarez back in April of last year, but he is confident he can regain his WBA title.  “Somebody has got to get rid of this guy and I feel I am the guy to do it,” said Trout.  “I fight all comers and anyone who has ever seen me fight knows I box, I don’t run – which you can’t say about him.    He had to fight against Angulo because Angulo was coming for him. He had no choice.  My goal is to take his head off.” This should be an interesting fight between two highly skilled, professionals.  Lara is one of the game’s best defensive specialists and Trout is a physically gifted offensive fighter who throws at a high rate (71 punches per round to Lara’s 47).  If Trout can use his jab as an effective weapon (he landed just 37 out of 419 jabs in his fight with Delvin Rodriguez and 46 out of 349 versus Cotto), stay active, and throw quick combinations, he may be able to hustle his way to a victory over the more “defensive minded” Lara.  Lara is an excellent technician, but it takes him a few rounds to get going (such was the case against Vanes Martirosyan) and I think Trout’s work rate will be the difference as he wins a “chess match-type” fight by narrow margins. 

(Trout by decision: 115-113)

Dec 7, 2013

#1 Guillermo Rigondeaux 12-0 (8) vs. #32 Joseph Agbeko 29-4 (22), 12 rounds, WBA/WBO Junior Featherweight title

Atlantic City, NJ (HBO)

This Saturday night, master technician Guillermo Rigondeaux defends his WBA and WBO junior featherweight titles against durable veteran Joseph Agbeko on an HBO telecast from Atlantic City, New Jersey.  In addition to having a stellar amateur career that consisted of 400 wins against just 12 losses, the 33-year old Cuban is a perfect 12-0 (8 KO’s), with a boxrec.com rating of #1.  Back in April, he thoroughly outclassed former pound-for-pound great Nonito Donaire and proved that he rightfully deserves a spot in the pound-for-pound rankings himself.  He is an excellent counter puncher and defensive specialist, who rolls and slips punches nicely, and he can give conventional fighters fits with his lateral movement and awkwardness.  If he stays busy (perhaps busier than his typical 40 punches a round) then he should be able to box circles around his free-swinging opponent, Joseph Agbeko.  Agbeko enters this fight with a 29-4 record (22 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #32.  A former 2-time bantamweight champion, the 33-year old Agbeko has only fought once since losing to Abner Mares back in December of 2011, and 3 of his last 5 fights ended in decision losses.  In addition, despite an impressive career KO rate of 67%, Agbeko’s last legitimate knockout victory came against Fidencio Reyes back in August of 2007 (a period of 9 fights).  If Agbeko cannot earn some respect by landing with power shots then I think Rigondeaux will cruise to an easy decision victory in this fight.  Let’s face it, Rigondeaux is one of the most technically sound fighters in the sport today (his opponents are landing at a 16% rate against him), and Agbeko is not the power puncher he used to be.  He can still take it (he’s never been stopped), but especially at 122 pounds, I don’t think he will hit Rigondeaux much less hurt him.

(Rigondeaux by decision: 119-109)

Dec 7, 2013

#23 Glen Tapia 20-0 (12) vs. UNR James Kirkland 31-1 (27), 10 rounds, Middleweights

Atlantic City, NJ (HBO)

On the undercard of this weekend’s Guillermo Rigondeaux-Joseph Agbeko fight is a very interesting matchup between two exciting, brawling junior middleweights, James Kirkland and Glen Tapia.   Two fights ago, James Kirkland showed tremendous resiliency in registering an epic TKO victory over Alfredo Angulo, and he answered questions about his chin and heart.  Unfortunately, in his follow up bout, Kirkland was back to his old lethargic ways as he was thoroughly outclassed by 3rd rated Carlos Molina.  Now, after a third prison stint, the 29-year old is looking to resume his boxing career after a 20-month layoff.  In this fight, Kirkland faces the always exciting Glen Tapia, a 23-year old with a record of 20-0 (12 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #23.  Tapia is a brawling, fan-friendly fighter who will take two to land one, and he is confident that he has the skills to get a decisive win over his most formidable foe to date.  “This is the type of fight that I’ve been waiting for,” said Tapia.  “I want to show you guys that I’m more than just a [future] champion, I’m one of the best. I’m here to stay and I’ll show you guys. He (Kirkland) has power, he’s a tough guy and he will never quit – and I’m the same way. And I’ll show you guys that I have more talent.”This fight should be an absolute slugfest.  Tapia is on his way to becoming this generation’s Arturo Gatti, but in order to win this fight he will need to be smart and not let his emotions get the best of him.   Tapia is a tough kid, and a relentless puncher, but he needs to work in and out, concentrate on defense, and not give Kirkland the opportunity to load up with 1 or 2 shots at a time.  While he is not as experienced as Kirkland, Tapia is young, eager, and talented, and the question marks surrounding Kirkland coming into this fight make it difficult to go against the youngster in this one.  

(Tapia by late round stoppage)

Dec 7, 2013

#4 Darren Barker 26-1 (16) vs. #5 Felix Sturm 38-3-2 (17), 12 rounds, IBF Middleweight Title

Stuttgart, Germany

This Saturday night in Stuttgart, Germany IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker looks to retain his title against veteran and former champion Felix Sturm.  Barker, who famously lost to Sergio Martinez back in October of 2011, is 31-years old, he 26-1 with 16 knockouts, he is currently rated #9 according to boxrec.com, and he is coming off of a very impressive win over 6th rated Daniel Geale back in August.  He is a technically sound fighter who does little wrong, and when he lets his hands go as he did against Geale (averaging 72 punches a round) he can make a favorable impression on offense. In this fight, Barker faces 3-time champion Felix Sturm, a 34-year old with a record of 38-3-2 (17 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #5.  Last February, Sturm was beaten by 8th rated Sam Soliman (the fight was later changed to a no contest when Soliman tested positive for a banned substance) and five months prior to that he lost a close decision to current IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale.  Now, the 34-year old is facing a must-win situation against a newly crowned champion who is motivated to keep his title.  “I believe I’ll beat him clearly,” said Sturm.  “I have great experience in big fights and I’m in fantastic shape. Trust me, my time is far from over and whoever thinks I’m done is making a big mistake.”This is a very evenly matched fight and one that is tough to predict.  Sturm is an accurate, calculating fighter with an excellent jab, an excellent sense of distance and timing, and a solid defense.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t possess tremendous power (only 17 KO’s in 43 fights) and his punch numbers, at times, seem to border on the anemic.  If he allows Barker to steal the ideal moments and gain some confidence, he could have a hard time avoiding a three-fight losing streak.    Ultimately, this fight comes down to Barker’s aggression, power and activity versus Sturm’s boxing ability and experience.  While neither fighter is known for having a “high volume” attack, Barker did up the ante recently against Geale (something Sturm could not do), and I think he will control much of the action in this fight as well.  Therefore, in a close, hard to score fight, I believe Barker will look to bully his way in behind a high guard, he will dictate the pace and get Sturm out of rhythm, and I think he eke out a close decision win on the road.            

 (Barker by decision: 115-113)

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Adonis Stevenson-Tony Bellew Preview

Adonis Stevenson vs. Tony Bellew

(WBC Light Heavyweight Title)

 12 Rounds, Quebec City, Canada, November 30, 2013 (HBO)

Light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson defends his WBC title this Saturday night against former British world champion Tony Bellew on an HBO Boxing After Dark telecast from Quebec City, Canada.  Stevenson, now 36-years old, is 21-1 with 18 knockouts, he is currently rated 2nd according to boxrec.com at 175 pounds, and he is coming off of sensational back-to-back knockout wins over 5th rated Chad Dawson and 13th rated Tavoris Cloud.  He is a big, strong, light heavyweight, and he is motivated to make his second title defense in front of his home crowd.

Stevenson’s opponent in this fight is 30-year old Tony Bellew, a former British and WBC “silver” light heavyweight champion with a record of 20-1-1 (12 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #4.  Bellew’s only loss came in 2011 courtesy of a controversial majority decision to (now 25th rated) Nathan Cleverly, and since then he is 4-1, with wins over 42nd ranked Edison Miranda and 12th rated Isaac Chilemba.  Despite this being Bellew’s first time fighting outside of the UK, he remains confident that he has the tools to deal Stevenson the second knockout loss of his career.  I will go to his backyard and have no problem,” said Bellew.  “It does not matter where the fight happens, his backyard, England, Liverpool. He is just a little man with a huge punch, and I am going to defuse that punch.  I am the kryptonite.”  
So tune in to HBO this Saturday night at 10:15 PM ET to HBO to see whether Tony Bellew can acquire the top prize at 175 pounds, or whether Adonis “Superman” Stevenson can don his cape once again and fend off another difficult challenge to his crown.

Adonis Stevenson

22-1 (19)

 

Tony Bellew

20-1-1 (12)

B+

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

B+

A-

Hand Speed

B+

B+

Opposition & Experience

B

B

Defense

C+

A+

Power

B-

B+

Punch Output

B+

B

Chin

A-

C-

Punch Accuracy

C-

A

Conditioning

B+

B+

Aggression

B+

The Break Down

Adonis Stevenson is a big, strong, athletic fighter with good hand speed, power, and aggression, who works at a solid rate on offense.  He can be a bit crude and “free-swinging” at times, but he can also box effectively and use lateral movement to confuse his opponents as he sets up his big straight left hand.  Against Tavoris Cloud, Stevenson displayed superior boxing skills in addition to power, and similarly, it is very possible that he will be able to out-box Bellew over the distance in the event that knockout does not transpire.  Stevenson’s biggest advantages in this fight are his strength, athleticism, and speed, and against a physical opponent with a warring mentality, there should be no shortage of openings for him to land his power shots.  In addition, Stevenson is well conditioned and he can carry a heavy workload deep into a fight.  While not a terribly accurate puncher per se (landing just 29% in his last 5 fights) he is much more precise with his power shots, landing 53% against Cloud, and 47% in 4 fights prior (well above the class average of 38.5%).  If Stevenson lands 50% of his power shots in this fight, Bellew will not likely have the firepower to remain competitive.    

Tony Bellew is a proud fighter with a solid chin that likes to mix things up, but his defense is suspect, and he has been hurt in the past by fighters much less powerful than Stevenson (like Ovill McKenzie and Bob Ajisafe).  He is a tall, aggressive, fighter with good hand speed, and he feints his way into some nice openings, but he must not allow himself to be taken to the ropes, and he must not fade in the last third of the fight as he has done in the past.  Finally, Bellew must control the urge to slug it out in the trenches, choosing instead, to utilize his height and reach advantages (4” and 2” respectively) to work from the outside.  In previous fights he has been at home on the inside, ripping body shots and 2-punch combinations, but in this fight, the power discrepancy might require a more mobile strategy.  

Conclusion

This fight is Adonis Stevenson’s to lose.  Tony Bellew is a tough kid with a solid work rate, and he has a good body attack, but he has a tendency to tire late, he gets hit to easy, and he is not powerful enough to stand and trade with Stevenson.  In addition, he has a tendency to go “idle” on offense too frequently, and there is a question as to whether he can make the necessary adjustments to keep Stevenson from walking him down.  Stevenson is an aggressive hard punching southpaw with quick, active hands who can change the dynamic of a fight with one punch, and while Bellew might be able to match him in terms of boxing ability, output and accuracy, I think the speed, power, and conditioning of the champion will be the difference as he wears down Bellew gradually and takes him out inside the 9th frame.

(Stevenson by 9th round TKO)

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Fight Predictions for November 24 to November 30

Fight Predictions for Nov 24 to Nov 30

Nov 30, 2013

#2 Adonis Stevenson 22-1 (19) vs. #4 Tony Bellew 20-1-1 (12), 12 rounds, WBC Light Heavyweight Title

Quebec City, Canada (HBO)

(Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of the fight)

Nov 30, 2013

#3 Sergey Kovalev 22-0-1 (20) vs. #32 Ismayl Sillakh 21-1 (17), 12 rounds, WBO Light Heavyweight Title

Quebec City, Canada (HBO)

This Saturday night on HBO, hard-hitting WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev defends his title against highly skilled Ukrainian Ismayl Sillakh in Quebec City, Canada.  Kovalev, now 22-0-1 (20 KO’s) won the title back in August with a spectacular 4th round TKO over (then 10th ranked) Nathan Cleverly (running his KO streak to 10), and he is out to prove that he is the best 175-pounder in the world.  Kovalev is an active, accurate puncher with EXCELLENT power who is effective at controlling the pace and distance of a fight, and his aggression, and power punching make him difficult for anyone to stand and trade with. Kovalev’s opponent in this fight is Ismayl Sillakh, a tall 28-year old with a record of 21-1 (17 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #32.  In March of 2011, Sillakh easily defeated Cuban prospect Yordanis Despaign, and “prematurely” earned a spot on my “prospects to watch list.” In that fight he moved flawlessly, he used the jab effectively, and he displayed a very high boxing IQ (forged through an amateur career that consisted of 302 wins against just 16 losses).  Unfortunately, praise for Sillakh was short lived, after a TKO loss to 23rd rated Denis Grachev in April of 2012 sent him back in the rankings and into an extended period of obscurity.  Now, he hopes to utilize his experience and boxing ability to capture the WBO title and get back to the level of prominence he had once envisioned.      

This should be an interesting fight.  Sillakh is a very talented and experienced boxer with good hand speed, an excellent jab, and a very high boxing IQ, and I would pick him to win over many light heavyweights currently ranked in the top ten; unfortunately, Sergey Kovalev is not one of them.  Kovalev is a strong, powerful, and aggressive fighter, and if Sillakh has not corrected the technical defensive flaws in his game that led to his knockout loss (i.e. the inability to avoid the straight right hand) then there is very little hope for him here.  Kovalev throws 12 more punches per round than the average light heavyweight, he throws 10 more power shots, and he lands at a rate of nearly 40%.  Therefore, while it is possible for Sillakh to hold his own on the outside, the moment Kovalev gets within range the fight will take on a very different dynamic, and I think his power punching, his accuracy, and his aggression will result in a win inside the distance.

(Kovalev by 7th round TKO)

Nov 30, 2013

#30 Johan Perez 17-1-1 (12) vs. #27 Paul Spadafora 48-0-1 (19), 12 rounds, vacant WBA “interim” Junior Welterweight Title

Chester, WV

Can you believe after 18 years of fighting professionally, and EVERYTHING that Paul Spadafora has been through outside the ring, that he is still an undefeated fighter?  A former IBF lightweight champion (with 8 successful title defenses) Spadafora is now 38-years old, he is 48-0-1 with 19 knockouts, he is currently rated 27th according to boxrec.com, and he is looking to add an “interim” WBA junior welterweight title to his ledger.  Standing in his way is 30-year old Johan Perez, a Venezuelan with a record of 17-1-1 (12 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of # 30.  Perez is a tall fighter (5’11”) with a good jab and power (12 KO’s), and he likes to mix it up with a varied attack.  In July of 2012 he lost a technical decision to (now 25th rated) Pablo Cesar Cano (the same fighter who lost a split decision to Paulie Malignaggi in October of 2012); however, Perez performed well in that fight, just as he did in a June 2011 draw with 45th rated Alberto Mosquera. This is a very intriguing fight.  Spadafora is a very talented fighter with excellent defensive skills, and he has beaten a lot of top names throughout his career, but he is now 38-years old, he has only fought 3 times in the past 3 years, and his level of opposition of late has been primarily fighters well outside of the top 100.  Nevertheless, he still has skills (albeit somewhat faded ones) and if Perez doesn’t stay busy, Spadafora could easily box his way to a decision victory in this fight.  Perez recently beat 70th rated Yoshihiro Kamegai convincingly, but prior to that he narrowly defeated 36-year old, 141st rated Steve Forbes by way of a majority decision (a fighter who has now lost 9 of his last 12 fights). 

In the end, I expect Perez to utilize his height advantage, and come inside with occasional power shots (which Spadafora should be able to easily deflect and counter).  If Perez presses the action he could win with enough activity, but I personally don’t see him pressuring Spadafora into an uncomfortable war, nor do I see him out-boxing him over ten rounds.  Therefore, in a close fight, I think the subtle defensive abilities of Spadafora, combined with his ability to counter and land accurately will be the difference, as he wins a close but clear decision.   

(Spadafora by decision: 116-112)

Nov 30, 2013

#9 Merlito Sabillo 23-0 (12) vs. #14 Carlos Buitrago 27-0 (16), 12 rounds, WBO Strawweight Title

Quezon City, Philippines

Merlito Sabillo is a 29-year old from the Philippines with a record of 23-0 (12 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #10.  Sabillo won the “interim” WBO title back in March of this year with a TKO of 27th ranked Luis De la Rosa, and now, in his second defense as a “full-fledged” titleholder, he has chosen Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago as his next opponent.  Buitrago is 21-years old, he is 27-0 with 16 knockouts, and he is currently rated #14th according to boxrec.com.  He is a former WBO Latino Strawweight champion with a good jab and good footwork, and he has recently registered victories over 36th rated Julian Yedras and 52nd rated Jose Aguilar.This should be an exciting fight.  Sabillo is a sharp southpaw with good jab, good hand speed, and an effective jab, and Buitrago looks to be every bit as quick and sharp offensively.  The difference, however, may be that Sabillo is a bit better defensively, and I think he will be able to score more frequently with the straight left.  In his fight with Julian Yedras, Buitrago fought flat-footed at times and ate a number of jabs, and Sabillo’s movement, accuracy, and experience could be the deciding factor, particularly in a strategic fight in the champion’s hometown. 

(Sabillo by close, competitive decision: 116-112)

Nov 30, 2013

#9 Donnie Nietes 31-1-4 (17) vs. #33 Sammy Gutierrez 33-9-2 (23), 12 rounds, WBO Junior Flyweight Title

Quezon City, Philippines

Donnie Nietes, the current WBO junior flyweight champion, is 31-1-4 with 17 knockouts, he is rated 9th according to boxrec.com, and he has not lost since September of 2004 (a period of 23 fights), when he dropped a split decision to Indonesian Angky Angkota.  Nietes has good hand speed, a good jab and solid defense (which consists primarily of covering up, not slipping or running), but he recently fought to a draw against 10th rated Moises Fuentes (in a fight that he arguably should have lost) and he was dealt a great amount of punishment in that encounter.    In this fight, Nietes faces veteran Sammy Gutierrez, a hard-punching, hard charging fighter with a record of 33-9-2 (23 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #33.  Gutierrez has fought some exceptional opposition in his 10-year career (like Nkosinathi Joyi, and Omar Nino), and he is a durable, aggressive, fighter with an exceptional work rate, but he has lost 4 of his last 9 fights and he was TKO’d last December against 11th rated Raul Garcia. 

This should be a great fight.  Gutierrez is an experienced brawler who throws at a high rate, and Nietes is an accomplished boxer who has beaten the better quality opposition over the last few years.  Unfortunately (for Gutierrez), he is prone to being out-boxed and he has lost 4 of his last 9 fights to guys rated considerably lower than Nietes.  In the end, I think this will be a close fight, and the skill of Nietes, versus the aggression of Gutierrez will make for some exciting action, but I am inclined to think that the hand speed and boxing ability of Nietes will be enough to offset the brutish tactics of Gutierrez.  Gutierrez is a average puncher at best (52% KO rate), and although Nietes was hurt by the power shots of Fuentes in his last fight, I don’t see Gutierrez being fast enough or accurate enough to land through Nietes’ peek-a-boo defense and do enough damage to win.  Therefore, Nietes’ boxing ability and hand speed should be enough to secure him another close decision victory at home.

(Nietes by decision: 115-113)

Nov 30, 2013

#7 Dereck Chisora 18-4 (12) vs. #66 Ondrej Pala 32-3 (22), 12 rounds, European Heavyweight Title

London

This Saturday night, England’s Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora and the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Pala do battle over 12 rounds at the Copper Box Arena in London.  Chisora, famous for his pre-fight (and post fight antics), is 18-4 with 12 knockouts, and he is currently rated 7th according to boxrec.com.  He is generally a durable fighter (despite being smashed out in five by David Haye last July), and he is a big strong guy with a big punch.  Unfortunately, he is a bit of a head case, and his work ethic has been about as consistent as his bi-polar temperament. In this fight, Chisora faces last minute stand-in Ondrej Pala, a 29-year old with a record of 32-3 (22 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #66.  Pala is a big, strong, lumbering fighter (standing at 6’3” and weighing 245 pounds), and he hits hard, but he has only been past 10 rounds twice, 75% of his fights so far were scheduled for 8 rounds or less, and his best win to date (arguably) came against 66th rated Konstantin Airich (a fighter that TKO’d him back in 2012).

I think this will be a brawl for as long as it lasts.  Pala is a fairly quick heavyweight, but he doesn’t throw a tremendous amount, and he can easily be overwhelmed by Chisora’s spasmodic attack.  If Pala can punch enough to keep Chisora off of him and score at distance he could be successful, but Chisora is an aggressive fighter with good power and if he moves his head and works his way inside behind the jab I think he will come out on top in this fight.  It should be plenty of action, but in the end, I think Chisora is in a much better position to outslug Pala and come away with a late round stoppage win. 

(Chisora by 9th round TKO)

Nov 30, 2013

#2 Juan Carlos Sanchez 17-1-1 (9) vs. #30 Zolani Tete 17-3 (15), 12 rounds, IBF Junior Bantamweight Eliminator

Mexicali, Mexico

Juan Carlos Sanchez, the former IBF junior bantamweight titlist, is 22-years old, he is 17-1-1 with 9 knockouts, and he is rated 2nd according to boxrec.com.  Sanchez originally won his IBF title back in February of 2012 with a decision over (now 20th rated) Rodrigo Guerrero, and he defended it twice before ultimately being stripped after failing to make weight against Roberto Domingo Sosa this past June.  Sanchez is a slick boxing southpaw with good hand speed, defense, and foot movement, and he has a sharp jab and accurate straight left. In this fight, Sanchez faces South African native Zolani Tete, a 24-year old with a record of 17-3 (15 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #30. Tete is also slick southpaw with a snapping jab, good movement and excellent power (as denoted by his 75% career KO rate), and he is coming off of recent decision losses to Roberto Domingo Sosa (#36) and Juan Alberto Rosas (bantamweight #36).

This should be an interesting matchup.  Sanchez uses the ring well, he has a terrific jab, and he is fun to watch in a “sweet science,” “Anselmo Moreno” kind of way.  If Tete can cut off the ring and not give Sanchez room to operate he may do well in this fight, but Sanchez is taller, he has a long, rangy jab that he can use to keep Tete at bay, and he can use his footwork to keep Tete from getting set.  Ultimately, this fight comes down to Tete’s ability to navigate the distance and hurt Sanchez.  Stylistically, both fighters are very similar, and Tete (a natural boxer), will need to be something he isn’t in order to win this fight.  Unfortunately, the fight may morph into a battle of jabs at distance with very few clean punches landed, a scenario that certainly benefits Sanchez. 

In the end, I think Tete will be competitive throughout, and I think he will get through the fight unscathed, but I predict he will have a hard time with the speed, movement, and size of Sanchez, and I think he will lose another tough decision on the road.         

(Sanchez by decision: 118-110)

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Shane Mosley-Anthony Mundine Preview

Nov 27, 2013

#15 Shane Mosley 47-8-1 (39) vs. #18 Anthony Mundine 44-5 (26), 12 rounds, Junior Middleweights

Sydney, Australia

This Wednesday in Sydney, Australia, 42-year old ring legend Shane Mosley looks to stay relevant in the junior middleweight division with a win over durable Aussie Anthony Mundine.  Despite losing 4 of his last 8 fights, “Sugar Shane,” now 47-8-1 with 39 KO’s and rated 15th according to boxrec.com, won an impressive decision over 26th rated Pablo Cesar Cano this past May, and the future hall of famer is out to prove that he is still capable of hanging in with some of the best fighters in the division.  In this fight, Mosley faces 38-year old Anthony Mundine a veteran with a record of 44-5 (26 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #21.  Mundine is an aggressive, physical fighter who will fight his way inside and use his shoulders, elbows, and whatever else it takes to get the win; and his wins over Daniel Geale (#6), Garth Wood (#38), and Sam Soliman (#8) give a good indication of his ability at the highest levels.  If Mundine can outmuscle Mosley, take away his hand speed, and force him to fight at his pace and terms, he has a good chance of winning, but he will need to make it a physical, grueling affair. This should be an excellent fight.  Mosley is a ring legend, and he looked anything but washed up in his last fight, but Mundine is a competent, hungry fighter looking to add a hall of fame name to his resume, and I expect him to take the fight to Mosley (a fighter who doesn’t defend nearly as well as he used to).    Ultimately, I think this will be a very close fight with 1 or 2 punches making the difference each round.  I think Mundine will work harder to win, and he will win the majority (of the majority) of the rounds, but I predict Mosley will be able to land the more telling blows in each frame, and despite being out-worked, I think his more “impactful” punches will be the difference as he comes away with a close decision win.       

(Mosley by decision: 116-112)

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Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios Preview

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

(Welterweights)

 12 Rounds, Macau, China, November 23, 2013 (HBO PPV)

This Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view the incomparable Manny Pacquiao travels to Macau, China to take on the always tough and incorrigible Brandon Rios in an attempt to end his “career first” 2-fight losing streak.  Pacquiao, now 34-years of age, is 54-5-2 with 38 KO’s, he is currently ranked #4 according to boxrec.com, and after nearly a year away from the ring, he is anxious to prove he is still one of the sport’s top performers.  “Am I confident for my fight with Rios?” Asked Pacquiao.  “I am more than confident. I have the strength of my country and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for their glory, not mine.”Pacquiao’s opponent in this fight is the colorful Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, a 27-year old with a record of 31-1-1 (23 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #5.  Rios is a tireless puncher and when motivated he is arguably the most exciting fighter in the sport.  He throws a ton of punches, he absorbs a ton of punches, and he never fights off his back foot.  If his head is right, he is VERY tough to beat (as he has proved time and time again in the past), and in this fight, he vows to do whatever it takes to come out victorious.  They think I’m no problem but I’m going to be a huge problem,” said Rios. “This camp is the best I’ve ever had. I’ve been disciplined. I’ve followed my diet and done everything I need to win.  I’m a monster when I get in that ring. On Sunday a new star is on the rise.”So tune in to HBO PPV this Saturday night beginning at 7:00 pm ET to see whether Brandon Rios can send Manny Pacquiao into retirement as he predicts, or whether the Great Manny Pacquiao will rebound from his two-fight losing streak and postpone his fulltime job in politics.

Manny Pacquiao

54-5-2 (38)

 

Brandon Rios

31-1-1 (23)

A

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

B

A+

Hand Speed

B

A+

Opposition & Experience

A

B+ (25%)

Defense

B- (30%)

B (62%)

Power

A- (70)

C-

Punch Output

A

A-

Chin

A+

B- (34%)

Punch Accuracy

B-(34%)

A+

Conditioning

A

B+

Aggression

A

The Break Down

There is no lack of familiarity with what Manny Pacquiao can do.  He has blazing hand speed, an excellent ring IQ, and a searing intensity and power (which according to Floyd Mayweather Jr. may or may not be enhanced by PED’s).  Two fights ago, he thoroughly dominated Timothy Bradley (despite being on the losing end of a disgraceful decision) and in his last fight (against Juan Manuel Marquez), he landed 46% of 148 power shots before being stopped/knocked out cold in the sixth round.  Now, after a year-long layoff, the question is whether Pacquiao can regain his pound for-pound form against a very dangerous and motivated opponent.

In this fight, Pacquiao faces Brandon Rios, an aggressive, all-action fighter who lives at close range and relies on his solid chin and power punching accuracy to wear down his opponents through attrition.  There is nothing flashy or “scientific” about his methods.  Instead, he simply wades in, taunts you as you land “knuckle breaking” shots, and then fires back once he’s got you in range.  Traditionally, Rios throws somewhere around 78 punches a round (18 over the junior welterweight average) and he lands at a rate of close to 34% (two things that will serve him well if he can goad Pacquiao into exchanging at close quarters), and if he can land early, he has a better chance of slowing Pacquiao down for the later rounds.      

On paper, it appears as if Manny Pacquiao has the advantage in terms of boxing ability, hand speed, defense, and experience, while Rios has the advantage in terms of power, activity, chin, and aggression.  The last factor (conditioning) is very subjective, and one that could ultimately decide the outcome of the fight.  In years past, Rios has been notorious for coming in heavy and shedding weight at the last moment.  However, for this fight, Rios looks trim (not depleted) and he looks like he should have no trouble meeting the 147 limit.  If he comes into this fight in shape, and is prepared to give hell for 12 solid rounds, this could be a sensational fight.     

 Conclusion

In this fight, there is no question that Rios will come after Pacquiao like a mistreated badger (and fight as if these 12 rounds define his entire career), but in doing so, he may open himself up to the possibility of some stinging counter shots from “the Pac Man.”  Pacquiao has to be expecting a brawl, and I think his hand speed, punching power, and accuracy will favor him if he can utilize his footwork to create some distance.  Rios is famous for his theory that passion, heart, and courage, outweigh the science of boxing, but in my experience, if the chin is good (which Pacquiao’s arguably still is) then quicker hands, better boxing ability, defense, and experience typically win out.  Therefore, while Rios is an aggressive, active, powerful, and resilient fighter, I think he will need a knockout to win, and given that his punching power is accumulative rather than “one-punch” in nature, I am betting against that happening. 

In the end, I expect a very entertaining fight, and I can easily see the aging veteran (Pacquiao) succumbing to the motivated, hungry young fighter (Rios), but unless he scores a knockout, I think Rios will ultimately lose out to the hand speed, experience, boxing ability and defense of Pacquiao.  Therefore, while it should a thrilling back-and-forth affair, I think Pacquiao’s speed and timing will be the difference as he shoots combinations and dances his way to a close decision victory.   

(Pacquiao by decision: 115-113)

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Fight Predictions for November 17 to November 23

Fight Predictions for Nov 17 to Nov 23

Nov 23, 2013

#4 Manny Pacquiao 54-5-2 (38) vs. #5 Brandon Rios 31-1-1 (23), 12 rounds, Welterweights

Macau, China (HBO PPV)

(Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of the fight)

Nov 23, 2013

#8 Evgeny Gradovich 17-0 (8) vs. #11 Billy Dib 36-2 (21), 12 rounds, IBF Featherweight Title

Macau, China (HBO PPV)

Featherweights Evgeny Gradovich and Billy Dib resume their hostilities this Saturday night on undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon pay-per-view fight from Macau China.  Last March, Gradovich took the IBF featherweight title from Dib in rather convincing fashion, and he hopes that the rematch will result in a similar outcome.   Gradovich, AKA the “Mexican Russian,” is 27-years old, he is 17-0 with 8 knockouts, and he is currently rated 8th according to boxrec.com.  A pupil of Robert Garcia, Gradovich was a very accomplished amateur (posting a record of 126-24), and as a professional, he has displayed the mentality and work ethic of a solid champion.  While he does employ much of the “European style”  that you would come to expect, he also manages to mix in a little more movement rather than simply choosing to catch punches, and his aggression (hence the nickname) forces opponents to consistently fight off of the back foot.In this fight, Gradovich faces a familiar foe in Billy Dib, a 28-year old, former world champion with a record of 36-2 (21 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #11.  Dib had won 14 fights in a row prior to his meeting with Gradovich back in March, and now the Australian hopes to get back on track in a major way, on a major pay-per-view card.  In their first fight, Dib was out-muscled and out-worked, however, he is still a very good boxer with good hand speed who mixes up his attack well and moves in and out effectively.  If he can box rather than slug, and stay busy enough to keep Gradovich from walking him down, I think he has a good chance of winning this fight.  Unfortunately, Gradovich is a good pressure fighter (and an excellent body puncher) and the success he had being aggressive and landing power shots against Dib the first time was probably no fluke.    Once again, we should be in for another entertaining scrap; but the question is whether Dib can bring anything different with him into the ring the second time around?  Gradovich looked too strong, too powerful, and too active in their first encounter (he out-threw Dib 632-461 in power shots and out-landed him 253-166), and I think the extra time spent with Robert Garcia, and the fact that he is not taking this fight on short notice, should give him a greater advantage in this fight.  Therefore, while I believe this will be another close fight (particularly on the scorecards), I think Gradovich (as champion) will start strong, and he will look to distance himself early this time.

(Gradovich by decision: 116-111)

Nov 23, 2013

#29 Andy Ruiz 20-0 (14) vs. #39 Tor Hamer 21-2 (14), 10 rounds, Heavyweights

Macau, China (HBO PPV)

Heavyweight prospect (and Freddie Roach trained prodigy) Andy Ruiz gets a shot on primetime this Saturday night when he takes on New York native (and Penn State graduate) Tor Hamer in a ten-round bout from Macau, China.  Ruiz, 24-years of age, is 24-0 with 14 knockouts, he is currently rated 31st according to boxrec.com, and he is coming off of a solid TKO victory over 76th rated Joe Hanks back in July of this year.  Physically, Ruiz is not the most domineering presence (standing at 6’2” and weighing a soft 250+ pounds), but he has very good skills, he has good hand speed, and he is progressing nicely at this stage of his career.Ruiz’s opponent in this fight is Tor Hamer, a 30-year old with a record of 21-2 (14 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #39th.  Hamer is a decent size heavyweight (6’2”, 230 lbs) with good skill and ability, but he was confounded by the awkward movement and boxing ability of (now 89th rated) rated Kelvin Smith in his first loss, and he was handily beaten by 13th rated Vyacheslav Glazkov in December of last year.  Nevertheless, Hamer is a former National Golden Gloves champion, and he did win the Prizefighter tournament in England last year after defeating 32nd ranked Kevin Johnson in the finals.This is an interesting fight, and one that is difficult to predict.  Both guys are talented fighters with excellent amateur pedigrees, both have shown great promise at times, and both are motivated to take a step a step forward in their careers.  Ultimately, I think Hamer is capable of out-boxing Ruiz, but I am not sure he can deal with the power of Ruiz’s overhand right hand for the duration.  Hamer started off well against Glazkov but the pressure and power punching were his undoing, and in this fight, Ruiz will be right on top of him, forcing Hamer to back him up and create space.  Therefore, while this fight may start slowly (and favor Hamer at the beginning) I think Ruiz will be able to get the inside fight he desires, and I think his aggression and power punching will lead to a mid-round stoppage victory.

(Ruiz by 7th round TKO)

Nov 23, 2013

#1 Carl Froch 31-2 (22) vs. #6 George Groves 19-0 (15), 12 rounds, IBF/WBA “regular” Super Middleweight Title

Manchester, England

In one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year, super middleweight champion Carl Froch defends his IBF and WBA titles against fellow Brit George Groves this Saturday night in Manchester, England.  Since losing a decision to Mikkel Kessler back in April of 2010, Froch has since won 5 out 6 fights (losing only to Andre Ward in 2011) and in his last fight, he won a rematch with Kessler in convincing fashion.  Now, at the age of 35, Froch is 31-2 (22 KO’s), he is rated 1st according to boxrec.com at 168 pounds, and he is highly motivated to teach the upstart former British champion a thing or two about respect.  This time, it is personal,” said Froch.  “Fighting Groves is like going back to British title level and I have to just get rid of him and shut him up – I don’t like him. Groves has done his best to talk up his chances and talk down my career, and for that he will get stopped.”  Froch’s opponent in this fight is the very talented (but untested) George Groves, a 25-year old with a record of 19-0 (15 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #6.  In December of 2012, Groves thoroughly outclassed “The Road Warrior” Glen Johnson over 12 rounds, and since then he has recorded 3 straight knockouts over relatively modest opposition.  He is a slick boxer with good hand speed, footwork, defense and reflexes, and he is not impressed by any of Froch’s “past achievements.”  “I’ve never known any champion with the need to boost his self-confidence as much as Froch,” said Groves.  “It’s pathetic. He rattles on about self-belief, what he has achieved, how good he is, how popular he is and then accuses me of not recognizing all of these things.  I’m here to beat him, not become the secretary of his fan club.”This should be a very interesting fight.  Groves is a very talented young boxer with excellent hand speed and defense, while Froch is an experienced, hard punching fighter who can muscle his way in and overwhelm with a high volume of punches, or box from the outside behind an effective jab.  In recent fights, Froch’s output has hovered around 69 punches per round, and he has landed at about a 28% clip (3% below the super middleweight average).  However, in his most recent bout with Kessler, Froch threw 1034 total punches (86 punches a round), and he was able to dictate the pace and distance of the fight by throwing 668 jabs.  In this fight, Groves will need to be active with combinations, he will need to utilize angles and get out of harm’s way with his feet, and he will need to avoid standing directly in front of Froch and trading, if he hopes to offset the jab and power hand of Froch.  If he can do this, I think he can win a decision, but it will take a very disciplined approach, and he must not fall prey to any “emotional lapses.” This is BY FAR the biggest fight of his career and he will need to fight flawlessly in order to win it.Ultimately, I think Groves will present a great deal of trouble for Froch.  I predict he will come out and box sharp (while Froch tries to the severe his head from his body), and he will pile up points over the first half of the fight until Froch realizes the futility of pursuing an early knockout.  In the middle rounds, however, I think the pressure, activity, and power punching of Froch will begin to take over, and I think he will benefit from the closer, more physical scrap that develops as Groves starts to tire.  In the end, I predict that Froch, trailing on points, will take over in the late going (scoring several knockdowns) and he will finish his opponent just inside of the final round.

(Froch by 12th round TKO)

Nov 23, 2013

#1 Yoan Pablo Hernandez 27-1 (13) vs. #6 Alexander Alekseev 24-2-1 (20), 12 rounds, IBF Cruiserweight Title

Bamberg, Germany

IBF cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez travels to Germany this Saturday to defend his title against Uzbek Alexander Alekseev. Hernandez, arguably the best cruiserweight in the world thanks to back-to-back wins over Steve Cunningham in 2011-2012, is 27-1 with 13 knockouts, he is currently rated #1 according to Ring Magazine, and he is making the 3rd defense of his IBF title.  At just 29-years old, Hernandez is a solid technical fighter that covers well, throws short, crisp combinations, and he has the benefit of a slight height and reach advantage in this fight.   Hernandez’s opponent in this fight is Alexander Alekseev, a 32-year old with a record of 24-2-1 (20 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #6.  Alekseev, an excellent amateur who lost to Odlanier Solis in the 2004 Olympic Games,  has won 8 of his last 10 fights (losing only to Denis Lebedev back in 2010), and he has shown increased resiliency of late in wins against fighters like Enad Licina (#58) and Garrett Wilson (#33).  Unfortunately, he was thoroughly beaten by Firat Arslan in May of last year (despite getting a “gift” draw) and he was stopped by Victor Emilio Ramirez back in January of 2009.This should be an interesting fight, although if Alekseev hasn’t corrected his vulnerability to the southpaw left hook (the one that Lebedev was able to knock him out with) than he could be in trouble once again.  Hernandez is a slick, experienced puncher, and if Alekseev paws with the jab, pushes his punches, and doesn’t stay active I think Hernandez will cruise in this one.  Therefore, while I expect Alekseev’s power to cause some tense moments here and there, I think Hernandez will control much of the action, he will land the cleaner punches, and he will win a decision by a 4-5 point margin.

(Hernandez by decision: 116-112)

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Andre Ward-Edwin Rodriguez Preview

Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez

(WBA “super” Super Middleweight Title)

 12 Rounds, Ontario, California, November 16, 2013 (HBO)

This Saturday night, pound-for-pound king Andre Ward returns to the ring after a 14-month layoff to defend his WBA “super” super middleweight title against Edwin Rodriguez on an HBO World Championship Boxing telecast from Ontario, California.   Ward, now 29-years old, is 26-0 with 14 knockouts, he is currently rated #1 according to boxrec.com, and he is out to prove that his surgically repaired shoulder is stronger and better than ever.  “It’s definitely better than what it was,” said Ward, in reference to the injury that has plagued him all the way back to his days as an amateur.  “It’s stronger. It’s more powerful, and I know everyone will see that.” He then added, “I’m just excited, I’m hungry. I’ve prepared my mind and body for battle. We are just days away. Don’t miss it. It will be a great show. I have a hungry challenger, but I’m a hungry champion and those are ingredients for a great fight.”
Ward’s opponent in this fight is undefeated Edwin Rodriguez, a 28-year old from Massachusetts with a record of 24-0 (16 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #4.  A former National Golden Gloves Titlist, Rodriguez is a talented boxer with tremendous poise, and this Saturday, every ounce of composure will be put to the test when he faces one of the sport’s most complete and highly decorated fighters.So tune in to HBO this Saturday night at 10:00 pm ET to witness the comeback of Andre Ward, or perhaps the comeuppance of Andre Ward, as motivated challenger Edwin Rodriguez looks to claim his first major world title and shake up the rankings at 168 pounds. 

Andre Ward

26-0 (14)

 

Edwin Rodriguez

24-0 (16)

A+

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

A

B+

Hand Speed

B+

A+

Opposition & Experience

B

A-

Defense

C+

C+

Power

B+

C

Punch Output

B

A

Chin

A

A-

Punch Accuracy

C

A

Conditioning

A

B

Aggression

B

The Break Down

Andre Ward is an extremely versatile, accurate puncher with good hand speed and boxing ability.  He can beat you on the outside (as he did Arthur Abraham), or he can go inside and carry the fight at close range (as he did against Carl Froch and Chad Dawson).  More than anything, however, it is his ability to adapt and successfully implement strategy that makes him the most dangerous.  Statistically, Ward is not a terrible active fighter (averaging right at 50 punches a round in his last 8 contests (below the super middleweight average of 54.5), but he is extremely accurate (to the tune of about 38%) and he is very skilled at finding openings and minimizing risk (his last 6 opponents landed just 24% against him).  In addition to being very technically sound, Ward is also a very experienced fighter (having already beaten many of the top names in the division), and he is a very hard worker who doesn’t take his position in the sport for granted.  If he can work off the jab, make Rodriguez miss, and counter with straight right hands, he should be able to score enough to come away with a decisive win. 

For Edwin Rodriguez, an experienced boxer with an excellent jab, a good sense of distance and timing, and good defensive skills, his best bet is to stay active, stay close, and not load up with power shots.  He is a good all-around fighter (both inside and out), but unfortunately, he is at his best when he is working the jab and setting up the right hand (something he may not be able to do against a fighter that can match him in that category).  Therefore, in this fight, Rodriguez must land combinations in order to keep Ward from settling into a rhythm, he must let his hands go more freely, he must be a little more preemptive on the attack, and he must throw punches from the right distance to keep from being countered.

Conclusion

This should be an excellent matchup, and one that could be competitive if Rodriguez can match the speed and aggression of Ward.  He is a big puncher, but he must make sure he doesn’t sacrifice defense for the chance at scoring one big shot at a time.  If he stays disciplined and controls the urge to head hunt, this could be a closer fight than expected.  In fact, despite having the overall advantage on paper, Ward’s advantages are not as wide or apparent as you might think.  Ward is the better overall boxer, he is more experienced, he is better defensively, and he is the more accurate puncher; but Rodriguez is a bigger puncher, he is more active, he has a longer reach, and he is equal to Ward in terms of hand speed, chin, conditioning, and aggression. 

Ultimately, I think Rodriguez will hold his own through the first six rounds.  However, as Ward begins to dictate the action, back up Rodriguez with power shots, and utilize subtle movement inside the pocket to offset his opponent’s power, I think he will develop a noticeable advantage coming down the stretch.  Therefore, in a close fight, I think Ward will start to control things from the 6th round on, he will land 3 and 4 punches at a time, and by the end he will have Rodriguez simply looking to survive and end the fight on his feet.

(Ward by decision: 117-110)

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Luis Ramos Jr.-Fidel Maldonado Jr. Preview

Nov 11, 2013

#58 Fidel Maldonado Jr. 16-2 (13) vs. #47 Luis Ramos Jr. 23-1 (10), 10 rounds, Junior Welterweights

San Antonio, TX (Fox Sports 1)

Top junior welterweight prospect Luis Ramos Jr. returns to primetime this Monday night to face hard hitting southpaw Fidel Maldonado Jr. on a Fox Sports 1 televised bout from San Antonio, Texas.  Ramos is 25-years old, he is 23-1 with 10 knockouts, and he is currently rated 47th according to boxrec.com.  He is a sharp, talented southpaw, who doesn’t waste a lot of punches, and as an amateur he amassed a 120-16 record (narrowly missing a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team), and he recognizes this fight as his opportunity to put on a show and create some new fans in the Lone Star state.  “I always had a feeling that Fidel and I were going to meet in the ring one day and that day has arrived,” said Ramos Jr. “He’s a top young fighter like I am and we’re going to put on a great show for the Texas fans.”

In this fight, Ramos takes on Albuquerque native Fidel Maldonado Jr., a 22-year old with a record of 16-2 (13 KO’s) and a boxrec.com rating of #58.  Maldonado is a slick southpaw with a good jab, a decent straight left, and an impressive knockout ratio, and he has won 3 fights in row since losing back-to-back fights against Michael Perez (#71) and Fernando Carcamo (#31) in 2012.  He realizes that the importance of this fight, and he is confident he has the tools to pull off the upset victory.  “Luis is a tough fighter who has fought a lot of quality opponents,” said Maldonado Jr. “But, I think I have the style and power to beat him. I plan on doing just that on November 11.”

This should be an interesting fight.  Both fighters are well schooled, and they are both active punchers with good skill.  I think Maldonado has the better power and hand speed, but Ramos is arguably the better overall tactician with the better defensive ability and foot movement.  If Maldonado gets to Ramos he can do some damage (Ramos was stopped on cuts in his last fight); however, Ramos is sharp fighter who doesn’t waste a lot of punches, and I predict his poise and his defensive ability will enable him to win this fight by a 2-3 point margin on the cards (assuming a cut-stoppage doesn’t end things early). 

(Ramos by decision: 96-93)* including one knockdown

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