THREE-PUNCH COMBO: There is another big fight this coming weekend between Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters. The undercard, which will be streamed by Top Rank, has not gotten much attention but features a couple of interesting bouts. One is a very intriguing match between undefeated light heavyweight prospect Trevor McCumby and popular veteran Donovan George. The other features a relatively new Top Rank signee in Maxim Dadashev who has been generating some buzz in the sport.
Trevor McCumby is a 23-0 light heavyweight prospect who is managed by the heralded Cameron Dunkin. He possesses good power and the type of skills one would expect from a fighter with a solid amateur pedigree. McCumby is taking a big step up in competition. Donovan George is in a must-win scenario and could ask some serious questions of McCumby. This is no sure thing for the young prospect and it will be interesting to see how he handles this test. If McCumby can dominate and stop George, he will raise a lot of eyebrows.
Maxim Dadashev is a stablemate of Vasyl Lomachenko and has caught the eye of many observers in the sport in his relatively short career thus far. The 26-year-old Russian was a decorated amateur as well as a participant in the World Series of Boxing. He is an aggressive, heavy handed boxer-puncher and possesses a very good left jab. His style makes him a fun prospect to watch and there is plenty of potential for him to grow into a star one day. He takes a small step up in class against Efrain Cruz on this card and it will be interesting to see how he performs on this stage.
Unfortunately, the most appealing of the preliminaries fell out when Egidijus Kavaliauskas suffered a hand injury in training. Kavaliauskas is the best prospect in the sport in this writer’s humble opinion. He was slated to fight 17-0 Juan Ruiz in a 10-round welterweight contest. But even without this bout, Top Rank has assembled an appealing undercard.
The Art of Matchmaking in Boxing
This past week, we saw two solid well-matched main events put on by different promotional groups. Pablo Cesar Cano scored a hard fought 10-round split decision over Mauricio Herrera on a Golden Boy show on Friday night. Demond Brock won a 10-round split decision against Reynaldo Beltran in an entertaining scrap on a show put on by Roy Jones’ promotional company. These are examples of how easy it can be to put on solid televised fights in this sport.
One of the problems that have hindered boxing in recent years has been way too many televised mismatches. Just last week, we saw Danny Garcia headline a card in what was a glorified sparring session against an overmatched Samuel Vargas. I understand tune-up fights can be necessary, but this was a bout that had no business being on television let alone serving as the main event. It’s these kinds of fights that are turning fans away from boxing. But solid competitive matches such as Cano-Herrera and Brock-Beltran made more consistently can bring fans back.
Cano-Herrera was a match that featured a must-win scenario for both fighters as well as a contrast in styles. It was also very evenly matched. Granted, neither guy is a top ten fighter at the moment but that shouldn’t matter. They put on a good show Friday with both getting their work done at times in the fight. It made for an entertaining scrap with Cano’s pressure and activity ultimately being the difference. Brock-Beltran was a battle of two fighters looking to make a name for themselves in the sport. It also featured a contrast in styles with Brock being the pressure fighter compared to the boxer-puncher style of Beltran. Like Cano-Herrera, this was also a very evenly matched fight. Not surprisingly, the bout proved to be a very entertaining affair with much ebb and flow. There were some very exciting exchanges and both were more than willing to let their hands go, knowing what was on the line. In the end, Brock just did a little more to edge out the decision.
It’s the fights like Cano-Herrera and Brock-Beltran that the sport needs to see more often. These types of competitive matches, though not featuring the elite in the sport, are the type that UFC is consistently churning out and helping to grow their brand. Boxing can take a page from their book and start making more of these type fights. The fans will respond over time and the sport will be better in the long run.
Andre Ward scored a close controversial unanimous decision against Sergey Kovalev this past Saturday in Las Vegas. The fight itself was tremendous with plenty of swings in momentum during the course of the bout. The sport needs an immediate Ward-Kovalev rematch. This is a situation where common sense needs to come into play. Often times in boxing, rematches of tremendous high level fights do not occur or occur too late. We never saw, for example, Oscar De La Hoya-Ike Quartey II. When we did finally see Roy Jones Jr.-Bernard Hopkins II, it occurred several years after momentum had built for the rematch.
Kovalev and Ward have momentum as well as public demand to see a rematch right now. There is no need for interim fights. That will just kill the momentum built from this event. Who really wants to see Ward in with Yunieski Gonzalez next for example? Plus, too much can happen with interim fights. Either fighter could look bad in an interim fight or even lose. An injury could occur that could put a potential rematch on the backburner.
The demand is now for the rematch and will never be higher. The respective camps for Ward and Kovalev as well as HBO need to make the immediate rematch a priority. Ward and Kovalev put on a tremendous show on Saturday that lived up to and exceeded expectations. They are still the top two fighters at light heavyweight and two of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. With momentum from this event, as well as a non-conclusive result, a rematch seems in order immediately. Let’s hope all parties exercise common sense and put on a return show for the fans.
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