LOMACHENKO-SOSA ON HBO? — After a slow start to 2017, HBO is in the midst of planning out their spring boxing schedule. Rumors have been circulating this week about the bouts the network plans to televise this spring. One fight that appears close to being set is a Super Featherweight unification match between Vasyl Lomachenko and Jason Sosa. The other, though not as firm, appears to be a May showdown between Terence Crawford and Felix Diaz.
Let me preface my opinion of Lomachenko-Sosa by saying I am a fan of both fighters. But I hate the fight because I see no way that Sosa can be remotely competitive. Sosa is a tough gritty fighter who has gotten the most out of his abilities and then some. He is not, however, in the same league as the ultra-skilled Lomachenko. As a matter of fact, Sosa’s aggressive style will play right into Lomachenko’s hands. Sosa will provide Lomachenko plenty of counter-punching opportunities. Moreover, Lomachenko will easily exploit Sosa’s defensive shortcomings. This fight will play out much like Lomachenko’s one-sided thrashing of Roman Martinez last June and probably end with a predictably similar result.
The argument some will make about this match is that there are simply not many options for Lomachenko at the moment. But I disagree. For example, a guy like Tevin Farmer would be a much more interesting test. Farmer is a skilled southpaw with fast hands. He would be a much more difficult as well as intriguing puzzle for Lomachenko to solve than Sosa. Or how about Orlando Salido who handed Lomachenko his only loss three years ago in a very entertaining fight?
On the flipside, I really hope the proposed Crawford-Diaz fight comes off this May. In my opinion, Diaz would represent Crawford’s toughest test to date. Yes, tougher than Yuriorkis Gamboa or Viktor Postol. Diaz is a decorated former amateur star who won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He is a skilled southpaw with above average hand speed. Diaz is also an accomplished defensive fighter. This will be a tactical high level fight and I am crossing my fingers that it comes to fruition as rumored.
HBO is in the process of planning out their spring boxing calendar. Let’s hope we see more competitive bouts like Crawford-Diaz and less of the non-competitive variety like Lomachenko-Sosa on the horizon.
Luis Collazo Surprises Again
Last week, I touched upon a few under the radar fights during the coming week but failed to mention the bout between Sammy Vasquez and Luis Collazo. I honestly did not think this bout would be too competitive and I saw Vasquez winning a lopsided decision. But Collazo does what he does best and that is prove people like me wrong. He stopped Vasquez in the 6th with a ferocious right hook.
Collazo has had an interesting career. He was considered a decent prospect back in the early 2000’s before suffering a TKO loss that momentarily stalled his career. He then received an opportunity on short notice to fight for a title belt in the hometown of the champion Jose Rivera and sprung a surprising upset. Collazo parlayed that into a fight with superstar Ricky Hatton where he was once again a substantial underdog. But Collazo put on quite a performance against Hatton. Many thought Collazo should have gotten the decision.
In recent years, Collazo has become the sport’s ultimate gatekeeper. Andre Berto was once a can’t-miss prospect who barely got through the gate in winning a tough close decision against Collazo in 2009. Victor Ortiz was supposed to use Collazo as a stepping stone to bigger things but couldn’t get past Collazo’s right hook. And Keith Thurman almost lost his undefeated record when Collazo nearly had him out with a body shot.
Collazo may not have a Hall of Fame career but it has been quite a remarkable one indeed. Regardless of whom he fought or how much of a chance he was given to win, Collazo has always seemed to give anyone who faced him a tough time. He is certainly not done either with this latest upset win. One thing is for certain; whomever he fights next will not be in for an easy time.
Under the Radar Fights
The schedule this week may be pretty barren but still provides us with some interesting bouts that are flying deep under the radar. ShoBox returns on Friday and features sizzling prospect Ivan Baranchyk in with his stiffest opposition to date. Also on Friday, Rau’shee Warren defends his WBA Super Bantamweight title against Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a bout that could be more competitive than meets the eye.
Baranchyk is a top prospect but his latest performances have seen his star fading a little bit. After knocking out 10 of his first 11 opponents, he has gone the full ten rounds in his last two fights which has made some wonder about the legitimacy of his power. He will be facing Abel Ramos who has just one loss in his career and has faced much better opposition than Baranchyk. The only loss Ramos suffered was three fights ago to another power punching prospect in Regis Prograis. Ramos also holds draws against noteworthy opponents Maurice Hooker and Levan Ghvamichava. Much like Baranchyk, Ramos is an aggressive fighter who is not afraid to mix it up. We should see plenty of action and find out a lot more about Baranchyk’s status as an elite prospect in this interesting litmus test against Ramos.
Very few boxing pundits are discussing the Warren-Zhakiyanov bout but this is one that could be very interesting. Warren, of course, is a slick southpaw and natural counterpuncher. He has little punching power but is very quick and elusive. Zhakiyanov is somewhat unknown but from the video that is out there appears to have decent skills. He is aggressive but does not rush in carelessly and knows how to set up his power shots. And he does possess legitimate one punch power. Though he can’t out-quick Warren, Zhakiyanov’s pressure and power could make for a more competitive fight than most feel.
As we saw with some fights last week, hidden gems on the schedule can be found and provide fight fans with some solid action. Ivan Baranchyk-Abel Ramos and Rau’shee Warren-Zhanat Zhakiyanov should be two solid entertaining fights that boxing fans should not miss this week.
Photo credit: Ryan Greene/PBC
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