THREE PUNCH COMBO: Often times on big pay-per-view fights, we see a weak undercard leading into the big main event. However, this is not the case for the Canelo-Chavez Jr. undercard this Saturday. The card features a couple fights that are filled with intrigue and should provide good action leading into the feature presentation.
In a battle of undefeated featherweight prospects, former U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz (pictured on the right against Horacio Garcia) takes on Manuel Avila. This could turn out to be the evening’s most competitive fight and given the styles of the two provide for plenty of crisp action.
Diaz is a boxer puncher with very fast hands. He likes to throw combinations behind the jab and overwhelm his opponents with a high work rate. Avila is more an aggressive type fighter who will try to bring the fight to Diaz. He will be willing to take some shots from Diaz, who is not a big puncher, to get inside to do his own work. Expect to see a lot of punches thrown and plenty of fun exchanges in what should be an excellent fight.
Lucas Matthysse makes his return after being out of the ring for 19 months to face veteran Emmanuel Taylor. Generally, fighters with such long layoffs as Matthysse return with a soft touch but Taylor is no soft touch. As we know, Matthysse is an action fighter with big time power. But how much does he have left in the tank after being in his share of wars during his career?
Taylor is a guy who likes to stand in the pocket and exchange. He is skilled and well-schooled, having beaten some solid guys along the way and given some top level fighters good tests. Taylor does put the high guard up at times and look to counter when his opponent is done throwing. I expect that Matthysse will show signs of being faded and won’t use his legs as much as he has in the past. This could lead to a shoot-out in the pocket and could steal the show.
Finally, there is a middleweight contest between David Lemieux and Marcos Reyes. This is quite honestly a mere showcase for Lemieux, propping him up for a potential showdown down the road with Canelo. His opponent, Reyes, is at the very least an aggressive fighter who will come forward throwing. In all likelihood, this probably ends with an early sensational knockout by Lemieux but shouldn’t lack for action though it will probably be one-sided.
In a boxing world where pay-per-view undercards typically lack solid fights and compelling matchups, Golden Boy deserves credit for putting some decent matches together. Even the one on paper that should be lopsided should provide some fireworks. All in all, it is a very good way to set up the evening’s main course.
Under the Radar Fights
It is Cinco de Mayo weekend and with that plenty of boxing. With so much on the schedule this week, there are bound to be some fights that are flying under the radar. On Friday, former Cuban amateur star Yuriorkis Gamboa, a former world featherweight champion, returns to face tough seasoned veteran Robinson Castellanos on ESPN. Also on Friday on a separate card televised by UniMas, top prospect Jose Carlos Ramirez makes his 2017 debut against Jake Giuriceo.
A simple look at Castellanos record (23-12) and many would write him off as nothing more than a club fighter. But records in this sport can be very deceiving and most of those losses occurred very early in his career. In recent years, he defeated former world champion Celestino Caballero and handed Ronny Rios his first career loss. Castellanos is in the mode of Orlando Salido in that despite suffering many early setbacks he has figured things out and is fighting his best in the later part of his career.
Gamboa is more skilled and has the quicker hands, but Castellanos, unlike his last opponent, Rene Alvarado, will bring the fight to him from the opening bell. Castellanos is a relentless pressure fighter and could put Gamboa in some uncomfortable situations. With Castellanos being willing to throw, there will also be openings for the counter punching of Gamboa. Can Gamboa catch Castellanos and hurt him during an exchange? Or can the pressure of Castellanos get to Gamboa as the fight progresses? This is a very interesting, well matched fight on Friday.
Generally, I don’t include fights that on paper appear to have a clear winner in the under the radar segment. But there is something about Jose Carlos Ramirez that intrigues me and I am very interested to see how he fares against Jake Giuriceo.
Ramirez, a heavy handed boxer-puncher who just appears very smooth and natural inside the ring, may be the best of the 2012 U.S. Olympians, a group that includes Errol Spence. He is progressing well as a pro and getting better with each appearance. In Giuriceo, Ramirez is facing a tough aggressive opponent on a three fight winning streak who beat a 12-0 fighter his last time out. Moreover, Giuriceo gave Viktor Postol a tough scrap a few years ago. It is a good litmus test at the very least for Ramirez. It will be interesting to see how he handles the ultra-aggressive Giuriceo.
This Past Week’s Other Fights
The boxing world is still buzzing, and rightfully so, about the terrific heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. But there were other fights this past weekend that had importance in the sport.
Featherweight is one of the deepest divisions and just added another big time player in Claudio Marrero. Marrero destroyed the previously undefeated Carlos Zambrano in one round in a power punching display to take home an interim belt and, more importantly, put the featherweight division on notice. Marrero has been fighting in relative obscurity since losing to Jesus Cuellar nearly four years ago but now is poised to make a move. With IBF title-holder Lee Selby seeking fights in the US, a match between him and Marrero would seem a natural.
Casey Ramos and Erick De Leon each scored impressive victories on Friday. Ramos beat former world title challenger Miguel Beltran Jr. in an entertaining scrap and De Leon demolished seasoned pro Daulis Prescott in three rounds. De Leon is a big time prospect and it was probably not coincidental that he co-headlined a card with Ramos. De Leon is ready for the next step and Ramos would appear to be that opponent. I see their promoter Top Rank making the match before the end of the year.
Finally, earlier in the week Levan Ghvamichava scored an impressive unanimous decision win in an entertaining welterweight fight against former 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina. Trained by Virgil Hunter, Ghvamichava used good timing in consistently beating Molina to the punch as well as a consistent body attack that took the legs from Molina. Ghvamichava fights in a crowd pleasing style and with the many names at welterweight could make for an interesting opponent for many of them down the road. One possibility for Ghvamichava’s next opponent is Thomas Dulorme. That would be a solid well-matched crossroads fight.
A lot happened in the sport last week in addition to the great heavyweight title fight. Boxing is no doubt alive and well.
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