THREE PUNCH COMBO — Top Rank announced late last week a deal with ESPN to televise Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn on July 2nd. As part of the deal, it is anticipated Top Rank will get a slew of dates from the network to televise bouts that were previously shown on premium cable. With Top Rank’s stable and claim that it will be willing to work with other promoters, there is the potential for some very enticing matchups. Here are three that can easily be made in the second half of the year by Top Rank on their ESPN series that will earn universal acclaim from the boxing community.
Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KO’s) vs. Joseph Diaz (24-0, 13 KO’s)
This is one enticing matchup between young undefeated fighters (Diaz pictured on the left; Valdez on the right) looking to take the next step in their respective careers. On paper, it is an evenly matched fight between two fighters with contrasting styles. Valdez, promoted by Top Rank, is an aggressive heavy handed action fighter. Diaz, promoted by Golden Boy, is a boxer puncher with very fast hands. This would not only be a very compelling fight but show that Top Rank is in fact willing to work with others to make this arrangement with ESPN a success. Plus, Golden Boy also has a deal with ESPN, albeit on a smaller budget, and making such a fight could lead to Golden Boy willing to let Top Rank fighters perform on their series (more on this later).
Jessie Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KO’s) vs. Daniel Roman (22-2-1, 8 KO’s)
Last November, Magdaleno earned the biggest win of his professional career in outpointing former pound for pound entrant Nonito Donaire to capture Donaire’s WBO super bantamweight belt. Now coming off a two round destruction of Adeilson Dos Santos, Magdaleno needs to fight a solid ranked contender to keep the momentum going. Enter Daniel Roman who is on a 14-fight winning streak and coming off a career best performance in stopping another prospect in Adam Lopez in January. Similar to Valdez-Diaz, Magdaleno-Roman would be a battle of two young up and coming fighters with a lot to prove. Magdaleno is known for his blazing fast hands and excellent footwork. He often relies on his speed to out-class opponents. Roman is a classic boxer puncher who is getting better and better each time he steps in the ring. He relies on fundamentals and during this winning streak has used superior technique to win fights. How would Magdaleno’s speed fare against the better technique of Roman? It would be very interesting to see.
Tim Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KO’s) vs. Demetrius Andrade (24-0, 16 KO’s)
Andrade needs a big fight, plain and simple. He has tremendous talent but his career has languished the last few years with some promotional issues to blame. He may have to give up some money, but it would be well worth his while if he can add a name like Bradley to his resume on a high visibility platform such as ESPN. As for Bradley, he would need to move up to junior middleweight and bypass some other options as a welterweight, but he may see Andrade as ripe for the taking. And a win against a young stud like Andrade would position Bradley for some very big money fights at either welterweight or junior middleweight. This would be the kind of fight that fans would love and draw a lot of buzz, which would make for some big ratings. Can Bradley use his speed, quickness and ring smarts to befuddle the younger and greener Andrade? Can Andrade’s natural talent, size and power be too much for the ring veteran Bradley? Let’s find the answers.
Potential Fights for the Golden Boy ESPN Series In 2017
Golden Boy also has a deal with ESPN. Thus far, the matchmaking has been superb on Golden Boy’s series leading to some very entertaining bouts. Looking ahead to the second half of the year, here are three fights that Golden Boy can make to help continue making the series a success.
Fidel Maldonado Jr. (24-3-1, 19 KO’s) vs. Michael Perez (25-2-2, 11 KO’s)
In April, Perez scored a split decision win coming off the deck against Marcelino Lopez. And just a few weeks ago, in another Golden Boy ESPN promotion, Maldonado scored a split decision win coming off the deck against Pablo Cesar Cano. Both Perez and Maldonado fight in the junior welterweight division, so why not match them against each other next? This would be a high-stakes must-win fight with the winner moving significantly closer to a title shot. Plus, they have both been in their share of wars in the past and the chances that fireworks occur would be very high. It could be a lot of fun.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KO’s) vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (18-1, 15 KO’s)
Earlier, I suggested that Top Rank fighter Oscar Valdez take on Golden Boy fighter Joseph Diaz on Top Rank’s ESPN slate. Well, how about Golden Boy returning the favor and allowing a Top Rank fighter in Gvozdyk to take on Shabranskyy? This would be a pivotal crossroads light heavyweight battle between two young big punchers. Many in the sport feel Gvozdyk may be the future of the light heavyweight division as he has shown advanced skill along with devastating one punch power. Shabranskyy needs a high risk fight to resurrect his once blossoming career and Gvozdyk would be just that type of opponent. Both fighters feature a very aggressive style and with each possessing one punch power, this could be a dramatic high contact fight, one that would get fans raving and be great for the development of the series.
Diego De La Hoya (18-0, 9 KO’s) vs. Ronny Rios (28-1, 13 KO’s)
Thus far in his career, De La Hoya has been moved as a typical prospect staying relatively busy and taking small steps up in competition as he has progressed. There comes a time in every prospect’s career when he needs to be put in a fight he could lose. The time is ripe for De La Hoya and Rios, a borderline top ten junior featherweight on a five fight winning streak, is the perfect opponent. As for the fight, it would be the speed of De La Hoya against the aggressiveness of Rios. A lot of questions would be answered about both fighters. Does De La Hoya have the power to stymie the attack of an aggressive elite level fighter? How will Rios deal with a fighter who is much quicker and more athletic? It would also be an interesting contrast of styles in an evenly matched contest. This is the type of fight that the series should be all about and with both fighters under the Golden Boy banner it would be easy to pull together.
Under The Radar Fights
This week there are two world title bouts that haven’t been getting a lot of press.
On Friday night on Bounce TV, Robert Easter (19-0, 14 KO’s) makes the second defense of his IBF lightweight belt when he faces mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KO’s). This is a fascinating match featuring a drastic difference in styles. Easter is tall for a lightweight, standing 5’11”, and will enter the ring with a six-inch advantage in height. Easter will try to work behind his jab using his height and reach advantage to keep the aggressive Shafikov on the outside. As for Shafikov, he is a good inside fighter but will need to somehow find a way to navigate range to get the distance where he can do his work. He will rely on constant pressure in an attempt to break down Easter as the fight progresses. Shafikov must be smart at how he navigates range and has shown the ability in past fights to work behind a well-timed, precise right jab coming from the southpaw stance to get into his opponent’s kitchen. Once there, Shafikov has shown a willingness to open up to the head and body, ripping vicious combinations. It will be very interesting to see how the young Easter handles such a pressure fighter and the intriguing contrast of styles between two very skilled fighters should make for an enjoyable fight to watch.
On Saturday, Jerwin Ancajas (26-1-1, 17 KO’s) of the Philippines makes the second defense of his IBF super flyweight crown when he defends against Japanese challenger Teiru Kinoshita (25-1-1, 8 KO’s). This fight will be televised on ESPN as part of the undercard of Pacquiao-Horn. Ancajas, a southpaw with very fast hands, has drawn some comparisons to Pacquiao. He is a natural counterpuncher with his best punch probably being the counter right hook though he possesses good power in both hands. Like Ancajas, Kinoshita is also a southpaw as well as a natural counterpuncher. He does not possess the speed or power of Ancajas, but he’s a solid pro, a technically sound fighter who should provide a solid test for the rising Filipino star. At the very least, expect to see a highly skilled boxing match that should be a good lead-up to the big fight later in the night.
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