THREE PUNCH COMBO: Will July be a month of upsets? There is already one in the books for the month of July, albeit a controversial one. Could there be some more surprises in store for the sport as the month progresses?
On Saturday July 8th, super lightweights Josh Taylor (9-0, 8 KO’s) and Ohara Davies (15-0, 12 KO’s) will meet in a rare encounter of two young undefeated talented fighters. The fight will take place in Taylor’s backyard of Scotland and as of this writing Taylor has been installed as the favorite in the sports books. This should be an excellent fight but I ultimately expect Davies to come out on top. Taylor is well schooled and technically sound but I see him having difficulty dealing with the speed and athleticism of Davies. Davies has a big edge in hand speed. I see him beating Taylor to the punch on a consistent basis. Also, despite what the record says, Davies appears to my eyes as the bigger puncher. Taylor is a heavy handed type puncher but many of his early knockouts came against far inferior competition. If he can’t get Davies’ respect (and I don’t think he can) then Davies could have a field day using his hand speed to pick Taylor apart. The betting public may be favoring the hometown guy in Taylor, but the smart money is on Davies.
A week later, Robert Guerrero (33-5-1, 18 KO’s) takes on Omar Figueroa Jr. (26-0-1, 18 KO’s) at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY in a welterweight affair. Though odds haven’t yet been posted there is no doubt Figueroa with his undefeated record will be favored over Guerrero who is 2-4 in his last six fights. However, I like Guerrero in this fight. Figueroa is coming off a long layoff and in his last two fights where he moved up in weight he was unimpressive. In his last performance in December of 2015, Figueroa struggled mightily against Antonio DeMarco who had appeared previously to be a completely shopworn fighter. Figueroa is no great shakes defensively and has not carried his power up in weight. I think Guerrero will be able to land at ease and not concern himself with the return fire from Figueroa. Expect to see an entertaining fight with Guerrero landing more often and with the more eye catching shots which should be enough to carry the fight on the scorecards.
Finally, on July 29th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Jarrell Miller (18-0-1, 16 KO’s) takes on Gerald Washington (18-1-1, 12 KO’s) in a heavyweight contest. Miller is the prospect and the favorite but there are a lot of questions surrounding him. Thus far in his career, he has been spoon-fed overmatched opponents. Washington is a real test and may ask questions of Miller that his previous opponents have not asked. The biggest question on Miller is what will happen when he finds himself in a long grueling battle? If Washington can survive the initial onslaught from Miller, we may find out the answer to that question. Conditioning is clearly not a strong point of Miller having tipped the scales north of 270 pounds in seven of his last eight fights (including nearly hitting the 300 mark his last time out) and Washington is still standing and fighting back after round three, things may not go so well for Miller.
Last Saturday’s Fight Card From Russia
There was boxing this past weekend in Russia. The main event saw Alexander Povetkin (32-1, 23 KO’s) grind out a unanimous decision win against Andriy Rudenko (31-3, 19 KO’s). While Povetkin continues to win fights, his legitimacy as a heavyweight contender is in question given recent positive tests for performance enhancing drugs. The undercard of the show is mostly what caught my attention with a few performances well worth highlighting.
In his first fight back since suffering a stunning first round knockout loss to Julius Indongo in December, former super lightweight belt holder Eduard Troyanovsky (26-1, 23 KO’s) stopped Michele Di Rocco (41-3-1, 18 KO’s) in the fourth round. Di Rocco was a former European champion and one time world title challenger who was supposed to pose somewhat of a test to Troyanovsky. But the power of Troyanovsky was ultimately too much for Di Rocco.
Troyanovsky is a fun guy to watch. He makes plenty of mistakes which often makes for exciting fights. He did get clipped a few times with rights from Di Rocco and was even stunned on one occasion. But Troyanovsky has legitimate one punch power in both hands and can quickly turn a fight in his favor with his power as he did against Di Rocco. I wouldn’t mind seeing Troyanovsky against anyone at super lightweight as his style plus defensive liabilities would force plenty of action. Plus, his power is real and as long as he would be standing he would have a punchers chance against anyone.
There were also several prospects featured on the card. The one that stood out the most was 21-year-old welterweight Sergey Lubkovich (6-0, 5 KO’s) who registered a fifth round TKO victory against tough veteran Gabor Gorbics (23-7, 14 KO’s). I wouldn’t classify Lubkovich as a one punch knockout guy, but instead describe him more as a heavy handed fighter whose punches seem to have a cumulative effect. Against Gorbics, his punches were sharp and he seemed to have a knack for positioning his feet and body into the right areas to land his shots with maximum authority. He is also very fluid inside the ring with things seemingly coming natural to him. Finally, his defense was sharp for a young prospect.
It might not have been the biggest fight card of the weekend but the show in Russia had some very interesting bouts. While it remains to be seen if Alexander Povetkin can entice a big name heavyweight into the ring given his recent past, we will no doubt be hearing much more from Eduard Troyanovsky and Sergey Lubkovich.
Does Pacquiao’s “Loss” Really Hurt Him?
Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KO’s) scored a surprising unanimous decision victory against Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KO’s) in their welterweight title fight. Most people who watched the fight thought Pacquiao had done more than enough to earn the decision and were left scratching their heads when the decision was announced. Though the loss will officially be tallied on Pacquiao’s record, it may not really have any impact on his future career prospects
Pacquiao’s clear goal is to secure a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. To do so, Pacquiao will first need to avenge the loss to Horn. There was a rematch clause for Pacquiao in the Horn contract and post-fight Pacquiao stated he would exercise that clause. It will probably happen before the end of the year and back in Australia where a large audience can once again be drawn. It will be another decent payday for Pacquiao and give him the opportunity to set the record straight once and for all.
Assuming Pacquiao rights the ship in the rematch with Horn, the door would then be wide open for the Mayweather rematch. That’s assuming, of course, that Mayweather dispatches Conor McGregor which most everyone expects he will do. A return fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao will be much easier to pull together the second time around. Pacquiao is not tied to any network so we will not have HBO and Showtime involved in a complex negotiation over how the fight is to be broadcast. In addition, Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum and Mayweather’s advisor Al Haymon are on much more amicable terms than they were a few years ago.
The loss to Horn would then be played off in the pre-fight build-up. Arum would dismiss it as a bad decision that was subsequently righted in the rematch and the pay-per-view buying public will probably go along with the pitch. Thus, the loss will not make a rematch any less enticing or hurt pay-per-view sales in any manner. So in the end, the controversial decision loss to Horn will in all likelihood have no impact on getting Manny Pacquiao to his stated goal of a big money rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
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