THREE PUNCH COMBO — There were several significant bouts this past weekend and with that several good performances. Let’s get the crystal ball out and look to what may lie in store in the near future for some of the winners.
Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1, 19 KO’s) may have had the best performance of the weekend with his third round knockout victory against Robert Guerrero (33-6-1, 18 KO’s) in a welterweight contest. Figueroa (pictured on the left) scored five total knockdowns in destroying the usually durable Guerrero.
In the pre-fight build up, Figueroa had expressed a desire to move back down to super lightweight following the fight. However, the pickings are very slim for him at the moment at super lightweight and Figueroa may want to capitalize on this performance with a big fight at welterweight. Being aligned with Al Haymon, Figueroa would have several options for significant fights at welterweight with the top two probably being Lamont Peterson and Shawn Porter. Either of those opponents would bring a nice payday and if he were to lose, he could then drop down to rebuild his career at super lightweight.
In a light heavyweight bout that served as the co-feature to Figueroa-Guerrero, Marcus Browne (20-0, 15 KO’s) kept his undefeated record intact with a two round beat down of the previously undefeated Sean Monaghan (28-1, 17 KO’s). Browne made it clear after the fight that he wants light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson next but that may not be realistic as in all probability Stevenson will make his long overdue mandatory against Eleider Alvarez before the end of the year. That fight will probably take place in Montreal where both Stevenson and Alvarez are known and sell tickets.
My guess would be that we see Browne appear on that undercard with the idea of him facing the winner sometime in 2018. As such, the opponent would probably be a name but one that Browne should be able to handle. One such possibility in this scenario would be Jean Pascal who just gave Alvarez a decent scrap. If Pascal is not available or prices himself out, another option may be Sakio Bika.
Turning to the HBO card on Saturday, Miguel Berchelt (32-1, 28 KO’s) scored a dominant unanimous decision win against Takashi Miura (31-4, 24 KO’s) in a super featherweight title fight. On the undercard, Jezreel Corrales (22-1, 8 KO’s) scored a close technical decision win against Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 7 KO’s) in another super featherweight title fight. Though there was some discussion in the aftermath of the card of having an immediate rematch between Corrales and Castellanos given how close the fight turned out, I don’t see that and instead see the unification bout between Berchelt and Corrales happening next. It is a natural fight to make and the winner of that unification fight would be well positioned to earn a lot of money in another unification fight against Vasyl Lomachenko in 2018.
And What’s Next For Some of the Losers?
Joe Smith Jr. (23-2, 19 KO’s) dropped a hard fought ten round decision to Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KO’s) in a light heavyweight contest to open the HBO card. As mentioned earlier, Sean Monaghan was scorched in two rounds by Marcus Browne on the PBC card in another light heavyweight bout. You can probably guess where I am going with this one.
The time to match Smith and Monaghan is now. The fight sells easy in New York where it has been talked about for some time. The winner gets right back into it at light heavyweight which is becoming a very deep division. My guess is that it will happen and probably on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018 which happens to fall on a Saturday. I could see both co-headlining a show in the New York area later this year (assuming neither suffered any significant injuries in their losses this past weekend) against weak opposition to get each back in the win column and help to begin to promote the event.
Despite losing to Jezreel Corrales, Robinson Castellanos performed way above expectations and sent his stock up in defeat. Three years ago, Castellanos was stopped by a then rising contender at featherweight named Rene Alvarado. Since that fight, the careers of Castellanos and Alvarado have gone in different directions as Alvarado has become more of a journeyman type opponent. But on Friday, Alvarado sprung an upset in stopping the previously unbeaten Roger Gutierrez in a super featherweight bout. Both Castellanos and Alvarado are with Golden Boy which has a deal with ESPN. See where I am going with this? Matching the two on Golden Boy’s ESPN series makes a lot of sense as it would be a good competitive fight. Castellanos would have the revenge factor and a second consecutive upset for Alvarado would make him a player suddenly at super featherweight.
Takashi Miura is certainly fun to watch. He just can’t be involved in a bad fight given his all- action aggressive style. In 2015, he and Francisco Vargas waged a memorable war in one of the best fights of the decade. A rematch has always seemed inevitable and we may be drawing nearer to that point as both need each other and can make a lot of money with the rematch. It probably does not happen this year or even early next year as both also need some rest. But I could see each co-headlining a show next summer against inferior opponents with the idea being of matching the two late in 2018. It would undoubtedly sell out any arena on the west coast and would be a must-see bout for any fight fan.
It was certainly a busy week in the sport of boxing. From press tours to plenty of fight cards, the sport showed it is still alive and thriving. Below are some random thoughts from the past week’s activities.
Prior to the start of the Mayweather-McGregor four city press tour came the announcement that the fight would cost $99.95 for the high definition pay-per-view broadcast. This is a high price tag considering what transpired with Mayweather-Pacquiao and the fact that many see Mayweather-McGregor as an absurd mismatch. But folks may still watch, just not pay for it.
Piracy has grown since Mayweather-Pacquiao (and it was big then) and is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for those putting on pay-per-view events, both in boxing and UFC. In boxing, it is a big part of the reason we are seeing pay-per-view numbers that are not hitting expectations. The high price tag for a predicted mismatch may tempt many fans who previously bought these high profile events to seek out an illegal stream. While most are projecting high pay-per-view numbers, there are signs that the numbers could be very disappointing to those putting on the fight.
We had a lot of big fights this past weekend. Oddly, the biggest winner was not in action. That would be Andre Ward. He was never given much credit for his easy dismantling of Sullivan Barrera in March of 2016. Barrera was seen by many as just not on a top flight level and more or less exposed by Ward. But Barrera is showing himself to be a top light heavyweight and the ease with which he beat the streaking Joe Smith surprised many. Barrera showcased excellent boxing skills along with speed and athleticism. He is not an easy out for anyone at light heavyweight. Well, anyone except Andre Ward.
Finally, how about a good underdog story? On ShoBox on Friday, super lightweight Rolando Chinea (15-1-1, 6 KO’s) pulled a surprise in scoring a majority decision win against the much more heralded and more skilled Kenneth Sims Jr. (12-1, 4 KO’s). After being dominated in the first two rounds, Chinea dug down deep and outworked Sims over the course of the next six rounds. Chinea was willing to eat his share of shots and take risks to get to the inside to get his work done to pull the surprise. He is not the most talented fighter, but his effort was inspiring. We will see Chinea again and hopefully he is brought back to ShoBox to test another prospect as he has earned another opportunity.
Photo credit: Ryan Greene / Premier Boxing Champions
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