The Fight Night Guide brings you a brief preview of every upcoming weekend’s most relevant fights compiled by Zona de Boxeo editor and TSS writer Diego Morilla, with all the basic information you need to know to check out the action and to know what to expect from every fighter. Follow us every week at #FNG @TheSweetScience @Morillaboxing
Friday November 24 (Saturday in Thailand)
Wanheng Menayothin vs. Tatsuya Fukuhara, 12 rounds, WBC strawweight title
Menayothin (48-0, 17 KOs) is one of the better kept secrets in boxing, and he will have a chance to defend his minimum weight belt in front of his people against Japan’s Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7 KOs) in another episode of the already classic Thai-Japanese rivalry.
What to look for in this fight: Should he win, Fukuhara would become the first-ever Japanese fighter to win a title on Thai soil, an elusive achievement that will surely earn him some praise back home. Not a bad feat to aim at!
New York, Saturday November 25
Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Sharbranskyy, 12 rounds, vacant WBO light heavyweight title
Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KO) faces Ukrainian power puncher Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KO) with much more than the WBO trinket and their neighborhood bragging rights at stake. “The Krusher” is coming off two losses against now-retired former pound-for-pound king Andre Ward, and needs this win pretty badly if he is to reassert himself as a force in the heavier weights. Shabranskyy has everything to gain in this fight, and he will be trying to exploit Kovalev’s lack of a head trainer after his dismissal of John David Jackson and turn him into his ticket to bigger fights. A make-or-break proposition for Kovalev in a fight that looks like a possible KO victory for him but with very little margin of error.
What to look for in this fight: Kovalev was in top physical shape against Ward, but his mental shape has been questioned. Are the change of trainer and his plans to jump to cruiserweight affecting him to the point of making his performance level drop? We’ll soon find out!
Sullivan Barrera vs. Felix Valera, 10 rounds, light heavyweights
Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) is a legitimate threat to anyone at 175 and a true talent looking to seize the moment in this undercard to pimp a potential clash against the winner of the main event. Valera (15-1, 13 KOs) may be as upset-minded as he wants, but he’ll be facing a guy who looked great even in his loss to the best pound-for-pound fighter in Andre Ward and has rebounded to win three in a row against top opposition.
What to look for in this fight: The “crossroads fight for once-beaten contenders” thing is a little bit too much. There is only one true contender here and he is Barrera. Look for him to dominate Valera on his way to an inevitable clash with Kovalev sometime in 2018.
Jason Sosa vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs), a former super featherweight titlist, was stopped and outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko last April, but he had a great run before that, with a draw against Nicholas Walters and wins over Stephen Smith and Javier Fortuna. In Gamboa (27-2, 17 KOs) he’ll be fighting a former two-division champ trying to stay afloat as a contender and avoiding the slippery slope into trialhorse territory who was called up at the last minute after Sosa’s original opponent dropped out. Lots of questions will be answered in this one!
What to look for in this fight: A risky proposition for both fighters, indeed. Sosa has youth, need, hunger and momentum on his side, but Gamboa has enough experience to outclass Sosa if his body should respond to the challenge. Could easily be the one that will steal the show.
Oberhausen, Germany, Saturday November 25
Alexander Ustinov vs. Manuel Charr, 12 rounds, heavyweights
Big rumble between two local favorites. Ustinov (34-1, 25 KOs) and Charr (30-4, 17 KOs) may not be stellar fighters in today’s heavyweight division, but they will be facing each other in a 10,000-seat arena with a lot more than their local bragging rights at play. Our Germany correspondent Phil Woolever will be in the building. Check out his pre- and post-fight reports here at TSS and make sure to YouTube this one later on Sunday.
Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday November 25
Dmitry Chudinov vs. Lolenga Mock, 10 rounds, super middleweights
Mock (41-14, 13 KO), is coming off a good win over Ukrainian Roman Shkarupa to cap a nice 10-0 streak, and Chudinov (20-1-2, 13 KOs) is riding a 6-0 streak of his own since his loss to Eubank Jr. almost two years ago. At 45, Mock is in a much more dire situation than Chudinov, who still has time to become a factor in the division if he isn’t already, but the fight promises to be a high-octane bout between two guys who have 16 fights between them in just the past two years.
Uncasville, Conn., Saturday November 25
Constantin Bejenaru vs. Thabiso Mchunu, 10 rounds, cruiserweights
Bejenaru (12-0, 3 KOs) goes up against former world title challenger Mchunu (18-3, 11 KOs) of South Africa trying to improve his resume after defeating previously unbeaten Alexy Zubov and Stivens Bujaj. He will have his work cut out for him against the tough-as-nails Mchunu, a super tough contender who took Oleksandr Usyk nine rounds before surrendering to the former Olympian and current world titlist back in July.
What to look for in this fight: A stoppage win would be out of the question in my opinion, but the more talented Bejeranu should be able to fulfill his promise by outboxing the onrushing South African en route to a close win.
Danny Gonzalez vs. Danny O’Connor, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Gonzalez (14-0, 5 KOs), a native or Puerto Rico, will take on O’Connor (28-3 10 KOs) in what feels like a neighborhood brawl already given the large Puerto Rican and Irish communities in the surrounding areas.
What to look for in this fight: O’Connor’s deceptive record hides a superb amateur run and outstanding boxing skills that could end up making the difference here. Should be fun to watch.
Looking ahead: Mark your calendar! This is going to be good
Gilberto Ramirez vs Habib Ahmed, February 3, super middleweights
Ramírez (36-0, 24 KOs), hailing from Mazatlán, Mexico, is one of his country’s most promising heavier fighters, and he will be risking his WBO world title belt and his unbeaten mark against Ghana’s Ahmed (22-0, 17 KOs) at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX.
George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr, February 17, super middleweights
Bad blood matchup for pride and country? It should be great! Groves will defend his WBA 168-pound belt against Eubank Jr in a semifinal match as part of the World Boxing Super Series at the Manchester Arena in what is already shaping up as a grudge match between two increasingly popular fighters.
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