THREE PUNCH COMBO — On Saturday night, Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KO’s) takes on Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KO’s) for Horn’s welterweight title. Also, Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KO’s) battles Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KO’s) for a featherweight title in a rematch of their 2015 slugfest. This would be a great doubleheader, wouldn’t it? But alas, this is boxing and these two big events are taking place on the same night at different venues on different televised platforms. And of course, there is a decent chance that both could be starting right around the same time or at the very least overlap.
I am going to be in Canastota this coming weekend for the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s annual Induction Weekend. As such, I am going to have to pick one event to focus my attention on and then watch the other later already knowing the result. I know many fans will be attempting to watch one event live while recording the other (or finding a means to watch on a delayed basis) hoping not to catch the result beforehand. But even that option, which has been somewhat viable in the past, is not as foolproof as it used to be. Results are often announced on the rival card or appear on the bottom of the screen as part of a scrolling line of sports results. Remember in March, HBO’s Jim Lampley announced the result of the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight that aired on Showtime just as the HBO main event between Sergey Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin was getting underway.
Santa Cruz-Mares I was a terrific fight. There were a lot of punches thrown and landed. Though he didn’t dominate, Santa Cruz was the clear winner, out-throwing and out-landing Mares by a fairly decent margin. I don’t see the rematch being much different. Santa Cruz will out-throw and out-land Mares again though Mares will have his spots in a good action fight.
Since I have already seen Santa Cruz-Mares I and I expect the sequel to go similar, I am going to focus my attention on Crawford-Horn. I know Crawford is a big favorite but I want to see how he handles yet another step up in weight to face a much bigger man with skills in Horn. This is not an easy fight for Crawford and there is some unknown to me going into this, unlike the Santa Cruz-Mares rematch. Crawford also could look spectacular and this could be a defining moment in his career that could one day see him in Canastota. That will be my choice on Saturday.
Under The Radar Fights
We have a busy boxing week on the horizon headlined by the aforementioned two fights on Saturday. But these are not the only fights on the schedule and some very intriguing bouts are flying deep under the radar.
On Friday night at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY there is card taking place in conjunction with the Induction Weekend in nearby Canastota. The card will be televised online live on ESPN3 and later on a tape delayed basis on ESPN2. The headline bout features the fast rising Diego De La Hoya (20-0, 9 KO’s) facing off against veteran Jose Salgado (36-4-2, 29 KO’s) in a super bantamweight contest but this is not the bout that perks my interest. Instead, that belongs to the 154-pound co-feature between Travell Mazion (12-0, 11 KO’s) and Daquan Pauldo (17-1, 9 KO’s).
Mazion and Pauldo (aka Daquan Arnett) are both talented young prospects who have each been plagued by long bouts of inactivity in their respective careers. As his record indicates, Mazion possesses power in his fists. He has one punch knockout capability in either hand. Mazion will work behind a solid stiff left jab from the orthodox stance and aggressively come forward behind that jab attempting to land his power shots.
In Pauldo, Mazion is facing easily his toughest test to date. Pauldo has much more experience and has fought the better opposition. He is a boxer-puncher with quick hands and good skills. Mazion has shown some defensive lapses and this could be tested by Pauldo. This is an interesting, well matched fight between two promising young fighters and it should be very enjoyable to see how it plays out.
On the undercard of Crawford-Horn on Saturday night on ESPN+, promising young 140-pound prospect Maxim Dadashev (10-0, 9 KO’s) takes a big step up in class when he faces veteran Darleys Perez (33-3-2, 21 KO’s). Like a lot of recent prospects coming from Eastern Europe, Dadashev is very advanced at this stage of his career despite a relative lack of pro experience due to a strong amateur background. He is a high pressure fighter who will utilize a stiff, well timed jab to work his way to his opponent’s chest. Once inside, Dadashev is an excellent combination puncher and will work the head and body as he tries to wear his opposition down. In Perez, Dadashev faces a solid experienced veteran who not long ago pushed another prospect in Maurice Hooker to the limit. It will be interesting to see how the promising young Dadashev deals with this test on Saturday.
Remembering Judah-Ward 20 Years Later
The star prospect fighting a seasoned veteran is an age old tradition in boxing. On June 7th, 1998, 20-year-old super prospect Zab Judah (15-0, 11 KO’s) took his first big leap in class when he faced veteran Micky Ward (31-8, 22 KO’s) in a scheduled 12-round 140-pound contest.
At this point in his career, Judah was considered to be the next surefire star in boxing. In his first 15 fights, he had displayed incredible speed along with power in blowing through his opposition. His team now figured he was ready for a mild step up and wanted to find a sturdy veteran to give young Judah some rounds as well as valuable ring experience. But they wanted to be careful with the opponent selected so as to not risk throwing their prized young stud in too deep this early in his career. In Micky Ward, Judah’s team figured they had a safe opponent. Judah’s speed figured to be too much for the significantly slower Ward but Ward was tough and durable enough to hang in there to give Judah rounds.
For the first seven rounds, the fight basically followed the script envisioned by Team Judah. The quicker Judah outworked Ward while easily evading most of Ward’s return fire. However, toward the end of round seven Judah began sitting on the inside more, perhaps a bit fatigued. Judah was still having success but was also in Ward’s range and that allowed for Ward to land some crisp shots of his own.
The script got flipped suddenly in round eight. With Judah continuing to linger on the inside, Ward landed his patented left hook to the body. Judah, clearly hurt, then literally ran around the ring to avoid the hard charging Ward until the bell sounded to end the round. The crowd may have been booing the tactics of Judah but he found a way to survive a scary moment early in his career.
Judah went back to boxing and back to dominating Ward down the stretch. In the end, it was a wide unanimous decision win for Judah who did pick up some valuable experience. But for a moment, Judah’s early stardom nearly took a hard tumble at the hands of Micky Ward.
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