Thursday June 19
From Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
TV: Fox Sports 1
Time: 5:00 PM PDT, 8:00 PM EDT, 1:00 AM BST
McWilliams Arroyo 14(12)-1 vs Froilian Saludar 19(12)-0-1
McWilliams hopes to build on what his brother started this past Saturday in stopping Tyson Marquez after 11 sensational rounds. The Arroyo’s are another set of twins in boxing. While the Charlo’s remain the premier duo in the sport, the Arroyo’s aren’t far away. They have stellar amateur records and look to make an impact in the sport very soon. McWilliams has already loss, but it came very early in his career. It wasn’t the type of loss that detracts from what he can be. It was the kind of loss where he learned that the amateur style that had worked his entire career just won’t cut it in the pro game.
Talent isn’t going to be a problem with McWilliams. The problem for him is that he’s trying to come up in the flyweight division.
The flyweight division is one of the deepest and fiercest divisions in the sport. Akira Yaegashi, Giovani Segura, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Fracisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka, Amnat Ruenroeng… few divisions have this many world level talents at the top of the division. Don’t forget that Naoya Inoue, one of the top young fighters in the sport who won a legit world title in only his 6th professional fight, is also waiting for the right time to enter the division.
Cesar Seda 25(17)-2 vs Alex Rangel 15(9)-2-2
super bantamweight division
Cesar Seda is a super bantamweight coming off a unanimous decision loss to Leo Santa Cruz. Seda’s only 2 losses come against Santa Cruz and long time Argentine super flyweight champion Omar Narvaez. Despite the 2 losses, Seda is an underrated fighter. He slick, he makes his opponents miss a lot of punches, and while Santa Cruz won a decisive decision against him, it was one of those fights where the actual action was far closer than what the scorecards indicated. I scored it 116-111 for Santa Cruz (8 rounds to 4), but I felt I was a little too generous to Santa Cruz.
Mexican Alex Rangel is coming off a stoppage loss. Seda should be able to outbox Rangel quite easily. While Seda is close to world level, Rangel is quite far. Experience against some of the top fighters in the world make Seda an easy favorite.
Saturday June 21
From Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, Monte Carlo, Monaco
TV: Boxnation (UK) DigiSport (Hungary)
Time: 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EDT, 7:00 PM CEST
Hekkie Budler 25(8)-1 vs Pigmy Kokietgym 52(22)-6-2
IBO minimumweight title
WBA world minimumweight title
Boxing returns to Monaco! Yes, Monaco. The same country that made Grace Kelly a princess. I’m not quite sure who’s the main eventer, but this fight is the only real title fight on the card so we’re going to give this one top billing. Budler is 26 out of Johannesburg, South Africa. When he had blonde hair he kind of looked like Chris Jericho, but 125 pounds lighter. While Budler holds the IBO and WBA minimumweight titles, the real champion of the division is Japanese Katsunari Takayama. Whether this is a stay busy fight for Budler or a showcase for the people of Monaco, Budler will fall further from Takayama with this one. Takayama is set to take on a legitimate top 5 opponent while Budler is fighting a guy whose never scored a win over a world level minimumweight.
Martin Murray 27(12)-1-1 vs Max Bursak 29(12)-2-1
Martin Murray holds the distinction of being the last guy that Sergio Martinez scored a win over. Although it was controversial, it was a win nonetheless. While I tried to argue that Martinez simply wasn’t Martinez in their fight down in Argentina, people countered with Martin Murray was just that good and that Sergio couldn’t adjust to a guy who had a good defense… yeah… about that.
Murray’s next fight was utterly disappointing, and in my eyes indicative of how far away Martinez had degraded from injury. Murray’s next opponent was Sergey Khomitsky, record of 28-9-2. It was an 8 round fight. You’d think that after narrowly pulling off an upset of the middleweight king, Murray would obliterate the journeyman, especially when he was only in an 8 round fight. Unfortunately, that’s not what we saw. Khomitsky outboxed and outworked Murray. At times it looked like Khomitsky was just better than Murray. I thought Khomitsky had a real gripe about winning.
Murray is now a huge question mark. Sure he stopped his next opponent, but he’s seriously fallen. He was once seen as a juicy opponent for Gennady Golovkin. A challenging test to gauge just how good the Kazakh champion was. Now, who knows.
Beating Max Bursak will go a long way in showing us that Murray is still a top 10 middleweight, but it won’t give him back the momentum he had after the Martinez fight. Bursak is coming off a loss back on the Golovkin-Adama undercard, but anyone who saw that fight knows it was a terrible decision. Costly point deductions against Bursak were the difference as Australian Jarrod Fletcher managed to score an upset in a clinch and foul-fest. I had it 114-112 for Bursak. Maybe Bursak’s lack of punching discipline made the referees score it for Fletcher. I think this is close to a 50-50 fight. Murray might have the advantage due to experience, but Bursak can make this a very ugly and difficult fight to score. A Murray loss further devalues Cotto’s win over Martinez.
Mateusz Masternak 32(23)-1 vs Youri Kayembre Kalenga 19(13)-1
interim WBA world cruiserweight title
Masternak’s only loss came on the Klitschko-Povetkin undercard (which I’m sure most of you have tried to erase from your memory) against Grigory Drozd. Masternak was outclassed and simply beat up by Drozd… and somehow Masternak, not Drozd, is getting a shot at the interim WBA title?
Well, at least the title means nothing. The only reason why they’re fighting for it is because Guillermo Jones can’t stop testing dirty.
From Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
TV: NBC Sports Network (US)
Time: 5:00 PM PDT, 8:00 PM EDT, 1:00 AM BST
Anatoliy Dudchenko 19(13)-2 vs Nadjib Mohammedi 34(20)-3
light heavyweight division
What’s so important about this fight? Is this just another fight between Europeans or wherever the hell they’re from that will make little to impact on the American scene? Not quite. Not this time.
There’s a reason this one is on NBC Sports Network. According to the IBF, the winner of this contest is set to face Bernard Hopkins in a mandatory fight for his IBF title. See, now there’s a good reason to watch this one.
Anatoliy Dudchenko is 35 out of Ukraine while Mohammedi is 29 out of France.
This fight has potential to be a real good slugfest. Dudchenko’s defense is leaky. He moves nicely, but often fights with his hands down and slaps with his punches. Mohammedi has a nice long jab, but doesn’t move his head and keeps his hands pretty low. These is a recipe for getting hit on both ends.
Even if it is a fun fight, let’s be honest here. Put aside that Hopkins will most likely rather vacate the title than face them for peanuts, are they going to be favored against Hopkins? Not a chance. Hell, Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev might not even be favored against Hopkins. Unless this fight is an absolute barn burner and one guy emerges to show he’s got truly elite skills, this should not be the determining fight for the IBF title. Let’s hope the IBF allows Hopkins to face Stevenson rather than the winner of this fight.
Karl Dargan 15(7)-0 vs Anthony Flores 11(6)-4-1
Karl Dargan is, to quote Donald Sterling, a fabulous fighter. His nickname, Dynamite Dargan, is fabulous. It reminds me of Ren’s (from Ren & Stimpy) wrestling alias: Killer Kadugen. What a beautiful name. Anyway, Dargan is a solid lightweight that will certainly contend for a title some day He’s a gritty, slick Philly fighter who’s only detraction is his lack of power. He seldom loses rounds, but a hard charger could make things interesting for him. Dargan had a tremendous amateur career and that alone should be enough to put Anthony Flores away.
Flores has only won 3 of his last 8 fights, and with the exception of one fight, all of the opponents with solid records have put him away. Flores took a 3 year hiatus from boxing from 2011 to 2014 after suffering a 1st round knockout.
Dargan should continue to impress. I hope they start to give Dargan some tougher challenges. A guy who is 28, regardless of the amateur career, must start to step the competition up. There comes a point when you gotta start wondering if the promoter or matchmaker is giving a guy cupcake matches for a reason. Maybe they know something about Dargan we don’t…
From StubHub Center, Carson, California
TV: Showtime (USA) Boxnation (UK)
Time: 7:00 PM PDT, 10:00 PM EDT, 1:30 AM BST
Robert Guerrero 31(18)-2-1 vs Yoshihiro Kamegai 24(21)-1-1
Right now, where do you rank Robert Guerrero in the welterweight division? 7th? He’s certainly not better than Mayweather, Pacquiao, Bradley, Maidana, Porter or Marquez. Is he better than Thurman? Khan? Alexander? Brook?
This is an interesting fight for Guerrero’s career and I think it’s a trap. Suppose he wins in an impressive fashion. Suddenly, we forget all about his damn near shutout against Mayweather. In fact, most will forgive it. Obviously Guerrero wasn’t going to be Mayweather, but what about against the others who aren’t living in the matrix? Guerrero will suddenly return to being one of the top welterweights after beating a guy he was supposed to beat. Kamegai isn’t his opponent because they thought this was the fight fans most wanted to see. It’s the one that allows them to manipulate the public opinion of Guerrero.
On the other hand, suppose Kamegai knocks out Guerrero. Of course. Guerrero has a built-in excuse. Mayweather ruined him. I doubt Kamegai knocks Guerrero out or pulls out a win. Guerrero has shown he’s got one hell of a chin. Maybe even one of the best in boxing.
I can’t get over how perfectly the cards have been laid out for Guerrero. Guerrero should win impressively, and when he does suddenly he’s now back in an optimal position to pick his next opponent. Hell, if he destroys Kamegai and looks like an animal, with the new Top Rank and Golden Boy partnership forming, we could get Guerrero vs Pacquiao! Or even Guerrero vs Bradley. All from a well-timed win over an overmatched opponent!
Those people calling the shots for Guerrero are smart. They talked their way into a fight with Mayweather and now, with this easy fight (on-paper) he’s set to jump back into the spotlight.
Kamegai has a high knockout percentage, but really he’s never scored a win over a fighter as good as Guerrero. In fact, he’s never faced an opponent as good as Guerrero. Unless Mayweather really did ruin Guerrero, we’re going to see a terrific performance from the Ghost.
Vasyl Lomachenko 1(1)-1 vs Gary Russell Jr 24(14)-0
vacant WBO featherweight title
Let’s ignore the fact that the WBO granted mandatory status for Lomachenko, a guy with 1 professional fight on his ledger. Let’s also forget that somehow, Gary Russell Jr is the other mandatory after he’s fought 24 guys they found on the back of milk cartons.
Through some strange logic, these 2 guys made the most sense to the WBO. And you know what? I’m fine with it. This is an intriguing fight and would have never happened without the WBO intervening.
Gary Russell Jr was once considered the top prospect in boxing. His hands are lightning quick. He’s able to put together fierce combinations with blazing speed and there’s nothing anyone can do about stopping it. If he’s got one downside, it’s that his arms are terribly short. His hands are prone to injury. And he’s never faced anyone you’d say, ‘oh wow, that’s a tough fight for Russell. I’m glad he’s moving on to bigger and better things.’
No, a guy with 2 fights is going to be Russell’s stiffest test to date.
In those 2 fights, Vasyl Lomachenko has already accumulated enough experience to surpass Russell as far as professional experience goes. Lomachenko showed a ridiculous amount of growth against one of the faculty members of the Andrew Golota and Bernard Hopkins Institute of Dirty Fighting. Orlando Salido tried every trick in the book to get over on Lomachenko and though he succeeded, Lomachenko showed he was the one who truly won that fight. He was the one who dug deep, fought through low blows, and nearly stopped Salido late.
Lomachenko learned his lesson in how to win in boxing. Salido taught him that the pro game is all about win at all costs. By hook or crook. He won’t have that problem against Russell. Russell is a professional kind of guy that won’t fail to make weight and won’t hit below the belt every round. The question will be if Lomachenko can keep Russell at the end of his punches.
Think about this. Gary Russell Jr is 5’4″ with a reach of 61 inches. That’s on par with super flyweight Hernan Marquez who’s 5’3″ with a 61 inch reach. Just to put it in perspective, Giovani Segura, a flyweight, is 5’3″ and has a 66 inch reach.
I can’t find any information on Lomachenko’s reach, but he’s 5’6 1/2”. Manny Pacquiao is the same height and his reach is 67 inches. Lomachenko’s arms look even longer than Pacquiao’s and could be close to 70″. It would not be unheard of to have a reach that long for that size. Floyd Mayweather’s reach is 5’8” with a 72 inch reach. I think it’s conceivable that Lomachenko’s reach is 70 inches.
Why is this important? We just saw in the Provodnikov-Algieri fight that height and reach can ruin an entire game plan. That a guy with devastating power and pressure can easily lose on the cards when a guy is able to effectively keep him on the outside where he can’t land anything. It’s all up to the power Lomachenko has in his jab and how active he is with hit. This factor alone has me favoring Lomachenko.
If you have any question about Lomachenko’s ability to handle boxers like Russell, remember that he’s got amateur wins over Oscar Valdez, Jose Carlos Ramirez, and Felix Verdejo. All of which are top prospects with pro styles in the sport.
Devon Alexander 25(14)-2 vs Jesus Soto Karass 28(18)-9-3
Alexander said that he underestimated Shawn Porter, but let’s face it. Porter followed the game plan Timothy Bradley set a couple years prior when he beat Alexander. Though headbutts and clinching ruined that fight, Bradley still thoroughly beat Alexander. In fact, Alexander looked like a guy that didn’t even want to fight. Shawn Porter simply followed the game plan, and combined with his power, made Alexander look like a hype job.
Alexander now looks to rebuild with a fight against Jesus Soto Karass. Karass is slow, he’s plodding, but he’s still got some pop left. It was evident when he wobbled Keith Thurman in the first round of their fight last year. While Thurman would ultimately recover and score a crushing knockout, Karass has shown a resiliency in his career to continuously bounce back and give good fights.
While that may all be true, styles make fights. Karass is the perfect style for Alexander. Alexander is a counter-puncher that likes to potshot and move. He likes to clinch when guys get inside. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. This fight should resemble the Maidana fight. Alexander is quick, he’s a southpaw, and he’s pretty good at what he does.
The welterweight division is packed right now. Should Alexander win, he’s going to end up facing Khan or Guerrero in the near future. I doubt he wants any piece of Porter or Thurman.
Chad Dawson 31(17)-3 vs George Blades 23(16)-5
light heavyweight division
Chad Dawson hasn’t had a good couple of years. First there was the ridiculous Hopkins fight on pay-per-view that sold poorly and had an even worse ending. Then there was the ugly Hopkins rematch which Dawson won. He won, but Hopkins did pull every trick out of the book. Then there was Andre Ward. Dawson drained down to 168 and got the business by one of the best fighters on the sport. Finally, he goes back to 175 where he’s the legitimate champion of the world and gets knocked out in half a round by Adonis Stevenson.
Dawson has since signed with Al Haymon and is looking to put his career back on track. Dawson is 31 and a 2nd wind at light heavyweight isn’t too far out of reach. I can see him beating Hopkins again on activity alone if he still has anything left. Unfortunately, after 2 knockout losses, there’s no guarantee on his future.
Blades will provide a solid challenge, but anything other than marginal pushback from Blades could be detrimental for Dawson going forward. I look for Dawson to score a nice bounce back knockout and officially start to make his way back into the title picture at light heavyweight. Dawson is tremendously talented. If only he got that whole trainer relationship worked out…