Friday, April 20, 2018

Jermall Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno Jr.

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, April 21
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

When one fighter has a small edge over the other in every facet of the game – power, speed, experience and expertise – it amounts to a huge advantage and, in the case of Charlo versus Centeno, a mismatch.

Charlo wins the battle of the jabs from the outset of this fight between these two tall, lanky middleweights. His stiff left jab will get there first, stopping Centeno in his tracks each time it connects.

But Charlo will not be content on breaking Centeno down with just the jab. By the third round, Charlo follows through with straight rights that forces Centeno to back off and reset with no counter strategy. Centeno valiantly attempts to improvise by alternating between boxing and slugging, but Charlo adapts and adjusts to anything Centeno has to offer.

Centeno gradually descends into kill-or-be-killed mode, desperately hoping to duplicate his one-punch knockout of Immanuel Aleem by way of picture-perfect left hook. But while trying to set Charlo up, Centeno walks smack into a straight right-left hook combo that drops him for the full count in the seventh round.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Julius Indongo vs. Regis Prograis

Deadwood Mountain Grand, Deadwood, South Dakota, March 9
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Emerging like a ghost from the deserts of Namibia, Indongo took the boxing world by storm by winning two of the four major world title belts. He proved that he could box, punch, go the distance and above all, that his style was infuriatingly difficult to solve.

But switch-hitting Terence Crawford, fighting predominantly as a southpaw, eventually solved the enigma of Indongo, writing the blueprint for every future Indongo opponent to follow. And that blueprint just happens to be what Prograis does best - apply controlled pressure, cut off the ring, stay low and elusive and punish the body and head with equal ferocity.

It might take Prograis more rounds than Crawford to break Indongo down but the end result will be the same. A straight left to the body snaps Indongo like a twig, sending him to the canvass in agony for the full count in the seventh round.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, March 3
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Wilder’s spectacular punching power has overshadowed the fact that he is as defensively flawed as he is offensively potent. If limited opponents the likes of Eric Molina and Johann Dehaupas could effortlessly bridge the distance and rock him, imagine the damage an educated monster like Ortiz can inflict on him. The question is, will Wilder land one of his fight-ending bombs before Ortiz can maneuver himself into range and let it rip up close and personal.
Of all of Wilder's previous opponents, Artur Szpilka, southpaw like Ortiz, is probably the best indicator as to how this fight will unfold. Although Szpilka was losing the fight, he had fleeting moments of success and getting in his share of punches before walking into a haymaker in the ninth round. Ortiz is a bigger, stronger, harder hitting and more polished version of Szpilka.
Despite his impressive stats, Wilder's level of competition thus far has been anything but impressive. He has never faced a fighter of Ortiz's experience and caliber and the step up in competition will be painfully obvious. 
Wilder is thrown off by Ortiz's southpaw stance from the outset and the Cuban doesn't give him time to adjust. Ortiz denies Wilder the chance to set up a big shot by applying steady pressure before stopping Wilder in the fifth round for the 2018 Upset of the Year.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Billy Joe Saunders vs. David Lemieux

Place Bell, Laval, Canada, Dec. 16
By Peter Lim

This boxer versus banger matchup might appear a virtual tossup on paper, but fights are not fought on paper and the action that transpires in the squared circle will be markedly different and more one-sided than what was predicted on the drawing board. Styles make fights and Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) will have Lemiuex (38-3, 33 KOs) all figured out in this one.

There’s little mystery to Lemiuex’s modus operandi - come forward, close the distance with the jab and let your fists fly. It’s a right-handed style Saunders has dealt with his entire career. Saunders’ educated left-handed style, on the other hand, is something Lemieux has never dealt with on the world stage. (His first-round KO over a washed-up Hector Camacho Jr. doesn’t count).

After a feeling-out round or two, Saunders dominates the exchanges with two-fisted combinations punctuated with his southpaw right hook. Lemieux keeps things suspenseful by rocking Saunders with occasional power punches but they are too few and far in between to shift the momentum of the fight. The accumulation of punches eventually takes its toll on Lemieux as he is dropped multiple times for an eighth-round TKO.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux

Madison Square Garden, New York, Dec. 9
By Peter Lim

The good big man defeats the good little man in this excellent showdown, a historical first in the sport between a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists. As savvy and defensively flawless as Rigondeaux is, his eight-pound climb up two weight divisions to 130 will be too much of a size disadvantage to overcome against a fighter of Lomachenko’s caliber. Rigondeaux was a small 122 to begin with, and Lomachenko will probably move on to 135, maybe even 140, before his career is over.
Lomachenko’s victories against Gary Russell Jr. and Nicholas Walters provide somewhat of a harbinger to how this fight will unfurl. Like Rigondeaux, Russell was a slick, counter-punching southpaw and Walters a crude right-handed version of the Cuban. Lomachenko had little trouble dealing with both opponents’ style.

The first half of the fight will be competitive with Lomachenko pressing the action with his signature high-volume punches and Rigondeaux countering with accuracy and timing. But Lomachenko’s punches, especially his body shots, will take more of a toll on Rigondeaux than vice versa. As Rigondeaux fades, Lomachenko ups his punch output, dominating the middle and late rounds to win a comfortable decision.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jermell Charlo vs. Erickson Lubin

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 14
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) could not have a better sparring partner than Errol Spence to fine tune his skills for Erickson Lubin (18-0, 12 KOs). Lubin, at this juncture of his career at least, might be a B or B-minus version of Spence, so Charlo will be ready for anything he brings to the table.

But take Spence out of the equation, and Charlo will still be a substantial favorite. Both fighters have about equal punching power but Charlo is superior in just about every other department, especially in big fight experience. It will take Charlo three or four rounds to figure Lubin out, but once he does, he will systematically break him down and stop him with a multi-punch combination in the eighth round.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 16
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

To label this fight as a skills-versus-power matchup would simply be an overgeneralization. True, Alvarez has the edge in skills and Golovkin in power. But Canelo is no slouch in the power department and GGG, a former Olympic gold medalist, might have lost a mere 10 rounds in his previous 17 title defenses.

Canelo's superior hand and foot speed befuddles GGG for the first half of the fight. Fluidly sidestepping GGG's charges, Canelo rattles the Kazakh with picturesque and rapid-fire combinations to the head and ribcage like no other boxer has done before. GGG finds sporadic moments of success with his jab and by investing in well-placed crunching shots to the torso, but they are too few and far between to win any of the first six rounds.

The power differential begins to mark a shift in momentum in the seventh round. While Canelo is a natural 154-pounder who hits like a middleweight, GGG is a natural 160-pounder who hits like a light heavyweight. As flashy and crowd-pleasing as Canelo's flurries were in the first half of the fight, GGG's more deliberate and educated punches has exacted more of a toll on Canelo than vice versa.

Pumping his sledgehammer jab overtime, GGG presses the action with calculated pressure and begins to land the more debilitating blows with increasing frequency. Canelo feistily continues to box and bang but it becomes clear that his punches don't pack the same TNT as those of GGG.

Going into the ninth round, it appears Canelo has built enough of a lead to simply stay on his feet, cruise and perhaps steal one more round to win the fight. But his Mexican DNA refuses to let him turn into a Mayweather. He meets GGG head on and pays a high price as GGG gets the better of the exchanges with bludgeoning punches upstairs and down.

GGG drops Canelo for the first time in his career with a body shot at the end of the tenth round that appears to sap him of whatever reserves he has left in his tank. Rather than resorting to survival mode, Canelo decides to go for broke and comes out firing with both fists in the eleventh round. GGG easily absorbs the incoming fire and drops Canelo three more times but the brave Mexican beats the count each time and miraculously survives the round.

Coming out for the final round, Canelo is an exhausted fighter but GGG has also depleted most of his firepower. He goes through the motions of chasing Canelo around the ring, doing enough to win the round but unable to land a fight-ending punch. At the end of the day, all judges have Canelo winning more rounds but GGG is declared the victor by close but unanimous decision courtesy of the multiple knockdowns.