Friday, June 8, 2018

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares II

Staple Center, Los Angeles, June 9
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Santa Cruz won a majority decision in 2015 in a fight so close it could have gone either way. Two things have transpired to tip the balance in Santa Cruz’s favor since then.
First, Santa Cruz has grown more due to a higher level of activity against a higher level of opposition. He fought four times, two against a fellow top-5 featherweight since their first encounter. Mares, on the other hand fought just twice during that same period.

Second, Santa Cruz has proven the propensity to learn from his mistakes and make the right adjustments in a rematch. He avenged his loss to Carl Frampton by fine tuning his strategy to turn the tables on Frampton when the met for a second time.

Santa Cruz is a tad smarter and sharper than Mares and makes the better decisions. He prudently picks his moments, out-boxing Mares when Mares opts to brawl and out-brawling Mares when Mares opts to box, winning a close but clear-cut decision in the 116-112 range.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jermell Charlo vs. Austin Trout

The Staples Center, Los Angeles, June 9
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

The temptation in making a prediction here is to place too much emphasis on Trout’s decision loss to Jermell’s identical twin Jermall in 2016. But as all parties will attest, all three boxers in that triangle are not the same fighters they were two years ago. Since then, Jermall has moved up to middleweight, Jermell has three world title bouts under his belt and Trout, coming off the first stoppage loss of his career, has changed trainers.

Trout’s defense is slick but not impenetrable and he has the experience to rarely get hit by one clean shot at a time. But Jermell will quickly discover that when he catches Trout with the right, he is a sitting duck for a follow-up right. By the fourth or fifth round, Jermell begins landing the double right with virtual impunity.
Trout courageously returns fire but to no avail. Jermell continues to press the action, gets the better of the exchanges and mixes in left hooks and right uppercuts into his attack. In the seventh round Jermell connects with a double right that has Trout out on his feet. He pounces on Trout with a vicious two-fisted assault that has Trout reeling defenselessly around the ring, forcing the referee to step in and end the beating.

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.