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.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Conor McGregor

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, Aug. 26
TV: Showtime PPV
By Peter Lim

Let's face it; anyone who thinks this is a real fight that might even be remotely competitive is borderline delusional. Imagine the fastest wide receiver in the NFL challenging Usain Bolt to a 100-meter race; that's how much of a mismatch this amounts to.

Explosive sprinting is a major component of the wide receiver's job description but he also has to catch the ball, sidestep, break tackles and make tackles. Bolt on the other hand, has only had to run in a straight line for a fixed distance as fast as he can for his entire career.

Likewise, boxing is a major component of McGregor's sport, but he also has had to kick, wrestle, grapple, apply choke holds and defend himself against all those maneuvers. Since he was a preteen, Mayweather has specialized in boxing, and boxing only, winning an Olympic bronze in the amateurs and going undefeated in 49 pro fights.

From a pugilistic standpoint, the ball will be in Mayweather's court for the entirety of the fight. Even at age 40 and coming off a two-year layoff, he will be able to end the fight as and when he pleases, including in the opening round. But Mayweather duped the public, and perhaps even McGregor, into believing that this is a legitimate competition so he will keep up that illusion and carry McGregor into the middle rounds.

He might even allow McGregor to unleash a flurry or two along the way while avoiding any direct hits with his signature shoulder roll. He begins to exert his superiority in the fifth round and hurts McGregor with a few well-placed shots to the body. In the sixth round, McGregor's inexperience in the ring becomes painfully obvious as leaves himself wide open for a body-head combination that sends him to the canvass for the full count.

Both Mayweather and McGregor will walk away with millions from their ultimate con job, but it will mark one of the darkest days of combat sports. Hopefully, fans will learn from this travesty and will never again be fooled again by a hype-over-substance ruse of this magnitude.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Terence Crawford vs. Julius Indongo

Pinnacle Bank Arena, Omaha, NE, Aug. 19
By Peter Lim

At this juncture of his career, Terence Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) is a class or two above everyone in the 140-pound division. But from a style standpoint, no one stands a better chance of pulling off an upset against him as the tall, rangy and awkward Julius Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs).

Indongo, 34, came out of nowhere (Namibia is as close to nowhere as you can get) over the last eight months to capture two of the four junior welterweight belts. (Crawford owns the other two). A southpaw, he fights at fights at a frenetic pace, bouncing around on springy legs while firing long, whippersnapper punches from crazy angles. It will give Crawford fits in the early rounds.

By the fifth round, though, Crawford would have figured out his style, kills his rhythm by smothering him in clinches and begins delivering strategic punches upstairs and down. Crawford's accurate shots to Indongo's beanpole torso gradually takes its toll as he systematically breaks the African down with a combination of finesse and fury.

Indongo's legs begin to betray him in the late rounds rendering him more or less a stationary target for the sharpshooting Crawford who clinically dissects and stops him in the tenth round.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, July 29
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

All one needs to do is look at Broner's 2013 loss to Marcos Maidana to know how this fight will unfold. Garcia is a sharper, more polished version of Maidana and Broner is no better now than when he faced the tough Argentinean.

And if the saying that you're only as good as your last fight bears carries any weight, Broner is really in trouble. If he had to struggle to win a split decision against an 18-4-2 opponent in his last outing, he's in for a beating against a fighter of Garcia's caliber.

Broner's speed might trouble Garcia for the first two rounds but once Garcia figures him out, he will walk him down, beat him to the punch and brutalize him with combinations. Broner begins fighting on survival mode as early as the fourth round but Garcia is measured and relentless at the same time as he continues to break Broner down with vicious and accurate shots upstairs and down.
In the ninth round, Garcia fires a right to the head followed by a left took to the ribcage that sinks Broner to his knees for the full count, exposing him, beyond all doubt, as the most overrated and over (self) hyped fighter in the recent history of the sport.