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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Jermall Charlo vs. Jorge Sebastian Heiland

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

Heiland's crude, brawling style is tailor-made for Charlo. Nevermind that Heiland is only the second southpaw Charlo has faced as a pro. That it will be Charlo's debut fight at 160 pounds will also be a non factor. Heiland will not only be a sitting duck for Charlo, he will actually walk into Charlo's incoming blows.

Given that Charlo has dropped and stopped fighters in world title bouts with every punch in the book - left jab, left hook, left uppercut, right cross and right uppercut - the only question mark in this style mismatch will be when and how Heiland will meet his demise. The crystal ball answer to that is, a double left hook in the fourth round.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, June 2
By Peter Lim

Granted, Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) is not the same fighter he was 10 or even five years ago, but this is a gross mismatch no matter how over the hill he is. For a fighter with 17 pro bouts, Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) has looked pretty good but not in any way exceptional against B-minus opposition.

The disparity in talent and experience cannot be more glaring. Pacquiao drops Horn multiple times before stopping him in the fifth round in a one-sided affair.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sergei Kovalev vs. Andre Ward II

Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, June 17
By Peter Lim

The first fight unfolded exactly as I predicted, except that the wrong fighter won the decision. Since both fighters truly believe they decisively won the fight, they will fine-tune rather than overhaul their respective game plans in the rematch. The course of the rematch though, will for the most part, repeat itself.

In the first encounter Kovalev inflicted more damage from mid-to-long range but Ward was more effective when he took the fight into chest-to-chest territory. Ward will try and capitalize on his success of smothering Kovalev and killing his momentum with his signature jab-and-grab and hold-and-hammer tactics, while being infuriatingly elusive on the outside.

But Kovalev will have also made adjustments in training camp in both his offense and defense. The Russian intensifies his pressure by doubling up on his jab and increasing his punch output. At the same time, he knows he cannot win the hold-and-hit exchanges that Ward will instigate so, rather than trying to outpunch Ward in the entanglements, he strategically clamps down with the bearhug and headlock to force a break.

The heavier handed Russian might score a flash knockdown or two en route to winning eight of the 12 rounds, just as he did in the first fight. Hopefully, the judges will get it right this time around.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Regis Prograis vs. Joel Diaz

Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY, June 9
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

This matchup can best be described as a B-caliber superfight. If boxing were baseball, Prograis-Diaz would be the minor league world series. Both undefeated fighters have shined on the prospect circuit and have been on the cusp of being elevated to contender status. Both are exciting boxer-brawlers and neither likes to take a backward step, but Progais is the more cerebral of the two and that will ultimately tip the balance of the fight.

The early and middle rounds are competitive with each fighter testing the other's chin and punching power in many a ferocious exchange. But as the fight progresses, Prograis capitalizes on Diaz's weaknesses more the vice versa. Firing his southpaw right jab in doubles and triples to set up combinations, Prograis dominates the late rounds to win a close but convincing unanimous decision.

I predicted Prograis would win via a mix of methodology and machismo, but it was all machismo.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence

Bermall Lane Football Ground, London, England, May 27
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

All things being equal and sans any unforeseen collisions of styles, sleights of hand, or tricks under their sleeves, Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) should emerge victorious in this scintillating encounter. His slick southpaw mode of combat, explosive punching and defense should allow him to out-maneuver Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) to a close but unanimous decision.

But in this sport where two men of similar size do battle in a 20X20 square foot ring, all things are never equal. And there are always intangibles that come into play.

We know Brook has a rock solid chin, having stood up to Gennady Golovkin's murderous punches for five rounds while managing to effectively return fire in spurts. But Spence is riding a 12-fight KO streak, scoring knockouts against fighters who had never previously been stopped in his last six bouts. Unlike Golovkin, though, Spence's potency stems from accuracy, timing and immaculate technique which can have a different impact than sheer brute punching power.

Punch for punch, Spence is probably the deadlier of the two, but Brook is no slouch in the rocking, socking department either. Moreover, he throws punches in bunches and has the propensity and audacity to return fire a split second after getting nailed. He hits harder than any fighter Spence has previously faced, and Spence's chin has never been significantly tested before. The quintessential bully, Brook imposes his will on his opponents simply by being rougher, tougher and more alpha.

But Spence's ring generalship, rooted in his decorated amateur career, ensures that he avoids being lured into the back-alley brawl that Brook will try to instigate. Time and again, Brook manages to rock him with clean punches but Spence has the wherewithal to cover, clinch and spin away from any sustained punishment and box his way to a decision win in the 115-113 to 116-112 range.